The evolution of the hotel industry has been as drastic as any over the last several years. To climb out of a historic slump during the pandemic, these brands must find innovative ways to give guests more than just a place to stay but an experience people can’t wait to share with their friends.
In this blog, we’ll get into some of the latest statistics surrounding the hotel industry, discuss why a solid hotel marketing strategy is more critical than ever, and give some inspiration for how you can craft a five-star approach.
Hotel industry statistics you should know
Before we dive into strategy, let’s take a quick look at some relevant statistics across the hotel and hospitality industry overall:
After a brief lull, the hotel industry is getting back on track.
The hotel and resort industry reached an all-time high in 2019 with a market size of $1.52 trillion. That number dipped to $720 billion amid the pandemic but has climbed steadily in the last two years. As the industry continues to bounce back, research suggests consumer spending on hotels will increase by $40 billion from 2023 to 2024.
People are taking longer trips.
In a recent survey, 55% of people said they planned to take longer trips in 2023. As a result, many hotel chains have been highlighting their best length of stay (LoS) offers for those interested in extending their trips further than usual.
Average daily rates are at an all-time high.
Even though the industry as a whole still hasn’t bounced back from pre-pandemic levels, the average daily rate (ADR) for a hotel stay in the United States is at an all-time high. In 2022, the ADR was just under $150, roughly $30 higher than in 2019.
The hospitality industry has a notoriously poor customer retention rate.
Hospitality has always had the poorest customer retention rate among major industries—even before the pandemic. Today, the retention rate sits at just over 50%, making the need for a solid hotel marketing strategy all the more essential.
Why a solid hotel marketing strategy is critical to success
With a notoriously poor customer retention rate in an industry still working its way back from a near deathstroke during the pandemic, designing a hotel marketing strategy is key to addressing major pain points in a saturated market. Here are a handful of ways your strategy can help:
Make a good first impression.
In today’s digital landscape, first impressions start online. Think about your own travel habits. When you’re planning a trip, where is the first place you go to check out hotels? The internet, of course!
Most travelers start their journey by searching online, and what they find sets the tone for the entire experience. If your online reputation is tarnished with negative reviews and complaints, you might lose potential guests before they even step foot in your lobby. And once you get them through the doors, it’s up to you to make sure you’re delivering on promises to keep them coming back for more.
Separate yourself from the competition.
Travelers these days have a buffet of options when it comes to booking hotels. If your hotel blends in with the rest, you’re just another place to sleep. But if you offer something unique and memorable, you’re more likely to catch the eye of potential guests.
Your hotel’s value proposition—what makes it special—can make or break your marketing efforts. Travelers want to know what they’ll get out of choosing your hotel over others in the area.
Run targeted campaigns.
Imagine you have a limited marketing budget, and you’re trying to attract guests. Without targeted campaigns, you’re essentially throwing darts in the dark. Targeted marketing ensures you’re hitting the bullseye by reaching the right people who are more likely to book your stay.
Optimize your pricing structure.
Optimizing your pricing structure isn’t just about charging more—it’s about charging the right amount. You want to find that sweet spot where you’re maximizing revenue without scaring potential guests away.
With the right hotel marketing strategy, you can:
- Target different marketing segments. Different guests have different preferences and budgets. Your marketing strategy should reflect this diversity and cater to various demographics.
- Gain a competitive advantage. By strategically pricing your rooms, you can attract guests who perceive your hotel as offering better value for their money.
- Address fluctuating seasonal demand. Pricing optimization takes into account seasonal demand fluctuations and local events. When there’s a surge in demand, you can increase prices to capitalize on it. And during low-demand periods, you can offer discounts to entice guests.
- Make data-driven decisions. Analyzing historical booking data, market trends, and competitor pricing helps you make informed decisions about your pricing strategy.
Open a feedback loop with customers.
When done correctly, your hotel marketing strategy opens up a direct feedback loop with your customers. Having this information directly from your audience is like having a built-in GPS for navigating the competitive landscape. It guides your hotel’s improvements, helps you stand out, and keeps you on the path to guest satisfaction and loyalty. Plus, in today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever to collect and utilize guest feedback to your advantage.
Innovative ideas for hotels to improve their marketing strategy
Brands are constantly tweaking their hotel marketing strategies to gain a competitive advantage. Here are a few thought-starters so you can stay on the cutting edge in 2024 and beyond:
Be easy to find.
Customers shouldn’t have to look hard to find your hotel. In fact, it should be so easy to find that it often happens by accident. Here are a few ways to get potential customers to “accidentally” stumble across you:
Social media is a must…
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are where many travelers discover new places to stay. Having an active and engaging presence on these platforms not only helps with brand awareness but also aids in building a community of loyal followers.
Let’s say your hotel is active on Instagram, regularly sharing stunning photos of your property, local attractions, and user-generated content from guests. Travelers researching their trip might stumble upon your Instagram and be enticed to book a stay based on what they see.
…But Google is still your best friend.
When travelers are planning a trip, they almost always start with a Google search. That means having a strong presence on Google is crucial to ensuring your hotel shows up in relevant search results when potential guests are looking for accommodations.
Keep the following Google tools in mind:
- Google Business profile: When travelers are searching hotels, having a Google Business profile ensures you pop up during the process.
- Google Reviews: Google Reviews carry significant weight in travelers’ decision-making. Maintaining an active presence on GMB and encouraging guests to leave reviews is a powerful marketing tool to have.
- Google Maps: Google Maps is an integral part of travel planning. Ensuring your hotel appears prominently on the map when travelers search for accommodations in your area can lead to more direct bookings.
- Featured snippets: Google’s featured snippets highlight concise information in search results, often pulling from well-structured website content. If your website is optimized for featured snippets, it can help answer travelers’ questions immediately.
- Google Hotel Ads: Google Hotel Ads allows your hotel to appear in prominent positions when travelers search for accommodations. Investing in Google Hotel Ads ensures that your property is showcased to potential guests during their planning phase.
Local SEO matters, too.
Local SEO ensures your hotel pops up in local searches, making it easy for travelers to find you when they’re in your area. This is especially important for attracting last-minute bookings or guests looking for nearby options.
Consider a traveler who’s already in your city and decides to search for “hotels near me.” If your hotel’s website and Google Business listing are well-optimized for local SEO, you have a much higher chance of appearing in their search results.
Collect positive reviews.
We touched on it a bit already, but collecting positive reviews for your hotel is critical to your overall hotel marketing strategy. Here are a few ways you can get people to sing your praises online and amplify their voices.
Offer social media check-in perks.
Encourage guests to check in on social media platforms during their stay. Offer a special perk, like a complimentary drink or a discount at the hotel’s restaurant, in exchange for their social media shout-out. This not only spreads the word but also generates positive buzz.
Have a surprise waiting for your guests.
Surprise guests with unique in-room amenities or experiences that are Instagram-worthy. For example, a couple staying at your hotel for their anniversary finds their room decorated with balloons, rose petals, and a personalized congratulatory message. They’re so touched by the effort that they rave about it in their review.
Encourage user-generated content.
Ask guests to share their experiences through user-generated content, like photos, videos, or stories on social media. Create a branded hashtag for your hotel and offer incentives for the best posts, like a chance to win a free night’s stay or a spa treatment.
Create engaging surveys and feedback forms.
After guests check out, send them a follow-up survey or feedback form that’s engaging and easy to complete. Ask specific questions about their stay, and include space for them to share their favorite moments or any improvements they’d suggest. This shows that you value their input.
Include video tours.
As hotel marketing evolves, video tours are gaining traction as a powerful tool for showcasing properties. In fact, research shows that bookings are 67% more likely when the vendor includes a video tour in their listing.
These video tours provide potential guests with an extensive glimpse into your hotel’s offerings and are easily shareable across various social media and online platforms. Plus, they convey the hotel’s ambiance and style, allowing prospective guests to virtually immerse themselves in the experience.
Adopt AR/VR trends.
Want to take your video tour a step further? Look into some recent AR/VR trends. By incorporating AR and VR experiences into your hotel’s offerings, you provide guests with memorable and engaging experiences and increase the likelihood of bookings. These technologies help potential guests visualize their stay and get excited about your hotel’s unique experiences, ultimately boosting your bottom line.
Win hearts with personalization.
A personalized experience is the best experience. Here are a few ways to incorporate them into your hotel marketing strategy:
Tailor your communication.
Personalization begins with knowing your guests. Collect data on their preferences, past stays, and special occasions. Use this information to send personalized emails, offers, and recommendations.
Create personalized packages that cater to different guest segments. Offer options like romance packages, adventure getaways, or wellness retreats to match individual preferences.
Gather pre-arrival preferences.
Ask guests about their preferences before they arrive. Inquire about room temperature, pillow types, or dietary restrictions. This way, you can ensure their stay is comfortable and tailored to their needs from the moment they check in.
Promote local experiences.
Suggest personalized local experiences based on guests’ interests. Whether it’s recommending a hidden gem restaurant, arranging a city tour, or booking tickets to a local event, offer experiences that align with their passions.
Follow up post-stay.
Don’t forget about guests once they’ve checked out. Send personalized thank-you emails and ask for feedback. Show that you value their input and are committed to improving their future experiences.
Be consistent across all platforms.
Imagine your hotel as a person. This person has a unique personality, style, and way of interacting with others. Now, think about meeting this person in different settings, like a formal business event, a casual dinner party, and a beach vacation. You’d expect this person to maintain their core identity while adapting to each environment, right? The same principle applies to your hotel’s online presence.
Establish a hotel influencer program.
Influencer hotel collaborations are like adding a turbocharger to your hotel marketing strategy. They inject authenticity, expand your reach, and provide tangible ROI. Plus, when you find a partner you work well with, they can help you come up with more original and clever ideas for how to promote hotel sales. ust remember to choose influencers whose values and audience align with your brand, and you’ll be well on your way to leveraging this powerful tool for hotel marketing success.
Best hotel marketing campaigns to inspire your approach
Podcast mobile app usage is steadily increasing, and Marriott Bonvoy is a great example of how hotels can use the medium to build customer relationships. The podcast Marriott Bonvoy Traveler: Behind the Design covers niche topics related to what goes into building and designing some of the company’s most iconic hotels. With insights from some top-name architects, listeners get an interesting take on what goes into creating the perfect hotel aesthetic.
But it doesn’t stop there. The podcast also complements the brand’s digital magazine, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, which digs into wider travel topics.
— Marriott Bonvoy Traveler (@mbonvoytraveler) October 28, 2019
In 2018, Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire introduced an exclusive line of gourmet delicacies and premium leather goods, branded Gleneagles & Co. This initiative aimed to offer visitors the opportunity to bring a piece of the Gleneagles experience into their own homes.
To showcase this remarkable range, the company produced a series of brief videos. This series proudly shines a spotlight on Scotland and the country’s most talented artisans, providing an authentic glimpse into the thriving artisanal landscape across the country. It also served as a platform for Gleneagles to celebrate its rich heritage and highlight its expansion into various sectors within the hospitality industry.
OK, one more Marriott example while we’re on the subject of storytelling…
In 2014, Marriott Hotels created an in-house studio to create content to represent the brand on a global stage. Its first video series, “Two Bellmen,” involved a series of short films that conveyed a message of hospitality that hotel employees pass on to their guests. The video series aimed to entertain as well as share the hotel’s mission. In the end, it generated millions of views and garnered some great publicity for the brand.
Key takeaway: In a competitive industry, having a robust hotel marketing strategy is essential to driving bookings.
In a hospitality world where first impressions happen online, uniqueness is the name of the game, and personalization is the secret sauce. Crafting a rock-solid hotel marketing strategy is about winning the hearts of travelers, enticing them with immersive experiences, and ensuring that their journey with your hotel goes beyond their stay.
As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of digital trends, it’s crucial to remember that while the tools may change, the core of hospitality remains the same—making guests feel welcomed, valued, and inspired to return. So, no matter what, keep your customers top of mind. Because in the end, it’s personal connections that transform guests into lifelong advocates and ensure your hotel thrives in the years to come.