Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 64 – Secrets To Becoming A Hotel Advertising Pro

by Stuart Butler

Google has defined 4 stages of travel, which encompasses everything from the initial spark in which someone decided they might want to take a trip all the way through the process of a guest sharing their vacation photos and experiences online with friends and family.

  • “I want to get away moments” – dreaming moments
  • “Time to make a plan moments” – planning moments
  • “Let’s book it moments” – booking moments
  • “Can’t wait to explore moments” – experiencing moments

In our new guide (available at www.fueltravel.com/advertising/), we combine Google’s travel micro-moments with the traditional sales funnel to help hotel marketers better align advertising platforms and ad offerings with each stage of the travel shopping process.
In today’s episode, we’ll discuss the TL;DR version of this whitepaper. (Thought you should still totally download the full version!)

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1. Upper Funnel – Inspiration – Dreaming Of A Vacation Phase

A traveler has a defined travel intent but has not gotten down to the nuts and bolts of planning a vacation.  A leisure traveler could be weeks or even months away from actually booking a hotel, but the spark is there. They have caught the travel bug and are itching to quench their adventure thirst. This is the perfect opportunity for your hotel or resort to plant a seed in that consumer’s head about your property.
Note: While this phase is generally best tackled by a local travel portal or destination marketing organization, awareness marketing can be very successful for properties with a unique offering and a budget to accommodate demand generation.
Challenge – Are you visible?
Goal – Inspire travel; generate awareness
At the inspiration stage of the funnel, your ads should focus on selling the unique experience of your hotel or your destination to spark a desire to travel.

Top Travel Inspiration Advertising Channels For Hotels

YouTube TrueView

  • Opt-in viewing platform; advertisers are only charged when 30-seconds of video is viewed
  • No time restriction on how long your video ad can run – creative flexibility
  • Viewers can choose to watch or skip
  • 2 Placement Options:
    • “In stream” ads → Play before a YouTube clip; people are subjected to 5 seconds, can then choose to skip or watch.
    • “Video discovery” ads → Appear throughout YouTube next to other videos, on search pages, etc.

Google Display Network

  • Allows advertisers to reach consumers across other sites via the Google Display Network (GDN)
  • Extensive targeting options → demographic, interest-based, geographic, behavior, re-targeting, etc.
  • CPC or CPM based bidding models
  • Various ad size options

Campaign Example: You are a boutique hotel in the heart of wine country, California. High-quality static image of attractive young couple enjoying a glass of wine overlooking the vineyard with text overlay “Sip. Savor. See” at the top and “Come For The Wine, Stay For The Experience. See Why Guests Prefer {name of property}” CTA. Target women + ages 30 – 40 + income $75,000+ + interests in food & wine, travel, etc. – essentially building a guest persona and applying that to display targeting. Direct users to the homepage of your website.
Facebook Video View Ads

2. Mid Funnel – Interest & Consideration – Ready To Plan

A traveler in the interest and consideration phase of planning a leisure vacation already has a destination in mind – and that’s as far as they’ve gotten. They simply have a well-defined travel intent and are in the weeds of researching lodging options, planning travel activities, reading online reviews, and more. At this portion of the travel shopping funnel, your hotel or resort should focus on remaining present and providing shoppers with everything they could possibly need to make the right decision – which is to stay at your hotel, obviously. Advertising at this point in the funnel should persuade, if not convince, travel shoppers to strongly consider your property for their travel adventure.
Challenge – are you generating leads?
Goal – Remain in the guest consideration set, generate “leads” – email addresse

Top Consideration Advertising Channels For Hotels

Google AdWords – Non-Brand

  • Refers to bidding on any keyword that is NOT affiliated with your brand
  • Consider CPC (higher), CTR (lower), & ROAS (lower) versus branded campaigns
  • Start with highly relevant search queries and then branch out
    • Proximity or location based queries
    • Amenity queries
    • Room type queries

Facebook – Lead Generation Ads

  • Native form collection – auto-fills with Facebook profile information
  • Forms are flexible and easy to create
  • Emails can feed into certain email systems or can easily be exported

Campaign Example: You are a budget-conscious Las Vegas hotel seeking leads for bachelorette parties. Use high-quality static image of attractive group of young girls “cheers-ing” with colorful cocktails. Target key geographic markets + women ages 25 – 35 + recently engaged + interested in pages related to “las vegas” + income $30,000 – $75,000. After collecting data, the form should divert traffic to a page on the website dedicated to bachelorette parties and packages.
Google Hotel Ads

  • Display in the “local packs” as well as individual “local” hotel business pages
  • Opportunity to bid for placement → OTAs are very present in this space!
  • Feed inventory & rates directly to Google → Searcher is sent directly to your hotel’s booking engine
  • Several bidding strategies – Map CPC, Budget optimizer, Target ROAS, Commission (beta)
  • Must work with Google verified partner (aka, Fuel)

3.) Bottom Funnel – Decision & Purchase – Ready To Book

Congratulations! Your hotel website has remained in the consideration set of the travel consumer and the shopper is getting ready to book. Are they easily able to do this? Are your rates consistent across your distribution channels? Does your website effectively solicit and capture email addresses? Is your hotel website easy to find and navigate?
Challenge – are you converting leads?
Goal – Bookings
Advertising during the decision and purchase phase has one job and one job only – to convert shoppers into bookers. Ads will target your most highly qualified leads through brand-related campaigns and strategic retargeting techniques. Furthermore, ads will be focused on getting travel shoppers to move forward with the booking process.
At the decision and purchase stage of the funnel, your ads should focus on persuading the travel shopper that your hotel best meets all of their needs and to book their stay directly on your hotel website.

Top Direct Booking Advertising Channels For Hotels

Google AdWords & BingAds – Brand PPC

  • Refers to bidding on your hotel’s actual brand search terms
  • OTAs are very present in this space → You need to be here!
  • Reinforce your brand and capture prime SERP real estate
  • Follow PPC best practices!

Facebook – Dynamic Ads For Travel

  • Newer ad format – advanced set-up is required
  • Your booking engine feeds Facebook your live inventory & rates
  • Hotels need Facebook pixel, hotel catalogue, Facebook page, Facebook ad account
  • Set up catalog, implement pixel, create ad template

Campaign Example: You are an independent ski resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Integrate your hotel’s inventory with the Facebook API to retarget travel shoppers who have completed a room search and viewed a specific room within your booking engine but did not complete a booking. Test different strategies, like a simple retargeting campaign to remind the shopper of their shopping experience paired with a sense of urgency, or even offering a slight discount or an incentive to book now. Use high-quality room and amenity images to help the shopper imagine themselves at your property and relevant CTAs to entice engagement and clicks.

TripAdvisor / Meta Search / Online Travel Agents / Google Hotel Ads

  • YES, you want travelers to book direct.
  • YES, you should give travelers every opportunity to book on your website.
  • YES, you should offer the best or at least the same rates that are available on third party sites on your website.
  • YES, you should offer incentive to book directly with your hotel.
  • HOWEVER, this is not always how the world works.

There are some people who are going to be lured in by a hotel metasearch site that is bidding for placement on your brand. Or, some people are simply very loyal to a particular OTA brand, like Expedia. You still want to be there for travelers however and wherever they are looking to book. Therefore, we always recommend still having a presence on these third-party booking sites. Of course, we advocate educating travel shoppers on the value of booking direct and working diligently to convert OTA bookers into in-house bookers for their next visit, but when a shopper is looking to stay at your hotel and they aren’t able to via their favorite website, you’re going to have a problem.


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