March 17, 2022 · Jeremy Razook
Hotel Remarketing & Retargeting: How It Works & Strategies for Success
It’s likely every hotel marketer has heard the terms hotel remarketing and retargeting before. Whether they know what they mean is a different story. In this article we’re going to cover what remarketing and retargeting for hotels are, how they work, and why hotels and resorts should be using these tactics in their hotel PPC campaigns to increase occupancy.
Remarketing vs. Retargeting
Here at TravelBoom, we tend to use these terms interchangeably, but others feel there is a distinct difference between the two. Those who feel there is a difference tend to say that retargeting focuses on placing cookies on site visitors that follow those users around other sites across the web. Remarketing focuses on shopping cart abandonment emails, upsell emails, etc. Those two things essentially share the same idea of following up with a customer who did not complete the desired action, so we feel fine using them interchangeably. For the purposes of this article, we will be referring to them as remarketing.
There are three ways that you can reach people through remarketing. The most common way is to place a cookie on your website visitors. Another way is to target users who did not visit your site, but share similarities to the people who have. The final way is by using customer information to create customer match lists for remarketing. First, we’ll cover website visit-based (cookie-d) hotel remarketing.
Website Visit-Based Remarketing
Google Ads offers remarketing code that you can add to each page of your site. As users visit pages containing that remarketing code, they will be cookie-d and added to your remarketing list. Once a user is added to the remarketing list, they can be served ads on other sites and apps across the web.
The great thing about visit-based remarketing is that multiple remarketing lists can be created.
Strategy for success: Add a unique remarketing code to a specific room type page of your website. If a user visits that page, they will be cookie-d. You can then serve ads on the Google Display Network that focus primarily on that room type to users who just viewed the page.
Strategy for success: Remarket to users that visited a page on your hotel’s site about an event happening nearby. You could create a list of users that visited that page and build a campaign around keywords related to that event and use ad copy such as “Rooms Still Available For (Event)” to coax users to book. These users are establishing brand awareness and are more likely to revisit your site and book directly.
Expert advice: You can also set rules to limit unwanted impressions. Let’s say a user visited your website and then completed a booking. You wouldn’t want to serve ads to that person, right? You can create rules that group users who have visited the booking confirmation or thank you page of your site. In this instance, you would use this remarketing list to exclude these users from your campaigns.
However, with Google’s announcement that support for 3rd-party cookies will be phased out by late 2023, hotel marketers will eventually have to focus on unique remarketing strategies to find success, like our next hotel remarketing strategy.
Interest-based remarketing targets users who share similarities with your typical site visitor. This type of remarketing could become a crucial piece in a 3rd-party cookie-less world that Google has planned and may make us reevaluate what is considered “remarketing”. Google has even announced their new Topics API as a way to replace 3rd-party cookies.
For now, there are settings within Google Ads that allow you to serve display ads to users who have performed certain search queries, share similar interests, or visited a site that shares a similar audience as your own. While these users may not have seen your site previously, search engines have determined that their interests and actions overlap with your site visitors.
Strategy for success: In Google Ads, you can easily create your own custom segment of users that have searched for hotels in your area. With a display campaign, Google will use this information to target those individuals specifically and serve ads to them on participating websites and apps.
Customer List-Based Remarketing
Along with interest-based remarketing, first-party data will be crucial for hotel advertisers post-3rd-party cookies. If you’re collecting your guests’ contact information (which you should be!), you can use that information to build customer match lists in Google Ads. Google will match your uploaded email addresses to users and serve ads to them in your campaign.
Strategy for success: Upload a list of past guests and serve them ads around the anniversary of their stay at your hotel. Ad copy can be used to persuade them to stay with you again, reminding them of their time spent at your hotel.
Remarketing Lists for Search Ads
While the remarketing we referenced above was focused on display advertising, there is another form of remarketing that focuses on search advertising: Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). The idea is the same: A person visits your website, gets cookie-d, and becomes a part of your remarketing list. Only now, you get to serve them a text ad rather than a display ad.
Strategy for success: In their initial research phase, a user visits your site and gains some familiarity with your hotel but doesn’t book right away. When they go back to Google and make another broad search for “hotel in (city name)”, you want them to see your ad, revisit your site and finally book. With RLSA campaigns, you should be more willing to spend the money on broad terms like “hotels in (city name)” for users who already have some familiarity with your hotel.
Importance Of Frequency Capping
Although you may be unfamiliar with remarketing, you have undoubtedly been remarketed to in the past. Have you ever viewed a product only to see ads for that product show up on every site you visit after? That’s remarketing.
Frequency capping helps maintain that critical balance between staying top of mind and annoying your potential customer.
Did you also notice that you saw that ad enough times to annoy you to the point you refuse to buy it? That’s because whoever is running the ad didn’t set a proper frequency cap. Frequency capping helps maintain that critical balance between staying top of mind and annoying your potential customer. If you don’t set a cap, you are risking creeping out your customers or downright annoying them enough to dislike you. Be sure to test and find what works best for your hotel or resort.
Other Forms of Hotel Remarketing
Google Ads also offers other methods of building remarketing lists. If your hotel uses a mobile app, you can link your app to Google Ads to build a list of users that have taken specific actions within your app. If your hotel is active on YouTube, you can link your YouTube account to Google Ads and reach people that have taken specific actions on your YouTube channel.
Microsoft Ads and Facebook Ads also offer similar remarketing functionality to that of Google Ads. However, Facebook Ads boasts quite a few additional options for remarketing thanks to their suite of products and various segmentations for collecting first-party data.
Strategies for success: Create remarketing segments that group your most engaged Facebook page followers or group users that have watched a video on your Facebook page for a desired amount of time. Since the Facebook iOS 14.5 update, these first-party audiences are crucial to building for hotels of all sizes.
Why Use Hotel Remarketing?
The main reason for remarketing, especially display ad remarketing, is for brand awareness. Remarketing allows you to remain top-of-mind by reminding previous site visitors about your hotel while they are browsing other sites across the web. This can be especially useful when your previous visitors return to search engines to do some price shopping. It allows the user to easily return to your site and complete the desired action. As we mentioned in the RLSA section, it should also make you willing to spend more money on broad terms for those who are already aware of your brand.
Expert advice: Incorporating demand generation analysis can also help you measure the success of your remarketing campaigns.
Keep in mind, that as Google’s 3rd-party cookie phase-out closes in, hotel marketers may have to reconsider how they define remarketing and identify new ways to reach people across the web.