Your Top 10 Digital Marketing New Year’s Resolutions for 2019

After saying goodbye to 2018, we’re starting the new year with
fresh priorities and goals. January is a great time for hoteliers
to reflect on last year’s strategies and analyze results in order
to create a blueprint for a successful new year. Determining your
hotel’s most successful digital marketing initiatives is the
first step to executing a strong plan that will achieve greater
results this year than last year.

With new technology and digital innovations announced daily, it
can seem overwhelming for hoteliers to stay on top of trends and
work them into their own strategies. With voice search and AI,
omnichannel marketing, and the use of influencers on the rise,
hoteliers have the opportunity to reach potential guests at more
touchpoints than ever before.

It’s important to start 2019 with a strong foundation to your
digital strategy and be able to incorporate new initiatives as the
year goes on. To get you started, we put together the top
resolutions for hotels based on current and forecasted trends.

1. Understand the importance of an updated website and
technology.

Hotels should implement design trends on the website that follow
UX and are backed by the right technology that leads the user
towards a booking. Selecting
the right CMS
is important for your hotel’s digital strategy.
Content management systems can help your hotel implement website
personalization, present real-time rates and inventory, promote
offers and specials, and more. All of these factors will showcase
the property and can turn website visitors into bookings and
revenue.

As mobile continues to dominate, you should also make sure that
you have a
mobile-first, fully-responsive website design.
Last year,
Google began to use the mobile page versions of a domain for
indexing and caching in its search results, and subsequently, for
ranking. Historically, the desktop version of a page was primarily
used when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s
query.

2. Make CRM a priority.

The goal of customer relationship management is fairly
straightforward – improve your hotel relationships with guests. A
CRM solution can help
hoteliers to understand customers through data and deliver them
messages that they want and care about.

By engaging guests before, during, and after their stays, hotels
can fuel loyalty throughout the customer lifetime journey. Own the
conversation from the moment a booking is made, nurture the
experience with marketing automation, and retain your best guests
by showing them how much you value their business.

3. Learn about the importance of omnichannel
marketing.

Multi-channel marketing has been around for some time now and
has proven to be a successful strategy for hotels. Now, with
consumers expecting more personalized communication from brands,
comes omnichannel marketing. This refers to providing a seamless
experience, regardless of channel or device.

Consumers expect their experiences with a brand to be the same
in a physical location, on a website or app, through social media,
and across online advertisements on any device they use. All of
these touchpoints create an omnichannel experience for the user.
Hotels can take advantage of omnichannel marketing by monitoring
what guests are responding to best (on social media and on the
website) and creating content that reflects the brand and property.
Utilizing data can help hotels understand what guests really want
from the brand. From there, hotels should make sure all digital
touchpoints represent the brand. This can include the look and
feel, the tone of voice, and the use of colors. Multi-channel and
omnichannel campaigns can also help achieve high results on a
fairly small budget, sometimes generating over
10X ROAS
.

The final aspect of omnichannel marketing is personalization. As
mentioned above, personalization can connect users to brands and
help develop relationships. By personalizing content, hotels can
achieve the omnichannel experience where guests will feel noticed
and appreciated no matter what platform they interact with the
hotel on.

4. Give website visitors a personalized
experience.

A personalized online experience is more important than ever for
hotels. Customers expect brands to remember them and present
information that is relevant to them.

Data doesn’t lie. It’s evident that customers expect a
personalized experience when they visit your hotel website. 74% of
consumers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized
(Infosys) and 77% have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a
brand that provides a personalized experience.

It’s no longer enough to present potential guests with static
website content and expect them to find what they’re looking for
and make a reservation. In fact, a Salesforce study found that, by
2020, 51% of consumers will expect brands to anticipate their needs
and make relevant suggestions.

Through personalization, hotels can create a dynamic user
experience. Rather than a broad experience that attempts to reach
all possible travelers, hotels have the ability to create unique
content that appeals to different segments in order to achieve
specific business needs. In this way, the hotel website can—and
should—be the primary channel for engaging your best guests.

5. Invest in video.

Video continues to dominate. 70% of consumers have shared a
brand’s video (Wyzowl) and 52% said that watching a product video
makes them more confident in online purchases (Invodo).

Although investing in video assets can be costly, the payoff can
be huge for hotels. Videos can be utilized on websites, shared on
social media channels, and provide a great way for potential
customers to get a feel for their experience before ever stepping
foot on the property.

A
video on The Grand Ely Lodge
homepage recently helped the
property increase the time spent on the website and decrease bounce
rate, both of which impact search engine rankings and the overall
health of the website.

6. Optimize for voice.

As the use of voice assistants grows, hotels need to optimize
their websites in order to capture this audience.

Although still in the early phases of being a viable
distribution channel for hotels
, voice search is already
shaping consumer behavior, with the use of digital assistants
higher than ever. In order to stay on top of the changing
landscape, hotels must optimize their website content for voice by
combining traditional SEO, technical SEO, and incorporating
patterns inherent to voice commands.

A robust content strategy also helps in voice search
optimizations for those in the beginning stages of the travel
planning journey. At this stage, users can have their devices
search for destination information. Further, into planning, they
may say to their device, “Siri, find me the best hotel rates in
downtown Boston.”

The impact of voice search will have on the hospitality industry
is still uncertain, but, based on current trends, we can anticipate
that the voice search landscape will continue to evolve and hotels
can expect to see new opportunities for engagement and revenue.

7. Be aware of AI & BI.

Over the past few years, we’ve heard about artificial
intelligence. Advancements and innovations will have even more
people talking about its potential impact on different industries,
including travel.

AI & BI (business intelligence) can analyze consumer
behavior by utilizing data from across the web to help businesses
understand users. By beginning to plan for AI technology this year,
hotels can have an edge over competitors.

8. Don’t ignore the upper funnel.

Often times, when analyzing the success of a campaign, hotels
are led to believe the most important KPIs are bookings and
revenue. While these metrics are significant, it’s also important
to understand the purchase funnel. Marketing to users who are still
in the early phases of their travel planning journey means
engagement metrics are equally as imperative as reaching those who
are ready to book.

When a customer is in the upper funnel, or the
dreaming phase of the travel planning journey
, they are
undecided on which accommodation they will book, with 67% of users
more likely to book with a brand that provides relevant information
for the destination they’re interested in (Google). Consider
adopting or investing in some of the following initiatives to
capture the attention of those beginning to think about their next
getaway:

  • SEO-Optimized Destination Content – feature local
    neighborhood guides on the hotel website
  • Lifestyle & Editorial Blog – create long-form editorial
    content about the destination
  • Destination Video – create and share video so travel planners
    get a better sense of the destination and hotel property
  • Destination-Focused SEM – target keywords promoting
    destination-specific content
  • Native Advertising – reach potential guests with relevant
    content on websites where they spend their time
  • Social Media – be visible on social media where travelers ask
    for advice from friends and family throughout the dreaming
    phase
  • Metasearch – have a presence on Google and TripAdvisor to
    ensure the hotel website is discovered during the early phases of
    travel planning

9. Try influencer marketing.

It’s been a hot topic in the hospitality industry, but with
92% of consumers saying that they trust word-of-mouth
recommendations more than any other type of advertising (Nielsen),
it’s clear that influencer marketing isn’t going away anytime
soon.

Using influencers can be a very effective method to attract new
customers to your property as well as a way to generate fresh
content for your brand. The first step is to identify key advocates
that embody your brand and can deliver the messages you want to
convey in an organic way. Additionally, you need to look at the
follower loyalty of the influencer. Having a high follower count is
much less important than the engagement their content receives
(i.e. how many people interact with their posts).

10. Invest in a virtual concierge for your hotel.

As a form of AI, chatbots or virtual concierges will make a
splash in the coming year. This technology allows for instant
messaging in real-time with website visitors.

Many people are already used to interacting with chatbots online
and 80% of businesses are already using or plan to use bots by 2020
(Oracle). And with the development of Facebook Messenger bots,
it’s easier than ever for hotels to utilize bots in their online
presence. The bots are programmed to understand questions and
provide answers.

The benefits of chatbots include reaching an audience directly,
saving time and money on customer care, qualifying customers,
handling transactions, and re-engaging users. A good example of
this is Marriot’s Facebook Messenger chatbot The bot helps
customers link rewards accounts and was so helpful that the company
transitioned it into a
booking bot
.

Overall, as you begin to execute your 2019 strategy, it’s
important to be aware of the continuously changing trends and
technology updates. Your resolutions can be a guide for your
digital plan and should adapt throughout the year as business needs
change and as technology innovations become available to you. Using
this as a “checklist” can help ensure that your strategy stays
on the right track and that your digital performance is successful
through 2019.

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Your Top 10 Digital Marketing New Year’s Resolutions for 2019

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Your Top 10 Digital Marketing New Year’s Resolutions for 2019