Do you manage a hotel or resort? Do you like to attract more guests and keep them coming back to your place? Do you want your place to be visible, accessible, likeable and irresistible online and off? Whether your hotel or resort is located in the heart of a city or in a remote island, here are 15 online marketing tips to boost your brand’s online visibility, attract more tourists from around the world, spread the wonderful words about your place, and grow your business.
1. Have a secure and mobile-friendly website.
If your hotel or resort doesn’t have an official website yet, it would be difficult for your potential guests to find your place, make inquiries, and do online transactions.
Most customers look for a website to connect with the hotel’s or resort’s management. Hence, if you don’t have a website yet, your prospective guests might instead go to your competitors who already have a website.
When building a website for your hotel or resort, remember these things:
- It should be e-commerce enabled and secure to let your customers do bookings online with confidence.
- It should be mobile-friendly.
- It should be easy to navigate.
- It should load fast.
- It should showcase all the important information about your business, place, people, services (rooms and accommodations), and contact information so that your potential guests will know your hotel or resort better.
- It should display interesting images, videos and other content that will give your website’s visitors a virtual taste of your wonderful place.
- It should have the ability to translate to different languages since your customers will be coming from different countries.
- It should be integrated to social media.
- It should be search engine friendly.
- It should contain your clear terms, guarantees and policies.
- It should contain testimonials from your happy guests.
2. Start blogging.
A blog can serve as a useful content hub within your website, where your target audience can read interesting articles, stories and other content about your place and about themselves.
A highly useful blog can even attract millions of visitors to your website. Furthermore, a blog can also help your business achieve the following:
- Increase the number of your site’s indexed pages in search engines, resulting to increased search engine visibility and organic search traffic.
- Boost your content asset in the form of blog posts which you can share on social media to encourage viral marketing.
- Establish your brand as a thought leader or top influencer in your industry.
- Spread information about your cause to the world.
- Gather feedback, insights and other important data from your target audience.
- Build and maintain good relationships with your existing and prospective customers.
Read these two articles to learn more about business blogging:
- How to reach a million potential customers through blogging
- 50 business blogging tips to increase your company’s website traffic
3. Create social media pages.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media platforms offer free pages or channels for business.
Here are some interesting facts and statistics why you should leverage social media marketing for your hotel or resort:
- There are 1.44 billion monthly active users on Facebook.
- 1.25 billion monthly active Facebook users are on mobile.
- 47% of all Internet users are on Facebook.
- Twitter has 284 million active users.
- 88% of Twitter users are on mobile.
- Instagram has 300 million users.
- 70 million photos and videos are sent daily on Instagram.
- 53% of internet users aged 18-29 use Instagram.
- 80% of Internet users on Pinterest are female.
- 70 million users are on Pinterest.
- LinkedIn has 347 million registered members.
- YouTube reaches more U.S. adults 18-24 years old than any cable network.
4. Join online communities.
One of the best ways to understand your target market is to join online communities that are relevant to your industry.
Find online groups such as Facebook groups, Google+ communities, LinkedIn groups, online forums, and other communities that are related to hotels, resorts, travel or tourism.
By actively having conversations with your target market in various online communities, you will be able to understand their needs better.
Here are some types of online communities that you might want to join in:
- Groups about people who live in your city. Although they may not be the ones who will most likely be your hotel guests, they are the ones who will most likely share information about your place.
- Groups about travel, tourism and leisure. This type of group is where travelers meet and exchange information.
- Groups about travel bloggers. They are influencers and you can also learn a lot from them. You can also build relationship with travel bloggers and ask them to blog about your place.
- Specific travel groups that are directly related to your type of business. For example, backpackers group, travel photographers group, and travel groups that are specific to your geographical location.
5. Blog about the top tourist attractions in your place.
Tourist attractions such as beautiful beaches, historical landmarks and fun-filled festivals are the reasons why tourists flock to your city or country. People search information about them using search engines and referrals from social media.
To attract more potential guests to your place, here’s a few sample titles or headlines you can use for your blog posts (you can make them more specific and catchy).
- Top 10 tourist destinations in ________________ (insert your city, province or country).
- 10 reasons why you should visit ______________.
- 20 stunning photos that will make you want to visit ___________ right now.
- Top 20 things to do in ___________________.
- Tips/guides/how to go to _________________________ (insert a particular tourist destination near your hotel/resort).
- 10 reasons why you should witness the _____________ (insert the annual festival held in your town or city).
Below is Google search results for the search query “places to visit in Cebu”. As you can see, our blog post from FAQ.ph is at #2 position. That gives us a lot of traffic coming from tourists who are planning to travel to Cebu City, Philippines – and who are also looking for a hotel accommodation.
6. Use stunning photos.
People, nowadays, are too busy to read long articles or stories on the Internet. This is why images are one of the most important elements used by marketers to optimize their blog posts and social media posts.
Images are also great storytellers. This is why blog posts that contain several interesting pictures are more likely to become viral on the Internet. Check BuzzFeed.com, which is one of the world’s most popular blogs. They don’t talk too much words in their blog posts but generously shares interesting photos.
Web pages and blog posts that utilize several interesting pictures also get more search engine visibility because images are also indexed by search engines.
In social media, web pages and blog posts that use compelling photos are also earning more engagements, such as likes, shares, comments and click-throughs.
Check out how Hilton Hotels use engaging photos about their place, food, service and guests in their Instagram Page.
Don’t forget to take amazing photos of places and events in your place. Sharing pictures of the tourist attractions that you (or your staff) personally took indicates that you really know and love your place. And that’s a plus point for your prospective guests.
For example, mark your calendar to join the annual festival in your city. Of course, don’t forget to take photos and share it through your blog posts and social media pages.
Below are the photos I personally took during our city’s annual festival. The Facebook post earned hundreds of likes and shares from the people who live in our city and nearby places.
7. Utilize interesting short videos.
Short videos can be uploaded and shared on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and other social platforms. When targeted to the right audience, they can become viral on social media. Thus, go extra by producing interesting short videos for your target audience.
Just like photos, short videos are easy to produce. Your marketing team can visit the awesome places in your province and city to take videos. They can also take videos of the annual festival and other important events in your place.
Below is an example of a short video I took during our city’s annual festival. It currently has 7,600 views and has been shared by 450 Facebook users.
If you love your hotel or resort, then you should also love the place (including the people, culture and history) where it is located.
You have to promote, not only your hotel or resort, but also the tourism industry of your city or country.
8. Do local SEO.
Google answers at least a trillion searches per year. This shows that Google is still the top place on the Internet to research for consumer goods and services.
But of course, a business doesn’t need to leverage those trillion searches. What a business needs to do is to target a portion of those searches that are relevant to its industry or services.
If you search for “Hotels in Manila” in Google.com, the search engine will give you the following results.
Apparently, hotels that are shown on the top of Google results receive more visitors than those that are shown at the bottom or at the next search engine results pages.
If your hotel is not displayed in the top or in the first page of Google’s search engine results page (SERP) for relevant search queries or keywords, then you’re losing web traffic and leads.
To improve the search engine visibility of your hotel or resort and attract relevant traffic, you have to implement local search engine optimization.
Here are some local SEO actionable steps you can do right now for your hotel and resort:
- Add keywords to your page titles that identifies your location. For example, “Name of Your Hotel – Hotel in Manila” or “Name of Your Resort – Resort in New York”.
- Include your local address and contact numbers, not only in your homepage and contact page, but also in all your web pages.
- Add a map to your website.
- Add a map to your Facebook page.
- Add your business to Google My Business, Bing Places for Business and Yahoo Local, then verify your address.
- Get your accommodation listed in TripAdvisor.
- Consider registering your property at Agoda, Expedia or Booking.com
- Add photos of your hotel or resort in your business listings.
- Ask reviews from your guests.
- Update your old online business directory listings to reflect your current address and contact information.
- Publish more blog posts using local keywords in your titles.
The image above shows Google’s SERP for the query “Hotel in Makati”. As you can see, most of the websites shown in the first page of the result are using the local keyword “Makati”.
9. Invest in AdWords.
Invest in PPC (pay-per-click) ads through Google AdWords to increase your search engine visibility further.
Looking again on the SERP for the query “hotels in Manila”, you can see the list of websites on the right side labeled with “Ads”. Those are sponsored ads from companies who bid and paid to be displayed in the SERP for such keywords.
PPC advertising gives quicker results than SEO since the latter can take a lot of time and efforts to generate results. However, the results generated by SEO can last longer and may give better ROI than PPC advertising can.
PPC advertising is one of the most effective online marketing strategies to reach your target customers at your desired time since you don’t have to wait for weeks or months to show your web pages on SERP.
10. Invest in social media ads.
Boost your social media posts through Facebook Advertising, Twitter Ads and other paid advertising on social networks.
For a budget of $1 or more, you can already increase your Facebook posts’ reach to intensify your social media marketing campaign.
Below is our blog post about one of the tourist attractions in our province that we shared on our Facebook page. With a trial Facebook ad campaign worth $20 and with the right targeting, our blog post reached more than 170,000 people on Facebook (including the organic reach). Of course you can do better than that. 🙂
Facebook ads can also be used to increase your Facebook Page likes, increase views to your videos, invite more people to your events, drive more traffic to your website, and connect more people to your offers.
11. Improve your calls to action.
Search engine visibility, social media reach and web traffic are useless if you can’t leverage them to get more guests and increase profit. Thus, you have to influence your audience to become your hotel’s or resort’s customers.
Put the right CTA or call to action in your pages, blog posts and social media posts to increase your conversion rates. Particularly, you can do the following:
- Place CTA buttons in your blog posts to guide your readers to your landing pages (e.g., accommodations and other services).
- Create a CTA buttons in your Facebook Page and other social media pages.
- Create CTA links in your videos on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and other social channels.
- Create CTA in your other social media posts.
- Create CTA in your email newsletter.
Below is a screenshot on creating a “Book Now” CTA in your Facebook Page. You can link the button to your website’s booking page.
You can also put a CTA in your Facebook videos. Below, is a CTA that I created for one of our short videos on Facebook, which encourages viewers to visit a certain web page after they have viewed it.
12. Invite influential travel bloggers.
Bloggers are one of the most influential groups in the digital world. And in the travel industry, travel bloggers are one of the most trusted sources of information on the Internet.
Travel articles written and published by travel bloggers are topping the search engine results pages and making rounds on social media. That is why if they blog about your hotel or resort, your place will have a better chance to attract more potential guests.
You can invite a group of reputable travel bloggers a few days or weeks before peak season to visit your place and blog about it.
However, remember that not all bloggers are the same. So before inviting travel bloggers, check first if they possess the following:
- Their blog posts are written in a high quality manner.
- Their blog posts have several comments – an indication that they are interesting and engaging.
- Their content (images, videos and articles) are unique or original.
- They have a significant number of followers on social media.
- Their blog posts have significant numbers of social media engagements (shares, likes and positive comments).
- Their blogs are not involved in unethical online marketing practices, such as spamming and plagiarism.
- The travel bloggers have a positive reputation and not involved in harassing clients, PR agencies and other bloggers.
13. Manage your online reputation.
Expect that your hotel, resort or restaurant will receive mixed reviews on Facebook, Google Places, TripAdvisor and other sites that enable users to give reviews and rate places they’ve been.
Below is a ranking of hotels in Tacloban City, Philippines by TripAdvisor as of July 2015.
You can observe that the top 5 hotels (out of 14) in that city got good ratings and positive reviews. Those reviews are attracting more guests to those hotels.
On the other hand, the hotels that are ranked the lowest have low ratings and negative reviews (see image below). Those reviews might scare off potential guests.
There might also be good hotels that are not yet listed in TripAdvisor.
Most travelers do a Google search first before booking a hotel. And reviews by TripAdvisor users are usually shown on the top or on the first page of Google SERPs. Thus, it is important that hotel owners or their management are aware of them and they are doing something to manage negative reviews and low ratings.
Now if you’re an owner or a manager of a hotel, resort or restaurant that has negative reviews and low rating, don’t worry but do something to manage your online reputation.
Here are some ways you can do to fix your low reputation score:
- Claim your property at TripAdvisor.
- Sign up to receive notifications in your email every time a review or comment to your hotel is made by a user.
- Respond quickly and politely to the negative comments about your hotel.
- Thank your guests who left a positive review.
- Encourage your current guests or customers to give positive reviews by ensuring that they’re happy with your services.
- Be friendly and ask for more positive ratings and reviews so that your average ratings will increase.
Take note that hotel owners or managers who quickly and sincerely respond to comments or reviews (whether they are positive or negative) earn respect from current and potential customers because it shows that they are serious in making their services better.
14. Always give the best experience to your guests.
Good service is the mother of good reviews and ratings. On the other hand, bad service gives birth to bad reviews and ratings.
If you are always making your guests happy, they will become your own marketers. They will spread the good news about your place on TripAdvisor, Facebook, and other places on the Internet.
Here are the criteria on how travelers and users on TripAdvisor rate hotels:
To earn high ratings, your guest should be satisfied in terms of location, sleep quality, rooms, service, value and cleanliness.
The kind of service that your staff is giving is also one of the most important factors that reviewers consider when they rate or review resorts or hotels.
Therefore, don’t forget to train your staff to achieve quality customer service.
15. Outsource your online marketing to the pros.
Online marketing is fun and challenging. You can also DIY it if you want to save money. However, to save time and have focus on your business’ core activities, it’s wiser to outsource your online marketing campaign to a marketing professional or agency.
A digital marketing professional or company will also give you an outside perspective and help you gain access to new marketing methods, techniques, tools, and data that will bring your business to a new level.
Hotel and resort consumers are usually coming from distant places. Hence, they rely on the information provided by the Internet. They ask search engines, read blogs, and learn from their social media newsfeed. This is why an effective online marketing program must be implemented for hotels and resorts.
If you also own and operate a restaurant, you may read our 25 marketing tips for restaurant business owners.
I hope that the tips and advice I mentioned above will help your hotel or resort provide better services, make your guests happier than ever, promote the tourism industry and economy in your city or country, and bring more prosperity to your business.
Remember that if you want to promote your resort or hotel, you also have to promote your community, city and country because your business is part of the tourism industry.