Ann Handley, founder of MarketingProfs, one of the leading organizations offering real-world marketing education and training, once said that “good content isn’t about good storytelling. It’s about telling a true story well.”
That statement rings true in hospitality. Today’s travelers can read real reviews from past guests, browse photos on Instagram to see what your rooms and bathrooms actually look like, and can tell if you really care about the experience they’re going to have or if you’re just trying to sell a few rooms.
That’s why I’m devoting a series of blog posts to the topic of content marketing because telling an authentic hotel story is what resonates with hotel shoppers today. In my first blog post, I gave a brief introduction on what content marketing is and why it’s so useful in hospitality (head on over to that blog post if you haven’t read it yet).
Once you understand what it is and why it’s effective for every hotel, then comes the tough part: selling content marketing to your boss, most likely the General Manager (GM).
Your GM’s Perspective
Put yourself in your General Manager’s shoes. What does your GM care about? He/she wants to know:
Question: The return on investment. If I spend $X on creating quality content, what will we get in return?
Answer: This is a long term plan and not a quick hit. True benefits come over time. A solid piece of content is just the beginning in building a relationship with your prospective guest. Invest in content that works across all of your marketing initiatives: SEO (search engine optimization), website, social media, mobile, SEM (search engine marketing) and email strategies. Then measure and analyse, but not in isolation; review the results as a whole and as component parts to understand what’s working and what’s not, associating it back to revenue.
Question: What is the competition doing? Are the hotels down the street investing in content?
Answer: Collect data and information about your rivals using competitive intelligence tools to identify key search opportunities and manage campaigns. Where do you rank among the advertising competition for hotels in your area? Even an informal analysis of the opposition in the neighborhood will help. How will you impact these results with quality content?
Question: How will improved content make my hotel stand out in a crowded landscape?
Answer: 80% of consumers appreciate learning about a company through content. So while the competition may be rallying for a dominant position using paid search alone, solid content marketing, particularly local, helpful and useful information will give you the edge on the search engine results page and guide shoppers directly to your website. Include things to do in and around your property, an embedded map and guest reviews.
Question: How will content help increase my rates?
Answer: Storytelling sells, so develop interesting and visual content that shows the hotel shopper what they can expect in terms of guest rooms, features and offers to give you the ammunition needed to charge a few dollars more than you used to.
Question: Can content marketing help improve direct bookings?
Answer: Direct bookings are top of mind for all hotel owners and managers and are a welcome result of good content marketing. Website conversion rates are six times higher for brands using content marketing compared to brands that don’t.
Once you understand your GM’s business objectives, you’ll be in a better positioned to explain how content marketing, which includes compelling visual storytelling helps to achieve his/her goals.
Explaining the Value in Content Marketing
Content marketing is about delivering valuable and useful information to your customer. As I discussed in my previous blog in this series, content can come in the form of professional photos & videos, text descriptions, user-generated content like reviews, or social media posts – all of which creatively provide insight to the individuality of your hotel, generating interest in your property and showing travelers what differentiates you from the competition.
The essence of good content marketing is to listen to your audience, have solid two-way communication with them, understand their issues, and help solve their problems. While this might sound different from a GM’s goals – such as boosting revenue and increasing ALS and ADR – it’s not, because quality content helps with those very same objectives.
How to Get Your Team to Buy In
Team buy-in is essential if you want your content marketing plan to be a success. As an example, solicit your sales people for input on what they consider to be important in gaining new business and then show them how your marketing initiatives will help them deliver on their goals. In other words, talk in their language and apply the same communication approach to others on the management team. It always comes back to dollars and cents, not clicks and impressions.
Generally, marketing is considered an expense and not an investment. Justify the marketing budget by connecting it to your hotel’s overall business objectives like guest acquisition and loyalty, ancillary sales and driving direct bookings. Try a pilot project if you have a boss that doesn’t believe in a content marketing approach. Set objectives over a six-month span and align your goals across your organization. What targets do you want to hit? Which ones tie into your overall property goals? And think of reasonable metrics to judge its effectiveness. A pilot doesn’t have to be a big commitment, but early and small wins can help convince your GM of the value a strong content marketing strategy will have on your bottom line.
This is the second in a series of four blog posts about hospitality content marketing – easy tips to help you get started creating content guests want to see and share.