Interview with Blue Magnet Interactive on marketing strategies for attracting business travelers
For our first interview post of the year, we asked Katharyn Molinaro, Online Marketing Manager at Blue Magnet Interactive for strategies that hotels can use to attract more business travelers. Here’s what she shared with us.
How can hotels target corporate travelers specifically rather than casting a “general” net and hoping to get everyone?
Hoteliers, especially those under big brands may understand the corporate traveler profile, but how well do hoteliers really know who corporate travelers are as real people?
All business hotels offer corporate discounts, but understanding what your corporate travelers truly value, need, and want, and providing the information and content that is most important and relevant to them will set you apart from your competitors. Perhaps their favorite amenities aren’t the in-room work spaces and coffee, but actually the Fitness Center and Spa in order to adjust to time differences and to stretch out after long flights.
We recommend that hotels:
- Create online marketing strategies aimed at promoting these selling points during the research stage of travel by creating an optimized business-friendly landing page that showcases the amenities and features that matter most.
- Run targeted ads on OTAs such as Expedia and Travelocity for weekday booking windows with enhanced ad copy highlighting business-friendly amenities like fast, free Wi-Fi.
- Find the information that is most important to your corporate travelers and provide it on your website and third party sites to help you better target and engage with a visitor looking to book. Then once he or she is on property, your hotel can further engage with corporate travelers on social media channels.
Make the voice of the hotel on social media that of the hotel concierge by offering valuable information to business guests. Social media serves as an incredibly useful resource for business travelers when information such as local weather updates and airport travel notifications are shared. Implementing said social media strategies will not only engage current guests but also make for more satisfied and happy guests who are more likely to return to the hotel for future business trips.
How can hotels use visuals to entice corporate travelers online?
By using visuals to share your hotel’s story, you give the outside visitor a sneak peek inside your doors. Use your website or third party listing imagery to invite them into your suites, Business Center, and restaurant bar. Sharing high-quality imagery helps make guests feel welcome and familiar with the hotel before they even step foot inside your lobby.
Suites: If your business visitor’s home away from home is the suite he or she checks into, show off your best in-room amenities that will create that level of comfort. Nothing says comfortable productivity like working at the in-room workspace in a plush robe after waking up to a wealth of natural light and enjoying coffee on the step-out balcony.
The Business Center: Your image caption reads that your computers and technology are state of the art, but arethey really? Don’t give your online visitors unrealistic expectations, but do showcase your strong points, like your high-tech printer/scanner/fax and onsite mailing service.
Restaurant, Bar, and Lounge: For many, productivity begins in the morning with a piping hot cup of coffee or tea, so showcase the coffee stand that you have in your lobby. Or maybe you have great lunch specials or a nightly Happy Hour. Using visuals will help visitors conceptualize how they’ll start their morning, and end a productive day with some relaxation
Area Transportation: Showcase a photo of your complimentary area shuttle and relay the message that your guests won’t be late for a flight or important meeting. Navigating an unfamiliar city can be stressful, so assure your online business guests that they can rely on your hotel for a high level of service and convenience.
What impact do you think mobile is having on business travel?
Booking hotel rooms is now just a touch, tap, and swipe away, literally at your fingertips no matter where you are. Making sure that your website and third party listings are optimized for business-type searches, and functioning for mobile is key in capturing business travelers. In Google’s recent study, The 2013 Traveler, research revealed that 36% of business travelers booked using a mobile browser.
Hotels are missing a significant opportunity for mobile bookings without having a website that is optimized and visible in mobile search results, or that is lacking an easy-to-navigate, business-focused landing page. Moreover, in a recent GuestCentric study with over 300 hotels, data showed that 60% of smartphone bookings were for a same night or next night stay. Utilize last minute sale opportunities on apps like HotelTonight to capture business travelers booking for those short term sales.
What opportunities do social media present for hotels looking to engage with business travelers?
Social provides an opportunity to engage with local businesses in the area, or events and conventions coming to town. Tweeting at these businesses and conventions with special corporate offers and your best amenities will not only keep you top of mind, but also increase your social media reach and exposure.
A 2012 study by ROI Research found that when users engage with their networks on social media channels, photos and images produce the most engaged results. 44% of respondents were more likely to engage with a brand if the brand page posted photos.
Encourage your corporate guests to share their experiences on social media by posting their comments and photos of their favorite business amenities and features that made their stay so great. Their networks, in addition to yours, will be exposed to these experiences and recommendations that contribute to your hotel’s story, creating reach for new business bookings as well as promoting return stays.
What digital marketing strategies help drive corporate hotel bookings?
As you can see, there is not one strategy that online marketers can pinpoint, but when your multiple strategies are working together, you can consistently maximize your efforts and expand your reach for the best results in driving corporate bookings.
A well-developed mobile marketing strategy will ensure that you can target that corporate booker using tablets and mobile devices.
Targeting and optimizing for business and corporate travel keywords will help increase your visibility for search so your business-friendly landing page is easy to find.
While website bookings are preferable to avoid paying commission, utilizing OTAs and third parties is important to capture corporate travelers. OTAs give visitors filterable options which make the booking process quick and easy. Running a mobile-only sale will create extra exposure targeted to your corporate traveler.
Make sure to create a compelling, accurate, visual story that is consistent across all online channels and devices that appeals to the needs and expectations of today’s corporate traveler.
Implement strategies across all channels to reach business travelers researching on mobile devices, looking for last minute deals on Expedia, searching on Google for business-friendly hotels, or consulting with networks on social media channels to capture corporate travel reservations from all online angles.
About Katharyn Molinaro
As an Online Marketing Manager at Blue Magnet Interactive, Katharyn Molinaro specializes in online marketing strategies for the hospitality industry and is rapidly and avidly seeing to it that more people spend nights in her clients’ hotels instead of the competitors’. She has an earnestness for all things online marketing and media related, and a simultaneous passion for the realm of travel. Upon graduating from UC Berkeley in 2010, Katharyn began her marketing career at a boutique full-service advertising agency in San Clemente, CA before moving to Chicago to become a member of the Blue Magnet team. In her free time, Katharyn enjoys fine wine-ing and dining, planning events, and single-handedly giving Blue Magnet Interactive office-wide Type 2 Diabetes through various culinary delights.
About Blue Magnet Interactive
Blue Magnet Interactive’s keen understanding of the five different stages of travel and love for all things online marketing drives their common goal to target the different kinds of travelers all across the map, increase their hotels’ online visibility, and provide relevant content that converts and results in bookings. From creating social media content to upholding relationships with OTAs and third party sites, and from developing and implementing strong SEO strategies to creating visually stimulating yet functional websites, their holistic approach to online marketing ensures visitors can easily find and book accommodations at their clients’ hotels.
To learn more about how Blue Magnet Interactive can help you understand and integrate powerful online marketing tactics, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bluemagnetinteractive.com