What is hotel marketing?

Hotel marketing is the application of different strategies to increase brand awareness and hotel  revenue. Implementing a good hotel marketing strategy is key to the long-term success of your hotel business, especially because it helps you stand out from the competition.

Your small hotel may not have a giant budget or large amounts of resources to dedicate to marketing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t market your property just as effectively as any big hotel or chain.

It comes down to being creative, smart, and playing to your strengths. Being small is powerful, and you can often create special memories and experiences for your guests that can influence your marketing.

This blog will take you through some of the best ways you can market your small hotel and ensure you’re never without new and loyal guests who keep coming back.

Small hotel marketing: Where should you start?

The very first thing you need to do at your property is to identify your strengths; your unique selling points. These are the things that you can offer travellers that your competitors or other hotels can’t offer in the same way.

They might include:

  • Where your property is located – Do you have the best view in town or the best proximity to local attractions?
  • Your architecture – Is your property famously old, uniquely built, or non-traditional accommodation?
  • Your design – Do you have special pieces of artwork, fixtures, wallpaper, or features that will ‘wow’ guests?
  • Your amenities – Is your property filled with interesting or high-demand amenities that guests won’t be able to find elsewhere in your area?
  • Your guests – Is your small hotel a common place to stay for high-profile or notable guests?

Once you have two or three key selling points, you can get started on making sure these are front and centre of your marketing efforts. However, try not to overload your marketing material with all your selling points at once. For example, if you make a post on instagram, highlight just one of them in detail.

P.S you can also check out a comprehensive guide to B&B marketing here.

What to include in a marketing plan at your small hotel 

The ultimate goal of your marketing is to make sure as many travellers as possible find your small hotel, explore your offers, and book a stay. Here are four steps you can take to make sure you’re set up for success.

1. Be easily searchable and accessible online

Given that more than three-quarters of travellers start their research on a search engine, having an online presence is absolutely crucial.

This means you’ll need:

  • An optimised hotel website
  • Active social media pages for your business
  • A Google profile with your address and contact details
  • A professional profile on connected online travel agents

Once you have these in place, your online visibility will improve and travellers are more likely to find you. These profiles are easy to maintain and add to the fun of running your small property.

2. Plan how and where you want to market your business

Now when it comes to actively marketing your property, there’s so much you can do even on a tight budget. Think about:

  • Email marketingEmail marketing is an evergreen tactic for all businesses. Ask current guests, website visitors, and Facebook followers to sign up to your newsletter. You can then keep them updated on news, offers, and special promotions.
  • Facebook marketingFacebook is where you can convert your followers and also attract new audiences via posting sharable pictures, interesting content, competitions, and giveaways.
  • Instagram marketingInstagram is a favourite place for travellers looking for inspiration. You can take advantage of this in the same way as Facebook but you can also use popular hashtags to catch the eye of potential guests or work with influencers to increase your reach.

3. Know who you want to market to

It’s important to do some analysis of your current and past guests to get an understanding of who your typical guest is. Not all guests book the same, travel the same, have the same budgets, or have the same preferences and motivations.

You need to accurately market your property to attract the guests who are most likely to book with you. There’s no point trying to sell an experience you can’t offer, because it will just end up hurting your business when guests leave a review after seeing that their expectations haven’t been met.

For example, if you’re noticing your guests are mostly young couples, or couples in general, you could start marketing your property with offers and promotions like:

  • Honeymoon destination
  • Weekend getaways
  • Anniversary escapes
  • Valentine’s Day

Your intended audience must always be at the core of your marketing plan.

4. Attract guests to your hotel website

We know how important a hotel website is, but how do you attract guests to your website in the first place?

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

When’s the last time you typed in a full URL to navigate to a website? More likely you began typing it in before hitting Enter and letting a search engine do the rest. For this reason Google can be thought of as the gatekeeper of the internet, as it boasts a global search engine market share of over 90%

As we mentioned above, good marketing is about being easily searchable and accessible online. This means that attracting guests to your website is about getting on Google’s good side, in order to rank as high on the results page as possible. The practice of search engine optimisation (SEO) includes a collection of techniques, from inserting keywords to ensuring your website loads quickly.

By choosing a search engine optimised tool like Little Hotelier’s website builder, and by following SEO best practices, you give yourself the best possible opportunity to attract guests to your hotel.

Online advertising

Where SEO offers an ‘organic’ way to get to the top of the Google results page, but generally takes months to do it, with Google Ads you can pay to get there instantly.

By focusing on the right keywords and offering the right hotel website promotions, Google Ads can attract a wealth of highly targeted guests to your hotel. One effective example of promoting a hotel using PPC advertising is to simply target the keyword “[type of hotel] [location]”, e.g. “hostel Sydney”.

There are a number of other online advertising opportunities too: display ads on websites, in-app advertising and pre-roll video ads on YouTube.

Social media

Travel is an industry seemingly built for social media. Your aim is to inspire people to visit your hotel, and a stunning photo or well shot video is an effective way to do just that.

On social media you want to ensure your hotel promotion message is subtle. Remember that people jump on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to be entertained, not to be sold to, so you should aim to post things that are both fun to look at and put your hotel in the best light. Happily this Venn diagram has plenty of overlap.

Small hotel marketing ideas that you can start using today

So you can get some inspiration and start the creative juices flowing, let’s look a whole list of ways you can market your small property:

  • Reward your guests for recommending you – Word of mouth marketing is free and can be very powerful, especially if you incentivise your current guests to bring their friends and family to your property.
  • Embrace the local community – To promise guests an experiential stay, make sure your property is a part of the local area by showcasing local art, food, attractions, and events both in your hotel or as part of booking packages.
  • Partner with other local businesses – Anything you can do to expand your reach and incentivise guests at the same time is a great idea. You might work with restaurants, cinemas, museums, zoos, or theme parks to include tickets or vouchers in one of your bundles.
  • Let guests know they’re coming to a home, not a hotel – Many guests prefer Airbnb stays because hotels can feel sterile and impersonal. Make sure your marketing instils the idea that guests will be getting an authentic experience when they stay with you.
  • Use social media actively – There’s so much more to social media than posting photos or updates. Use your profiles to ask followers questions via polls, let them have a say in what cocktail you put on your menu, host competitions, promote both your own content and content generated by your guests, reach out bloggers or influencers, share live stories behind the scenes, give tours, or explain what’s special about certain parts of your property.
  • Open your spaces to all – If you have the capability to host small events go for it. This could include birthdays, baby showers, weddings, social events, art classes, or exercise classes. The more people coming through your doors the more revenue you can earn. Always ask people to tag you if they post photos or videos too.

The busier you can be promoting your hotel online and getting more people involved, the larger your brand will become. Once you have a strong enough presence and reputation, your occupancy rates and cash flow will be strong.

Best marketing practices for a small hotel

So you want to make sure all boxes are ticked right. There’s no point having a great plan and great ideas if things are slipping through the cracks. Here are some best practices to ensure your conversion and occupancy stays high:

  • Use your budget leading up to, and during, peak seasons – You don’t have a huge budget so you have to make it count. If you are going to use paid advertising on Google or social media for example, use it before and during peak seasons to maximise occupancy when your room rates are higher. It’s important to catch the attention of guests when they’re planning their big trip.
  • Use promotions impactfully – Centre your promotions around particular themes, seasons, events, or partnerships to maximise interest and value. You can also use promotions to boost occupancy if it’s running low.
  • Market your destination – Don’t spend all your time on marketing your property; guests are excited about the destination too so ensure you put your area on the map.
  • Optimise your OTA (Online Travel Agent) profile – It’s vital that as many people see, and are impressed by, your OTA profile as possible. Often if they like what they see they’ll visit your website to book directly.
  • Prioritise an amazing website – Your hotel website needs to be aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate, easy to book, and tell your brand story.
  • Use an online booking engine – A booking engine is essential to allow online bookings via your website, metasearch, and social media pages.
  • Don’t take shortcuts on photography – To wow guests you need hotel photography with impeccable lighting, symmetry, no clutter, spatial awareness, and that shows your room interiors.
  • Always encourage reviews – Reviews can have a huge impact on your success so make sure you are always asking guests to review you online both on sites like TripAdvisor and your own business profiles.

Most of all, stay persistent and always remember the essence of your brand when putting any marketing material into the world!

Get your hotel marketing right with Little Hotelier

On the internet your small hotel finds itself competing against the rest of the world for the attention of your ideal customer. Attracting eyeballs is quite the challenge, but one that the right tool can make much easier. Loaded with a wealth of clever marketing features, Little Hotelier is exactly that:

  • Website builder: With a wealth of beautiful, hotel-specific templates and drag-and-drop functionality, Little Hotelier makes it simple to create your own search engine optimised website.
  • Channel manager: Your OTA listings are a key part of your online presence. Little Hotelier’s channel manager makes the management of these channels simple, allowing you to update all listings through a single portal in a single click.
  • Metasearch: Little Hotelier’s metasearch feature helps you to manage, monitor and optimise your ads over the major hotel metasearch players, such as Google, TripAdvisor and Trivago.

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).