In our last article, we discussed digital marketing, its advantages, and why every hotel, irrespective of its size and industry standing, needs to invest in it.
Admittedly, well-established hospitality brands have significant advertising budgets that include digital marketing. On the flip side, one of the major challenges restricting smaller hotels from utilizing the full scope of online marketing is budget constraints.
Additionally, the lack of in-house expertise and time restrictions make bed and breakfast owners hesitant about setting aside money for promoting their property.
When faced with survival in a competitive world, it is imperative to take measures that guarantee the longevity of your hotel business. One of the first steps to take in this direction is hiring a professional hotel marketing agency.
How can a marketing agency help small hotels?
In short, a hotel digital marketing agency assists with the following;
• The agency helps you stay consistent when updating your website, content, and SEO.
• They are more efficient, know about all the ticks and tools of the trade, and can guide you in the right direction based on experience.
• A hotel marketing agency can handle time-consuming tasks like analyzing Big Data to predict and increase future bookings, sales, and revenues.
• Most importantly, agencies have their pulse on the finger of the industry, understand and know about algorithm updates, and can implement changes quickly.
Basics of managing your digital marketing budget
It is very much possible for small hotels to endure digital marketing expenses. Provided they keep in mind these five fundamental points;
• Think smart, and do not rush into things.
• Think long-term. Digital marketing is about returns over time and not instantly.
• Leave the intricacies of marketing to the professionals, so you can devote your time to managing your business.
• Work on a mix of ideas. Some require a one-time investment; others are constant but offer greater revenue opportunities.
Tips to maximize your hotel marketing budget
Let us now discuss digital marketing ideas that range in expense. Again, while some require limited investment, others promise higher results, justifying any money you spend on initiating them.
You can indulge in various marketing techniques within social media, each with its unique outcome. Posting on social media handles requires negligible investment. Thus, it is an excellent way to advertise without any price.
Moreover, social media is a great medium to connect directly with your customers, answer queries, create immediate booking opportunities, and strengthen your brand.
However, opt for paid advertising services on social media platforms if your budget permits. The apparent benefit of paid ads is that they guarantee far greater reach. Moreover, you can gear them toward a target audience and run or stop these ads when you like.
Another option available is influencer marketing. When done on a barter basis, the total cost of such a promotion is negligible. Moreover, such collaborations help with instant publicity and, possibly, international coverage.
Choosing a social media marketing package with Adigital is optimal. We can post across platforms consistently for you, know about leading trends, keywords, and hashtags, and design a plan best suited to your budget.
User Generated Marketing
Another cost-effective and organic hotel marketing technique is user-generated content. These include blogs from travel bloggers who have visited your property, social media shares, and specific hashtags on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter.
Additionally, reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor and Google and Facebook posts among friends also come under this category.
To increase such kind of free advertising, you should take measures and encourage your guests to post online. These can include promoting your hashtag on the website and on-site. Or else request guests share their experiences on social media and review sites through e-mail marketing.
There is no debate on whether a small hotel needs a website. It does!
A website is the most crucial aspect of a successful digital marketing strategy. However, there are various elements of a website that you can work on over time based on how much money you want to invest at any given moment.
Ideally, website optimization should be your priority. This helps your hotel website gain prominence on SERPs, resulting in organic traffic and higher direct sales.
To assist in this endeavor, having a blog goes a long way. It lets you update the website regularly and use content and keywords to rank higher on Google.
The trick is to come up with shareable content that not only endorses your hotel but also aids tourists in planning their trip. Ideas for such posts include packing lists, the best restaurants in your city, must-visit beaches, and unusual things to do.
Paid options to promote your website
Investing in PPC (Pay-Per-Click) to rank higher than OTAs might be a better choice for new hotels with next to no online presence. You can, of course, limit this expenditure to an amount you are comfortable with.
Moreover, look out for discounts such as the ones from Google Ads. These deals offer X amount of free ad value when you spend an equal amount. Basically, it’s a 50% discount on whatever you decide to spend.
Similarly, it is essential to register yourself on Business Search engines such as TripAdvisor, Google Hotels, and Hotels Combined to gain more visibility over your competitors.
All of the above requires time and understanding of the process. Thus, hiring a hotel marketing agency is typically the best move. Moreover, they can inform you of the costs well in advance, allowing you to plan an informed digital marketing strategy.
E-mail marketing is another option that requires a bare minimum cost. It’s a great medium to gather feedback and upsell your services before and during a guest’s stay.
Furthermore, e-mails help create a long-term personal bond with customers who have already stayed with you. Simultaneously e-mail marketing allows you to contact first-time travelers who started the booking process but never completed it.
You can also use e-mails to offer discounts resulting in direct bookings, and get traffic to your website via shared informative blog posts.
Regarding cost, if you have the time and a small customer base, you can manage e-mail marketing yourself. However, a hotel marketing agency can help streamline the process, analyze the resulting data, and keep the e-mails regular with fresher content every time.
How to plan your digital marketing journey
Smaller hotels planning their digital marketing journey need to sit down with a professional agency and work on the fundamentals before implementing any action.
There are six essential aspects of the strategy that you need to focus on first;
Define a budget
Keep a rough idea of how much you want to spend in mind. It’s always best to have a little extra planned in case you need to test or invest in more options based on the success of individual techniques.
For example, suppose you find influencer marketing is getting more direct bookings for your hotel. In that case, you might want to invest extra in it rather than shifting the allocated budget from elsewhere.
Stay within bounds
A hotel desperate for online visibility might wish to try everything under the umbrella from the get-go. However, one should not spread themselves too thin, especially when they have monetary limitations. Focusing on fewer options and using them to their total capacity is okay.
So, instead of investing in a website, social media, paid marketing, and more, start only with funding your website. Make sure it is mobile-friendly, has a user-friendly design, professional photos, and a blog that can help with its ranking on search engines leading to organic traffic.
Know your target audience
Advertising online without a proper structure is like shooting in the dark. You must know who to target to get maximum returns from your digital marketing investment. Again, a professional agency can help you analyze this.
The point is, whether it comes to website design, social media posts, or e-mail marketing, success depends on knowing and targeting your primary audience, not the general public.
So, if your hotel is popular with couples, focus on a plan promoting romantic escapades. And if the hotel welcomes more families during the summer, your seasonal promotions should be about activities and facilities that families will find attractive.
It is also pertinent to note that digital marketing takes time to show results. So whatever method you use, give it a while. Allow the hotel marketing agency to examine results, sometimes over months, before deciding whether it was a success or not.
Basically, you need to prepare yourself for the long game. You will not always see the results of digital marketing immediately. At the same time, once you start to see a difference, it becomes easier to capitalize on your online presence for a long time.
Know your value
A common misconception about marketing is that it helps “create” value. It does not. Instead, you can enhance your brand value through advertising and then use it to generate more revenue.
Keeping this in mind, your online marketing plan should include elements that highlight the hotel’s unique selling points, facilities that stand out, and overall brand, which will then encourage customers to book a stay.
Eventually, the trick to managing your digital marketing budget is prioritizing and not being overwhelmed by everything available. At Adigital, we can work with you on a step-by-step model that slowly adds different elements of digital marketing, one at a time.
Such an approach reduces budgetary pressure on small hotels while providing them with all the expertise to boost their presence online.