Question for Our Hotel Marketing Expert Panel

With many marketing budgets facing cuts, how can hotels drive the best ROI possible?

Industry Expert Panel

Our Industry Expert Panel exists out of professionals within the hospitality & travel Industry. They have comprehensive and detailed knowledge, experience in practice or management and are forward-thinking. They are answering questions about the state of the industry. They share their insights on topics like revenue management, marketing, operations, technology and discuss the latest trends.

Susanne Williams
Susanne WilliamsPerformance and Revenue Director, Journey Hospitality

“When budgets are reduced (it does not have to be inevitable; hotels that continued their spend are seeing the benefits of maintaining their presence now) it helps focus the mind on what return you want to see for your money. This can be a very good time to properly review what you have been doing. If your strategy has been to feed your sales funnel with broad marketing messages and big target audiences, it’s time to understand your “who” and at what stage in your online and offline guest journey they book.

We have seen some shifting market segments as well as channels. Direct business is growing exponentially. New bookers are searching for new experiences. We have seen a huge uptick in data for email marketing, and an immediate response to a sign up with a value-add has increased website conversion by 20% simply by communicating on a website that value and loyalty go hand in hand. Retargeting with personalised content is always a winner. Your website MUST be inviting with clear paths to book. Reducing the number of confusing rates, packages and tactical promotions will guide a guest to the correct experience.

When you understand what markets are booking and when, it’s far easier to tailor your proposition. It’s still important to be visible on your distribution channels. A guest may discover you on a third party site and seek your website out to assuage any Covid safety concerns or look for an alternative experience. Let’s not forget that you are in control of generating demand, not simply responding to it. Tapping into your guest psyche with an “always-on” campaign, clear brand values, superb content and inspiring experiences. Post-Covid, connection, communication and collaboration are valuable, so when you can keep that message running, authentically, it’s memorable.”

Reshan Jayamanne
Reshan JayamanneDigital Marketing & Sales Strategist, Bnb Optimized

“Marketing is about giving your prospect EXACTLY what they want and a marketing strategy will differ according to a hotel’s location, its accommodation style, etc.

If you are a General Manager or an internal marketing lead within the hotel industry, you need to take a step back and look at what is happening in your immediate surroundings; the culture of your city, the ebbs and flows of society, what people are speaking about and the current Covid19 regulations.

The world has changed and so have the expectations of our guests. My advice? Scrap what you think you know about your target market and approach your business with fresh eyes. This is THE biggest differentiator between market leaders and market survivors. They are founded in the depth of research they do to understand their target market so they can truly begin to craft offers that the target market can’t refuse.

How you do this is an entirely different thing. At a bare minimum, you should spend the next month understanding your local market, reading comments on local social media accounts that have an engaged following and having coffees with people outside your industry who might be your ideal customer so you can truly understand their ‘frame of mind’, i.e., their hopes, dreams, what they fear most right now and their current pressures.

When you get into the mind of your ideal customer, you begin to know what and how they think. From a place of deep research you can begin to deploy offers that they can’t refuse because you’re giving them exactly what they want.

This is marketing that drives ROI – based on deep research and thinking like your end consumer to the point they start saying “I felt like you were talking directly to me, you knew what I was thinking”. Speak to their needs, capture their attention and treat them well and you’re more likely to make them a return customer both in high and low season.”

Andrew Kavanagh
Andrew KavanaghGroup Sales and Marketing Manager, FBD Hotels & Resorts

“The most cost-effective way to drive revenue is to return to those guests who have stayed previously and enjoyed their stay. It’s a lot cheaper than having to attract people who have never stayed at your property. You also don’t have to spend as much time and effort trying to convince them of the merits of your hotel. You just need to make them a good offer or perhaps suggest something they haven’t done before. An effective CRM that integrates with your PMS is a must-have as it ensures a steady flow of GDPR approved email addresses and allows you to track performance.

Another tip is to segment your databases so that you can offer the right kind of packages to different audiences, for example, a “stay and play” offer to golfers, a package with tickets to a theme park for families etc. This ensures that you increase the conversion level of your bookings and you’re also more likely to see people read and continue subscribing because they feel the offers are relative to their interests.”

Tamie Matthews
Tamie MatthewsRevenue, Sales & Marketing Consultant, RevenYou

“For driving the best ROI possible, I would suggest the following:

  1. Outsource. Yes, this will cost more in the short term, but if you get the right contractor, you will get someone who is incredibly experienced, adaptable and who is working across all areas of the industry, so they can bring a wide range of ideas, thoughts and new concepts to the table. They are seeing so much more than just your hotel, so they can share insights with you as to what is & is not working elsewhere.
  2. Free. Look at what you can use for free. You don’t always have to pay for the full stack. Sometimes you can get away with using the free option. It will be nearly as good, and it will cut your costs.
  3. Review. Look at what you are paying for and consider switching suppliers or trialling new products. Check your contracts and shop around. Switching systems has never been easier, so take the leap and downgrade to something cheaper that is just as effective. You will probably find that you aren’t using all the applications in the systems you are paying for at present.
  4. Train. Use tools such as Coursera and Udemy to upskill yourself so you can increase your knowledge and understanding and also get some fresh new ideas.
  5. Relationships. We cannot do face-to-face right now but human contact has become incredibly important as we all retreat from our offices to home. Pick up the phone and call someone rather than email them. You might be the only person that your client has spoken to and has had a conversation with (i.e., not typed!) all day – and that will mean far more to them than any email or thank you gift. Relationships will drive your business forward right now.
  6. Try. What worked in 2019 is not working in 2021 so be the brave and courageous person you are and try new things. Do not be afraid to fail. Who cares if that social media campaign flopped; learn from it and try again.
  7. Mental Health. Take care of yourself first and foremost. Your own mental health and positive outlook will be the most important driver in growing ROI. Shift your mindset and look for the positive in every day.”

Jolien Alferink
Jolien AlferinkHotel Marketing Consultant, Orange Hotel Marketing

“When it comes to driving the best ROI possible, we are firm believers in flexible marketing budgets. As long as the investment drives a healthy ROI, why would you limit your budget and marketing spend by a predetermined amount?

Besides, in these unusual times with low market demand, investments in brand awareness will be required. It’s really important to be top of mind once guests begin booking and travelling again. During times like these where your competitors are cutting budgets, lie the biggest opportunities to make an impact and win market share. Timing is key.”

Helen O'Leary
Helen O'LearyDirector (Independent Consultant), Helen O'Leary Consulting

“Getting the free (or low cost) basics right first – making sure your owned channels are optimised, that all your content is updated on your website, your google listings are updated and where suitable, all Covid-19 protocols are outlined. Make sure you have planned all your social media content and include video and great imagery. Become laser-focused on your key target customer and market and on keep your marketing messages tailored to their specific needs. Next, you can think about spending money on the media channels where you can find your customers.

Pre-campaign, define your goals and make sure to measure your success. Most hotels can get some good impact from targeted paid social media advertising (but again this depends upon your target audience) but it’s important not to forget the role that PR is playing also, as there is good traction to be gained by leveraging positive PR both online and offline. Evaluate what has worked well for your business in the past; determine what is still a relevant channel and segment. Learn from that and build on small wins.”

Amy Draheim
Amy DraheimOwner, ABD Creative

“In the last year, with marketing cuts reflective of occupancy cuts and everything else, we’ve had to adjust our spend. The first place we looked was paid advertising. With driving traffic being “the only way” for a while, we limited our ad spend to drive market travel. We doubled down on email marketing, which is one of the most cost-effective ways to drive incremental revenue, by targeting past guests who know and trust the property.

We also went heavier on social media, leaning on cost-effective influencer partnerships with those who shared our audience/demographic, to share experiences on-property instead of needing to sell via traditional advertising methods.”

Moriya Rockman
Moriya RockmanChief of Marketing, Smiling House Luxury Global