Hotel Digital Marketing 2022 Challenge: Part 3 – Book Direct

Jack Henri
Jack Henri

Guest iQ Founder

With the beginning of April, we enter our next phase in the hypothetical hotels digital marketing journey (or, your hotel if you are taking the time to follow along!). We covered the low hanging fruits in Q1, but to be honest, those benefits are still marginal, given the limited scaling abilities if these are applied in isolation only. Q2 on the other hand will help us reach a far greater number of people, most of whom are unfamiliar with my hotels brand.

Q2 = Low funnel & high loyalty

The most likely people to convert are the ones who know our brand and/or are committed to making a booking. This audience doesn’t need much convincing to choose us, which is why they are the next lowest hanging fruit.

The tribe

Every past visitor who has voluntarily signed up to the email newsletter I created (remember this from part 2?) knows my hotels brand and has likely had at least one positive past visit, making them warm to any offers we make for them. Question is, what’s on offer? Let’s say my hypothetical hotel is looking to sell more vouchers (diversify baby!) and over the next 3 months, I see we have Valentines Day, Mothers Day & the Easter break – right there, I have 3 offers to cover 3 months. I would stagger these offers and share them via email primarily, ensuring the quality and branding is A* before sending them out, ideally segmented with highly targeted messaging (e.g people who brought kids will be given very different messaging in the Valentines Day messaging than a couple with no kids). (I would also overlap this with other channels, meaning the offers would be put out on social media but that’s for another quarter..🤫)

Search marketing

Where do you go when you want to book a nice hotel break in a city you don’t already know well? Most likely, you go to some kind of search engine, whether it be Google, TripAdvisor or Microsoft. If someone searches ‘book hotel near Covent Garden’ they probably will be booking that hotel within a day or two vs someone searches ‘UK city break ideas’ and is much earlier in the customer journey. In Q2, we want to set up ads that get in front of the first person.

Search Text Ads

I would start by considering all the things people search on Google before they book my hotel. For example, If my hotel is near Alton Towers, someone may search ‘Hotel near Alton Towers’. If my hotel has a spa in it, maybe people nearby search ‘Spa hotel near me’. Using this knowledge, I would craft search ads to show up on as many of these searches as possible. After a short testing period I would learn which elements are worth expanding and which should be paused, based on the the number of bookings/leads directly generated.



Metasearch

I would then get metasearch set up. For more details on this, check out this blog. Essentially, meta-search is where OTA website listings are compared in one place. A few great examples include TripAdvisor, Kayak and Google Hotel Ads. I would ensure the booking engine is linked to metasearch and then work with a trusted provider to start advertising.



Final word

We are now actively bidding in all the marketplaces where people find hotels to stay, putting us well ahead of many competitors and allowing us to be less reliant (if using at all) on OTAs for moving inventory.

In half a year, we have gone from nothing to being a top 1% hotel in terms of profitably we gain guests and leads. Done? Nope…the next half of a year is about becoming a top 0.001% hotel and turning the hotel into the choice, not a choice of many.