Part of boosting group business and sales is knowing how to market your hotel and your destination. It’s a combination of a lot of moving parts – from projecting a message that resonates with your audience and producing the best content optimized for search, to building your presence on social media and placing the right ads at the right time, in the right place. With all these elements – and more – the world of digital marketing can seem overwhelming.
Consider this blog post as a way to get your feet wet and dip your toe into the wide pool of digital marketing. Read on to learn more about some of the main types of digital marketing you should know and the hotel marketing tools you can use to help you reach your goals.
Before we get started, here’s a brief overview of some of the main kinds of digital marketing and what they entail. We've covered each type in much greater detail in separate posts, so be sure to bookmark the links to learn more!
- Email marketing. Typically, marketing emails are campaigns and sent to a segmented group of customers, providing them with content relevant to their needs.
- Content marketing. This involves any kind of content creation meant to garner interest in a brand’s products and services. It can be through blog posts, website content, ebooks, etc.
- Social media marketing. This type of marketing uses social media platforms – like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, etc. – to promote a brand, products, or services.
- Search engine optimization (SEO). This process builds the quality and quantity of traffic to a webpage by focusing on organic traffic.
- Pay-per-click ads (PPC). This is a strategy for increasing traffic to a website. The advertiser – the company who the ad is for – pays the publisher whenever the ad is clicked.
Now that you know a little more about each topic, let’s dive into the elements that should make up your hotel marketing toolbox.
Explore 27 must-have hotel marketing tools:
This list highlights tools from each of the marketing categories outlined above to help you boost visibility for your hotel, gain more traffic to your website, revamp sales, and more. Keep in mind that a lot of these tools can help with multiple marketing categories (i.e. SEMrush helps with content marketing, SEO, pay-per-click ads, etc.), but each one is listed under a specific category for the sake of organization. Got it? Awesome. Let's get started.
Hotel marketing tools for email:
HubSpot is a dynamic tool that covers everything from marketing and sales to customer service to website design and management. You can start for free and upgrade as you go. The free version comes with features like email marketing tips and templates, landing pages, forms, and contact management.
This tool offers email templates, single-step automations, and a built-in analytics tool. Mailchimp now also offers CRM features, domain and website hosting, and a website-building tool that make it a complete marketing platform. With all these options, it’s easy to hit the ground running and establish your hotel’s online presence.
If your email list is beginning to grow and you want more advanced automation options, ConvertKit is a great solution. With ConvertKit’s free plan, you can manage up to 1,000 subscribers and even give your emails responsive design for mobile. If you go for the paid option, it unlocks everything a hotelier needs for a winning email marketing strategy. It allows you to segment your audience, build custom paths for your subscribers, send automated emails, and create your own templates in the email designer.
Hotel marketing tools for content:
According to CoSchedule, 60% of the workweek is wasted managing work, not completing it. That’s where CoSchedule comes in. It’s a content calendar software for marketers. With the Blog Calendar, you get a real-time blog and social calendar, and you can automate your social media schedule and bulk schedule posts. The Marketing Calendar allows for easily sharing read-only calendars and rescheduling projects, as well as full management of social media. If you’re looking for even more, CoSchedule’s Marketing Suite combines five of its products to give you a broader range of process and project management.
Trello is a hassle-free tool for managing a content marketing team. It provides seamless collaboration among team members and content contributors, so there’s never a question about which page they’re on. Trello is a great solution if you’re working with a team of staff writers or outside guest writers and need a way to manage the team through one platform.
Evernote is the ultimate notetaking and organization app – and it’s accessible across multiple devices, even offline. The free version comes with enhanced notetaking capabilities, like collecting web clippings or commenting on images. The next few tiers come with added features like linking with other applications (Salesforce, Outlook, Slack, Google Docs, etc.) and collaborative brainstorming with team members.
Unsplash is a treasure trove of free stock images. All photos are free to download and use for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. Permission is not needed, but attribution is appreciated. The photos come from Unsplash’s community of over 200,000 photographers and are hand-picked by the site’s team of curators. Pexels and Pixabay are other similar options for free stock photos.
This is graphic design software for those who aren’t graphic designers. Canva is intuitive and easy to use, and it’s great for making different kinds of content marketing imagery. The different layouts and templates allow for custom creation of social media banners, blog post headers, and Instagram and Twitter photos. There are also layouts for flyers, posters, reports, presentations, and other kinds of marketing collateral.
Normal spell checkers can’t check your writing for grammar, and they can’t grasp the context of your sentence. They just check for misspellings. Grammarly is the ultimate writer’s sidekick – it does this, and so much more. While it doesn’t catch every possible mistake you can make, it’s a great way to proofread your content as you write. There’s also an extension for Chrome so you can use Grammarly wherever you happen to be writing. On top of just proofreading, Grammarly’s AI writing assistant can also offer suggestions for word changes to alter your tone and better get across your message to your audience.
The Cvent Supplier Network (CSN) is the world’s largest venue sourcing platform – and it’s the place to get noticed by planners who are sourcing. Interactive ads, branded pages, and custom microsites help you to create an irresistible marketing presence where planners research venues. Hotel profiles focus on images, floor plans, and menus, putting the content planners want front and center. Through CSN’s updated search functionality, hoteliers receive better qualified leads and are matched with planners based on criteria like need dates.
11. Cvent Microsites
Cvent Mircosites allow you to create an event venue website right within the Cvent Supplier Network — increasing your visibility to actively-sourcing planners. Additional widgets add features like an interactive search map, a Contact Us form, and a place to showcase your video and social media feeds.
Content Marketing Ads can help to alert planners to a major hotel renovation, promote your destination, and capture planners researching your competition. Display ads and sponsored content on the Cvent blog, email newsletter, Destination Guide, Microsites, and more.
Social media tools:
Hootsuite provides one central location for publishing, planning, and scheduling posts across all of your social media accounts. In addition to these features, Hootsuite also functions as a social media monitoring platform, where users can track mentions of their hotel name, social media handles, or any other important keywords — which is great for keeping track of the conversation around your brand, and identifying any customer issues that might arise.
Buffer is another option for social media management and bulk scheduling of posts. One of its noteworthy features is that it allows users to visually plan social media stories ahead of time, and will send reminders when it’s time to post. Like Hootsuite, Buffer also has an analytics feature for keeping track of post and account performance.
Adding social share buttons from plugins like MashShare can help drive traffic to your website from social media networks, and vice versa. By having share buttons on your content, it makes readers more likely to share and spread your content. The limited version is free, and add-ons can be purchased for upgrades like a sticky share bar and Google Analytics integration.
16. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a must-have tool for tracking business metrics, analyzing your website traffic, and syncing with data from your Google Ads. It’s easy to get started, and it’s free. If you’re more technical, you can run detailed reports and set up robust dashboards to track things like form submissions or user behaviors like time spent on page and scroll-depth.
Google Keyword Planner is part of Google Analytics, and it helps with researching keywords and choosing the right ones for your hotel. The tool provides insight into how often those words are searched for and the trends in searching over time. This will help you fine-tune your list to make sure you’re using the keywords that will provide the most benefit — and, it assures that your content remains relevant.
Neil Patel — named one of the top marketing influencers in the world by Forbes — posts detailed how-to articles and videos on his blog. Topics range from SEO and social media to content marketing and email marketing. This is a great go-to resource for tips on getting started with anything related to digital marketing. His free Ubersuggest tool teaches you how to win the SEO game with keyword suggestions, content ideas, and tips for optimizing your website.
Moz is an SEO software provider with a wide selection of free and paid tools. Moz Bar allows for analyzing search and page metrics of any webpage you visit in real-time — great for SEO research and putting a microscope on your content to see what’s working and what’s not. With Moz’s keyword and link explorer, you can choose the best keywords for your site, monitor inbound links, and research competitor backlinks.
If you host your site on WordPress, the Yoast plugin for SEO is an essential tool for creating SEO-focused content. The plugin walks you through everything step by step, from keyword and internal linking suggestions to assistance with meta descriptions and URLs.
Ahrefs defines itself as an "all-in-one SEO toolset," and it's right. This tool is great for so many things, including analyzing competitor websites and finding out how and why their sites are ranking so well in search — and it helps you learn how to do the same for your own site. You can also use it to research keywords and plan your content as well as track your progress and measure how your content is performing.
SEMRush is a great tool for seeing your marketing efforts — and your competitors’ — from all angles. It allows you to analyze your competitors’ keyword usage and target their gaps. It also allows you to see the top organic and paid competitors for your chosen keyword in Google or Bing, so that you can better determine what you need to do to outrank them.
23. Google Trends
If you want insight into what’s trending on Google, use Google Trends. This tool shows how often terms are searched and where geographically they’re being searched for. It also shows spikes in keyword search volume based on trending events. Enter a search term in the box at the top, and it will show you graphs of search volume over time.
BuzzSumo is another tool hoteliers can use to pinpoint trending topics related to their destinations. It’s also useful for finding influencers in your industry to help market your content for you. When you use the tool to search for a keyword, you’ll be shown a list of the top-performing content for that keyword. From there, you can dig deeper to see why the content did well and how you can create something similar. If you want to find out what’s working for your competitors, plug their domain into the search bar — BuzzSumo will then show you which pages from their website have been shared the most on social media.
Tools for ads:
25. Google Ads
Google Ads helps you grow your business and get in front of customers at the right time. You set goals for your ads based on the outcome you want, like getting more calls, more guests staying at your hotel, more visits to your website. Then, you can choose if you want to advertise globally or keep it local — Google takes care of making sure your ad reaches the right people from there. With Google’s technology, it helps you find ways to improve your ads and get better results over time.
The most critical time for your venue to be seen is when planners are making their selections on CSN. With Suggested Ads, your venue appears to planners as they’re creating and sending RFPs. Competitive Market Ads will show you to planners searching in similar markets or locations. For further targeting, add boosters that will show your ad to planners who match your need dates, or choose to place your ad on the profiles of properties in your comp set. Additionally, Cvent Search Ads increase your visibility within CSN search results and give you optimal exposure as planners search venues.
If you’re a small or mid-sized business that uses Google Ads, Bing, or Facebook, WordStream Advisor can help convert 30% (on average) more leads from your online ad campaigns. Its 20-Minute Work Week feature streamlines high-priority actions and lets you optimize your ads with one click — saving you hours of work every week. The platform also provides reports across all of your ad accounts and flags the campaigns that require your attention.
Put these hotel marketing tools to good use!
Up next, check out the hotel manager's guide to marketing during uncertain times.