Revisiting a few key fundamentals and preparing your hotel for market resurgence is one way to take advantage of the challenging and unprecedented times facing the industry. In this blog post, we go over hotel content marketing tips for SEO, as well as your website, social media, and email marketing campaigns to ensure that your marketing engine is set up for success.
Discover why hotel content marketingTM is so important right now:
Even though the market is experiencing a downturn, now is not the time to cut off your content marketing. In fact, it’s prime time for reevaluating your strategy and shifting it toward the new future of travel, meetings and events. Here’s why hotel content marketing is crucial, even when times are tough.
1. It maintains your visibility to planners and keeps you from “going dark” digitally.
It’s all about preparedness and being ready for market resurgence. A webinar from Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International advised hoteliers against going dark digitally and cutting marketing budgets. Dan Wacksman, principal at hotel consulting firm Sassato and chairman of HSMAI’s marketing advisory board, said: “Going dark can have long-term negative implications. … You really don’t want to be in a position where demand starts picking up and you’re not in a position to capitalise on it.”
While you may be pressing pause on things like paid ads, you can make up some of the difference with hotel content marketing tactics. It will keep your marketing channels primed for the recovery. Make sure all of your channels are accurate, and update your hotel listing on sourcing networks, social channels, and Google.
Stuart Butler, COO at marketing firm Fuel, said: “Think of this as almost an opening of a hotel. You don’t start marketing the day you open the doors; you start six months before. You’ve got to get momentum.”
If you keep your hotel content marketing going – even during a downturn – you won’t have to spend time playing catch-up later when things improve. You’ll already be ahead of the game and have a leg up on the competition.
2. It allows you to maintain consistent communication with planners and customers.
What you say and how you treat your clients and customers during difficult times says more about your brand than any paid ad could. Communicate any policy changes related to health and sanitation right away, and post it front and centre on your hotel website. For communication with planners and guests, it’s important to strike the right tone and forge an emotional connection. It’s not only about what you say, but how you say it. It should be informative and timed appropriately, but also sincere, helpful, optimistic, and reassuring. Acknowledge fears while providing value and offer hope and inspiration.
3. It helps you find new opportunities for expanding your market share.
While hotels might not be marketing at pre-COVID-19 levels, creative and targeted messaging is still needed during this time. Tammie Carlisle, head of hospitality at marketing firm Milestone, suggests starting with serving first-responders, truckers, or others who can still travel and need rooms. Or, offer businesses day-rates to use rooms as offices.
For example, the Hilton Darwin— a luxury hotel overlooking the Darwin harbour, Australia — offers an in-room workstation for guests who want to work remotely, but maybe not from their own homes.
To stay busy during the pandemic and prepare for a bounce back, Ed Skapinok, member of the HSMAI sales advisory board, recommends focussing on the shifting market share.
“Regardless of what demand for rooms is like in your market, are you doing a better job or worse job of capturing available business than your competitive set?” says Skapinok.
He also advises hoteliers to “get to know the business that you don’t know,” which means finding out who is staying in hotels right now — so that you can know how to find them in the future, should another similar situation like COVID-19 arise.
Explore 7 ways to improve your hotel content marketing:
Now that you know why hotel content marketing is key to your success – even during a downturn – here are a few areas you can focus on to build a strong content marketing strategy that can withstand any hardships.
1. Stay visible where planners are sourcing.
Planners are still planning, and they’re sourcing venues for future events through the Cvent Supplier NetworkTM. The more you complete your CSN profile, the more planners will see it. Make sure all of your facility details are accurate and up-to-date, with all amenities listed — this will ensure your property shows up in the correct search filters. List all possible meeting room combinations and upload a high-quality picture to use as your main image. For more specific tips based on diamond listings, check out our support page.
2. Optimise your website for search engines.
Search engine optimisation is an important part of any marketing strategy. Making sure that your website shows up high on Google’s search results involves a few key things.
Create compelling, authoritative content
This will help boost the number of inbound links to your site and your overall search rankings. Establish authority by positioning yourself as a thought leader in the industry and creating high-quality content that is relevant to your intended audience. Right now, that could be content about hybrid events, virtual event technology, or how your venue is equipped and prepared to assist planners. By getting other websites to link to your content, this will also boost your authority in the eyes of search engines.
Guest and planner reviews of your hotel are great for improving your overall operations, but they also contribute to better SEO rankings. Algorithms favour review content because it’s considered valuable and always updating. Hoteliers can encourage reviews by sending emails to planners or attendees after the event is over.
Check out HubSpot’s Ultimate Guide to Content Creation to get started creating authoritative content.
Conduct keyword research
This will allow you to build your content around the industry terms that are searched often, and therefore, relevant to planners. Work with your web team to optimise the content and all of the on-page elements, such as the page title and URL, as well as the metadata.
For example, the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is the only singular hotel site that appears on the first page of a Google search for “luxury hotel darling harbour” – because its website and URL are optimised for those exact words.
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool you can use to find relevant keywords and see estimates for search volume and competition. You can also use it to help you create new campaigns based on your keyword research. Other tools like Moz or SEMrush provide more robust offerings and allow you to track competitors and stay ahead of the curve.
When it comes to determining what type of content to create, a good way to start is to think of commonly searched-for phrases or frequently asked questions from planners. Then, type that in the Google search bar and see what results show up on the first page, and what populates in the “related searches” and “people also ask” fields. Use this research to help you construct content for your own website that will be sure to address planner needs and questions.
Optimise your website for mobile
Optimise for mobile with responsive design and make sure your site loads quickly. Have a site structure that is easy for bots to crawl and provides a good user experience. Strip down unnecessary features that may slow down your site. Format online content with bullet points, shorter sentences, and subheadings to make it easily digestible and scannable.
Content that appears short on your computer can seem much longer on a smartphone. Reconsider which property images you use and size them properly and remember that smartphone images appear much smaller than those on a full-size monitor.
3. Leverage your social media channels.
Social media is a powerful content marketing tool for increasing your hotel brand awareness. Hoteliers can use pre-event and pre check-in emails to encourage planners and attendees to follow their social media accounts and promote exclusive content. It will boost your followers and amplify your online presence.
Like thought leadership content, your social media profiles should position you as an expert and a resource for event tips and ideas. Consider it as a place to showcase your brand, your message, and who you are as a team.
Here are three building blocks for a powerful social media profile:
- A strong strategy. Start by determining which platforms are most used by your target buyers. You’ll also need to set goals: Are you ultimately trying to drive more group bookings, build interaction, increase website traffic, or gain more followers? Maybe all of the above apply but sort them by order of importance.
- Compelling content. Social media posts must be different than many other types of content. At the very least, make sure they’re shareable, searchable, brief, relevant, and visually appealing.
- Audience engagement. To keep your planner followers interested and engaged with your content, you have to be equally engaged. Respond quickly to comments and complaints. Ask for followers’ feedback or ideas. Or offer contests or giveaways — a surefire way to build excitement on your page.
For a real-life example, RIU Hotels & Resorts is a winner across all social media platforms. Even with a sizeable following, they still manage to craft personal replies to comments and questions – no canned responses here! The brand also has a knack for showcasing their destinations in unique ways and hosting the occasional social media contest.
4. Create a winning email marketing strategy.
To start your email marketing strategy, you’ll want to focus on creating a steady schedule that doesn’t inundate recipients’ inboxes. Securing venue space is not an impulse decision for planners. Most often, venue sourcing™ requires a long buying cycle, and buyers won’t be making instant decisions based on a single email blast. This means that multiple emails released over a scheduled time period is the best option for maintaining planners’ attention.
Secondly, make sure that your emails sell the content, not the venue. Each email sent to planners should be relevant to their events or attendees. For example, consider including ideas for great offsite activities and local attractions once they reopen, suggestions on socially distant room layouts in your event space, or photos showcasing how other planners created engaging events in your venue.
5. Build a list of engaged email subscribers.
Relevant, quality content – like with best SEO practices – is a key component to creating a list of engaged email subscribers. People want to read the content they find interesting, so the more relevant the content, the more likely they are to click through it. Lodging magazine provides additional tips for how to build a strong list of subscribers.
Audience segmentation and email nurture tracks can help you create custom marketing campaigns for each customer based on a variety of factors, like demographic, geographic location, past booking history, vertical, etc. According to Mailchimp, segmented email campaigns have a 14% higher open rate and 101% higher click-through rate than non-segmented campaigns.
The more relevant you make the email campaign to the planner, the higher your open rates and click-throughs will be — ultimately boosting your potential revenue and conversion rate. Through testing and then gathering the data, you can identify the best time to send an email and what the highest performing copy looks like, and then adjust your future emails from there.
6. Create quality email content.
Optimise your emails for mobile
Make sure your email marketing strategy takes into consideration mobile users and planners who are going through the buyer journey from their smartphones. The same principles for making a website that is mobile-friendly apply to email content for mobile devices.
Make the content engaging by including video clips. Include thumbnails or short videos of your hotel — whether it’s a sizzle reel, video of your location, or an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at an aspect of your property. Make your hotel stand out and make it easy for planners to visualise their event in your space. Assure the images are the right size and resolution – test the email and view it from mobile phone dimensions to make sure they render properly.
Include positive property reviews
Include recent good reviews within the body of the email copy. It could persuade someone who is on the fence about booking with you for the first time, or it could encourage a repeat visit. Keep the content short and easy to read, with scannable bullet points and headers, if applicable.
Personalise the content
Don’t underestimate the power of personalisation marketing. Use the planner’s name to lead off, or reference past events they held at your property. This, combined with segmentation, will help build an engaged audience and assure that you’re delivering relevant content.
Other tips to keep in mind when writing email content:
- Take baby steps to pique interest and build trust.
- Get the planner excited about the possibility of hosting an event at your hotel.
- Use conversational language to showcase your personality and the character of your hotel brand.
- Don’t go focus on selling — your emails should make planners feel safe and smart about trusting their business with you.
- Don’t put the responsibility on the planner to reach out to you. Instead, end the email by telling the planner how you’ll follow up. For example, “I’ll call you tomorrow afternoon. If another time is better, I’ll follow up as you suggest.”
- If you have a hotel blog, forward your contacts one or two articles with personal messages that you think are relevant to their event needs, or will help them to plan an event in the future.
7. Publish a variety of content about your new offerings and policies.
To stand out from the competition, choose your newest updates or offerings and create a variety of content, and share it across multiple platforms for maximum exposure.
Does your hotel offer virtual tours for planners or hotel robots? Do you offer rooms as workspaces for people who are working remotely? How have you adapted your food and beverage options?
Let planners and customers know about your latest offerings with well-produced videos shared on all social media platforms. Write blog posts that detail the offerings and are optimised for keyword search terms. Craft click-worthy email newsletters with video clips, photos, and short content snippets letting customers know about your new options. Make sure to include these updates on your website and in your CSN profile as well.