When finding an agency to work with for your hotel’s digital marketing efforts, it can be really hard to know who exactly is the right fit for you. It can be filled with lots of daunting questions on the road to finding the right agency to partner with.
“What factors do I need to consider? Do I need an all-rounder digital agency? Or someone more specialised? What benefits do I have hiring someone else over just doing it all myself?”
In this article, we’ll help you get to grips with what to look out for when choosing an agency in the hospitality sector, how hotel digital agencies can help you exceed your KPIs, as well as some great questions to ask during the selection process. This will be perfect for hotel marketing managers, hotel owners, and anyone curious about hiring a digital agency for the first time. If this sounds like you, then read on!
Benefits of working with hotel marketing experts
- Reduce wasted ad spend
While handling your digital marketing yourself is obviously the cheapest method to market your hotel online, it’s also easily the most daunting. It can be difficult to know what budget to allocate for each campaign – your brand campaign vs. your competitive campaigns – or what keywords would be ideal to bid on. With hotel paid search experts on your side, you’ll be amazed how little tweaks can lead to big improvements – find out how we helped Zoku hotels to earn over 430k€ in revenue from Google Ads alone with just an 8% cost-per-acquisition (CPA).
- Maximise profitable direct revenue
By working to a ‘direct first’ ethic, your hotel can benefit from receiving more direct bookings and won’t lose out to the OTAs (Online Travel Agents). Did you know that OTAs can take commissions of between 15-35% of each booking made through their booking engines for your hotel? That’s why we aim for a CPA of 15% or below to ensure that every booking is putting revenue in your pockets, not the OTAs.
Find out how much revenue you may be losing to the OTAs with our free OTA Calculator.
- Increase website conversion
Once a potential guest finds their way to your website, your main goal is to lead them to make a booking. That’s hotel marketing 101! However, a lot of factors will determine how they get to that purchasing decision – the design of the site, the quality of the content, the user experience and ease of using the site and the booking engine… The list goes on!
Maximise your website conversion by hiring hotel experts who understand the user journey through every step of their booking process – from paid ads to responsive website and UX design, to IBE functionality to reduce friction and improve the booking experience with the guest in mind.
- Increase ROI
Return on investment, or ROI, is usually a major feature in every hotel manager’s KPI checklist, and it can be easy to think that this is relevant to just paid advertising like Google Ads or Bing. While paid search is incredibly important for your hotel’s ROI, there are many other channels that you may not even think about, but can actually be game-changers for ROI.
Using content such as blogs and videos to engage site visitors and improve sign-ups to an email list, for instance, is one way to invest and retain long-term ROI. Subscribers to the mailing list can receive regular updates on your hotel’s offers and discounts without you having to spend money on constantly trying to reach new guests.
Social media is another common blind spot for many hotels, but don’t sleep on social! While it can be used to feature glossy photos of your hotel’s luxury suites and outdoor pool, it’s also a cost-effective way to engage with your hotel’s ideal audience and keep guests coming in on a much lower budget (most social media platforms are completely free to set up an account). For some social media inspiration, check out the jazzy Instagram for our clients at Ibiza Rocks.
- Proactive Campaign Help
Rather than fumbling around with audiences and keywords with your fingers crossed that your gamble will pay off, consider opting for a hotel marketing agency with years of experience in setting up, optimising, and managing campaigns to be successful from the get-go.
To help you get started, you can research your hotel’s Google Analytics data to find out who is searching your site the most, and who to potentially target, including:
- Demographics (age, gender)
- Geographic location (by city or country)
- User journey (which pages of your site people are looking at)
In addition, your hotel marketing agency can help to build user personas or ‘ideal guests’ to better determine who you want to target your campaigns towards. Rather than a catch-all of focusing on getting conversions from everyone, focus on specific types of guests you would like to cater to, and build your campaigns towards those people.
For instance, if your hotel features lots of family-friendly amenities like a creche or daycare centre and family-friendly dining, consider building this into your paid search campaigns as callout extensions or even build a landing page for family-friendly stays at your hotel.
- Better Quality Data/Tracking & Insights
You’ll never be able to measure the success of your campaigns without proper tracking of the results! As deep-down data nerds, we ensure that all of our tracking is implemented as soon as possible after onboarding to make sure that results are tracked from day one. From setting up Google Tag Manager for global site tags to creating UTM links for each campaign online, you’ll be able to see exactly what campaign brought you each conversion, so you can determine what works well, what doesn’t work as well, and what you would like to do next time. Much better than guesswork!
In addition, hotel experts have their fingers on the pulse in terms of industry insights. Imagine having a private investigator to carry out some detective work on the latest hotel trends and upcoming shifts in the hospitality industry. If there’s something new and upcoming on the hotelier horizon, chances are we’ve already heard about it and are looking into how to bring this to your hotel before your competitors find out too!
- We Understand Your Pain Points
One of the less-talked-about benefits to having a hotel digital agency on your side is that we have been there, done that, and got the T-shirt. If there’s a particular bugbear that is bedevilling you, it’s highly likely we’ve encountered that before and have a few choice solutions up our sleeves.
Do you have a problem that needs resolving with your hotel digital marketing? We want to hear about it! Get in touch with our friendly, helpful team today.
Photo credit: Unsplash
How using hotel specialists differs from a regular agency
When looking for a new agency to work with, it can be tempting to choose an agency that covers a wide range of industries and areas of expertise. However, with a marketing experience specifically tailored to hospitality, you can refine your marketing strategy quickly, effectively, and without having to explain yourselves each and every time a new acronym pops up!
As leading marketing experts in the hospitality sector, we’ve had plenty of time and practice to put our skills to work and discover the best practices your hotel can carry out. Here’s what you can expect for you and your hotel, as we share some of our most successful methods to pave the way for your hotel’s online success.
- Work with an agency that understands hotels.
This is probably our most important point, and the biggest lesson to learn! You’ll want to find an agency that understands the hotel industry and the most relevant factors that can determine your success. All of the below are clear examples of what they would need to know about – anything less, and it should raise some red flags!
- OTAs (Online Travel Agents)
- ADR (Average Daily Rate)
- Offer Structure
- Create compelling “Book Direct” proposition which is translated onto the website, landing pages, and ads.
Of all the goals for a hotel, persuading your guests to book direct with your hotel is arguably the biggest of them all. Max out the revenue you receive, and don’t lose a penny to the OTAs with a great compelling ‘book direct’ proposition. Check out our previous article for more advice on how to persuade your guests to book direct.
- Combine metasearch marketing with paid ads.
Take advantage of the many different ways to claim real estate for your hotel on search engine results pages. As well as paid ads at the top of the results page and the organic listing, metasearch marketing is a great way to have your hotel’s room rates listed amongst the OTAs and, with a lower listed rate, helps to gain those vital direct bookings.
- Plan budgets inline with hotel availability and demand.
You’ll agree that it makes zero sense to keep the same ad budget across the entire year. Hotel marketers will know to take seasonality and availability into account for advertising budgets – for instance, prioritising ad spend for summer and Christmas breaks, versus using the same budget across the entire year.
- Use remarketing strategies wisely.
Guest retention is more important now than ever. Research shows that finding a brand new customer costs five times more than retaining an existing customer, so remarketing to previous guests is crucial to keep overall marketing costs low. For paid advertising, using a remarketing list through Google Ads shows your ads to potential guests who have already visited your site, and this improves considerably when using in tandem with the Similar Audiences feature on Google Ads. This can also be carried out through social media advertising, such as Facebook, which allows you to pinpoint the exact preferences and demographics of your retargeting audience.
Alternatively, for lower cost methods, consider remarketing through email campaigns and incentive to sign up to your mailing list, such as an exclusive offer or discount upon signing up.
- Use hotel-specific bidding strategies.
Using the same cut-and-paste strategy for your hotel’s ads might be doing more harm than good, so it’s important to change things up to keep your ads performing well. Consider ad and bid scheduling for peak booking times, advanced location-based bidding for target audiences, and impression- or position-based bidding on highly converting terms. By working with this strategy in mind, we brought our clients a 74% increase in booking revenue with a 223% increase in paid search revenue for 2019.
- Integrate IBE tracking & be smart with your IBE data.
Using the information stored in your own internet booking engine (IBE) can be monumentally useful for your marketing efforts. Tracking each stage of the guest journey through your booking engine for retention through the funnel (and to iron out any nasty niggles!) can be easily integrated into your Google Analytics account. This helps you to not only catch any issues with user experience, but also measure exactly how each part of the sales funnel is performing, and highlights which sections may need improvements. Need a hand with your IBE tracking setup? Contact us today!
- Work with your Google Data, industry knowledge, and learnings.
You know how your hotel works best. While you may know the intricate ins-and-outs of your hotel’s marketing efforts, what you’ve tried before, and what you would like to improve in the future, working with a hotel digital agency will help to guide you down the right path to create better-performing campaigns that can be repeated again and again for guaranteed results.
Working in partnership with a digital marketing agency that specialises in the hospitality sector can provide many benefits to your hotel’s overall marketing efforts. From sharing industry knowledge, keeping an eagle eye on the current hospitality search landscape, and offering insider tips and tricks to help your hotel succeed online, hotel experts will be on your side 100% of the time, and already aware of the challenges and opportunities your hotel faces. Your hotel isn’t bog-standard, so why choose bog-standard marketing?
Want to start your digital marketing journey today? We’re UP for the challenge! Contact us today with your specific project, and we’ll be excited to help you.