March 19, 2020
By Laura Fredericks

Paid advertising is a topic that appears on most hotel marketing strategies, but it can be a tough nut to crack. Anyone can create a quick ad on Google or Facebook, but unless you’ve thought through your targeting, keywords, visuals, messaging, and offers, you're unlikely to see strong results. In fact, the average click through rate for display ads is just 0.06%. So how can you effectively reach event planners and group organizers with cost-effective hotel paid advertising? The key is in a differentiated, well-thought-out strategy for each marketing channel.

Discover 6 tips to help you run effective hotel paid advertising campaigns:

1. Strike the right balance with keywords to make search engine marketing work for you.

Search engine marketing (SEM) refers to the practice of targeting keywords on search engines to promote your website to a specific audience of online searchers. Most hotels will use a PPC (pay-per-click) structure to these ads, which means that the number of clicks the link receives dictates how much you pay for the campaign. This is the most cost-effective way to drive traffic to your main hotel website, event planner and group organizer landing pages, or specific group booking offers. However, just generating clicks is not enough. With appropriate keywords, you can target the audience that is most likely to book an event or group stay with your hotel.

Your keyword strategy will be a large factor in determining the success of your SEM campaign. Keywords need to be relevant to your hotel’s brand, as well as specific enough to reach the target audience that is most likely to book an event with you. For example, you’ll want to target event planners by the type of event or by the industry they’re planning for, as well as your specific location. Including more detail in the search term and creating “long tail” keyword phrases will often be less expensive per click and more specific to your target audience, but will also attract less search volume and a smaller pool of prospects. A great strategy balances keyword competitiveness and cost with the size and specificity of the audience you will reach.

As an example, let’s imagine a hotel in San Diego that attracts a lot of sports teams for spring training. The hotel would like to target the group organizers for these teams. Using a keyword phrase “hotel for groups in San Diego” is far too broad, while a phrase like “minor league baseball spring training hotel options in San Diego” might be too specific. A few phrases that strike the right balance could include:

  • Spring training hotels in San Diego

  • Hotels for sports teams San Diego

  • Hotels with large gyms in San Diego

  • Hotel to review tape in San Diego

  • Hotels for spring training sports teams

Focus on the amenities and benefits that your target audience finds important to identify the best keyword phrases for you. Don’t always include your location, as you’ll also want to attract searchers who have more flexibility in their locations.

Keep an eye on your analytics and results from your campaigns, and be ready to make adjustments as you go. If you’ve created a PPC campaign that is driving traffic but not converting visitors into customers, then it’s time to look at ways you can adjust the campaign. One of the ways you can do this is to add an exclusive offer within your ad. This will make planners who click on the ad feel like there is an urgency and a reason to click that directly benefits them.

Also, make sure your campaign is mobile friendly, as more and more group organizers are searching for venue information from their smartphones and tablets.

Finally, you can adjust the landing page that you are directing the audience to in order to make it relevant and actionable for group organizers and event planners.

Learn more about our search ad solutions

2. Boost your content on Facebook for maximum visibility.

Gone are the days of posting free content to your followers and having all of them see it. Even if you have 20,000 likes on Facebook, only a small percentage of your audience will see any given post. To get the most visibility for your content, you will need to pay to promote it. For this reason, boosted Facebook content has become an important part of the paid advertising strategy for many hotels.

Just like individual travelers, event planners and group organizers browsing content on Facebook will go through a buyer’s journey including a “dreaming” phase, a “planning” phase, and an “execution” phase.

Event planners and group organizers in the dreaming phase will respond to content relating to using hotel space creatively, taking advantage of event trends in 2020, and why your destination is perfect for their industry or event type.

In the planning phase, focus on content that helps event planners create a great event experience while controlling costs. Checklists, interactive tools, infographics, and case studies will all do well at this stage.

For the execution phase, you’ll need to show why your hotel is the perfect match for the planner’s needs. Price comparisons, specific information about event spaces, and links to offers and discounts are all appropriate for this phase.

3. Get creative with ad targeting for event planners on Facebook.

There's a huge variety of options when it comes to Facebook ads, and each type will have a specific purpose. The targeting options for these ads are relatively self explanatory when seeking individual travelers, as you can essentially create a mix of demographics and interests that match your target travelers. But how would you use these options to target event planners and group organizers?

One way you can start attracting the right audience is to target your email list. This means that you’re reaching out to planners that you have already created some level of relationship with, even if that’s just through your email newsletters. Taking it one step further, you can also create a “look alike” audience whose profiles match those already on your email list.

If you don’t yet have a robust email list of event planners, or would like to experiment with other targeting options, you still have a number of variables that you can use to serve targeted ads. For example, you could reach out to those who have “event planner” listed as their job title and are located more than 100 miles from your location in order to reach those who plan out of town conferences. Or focus on event planners in a 50 mile radius to target local business for things like weddings (you can include an interest in “weddings” or “wedding planning” to get even more specific).

If you’re targeting repeat business, consider using advanced location targeting to direct your ad to event planners who have tagged your hotel’s location in the past. Alternatively, you can use remarketing to target planners who have visited specific landing pages on your website so that you’re reaching a “warmed up” audience.

4. Use Instagram Story ads to inspire creative uses for event spaces.

Instagram is the most visual of all the social networks, and it’s a great place to showcase your hotel’s style and brand presence. Event planners in the “dreaming” phase of the buyer journey will be looking for creative ways to use event spaces, new ideas for use with their attendees, and stunning visuals of events in action. You can advertise your event space using the Instagram news feed as well as Instagram Story Ads for a full screen immersive experience. Ads in Instagram Stories are almost indistinguishable from organic content, giving you a wonderful opportunity to reach your audience in an unobtrusive way.

Given the unique potential of story ads, you should take the time to craft visuals and messaging specifically for this platform, rather than repurposing imaging and content from other paid advertising. Consider running a carousel ad for maximum airtime with your audience, as each of the three panels can contain up to 15 seconds of video (with the added advantage that you can link to a different landing page from each card). You’ll want to include your brand name in the first few seconds in the main body of your ad, since your logo will be fairly small and likely to be ignored as a profile picture during the ad. Make your messaging and call-to-action for planners super clear, with your most powerful benefits up front. You only have a few seconds to impress before the dreaded swipe.

While this channel is ripe for experimentation and creative uses, your best bet is to use story ads for planners and organizers that have some familiarity with your brand. It's easy to swipe past a story if it deviates too far from what a user expects to see, and users who are already familiar with you will be likely to pause before swiping. Use targeting options to hone in on users who have shared their email address or phone number with you, visited your website, or engaged with your previous content to get the most bang for your buck.

5. Take advantage of the Cvent Supplier Network to reach planners directly.

By using Cvent’s Supplier Network, you can advertise directly to event planners at various stages in the buying process. With content marketing ads, search ads, competitive market ads, and more, you can reach over 92,000 event planners who send out RFPs using the Supplier Network. These ads help you build and strengthen your brand awareness at every stage of the buyer's journey. Whether you want to alert event planners to a major hotel renovation, promote your destination at large, or capture event planners researching your competition, Cvent can help with display ads and sponsored content on its blog, email newsletter, Destination Guide, Microsites, and more. Use these ads to:

  • Leverage Cvent’s extensive audience to reach hundreds of thousands of event planners when they’re researching and booking venues.

  • Enjoy control over your content so you can promote what you want when it’s most relevant.

  • Reinforce your brand to current and past customers to generate valuable repeat business.

  • Drive traffic directly to your venue or destination profiles on the Cvent Supplier Network.

6. Measure your results and make adjustments as you go.

As with any marketing strategy, you’ll get the best results by measuring and tracking each campaign and making appropriate adjustments. By taking a look at your ad analytics, you can learn which planners clicked through to your offer, whether they became qualified sales leads, or if they abandoned the page after clicking. By examining where in the process you are losing prospects, you can make valuable changes that offer more relevant information or offers for your audience.

Put these strategies for hotel paid advertising to use!

And reach event planners directly and increase your group bookings.

UP NEXT: Are you seeing an uptick in RFPs as a result of your paid advertising? Read on for tips for better RFP management.

Grow your business faster with paid advertising strategies

Laura Fredericks author headshot

Laura Fredericks

Laura brings a decade of insight to improving marketing, as she has worked in technology since 2010. She has experience starting and scaling a business, driving customer marketing, and speaking at live events, including WeDC Fest 2018. She founded Describli and Paradigm Labs, and currently works with companies to improve their customer relationship management and content strategy.

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