Opening a new hotel requires a full headspace, apart from the actual physical space for your property. It’s not the actual physical property and the material things that go inside it, that form the crux of your brand image and selling point. The online presence of your hotel, that usually gets ignored in the bustling process of building a hotel from ground up, ensures your future prosperity, as a hotelier.
It is absolutely out of the question for you to ignore your digital marketing plan and strategy as a budding hotelier, that is if you want your venture to flourish. In today’s day, having an existing strategy will get you group business and revenue, not only for the first few opening months, but it will also help you avoid setting the hotel up for over-reliance on online travel agencies such as TripAdvisor, in the long term. Getting more direct business from the very beginning ensures that the property will build a transient audience base, while also engaging and successfully retaining past guests.
Due to an abundance of new hotels cropping up daily, there is an increase in supply of available hotel rooms, especially in metropolitan cities. There is increased competition for every hotel, on a ratio basis; hence, having a social media strategy/marketing strategy is of the utmost importance. The allure of a new and shiny hotel is just not enough, in the current market situation.
Here are a few questions you should be asking yourself, way before the actual construction starts.
- What must be included in the pre-opening digital strategy?
- What is my brand idea?
- What are my goals for market positioning and profit extraction, without relying on third parties?
Here are the answers to your questions…
Before you start to build your online presence, you must solidify what your vision for your brand is. More often than not, upon addition of new investors, the vision for your hotel might change. Each new individual brings some suggestions to the table and slowly, starting from point A, your idea jumps to point D. It is a good idea to have one, unidirectional plan, so as to avoid confusion of ideas and clutter.
Knowing your target audience is one place you could start from. Your marketing strategy will change as the progress on the hotel evolves. Different stages will require different ways of tackling marketing needs. A marketing agency will build your marketing plan, as close to your brand identity as possible. Hence, it is advisable to have clarity on the same.
SEM (search engine marketing) ad copy and GDN (Google display network) banners are your best bet, for marketing your hotel in the initial stages.
Goals and Bars for creating digital awareness.
- Focus on KPIs (Key Performance Index) like impressions, website visitors, domain building, and generating a social following, over social media platforms and email.
- Closely monitor website traffic, with metrics like the bounce rate, rate of initiated bookings, time spent by a prospective client on site, and the ultimate conversion rate.
This strategy might not give return to investments in the initial time period, but creating a buzz for your brand will ultimately generate revenue in the long run. It all boils down to educating the target audience about the future hotel’s existence.
What are your brand’s unique selling points?
There is a dire need to identify that distinguishing factor, which separates an up and coming hotel from pre-existing hotels in the market. This aspect is important for building an effective website, which generates revenue. Start by making a list of ten or so unique selling points that will resonate with your customer base and their liking.
You must think beyond the obvious promotion of “luxurious amenities” or “based in a locality with tourist attractions”. If all the rooms on the property feature a balcony and outdoor seating; mentioning this on your website is a more viable option.
These features will form the crux of all your future marketing undertakings, merchandising on the website and a means for you to craft special offers and discounts.
Have a landing page for your venture, ready as soon as you decide what your brand stands for.
To create a buzz for your hotel, have a landing page ready on your website. A pre-opening website will enable you to excite future guests, provide information on the brand’s mission and career opportunities, as well as recent news on the development/progress on the hotel. Hoteliers must ensure that they have a digital presence for their hotel the moment the domain URL is obtained and brand guidelines have been decided upon.
Your landing page must also be backed up by a content management system (CMS), which will serve by quickly and easily updating information on your website. Adjust the website’s content as and when required, generally for informing your guests about the available amenities, names of various rooms/suites, and more.
From a technical point of view, the pre-opening website begins to gain ranking on the search engine results pages, which will build the foundation for the main website for your hotel.
The goal is to generate awareness for the hotel, and reach the right consumer circle. Now is the time to put all of your information, out there; like details about the destination etc.
- Search Engine Marketing: In the case of a hotel that has no current brand awareness, will enable information to reach a wider spectrum of users, at the top of the purchase pyramid. This will create interest for people to initiate a stay in the future and circulate the name and brand of the new hotel.
- Google Display Network: Use HTML5 banners over other ad types to spread your reach. Go for in-market audience targeting. These banners are better accepted by ad servers, readability is better, and cannot be blocked by ad-blockers. You must use these banners to highlight a unique selling point that would have mass appeal.
- Gmail Ads: Email advertising has its benefits in the fact that your reach expands too non-interest target groups. It also enables you to target users with emails from competitors.
These steps must be taken six to eight months prior to the actual opening of the hotel.
Give special offers, discounts and packages.
Introduce a Grand Opening Special Offer/Package and promote it via the pre-opening website, SEM, Social Media, etc. Always aim for 3- 5 offers live at a moment because too many and too few offers, both, cause users to lose interest.
Special membership rates (e.g. student, govt. & military, senior citizens etc.) are good to have.
Having the option for advanced purchase packages and discounts can also prove helpful.
Use the awareness you just generated for your brand.
While continuing all of your initial marketing strategies, an hotelier should merge the changing demands of his venture as and when required. There will be a shift in targeting and messaging according to the offers or packages your company is providing.
- Smart Data Marketing: First party data from airlines and travel partners is used to reach users who intend to travel to the destination of your establishment. Promote direct booking and flaunt your selling points through these third parties.
- TripAdvisor: Put yourself on this platform and run ads based on location, property images etc. Utilize the advertisement opportunities OTAs provide.
- Native Ads: These ads are to blend into the website, alongside editorial content that gives information about when the hotel is opening, its accommodation and locality.
As evolution is a process, with the development taking heed, digital marketing will be a time of learning and optimizations. Slowly you will begin to understand the type of user who is on the receiving end of your advertisements.
It is required of you to have openness, to run new things and recognize redundancy. Mold your approach when changes arrive.
The grand opening.
Your digital marketing strategy has done its required bit. Now, you must add that extra oomph, to take your venture and your expectations, up a notch.
Create a multi-channel grand opening campaign, having the support of an offer that is hard to resist. This should hold true for you prime audience, be it local or foreign. Throw a party, pick a theme, and show your culture and luxury, together.
Opening a hotel is no easy task, but one must do it right, if on the path to opening one. Hoteliers need to have a well thought out digital marketing strategy, along with strong incentive to promote their venture properly. Without proper planning or the launch of the right campaigns, a new hotel will open with minimal occupancy and reach, ultimately, ending up dependent upon online travel agencies for bookings.