April 22, 2016 · Phil Foriska

Retargeting & Remarketing for Hotels

I’m sure every hotel marketer has heard these terms before during conversations about their hotel’s PPC. Whether they know what they mean is a different story. In this article we’re going to cover what remarketing and retargeting are, how they work, and why hotels and resorts should be using these tactics to increase their 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 previous site visitors and follows that user 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 a desired action, so we feel fine using them interchangeably. For the purposes of this article we will be referring to them as remarketing, but we will make a clear distinction whether we’re talking about display ads through cookies, or follow up emails.

Visit Based vs. Interest Based Remarketing

There are two 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.
First we’ll cover a few ways to target visitors who make it to your site. Adwords offers remarketing code that you can add to each page of your site. As users visit pages containing that remarketing code, they will be cookied and added to your remarketing list. Once a user is added to the remarketing list they can be served ads on other sites & apps across the web.
Multiple lists can be created. For example, you can add a unique remarketing code to your 3 Bedroom Oceanfront Suite page. If a user visits that page, they will be cookied. You can then serve ads with the specific 3 Bedroom Oceanfront Suite to that user who just viewed that room on other pages & apps they may visit. Another example would be a user looking at a page on your hotel’s site about a specific event happening nearby. You would run RLSA on keywords related to that event to coax users to come book with adcopy such as “Rooms Still Available For (Event)” These users are establishing brand awareness and are more likely to revisit your site and book direct.
Taking this one step further, you can have rules to limit unnecessary impressions. For example, you can exclude users who have seen your confirmation or thank you page. So let’s say a user visited your 3 Bedroom Oceanfront Suite page and then completed the booking. You wouldn’t want to serve ads to that person, right? Well you can create rules that target any user who has visited 3 Bedroom Oceanfront Suite Page, but exclude any user who has visited and also visited the confirmation/thank you page. This will eliminate showing unnecessary impressions to users who already booked.
The other way to remarket is to target users who share similarities to your average site visitor. There are settings within Adwords that allow you to serve ads to users who have performed certain search queries, visited similar content, or visited a partner site that has a similar audience. While these users may have not seen your site previously, search engines have determined that their interests & actions overlap with your actual site visitors.

The 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.
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 that marketer 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, your are risking creeping out your customers or downright annoying them enough to dislike you.
For hotel remarketing, we find that capping impressions at 2-3 per adgroup meets that balance, but be sure to test and find what works best for your hotel or resort.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)

While the remarketing we referenced above was focused on display ads, there is another form of remarketing that deals with traditional text ads. The idea is the same. A person visits your website, they get cookied and become a part of your remarketing list. Only now you get to serve them a text ad rather than a display ad.
Let’s look at an example of how a hotel could use RLSA. In their initial research phase, a user visits your site and gains some familiarity with your hotel. They don’t book right away. When they go back to Google the next day and make another broad search for “hotel in (city name)”, you want them to see your ad, revisit your site and finally book. 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.

Why Use Remarketing For Your Hotel?

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 the hotel stay they thought about 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.

Remarketing can be a very effective tool when used correctly. Remember to ensure you have effective ad creative, remember to set frequency caps, and lastly remember to test RLSA for broad terms. If you need help with hotel remarketing or would like a free evaluation of your hotel’s PPC efforts, contact TravelBoom today!

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