July 2, 2021 · Nicolette Cromer
Promote Your Hotel Before It Opens – 10 Strategies For Success
Congratulations on your new hotel or resort adventure! Though inevitably a bit stressful, opening a new property is undoubtedly an exciting task.
Of course, you wouldn’t ever build and open your new property and just hope people show up. Rather, you will want to have a marketing plan in place to effectively promote your property in advance to generate interest and demand. Your brand is likely new and unheard of. So why should people care about yet another hotel? It is your job to convince them why.
Before any type of promotion or lead generation campaigns can begin, be sure you have developed the essential elements of your brand. This will include everything from your logo and color scheme for marketing materials to your brand concept and unique selling points. Without this, you cannot effectively communicate your message to your audience – you won’t have a message to communicate or an audience to target!
Once you have your branding completed and your target audience defined, you can move forward with promoting your property!
Stage 1 of Promoting Your Hotel Before It Opens
1.) Have A Website (Or Landing Page) For Your New Hotel
What good would promoting your fantastic new property be if you don’t have anywhere to drive traffic? If you have no way to collect information for future communications?
Setting up a website or, at minimum, a well-thought-out landing page is THE very first step in promoting your new property. You might not have every single detail ironed out with room layouts or amenity offerings, and that’s fine, but as soon as you have enough information related to your hotel’s concept, secure your domain and set up your website.
Design the first iteration of your hotel or resort website with consistent branding and messaging that you will feature throughout all your other marketing collateral. Your brand may evolve, but consistency is key when using multiple channels to generate awareness and drive interest.
Key information pieces your website/landing page will need:
- High-quality images — showcase your destination/location, concept, lifestyle shots and images of the property (if possible)
- General information related to the concept, opening date, etc.
- Contact page and information (with your phone number, email and address)
- Email collection pop-up
- Direct booking functionality
The email collection pop-up is perhaps the most important element of your website or landing page. Generating awareness and driving traffic to your new site ultimately serves one goal – to generate leads. Collecting email addresses will allow you to continue to communicate with potential guests in the future and nurture those leads into paying customers.
If your property has a set open date, be sure to have a booking engine solution integrated on your website to allow for future bookings. It is also beneficial to have an email address, contact form and phone number readily available and visible across the site to ensure website visitors have multiple means of contacting your property for inquiries.
Once your website is live, we have a FREE website SEO tool to help you be sure your site is functioning properly and has all the necessary parts.
2.) Claim Local Listings For Your New Hotel
Local listings can make or break your search engine presence! Local listings not only take up a significant chunk of space on organic search results for brand-related searches, but they also allow your hotel to show up in the local search pack for relevant non-brand search queries. The only information you need to set up your local listings is a physical address, so do this as soon as possible when you have a property site established.
If you delay claiming your local listings, it will force Google to guess on information about your property. A worse scenario is someone else could claim your listing for you and provide incorrect information.
To get started, claim your local listings on Google and Bing:
The process is very simple and requires a postcard to be mailed to your physical address. You will have the ability to specify amenity attributes, upload property images, and customize other information relevant to your hotel or resort.
On Google specifically, you can also enable messaging. Searchers (and potential customers) can now easily ask questions about your new hotel from a text messaging-style platform. It is free to use and can be useful if your hotel’s phone lines are not yet installed on site.
Of course, there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of listing sites across the internet that could feature your hotel’s NAP information. Luckily, several software providers can help you claim and manage these online listings to ensure accuracy and consistency.
Next, claim your FREE hotel listing on Google:
In early March 2021, Google announced the addition of free hotel listings to Google Hotel search. Until now, Google required hotels to bid for positions in the local pack of hotel listings that are shown in the SERPs.
Within the free hotel listings that Google is now offering, hotels will have a specific set of standards by which Google will rank these new organic listings. The most important factor is price accuracy within your rate feed. If this isn’t something you have set up for your hotel yet, Google has a number of integration partners that can assist.
After price accuracy, Google has a set of ranking factors that will determine where your hotel will show in these organic listings. As with many of Google’s algorithms, we don’t have clear insight into how these factors are weighted so we recommend treating them with equal importance. These are the factors:
- Rate – Is your rate the same or lower than other rate providers?
- Price coverage – How long of a stay can your guest book for and how far out can your guest book? The platform currently supports up to 330 days of an advanced booking window and up to 30 days for length of stay.
- Landing page experience – Is your account set up to send users to your booking page upon clicking on your hotel listing? The landing page must prominently display the room and rate they selected. Additionally, the landing page needs to show the same rate they selected. Last but not least, the page also needs to load in a reasonable time.
- Click-through-rate – How often are users clicking on your listing rather than competitor’s listings?
The Hotel Marketing Podcast team has a full episode with everything you need to know about these changes and updates to Google’s hotel listings.
We will explain in further detail later in this article how you can create and bid on Google Hotel Ads for your new business, but for now, take advantage of Google’s FREE offering. Here are instructions on how to set up your business as a Google Hotel Partner.
Looking for a step-by-step guide? Here are 11 ways to optimize your Google My Business listing.
3.) Social Media For Your New Hotel
Social media channels are another area where your property will want to, at minimum, claim usernames relevant to your brand. We recommend setting up profiles and claiming usernames for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Be sure to follow best practices for setting up each social media channel, which includes:
- Using high-quality images for your profile photo and header photo
- Claiming a custom URL that is relevant to your brand and keep the usernames consistent across channels (if possible)
- Verifying your accounts across all platforms
- Filling out all profile information
Your long-term social media strategy should include a well-thought-out plan for each channel. This includes defining and speaking to your target audience on each channel, determining the frequency for posting on each channel and deciding on what types of content you plan to share on each channel.
Need a little inspiration? Check out our free guide – 80 Social Media Post Ideas For Hotels.
Way to go! You have completed the first stage steps in promoting your hotel before it opens. Now let’s dig into ways to advertise your brand new hotel.
Stage 2 of Promoting Your Hotel Before It Opens
4.) Promote Your New Hotel With Email Marketing
As discussed earlier, your website/landing page and other marketing efforts should be lead-generating machines. Email is often the most lucrative marketing channel for hotels and resorts if done correctly.
A few things to keep in mind while you are building your email campaigns:
- Make sure you are legally obtaining all email addresses and other prospect information
- Use a reputable and trustworthy email vendor
- Segment lists appropriately and send targeted messages for the best performance
- Set up automated drip campaigns for the best efficiency
- Use technology that supports email personalization and testing to boost performance
There are several ways hotels can use email marketing and email automation for revenue generation and guest nurturing, but for today’s discussion, we will focus on the best uses before your hotel’s grand opening.
The most basic list you will want to set up is a general catch-all “newsletter” list that encompasses all of your contacts. An email newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with guests, share exciting property updates and push exclusive promotions.
Speaking of promotions, you can get even more granular with your lists and target lists specific to where you acquired the lead. For example, you might run a Facebook lead generation campaign tied with a specific offer. You can then create an email just for your Facebook leads with a specific promotion exclusive to them.
Remember, your goal at this point is to build a relationship with your prospective customers. Your emails should generate excitement about your hotel, update leads on construction progress, inform them of any upcoming specials or events and ultimately, inspire them to book a stay with your property.
Definitely do NOT spam your list! Sending too frequently or not providing value is a great way to get your hotel prospects to unsubscribe from your list.
5.) Promote Your New Hotel Through Public Relations
Whether you are a 10-room boutique property in a remote destination or a 300+ room property in a bustling metropolitan, your hotel has some unique value. Otherwise – why are you building the property in the first place?
Public relations can be a crucial component for generating buzz and securing bookings before your open date. Public relations can also be used in tandem with specific promotions or campaigns to help amplify reach.
The first step in creating a PR campaign for your hotel or resort is to identify what is unique about your property. Of course, the initial announcement about your brand is a significant starting point, but carefully craft the details about your unique offerings and curate meaningful stories that will resonate with your target audience. Why are you special? Why should people travel to your destination and stay with you?
Before you begin, your hotel should also have a comprehensive media kit to make outreach and pitches easier. Your press kit can be a standalone landing page or exist on a dedicated “press” or “media” page that also showcases existing coverage.
To get started, consider having a landing page with construction progress. Update the photos regularly and share content via social media. You’ll be surprised at how interested people will be in the changes and development of your property. This technique is a great way to share the story and progress behind your vision.
Leverage local media to alert the public of your progress:
As your hotel’s construction makes progress and your opening date draws nearer, use press releases to alert your local media to the exciting progress your hotel is making. Taking the time to write and send your press release to local news outlets gives you a FREE opportunity to put your business in front of a large local audience.
If a news outlet simply publishes your press release on their website, that’s a win! If a news outlet takes your press release and creates a news story, that’s an even bigger win!
6.) Promote Your New Hotel With Relevant Content On Your Website
Creating and distributing high-quality content that provides value to searchers is a long-term strategy. It can not only be an effective way to generate awareness about your new property but also drive traffic back to your hotel’s website. Whether you want to curate content via a blog or create unique “guides” for your hotel or destination, all content produced should be well-thought-out and easy to access for both searchers and search engines.
A few SEO tips to keep in mind:
- Clean and intuitive URL structure
- Clever and concise article headline
- Enticing title tag and meta description
- Relevant internal links throughout and where appropriate
- High-quality images with relevant image alt text
- Descriptive headers to break up content or bulleted lists to make information easier to absorb
- Relevant calls to action throughout – what do you want this person to do? (P.S. The answer is NOT always to book a room!)
As far as content is concerned, whether you are publishing regularly to a blog or crafting highly targeted landing pages, be sure to carefully consider topics and complete plenty of research in advance. Throwing together half-hearted content is simply a waste of time. Do your homework. Type in search terms you feel should prompt your content, see what is currently ranking and then figure out how you can do it better.
TIP #1: Content takes many forms! Consider adding video content, guides, infographics and even sound content (ex: podcast) into your content mixture.
Still not convinced? Hear our thoughts on the #1 ranked Hotel Marketing Podcast – “Does My Hotel Need A Blog?”
TIP #2: Use the press release(s) you created in the last step as content on your website or blog. You have taken the time to create it, why not put it on your hotel’s website for everyone to see?
Now that your mind has been changed, and you have decided to start a hotel blog, we have a complete guide for “How To Create Kickass Blog Content For Your Hotel Website.”
7.) Promote Your New Hotel With Local Partnerships
Word of mouth is inarguably the oldest and most effective form of advertising. But how do you get started? Start small and build a solid reputation within your local community. Community partnerships can be valuable in not only gaining referrals but also in other, more niche marketing efforts, like link building (for search engine optimization).
Integrating bloggers or influencers into your marketing plan is a creative way to establish local partnerships and reach qualified audiences. Are health and wellness a focus for your property? Partner with a local yoga instructor for an event on property and work with the influencer to reach their loyal followers.
Is using local ingredients incorporated into your on-site dining concept? Partner with a local chef or mixologist to host a cooking class, mixology class or chef’s tasting event that utilizes locally sourced ingredients. The options are truly endless. Be creative, play to your strengths & key differentiators and carefully hone in on relevant influencers with loyal audiences.
Here are more ways you can partner with the local community:
- Join your local chamber of commerce. The chamber’s primary job is to support local businesses, so make use of this resource. Attend networking events and meet other local business owners. If possible, host a “business after hours” event at your property after you open to draw in new visitors and showcase your property.
- Feature local artwork. Featuring local art is a win/win for hotels. Not only does it allow you to support local artists and help them promote their business, but it can also help your hotel save a little money on decor.
- Host local events. Does your property have on-site dining or a lounge area? Does your hotel have a spa or other unique offering? Why not extend a welcoming handout to the community and host fun events for locals? This could be anything from happy hour with live music, chef’s tasting dinners featuring a local chef or a special yoga class featuring a local instructor. Your new local partner will gladly help promote your event with their loyal followers to draw in a crowd.
- Connect with nearby restaurants. Take advantage of the local eateries surrounding your new hotel location by creating a partnership between your businesses. As a new business to the area, the local economy will soon become a priority for you. Partnering with local restaurants near your hotel’s location is a great way to grow your brand awareness while encouraging your guests to keep their money within the community by offering specials and discounts.
- Push local transportation services. Does your destination have a thriving nightlife scene? Recommend that your guests use local taxis or limo services for a safe and fun night out on the town. This will tell your guests that you are concerned with their safety both on and off your property.
With all these local partnerships, recognize the benefit of swapping advertising and specials. Having your business shown or featured on an established businesses’ social media, website or physical store will do wonders for growing brand awareness and taking advantage of loyal and local recommendations.
Congrats! You are well on your way to becoming a successful hotelier! Next, we are going to cover paid advertising options for your new hotel. Let’s dive in!
Stage 3 of Promoting Your Hotel Before It Opens
8.) Pay-Per-Click Advertising For Your New Hotel
Basic Hotel PPC:
Despite some concerns about bidding for your own brand terms, the value of brand PPC has been proven time and time again. Not only is the return on brand PPC fantastic (often providing an over 1,000% ROAS), bidding on your brand is often necessary because OTAs and metasearch sites are aggressive in this space.
Though actual numbers vary, brand clicks are much more affordable than the commission you might end up paying an OTA or other third party if a searcher finds their ad first. A brand click might only cost $1 where the commission for a stay could easily be $20 – $200+.
We always recommend bidding on your brand for not only brand protection but also the highest return. As a new property, the OTAs might not have caught on yet (though don’t be mistaken – they will eventually) so clicks will be very inexpensive.
Non-brand keyword targeting could also be an option and an exciting place to be creative with your positioning, though the return will not be nearly as lucrative as your primary aim will be to generate awareness and drive traffic.
Interested in getting started with pay-per-click? Obviously, you will need a website or landing page to drive your traffic. Ideally, your website will have direct booking functionality, though an email sign-up form will suffice initially.
Be sure to implement conversion tracking so you can accurately monitor performance. Conversion tracking for sales will need to be implemented on your booking engine and be altered to account for dynamic revenue tracking. Form submissions are a little easier to set up and implementation will vary based on your CMS.
Social Media Advertising:
Social media can also be a great place to create buzz for your property and generate leads for your email database. To get started be sure your site includes the Facebook pixel. This will allow you to reach unique and highly qualified audiences and invite them to “like” your page or revisit your website. Similarly, you can create different ad formats on social media to achieve different goals when addressing different portions of the conversion funnel.
Use “like” ads to capture relevant audiences at the top of the funnel. Use video ads to generate awareness about the awesomeness of your hotel. Use lead-generating ads to transform these interested fans into leads. Finally, use website click ads or promoted posts paired with custom audiences or a remarketing list to generate actual bookings.
Not sure where to get started? Check out our free guide – The Best Facebook Ad Formats For Hotels.
Display Advertising & Remarketing:
Display advertising and remarketing are other avenues worth exploring for generating awareness and converting leads. Once your website is up and running, you will want to be sure you have tracking set up through Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager. You will use your display advertising and remarketing campaigns to remind potential guests (the individuals who have clicked on your search ads and/or visited your website) of your hotel’s brand.
These types of ads are meant to catch the individual’s eye. Use a strong call to action in your headlines. Be creative and bold with your ads – this is your chance to be front and center. Craft copy that will excite and entice searchers.
If display advertising seems too intimidating at the start, allow our team of experts to help. TravelBoom is now offering a full-service programmatic display advertising option geared towards generating demand for your hotel. We ensure your ads will reach the right users on the most relevant websites by using a unique bidding algorithm with one of the most competitive CPM’s in the industry.
Drop us a line to learn more!
Google Hotel Ads:
As we mentioned earlier, Google also offers a paid option for featuring your hotel in the local pack of hotel listings that appear in the SERPs. You will connect your GHA account with your rate feed to feature your direct rates within Google’s platform.
This form of PPC advertising can be set up as commission or cost per click. You either enter a set percentage of commission you will pay Google per booking made or you will set up a cost per click you will pay. Google Hotel Ads give your hotel the ability to be placed in front of potential guests when searching for accommodations in your area.
9.) Take Advantage of Sponsored Placements and OTAs To Promote Your New Hotel
Across the hospitality industry, you will hear contradictory information regarding the use of online travel agencies, or OTAs. At TravelBoom, we believe that the use of OTAs is necessary but only as part of your overall marketing efforts.
During the infancy of your hotel, the use of OTAs may be needed to generate bookings as tourists to the area wouldn’t know about your hotel otherwise. Once the guest is on-site, it is your job to provide the guest with an exceptional stay, build a relationship and show them the value of booking direct in the future. As a general rule of thumb, your reliance on OTAs should always be decreasing.
Here are two starting steps to taking advantage of the inevitable OTAs.
Establish a Presence on OTAs:
With so many travelers using OTAs to compare hotels, rates and amenities, your hotel is missing out by not being present on OTA sites. Ultimately, your goal for establishing a presence on OTAs is to gain global visibility for your hotel while building your brand awareness. OTAs give your new hotel the chance to be seen by a whole new set of traveling customers.
Once you have determined your hotel’s business objectives including your target audiences, you can better determine which OTAs will work best for your hotel brand. For example, Expedia advertises best for luxury or 5-star hotels while Airbnb caters more to solo travelers. Find which OTA caters to your target audience and their demographics.
TripAdvisor Sponsored Placements:
Another paid advertising platform to use is TripAdvisor’s Sponsored Placements. Sponsored Placements help to promote your new hotel to a larger audience while driving more direct bookings. Your hotel will be placed in front of ready-to-book travelers looking for the best accommodations in your area.
TripAdvisor has a number of other paid advertising opportunities, but we recommend taking advantage of Sponsored Placements at the start and considering their other options once your hotel has opened.
Best Practices for Online Travel Agency Listings to remember:
- Regularly update your hotel’s features and settings
- Use high-quality images
- Respond to positive and negative reviews
- Include details about why your hotel is unique
10.) Track Everything When Promoting Your New Hotel
Every single marketing campaign you run should be tracked – email, pay-per-click, public relations, social media, etc. How else will you measure the results of your efforts? If you are new to analytics, we recommend starting with Google Analytics. It is free and relatively easy to implement (just be sure your cross-domain tracking works properly!). Not only will tracking everything from the beginning allow you to quickly see what’s working (and what’s not), but it will also give you historical data to look back on throughout the years.
Here are a few resources to help you get started with Google Analytics:
Once you’ve gotten started, check out our post on 10 Hotel Marketing Metrics That Actually Matter.
There you have it: TEN ways to promote your hotel or resort property before it opens.
To keep learning and growing your business before opening day, we recommend reading through this Google online course. This FREE course covers topics ranging from details on setting up your Google My Business account to downloadable worksheets for creating business, marketing and media objectives to instructions for how to set up and track conversions within Google Ads.
Want to learn even more about hotel advertising? Download our FREE GUIDE – Advertising Through The Travel Funnel. And be sure to tune in each Tuesday for a new episode of the TravelBoom Hotel Marketing Podcast.