Hotel marketing has a key role to play in helping you to attract bookings and optimise revenue. For the most part, your marketing messages are how customers will become aware of your hotel and also how they will understand your values and unique selling proposition. Of course, to optimise your marketing, you need to be aware of the latest trends.
However, hotel marketing trends have also changed as a result of the outbreak of COVID. In this article, you can learn about both the more general trends within hotel marketing, as well as those that are influenced by a coronavirus.
What is Hotel Marketing?
Hotel marketing is an umbrella term, which refers to the various marketing strategies and techniques that hotels use, in order to promote their business and make a positive impression on customers. Essentially, it is about making a hotel as appealing as possible, in order to attract as many guests as possible.
In the digital age, hotel marketing occurs online, as well as in-person, and hotel brands need to maximise their presence through website traffic, social media, email and a variety of other channels.
Why is Hotel Marketing Important?
Within the hotel and hospitality industry, competition is one of the single biggest challenges for individual hotels to contend with. Hotel marketing is essential, as it is the way hotels are able to promote their property, highlight its unique features, ensure it stands out from rivals, and establish the benefits of staying there.
Ultimately, keeping up with the latest hotel marketing trends and engaging customers through marketing can help hotel owners to maximise the number of bookings they generate, and the revenue they bring in.
16 General and Specific COVID Hotel Marketing Trends
Below, you will be able to find a breakdown of some of the key trends associated with hotel marketing. For your convenience, these trends have been divided into a list of general trends and a list of the trends that are directly connected to coronavirus and the associated changes in consumer behaviour.
6 Hotel Marketing Trends Associated With COVID
The COVID outbreak has had a major impact on the hotel industry, as hotels are forced to contend with new legal requirements, changing customer habits and behaviours, global travel restrictions and the economic fallout. Here, you can find out more about some of the main hotel marketing trends linked to the pandemic.
1. Highlight Safety in Hotel Marketing & Guest Communication
One of the biggest trends within hotel marketing is linked to the increased need to highlight safety measures and hygiene within your marketing content and guest communications. After all, travellers need reassurances that you take the threat of COVID seriously and are taking steps to keep them as safe as possible.
Hygiene measures and safety policies are at the very forefront of customers’ minds when making booking decisions and how well you communicate the steps you have taken can easily be the difference between generating sales and failing to do so. Your efforts need to be communicated on your website, on third-party platforms, in emails and elsewhere.
Take a look at “Hygiene is the New Marketing Message for Hotels” for further insights.
2. Ramp Up the Focus on Leisure Trips
Some hotels focus much of their marketing efforts on business travellers, but the combination of travel restrictions, work from home policies, restrictions on mass gatherings and general uncertainty has meant many business events are being cancelled and overall business travel has been significantly reduced.
However, the pandemic has taken a toll on people and many are crying out for a break. For this reason, while travellers may be more reluctant to travel than in the past, demand for leisure breaks is still there. With this in mind, those in hotel management may be wise to consider ramping up the focus on leisure-based marketing communication.
Depending on your location and facilities, you can target different groups here, including couples, families, small groups of friends, or even a combination. You may also wish to consider changing some of the channels you use, and creating package deals that are aimed at leisure travellers, in order to encourage more bookings.
3. Shift From International to Local Travellers
Another of the hotel trends to be aware of is an increased focus on local guests, as opposed to international ones. This has been primarily influenced by travel restrictions during the COVID situation, which has either prevented travel or enforced quarantine requirements on travellers to and from certain countries.
Many hotels have responded by switching their marketing efforts to target local customers, or at least customers from neighbouring countries. This may mean highlighting different aspects of your hotel, such as gym facilities, wi-fi access and the ability to carry out remote work from your hotel rooms or from dedicated work areas.
Some hotels have also explored services like food delivery and you could potentially make your hotel stand out here by delivering a dining experience to people’s doors through additional services, like QR code Spotify playlists.
4. Value and the Role of Flexible Cancellations
Due to the economic realities arising from the coronavirus pandemic, many hotels find themselves in a position where they are unable to compete purely on price of hotel rooms. However, you can potentially compete based on value. After all, customers are usually happy to pay more for excellent facilities and high-quality customer service.
Adding value to your proposition can take many forms. You could, for instance, create packages that add room service breakfasts, longer stays or extra services, such as massages or vehicle hire.
With regards to customer service, one of the important things those in the hotel industry need to keep in mind is that COVID has created a lot of uncertainty. Customers could easily face the sudden imposition of new restrictions, or even test positive for the virus. Demonstrating an understanding through a flexible cancellations policy can go a long way towards encouraging bookings in the first place and can also help you to avoid negative press.
5. Analyse Data to Find New Hotel Marketing Trends Due to COVID
While the pandemic has caused upheaval, some of the basic concepts remain as true as ever. It is still important to use the information you have available to make informed decisions, so take the time to analyse website data and information from your property management system, and use this to inform your hotel marketing efforts.
This can help you to identify which demographics are still interested in visiting your hotel, as well as which market segments have become less likely to travel. Once you have done this, you can pinpoint opportunities for growth, focus your efforts on appealing to those demographics, and adopt the most relevant hotel marketing trends.
This could mean geo-targeting your marketing efforts, or even turning to new marketing channels. It may also result in you turning to different hotel marketing trends than you otherwise would.
6. Let Potential Guests Experience Your Hotel From Afar
As stated, COVID has created a new uncertainty among travel visitors, but what if there was a hotel technology you could turn to in order to alleviate some of these concerns? The good news is, virtual reality tours offer precisely this. Using VR technology, potential guests and B2B clients can actually experience your hotel from afar.
This can be particularly effective during the booking process, which is why VR tours are increasingly being integrated within booking engines. With those interested in your business or event options, VR means they can also see your wedding, event or dinner facilities and book without requiring an in-person inspection first.
Video: A Virtual Honeymoon to London and Hawaii
Read “Reasons Why Every Hotel Should Have a Virtual Reality Video” for additional information. It is also worth noting that modern VR tours tend to be web-based and easily accessible through popular web browsers.
10 General Hotel Marketing Trends
The following are examples of some general marketing trends. These trends are applicable throughout the hotel industry, regardless of location or customer base, and keeping pace can be essential for optimising revenue.
1. Customer Experience Marketing
Customer experience marketing refers to a collection of hotel marketing strategies that are based around the experience customers actually have when staying at a hotel, or interacting with a business. It is based around the idea that hotel customers do not really pay for products or services; they pay for experiences.
Hotels can improve the customer experience in a number of ways, such as through delivering excellent customer service, offering unique features in hotel rooms and providing a superior range of facilities for guests. By focusing on marketing efforts on the experience, hotels can really tap into the reasons people stay in hotels in the first place.
Video: Customer Experience in the Hospitality Industry
Find more detailed information about customer experience in the hotel industry in the article “4 Use Cases of Facial Recognition in The Hospitality Industry”.
2. Voice Search
In recent years, voice search has emerged as one of the most important hotel marketing trends and there are several hotel marketing strategies that can take advantage of this. For instance, using smart home devices, it is now possible for customers to book hotels entirely through voice commands and hotels should capitalise on this.
Additionally, voice search possibilities can also be implemented within hotel rooms and then promoted as a way of attracting customers. This can be achieved by including smart speakers or smart hubs in hotel rooms, allowing guests to use them to obtain the latest tourist information, or to book hotel services from the comfort of their room.
Video: Book Travel Products via Voice Searh
Find more detailed information and examples about how voice search can benefit your business in the article “How Can Voice Control Benefit the Hospitality Industry?”.
3. Improve Guest Experience & Satisfaction Through Chatbots
Customers tend to have high expectations when it comes to online customer service, anticipating swift replies to questions, and this is where chatbots can be of great value. A chatbot can be set up to answer common questions, push your key marketing messages, increase direct bookings and even guide customers through bookings.
Some of the main benefits associated with chatbots include the ability to respond to customers even when staff are unavailable, as well as automatic language detection and communication in multiple languages. Chatbots can continue to communicate with guests throughout the customer journey too, including in the follow-up phase.
Video: Book a Hotel Room With Chatbot
Learn more by reading the articles “Reasons Why Every Hotel Needs a Hotel Chatbot” and “What Are the Important Features When Choosing a Hotel Bot?”.
4. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Customer service interactions form a major part of the modern hotel marketing mix, and artificial intelligence can play an important role here. For example, AI-powered chatbots are one of the best ways to ensure customers receive quick responses via live chat functions on hotel websites, 24-hours a day, eliminating slow response times.
However, the use of artificial intelligence within the hospitality sector extends far beyond this. For example, AI can help hotels to segregate customers more effectively, assisting with personalisation marketing efforts. It can also speed up data analytics, while AI-driven customer service robots can be deployed in hotels.
Video: Artificial Intelligence in Hotel Rooms
5. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing refers to the practice of reaching out to individuals who have a significant online presence, and using their influence to get marketing messages out to a particular audience. Influencers tend to have established audiences, which may consist of a specific demographic, and their audience will usually respect their views.
In some ways, influencer marketing is similar to the way celebrity endorsements work, with the audience trusting a business or brand, because of its association with someone else they trust or admire. Hotels might partner with influences to create video content, social media posts, written content, or other forms of online marketing.
Video: Surprise Hotel Lobby Dance Party with PrankvsPrank’s Jeana
6. User-Generated Content
In relation to the hotel industry, user-generated content refers to online content that is created and shared by customers. Examples of this range from customer reviews and video blogs, through to hotel photos or holiday snaps. User-generated content is most commonly shared on social media, or via personal blogs.
This kind of content has the benefit of coming from real customers, rather than from a brand, increasing audience trust. For hotel marketing strategies to truly harness the power of user-generated content, they must provide opportunities for it to be easily created and shared, with digital photo booths being one such example.
Video: Example User Generated Content for Hotels
7. Personalisation Marketing
The idea behind personalisation marketing is to deliver more targeted promotional content to individual users. It is a technique which relies heavily on the collection of user data, and the primary advantage of personalisation marketing is that the promotional content that is seen by customers is more relevant to them as individuals.
Personalisation marketing can take a number of forms, including intelligent product recommendations delivered over the internet, or personalised email marketing campaigns. Content can be tailored by obtaining personal contact details, but can also be targeted towards specific users based on their web browsing habits and social media activity.
Video: Personalisation Marketing Explained by Dell
Find more detailed information and examples of personalisation marketing in the article “5 Ways Personalisation Marketing Can Benefit the Hospitality Industry”.
8. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is somewhat similar to virtual reality technology, but rather than entirely altering a user’s surroundings, it works by overlaying information onto real-world environments – usually through a smartphone or tablet. The technology itself became mainstream through popular apps like Pokemon Go.
Today, augmented reality marketing is one of the most significant hotel marketing trends. In particular, promoting AR features can help a hotel to stand out from rivals. An example of its uses would be the inclusion of interactive wall maps in rooms, which can provide users with tourist information when they aim a smartphone at them.
Video: Example Augmented Reality for Tourism
Find more detailed information and examples about how augmented reality can benefit your business in the article “How Augmented Reality is Transforming the Hospitality Industry”.
9. Video Marketing
Video marketing is one of the most powerful hotel marketing strategies, helping to target marketing messages towards potential customers in a way that is convenient to them. Video content is especially popular on social media platforms, and it has the ability to combine visual and audio elements.
The range of options available to marketers is almost endless, from live streams of hotel activities, through to promotional videos highlighting hotel features, and interviews with customers, sharing their experiences. The growing prevalence of 360 degree video also opens up greater opportunities to fully immerse audiences.
Video: Example W Hotel Barcelona Promotional Trailer
Finally, remarketing is a way for those in hotel management to reach out to users who have already visited their hotel website, or interacted with their brand on social media. It can be especially beneficial to hotels, because research indicates a large number of people begin to make a hotel booking, before stopping. This could be because they have become distracted, or because they want to carry out further research.
Remarketing allows these users to be targeted with specific marketing messages, such as an image of the exact hotel room they were booking, reminding them of their interaction. A major advantage of remarketing over other forms of digital advertising is that hotels already know these users have shown some degree of interest.
Video: What is Remarketing?
The hotel industry is incredibly competitive, which is why hotel marketing is so crucial. Using the 10 hotel marketing trends listed in this article, hotels can reach customers in different ways, with a diverse range of marketing messages, maximising their chances of securing bookings and achieving revenue targets.
Want to Learn More About Hotel Marketing Strategies?
Marketing plays a crucial role in helping businesses to maximise bookings and revenue. It is the main way in which those in the hotel industry are able to reach out to potential customers, conveying their unique selling proposition and brand values. In the following articles you find more essential marketing strategies to boost your revenue:
- Essential Hotel Marketing Strategies
- 7 Social Media Marketing Tips to Promote Your Hotel
- The Most Important Online Distribution Channels for Hotels
- 9 Tips to Manage Online Hotel Reviews
- Hotel Advertisement; 10 Effective Hotel Advertising Strategies
- Hotel App: Optimise Your Guest Communication & Experience