You want a trend to watch in 2016? OK, pay attention to who’s focusing less on driving immediate bookings and more on using the combined power of social media and content marketing for hotels to attract guests early in their travel research process. As the cost of acquiring a guest via OTA’s, Google, and TripAdvisor continues to rise, we’ve all got to be smarter and more effective at placing our properties within our guests’ consideration set—and earlier in the process too.
It’s easy to see that many are focused on just that. Just take a look at how some of the top brands in travel approach the situation. According to Marriott’s David Beebe,
“…a lot of his department’s effort put into content marketing isn’t just focused on getting people to a Marriott property per se, but wanting to fuel a desire for travel. He said that can be hampered by more straightforward promotional messaging. ‘I like to say, content marketing is like a first date,’ Beebe said. ‘If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.'”
Beebe continued, noting,
“…some of the content must be created with the goal of inspiring travel and not specifically generating revenue.”
One tool that’s working? Video. As I mentioned yesterday, Facebook receives some 4 billion video views every single day. And, according to Tnooz, a number of brands have gained significant exposure by using video to put their content in front of potential guests. As they say,
“Many travel players, of varying budgets, have seen success with video—think Turkish Airlines and the selfie battle with Lionel Messi and Kobe Bryant, more than 143 million views or, KLM with Lost and Found with more than 21 million. [Google UK sales director Dr Bernd] Fauser says ‘You don’t need huge budgets, it’s about the content people engage with. Anyone can be an artist, you just need a good idea. You can reach a lot of people in a very emotional way.'”
Images work well, too, especially when combined with the power of social. As Travel Tripper explained recently, Loews Hotels used its “Travel for Real” campaign to entice guests to create and share photos on Instagram that tout both destinations and specific properties in a natural, authentic way—to say nothing of the additional reach the company gained by placing their message in front of participating Instagrammers’ friends, family, fans, and followers on social.
Last week, I shared a similar sentiment while looking at the important role social plays in marketing your hotel,
“…none of this discussion [about social as a sales and marketing channel] considers the higher brand value you receive from social and direct websites or the amount of time guests now spend using social sites in their day-to-day lives. But it’s worth remembering that the more places guests can see your property, the more likely it is they’ll think of you when they’re ready to book.”
Clearly, this emphasis on content marketing can’t exist in a vacuum. At some point, your content marketing efforts must lead to improved reservations, roomnights, and revenue. But… (and this is really important), you can’t achieve those improvements if you don’t capture your guests’ attention and start a conversation with your guests in the first place.
These simple facts remain:
- The cost of reaching guests through channels such as OTA’s and emerging intermediaries continues to rise
- Continuing to rely on intermediaries for your reservations volume puts you in a tenuous position, one that will likely prove unaffordable in the longer term
- Your guests need and want ever more information about your destination and property
- And, finally, you can’t sell rooms to guests who never hear about you in the first place
Content marketing provides one possible solution to the problem. That’s why you’re seeing major brands like Marriott, Loews Hotels, Turkish Airlines, and KLM move towards content marketing and towards engaging and attracting guests very early in their customer journey. For most hotels, it’s somewhat early days, with a number of questions still outstanding. But the trend remains clear: The content marketing revolution for hotels is about to get very interesting in 2016. How about you? Ready to get started?
If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing guest behavior shapes hospitality marketing, e-commerce, and distribution, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.
You might also want to take a moment to review the slides from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:
Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:
- 10 Key Posts about Millennials and Mobile: E-commerce Link Digest
- The Secrets Behind “It’s All E-commerce” for 2014
- Should Marketers Really Trust Google in 2014?
- The Zen of Digital Marketing Strategy
- 7 Steps to E-Commerce Heaven
- Today and Tomorrow: Mobile and The Changing Customer Journey
- Mobile Makes E-commerce Even More “Frictionless”
- Your 2014 Internet Marketing New Year’s Resolutions – Thinks Out Loud Episode 56