What is hotel digital marketing?

Hotel digital marketing is the practice of promoting your property to potential guests using the internet. Digital marketing is great for small hotels, as it is more accessible and affordable than traditional marketing like broadcast and print media. You also enjoy instant, detailed feedback on the effectiveness of your campaign.

A hotel internet marketing strategy can span a number of marketing channels, including search engine optimisation (SEO), paid ads, email marketing and social media.

Hotel digital marketing vs hotel online marketing and hotel internet marketing

A variety of terms are used to describe digital marketing for hotels. If you have heard someone talk about hotel digital marketing, hotel online marketing or hotel internet marketing, rest assured these all mean the same thing – connecting with your target audience using the internet and digital platforms.

Whatever your preferred term is, it can be one of the most important things you do for your business.

Why is digital marketing important in the hotel industry?

You’re thinking about your next trip. Where do you begin your search? Go back a decade or two, and it might have been at the offices of your local travel agent. But today you’re far more likely to jump on your laptop or phone.

It’s critical that you focus on the guest relationship where your guests are spending their time, and increasingly that’s online. More than 55% of hotel bookings are generated online, rather than in person or via phone. Guests of all generations have become used to reserving rooms online, with half of travellers doing so from a mobile device.

A significant 70% of customers perform online research before buying something, and that includes making travel purchases. If you lack a digital presence, travellers will discount your B&B in favour of competitors that are active online.

The travel industry was an early adopter of the internet, and it is common knowledge that most travel customers now search and book hotels online. This early adoption has stretched to digital marketing in the hotel industry for obvious reasons – just imagine the potential bookings your property could receive from added online visibility.

This is the purpose of digital marketing: to put your hotel’s name up in lights, to ensure potential guests know about you, are interested in you, and ultimately book with you.

By doubling down on your digital marketing, you can stand out in your niche and create a connection in the research phase that leads to reservations.

Top three online visibility marketing tips

Create a Google Business Profile

The way that a large percentage of people begin their hotel search is by typing “hotel [location]” into Google. You can ensure your hotel comes up in the rich results that Google displays for such a search by creating a Google Business Profile. This also brings you up on Google Maps and allows customers to review you on Google. Speaking of which…

Encourage, monitor and reply to reviews

The number of online reviews people write about your small hotel as well as the grade at which they rate you plays a role not only in how potential customers view your accommodation offering but also in what search engines like Google think of it.

Encouraging your customer to review your hotel is easy with Little Hotelier. Set up an automated email to be sent a few days after your guests check in. Thank them for staying with you and ask them to submit a review on Google or TripAdvisor. You could also offer a small freebie (a discount, for example) to a return customer who has written a review.

Lastly, Make sure you monitor your reviews. Respond to negative feedback quickly and thank your customers who have rated you well. A great way to track anything that is said about your small hotel is to set up alerts with Google using their Google Alerts page.

Ensure your website is mobile-friendly

Travellers travel, and they’ll often look for their next stay while they’re on the move. To maximise your online visibility your site simply must be mobile-optimised, or you risk missing out on a huge percentage of potential guests who are looking to book a stay on their phone.

How to develop a winning hotel digital marketing strategy

Crafting a hotel digital marketing strategy isn’t easy, as you’ll find yourself competing against hotels next door and on the other side of the globe. Nevertheless, by following hotel digital marketing best practices you give yourself a better chance of winning business.

  1. Set goals

What do you hope to get out of your hotel online marketing strategy? Look to your hotel business plan for inspiration, then set goals based on relevant and measurable metrics like website traffic, online bookings and revenue. These goals will form your north star, guiding all your hotel internet marketing efforts.

  1. Define your audience

What type of traveller do you tend to attract? What type of traveller do you want to attract? By defining your target audience, you can focus on the marketing channels they use and develop marketing content that resonates with them.

  1. Do competitor analysis

To beat your competitors you must first understand your competitors. Analyse their hotel digital marketing strategies and work to identify what they’re doing well and not so well. Work to replicate (though not copy) their best work and exploit any weaknesses and opportunities you can identify. Remember what makes you different as a small, independent hotel, and play to those strengths.

  1. Determine budget 

Your budget will determine the scope of the digital marketing plan for your hotel. You need to spend money to make money, and if you spend wisely, a greater will lead to a greater return. In digital marketing you can start with as small an investment as you want, prove your marketing strategy, then ratchet up the spend.

  1. Choose the right digital channels

Your digital marketing strategy should be designed to meet the digital expectations of your ideal guest. There are a number of hotel digital marketing channels from which to choose, and it’s important to consider how well each will help you connect with your target audience.

  • SEO helps to push your business up the Google rankings, which pushes users to your direct booking website.
  • Email marketing can deliver an incredible ROI (an average of $36 for every $1 spent), so you should work to build a customer database.
  • The social media platforms you target in your hotel digital marketing strategy will depend on your target audience, e.g. Facebook for older guests, TikTok for younger guests.
  1. Consider investing in help from the pros

While you can certainly develop and implement your own hotel digital marketing strategy, it can be a time consuming and often confusing task, full of terms and technologies that you may have never encountered before. As a busy hotelier you may also be time poor, so consider bringing in a professional to help you out.

  1. Monitor and measure results

By carefully monitoring, measuring and analysing your digital marketing efforts, you can enhance your strategy over time. Identify key metrics based on your goals, and work to improve them.

Effective hotel digital marketing strategies

You may be doing some of these strategies already, but unless you’re implementing them consistently, you won’t see the payoff you crave. Here are common examples of tried and tested digital marketing strategies for hotels:

1. Feature package deals on your hotel website

Guests spend an average of six minutes on B&B websites, so make those minutes count with crisp photos and room descriptions. Showcase package deals – for instance, winter ski weekend specials – so it’s easy for guests to find what they need and book with confidence.

2. Regularly post relevant content on your hotel blog

Use a hotel blog to educate guests on your property, amenities, and geographic area. When you create content regularly, it boosts your website’s SEO and helps new travellers find your property.

Take inspiration for your blog posts from the tastes, goals, frustrations, and demographics of your typical guest. If you know that people stay with you for ski vacations or hiking trips, for instance, then you can guess that photos of active travellers or inspirational mountain shots will resonate with potential guests. You might create a round up of the best hiking trails or top ski slopes near you to inspire like-minded travellers to reserve a room.

3. Implement social media and content marketing best practices

Put your content to work on social media, too, so you can attract new travelers and raise your bed and breakfast’s portfolio. Post your photos to Instagram or Facebook, put videos you’ve created on YouTube, and tweet about exciting area news.

As you’re wading into social media, don’t forget to manage your presence on guest-centric sites, such as TripAdvisor. See what guests love and what can be done better, and positively address concerns to demonstrate your responsiveness to potential guests who are browsing your reviews.

To bring your digital marketing strategy together, use calendaring to set aside the time to do it, then hold yourself accountable to testing the strategies and analysing the results.

As you tweak these strategies by seeing what works best for your guests, you’ll see increased website traffic, more bookings, and stronger guest engagement.

Hotel digital marketing made easier with an all-in-one online software solution

The goal of hotel digital marketing should be to send guests to your website to book a stay. You therefore need to ensure you have a website capable of taking these direct bookings – ideally one that connects seamlessly to your property management system. Little Hotelier does exactly that.

By using the Little Hotelier website builder to construct a direct booking website that instantly and seamlessly connects with the Little Hotelier PMS, businesses can enhance their guest experience and their revenue – you can enjoy up to 46% in bookings and an ROI of 63x!

  • Modern, mobile-friendly templates: Create a mobile-optimised hotel website in less than an hour, no web dev experience required! Simply choose from a range of stunning templates and drag and drop elements into place.
  • Let guests book direct: Say goodbye to steep OTA commission fees and earn more per booking by using our direct booking engine to get guests booking direct with you.
  • Get on Google’s good side: Our search engine optimised templates will help to push your site up the rankings and get your hotel in front of a larger audience.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).