Have you thought about your digital advertising strategy for the upcoming year, yet? If not, it’s time to think about moving beyond the status quo and trying some new things.
While digital advertising is an ever-changing arena, and each year ushers in a whole new set of trends, you can take control of your digital marketing today.
To help you, we’ve prepared this article of hotel digital advertising trends and predictions.
Before we get started with the specifics, let’s touch on a few important points to guide you as you begin to develop your digital strategy:
Humanize Your Hotel
In today’s marketing climate, consumers want to have touch points with your hotel brand. They see your hotel’s reputation as a reflection of what they can expect when they stay the night.
While you may have great service and great rooms, if you aren’t focused on building a relationship with your visitor online, you’ll likely lose the booking. To humanize your hotel online, tell stories, share anecdotes, be funny and most importantly, have empathy with your guests especially when they have a bad experience.
Drive with Content
If you’ve been doing any marketing research lately, you’ve most likely come across the term, “content is king.” This has never been truer than as we move towards 2016. Your digital content is fundamental to the success of your digital advertising program.
Blogs, social media, and email newsletters – these are all important to your digital advertising in 2016. For the most part, they can all be boosted with paid digital ads.
If you aren’t currently spending money on digital advertising, the time is now. In this article we’ll touch on some of the best ways to do this in the coming year. You want to be where the consumers are, and that is online. Traditional advertising is hard to track, so eliminate or cut this budget down so you have money to spend digitally.
Test and Evaluate
Use the tools available to you to analyze what’s working and what’s not. Change things up as necessary. Test, measure, evaluate and revise are the keys to your hotel’s digital advertising.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the basic tenants of digital advertising, let’s get to the details.
The Continued Rise of Social Media Advertising
As we turn the corner into a new year, you can be assured that social media is a viable, worthwhile marketing strategy, and one you should use. Here are several trends we anticipate taking root:
- Social media will continue to cater to users’ sense of immediacy. People want in the moment updates. If this truly catches on, scheduling your posts days in advance will have to take a back seat to instant updates.
- Buy buttons in paid social media advertising will be huge. Facebook and Pinterest have already launched buy features. In fact, their mobile users can use one click to purchase something without leaving the app. Imagine the possibilities for your customers. By the end of 2016, perhaps they can make a reservation with one click on social media. You can expect Instagram to follow this trend as well.
- Expect the cost of social media advertising to rise throughout 2016 as competition increases. Facebook has already curbed organic visibility to force its business users to buy advertising. We expect that to filter through the other social media channels as well. So expect to pay more for your social advertising and know it’s well worth it.
Diversify Your Social Media Marketing
For years, Facebook has been the biggest game in town when it comes to advertising your hotel. Facebook will remain at the top of the heap, but it’s a good idea to diversify your paid social media advertising.
Paid advertising options are available on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat as well as Facebook.
What do all of these options mean for you? They mean multiple platforms for you to promote content, engage customers, build relationships and drive website traffic.
Your choices in 2016 for promoting your hotel are diverse, and you’ll find a platform to fit each one of your advertising objectives.
As in other marketplaces, competition encourages innovation and quality. Look for new features on all the platforms in the coming year.
Video Marketing is the Hottest Trend
If content is king, video marketing is the emperor. Visual storytelling will dominate, as hotels can share videos across social networks, through their website and with their email marketing.
Some of you may be scratching your heads and wondering just how a travel-related video can help your bottom line. Here are some ways you can stay on top of this hot trend and use it to your advantage:
- Inspire your future guests. Use video at various stages of the planning process. The hotel booking process for most customers takes several trips to the website before completion. A well-crafted video can help expedite the process.
- Share videos on social media and use paid advertising to promote the video. You’ll create brand awareness and increase your SEO with links to your website.
Industry experts predict that travelers will look less to travel review sites and more toward first-hand video stories of your customers’ experience at your hotel.
Video ads also take hold. Google is soon to incorporate video advertising in their search results, and this has great potential for paid advertisers. Once this happens, video is certain to drive hotel advertising. So, it’s time to start creating your videos so you stay in front of this trend.
Retargeting Leads the Way
Retargeting is a trend that may sound complicated, but it’s one you should take advantage of. Here’s why:
Booking abandonment, the rate at which your website visitors abandon reserving your hotel, is staggering. Studies show the rate to be more than 65% for hotels.
An Expedia study found that in the 45 days leading up to a booking, a consumer may visit as many as 38 websites. It’s important to know when and how to engage and re-engage with these people. Retargeting is an exceptional tool for converting users and helping them with their complicated decision-making process.
Why do people abandon your website in the middle of booking a reservation? Here are a few of the reasons:
- They were just looking and in the middle of the research process.
- The price was too high.
- There were technical issues or the process was too long.
While this may seem all gloom and doom, that isn’t necessarily so. With retargeting, you can reach back out to these customers to engage them and attempt to meet their needs.
We mentioned the personal relationship earlier. Retargeting allows you to re-engage with your website visitors in a personalized manner. With retargeting, you have the opportunity to grab the consumer before he goes somewhere else. You have several options in 2016 for retargeting:
- Website retargeting – reach your guests who visited your site and left. You can offer specials, tips or just a reminder.
- Social media retargeting – show ads to people on social media after they’ve left your site. For example, a consumer tries to book your Dallas hotel. They leave and go to Facebook. Your ads automatically retarget them on Facebook and show them the hotel room they might stay in at your Dallas hotel.
- Email retargeting – a subtle reminder to users who started booking your hotel and stopped.
Retargeting is a paid digital advertising medium and one worth a look.
Search Engine and Display Advertising
This year brings you customers who split their time online between multiple devices. In their journey to booking a room at your hotel, they may view your website in an app, on a smartphone and a desktop computer. Their voyage towards conversion is fragmented.
Every encounter they have with your hotel online creates a digital pathway leading to the next interaction and the next, until ultimately they are engaged, and they take action.
Because of this, expect display advertising to take a greater role than search advertising as part of your paid search strategy. While search ads continue to drive business to your website, display advertising has come of age, and the reach potential is enormous.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising which includes text ads, mobile ads, remarketing and display ads have performed well in 2015, and marketers expect even greater spending levels in future years.
When potential hotel guests are searching for a place to stay, will you show up in search results? With paid advertising, the odds are much better. We recommend allocating a generous budget to both search and display ads.
Search engine advertising, including paid search and display ads, is essential to your digital advertising success. Let’s look into the ongoing importance of paid search and display advertising.
Paid Advertising Dominates
Dennis Schall says on skiff.com, “Search engine optimization had a great run, but we are way past it now. Instead, the top dogs in digital marketing are Google itself and the largest and most skilled players that can pay for those clicks and convert the hell out of them.”
Priceline CEO, Paul Hennessey, says, “And so I believe it is a paid world.”
This suggests that the trend toward paid advertising will be around for a long while. Search engine optimization, while still important, needs a boost from paid advertising such as Google AdWords.
The best way to get visibility on Google’s search pages, both mobile and desktop, will be to pay for it.
The theory is that as users are conducting their searches on small mobile devices, the real estate available on the smartphone for search listings is smaller than on desktop. So, it stands to reason, that to be seen at the top of the mobile search screen, you’ll need to pay for the privilege.
It seems that organic search engine optimization isn’t dead, but it will no longer be the only player as we move into a new year. The hotels that provide the best content and the best customer experience who can pay for paid search will be the best at converting web visitors to customers.
Hotel marketing teams will move towards more automated marketing. Just what is it? It’s the use of technology to manage and automate the process of converting consumers into paid hotel guests.
Consider the past hotel guest who booked your hotel over spring break last year. With automated marketing, you can reach back out to that person two months prior to spring break with a message that it’s time to make their reservations.
This trend, if you take advantage of it, will save you time and money while allowing you to customize messages to your hotel guests or website visitors.
Marketing automation is part of the relationship building we discussed earlier. It humanizes your hotel and allows you to communicate personally with your customers.
Digital advertising is expected to become the number one media category, according to a comScore report released to CNBC earlier this year. Next year is the year to allocate a budget for digital advertising.
You’ve learned about a few of the digital advertising trends for your hotel including social media advertising, search engine advertising, retargeting and video marketing.
We’ve given you a lot of information about these digital advertising trends for your hotel. One of the most important things to remember is that they are all interwoven and co-dependent.
One digital advertising trend affects another and vice versa. Your social media platforms, email marketing, website and paid advertising all work together to brand your hotel and sell your rooms.
As a last note, we want to emphasize the importance of testing your digital advertising channels. Monitor what’s working and continue it. Revise what isn’t working and test again. Never stop testing as trends will continue to evolve throughout 2016 and what doesn’t work one day may work the next month.
There’s always a new trend or tip on the horizon. Check it out, put it into play, test it, revise it, and test it again. You’ll soon find incorporating new trends a productive way to deliver your digital advertising.