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The recent covid-19 pandemic shook up the industry and forced marketers to rethink their approach. But with the industry now in rebound mode, it’s time to focus on what marketing strategies make sense for your hotel and put together a budget that will help ensure your hotel is part of the rebound.
A marketing budget is only as good as your marketing plan. To position your hotel for the year ahead and boost your bookings, you need a diverse marketing mix. As you plan your budget, we’ve put together a guide of marketing tactics and strategies you need to know about. These points are the thing you should consider when preparing a digital marketing budget for hotels.
What Are Your Hotel’s 2023 Goals?
Your ultimate goal is to increase bookings, but you need to have a clear focus on your overall marketing initiatives for the year ahead. Your marketing budget should align with your goals, whether it’s driving more direct bookings, increasing organic traffic, or improving your brand awareness. Depending on your goals, you may want to invest in metasearch and other proven advertising methods, create a blog, and focus on on-site and technical SEO, or use display ads and social media management to showcase your hotel’s amenities.
What Are Your Current Operating Costs?
Before you start allocating your marketing budget, you need to have a clear picture of what you have to spend. Determine costs that are locked in, such as marketing staff costs, software and website costs, and outsourced work costs. This will allow you to better allocate the remaining budget to fit your strategy, and it will also give you insight into what marketing work can be completed in-house and what work might be best done in collaboration with a strategic marketing partner.
Who Is Your Ideal Audience?
Your marketing mix will depend on a number of factors, but no strategy or budget should be put in place without determining who your ideal guest is. Depending on whether your hotel caters to business guests, leisure travelers, or a combination of both, you’ll need to use different marketing tactics to reach your goals.
To optimize your hotel’s ability to drive bookings in the digital space, you must implement these marketing tactics. You should allocate a budget and find a place for these tactics in your marketing plan in the coming year.
Pay Per Click Advertising
Driving bookings to your hotel website requires real estate, particularly at the top of Google’s search engine page results (SERP). You can command that top position through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. A targeted PPC campaign can create an immediate presence in search engine results for the keywords you choose, such as your brand name or a local destination, to ensure you are top of the page and top of mind when prospective travelers go searching.
The ideal budget for your hotel depends on various factors. You do not always need to spend thousands of dollars per month to make an impact. Your hotel could launch a Google Ads PPC campaign internally, but many hotels work with an agency to develop a strategy, do keyword research, and more.
Google, which controls 92% of the search engine market, processes 5.6 billion searches each day. According to data, 28.5% of clicks on Google are on the first result (15.7% are on the second). With PPC advertising, you can command the top of search engine results for strategic keywords and drive more potential guests to your website instead of a third-party booking platform or a competitor.
Advertising spends IDR 7,000,000.00 – IDR 90,000,000+ per month, Service fees IDR 2,500,000.00 – IDR 13,500,000.00+ per month
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PAID ADVERTISING FOR HOTELS: The Power of Paid Advertising for Hotels: Understanding Your Options 
Metasearch sites such as TripAdvisor and Google Hotel Ads are convenient ways for guests to search and compare the availability and pricing for multiple hotels at once. While executing a metasearch strategy can be complex, it can have a drastic impact on direct bookings when done correctly.
While metasearch has taken off in the past year, setting it up can be a challenge with various bidding strategies and technical requirements. Even Google recommends using a Hotel Ads partner for optimal setup.
Metasearch now accounts for 45% of global online travel traffic, in large part thanks to Google Hotel Ads. Metasearch ads pull rate and inventory information into one place and receive prominent placement on Google. They work especially well for direct bookings and typically have commission rates between 10-15%, lower than OTAs. Metasearch performed particularly well during the pandemic, with some cases seeing ROAS of 10x or higher.
Advertising spend IDR 2,000,000.00 – IDR 30,000,000.00 per month, Service fees IDR 3,000,000.00 – IDR 7,500,000.00 per month
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT GOOGLE HOTEL ADS: Google Hotel Ads Guide: A Comprehensive Guide For Hoteliers 2023
The trend of online bookings was sparked by Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) when they launched in the early 2000s. Despite the rise of metasearch, OTAs still dominate the field. Booking.com and other OTAs allow hotels to have listings that include photos, hotel information, features, room rates, availability, and reviews. Due to their prominence, OTAs are an effective part of the marketing mix, even though they typically command commission rates ranging between 15-25%.
Partner programs are available for independent hotels to get started on OTAs such as Booking.com. A strategic partner can provide guidance on the best platforms, ideal budgets, and optimization.
In 2021, the two largest OTAs, Booking.com and Expedia, spent roughly $5 billion each on marketing costs, a large chunk of which goes to Google for advertising. Hotels might be competing with OTAs for online attention, but they are also a worthwhile partner. Recent data suggests that nearly 40% of digital bookings are done through OTAs and paying the commission is better than not securing the booking.
Advertising spending ranges from IDR 3,000,000.00 to IDR 9,000,000.00+ per month, with service fees ranging from IDR 3,000,000.00 to IDR 4,500,000.00+ per month.
Along with technical SEO, on-page SEO for your hotel website is critical. When search engines crawl your website, they focus on the page titles, meta descriptions, headings, and keywords. Search engine optimization is all about driving traffic to your website, and an SEO expert can ensure your pages are utilizing high-volume keywords and on-site best practices to improve your ranking across search engines.
Hospitality marketers can take onsite SEO into their own hands by optimizing page titles and content with keywords they want their hotel to rank for. When you need help with strategic keyword research or keyword improvement, a marketing strategist can audit your website and provide guidance to optimize for organic search.
Traffic on Google drops 95% from page one to page two, and less than 1% of search engine users click a result on the second page. Users click the top organic result 34.2% of the time. Again, search is all about real estate, and optimizing your website for SEO can help push your website higher in the results and drive more traffic.
IDR 7,500,000.00 to IDR 37,500,000.00 annually, depending on whether it’s a one-time or ongoing service.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SEO FOR HOTELS IN INDONESIA: Introductory Guide: How To SEO For Hotels In Indonesia Successfully 
Local SEO is also essential for increasing organic traffic to your hotel website. One of the most important components of local SEO is having an optimized Google My Business (GMB) panel. This allows your hotel to claim prime real estate on the top half of Google and other search engines, as well as showcase your hotel’s story and amenities.
Google My Business is a free tool that all hotels should be using, but a marketing strategist can provide guidance on best practices and optimizations for optimal performance.
Reviews are a major factor in travelers’ decision-making process, and claiming your GMB listing allows you to stay on top of them. Additionally, having a GMB panel gives your hotel prime real estate next to your PPC and metasearch ads, and organic search results, increasing your visibility and chances of driving bookings.
IDR 37,500,000.00 annually
Marketers often think of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) only as a keyword tool for Google, Bing, and other search engines. But it’s much more than that. Technical SEO is just as important as keywords. Technical SEO refers to optimizing your hotel website for search engine crawlers. While this includes several factors, page speed, accessibility, sitemap indexing, and user experience are particularly important.
Several online resources can help you see how your website is performing from a technical SEO perspective. You may be able to fix some of the issues yourself, but a website partner may be required to assist depending on the errors you uncover.
Google now largely determines your hotel website’s page rankings based on mobile-first indexing, specifically page speed and page experience. Your hotel website’s loading speed can affect its page rankings, and page loading time, metadata, sitemap size, and other factors can impact your technical SEO and how search engines view your hotel’s website.
PRICE RANGE: IDR 20,000,000.00 to IDR 90,000,000.00 annually, depending on whether it’s a one-time or ongoing service.
Creating SEO-friendly content is crucial for ranking well for your branded or local keywords, but don’t overlook the importance of targeting long-tail keywords. These are longer phrases, typically made up of three to five keywords, that may have lower search volume but attract higher-quality traffic. By creating blog posts or other resources focused on niche keywords such as “Hotels near Nusa Dua” or “What Hotels in Bali Allow Pets,” and providing content about things to do in your city, places to eat, or family-friendly attractions nearby, your hotel website can attract more targeted traffic.
Content creation can be done in-house with the right strategy, using keyword research to identify potential blog topics and drive traffic. Alternatively, a marketing agency can help develop a content strategy, identify relevant topics and keywords, and provide an SEO-focused writer.
Surprisingly, the majority of online searches are for specific, low-volume keywords. An analysis of 1.9 billion keywords found that nearly 40% of all searches were for 99.84% of search queries with a monthly search volume of 1,000 or less. By creating a content strategy that targets these niche phrases, you can provide valuable information to travelers and improve your hotel website’s visibility in search results.
IDR 30,000,000.00 – IDR 80,000,000.00 annually
Consider a redesign for your hotel website in 2022 if it is three or more years old. Even if your website is new, allocate some of your digital marketing budgets to hotels to keep it fresh or add new functionality to stay relevant. Your website is your number one salesperson, making the first impression on a guest before they even step foot inside your hotel.
Embarking on a website redesign or update alone can be challenging for an independent hotel, especially from a technical and compliance perspective. A strategic hospitality agency can ensure your website is technically sound and built to succeed in the mobile world.
Now more than ever, the entire customer journey from research to booking is happening without human interaction. This is especially true on mobile, which marketers should prioritize. According to Hotels.com, 42% of people have booked a hotel on mobile.
IDR 90,000,000.00 – IDR 375,000,000.00
Brand Awareness, Reach, and Communication
If you’re looking to increase brand awareness, communicate with current and potential guests, and expand your hotel’s audience, there are various effective marketing tactics you can consider, depending on your budget and goals.
Social Media Management
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter can help your hotel reach different audiences and demographics. Building a social media presence takes time, trial and error, and consistency, but it can pay off if done well.
Hospitality marketers can use tools like Hootsuite to schedule cost-effective social media posts. However, some hotels use marketing agencies to help build branding and a strong plan of action.
With nearly 4 billion people worldwide on social media, it’s an ideal platform to showcase your property across different segments. According to a 2019 study, 86% of people became interested in a location after seeing content on social media. By creating engaging content, you can inspire people to book their next trip at your hotel.
IDR 100,000,000.00 – IDR 400,000,000.00 annually, depending on channels and frequency
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIES FOR HOTELS: Different Hotel Social Media Technique To Engage With Customers And Promote Their Brand On Social Media 
Social Media Advertising
Social media advertising on platforms like Facebook and Instagram can help you reach younger audiences and drive direct bookings. While it’s not as popular as other advertising channels like OTA or PPC, it’s worth considering depending on your target audience and budget.
Social media advertising can be complex and requires targeting the right audience and locations with an optimal budget. A marketing agency can help you spend your digital marketing budget for hotels wisely and efficiently.
Many travelers discover destinations or get inspired for their next trip through social media. By targeting specific locations, age groups, and interests, you can effectively reach your desired audience and generate more bookings.
Advertising spends IDR 3,000,000.00 – IDR 9,000,000.00 per month, Service fees IDR 3,000,000.00 – IDR 9,000,000.00 monthly.
Email marketing is a cost-effective tool for direct bookings that can establish a long-term relationship with guests and engage them with personalized and loyalty-driven content. However, with the average email open rate in the travel industry at 25.9%, a strong strategy is needed to stand out in a crowded inbox.
Email marketing can cost approximately IDR 30,000,000.00 for template design and IDR 7,500,000.00 – IDR 10,500,000.00 per campaign. Your CRM can provide insights into your email data, enabling you to segment lists and create customized campaigns. If you need assistance in connecting your data, developing strategic campaigns, or designing templates, a marketing agency can offer resources and expertise.
Email marketing can reach a significant audience with updates and offers, as people worldwide have email accounts. However, to capture their attention, your emails need to be compelling and unique. With the right approach, you can increase customer loyalty and generate more bookings.
IDR 30,000,000.00 for template design, IDR 7,500,000.00 – IDR 10,500,000.00 per campaign.
When it comes to budgeting for your marketing plan, some efforts are essential while others would be great to have but not crucial. These additional marketing tactics can complement your strategy and help you achieve your goals, even if they’re not 12-month tactics.
It can be frustrating when you see drop-offs on the booking page, but reservation recovery can help you target travelers with incomplete bookings. By sending strategic messaging and offers, you can re-engage with these potential guests.
If your website already captures contact data from abandoned bookings, you can target them with campaigns. Otherwise, a marketing agency can help build out a data flow that works best for your process.
Travel has the second-highest abandonment rate at 81.3%, but there is a strong chance for re-engagement with the right strategy. Conversational marketing can be a great way to answer people’s questions and increase conversions.
IDR 37,500,000.00 – IDR 90,000,000.00 annually.
PPC, OTA, and metasearch ads are common in the hospitality industry, but display advertising can still play an important role. Display ads serve two primary purposes for hotels: brand awareness and retargeting travelers who have visited your website. They help diversify your marketing mix and work in tandem with other advertising tactics.
If your advertising budget allows, display advertising can keep your hotel top-of-mind. Google Ads makes it easy to start, but you may want to work with a partner to design graphics that convert effectively and build a campaign with strategic targeting and technical setup.
Mobile devices and apps are increasing the use of display advertising, and it can be a great way to showcase your hotel’s brand and personality. Display ads offer guests a glimpse of your hotel and keep your property in their minds.
Advertising spends IDR 3,000,000.00 – IDR 9,000,000.00+ per month, Service fees IDR 3,000,000.00 – 4,500,000.00 per month.
Conversational marketing has evolved beyond chatbots. With the right tools, automated real-time conversations can engage prospects on your website whenever they’re ready. This tactic makes it easier for wedding planners and businesses to get the information they need or book a site tour, increasing conversations and shortening the sales cycle.
Building automated real-time conversation tools takes the work of a developer, but a marketing strategist can guide the process and build out the tools for your hotel website. While it is an investment, conversational marketing tools can pay dividends in the long run by converting more and better leads.
Conversational marketing allows you to answer questions efficiently and instantly, 24/7. By incorporating it on your website, you can engage, qualify, and allow potential guests to book a tour in minutes, significantly cutting down on the sales cycle.
Depends on the cost of developer time and marketing strategist’s fees.
A successful digital marketing plan is essential for any hotel looking to attract and retain guests in today’s competitive hospitality industry. With a wide range of digital marketing tactics available, it’s important to prioritize those that fit within your goals and the digital marketing budget for hotels.
Search engine optimization can help your hotel rank higher in search engine results and increase organic traffic to your website. Pay-per-click advertising allows you to target travelers who are actively searching for accommodations and bid on relevant keywords. Display advertising can help you increase brand awareness and retarget travelers who have visited your website. Retargeting can help you re-engage with travelers who abandoned their bookings and bring them back to your site. Conversational marketing can help you provide instant assistance to prospects and shorten the sales cycle.
While each of these tactics has its own costs and requirements, they all require a strong strategy and execution to be effective. With the right approach and resources, hotels can leverage these marketing strategies to drive bookings and increase revenue, ultimately leading to long-term success in the hospitality industry.