It’s a new year and a new beginning for the lodging industry. With travel expected to pick up this year, it has become even more critical for hoteliers to start focusing on reaching and engaging the hyper-interactive travel consumer. Knowing how to go about it is the challenge.
HeBS’ Top Ten Internet Marketing Resolutions for 2011 offers helpful advice and insights into how what hoteliers should resolve to do this year. The first resolution suggests that hoteliers should have “one single Customer Engagement Channel.” Yes, you need to ensure your own engagement channels offer multiple options for consumers to interact with you (email, mobile, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
I would suggest that your marketing efforts actually be centered on the travel shopper rather than the channel. This means that, instead of a single customer engagement channel, spend time developing and executing a multi-channel approach.
A Single Story, Multiple Channels
Start off with a single story about your hotel that focuses on what makes your hotel different and what you offer that will make the travel shopper’s stay a success. Next, ensure that the story reaches and engages with customers at every stage of the shopping journey. After all, shopping for travel is about more than just the booking process!
Engage Hyper-Interactive Travel Consumers
One of the reasons we know today’s travel consumers are in fact hyper-interactive is that they are going to multiple different sites during the trip planning process (there is a ton of research to support this).
Consumers want to shop for hotels on the sites they find useful at the particular stage of their shopping journey… and if that includes the hotel’s site, particularly at the booking stage, that’s great! But, regardless of how great a hotel’s SEO and PPC strategy is, travel shoppers visit other sites and compare one hotel against another.
This is behavior that hoteliers cannot change because travel shoppers want a picture of a hotel from different channels – be it OTAs, research sites, editorial sites, sharing sites, social media sites… and the list goes on.
Make Online Listings Work Harder
Rather than viewing these third-party channels negatively, hoteliers should focus on making their presence on these channels work harder to drive bookings by asking themselves:
• How can I make my online listings more effective?
• How can I leverage these listings to increase conversion rates?
• How can I increase engagement and interaction overall?
“2011 is going to be the Year of Video”
I couldn’t agree more with HeBS on that! In fact, I would suggest 2010 was pretty strong for video as well. It is one tactic that can greatly improve your hotel’s visual presence and booking conversions when part of a multi-channel marketing strategy aimed at providing insightful, compelling and interesting information where customers are researching, shopping, buying and sharing their travel experiences.
This is a customer-centric approach to marketing that can help hoteliers be more successful in online marketing this year on their own channels and beyond.
Leave a comment and tell us what your hotel marketing resolutions are for 2011.
If you haven’t made them yet, consider taking on a consumer-centric, multi-channel approach to online marketing this year and be sure to include video.