Use these hospitality marketing strategies to show potential customers you can create the modern experience they want.

In the hospitality industry, treating your customers well is more than just a sales tactic—it’s your job. Customers turn to you and your competitors with high expectations right off the bat, so if you want to take the lead, you need to catch up on the latest hospitality marketing trends and innovate beyond them.

You may be confident that the customer experience you provide is unmatched, but new customers will only show up if your marketing reflects this fact—and if they see your marketing in the first place. With nearly 72% of the online world expected to use solely their smartphones for web access by 2025, your ability to promote your guest experience in a mobile-first, tech-savvy world can be your secret to fast growth.

This article will guide you through some of the latest trends in hospitality internet marketing, so you can develop an airtight marketing plan.

Top 5 hospitality marketing trends

Technology is transforming the guest experience faster than ever. This means your digital marketing strategies can be your chance to stand out or the reason you get left behind.

In order to make sure the latter doesn’t happen, you’ll want to know what marketing techniques are working right now. Whether you own a hotel, a restaurant, or an event space, you can put your own creative twist on the following trends to make your hospitality business shine.

1. Social media chatbots

As social media becomes a customer service channel—where consumers are reaching out to for assistance whether you want them to or not—artificial intelligence is making waves in the hospitality industry.

Chatbots simply make sense. When your company is strapped for time and can’t handle the volume of incoming comments, inquiries, and requests, your chatbot can help you answer common questions or redirect complaints to a more convenient channel without wasting resources.

Chatbots are also an ideal hospitality marketing tool for the rising amount of people who want to complete their travel bookings online on the platforms they’re already using. When you allow your leads to find open hotel rooms or prices for event tickets straight from their social media apps, you may find that the convenience (and easily personalized interaction) will be enough to convince them to convert. In many cases, they’ll convert even faster than they would by browsing your website on their own.

2. Personalized marketing

People like feeling recognized. When they’re making bookings for their travels, 90% of consumers expect an experience customized just for them. To improve guest experiences, hospitality marketers must build off this expectation by providing a personalized experience before your leads even decide they want to visit you in person.

The best way to give every customer special treatment is to take advantage of data. Use the information you have about your leads—including their names, hometowns, and booking history—to send them personalized email and SMS marketing campaigns.

With Podium Webchat, you can automatically capture leads on your website and send the warmest ones straight to your CRM tool, so you can immediately start including them in relevant marketing campaigns.

Once your leads become customers, you can create a personalized drip campaign that sends them helpful reminders, tips for getting to your location, and information about how to check in—all specific to their booking. This part of your personalized hospitality marketing will play an important role in building continued customer loyalty.

3. SEO and voice search

Just like in any other industry, search engine optimization (SEO) is critical in hospitality marketing. More and more, travel research and bookings happen right on mobile devices, and your potential guests aren’t scrolling far. In order to rank high on Google, you need to start targeting keywords within your website content.

Your SEO should also take into account the rising use of voice search. Nearly 8 billion digital voice assistants are expected to be in use by 2023, and 69% of travelers are already using voice search to plan trips and book hospitality services. That said, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll even get the chance to attract customers with your website design or your placement in their search engine results.

The best way to optimize your content marketing for SEO is to write as your potential customers speak. This includes writing simple snippets that Siri, Alexa, and more virtual assistants can pull from your blogs and landing pages to answer consumer questions. The more your content answers questions, the greater your online presence will be and the more brand awareness you will create.

With 22% of voice searches looking for location-based content, it can also pay to think locally. You can create highly targeted blog posts for users already in your area or looking to stay in your area.

4. Retargeting

The hospitality industry is particularly prone to cart abandonment, with 81% of potential buyers ditching their online shopping carts before making a purchase. This is higher than the standard abandonment rate across all industries.

To bring shoppers back into the sales funnel and drive up your conversion rates, you can add retargeting to your hospitality internet marketing strategy. Retargeting basically lets you reappear in front of your previous site visitors and shoppers, on their mobile devices and desktop computers, so they return to complete their reservations.

Facebook has particularly advanced retargeting tools that allow you to create highly effective retargeting campaigns. First, you add a “pixel” to your website, which tracks the exact booking options your website visitors are viewing. Then you can create dynamic retargeting ads that help you sell what your visitors left behind. Google also has great options for both preset and dynamic retargeting campaigns.

Retargeting can be expensive, since they’re usually pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, but you’re likely to see fast results and gain direct bookings from your marketing efforts.

5. User-generated content

In hospitality marketing, you want to sell the experience. What better way to do so than having your guests sell their experiences for you?

User-created content includes social posts, blog posts, and testimonials that your guests create without being paid. This form of content is often seen as more authentic than any ad you could create since your guests are voluntarily promoting you. And don’t worry if they aren’t mega stars on YouTube. Content from micro-influencers—social media users with anywhere from 1,000-10,000 followers—can provide seven times the engagement rate than posts from larger influencers.

A few strategies that hospitality businesses are using to encourage users to create content include:

  • Having memorable hashtags for their brand or their events
  • Offering rewards in exchange for a post
  • Designing great photo-ops in their physical spaces

Hospitality marketers can also share user content on their own feeds as proof of the customer experience you can provide. You can source this content by searching for any users tagging your location on social media, even if users aren’t directly tagging your brand’s page.

Connect with today’s guests

As your hospitality marketing efforts begin to bring in new guests, you’ll find more leads reaching out from a wide variety of places on the web—all needing replies. Each message that’s left with no response can be a guest you lose, so you need to streamline your process to create the best experience.

With Podium’s Messaging Platform, all of your messages from Google, Facebook, SMS, and more will all appear in the same inbox so you can assign messages to your team and respond quickly with ease. When you’re not logged online, Messaging will inform your leads so they know they won’t be left hanging.

Matt Lyman
Matt Lyman Retail Enterprise Account Executive

Matt Lyman is a hospitality professional at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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