A solid marketing strategy is essential for all hotels wanting to publicize their property and connect with new guests. Unfortunately, a hyper-competitive landscape means spreading the word can be expensive, and when marketing money is spent without a clear plan in place, it can offer little or no return on investment.
The average hotel spends about 4-5% of total revenue on marketing. Cutting down on that figure is tempting, but there are real risks involved in scaling back a marketing effort. You might be sacrificing an important marketing channel or miss out on connecting with a certain group of travellers. That said, there are practical tactics and strategies available that’ll allow you to spend less on marketing without losing guests in the process.
Follow a Marketing Plan and Budget
Don’t abandon a plan too quickly. Develop a solid marketing strategy, and then stick with it. The flexibility of digital marketing is an asset, but it also makes it easy to switch tactics and hastily reinvest in new campaigns. It’s impossible to market effectively without well-defined monthly, quarterly and yearly plans in place. It’s also impossible to keep marketing costs in check without following a strict budget. In general, taking a systematic approach to marketing is always more cost-effective than a scattershot approach, as it keeps you from making impulsive spending decisions that can derail the best laid plans. So, develop a plan and allow it to run. Even if it’s not perfect, it’ll provide you with the data needed to refine your approach.
Think of OTAs as Partners
Online travel agencies may take a cut of revenue, but they also drive a lot of bookings. Use the OTA platform to post appealing pictures, write exciting copy and highlight positive guest ratings. All of these are low-cost ways to reach huge blocks of motivated travellers. Again, it’ll require a time investment, but it’ll also allow you to stretch your marketing dollar much further.
Revamp Your Website and Booking Engine
Almost all marketing is designed to direct potential guests towards an official website or booking engine. If the user experience is underwhelming in either location, however, the marketing effort is often wasted. The good news is that it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to redesign a website and upgrade a booking engine these days, even if you have limited technical expertise. You’ll need to invest some time, but the improved aesthetics and upgraded user experience will result in higher conversion rates. So, even though you won’t be increasing your marketing spend, you will be upping your bookings.
Perfect Your Social Media
A fun and engaging social media presence costs little to create, but makes a big statement about the hotel. Use platforms like YouTube and Instagram to show off your hotel and highlight local attractions and amenities. Start conversations with new or returning guests, and commit to answering questions over social platforms.
Capture Reluctant Reservations
The average guest acquisition cost is 15-25% of total guest revenue. This highlights how money can be lost when a guest elects to abandon a reservation at the last minute. Converting a guest who is ready to abandon a booking is still possible, however, by capturing an email address early and communicating quickly, which is why it’s important that your hotel’s PMS interfaces with advanced tools like Guestfolio. If these outreach efforts are helpful and create value by offering discounts or perks, reluctant guests are more likely to complete reservations.
Engage Guests and Encourage Reviews
A TripAdvisor survey reveals that 77% of guests read online reviews before booking a hotel room. This is essentially word-of-mouth marketing, but on a much larger scale. Hotels should encourage guests to leave online reviews by supplying direct links and offering perks. Needless to say, this approach demands an experience that guests will rate positively.
Fine-Tune the Guest Experience
Word-of-mouth marketing is the least expensive marketing channel, but one of the most effective. Ensuring that guests have an exceptional experience means they check out of the hotel eager to sing its praises. A modern property management system makes it easy to integrate every function of the hotel while still treating every guest as an individual.
Track the ROI of Everything
It’s easy to assume that marketing is working without really knowing where, when, why or how. Tracking the return on investment of entire campaigns, as well as individual efforts, reveals if and where marketing spend is being wasted. This leads to less waste in budget and more effective marketing efforts overall.
The old adage “don’t work harder, work smarter” really applies here. The key to marketing a hotel effectively isn’t to pour money into the budget. Rather, it’s about embracing new messages, new techniques and new approaches. That way, the cost of marketing drops even as bookings and revenue rise.
RoomKeyPMS integrates guest data on one platform and gives hoteliers smart tools to organize and analyze it. Everything from marketing to operations improves as a result. Learn about the real-world impact by contacting our team today.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / Jacob Lund