Year in and year out, we get the opportunity to help truly world-class DOSMs turbo-charge their marketing programs, and identify new ways to keep existing customers and find new ones, all while handing over fewer of their hard-earned marketing dollars to their OTA “partners.” Do we love the challenge? You bet!
As we wrap up another busy year, we’re taking a moment to explore a new crop of hotel marketing trends—and revisiting some age-old wisdom—in order to help lay the foundation for success in 2020.
Here are the top 10 things we suggest hotel DOSMs implement to achieve their goals in the coming year:
1. Unite With Your Revenue Manager
One of your most valuable potential allies in your quest to drive bookings and revenue is probably already a part of your organization: your hotel’s revenue manager(s). That’s why it’s time, once and for all, to knock down the longstanding departmental wall that separates marketing and revenue management, bringing both teams together to optimize direct bookings from your most profitable guests.
Both departments play a distinct, yet potentially interconnected role. For marketers, the hotel’s revenue managers can offer valuable intel, by identifying holes in demand and which guest segments will be most profitable during those need periods. That’s solid info you can use to build timely, targeted offers and promotions. It’s a perfect union of inter-departmental talents that equals greater success for all.
2. Stop Reporting on Channels, Return to Your Goals
Instead of reporting on your digital marketing efforts in a vacuum, focused solely on channel-by-channel performance, rework your reporting this year on providing greater context. To do this, you’ll need to return to your goals, analyzing them according to the very foundational basics of marketing: the “four P’s” of price, product, place and promotion.
For the price element, marketers should collaborate directly with revenue management on goals, and report on quarterly revenues as a team, since the performance of each department affects the final result. Regarding product, be sure to inform ownership if there are issues with the property, including sharing negative online reviews, if necessary. As for place, don’t neglect to factor greater market performance into your results, and communicate this broad effect in your reports. And finally, when it comes to promotion, you’ll need to understand and report on the quality of leads being driven to your website and/or booking engine, so you can seamlessly shift tactics when and where needed.
3. Budget by Segment. Report by Segment.
Planning, budgeting, and reporting on your goals and performance by demand segment is an essential technique for hotel marketing, but it’s a practice that isn’t always followed by hoteliers. That could be a big mistake.
Few hotels cater to just one segment. In many cases, a hotel’s business mix includes leisure and corporate transient guests, as well as meetings and weddings. The hotel’s F&B outlet(s) may also factor into the revenue picture. But these segments are all different, with their own unique nuances, KPIs and criteria for success, requiring different strategies and resources for each. That’s why each segment needs its own budget, as well as reporting that measures the segment as its own distinct entity.
4. Stay Focused On The Metrics That Matter
Digital marketers are buried in meaningless stats but, this year, be sure to cherry-pick the KPIs that actually have meaning for your campaigns and property. Avoid reliance on empty metrics like online page views, social media followers, and bounce rate, and focus on finding the numbers that illustrate what you’ve done for the bottom line.
Some of the statistics that you should consider referencing in 2020 include: Marketing Cost Per Booking (MCPB), which measures the cost of each sales and marketing channel against resulting bookings; Direct Revenue Ratio (DRR), which compares your hotel’s percentage of revenues from direct bookings, versus OTA business; your direct website conversion rate; and your variance from revenue target, which measures revenue goals against real results, according to demand segment.
5. Own Your UVP
Your hotel’s unique value proposition (UVP) is essentially the sum total of reasons for guests to stay with you. When done well, it highlights all the features that make your hotel unique. Content that communicates your UVP needs to be at the core of all your marketing campaigns and messaging, this year and each year.
There are many ways you can creatively share your hotel’s UVP across platforms, mediums and formats. That may include telling the story of your hotel and its ownership, if that’s something that makes it unique and compelling (i.e. historic location, family business, etc.). Sharing videos and photos can be great, too, especially user-generated content created by guests, which can both spotlight your property and provide priceless social validation. Rich, insider destination content is another way to own your UVP, by placing your hotel at the center of the action in the eyes of your potential guests.
6. Stay Practical When It Comes To Content
Content is expensive, and many hoteliers feel that the lifespan of a piece of content is far too short. Most often that’s because they are not being strategic with their use of that content, and don’t realize that the same piece of content must be seen multiple times by each user in order to make an impression. Don’t fall into this costly trap in 2020.
The answer is to be cost-effective with your content strategy and maximize the lifespan of each piece of content you create. To achieve this, you’ll need to strategically build content, knowing in advance exactly how, when, and where you’ll use it. Instead of oversharing on social media, for example, invest in evergreen content that can be used again and again to educate new users each time they enter a specific stage of the funnel. Build unique content tailored to each customer touch point. Showcase your best images on Instagram, rather than diluting your profile with subpar imagery. Anchor your content strategy on quality and relevance, rather than quantity.
7. Keep An Eye On Those SERPs
Google’s in the OTA business now. Full stop. And the ongoing changes to Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) create the need for hotel marketers to continually monitor their hotel’s position and appearance in search engine results. And to question them.
The most effective overall strategy for winning at the SERP game fuses both paid PPC ads and unpaid organic search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, so it’s worthwhile to have PPC and SEO teams work together. That way, they can collaborate on tactics in order to claim as much real estate as possible and in some cases abandon strategies that are no longer effective.
8. Get Back To Basics With Your Product
The bottom line in hotel marketing will always be: There’s only so much you can do to make a subpar property seem appealing. And now, in the age of social media and reputation management, it’s next to impossible. That’s why you need to refuse to work with an inferior product.
Another recurring goal should be to ensure that your property is delivering at high levels in all the fundamental areas, including appearance, service, cleanliness, amenities, etc. If there’s work to be done, summon the courage and inform your owners that it’s time to reinvest. If they don’t believe you, show them the TripAdvisor comments that support your request.
9. Set Goals and Stick to Them
The digital marketing world is brimming with bright, shiny objects to chase after, but this year, make an extra effort to ignore their enticing glow and stay focused on executing your long-term goals, instead. Once you’re killing it in all of your hotel’s key channels and segments, you can devote time and resources to experimenting.
In truth, some of the most effective digital marketing tactics aren’t that exciting —you’re not likely to wow anyone at a party with your granular knowledge of remarketing techniques or technical SEO—but these are great ways to boost conversions and organic traffic, respectively. So whatever your goals may be this year, stick to your game plan and ignore the distractions. If ownership wants to target something new, show them the cost of doing it correctly. If they can’t devote the budget needed to doing it right, cut it from the budget.
10. Re-Acquaint Yourself With Your Comp Set
You can learn a lot more about your comp set than just their rates and occupancy; so be sure to take time this year to revisit your competitors and absorb all the information you can. By studying your comps and fostering a steady flow of market intelligence, you can identify new opportunities for your property and ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of all the hotels in your market, including your own.
An easy, effective method of gaining competitive insight is to follow the social media accounts of your competitor hotels, including accounts of these hotels’ sales staff. By doing this you’ll have a direct informational pipeline bringing you intel on your competitors’ new promotions, marketing pushes, popular posts and recent guest reviews and feedback. Use these revelations to help formulate your own strategies, tapping into the wants and needs of your mutual customers.