Last week we blogged about US online leisure traveler trends according to a report by Adara and Hudson Crossing. The report showed that 123.3 million travelers researched hotels online this year, and 92% of those made online reservations. It also showed that today’s travelers don’t go anywhere without their smartphones, 9 out of 10 travelers under the age of 35 have social media accounts, online hotel shoppers shop around extensively before choosing where to stay, and OTAs (online travel agencies) attract a lot of “last-minute” bookings. These are all important things to consider when planning your digital marketing budget, because, if one thing is very clear: digital marketing is now a crucial component of any marketing plan.
A recent post by Milestone Insights, Budgeting for Hotel Digital Marketing in 2014, also points out that search engine technology is always changing in order to provide users with the most relevant information, so your online marketing techniques really need to be fresh and up to date. Here’s a summary of Milestone Insight’s astute recommendations for a hotel digital marketing budget for the upcoming year:
- An awesome website: Search engines reward websites with good quality, original content, fast download times, and mobile compatibility. If you haven’t updated your website for 2 or 3 years, it might be a good time to do so!
- Mobile marketing: Mobile traffic is set to surpass desktop traffic next year so a responsive website and mobile promotional strategies like paid search (mobile PPC) should be key strategies in your marketing plan.
- Local and SEO: Search engine optimization still matters. (A lot). Ensure that your business’ information is accurate on your local search profile on Google (and Bing, Yahoo!…), and budget for directory listings in relevant, high-quality directories.
- Paid search and media spend: Allocate a significant chunk of your digital marketing budget to paid search (PPC) channels like Google, Bing and Yahoo, as well as media purchases on key channels and OTAs like Google Hotel Finder, TripAdvisor Business Listings, Expedia Ads, etc.
- Social media: Social media is a powerful tool for creating brand awareness and engaging with customers. On top of that, search engines favour sites that are present in the user’s social circles. Every hotel should invest time in a social media strategy.
- Guest reviews and ratings: It’s important to monitor reviews across review sites like TripAdvisor and to respond quickly. Invest in review monitoring software (there are free tools like Google Alerts and Social Mention).
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