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How to create a digital marketing strategy for hotels: A step-by-step guide [2023]

hotel digital marketing strategy blog banner: hotel sign on a building
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Why is digital marketing important for hotels?

The digital era changed the hospitality industry drastically. Why is this the case? The hospitality industry’s customers are primarily tourists or social travelers. Before making a trip, your customers spend a lot of time researching hotels to stay, restaurants to eat at, and places to visit. Your hotel needs to establish a digital presence in order to get in touch with potential customers. Digital marketing strategies will increase your online visibility and help your hotel to meet customers at various digital touchpoints to develop a group of loyal customers and establish your hotel’s brand.

The use of data in hotel digital marketing strategy. Data provides your hotel with tremendous insights about your current customers and potential customers. Firstly, data allows your hotel to create a ‘personalized advertising experience’ such as personalized communications (based on a specific segment of your audience) and personalized offers. Secondly, data allows you to do targeted advertising. For example, if the data suggests that the majority of your customers are ‘business travelers’, you can target them with ads for meeting and conference room rentals, as well as special rates for corporate bookings.

Identify your target audience

drawing of target audience on a white board

A successful hotel digital marketing strategy starts by identifying your current customers as well as your potential target audience. This can be their demographics, or their habits & preferences when it comes to booking a hotel.

Some questions to answer:

  • Who is most likely to book your hotel room?
  • What is the income & education level of your potential audience?
  • What is the age and occupation of your potential audience?
  • What are your potential audience reasons for traveling? (e.g. leisure, business, special events)
  • What are the habits and preferences of your potential audience? (e.g. solo travel, family vacations, business trips)
  • What is the budget or niche of your potential audience? (e.g. luxury, budget-friendly, eco-friendly)

Identifying your target audience allows you to create strategic decisions on how to best reach your potential customers, what tone & messaging to use, and what kind of offers or promotions you should use.

Analyze your competition

A famous quote from Sun Tzu’s the Art of War: Know the enemy and know yourself in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. To develop a successful hotel digital marketing strategy, you must analyze your direct competition. Analyzing your competition also involves analyzing their digital marketing strategies. By doing so, you will identify areas of improvement in your strategy as well as identify your advantages.

Your competitor analysis may include:

  • Researching competitors’ websites, social media channels, and online listings to compare what they are doing and what you are not.
  • Look at their SEO and SEM strategies, such as keywords targeting and advertisement channels.
  • Analyze their content type, tone of voice used, and what kind of engagement they are getting from their audience.
  • Analyze their digital marketing campaigns such as email marketing campaigns, handbook campaigns, and social media ads.

Understanding your competitors well will allow you to do differentiation and offer something unique that stands out. Keep in mind that in order to stay ahead of the game, you must monitor and analyze your competitors on a regular basis.

Evaluate your current digital presence

Analyzing and evaluating your hotel’s current digital presence involves analyzing your website, social media, and online listings to see what areas need improvement. Does your current digital presence convey the right message to your target audience? In order to increase bookings, you must make sure your online visibility and branding are on point.

Area to focus on when evaluating your digital presence.

  • Your Website design: Is your website visually appealing to your target audience? Is it user-friendly and easy to navigate around? How is your page loading speed on different devices? Is it mobile-friendly?
  • Your Website content: Is your website’s content up-to-date? Does it accurately reflect your hotel’s brand and convey the right message?
  • Your Social media presence: Are you actively engaging with customers on social media? How often do you post new content?
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Is your website optimized for search engines? Are you targeting and using the right keywords? How are the on-page, off-page, and technical optimizations? Getting this right will improve online visibility.
  • Online listings: Are your hotel’s details and photos accurate and up-to-date?

Always make sure that your digital presence and branding must be consistent on all platforms.

Utilize SEO techniques

SEO process pie chart

Your website and online listings must be optimized for search engines to improve visibility and drive more traffic to your site. SEO techniques will take your hotel’s website to position higher on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Applying SEO to your hotel digital marketing strategy will increase organic traffic to your website and online listing.

Here are some SEO techniques to help your hotel website to rank higher on SERPs:

  • Keyword research: Identify keywords that are crucial to your hotels. These are keywords & queries that potential guests are likely to use when searching for hotels in your area. Make sure you incorporate them in your page content and meta tags.
  • On-page optimization: This involves your website’s content and media assets to make sure they are relevant and useful to potential guests. Again, make sure your pages are mobile-friendly and user-friendly.
  • Off-page optimization: this involves building good quality backlinks from authoritative websites. Link building is one of the highest factors in your website’s Domain Authority.
  • Local SEO: Optimize for local search terms. Remember, local SEO is different from ordinary SEO. For example, you can use your specific areas such as your city in your website’s meta tags, and ensure that your hotel’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are accurate and consistent across all online platforms. Also, online reviews are especially important for your local SEO.
  • Google My Business: Creating a Google My Business listing for your hotel and encouraging guests to leave reviews can boost your hotel’s visibility on Google. Google My Business is one of the most important factors to position higher on SERPs.

SEO is a long-term strategy and requires ongoing optimization and monitoring to ensure that your website stays up-to-date with the latest search engine algorithms and trends.

To learn more about SEO visit our blogs:
Introductory Guide To SEO Backlinks – How It Benefits Your Website In 2023
On-Page SEO Introductory Guide To Improve Your Website Performance [2023]

Utilize social media

Create a presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Engaging your customers on social media is very important. Social media can be used both to promote your hotel as well as creating a relationship with customers. Utilizing social media in your hotel digital marketing strategy will increase the reach of your marketing efforts.

How you can use social media:

  • Sharing high-quality content: As a hotel, it is important to sell experience. You must share high-quality contents to highlight your hotel’s amenities and services. For informational content try local attractions, things to do around your hotel area, the best restaurants around your hotel area and etc.
  • Engage with your audience: Use social media to build relationships with your audience. You can do this by promptly replying to comments, messages, and so on.
  • Use social media advertising: social media provides you with a ginormous reach. Use this to reach a larger audience.
  • Use social media analytics tools: Always track and measure your progress so that you know what adjustments to make and when. Also, social media analytics tools provide you with good-quality data about your audience.

Social media allows hotels to connect with customers in a more personal way, and to promote their hotel to a wider audience. Social media marketing also gives you the tools to target the right audience.

Invest in online advertising

After identifying a potential target audience, your online advertising becomes much more powerful. A platform such as Google allows you to utilize many different forms of advertising across its platforms. For example, Google’s ‘performance max’ allows you to advertise on Google search result page, Google partner networks, and Youtube at the same time. Meta Ads allows you to advertise on their social media platforms: Facebook & Instagram. The most commonly used online advertising is pay-per-click (PPC).

Ways you can use online advertising for your hotel:

  • Search engine advertising (SEA/SEM): The use of platforms such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. to place ads on SERPs for specific keywords. By adding keywords or queries about your hotel area, your ads will be more visible for potential guests searching for hotels in your area.
  • Display advertising: The use of platforms such as Google Display Network to place display ads on websites across the internet. Display ads typically use media assets such as images, banners, animations, or videos. Display ads can be targeted based on audience demographics, interests, and behaviors to make sure your ads are shown to the right audience.
  • Social media advertising: The use of platforms such as Meta Ads to place ads on social media platforms. Social media advertising performance can be heavily affected by your media assets. Make sure your media assets are eye-catching or attention-grabbing. Take note that a high-value production media asset doesn’t always necessarily perform better than a low-cost one.
  • Retargeting: Can be done on various platforms such as Google & Meta ads. The idea behind retargeting is to use data to find visitors who previously visited your website but haven’t fully completed the booking.

The benefits of using online advertising as a part of your digital marketing strategies are high reach, allows retargeting, personalization based on data, and measurable results.

To learn more about online ad targeting:
Basic Google Ads Audience Targeting Guide: Choosing The Right Audience On Search Network & Display Network [2023]

To learn more about Google advertising, you may visit Google Ads Help.
To learn more about Meta ads, you may visit Meta Business Help Centre.

Utilize email marketing

email marketing strategy drawing on a white board

Email must be integrated into your hotel digital marketing strategy. Often forgotten, email lists can be very powerful. It is always recommended to build an email list of customers and use email marketing campaigns to promote special deals, and offers, hand out handbooks, personalized messages such as birthday wishes, and so on.

Here is an example of email marketing methods for hotels:

  • Build an email list: Encourage guests to sign up for your email list by offering incentives such as special discounts and free information or education.
  • Personalized email campaigns: Use customer data to create a personalized emails that are tailored to specific segments of your audience. This can be based on customer preferences or income level and etc.
  • Keep guests informed: Keep guests informed about new amenities, services, and events at your hotel.
  • Building customer relationships: Use email marketing campaigns to build and maintain relationships with potential and current guests.

The benefit of email marketing is that it can be very cost-effective. Emails can be sent in bulk, and today, there are many tools that allow automation. These tools also allow for personalization to make your emails feel more personal to their recipients. Remember, email marketing can help you maintain or build relationships with current and potential customers.

Measure and track your progress

Google Analytic universal on a laptop screen

The last step of your hotel digital marketing strategy is to use analytics tools to measure the effectiveness of your digital marketing campaigns and make adjustments as needed. At the end of the day, the most important thing is your return on investment (ROI) in your digital marketing efforts.

Here are some analytics tools to measure and track your progress:

  • Website analytics: Tools such as Google Analytics, is a free tool that tracks important digital advertising metrics such as traffic, click-through rate (CTR), bounce rate, conversion rate, and many more. This metric allows you to identify what works and what doesn’t work in your digital marketing effort.
  • Social media analytics: Tools such as Meta Insights or Twitter Analytics. Similarly to web analytics, it tracks important metrics such as reach and engagements. However, as the name suggests, it only tracks your social media marketing. This information can help hotels understand how their social media campaigns are performing and identify areas that need improvement.
  • Email marketing analytics: Tools such as Mailchimp. It tracks the performance of your email marketing campaigns, and measure metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.

One of the main advantages of digital marketing is the ability to measure your performance. Make sure you are consistently measuring your progress and making necessary changes based on data.

Conclusion

A well-rounded digital marketing strategy for hotels should implement a mix of these tactics. For the best result, it is recommended to utilize all of the tactics mentioned in this article. The key is to understand your target audience, know your digital presence and your competitors as well as continuously test and optimize your campaigns to improve performance.

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