January 9, 2017 · Stuart Butler
Top 10 Resolutions Your Hotel Should Really Be Making in 2017
Every year, millions of people enter the new year with the optimistic opinion that they are going to magically improve themselves and their life by making a one or two resolutions that they know they’re not going to keep beyond January 10. Still, we keep on doing it, year after year. Knowing that most of your personal resolutions have probably already gone out of the window, The TravelBoom Hotel Marketing podcast would like to encourage all of our faithful listeners to turn those traditional New Year’s resolutions into something that will help your property flourish in 2017. Check it out.
According to Nielsen, the top 10 most common New Year’s Resolutions are as follows:
- Stay fit and healthy 37%
- Lose weight 32%
- Enjoy life to the fullest 28%
- Spend less, save more 25%
- Spend more time with family and friends 19%
- Get organized 18%
- Will not make any resolutions 16%
- Learn something new/new hobby 14%
- Travel more 14%
- Read more 12%
Here are Hotel Marketer’s alternatives to the traditional resolutions:
1. Stay fit and healthy = Analytics and Rate Parity
The most important thing is to know whether or not you are healthy and then make a concerted effort to improve your health. The key to knowing your hotel marketing health starts with having solid Analytics in place. Whether you’re using Google Analytics or a paid solution such as Adobe Analytics, be sure that you are tracking conversions properly, that you don’t have any cross-domain issues between your website and your booking engine and that you are using campaign ids to measure and campaign different sources of traffic.
Once you have done that, make sure that you’re looking at the right metrics. We did an entire podcast episode dedicated to this: . TravelBoom Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 22 – Hotel Marketing Metrics That Actually Matter
Finally, one of the most important aspects of maintaining good hotel marketing health is to maintain Rate Parity between your own website and your other distribution channels. If you don’t, all of your other marketing initiatives will be much less effective.
2. Lose weight = Cutting down site load time, image sizes, etc
While it is likely unrealistic for your hotel to lose weight, it’s certainly likely that your website could shed a kilobyte or two. The larger/heavier your website is, the slower it will load – especially on mobile. Not only is this going to cause frustration with your potential guests and drive down your conversion rate, but it’s also going to decrease your search engine ranking and decrease your overall traffic.
Just like real weight loss, crash diets don’t work. You have to get into the habit of thinking about load time and thinking mobile-first as your default. When you’re designing a new page or simply uploading an image, make sure you are think about the impact it’s going to have on your load time. Resize those images before you upload them. Clean up the design so it doesn’t have so much clutter. Get your web developer to optimize the code to ensure that it loads fast.
Once you’ve adopted the right mindset and you’re going to stick with it, then comes the process of reducing the weight you already have. Much like a set of bathroom scales, there are a number of free tools that will monitor this speed of your website and make recommendations for things to fix In order to improve performance. Our favorite is probably Google’s Pagespeed Insights: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Finally, you should be considering building accelerated mobile pages versions of your pages in order to increase mobile search visibility.
3. Enjoy life to the fullest = Show your personality in your content and focus on your strengths
Not every hotel is going to appeal to every potential guest. That’s fine and dandy. Just make sure that the guests that would like what your property has to offer are the ones to whom you’re speaking with all of your marketing efforts – especially with your blog and your content that is being distributed on social media. We are in an age where brands have cast off the shackles of corporate speak and are no longer inhibited by a traditional view of what a business should sound like. Your property’s content should reflect the personality of the property and the staff. Have fun on social media, be authentic and make sure that people know what they’re going to get when they arrive at your front desk.In addition, be sure to leverage your assets. If you excel at customer service and have a super-duper high TripAdvisor rating, be sure to tell people about it. If you offer unique amenities such as a lazy river or a bowling alley, make sure that you optimize pages dedicated to those amenities and set a goal to rank #1 for related keywords in your destination. Believe it or not, you can drive a lot of business on long-tail keywords from people who have very specific requirements. If you’re the only hotel in town that offers free ballroom dancing lessons every Tuesday, let people know about it.
4. Spend less, save more = Stop wasting money on ineffective marketing.
It’s 2017, people. We already talked about the need for having accurate analytics data. If you’ve already taken care of that, you should be making every marketing budget decision based primarily on ROI. Sure, there are nuances to spending your advertising budget to target people at different phases of the sales funnel. You also need to pay attention to whether you’re getting new or repeat business from each channel. And, of course, looking at multi-touchpoint analytics and attribution modelling can tell a very different story than simply looking at last-click analytics. I get all that. Regardless, your analytics software should be making your life much easier than it was for hotel marketers of yore – when the adage of “50% of your advertising is ineffective; you just don’t know which 50%” was a reality.When it comes to budgeting, there’s a simple methodology: Maximize your spend on the 5 most effective channels, then invest in the next 3 or 4, maximize them, then move on to the next and so on. Be sure to have a balance between remarketing to existing guests and drumming up new business and make sure you understand that the ROI for those is not apples-to-apples. You also need to have some contingency and some experimental budget. We recommend that you earmark 15-20% of your budget and effort for trying new things, but be sure to limit your risk by getting short-term trials vs. annual commitments.
5. Spend more time with family and friends = Focus on the guest, embrace guest reviews and leverage user-generated content.
At TravelBoom, we believe that 2017 is the year of the guest. Hoteliers should always remind themselves that they are in the hospitality industry. Happy guests are the most important part of what we do. It’s well documented that guests with whom we engage during the stay tend to have a more positive experience and tend to leave a more positive review. There are a few takeaways from this fact.First, hotels should try to engage with their guest as much as possible, before, during and after the stay. Pre-arrival emails, texts, push notifications or even calls can go a long way to setting expectations and capitalizing on existing excitement.
During the stay, a friendly and stress-free check-in experience, a surprise gift or some unexpected value can set the tone for the entire stay. After the guest is settled, calling the room or sending a message to check on them is often appreciated and can often head off a potential larger issue. Later on during the stay, a survey can also do the same.
Finally, when the guest leaves, be sure to thank them in a personal manner, perhaps reward them with some sort of future discount, ask them for feedback on their experience and use that information to improve your product. Don’t get mad at the guest when they leave a bad review. Get mad at yourself for not identifying and fixing the problem while they were YOUR guest at YOUR property.
In addition to reviews and feedback, be sure to see if they’ll share their positive experience on other social channels — both yours and theirs. This is how you turn guests into an army of evangelists for your hotel. Tools such as www.flip.to make this sort of thing very easy to manage.
6. Get organized = Have a marketing strategy and a content calendar
Flying by the seat of your pants is the least effective way to manage your hotel’s marketing strategy. At the beginning of the year, take some time to look back at the past 12 months and identify the successes and failures. Use your analytics tools to identify some key metrics and establish some goals for the upcoming month, quarter and year. Make sure that your marketing efforts are all focused on moving the needle for these particular metrics. They could be website traffic, conversion rate, publishing a specific number of blog articles, replacing your booking engine, or even finishing that long overdue website redesign. You know your property and you should easily be able to identify what you want to do. Be sure to write the plan down on paper, share it with the team, and review your progress on an ongoing basis.One of the best things you can do to get organized is to have a content calendar that you share with the whole team. This helps you plan ahead and not get stuck scrambling to meet deadlines at the last minute. Plan out your social posts for each channel, your email calendar, the specials you’ll be promoting on adWords etc. If you include all of your channels on a single calendar, you can pick start and end dates for specific campaigns (such as Spring Savings, or Back to School Specials) and make sure that everything you’re marketing at that time is promoting the same thing. This will help you spend your budget more efficiently and more effectively. By having a calendar, you control your daily tasks. If you don’t, they end up controlling you.
7. Will not make any resolutions = Test and track everything and eliminate the guesswork
No one is perfect; nor is their website. If you really think that you don’t need to make any improvements to your website, come talk to your friends at TravelBoom and we’ll help you set up a series of testing campaigns that will literally blow your mind and expand your wallet. Our motto here is “always be testing.” You don’t know what you don’t know and the only way to find out whether that new image or verbiage is going to get more heads in beds is to test it.This philosophy expands beyond just the website. You should be testing your advertising, your email subject lines, your social posts and pretty much anything you’re doing from a marketing perspective.
8. Learn something new/new hobby = Have 15-20% of your budget dedicated to new marketing endeavors. (Google Hotel Ads, apps, VR, Snapchat, something)
If you continue to do the same thing every year, you will eventually become an ineffective marketer. If we took that philosophy 20 years ago, we’d all be spending our entire budget on the AAA magazine, some billboards and direct mail. Back then, websites barely existed, nor did email marketing, social media, search engines, or mobile phones. Change is the only constant in the world of marketing. Your property must constantly be trying new things to find out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to fail because then you won’t take risks. Taking risks is essential if you want to beat your competition. There’s often a huge advantage to being an early adopter of something new. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should jump on every bandwagon that comes along. But, you should keep an eye on what the next hip thing is and see how other hotel-industry folks are leveraging it. If you see others having some success, then you should most definitely try it.One word of caution is to be disciplined. Don’t try too many new things at once. Be sure to master one before moving on to the next. Also, don’t abandon what’s already working. New endeavors should be in addition to, not in place of. That’s why you need to earmark a specific percentage of your budget for this type of experimentation up front.
9. Travel more = Stay at competitive properties and keep an eye on what they are doing with their marketing
The best way to size up the competition is to go be a guest. That way, you’ll not just be able to experience the property, but you’ll also be able to see what they’re doing from a marketing perspective. You’ll receive their pre-arrival emails, their post-stay surveys, see if they’re running remarketing ads etc.Regardless of whether you stay with them, you should also read their blogs and keep an eye on their social channels and read their reviews to see what they are promoting and what their guests are saying about them. You can also look at similar properties in different destinations and get inspiration for content and messaging ideas. Doing this with out-of-market properties means that you can get away with copying them a little more than if they are in your own backyard.
If you want to get even more sophisticated, you can monitor specific KPIs for your competition and see how you stack up and how you’re improving relative to them. Things like search ranking, number of inbound links, Alexa.com traffic ranking etc. All of these data points
10. Read more = Enjoy the TravelBoom Hotel Marketing Podcast and our favorite news sources
One thing is clear in the hotel marketing space, and the web in general: Things are always changing. Great opportunity awaits those who keep their finger on the pulse of the industry and following marketing, hotelier, and tech news is a key way to stay ahead of the competition. Our team spends a few minutes everyday looking for new trends, tech, and news that impacts the hotel space. Some of our favorite news sources include the following. Keep up here and you’ll have no problem keeping ahead of the competition:
- Tnooz.com – a great hotel news aggregator as well as producer of custom content. We spend time here daily.
- HotelMarketing.com – a hotel news aggregator that links to hotel articles, tech sites, hotel press releases and more. A little bland to look at but a wealth of information.
- Hotel-online.com – This is a good site for property specific news such as acquisitions, DMO data, and general market trends.
- HotelNewsNow.com – Ready to really get into the hotel weeds? This site looks at global hotel trends, finance, and governmental changes that impact the travel market. They do have a cool, “5 Things To Know” daily segment
- Skift – Between the content and research on Skift.com and the fantastic Skift Podast, you’ll have more travel related data than you’ll ever use. Their podcast is a staple here at TravelBoom.
- The TravelBoom Hotel Marketing Podcast – Really, did you think we would leave out the #1 hotel marketing podcast on iTunes? Check out our past episodes and catch up on our extensive hotel article library right here.