Marketing Priorities for Independent Hoteliers This Year

Hotel website, automated emails, reviews, OTAs, digital ads, social media, Google. There’s no shortage of ways to market your hotel. But for busy hoteliers with mounting priorities and limited resources, how do you get to them all? With so many marketing channels and blogs with bright ideas, it can get confusing about which shiny new marketing trend you should hop on board with. The reality is, for many hoteliers, doing it all isn’t an option. It comes down to priorities. 

We’ve narrowed down top marketing priorities for independent hoteliers in the coming year to help you decide where to focus your energy and get the most bang for your buck. And remember, you never have to do everything all at once! It may be as simple as creating a list of priorities and ticking them off when you get to them. You got this!

Google Up!

Yes, yes, there are other search engines out there but the reality is that Google dominates when it comes to travel planning and can help your hotel get out in front even if you’re on a budget. 

Google Business Profile: To get the most from Google and heighten your visibility, claim and update your Google Business Profile —which automatically adds your hotel to Google’s Hotel Search. Manage and optimize your description, add photos, confirm your location, and manage and respond to reviews. Check out our blog post on Google Business Profiles for Hotels for more details. 

Google Free Booking Links: That’s right, we said free. With a verified Google Business Profile, your hotel is eligible to add a booking link to your listing, which integrates directly with your booking engine. As a Google partner, WebRezPro integrates with the platform for distribution on Google Hotel Search, ensuring that your room availability and direct pricing are up-to-date and accurate. Our article on Google Free Booking Links for Hotels will help you get started.

Google Hotel Ads: If you have the budget, Google Hotel Ads can get you listed within the top four paid results. The cost is based on bids and depends on how competitive your region is. It’s worth experimenting with since the ROI for Google Ads is 3.75 on average.

Online Travel Agencies

While direct bookings are optimal, Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are essential for increasing awareness about your hotel. While OTAs can charge hefty commissions, the expense is worthwhile since many guests begin their search with OTAs.

Choose the Right OTAs: Due to fees and commissions, it may not be feasible to list your property on every OTA so begin by choosing the OTAs that are right for your hotel based on your target market, cost, functionality, and reputation of the OTA. 

Optimize OTA Profiles: Make the most of your OTA profiles with updated information, compelling imagery, and special offers—and don’t forget to manage reviews!

Automate Online Distribution: Two-way integration between your property management system and OTA channels allows you to manage all connected platforms from one place. Automatically updating rates and availability across the board, channel integration maintains rate parity and avoids double bookings. 

Audit and Update Your Website

Since all your efforts are geared toward getting visitors, ensure your website is putting its best foot forward. An annual audit and update is necessary to ensure optimal functionality. Keeping your website current builds trust and tells your potential guests what kind of stay experience they can expect if they choose to book. To save you time and stay on top of today’s best practices, hire a web designer to help you with the following:

  • Branding
  • SEO
  • Visuals
  • Website performance and speed
  • Responsive design (mobile friendliness)
  • Refresh SEO
  • Refresh content
  • Online bookings! (If you don’t already offer direct bookings through your website, don’t put it off any longer. It’s 2024!!)

We recommend getting a quote that outlines what is included in the audit or redesign so you’re not surprised with a large invoice at the end.

Customer Service 

Have you considered that customer service is part of your marketing initiatives? Happy guests provide positive online reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations are the kind of marketing gold that money can’t buy. Most importantly, providing superior customer service is largely free.

Train Staff: While it takes time and time is money, properly training staff gives you the most bang for your buck out of any other marketing initiative. Ensure consistency by training staff to use a common language, be clear on hotel procedures and policies, and provide consistent and frequent feedback—including positive feedback—and you’ll be sure to win more guests and influence customers!

Guest Messaging: Applying guest messaging at your hotel increases your customer service game and your profits, making it a win-win for your money and time investment. Guest messaging platforms like Akia and Canary can help manage and automate messages, manage requests, and provide upsell opportunities.

Website Chatbots: Provide 24/7 guest assistance in your sleep with website chatbots that act like your ever-online concierge. Once set up with your FAQs, chatbots can answer guest questions anytime and free up your staff from doing the same.

Social Media

Do you have a social media strategy? For some hotels, social media can feel like a losing battle because of its “pay-to-play” model. Unless you’re willing to pay for advertising, engagement rates (likes, shares, and comments) can be quite low, leaving some hotels to wonder if it’s worth the effort. Well, friends, it is worth it, even if your budget is zilch. 

Pick Your Platforms: Don’t try to be on every platform. Pick what makes sense for your demographic and what has already proven effective for you. If you’re a luxury hotel, aspirational posts on Instagram work well. Business travelers? Promote your facilities on LinkedIn. Gen Z guests? Experiential posts on TikTok might be your jam.

Repurpose Content: Standalone social campaigns are excellent if you have the resources but even so, don’t be afraid to take existing content from your website copy, marketing emails, blog, and even FAQs, and adapt it for social media posts. Testimonials are especially impactful! 

Think Experiential: Think beyond the walls of your hotel and share regional travel inspiration. You’ll cast a larger digital net this way and ignite desire in the minds of potential guests. It’s also a superb opportunity to share and engage with accounts you’d like to align with. If you’re near a popular attraction, for example, commenting on their posts will put you in front of their followers, who are also your potential guests.

Remember, low engagement rates do not mean your posts are not getting attention; 77% of travelers seek inspiration from social media. You may be getting more eyes on your social pages than you think, so you want them to look their best.

Build Community & Partnerships

Actively participating in social media, engaging in local community events, and fostering positive relationships within your local area can significantly enhance your exposure, generate valuable referrals, and boost bookings. You can strengthen community ties by establishing partnerships with nearby businesses and attractions. 

Partner Packages & Discounts: Create enticing activity packages and local discounts by collaborating with local partners and building support and loyalty within your community.

Cross-promote: Use your strategic alliances to tap into each other’s audiences to amplify exposure, and engagement, build email lists, and grow your social media following.

The best part? This can be done for a small spend and in minimal time.

Automated Hotel Management Software

While you may think we’re biased on this point, we believe that a cloud property management system (PMS) is at the core of any good marketing strategy. Think of all your marketing initiatives as the Starship Enterprise and WebRezPro as the command center, keeping it all together and unified (you can be Captain Kirk if you like). 

As the operational hub of your business, your PMS allows you to manage all your data from one convenient place—and we all know that a strong marketing strategy relies on solid data.

Channel Management: Connected to your online distribution channels, WebRezPro synchronizes rates and availability and maintains rate parity on all channels. This is a crucial marketing tactic as guests may lose confidence in your hotel if they see inconsistent room pricing across various platforms or end up double booked. 

Collect First-party Data: With third-party data becoming restricted, a hotel’s valuable asset will become the first-party data collected through their booking engine and in guest profiles. Use this data to improve your operations, build loyalty programs, and provide personalized customer service.

Email Automation: Automated emails (booking confirmations, pre-arrival emails, post-stay feedback requests, etc.) are an easy and low-cost way to nurture relationships with your guests. WebRezPro offers pre-built templates that can be adapted to your needs and also integrates with hospitality CRM platforms and email marketing applications like Constant Contact and Guestfolio to help you create and manage bespoke marketing campaigns.

Reporting: While it’s not the glamorous side of marketing, accurate reporting is essential to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and help you determine the best times to run promotions. For instance, occupancy rates and booking reports can provide valuable insights for managing rates and assessing the success of your advertising efforts.

There are countless ways to promote your hotel. No-one can do it all. Use this checklist to establish your unique set of marketing priorities. While you may not tackle every item on this list, it serves as a launching pad for tailoring your priorities according to your specific hotel objectives for the year. Take a moment to breathe, craft a strategic plan, and map out your initiatives for the upcoming year. Remember to prioritize progress over perfection, because there is no finish line! By consistently moving your hotel marketing efforts forward, you’re going to see that bottom line grow!