It's high time hotels reclaimed the commissions they pay to online travel agencies.
Hotels seeking to attract new guests to their property face the challenge of a crowded marketplace and a lot of competition. There are other hotels promoting their offerings, online travel agencies (OTAs) advertising cheap rates, and sharing-economy competitors like Airbnb offering unusual accommodations. Getting your hotel or resort to catch the eye of a prospective guest, let alone getting them to follow through with a booking, can seem like a serious challenge. In many cases, marketers are tempted to follow the OTA’s lead by competing on price, and promoting special packages or discount offers. While this can create a short-term boost in bookings, it does little to create loyal guests over the long run. Instead, marketers should consider these five impactful marketing strategies.
1. Embrace Emotion
While discounts and special offers appeal to your audience’s mind (and wallet), effective content marketing should speak to their heart. Create messaging that strikes viewers’ emotions, whether that’s aspirations for luxury experiences or a desire for rest and relaxation. A powerful tool to do that is virtual reality. In a recent study of viewers who took a virtual tour of a Carnival cruise ship, 66 percent of people who viewed the experience said it excited them, almost as many said it gave them a “sense of joy,” while 58 percent described it as “amazing.” These are tangible emotions generated by a VR experience–not something a typical online ad might be expected to elicit.
2. Tell a Story
In the same way, an effective campaign for your property will showcase its unique story. Images or videos of your luxurious offerings are a good way to catch viewers’ eyes, but to keep them interested, you need to put your property’s story front and center. What makes it unique? What sets it apart from similar hotels or resorts? It may be the friendly people who work there, the special experiences only your property provides, or the high level of hospitality visitors can expect. Whatever it is, put these offerings front and center.
The closer you can get the viewer to feeling like they’ve been to your property, the more likely they will want to experience the real thing.
3. Encourage Sharing
Truly powerful marketing messages, whether videos, stories, or interactive experiences, are ones that viewers will be eager to share with friends and followers. Use social media platforms to promote your messages and embed links that encourage viewers to share after they’ve seen it. Take advantage of Facebook’s shift to a “video-first” approach, as well as its 360-video tools to post video content on the site that’s more likely to get shared.
4. Offer Value
While you should avoid promoting the monetary value offered by your property, there are plenty kinds of other value that you can showcase in your promotions. These could be roundups of local attractions, practical guides for business travelers, or recipes of a popular dish your property is widely known for. If your promotion provides a clear takeaway for the viewer, they are more likely to remember it and connect positively with your marketing message.
5. Make it Immersive
Find ways to approximate the experience of visiting your property. Nothing is going to replicate the real thing, but the more you can do to evoke the sensory experience of what being at your hotel is like, the more it’s going to impact the prospective guest. In addition to images, consider video; instead of standard video, consider experimenting with 360-degree video; beyond 360-degree video, make the experience even more immersive through fully interactive virtual reality experiences. Whatever steps you take, the closer you can get the viewer to feeling like they’ve been to your property, the more likely they will want to experience the real thing.
Learn more about how YouVisit drives results for hoteliers here.
Alex Daniel is a travel writer and content strategist living in Brooklyn.