The new 2019 year is just around the corner, which means there is a whole set of opportunities waiting for us. By the end of 2018, the travel industry is expected to experience a 5% growth (Deloitte), as more and more people across the planet are willing to explore the world and create special memories. The travel consumer has changed a lot over the past few years, and businesses should keep up with this pace to stay relevant to their clients and survive the competition. Now, more than ever, it is time for the hotels of all types and sizes to revolutionize the way the market operates and create a sustainable competitive advantage for their brands. So, let’s look at the top trends that are going to influence the travel industry of tomorrow and the key takeaways we can use to build a successful hotel marketing strategy in 2019.
Ready to drive more direct bookings? Reinforce your brand first!
Putting more effort into driving direct bookings to your website and building your owned audience should be the core element of your smart hotel marketing strategy for 2019. This is the only sustainable way to gain more control over your business and build deeper relationships with your existing and future customers.
The current marketing efforts of many hotels are revolving around sustaining their presence on various booking platforms and OTAs. Of course, this totally makes sense since in many cases revenues coming from these agents account for a substantial part of our total profits. However, if this a sustainable model of growth? Not really!
Hotels do not own the audience of the booking agents and keep competing on prices, locations, and reviews instead of trying to push their brands and appeal to their customers in a much more meaningful way. At the same time, the travel business is extremely emotional and each hotel brand has its own individuality, which can be greatly reflected in its hotel marketing strategy.
So, what’s the answer? Build a stronger brand and work on attracting users to your website!
Our recipe for driving more direct hotel bookings:
- Clearly define the brand identity of your hotel company & its core brand messages. Be authentic and tell a unique story that will appeal to your audience.
- Create valuable content for your hotel owned media. To illustrate, many customers would go to your website after they find it on a third party website. Make sure they would never want to leave it.
- Communicate the advantages of booking directly from you. Create additional value and actively promote special offers & discounts for your website customers.
- Improve the user experience on your website and let the users book from social media
Experiences and personalization keep rocking the hotel marketing
Not surprisingly, focusing on creating unique travel experiences and personalization remains one of the top elements of the successful hotel marketing strategy for 2019. It is a way to differentiate yourself and find a path to the hearts of our future guests. Just give them what they dream about and really need, and the feedback will be immediate.
Both the millennials and elder travelers are seeking travel experiences rather than simple lodging, and this is becoming the core reason of going on holidays abroad. They want to create memories, repeat all these great things they have seen on social media and simply do something exceptional. Luckily, it is a great marketing opportunity for hotels wishing to differentiate and create real value for their customers.
No doubts, we all remember that “almost two-thirds of travelers (60%) experiences are now valued higher than material possessions” (Booking.com study)
Here is how you can make your hotel marketing more personalized:
- Always remember that your travel brand exists to help people in solving their personal problems. Be it a need to unwind after a hard year of work, to reinforce the relationship, spend time with the family or boost the adrenaline. That is why we really travel, isn’t?
- Promote the destination first. Use your blog and social media to inspire people to travel and show them what are all those great things they can try.
- Offer personalized experiences depending on each guest and help them to plan their holiday. In fact, this could be both experiences within your hotel and outside it – for example, the luxury villa brand Eats & Retreats is offering its guests such free experiences, as a visit to the spa, cooking classes, sunset watching tours and so on.
- Make your hotel Instagram-worthy. According to the Telegraph, ⅓ of millennials acknowledge that sharing pictures on social media is as important as traveling itself and almost a half of them said that they would not go on a vacation if their followers could not learn about it online. No doubts, this trend will only grow, while millennials are getting elder and converting into the primary buying force.
- Convert your customers into the decision makers. For example, you could for their opinion and use it to improve the experiences your hotel is providing.
- Optimize your website, remember about the importance of mobile and pay attention to the community management on social media
Technology as the driver of hotel marketing
We live in the era of the ongoing technological progress, and the travel customer is becoming more sophisticated and savvy as engineers and scientists keep coming up with new inventions. Thereby, travel and hospitality companies should take advantage of all the new technology appearing on the market to attract the attention of their audiences and win their minds. Indeed, advanced technology can and has to become an essential part of your hotel marketing strategy in 2019.
It is essential to bear in mind that any technological development you decide to adopt and use for your marketing purposes should reflect the needs of your audiences and make their experience with your brand more smooth and enjoyable. To illustrate, if the customers from your target audience need to make their booking process as fast and as customized as possible, introducing chatbots can be a great solution for your business. In addition, it would help you to cut cost and work more efficiently.
In such a manner, you will not introduce the chatbots simply because of other brands doing the same thing. Instead, you would only do it in case this is something your customers really want and your business would benefit from.
Some ideas on what types of technology you could opt for:
- Chat Bots. This artificial intelligence technology is conquering all kinds of sectors and industries and is definitely appealing to the millennial traveler. Check this guide to the chatbots for the travel industry to choose the best way to optimize this trend for your business.
- Voice search. We all sort of know that the voice search is an undeniable part of the future – the famous prediction of “50% of all searches done by voice by 2020” by comScore is becoming more real every day. Therefore, it is time for the travel brands to think of the way they can optimize their websites for this new type of search and benefit from it in all possible ways.
- Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Using this kind of technology on the pre-travel stage and converting it into the marketing tool can bring a bunch of valuable benefits to your travel brand. For instance, according to the study by Booking.com, 31% of global travelers enjoyed the concept of “virtual travel agent” using voice-activated assistants to respond to travel inquiries and questions. And again, planning the travel experiences is the cornerstone in the modern travel customer journey.
Rethinking the content marketing: be authentic
While content creation should remain the key element of your hotel marketing strategy, it is time to rethink the value it aims to provide. Every day, hundreds of new travel articles and travel pictures are being shared on the web and social media…that is why rewriting someone else’s travel guides and posting monotonous pictures of your hotel is just not going to work.
The only way hotels can engage with the modern reader is to be authentic and unique. Travel is all about experiences and discoveries, and people will only trust other people who travel and share high quality and useful content about their explorations. Moreover, you are better to share something exceptional: just like that, in the 2018 survey conducted by Schofields, 40% of respondents under 33 years old stated that Instagrammability as the key factor in the travel decision making process.
Here is how you can make your brand content more appealing:
- Opt for the video format. There is no doubt in the efficiency and popularity of video content among all sectors and consumer groups. For example, some experts forecast that by the end of 2019 video will account for 80% of the users’ digital consumption. However, it also means the rapidly growing competition. Luckily, there is a universal solution to that: be useful, unique and authentic! To illustrate, you can collaborate with influencers and video makers on barter conditions to create your own video stories.
- Do influence marketing to obtain the authentic photo content and materials for your blog. However, make sure to be strategic and only work with the creators that are relevant to your audience
- UGC is always the king! Encourage your guests to post online and share this content on your platforms.
Ready to add efficiency to your hotel marketing efforts?
In the end, it all narrows down to creating a strong hotel brand that is capable of telling its unique story and listen to its customers. With the resources we have at hand, nothing is impossible…and all you need to do is to use them properly and to be strategic in your decisions.
Ready to bring about this change? Contact us to talk about the future of travel marketing!