Thanks to budget flights, vacation packages, the growing value of experiences over material things, the spread of Instagram and the rise of Airbnb, travel has become a multi-trillion dollar industry.
But supply has kept up with demand. Between AirBnBs, hostels, hotels, glamping, Couchsurfing and others, marketing is key to differentiating yourself from the competition (which there’s plenty of).
The good news is, technology has given savvy marketers more and better ways to market than ever. Once you’ve mastered the tools for online marketing, take a look at the trends that will separate the leaders in the industry from the rest in the near future.
We’ve moved beyond shouting ‘Hey Siri’ into our phones.
Today, more and more people are using voice search regularly, for increasingly complex questions. Ensuring you’re engineering your information to make it voice search friendly isn’t difficult and it’ll pay dividends as Alexa, Siri and Cortana get more comfortable in more homes.
There are still some things voice search can’t do for hotels. By and large, travelers still rely heavily on screens for comparing prices and viewing potential hotels and reviews. Nonetheless, there is growing interest in using voice search in the process.
According to SocialTables, there’s been a 343% yearly increase in the use of voice search on for hotels on Microsoft Bing just in the UK.
Although this market may still be in the minority, you can be sure you’re in a good place when this becomes a commonplace way to search and do business. One thing you can do now is to start putting the pieces in place to be first in search.
Tips for Voice Search
Voice search optimization is a thing! Think about how people ask questions and use that when constructing your posts. For example, people might ask, “How can I optimize for voice search?” or “What is voice search optimization?” And we’d answer, “Voice search optimization is ensuring your content is tailored to the way people speak and ask questions naturally. There are a number of ways to ensure your content is optimized for voice search, but the most important thing is gearing it to how users naturally speak and ask questions.”
This doesn’t rule out SEO. Not by a long shot. Results will still be ranked by what appears first on Google, which — although smarter and more selective than before — still relies on keywords to choose what to push ahead.
The World Hotels Collection recommends working specifically on your FAQ (maybe writing a blog post for each of your most asked questions) )and local listings to improve your chances of being picked up.
Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the cruxes of the travel industry. Since the invention of social media, a way of leveraging this has been through influencer marketing.
Even this major brand understood the power of joining forces with individuals to choose and highlight top destinations across the world (and suggest travelers stay at a Hilton nearby!)
Tips for Influencer Marketing Campaigns
It may be better to work with a micro-influencer than one with a massive following. Smaller numbers sometimes mean higher engagement, and that means a higher ROI for your brand.
Vet your influencers before partnering. Get to know them, review their profile thoroughly — one scandal can harm your brand.
Partner with influencers who share your target market. Travel influencers are very popular, but you may have a niche: location, budget travel, unique experiences, luxury travel; if you do, it’s best to find someone that intersects with that for maximum efficacy.
Your target market used to be a buyer persona. They used to be a demographic, have certain interests, be certain ages, behave certain ways that you would appeal to with your messaging and branding.
Not so anymore.
Now, your target market is also whoever is looking for your information, at that moment.
This might sound too easy, or like a catch-all tactic, but micro-moment marketing is a game-changer for the travel industry.
This widely cited infographic from Think With Google identifies four key moments in the traveler’s buyer journey which brands can use in their marketing.
The four key moments are:
- “I-want-to-get-away” moments
- “Time-to-make-a-plan” moments
- “Let’s-book-it” moments
- “Can’t-wait-to-explore” moments
As a hotel marketer, your job is to design your digital web presence to deliver what they need at each moment. That means giving them information that’s instantly available and relevant.
Today’s customers are less loyal to brands than they are to getting their needs met.
One example Google used was Red Roof Inn, which managed to take a fraction of the budget of its major competitors and turn ‘let’s book it’ moments into real revenue by understanding their customers.
Red Roof Inns are near to airports and convenient, especially for stranded passengers after flight cancellations. Realizing this, the team began to target ads to customers after canceled or delayed flights.
For frustrated and weary customers who had their mobile phones out, looking for the nearest available hotel that their phones would pick up, Red Roof was first on the list.
(Video courtesy of Mobile Marketing Association)
The result was a 60% increase in bookings and a 375% increase in conversions. Rather than working on a persona, they were working on a need.
Consumers are more aware of their carbon footprint, and they’re increasingly aware of the environmental impact of the hotels and chains they choose to stay in. Even Vogue magazine admires hotels that are going plastic free.
According to Trivago, the numbers show travelers are more likely to consider the environment when booking a holiday package:
66% of respondents stated they’d “pay more for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact”.
In 2017, two-thirds of travelers on holiday surveyed said they’d “make lifestyle trade-offs to benefit the environment”).
Travel is now known to be more affordable, but can also be an environmentally unfriendly pastime. Travelers have paid more and more attention to this, and hotels have done well to engage with both the ethical and market imperative for a greener industry.
Practically, that means implementing some new practices: some small examples include offering options to hang up towels instead of replacing them every day, sourcing initiatives to sustainable providers, reducing waste (e.g. switching to plastic-free areas or starting recycling programs).
Tips for Eco-friendly marketing
- Make it official! You can get certified by TripAdvisor’s Green Leaders program. Your hotel will get an official stamp on their website, so browsers can easily recognize your status.
Paperless advertising is in. In the digital age, the need for paper is minimal. If you have to print, using recycled paper is now seen as smart, not budget or quirky.
State your commitment to green travel on your website and in your blogs. Be sure travelers who are looking for an eco-friendly stay know they can find one at your hotel.
This may seem simple, but it’s powerful. A picture is worth 1,000 words. If the environment is important to you, highlight your green spaces on your brochures and your site.
2020 will undoubtedly bring unforeseeable new and exciting changes to the game, but there are some that hoteliers and their marketing teams can look ahead to.
Here are four major hotel trends in marketing to be aware of for 2020.
- Voice Search
- Influencer Marketing
- Micro-moment marketing
- Eco-friendly practices
What do you think? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!