March 26, 2020
By Cvent

There’s more to hotel marketing than filling rooms — brand loyalty is a key player in the hospitality game. Your marketing strategy must encompass returning guests and event planners, as well as first-time business. This can be tricky, especially if you’ve been hard at it for awhile. How do you design fresh campaigns that draw in your intended audience and drive bookings? To start, consider your offerings and how they match up to competitors and the wish lists of guests and planning clients. 

What do travelers want? They may be expecting:

  • Incredible food experiences

  • Entertainment options

  • Photo opportunities against striking backdrops

  • A combo of business and leisure offerings

  • Money-saving deals

  • Local knowledge

  • A good story to tell

What about event planners? Their expectations may include: 

  • Genuinely unique and local catering options

  • White-glove event service

  • Support and transparency

  • An onsite A/V and tech team

Figure out what makes your target audience tick, then explore these 14 tips to take your hotel marketing strategy to the next level.

Discover 14 must-know tips with this hotel marketing guide:

1. Implement a loyalty program for groups.

Rewards programs are for groups, too. Group sales don’t stop at booking; revenue streams are numerous. Reward planners when they reach group sales targets and goals, or try these ideas:

  • Promise room upgrades or an extra day free for planners who fill a set number of rooms. Reward and earn return business when you offer credit for future room blocks based on planner referrals.

  • Promote extended stay deals for guests who wish to add a day or two to their stay after a group booking.

  • Take cues from Wyndham Hotels and base rewards on guest spend: whether that’s upgrades, extended stays, room service, or restaurant totals.

  • Incentivize reviews or social media interactions.

Use our hotel marketing guide to grow your business

2. Position your property as the go-to hotel for offsite events.

Advertise your hotel as the ideal place to stay during events held at other nearby venues. Get a slice of the business by promoting what your location does best. Promote directly to individual travelers, event planners, or corporate groups to earn their business. Offer room blocks for guests, become a go-to spot for event VIPs, or invite conference-goers to unwind at your bar after a day spent networking. To get their attention, try these ideas:

  • Become a trip planning resource and let people — guests or not — save agendas, restaurants, attractions, and ideas to their travel planner.

  • Create a digital travel journal app to connect with travelers. When the trip is done, travelers can turn the digital journal into a travel diary they can share to social media, via email, or formatted for print.

  • Market your venue for speed-networking events, pub trivia, stand-up night, after-hours gym or pool rental, or after parties for conferences held at another venue.

3. Ensure accurate venue listings across all platforms.

In addition to promoting your venue on a supplier network, OTAs, and review websites, you must also make sure those listings are up to date and informative. These event venue supplier network listings and other promotional sites are not set it and forget it solutions. Provide current (and gorgeous) photography, timely responses to reviews and comments, and ensure accuracy in descriptions, layout options, rates, and policies.

Plan photography to target the appropriate audience.

You can tell a story with photography, but it’s essential to tell the right story. Consider your target audience — planners, group bookings, individual travelers, or a combination — and work with a professional photographer to create a narrative. It’s vital to showcase your best rooms and spaces while accurately representing the venue as a whole. Virtual room tours create an engaging experience that lets guests see exactly what they’re booking.

Tout renovations — and let guests know when they’re happening.

Venue-wide overhauls or smaller updates should be shared in progress and upon completion. Let guests know ahead of time if the upgrades will impact their experience in any way. Use social media to build excitement about the renovations with behind-the-scenes photography and video. Finally, offer a live video reveal when the job is complete.

4. Reward guests with upgrades, surprises, and extended stays.

Rewarding guests isn’t new, but why make them wait until they check in to earn something? Gamify your rewards system: Allow guests to earn points for pre-stay achievements, which can be redeemed at check-in or during their stay.  Guests can earn restaurant discounts, free items, extended check-in or check-out hours, free dessert — whatever works for your location. Rewarding guests for interactions outside of a stay keeps them coming back. Let guests rack up points by:

  • Reading local travel guide content

  • Choosing add-ons during check-out

  • Making a reservation at a partner restaurant

  • Posting about their stay or reservation on social media

5. Go above and beyond for a stellar guest experience.

Earn loyalty and return visits by delivering incredible customer service through every step of the guest journey. Little experiences add up to a positive stay and loyal customers. Beyond being friendly, helpful, and available, add personal touches with:

  • Handwritten welcome notes

  • Individual recommendations for local bakeries, restaurants, and shops

  • Welcome baskets filled with local treats

  • Toiletries with local ties

  • A basket of fruit in the lobby

  • Hot coffee at all times

  • Room delivery from the bar

6. Earn exceptional reviews through engagement.

It’s not news that a top-notch customer service experience contributes to high praise and great reviews. Create opportunities for interaction to boost your ratings, as well.

Earn referrals and reviews from planners when you lend a hand or teach a skill. Offer a dedicated staff member or team to assist planners whether they need extra hands for set-up, recommendations for F&B, vendor connections, or additional resources. Host live or pre-recorded webinars that not only show off your hotel as a venue, but also position your staff as go-to experts on all things events.

Encourage conversation and connection using social media:

7. Add value when you upsell.

Promote add-on packages and services that benefit guests. Manage upselling opportunities in one place with a group hotel reservation solution that automatically promotes upgrades, extended stays, and amenities to increase revenue in peak seasons. Or, go further with offers that increase value for the customer — and give your marketing game a boost.

  • Give guests the key to the city. Work with businesses to turn the guest’s room key or in-app QR code into city-wide discounts on meals, museum entry, yoga classes, tours, or VIP access.
  • Allow guests to pre-pay for priority parking. Add parking passes for the best parking locations throughout the city, including on- and off-site lots.
  • Include a field for special requests. You may not have considered all of your options. Guests may take the opportunity to ask for something outlandish, but you may discover ideas for special packages or areas that could use overall improvements.

8. Become a digital tour guide.

Provide informative content to drive new traffic and increase conversions. Curate digital city guides to show what the whole location has to offer — and position your hotel as an expert. Photography, text-based guides, virtual tours, and video content can help guests plan their visits. Allow guests to save ideas to their account for follow-up recommendations from hotel staff to earn insight into common guests’ preferences and needs. Or, designate staff to produce curated city guides on an individual basis.

9. Invite decision-makers to experience your venue.

Host networking or educational events for event professionals. Slow, off-season stretches are a perfect time — fill rooms with planners, vendors, or chamber of commerce admins and facilitate networking, problem-solving, and idea sharing.

10. Stand out in your email marketing and newsletter distribution.

When designing an email marketing campaign, pick an overarching theme to guide you. Informative, personalized, or shareable — these are the big winners in the game. Cut-and-paste marketing messages that put the same tired deal on blast aren’t going to cut it. Customers look for value in their inbox and delete anything else. While there’s nothing wrong with promoting exclusive deals, give your connections something they can use with these ideas:

  • Share your location or group’s “Top Ten Guide” — and fill in the blank to create a series. Summer music festivals, BBQ restaurants, breakfast spots, espresso shots.

  • Let them in on a little secret: Send a monthly email from the chef or bartender with recipes, mixer ideas, or prep tips.

  • Build brand loyalty by announcing news about awards or nominations. If you earned bragging rights, let your audience know so they can share the joy.

  • Remind guests how long it’s been since they stayed with you, and tempt them to book a new trip. Use care with this tactic: Reminders may not be welcome if the latest stay was for a funeral or other sensitive matter.

11. Make social media “social.”

Promotional posts aren’t what users login to social media accounts for. Understanding the psychology of social media use can point you in the right direction when crafting promotional messages. Creating a connection involves more than discounts and promos. Build relationships with followers when you provide opportunities to connect.

Use interactive videos, Q&A sessions, or live video to connect your venue with specific ideas. Possibilities include your city’s fantastic nightlife, the unforgettable tableside show provided by your chefs, or your event staff’s creativity with conference seating layouts.  

Create photo ops throughout the venue — in the lobby, outside the hotel, in the guest rooms — to get the Instagram generation involved.

Use polls to get current followers involved and earn new ones. Got a new hotel mascot? Whether you’ve added a lobby dog or garden sculpture, let the internet decide on a name. After all, it worked for Boaty McBoatface.

Finally, moderate social media groups for planners or guests to help foster sharing, connections, and positive associations:

  • Build or participate in LinkedIn networks for event professionals.

  • Host webinars or develop a mentoring group to connect new and seasoned hospitality professionals.

  • Create a Facebook group for travelers to share ideas, travel tips, location recommendations, and stories.

12. Leverage guest and event planner reviews.

Show off reviews and ratings on your website. An integrated reviews feed or dedicated testimonials page shows future guests and event planners that you’re proud of your hotel and venues.

Increase the number of guest reviews by asking for feedback multiple times before guests leave (allowing you to turn around a poor experience and earn a better review) and also via email after they’ve checked out.

13. Meet the needs of international travelers.

Global consumers prefer content in their native language. This is no surprise: You can’t know what to expect if you can’t read the language. If automated copy translations are the fallback, your website will fall short. Translation apps that rely on AI are better than flipping through phrasebooks, but accuracy suffers. The best option is for a real person to translate and proof copy. Use your Google Analytics demographics data to see where the majority of your site visitors are from to determine the top languages you should target — and include any common languages already spoken in your country. Optimize your website to accept a range of currency.

International visitors tend to stay longer and spend more — but they often have different priorities than domestic travelers. Top activities for international travelers include shopping, dining, and sightseeing, so provide ample material and be ready to address any needs that may come up. Options that may entice international travelers include:

  • Free international calling

  • High-speed Wi-Fi for video chat

  • Multilingual staff

  • In-person tours or sightseeing guides in their language

  • Outlet adapters

  • Mobile hotspots for use outside of the hotel

14. Recalibrate incentives to match your target audience.

Take a look at your customer personas for key information. Who are your guests, and what are they looking for? Business travelers aren’t craving updates on kids’ clubs and activities. They want extended gym hours and comfortable conference rooms. A family reunion won’t be drawn in by promises of well-stocked business centers; they’re going to book based on available space to spread out (and maybe for the well-stocked bar). Valuable offers match up with your guests’ wishlist. Tailor landing pages based on top searches so you can capture the right traffic and encourage conversions with relevant offers. Consider these ideas:

  • Promise couples room service on a whim or an in-room waffle bar as a sweet gesture.

  • Fill your blog with mouthwatering restaurant recommendations to excite out-of-towners.

  • Collaborate with restaurants for delivery directly to guests’ rooms.

  • Include complimentary access to video streaming services to please every traveler, whether they’re on a family vacation or attending a tech trade show.

  • Host pop-up food nights with chefs from favorite establishments teaching hands-on cooking classes so guests can craft their own meal.

  • Promote mid-week room blocks to capture the attention of professionals looking for affordable space to host meetings and seminars.

Put the tips in this hotel marketing guide to good use!

And remember: Marketing techniques aren’t one-size-fits-all, and strategies must evolve. To declare success, you must evaluate each effort to measure impact, adjust as necessary, and launch campaigns designed to draw in your target business. 

Next, discover hotel marketing trends that get results and learn how luxury hotel ads stand out. Take your marketing strategy even further with competitive hotel ads and group business solutions that get results.

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