In today's digital environment, hoteliers are challenged by the many communication options available to them. Digital communication channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and others offer the opportunity to be highly visible and top of mind. But in order to be visible, you have to be visible. How do you do this? Focus on hotel digital marketing and strategically leverage the various online channels that your target audience is likely engaging with.
For today's hotels and conference centers, the brand website serves as the hub for much of the interaction with both current and prospective clients. Driving traffic to those websites, then, becomes an important focus of their digital marketing efforts.
Explore ways to utilize hotel digital marketing:
1. Raising awareness through organic search
Organic search represents the traffic that comes to your site based on keyword searches that people do online on search engines such as Google. As the most popular search engine, Google captures a great deal of information on exactly what people are searching for, which can provide important insights as you consider your content marketing strategy.
Getting inside the head of your target audience — in this case, event planners — can help you identify the words and phrases that should show up prominently in your website copy, headlines, and photo and video captions. Cvent's A Day in the Life of an Event Planner survey can help give you some clues. The idea is that your website content (and any other content you create) should be designed to solve the problems and address the challenges that your audience faces.
2. SEO best practices
SEO, or search-engine optimization, is a term that encompasses the various activities that marketers take to drive traffic to their website from searches done via channels such as Google and Bing. The goal of good SEO is to ensure that the right keywords are included in your website copy, headers (i.e., H1, H2, etc.), and image tags so that your site will show up in search results. Ideally, your site will show up in the first page of results — the top 10 sites for a particular keyword. Free tools such as Google Ads or paid options such as SEMRush and Ahrefs can be used to identify which search terms are used most often and how competitive these terms are — that is, how many other websites are using them.
Organic search is an important part of SEO, but traffic may also be driven by:
- Referrals, or links to your website found on other sites to articles you've written or been quoted in, for example.
- Social, where links to your content are included in your own social media posts. Again, these links will drive referral traffic that can be viewed and analyzed through your analytics.
- Paid digital ads, such as those you've run through Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media channels, or through Google Ads.
- Direct to site, meaning users directly enter your URL into the search engine's search bar (after seeing it, for instance, in an ad you've run, on a business card, etc.).
3. Focusing on your unique features
As you distribute content through these various channels, it's important to think about what your planner audience values and how you're uniquely positioned to provide it to them.
Success in the digital environment, as in the traditional marketing environment, requires staking a position that is both unique and compelling. It's about standing out, not being the same as. Fortunately, it has become relatively easy to find out how your competitors are positioning their offerings. You then need to consider how you will position your venue in ways that are both different than your competitors and aligned with what your clients value.
4. Tools to help streamline the process
The digital environment is vast, with an ever-growing number of opportunities available to help spread the word about your services and offerings. That can be good news, of course. It can also be overwhelming. But there are many useful tools that can help you streamline activities as you work to build your venue's digital presence.
- Tools to learn about opportunities for media coverage. HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and ProfNet, both now owned by Cision, are sites used by a wide range of journalists and reporters to find sources for their stories. How might these tools benefit you? Suppose a reporter for a meetings blog or trade publication is researching an article on innovative ways convention centers are attracting events to their venues. You might reach out to share some of the options you're providing. The resulting story, with a link to your website, could then be used in your communications to help build awareness and generate website traffic.
- Tools to evaluate SEO activity. Google Analytics tops the list here. It's free and can be added to your website to help you track traffic and evaluate how users are navigating. Other tools can provide you with insights into what competitors are doing online and how their efforts are working. Check out SEMRush, Ahrefs, and SpyFu. Two additional tools that can be helpful for reviewing your content to see if it could be further optimized to drive traffic to your site are Yoast and All in One SEO Pack, both WordPress plugins. These also offer the opportunity to evaluate how your competitors' keywords are drawing traffic to their sites, giving you new insights and ideas into the types of keywords you could be using.
- Productivity tools. IFTTT and Zapier are two tools that can help you streamline and automate tasks based on mini programs you produce or templates for popular applications.
- Organizing, scheduling, and editing tools. Tools such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck can help you be more efficient and organized when creating and publishing social media posts and monitoring what others may be saying online. Tools such as Grammarly and HemingwayApp can help you edit your content to make sure it is free of errors and easily readable.
Make hotel digital marketing a priority!
Following the guidelines here can help you boost your venue's visibility with key target audiences. Interested in learning more about strategies for improving your marketing efforts? Check out our eBook Straight From Cvent CONNECT: Group Business Best Practices, based on experts' presentations at our 2019 conference.