August 23, 2017 · Meisha Bochicchio

Breaking Bad-vertising: Don’t Believe These Hotel Marketing Myths

That’s right – I went there. Now that you are done judging my horrible pun, let’s discuss the topic at hand: Bad Advertising. Specifically, marketing myths that lead people to do things with good intentions but that actually end up hurting your brand. The digital age is upon us and is constantly changing. If you aren’t careful, you may fall way behind the times when it comes to creating a digital strategy.

Myth #1: I have a brand new website; I will rank for ALL of the things!

Congratulations on your new website! I truly hope that the creator – whether in-house or at an agency – took all of the preliminary steps to ensure that your website is as search engine friendly as possible. Though new sites are often a vast improvement upon old sites, it still takes time for search engines to re-crawl sites and for new sites to establish authority and rank; give it time. Do not have a panic attack if your rankings fluctuate or if you aren’t seeing the immediate results that you anticipated. In addition, it is incredibly hard to rank for ALL of the things that your website is related to (unless you are one of the “Big Dogs” in the industry). Instead of trying to rank for a wide array of keywords, focus on smaller areas that might be easier to gain ground in and that make sense for your site. We can’t all be Expedia and TripAdvisor, unfortunately.

Quick & Dirty SEO Tips For Hotels:

  • Set realistic expectations – Your hotel will not rank for broad “Hotels in (name of destination)” type keywords. Rather, focus on less competitive, niche areas that are hyper relevant to your property.
    • Amenity-based searches (Ex: “orlando hotel with water park”)
    • Proximity-based searches (Ex: “orlando hotel near convention center”)
    • Room-specific searches (Ex: “3 bedroom condo downtown in orlando”)
  • Optimize accordingly – Check out our free SEO Cheat Sheet for details!
  • Track, Monitor, Analyze – Your hotel should, at the very least, have Google Analytics set up across the site and specific goals should be setup to track form submissions and transactions. Be sure your analytics is setup properly and that you are looking at your data on a regular basis! There are also plenty of other SEO specific programs that can help you along the way, like Google Search Console and rank tracking software.

SEO Resources For Hotels:

Myth #2: Brand PPC Is A Waste Of Money.

Do yourself a favor and go Google your hotel’s name. More times than not, OTA and hotel metasearch sites are paying for placement on your hotel’s brand name. I know, I know – how dare they?! The truth of the matter is, OTAs know that branded clicks typically have a much lower cost and a much higher conversion rate than non-brand search queries. The intent to buy is much stronger than more broad searches that are higher up in the funnel and they want to capitalize on those clicks to generate more commission revenue. Simply stated, if you are NOT bidding on your hotel’s brand, you are handing OTAs money. Also consider, what is more affordable, the >$1.00 you will pay for the branded ad click or the 20% of your booking revenue that you will pay to the OTA? And, from a marketing perspective, branded hotel campaigns typically have a very high ROI, with ROAS numbers often exceeding 1,000%. 

As for non-brand, this is an incredibly difficult space for individual hotels to compete. Non-brand clicks are often way more expensive than your brand clicks and the search volume is sky high, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to waste money. That’s not to say that non-brand campaigns are a total waste of time; non-brand can be effective when approached strategically.
When considering what keywords to bid on, consider the stage of the purchase cycle those keywords would fall. For example, a broad query like “hotels in san diego” tell us several things: the searcher does not know where they want to stay, the searcher is looking for multiple hotels, the searcher is doing research. However, a more focused search, like “hotel near san diego convention center” indicates a much more decisive intent. The searcher is looking for a single hotel near a very specific part of town. This could be a good space for the hotel right across from the convention center to capitalize on their relevance and proximity.
Tips for selecting relevant non-brand keyword targets:

  • Proximity keywords (ex: hotels near the charleston airport)
  • Amenity keywords (ex: buffalo hotel with indoor pool)
  • Room keywords (ex: miami penthouse suites)

Note: While more focused non-brand keywords can be more cost-effective than the more broad terms, they will still typically cost much more than a branded click. Monitor your KPIs carefully and clearly define your campaign goals to measure success over time.
The keys to success for any pay per click campaign are proper account set-up and testing, testing, testing!
PS – If you are worried about natural search cannibalization – fret not. We cover that too in our Brand PPC Case Study.

Myth #3: People Don’t Book On Mobile.

While the research and booking process was admittedly cumbersome and unenjoyable many years ago, mobile has comes a long way and has slowly won over the hearts and trust of consumers. Having a mobile-friendly experience from start to finish is not only an industry best practice but is also now a requirement for search engines – meaning that mobile-friendly sites will be given preference over sites that do not provide a great mobile experience.
We are well past the mobile-tipping point, meaning that well over 50% of searches now take place via a mobile device. According to, 62% of smartphone users have made an online purchase using their mobile device. And, mobile conversion rates are also up substantially year over year and are continuing to rise as people become more comfortable booking via mobile.
Not convinced yet? Consider this data from one of our hotel clients. The data was pulled over a 3 month period for May – August 2017 and compared to the same 3-month period in 2016.

Year Total Visits Mobile Visits % Mobile Total Sales Mobile Sales % Mobile Total Revenue Mobile Revenue % Mobile
2016 213,261 152,909 71.7% 879 359 40.1% 620,181 239,995 38.7%
2017 183,326 127,209 69.4% 1,572 842 53.6% 1,118,631 591,169 52.3%
% increase -14% -16% 78.8% 134.5% 33.7% 80.4% 146.3% 35.1%

As you can see, mobile sales and revenue were through the roof in 2017 compared to 2016, despite a slight drop in overall traffic to the website. Mobile sales were up 134.5% Y/Y and mobile revenue was up 146.3% for just this one client. Amazing!
The catch? Having a frictionless mobile presence from start to finish. This will include using a responsive or other mobile-friendly hotel website design for the front-end of the transaction and having a mobile-first booking engine experience.
The client mentioned above actually implemented the new mobile-first version of our GuestDesk booking engine and the results have been outstanding overall, but especially when we consider the increase in conversion rate specific to mobile.

Learn More About Mobile:

Myth #4: I Don’t Need A Mobile App.

People don’t book via mobile.
People would just delete the app as soon as they leave the property.
Developing a mobile app for our hotel is way too expensive.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. We have already proven that people are booking via mobile, so no need to dig further into that myth. And, so what if someone deletes your app after they leave? Though, ideally, they would love your mobile app so much that they would give it a permanent spot on their device, simply taking up space on a visitor’s phone is not the goal of having a mobile app. Rather, the app is a tool to make your guest’s stay and experience better and is a way to drive incremental revenue during their stay, thus increasing your RevPAR over time. And finally, why would you spend money developing a brand new mobile app from scratch when a perfectly good mobile app solution for hotels already exists at an unbelievably low monthly price? Sorry for the soft sell, but Guest Express is pretty awesome and incredibly affordable.

Why does your hotel need a mobile app?

  • Drive additional revenue via room upgrades, late check-outs, attraction / show ticket sales, on-property dining – you name it! The opportunities to make more money are endless.
  • One on one communication with your guests allows you to reach them with the right message at the right time during their stay and to capture valuable feedback to mitigate any potential issues before they reach your TripAdvisor page.
  • Provide your guests with a better experience and optimize your operations with PMS integrated features like express check-in and check-out, keyless room entry, and more. Guests will also have full access to a trip itinerary builder, destination and property details, and other key features and you will have full access to all of the data associated with app usage.

Have we convinced you yet? See for yourself in person how awesome a white-labeled hotel app could be by scheduling your complimentary demo.

Myth #5: Social Media Doesn’t Have An ROI.

Why would you bother paying someone to play around on the internet all day, especially when it in no way generates a return for your property?
Contrary to popular belief, social media is alive and kicking in the revenue stream department and plays an important role for your hotel.

Why does your hotel need a social media strategy?

  • Give your brand a voice.
  • Communicate directly with guests and address questions, comments, or concerns.
  • Share meaningful content for various points in the vacation or hotel booking process – from dreaming to check-out.
  • Showcase user-generated content like past guest reviews or shared guest photos.
  • Reach new customers.

Though the full value of fully cultivating a social media presence can be hard to track, especially given the multiple touch-points a potential guests has with your brand before booking, actual numbers can be attributed to your efforts via simple campaign tracking. Every link you post to your website, including the general website link in your profile description, should be tracked.

Take a look at these stats from some of our hotel clients.

Organic Facebook Revenue (May 2017 – July 2017)

  • $7,722
  • $6,593
  • $4,500

Keep in mind, the revenue above is via organic (not paid) Facebook posts! And not just, “hey, we have a great special, book now!” style posts, but rather more subtle, gentle nudges. Of course, if you have a great special, you’ll want your Facebook audience to know about it. However, there are plenty of other opportunities to showcase your property and entice bookings, including showcasing your rooms, amenities, on-site dining, and more. You can also experiment with property videos and live videos and include links in your posts to drive traffic back to your site.
Get inspired → 75 Social Media Post Ideas For Hotels

Paid Facebook Campaigns

Waterpark Pass + 40% Off Promo – Promoted Post
Impressions: 42,058
Clicks: 880
CTR: 2.09%
Cost: $250
CPC: $0.38
Sales: 2
Revenue: $2,135.00
ROAS: 854%
Vacation Travel Gas Map – Promoted Post
Impressions: 37,557
Clicks: 3,228
CTR: 8.59%
Cost: $100
CPC: $0.03
Sales: 4
Revenue: $2,200
ROAS: 2,200%

Mega Sale (Black Friday – Cyber Monday) – Promoted Post
Impressions: 26,294
Clicks: 1,283
CTR: 4.88%
Cost: $100
CPC: $0.08
Sales: 2
Revenue: $976
ROAS: 976%
The above campaigns were run via the Facebook Ads manager. Clearly, one does not have to spend a ton of money to generate a fantastic return on your investment. The key to success with Facebook Ads is taking the time to properly set up your ads, from the creative all the way down to the targeting.
Get StartedThe Basics Of Facebook Advertising
Get the best bang for your buck The Best Facebook Ad Formats For Hotels
And then, of course, there are the intangibles. How many times does a person check your Facebook page before they decide to book? Are people viewing your hotel’s Facebook reviews? Are people interacting with your page and asking questions, engaging with content, etc.? Though it is hard to put a price on the value of maintaining and managing a social media presence, the value is clearly there long term.
Get Started Facebook Best Practices For Hotels

Do you have any more Hotel Marketing myths you’d like us to bust? Shoot us a line and we’ll add it to the list!

Ready to learn more Hotel Marketing tips & tricks? Check out the Fuel Podcast, the #1 Hotel Marketing podcast on the planet (not exaggerating – it’s pretty awesome).

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