It is very appropriate that I happen to be writing this blog post sitting in a hotel! Now, why did I choose this hotel for my trip? How did I happen upon this specific hotel over the five others within walking distance? The hotel booking process has become increasingly competitive, mainly due to the internet evening out the playing field. Online Travel Agents (OTAs) give every hotel an equal chance of being found and booked so having a strong digital strategy is crucial for all hotels. Let’s look at a few digital trends that are important to include in your hotel’s strategy.
Google has recently launched a new search carousel for some industries, including the hotel industry. This carousel allows users to immediately shop and compare prices, reviews, locations and brands before even scrolling down to the organic listings. Needless to say, being on this carousel is very important. Google is putting more and more importance on reviews and engagement on Google+. Having a lot of good reviews and keeping your Google+ page updated increases the chances of showing up on the carousel listings. Benefits of this are increased click through rates and traffic to your site.
Travel Tip: Always scan the reviews of the hotel you choose. You can find out the good, bad and honest truth about the hotel.
Another important piece to include in your hotel’s digital strategy is remarketing. Remarketing is a must-have addition to your search strategy because it gives you the chance to display custom messages to users that did not complete a booking. Remarketing is a lower cost paid solution that will help you to complete the conversion loop by bringing lost traffic back to your website for a second chance at closing the deal.
Like everything else online, mobile is continuing to grow for the hospitality industry. It is predicted that by 2017, 50 percent of all direct online bookings will be made via mobile devices. Most users will use apps like Kayak to compare prices, then ultimately book on a desktop. It is important to keep prices competitive, but also offer features to entice the user to book with your hotel rather than the one next door.
Travel Tip: Use mobile apps to find the right hotel and price, then book directly on the hotel’s website rather than the OTA. Why? Hotel’s will offer the same price on their site and usually include small upgrades like free WiFi or breakfast.
Social media has become the best kind of reputation management for hotels. When guests are unhappy with your service or facilities, you can bet they are taking it to social media to let you know about it! Having a strong social plan and strategy will allow you to stay ahead of these crisis situations. Have a preset list of damage control responses to all social posts and reviews on review sites. Responding to reviews shows your dedication to improving your hotel and making sure all your guests are satisfied. There will always be good and bad reviews, it’s just a part of the business, but how you react and control those reviews is what will keep guests coming to your hotel. People want to know their opinion matters and that you care about making improvements. Social media has made the process easier for hotels to capture instant customer feedback.
We can’t talk about social media without mentioning YouTube. Video content is one of the most important things for the hospitality industry. I have never booked a hotel without first looking at either pictures or a virtual tour of the hotel. Guests want to make sure your facilities are exactly what they are looking for. The more videos and images you can provide a user, the higher your chances are to convert that user into a booked room. Another huge benefit of having YouTube videos is the likelihood that those videos will show up in Google organic. Video content has a much higher click through rate when it can be found in traditional organic listings.
Travel Tip: Find your hotel on social media before your trip to keep an eye on local events or activities to do while you are there.