Sometimes it’s difficult for hotels to keep up with the rapid rate that Internet marketing is moving. At UP we have decided to boil down some of the big trends and tips for hotels internet marketing in 2014.
Mobile bookings have been on the minds of hotels for a while. There have been a lot of predictions and promises, but 2014 is definitely the year to get all cards in a row for mobile. Does your hotel have a mobile website with booking? Have you tested your site of tablet devices? Do you have a plan in place to capture the lucrative mobile market?
Hotel marketing teams are getting less and less exposure on the keywords that are bringing traffic organically to the website. It’s estimated that by Q1 of 2014 100% of keyword searches will be encrypted. Bye bye organic keywords through analytics! We need to get smarter with Paid Search data and start looking more towards traffic levels, quality and conversion rather than specific keyword rankings.
With more understanding of the value of direct bookings and the new channels available (i.e. Meta-search, Social) hotels are able to compete for room bookings. It’s important to make sure that your hotel website is strong and optimised for conversion.
Does your hotel produce high quality video? Guests are looking for more immersive content, if your hotel website and Youtube channel are the best source of this content then the potential guests need look no further when researching their next hotel. In 2013, 81% of online bookers reviewed videos before purchasing. (2013 Eye for Travel)
Platforms like Google Analytics are always improving in their functionality and features. It’s important for hotel marketing teams to keep up with the changes and design reports that are actionable. If you haven’t already, be sure to set-up custom events and goals that will help to make smart decisions on the website.
Many hotels are noticing a much larger share of bookings coming direct from Social Networks. Of course, this is not the central purpose of a social presence, the positive brand halo is leading to increased, traceable bookings. Watch also for Google+ and other social networks appearing more in the search results, especially for longer tail terms and those on mobile devices. If you haven’t got a Google+ plus page optimised for your hotel, make it a resolution for 2014.
Make use of the new Adwords features such as “Review Extensions” and Remarketing features. The reviews extension allows you to add short one liner reviews from reputable sources to your Adwords text ad. This can validate your hotel over other hotels not using the reviews extension in a very crowded online marketplace. We also recommend that you use Remarketing to serve a variety of text and banner ads to those who have visited your hotel and not initially booked. These ads can be targeted at visitors depending on the pages visited and aim to promote brand during research stages lead to an increased conversion of bookings direct as opposed to letting them slip by OTAs. Smart hotels have started to offer discount codes to visitors only released via remarketing banner ads.
There is huge potential for hotels to compete on a more even playing field with the influx meta search websites. Even Google is in on the “Meta Game” with hotel finder. Meta Search is a great way for hotels to claw back direct bookings away from the OTAs.
Google is developing it’s Search Engine to understand the context and intent of the searcher more fully. Also, the way that users Search on devices is drastically changing the search terms used. Siri and Google voice are both contributing to more conversation searches e.g. “What are the best hotels on the eastside of New York?” Hotels can react by creating content that matches these type of conversational searches more accurately, providing both utility to the user and exposure to a greater audience. It’s also important for hotels to include microformats data within the coding of their pages so that Google can understand the page more fully e.g. location and type on content within.
With the proliferation of smartphone and tablets in the market, it’s impossible to continue to ignore this growing pool of users who are searching for travel and hotels online. Has your hotel got and responsive website and / or a mobile optimised website? Do you have a marketing strategy ready to attract this affluent market? If the answer is no, then it’s time to get busy!