Travelers today are savvy and are using the Internet to guide their decisions—and they have more choices than ever before. According to Smith Travel Research, consumers have nearly 1,000 hotel brands to choose from worldwide. How can a hotel owner make their property stand out among such tough competition?
It’s tough, but it can be done. Here, we’ll share a few marketing strategies that can help your hotel stand out from the crowd, tap into different customer segments, stay afloat during the off-season, and look good online.
For hotel chains that have been around a long time, it’s easy to lean heavily on an established reputation. This can be a mistake because as times change, customer preferences and even the customers themselves change. However, many appreciate when long-standing brands take the time to honestly re-evaluate how well they’re serving their customers and make changes accordingly.
To shift the public perception of a traditional brand, it’s sometimes necessary to re-brand. The goal of re-branding is to differentiate your brand from competitors, show you understand your audience, and demonstrate a commitment to providing better service. Re-branding can revitalize a hotel brand with new logos, marketing campaigns, and branded items on your properties. However, a re-brand that only involves a new logo or other superficial change won’t help if your business has deeper issues that are holding it back from success. In this case, a re-brand must address the problem at hand and encompass a new way of doing business.
Offer experiences, not just a room.
The key to any successful marketing campaign is to discover what your guests value most in a hotel and offer them an experience they are unlikely to get elsewhere. Offering packages is one way to deliver on this. If your property is located in a popular tourist area, it may be more difficult to stand out. However, if you can offer promotional packages targeted to different segments of guests, you may be able to differentiate yourself.
For example, you might offer a “romantic weekend” package that includes a bottle of champagne and dinner for two at your property’s restaurant. Package promotions allow you to cater to a variety of target markets, including those traveling for a quick weekend getaway, summer vacation, a wedding, or any number of different trips. Some hotels have also seen success with offering companion packages that include ground, sea, and air travel.
Make slow periods work for you.
Anyone who’s been in the hotel business long enough understands that not every part of the year is busy. In fact, there can be multiple slow periods throughout the year, and learning how to work with—not against—them can be the key to turning a profit year-round.
To drum up business during slow periods, you might try limited-time offers. These offers should consist of deals that are too good to pass up, but happen to occur during non-peak times. Limited-time offers encourage travelers to take advantage of these deals right away. You might also consider giving previous guests an incentive to recommend you to a friend. For example, you can send repeat guests a code they can send to their friends, and if their friend uses the code to book a stay, the original guest earns a credit toward a future stay. Special offers like these can be critical in filling rooms during the off-season.
Upgrade your website.
As stated before, the majority of travelers use the Internet to decide and finalize their travel plans. This is why it pays to upgrade your website. Dedicate part of your marketing budget to ads that will drive more traffic to your site, and invest in upgrades if it has been awhile since your site was last refreshed. Old, slow websites are off-putting to customers, and if you’re spending advertising dollars to drive people to your site, this money is wasted if they arrive there, become frustrated, and leave.
When upgrading your website, focus on giving your visitors an easy-to-use site where they can book a room and find answers to their questions without difficulty. Fill the site with high quality, professional photos and video content that show off your property and what makes it special.
Include links to your social media and review site profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, and the like—and be sure you have a protocol for responding to any reviews or comments you receive on these sites, especially negative ones. You can’t always control what people say, and some negativity is inevitable. However, you can respond to each negative comment professionally. Even if your response fails to appease the customer, it communicates to others that you value your customers and want them to enjoy their stay.
A blog that you update regularly can also drive traffic to your site. In your blog posts, focus on providing interesting, worthwhile content that potential guests might want to read—such as an article about local attractions, the best restaurants nearby, or news about your property. By following these tips, your hotel brand can remain competitive and attract new business.