Marketing is essential to the long-term success of every independent hotel, but it’s not a task that all hoteliers naturally grasp or enjoy. Marketing’s wide-ranging strategies, tools, tactics, channels and outcomes can make deciding how to promote your hotel to travelers challenging, but it’s not impossible. The easiest approach to marketing is to first understand the basics. If you’re looking to kick off or refresh your marketing efforts, here is a quick “Need to Know” list of all the essential marketing channels for all independent hotels:
Hotel website with booking engine
Your hotel website is far and away your most valuable marketing tool. It’s one of the first places travelers will look for information to help them make their lodging decision. However, there is one important factor that separates great websites from others – online booking functionality. A booking engine transforms websites from dead end information portals into dynamic revenue generation channels. Marketing efforts must be measured to determine their success and capturing direct bookings is by far the best way to determine the value of your hotel website.
Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
OTAs are more than just 3rd party booking channels for independent hotels, OTAs are critical branding partners. In most cases, independents don’t carry widely recognizable brand names. However, when OTAs, like Expedia and Hotels.com, are mentioned, travelers instantly know the brands and understand how to use them to book hotel rooms. As brand delivery tools, OTAs leverage their powerful brands to put independents into position to capture bookings from travelers. For hotels looking to broaden their marketing reach, OTAs are arguably the best option.
Social media provides countless opportunities for independent hotel marketing. Channels like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and LinkedIn can all expand the marketing reach of independents when leveraged properly. The key to getting the most out of social media marketing is to:
- Evaluate each channel to understand how it’s used for business and determine if it fits your needs.
- Develop strategies specific to each channel, including a content calendar and measurable outcomes.
- Use each channel consistently, monitor activity daily and make adjustments as needed to increase engagement.
TripAdvisor has grown into one of the travel industry’s most important online resources. Before booking room nights, many travelers will search TripAdvisor’s online reviews for opinions from past guests and see how hotels handle their feedback. Independent hotels can win or lose booking opportunities based on their TripAdvisor profiles, so it’s critical for hoteliers to claim their profiles, update photos and descriptions and always respond to traveler reviews.
Community marketing strategy
Local community marketing is just as important as online marketing for hotels. Developing community ties with local residents and businesses can establish a pipeline for room night bookings, meetings, and events that drive incremental revenue that’s essential for achieving year over year growth.