Digital marketing is essential if you want to drive bookings and especially if you’re after more direct business for your hotel. But with the countless available tools and strategies, it can be hard to decide which ones to implement. The following article highlights seven hotel marketing techniques to concentrate on to make your direct booking soar.

1. Optimise Your Website for Search Engines

Increase your website’s online visibility and reach through SEO (search engine optimisation). This will help you rank higher and give you a better chance of appearing in your ideal guest’s search results. There are three main ways you can apply SEO to your website.

1. On-page SEO: Also referred to as content marketing, this technique means that you create relevant content for your target audience. That could be blog posts about the best brunch places in your neighbourhood, top tips for uncommon activities or news about your property. Use keyword research tools like Ahrefs, Semrush or Google Keyword Planner for inspiration and to find out which topics would do best for your audience.

2. Off-page SEO: As the name suggests, this type of SEO happens outside your website. It requires you to build links to your hotel’s site from reliable, high-authority sources. This could include media channels, high-profile blogs, local news, etc. The more high-quality sites link to your hotel, the better your chances of securing top spots on the search engine results page.

3. Technical SEO: Google favours well-structured pages because they’re easier to crawl and provide a better user experience. For this, ensure your pages are correctly interlinked. Another way to make both Google and website visitors happy is to optimise your site for mobile. With over 5.31 billion people browsing on portable devices, this step is an absolute must.

2. Offer Incentives for Booking Directly

This is one of the easiest ways to make booking direct more attractive to your website visitors. Offer the most advantageous deal via your site, and you’ll immediately see direct bookings go up.

However, this doesn’t mean just listing a lower rate on your site. Instead, you could include free breakfast, early check-in or late check-out, an airport transfer or an upgrade for those reserving via your site. Another popular option is a free drink at the bar or generous cancellation policies. Get creative and test different approaches to find what works best for your target audience.

3. Set up a Loyalty Program

A loyalty program aims to reward guests for staying at your hotel and encourage them to return. Usually, this happens via discounts, gifts or other in-stay perks. Most properties choose to set up a tiered program that gives extra benefits to your most loyal guests.

While creating, implementing and running such a program costs time and money, the rewards for your hotel make it worthwhile. Data shows that taking care of repeat guests is five times more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.

4. Leverage Email Marketing

The saying that email marketing is dead couldn’t be further from the truth. 49% of people reported that they’d be happy to hear from their favourite brands. This means that as long as your email communication is relevant and/or beneficial to them, they want to see you in their inbox.

For example, you could send monthly or quarterly newsletters with your property’s latest updates and offers. This keeps you in front of people’s minds and gives them a reason to book with you. After all, why wouldn’t they want to check out your new bar, the refurbished spa or the summer restaurant menu?

Pre-arrival emails are also a powerful tool. Suggest relevant add-ons or upgrades and allow guests to book them before check-in. This gives them an extra reason to look forward to their stay, further improves their experience and helps you drive revenue.

5. Use Google Hotel Ads and free Google Hotel Booking Links

Google Ads are a fantastic way to increase your brand awareness among people still early in the research phase. They have only a general idea of what they’re looking for.

Google Hotel Ads and the free booking links are for those who are further along in the process and already know what they want. If you haven’t started using these tools yet, now is the time!

The Hotel Ads and booking links allow you to get right in front of your audience without crafting ad copy or managing campaigns. This makes them an efficient and highly effective way of driving clicks with a strong chance of converting.

6. Build Your Online Reputation

What would you trust more during your hotel research: an Instagram ad or a review from another traveller? According to Nielsen’s research, 84% of consumers “completely or somewhat trust product recommendations from those around them like friends, family, and coworkers.” Similarly, TripAdvisor’s research found that 81% of people frequently or always read reviews before booking a hotel. This shows how important it is to have a strong reputation on review sites.

Offering excellent service is a given here. But providing guests with options to customise their stay allows you to go the extra mile. The obvious next step would be to improve your guest’s experience. Let people choose preferred add-ons pre-arrival, so you can wow them with the time of their life as soon as they set foot in the door.

Asking more travellers to share reviews is important to create a steady flow of up-to-date comments. You can do this while guests check out or via an automated post-stay email. But that alone won’t increase your review score.

7. Grow your Following and Engagement on Social Media

Social media is the perfect space to get in front of people at various stages of the guest’s journey. If you’re wondering about what to post, here are a few ideas:

  • Updates about your property: do you have a new seasonal menu or a cocktail of the week? Did you recently renovate or reopen a venue? Maybe you hired a new chef? All of these points can be shared on social media.
  • Deals and special offers: if you’re launching a special summer sale or have a promotion for an upcoming holiday, let your followers know about it.
    Your unique selling point: are the sunset views magnificent from your terrace? Are your chef’s creations too beautiful to eat? Highlight what sets you apart to show what makes a stay with you special.
  • Behind-the-scenes content: people love to know that there are humans behind a brand. Show your team at work, preparing for a banquet or giving the finishing touch to a guest room. This portrays your human side and makes you more approachable.

Once you start posting, check which content does especially well and work more with that format. Finally, you can also look into influence collaborations. Do your research to find partners that your target audience follows and respects. Get their input on the type of campaigns that work well and experiment to see which approach yields the best results for you.

Free Hotel Marketing Checklist

This hotel marketing checklist is designed to help you nail your digital marketing efforts, reach prospective guests globally, and turn current guests into loyal ones.

Click here to download the “Hotel Marketing Checklist”.

Now you know which seven hotel digital marketing techniques are the key to driving more direct bookings. Whether you start with social media, email marketing, or Google Hotel Ads is up to you. But the sooner you get going, the sooner you’ll start seeing your brand recognition, online reputation and direct bookings grow.

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This article is written by our Expert Partner Oaky

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