Marketing is more than a Full Time Job
Marketing can seem like a daunting task to independent property owners, and it is often shelved in favour of other more immediate jobs like looking after guests and the daily running of the business. This is a grave mistake, as marketing is crucial for the continued success and future growth of your business. But how to get to a holistic marketing strategy and execution thereof, to gain more direct bookings, improve your sales mix, increase your occupancy and get the recognition your property deserves when not having the needed resources or talents and experience available?
How to cope with ever new Technology?
Technology is the new leveller of the playing field. Bigger companies have bigger advertising budgets, more skilled people and greater digital reach, but that doesn’t mean that smaller and independent properties can’t get a larger bite of the apple. New technological innovations have made for more competitive market positions by early adopters. An example of this is the 360 degree Virtual Tour, powered by Google Street View Trusted for Hotels. By adding this very new technology to the digital presence, Lodges, Guesthouses, Hotels but also Tour Operators can significantly improve their market share.
Do small Lodges need a Property Management System? Really?
Independent property owners often manage their bookings in a paper diary, in Excel or on the Outlook Calendar. Others run a Property Management System. But do smaller properties of 4-12 rooms really need a PMS? Is it not too complex and provides a lot of features and functions not needed in such small operations? On the other side, a streamlined rate, inventory and reservations management can have extremely beneficial effects for marketing and distribution. A perfectly configured cloud based platform would allow you to market your room in any number of ways. However it also need to function while offline and it need to be fully integrated into the digital presence, Facebook, local tour operators, DMCs, Google Hotel, online travel agents, meta engines and GDS without adding complexity and cost.
Is eMail Marketing still working?
eMail sounds antiquated to some people, but it remains an intrinsic weapon in the hoteliers and tour operators marketing arsenal. A highly personalised email journey is still a vital part of your marketing mix, as email lists are compiled by people who have registered their interest in your property, or stayed there already. It is a cost effective way of reaching an already interested audience. Whether your Guests, prospects or Tour Operators or DMCs.
Why to Stop Print Advertising and shift to Digital Marketing
Advertising and direct marketing are still the bread and butter of digital marketing. There are countless ways to utilise these powerful tools, each with its different cost. And, you can optimize them daily, tweak them for a better performance, or shut them down if they don’t seem to work. But more importantly, for the first time you can analyze every cent spent and its return. Something impossible in Print.
Check your website!
Your website is your digital presence. It is your main ambassador. Getting it right is a huge priority. You have total control over what is on your website, so you have to take advantage of it and harness its power. Have your current website undergo a digital health check to see where you need to improve. Your website is a resource that should give information, not only about what you have on offer, but what your location provides. By listing local attractions and activities you can bring in visitors who are generally browsing during their planning stage of travel.
Don’t just set it up then leave it
The abbreviation you hear over and over again in the digital world is SEO. Search Engine Optimisation isn’t rocket science but it can feel like it to those who are uninitiated. Content is the foundation of SEO and Google changes the parameters of what is ‘optimal’ continuously throughout the year. In 2016 more than 500 changes to the algorithm were performed, all of which impacted your visibility. You need to keep on top of the changes, which happen on more than a daily basis. Effectively, when you create content, you are writing something for both your potential clients and for Google. You need to have a variety of information but also with a focus on what your website is about. Google wants to know what you are talking about. It needs to see quality content that is grammatically correct and has a good mix of keywords and, more importantly, answers that potential visitors may ask.
SEO is a longer-term process than most quick fixes to a website as it evolves over time. As your content becomes more established, it also becomes more visible. There are instant results but SEO is a continual process that, when properly managed, reaps rewards exponentially. So be prepared for your marathon.
Active reputation management can double direct bookings.
Your reputation is a fundamental building block of your business’s success. Your online reputation is determined by the reviews that have been left by clients on platforms such as TripAdvisor and Holidaycheck and social media sites like Facebook, among hundreds of others in dozens of languages. You can’t change what clients say if you don’t like what they have written, but you can respond and have your side of the story represented. It is essential that you respond to every review that is left about your property. Positive reviews should be acknowledged with thanks and negative reviews should be addressed with context and perspective. You need to show potential future clients that you address issues in a prompt and timely manner.
I believe that reputation management is a top priority, as it has a measurable influence on the decisions made by your potential clients.
It is a lot of work! Reach out with social media
Your social presence is directly linked to the rest of your digital presence. Social media is your chance to build an audience and make your a market leader in your particular segment. Much like having a website and managing your reputation, you can have the best property in the world, but if you are not talking about it, then nobody will know. Social media presents you with the opportunity to reach out beyond your email list and talk about your property with prospective future clients.
The biggest platform for this is Facebook. The advantage it has over other platforms is the variety of media you can post and the targeted advertising it offers. With some savvy choices, you can make a small ad budget build up a large audience. Your conversation with this audience develops over time and this relationship becomes important when they are deciding on where to spend their vacation. But you need to fully integrate social channels into your digital presence to make optimal use of social media’s power.
Use data to enhance your campaigns
Knowledge is power in marketing. The more market data you can access, the better informed your campaigns and strategies will be. Knowing your local market and your property’s own performance within it is vital to the success of your business. A cloud-based dashboard gives you a holistic view of your business – social media, reputation, marketing and advertising figures, reservations, revenue, occupancy, ADR and Revpar. By synchronising it with DMCs, local tour operators, travel agents, OTAs and metasearch engines like Trivago, TripAdvisor and Google Hotel, you can access an even greater yield of market data.
A great dashboard is a necessary tool in the modern market. We live in the information age, so the first step to thriving in it is to know your business like the back of your hand. It is only from an informed position that you can make effective marketing decisions.
Take the long-term view
The information age brings more complexity to the marketing of an independent property but it also brings more solutions. By mastering all the angles of attack and the various strategies that you can employ, your property can thrive and grow into a highly successful hospitality business.
The secret is to think about long-term gain and remain consistent, yet flexible. You need to be vigilant when managing your data, reputation, SEO, digital presence and technological implementations.
Digital marketing offers a new opportunity. In fact, a specialised company with vast experience in your field will take over the overwhelming technology parts and the daily workload for you.