The hospitality industry is one of the most ruthless and competitive, and to stand out you need a strong marketing strategy. This week, we’ve rounded up ten marketing ideas for hotels and guest houses, covering everything from link building and content marketing to web design and customer reviews.
Write content catered to tourists and guests
Content marketing is, without doubt, one of the best ways to market your hotel or guest house. Writing high-quality, informative content will position your business as an authority figure within your niche, and create new pages and content that Google can index.
There are thousands of potential blog posts and articles that you can write for your bed and breakfast, and each allows you to create new content that can be shared on social media.
Not sure where to begin? Here are a few content ideas for your hotel or guest house:
- 10 best things about [place]
- 5 things you need to try when you visit [place]
- How to save money on your visit to [place]
- The ultimate guide to holidaying in [place]
- What to pack when you travel to [place]
Inside of each of your blog posts, you should include a natural mention of your brand. In a post about saving money when you visit a location, for example, you could mention your range of budget rooms or special offers. The key to an effective content marketing strategy is to naturally include mentions of your business and links to services without appearing overly promotional. A simple call to action at the end of your posts is also a sensible idea.
Build links on reputable travel sites
There are hundreds of thousands of travel blogs and review websites on the internet – all of which can be used to help you secure backlinks. There’s a number of ways that you can gain these links, and some are more complicated than others. Here’s the lowdown:
- Ask to guest blog: Share your knowledge and experience of your local area and get a backlink in exchange in the ‘about the author’ section. (More on guest blogging here)
- Offer a freebie: Let a reviewer visit your hotel for free in exchange for a review and a backlink to your website. A great way to build brand awareness and promotion.
- Pay for promotion: Many bloggers offer paid-for sponsored articles and promotion of content – but determine whether it’s worthwhile before you hand over any cash.
- Comment on blog posts: Commenting on relevant blog posts allows you to gain nofollow backlinks for your website. Not as valuable as contextual links, but still allows you to grow your backlinks profile.
The key to building links on travel websites is networking, outreach and consistency.
You can build a name for yourself by writing your own high-quality content and sharing it with bloggers who may link to it, and you can secure backlinks by regular interaction with others.
Use social media to piggyback on events
If you’re serious about marketing your hotel or bed and breakfast, you should make a note of upcoming events in your area. You can do this by following relevant people on Twitter, signing up to council newsletters, and networking with business owners and event leaders in your area.
Create a calendar of events that you can piggyback on to promote your hotel.
Whether there’s a concert, an exhibition or a festival, find the relevant social media handles and hashtags and create content that will appeal to attendees.
The earlier you can do this the better – if you know about an event six months in advance, you could create a series of blog posts that offer information and advice regarding the event, which can be promoted to reach new customers and attract backlinks from event organisers and tourists attending.
It’s up to you whether you want to be subtle or full-on with your marketing, but a ‘friendly and helpful’ approach often works best, with customers automatically choosing to book with you because of the helpful information you have provided.
Join apps and booking websites
According to a report at Price Waterhouse Coopers, commerce generated from websites such as Airbnb could reach an incredible £30 billion by 2025, so you should do everything you can to appear on as many booking websites as possible. Simply put, you want to be sure that your hotel is seen whenever someone searches for an establishment in your area, regardless of the website they’re using to research.
Oh, and if your hotel is in a popular tourist destination, you should also think about listing your hotel on international apps and booking websites to capture overseas customers.
Redesign your website
When was the last time you updated your website? If you’re using a website builder or a free tool to manage your bookings and web design, then you should consider giving your website a new lick of paint.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend thousands of pounds on a new web design – you can do it yourself using premium WordPress templates.
Here’s a checklist of things you need your new website to do:
- Work well on mobile: More users access websites from mobiles than desktop sites, so optimise your content and design for mobile phones. In fact, Google now crawls content from the perspective of a mobile phone user, so it makes sense.
- Look modern and fresh: With so much competition from state-of-the-art websites and apps, you need your hotel’s website to look as good as possible. Use a premium WordPress theme, ask for a graphic designer to create an attractive logo, and hire a photographer to snap professional, bright images that you can use in your gallery.
- Multiple payment methods: You may choose to direct your customers to a booking website like Booking.com or TripAdvisor, but make sure that they accept multiple payment methods like PayPal, credit cards and Apple Pay. The more choice potential customers have, the more likely they’ll be to click through and book a room.
- A blog section: Just check out the benefits of content marketing for small businesses – without a well-designed blog section with comments and categories, you’ll struggle to make an impact and your content marketing efforts will be in vain.
Testimonials and reviews
Reviews and testimonials are another fantastic way to boost your conversion rates and increase room occupancy. With 61% of all consumers reading online reviews before making a purchasing decision, it’s essential that you embrace reviews and allow customers to share their thoughts – even if they don’t say what you want them to.
Allowing reviews on your website, or through a third-party website like TripAdvisor or Reviews.co.uk, offers a wide range of benefits. From an SEO perspective, reviews add fresh, unique content that search engines can index, can improve your “product name” rankings (for example, “hotel room in X city”) and increase click-through rates on results pages.
You can encourage customers to leave reviews by using a reviews provider, by emailing customers after their stay to ask for their opinions and to offer incentives, like a discount code or coupon on a future booking, for customers to leave reviews.
Encourage user-generated content
User-generated content is one of the best ways to build trust and authority for your brand online, with people trusting UGC 50% more than any other form of media. The good news is that, with 64% of millennials wanting more options to share their thoughts and opinions about brands, it’s easy to capture the attention of customers and get them to contribute to your marketing efforts. The best way to do it? Help them create content that you can share.
There are two ways that you can incorporate user-generated content into your strategy:
- By actively encouraging users to create content during their stay. You could run a competition or even buy an Instagram frame to allow your customers to create and share memories in your hotel or bed and breakfast.
- Search for and ask permission to use content that users are already creating – selfies in your hotel rooms, pictures of rooms and décor, snaps in your bar and restaurant.
— Annuaire du tourisme (@Livehotels) October 18, 2014
In the hospitality industry, user-generated marketing is an effective technique, as social media users and potential customers will be influenced by seeing others enjoying their time at your establishment.
Share these moments on social media, create videos or add a “your stay” section to your website, and you’ll quickly drive new business to your hotel.
Monitor your competitors’ actions
With more than 16,000 new hotel rooms currently under construction and increasing competition from budget chains and apps like Airbnb, it’s important that you monitor your competitors’ actions and react accordingly. You can monitor them on social media, setting up Google Alerts for brand mentions, or by using keyword tracking tools like Moz.
Being reactive to their marketing will allow you to improve your bottom line. For example, if a similarly-decorated guest house down the road is offering rooms at £20 less than yours, you could run a promotion or offer to undercut them and snatch some of their price-sensitive customers.
Similarly, if you see that a competitor has secured a backlink from a valuable blog or news outlet, you could reach out to them and ask how your business could be featured.
Oh, and if a competitor closes down or takes a break from the industry, you could reach out to them and acquire their domain name, telephone number and take advantage of their backlinks and digital presence to boost your own website’s domain authority and reach.
Use Instagram to show off room refurbishments
If you’re going through a refurbishment programme or just want to show off how good your hotel rooms look, then Instagram is the place to go. Take the time to research hashtags that are relevant and high-converting, and then start preparing content that you can share.
In the hotel industry, there are two ways that you can capture the attention of potential customers.
First, you can appeal to the interior design and home improvement fanatics, showing off your furnishings and décor as inspiration. You could even reach out to interior design influencers and see if you could get your hotel rooms featured on their profiles.
The second group to target is tourists and travellers. Not only can you show off your rooms, but you can also take pictures of the great views your hotel or bed and breakfast offers. Of course, it depends on the location of your hotel, but you should be able to find photogenic sights and scenes wherever you are. Tapping into these markets will help create a thriving Instagram account that you can then use to market your special offers and room rates.
Keep it consistent
It can be tempting to take your foot off of the gas when the high season arrives, or when you’re taking time to relax at the end of a busy period. But the key to a successful digital marketing strategy for a hotel or bed and breakfast is consistency. Make sure that your social media channels and blog are kept up to date throughout the year – and consider scheduling and preparing content in the quieter winter months to keep you ticking over during high season.
In fact, some of the world’s biggest brands begin planning for their Christmas advertising campaigns the year previous, so it’s never too early to start future-proofing your marketing and getting prepared for the year ahead. Building a social media content plan could be the best way to go, as outlined by Buffer in their post on planning and preparation.
Whatever you choose to incorporate into your digital marketing strategy for your hotel or bed and breakfast, make sure you do something. The more time and effort you can put into your marketing, the more success you’ll have online, and the more successful your business will become. Best of luck!