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For any hotel business to thrive, creating a well-developed and researched business plan is key. There is no shortcut for this. You really need to put in the time, and even get a team together to help with different sections of the plan. The business plan should focus on driving profits, budget for marketing, a SWOT analysis, an area for research on the competition, and ultimately give you a plan for the future so you have key areas you can work on. Ideally, you would do a business plan every year.

These are the areas of a business plan you will want to work on:

Decide your pricing strategy

You need to figure out how you will price your hotel rooms when demand is high and what promotions you can afford to run when demand is lower. Depending upon the month, you come to know which nights your hotel is high occupancy. This enables you to plan in advance to earn higher hotel revenues in the peak season.

How to gain more bookings

You need to figure out which of the booking sources give you the highest ROI. You need to focus on marketing on social media – are you doing everything you can on these platforms to drive more sales and reach more people? Hotel marketing strategies often focus on SEO, email campaigns and social media. When used correctly, these areas can really help drive more bookings.

Which promotions to run

In your business plan, try and create a section which looks at guest behaviour. For instance, focus on what percentage of sales come from mobile bookings, look at how long guests stay for, focus on what popular times your guests stay, and so on. Your report should show you how each of your promotions last year fared, and how you can improve this in the following year. Are the promotions even working? You can then make changes in your marketing strategies.

How to reduce cancellations

Many hotels have a problem with cancellations, and are then left with an empty room. Often times when you get more bookings, the rate of cancellation increases too. Use your hotel revenue management system to figure out when most cancellations took place and then analyse why this might have happened. You can then work to improve your services that will prevent further cancellations in the future.

Using a Digital Hotelier with marketing experience

You might want to look into hiring some professional help to assist you with some of your business plan. An area that could benefit you is social media marketing. If you don’t have the understanding or the time to focus on this yourself, a digital hotelier with marketing experience could help you.

Your business plan may also flag up other areas you need help with – for instance, you might want to look into getting a better accountant, a different reception team, or a new customer service rep. Whatever your business plan suggests, don’t be afraid to use these points constructively to move forward and gain those much needed hotel bookings.

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Digital Marketing
From just 32% of domestic visitors booking their holidays online in 2007, the figure has risen to reach 76% in 2017. This is obviously great news for hotels who started their internet presence early, but for new businesses struggling with hotel marketing strategies it can prove a difficult obstacle. They worry about missing out on profit shares if visitors should book through a third party website and worry even more about losing a potential guest to a rival.

However, both these fears can be assuaged if the hotel uses clever hotel marketing strategies and pays attention to the figures Barclays recently released in their 2017 Tourism Report. In the report, Barclays reveal that a full 61% of domestic travellers prefer to book directly with the hotel, via phone call or online, compared to a paltry 3% who use travel agents and 23% who use intermediaries such as Expedia.

The full report is worth reading, full as it is with facts and figures to shape your view of the industry in 2017. For example, bookings made with phone and tablets have doubled since 2007, with bookings via smartphone up from 3% to 6% and bookings made on tablets increasing from 5% to 13%. But the real question is how to entice that one-third of UK travellers who aren’t booking direct, as well as how to keep hold of the existing 61% who are.

It’s likely that not all of those who book using intermediaries and travel agents will make the switch to booking direct, no matter which hotel marketing strategies you have. Some will trust a particular agent; some will work for them. Others will just trust that the intermediary has the best prices available, not realising that direct booking is often the best way to assure this.

online-reservation-system
By using systems like Google Hotel Ads and making sure your online presence is professional and reflects your brand, you can reach a whole new raft of prospective customers. Try to find out why this third of the UK prefers not to book direct, and then appeal to their concerns—if they’re worried about price, or insurance, let them know that you have it in hand.

Hotel marketing strategies will vary between establishments but the most important things your customers need to see are strong and consistent tone and imagery, regular updates, commitment to the brand, and a reassurance that you want to welcome them no matter how they book. Loyalty programmes might not fit with your brand, but they can be invaluable in retaining clients who will continue to come back, year after year.

Ultimately, the best way to get customers to switch allegiance from third party booking websites and apps is to get in front of them. Whether that means using Google AdWords and carefully managing PPC campaigns, or else targeting a selection of customers who have booked with you before, it’s important to work out a strategy.
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Digital Marketing
Every hotelier wants their hotel to rank as highly as possible in Google search, and thankfully Google has many free tools to help make this goal a little more attainable. But is your hotel taking advantage of all of them? Read on to find out which free Google tools you should be making use of for better organic search listings.

Google Alerts
Quick and easy to use as online reputation-management tools go, Google Alerts is fairly basic – but it still holds a special place on this list as it is considered indispensable by many online marketers and with good reason. Setting up a Google Alert for your hotel for your keywords of your choice (and perhaps even competitor hotel or brand names) helps you to keep tabs on how your establishment is faring in Google search. It means you’re aware of any negative stories as they appear as Google will provide regular index updates for your perusal.

Google AdWords Keyword Planner
A really helpful tool for plotting out which keywords to use in both paid search and SEO activity, Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner helps you generate new keyword ideas and gain insight into which keywords will work best for your purposes. It can also help you to choose the right budget for your AdWords campaign, and provides an interesting ‘lead in’ to those less acquainted with Google AdWords. 

Google Analytics
Google Analytics is designed to give your website (and any related apps) the best possible results via Google Search, offering methods of better understanding the way your target hotel guests think and what motivates their booking decisions. It tracks and reports website traffic and gives useful data such as bounce rate, time on page, most visited pages and traffic sources. It is currently the most popular web analytics program on the web, with premium and mobile app versions available to users with more specific needs.

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Google Trends
Among these free digital marketing tools offered by Google, Google Trends stands out as a particularly helpful way of assessing the likelihood of your chosen topic or keyword causing a buzz – and like every other tool on this list, it’s free!

Google Analytics Consumer Surveys
Part of Google’s Analytics package, Google surveys help you to gather consumer insights which can in turn help drive better search strategies. With a free add-on option to allow your visitors to measure their satisfaction with your website, this could help with your A/B testing and content strategies as well.

Google Page Speed Insights
Given the increased importance of page speed in search engine rankings, it’s definitely worth taking the time to check how your hotel website stacks up by taking a look at Page Speed Insights. Designed to help you work out how to make your website faster and more mobile-friendly, it’s an invaluable tool for incorporating into your hotel marketing strategies.

AMP
While it isn’t strictly a tool, it would be impossible not to mention AMP as one method of obtaining better search positions. AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, is a Google project to create better mobile experiences for internet users. AMP is a truncated version of HTML which speeds up page loading times for mobile users. If you add AMP to your content, such as blog posts or news items, you’ll often see that content appears in the carousel on the search results page, giving instantly better search visibility for your hotel.
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Digital Marketing
Video content is an increasingly important aspect of content marketing, and has been proven to help increase engagement levels and even boost conversions. Clever hotel marketers know that video can provide a healthy lift to their existing efforts – 64% of customers are more likely to purchase a product after seeing great video content related to it, and 43% of customers want to see more video content from marketing teams.
New research this month released by Zenith has found, “Online video viewing will rise 20% in 2017, according to Zenith’s Online Video Forecasts 2017, published today. Global consumers will spend an average of 47.4 minutes a day viewing videos online this year, up from 39.6 minutes in 2016. This increase will be driven by a 35% increase in viewing on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) to 28.8 minutes a day, while viewing on fixed devices (desktop PCs, laptops and smart TVs) will rise by just 2% to 18.6 minutes a day.”
The bottom line? With consumers hungrier than ever for this content format, there’s never been a better time to incorporate video into your hotel’s marketing strategy. But what should you consider in your video content marketing strategy?

Know Your Platform

In order to create great video content, it’s important to understand not only your audience, but also the platform you intend to use as the means of sharing this content. Considering the sharing potential of your video content in general is a great way of looking at the video marketing process.
Whatever story you’d like to tell, you’re going to have to take account of the restrictions and realities of internet video and the platform you choose to host it. If you only plan on adding video to your hotel website, some of these restrictions are relaxed, but you are also missing out on a huge audience.

Facebook is prioritising video content more and more within their news feed algorithm, which is great news for video marketers and content creators, as it means your content stands a much better chance of being seen organically, while Snapchat relies on short, raw video content – and YouTube is still the world’s largest search portal for video content.

Focus on Storytelling

Video content is all about storytelling and providing value to your hotel guests – don’t use this as an opportunity for the hard-sell, but for subtler relationship building. Using a clever CTA at the end of the video will help anchor and brand your content so it remains associated with your hotel. Keep this in mind when developing your video content marketing strategy as it could dictate the content of some videos.

Provide Great Content

A brilliant title and video description will work wonders for prompting increased traffic to your video – but remember that whether posting a video which more directly showcases the facilities of your establishment, or going for something more narratively and creatively driven – if the content isn’t right with your audience, your efforts will be wasted. Great video however can stick around and pay dividends for a long time, enticing future bookings and plenty of social sharing to help spread the word about your hotel far and wide.
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Digital Marketing
Sometimes despite your team’s best efforts, you might find your hotel’s SEO strategy is faltering in its effectiveness. This might mean that you’re not generating real results or able to see meaningful change in your search positions. Worse, you may even be losing ground to rivals with a downward slide through the search results pages.  

There are several reasons why your SEO strategy could be hitting a brick wall and unearthing the root cause will demand some serious sleuthing and potentially even expert assistance. Before you hit the big red panic button, let’s take a look at four top causes of poor SEO performance and discuss how you can correct them to put your organic efforts back on course.

Your Efforts Are Out of Date
Be careful whose advice you buy, because SEO is a continuously updating, constantly evolving element of your hotel’s marketing mix. If you’re relying on outdated methods or, taking heed from an SEO consultant that has let their skillset wane, you’ll be rewarded by nothing but radio silence for your trouble.

Even more problematic, whilst an up-to-date SEO strategy will set your hotel in good stead when it comes to boosting your profile and encouraging bookings, badly-implemented SEO can be actively detrimental to your efforts. Many of these once popular tactics are now referred to as ‘black hat’ – which could lead to penalties and even greater SEO headaches. Ensure your SEO-lead has the cutting edge knowledge they need to propel your hotel business forwards, and stays continuously well-informed of the latest technology to help improve your SEO. Being up to date on best practise and well-versed in algorithm changes is the absolute minimum you should be looking for. You can trouble shoot this yourself too by taking the time to learn about what Google considers to be a well-optimised site now. Read up on its latest algorithms and advice and check that your local SEO marketing efforts fall in line with these requirements.

You Haven’t Targeted Your Market
SEO is not a generic, one-size-fits-all endeavour; you need your activities to centre around the audience you want to target, and go after them with a laser-like focus. If you don’t know who you’re targeting, there’s no way you can check whether you’re achieving your goals; so take a look at your bounce rate for an indication of who visits your website without making a booking. If the rate is high, consider who you want your hotel to appeal to and how and where they might be searching for you on the internet. Similarly, it may be that you’re targeting entirely the wrong keywords. While generic (shorter tail) keywords have their place in SEO, your hotel marketing strategies should also include a focus on more specific (longer tail) keywords to assure your success.

SEO strategies
You Don’t Use Local Search
Hotels are inherently local. Whether an independent or part of a chain, you are installed in a single location, so why not use your local SEO marketing to help boost visits and increase your bookings from those who searched for hotels within your area?

You Don’t Track Your Data
Keeping track of your SEO strategy so you can make continual improvements and adjustments is one of the most important aspects of any SEO campaign. Be sure you have adequate systems in place for refining your SEO strategy on a regular basis.
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Digital Marketing
If you’re responsible for marketing a hotel or number of hotels, you’ll know just how quickly trends come and go. With new social networks, new approaches, technologies, algorithms, search engines and apps popping up weekly, it can be hard to know what to try and what to ignore.

Fortunately, the travel and hospitality industry site, Tnooz has shared a brand new infographic which highlights 17 hotel marketing strategies trending right now. These new approaches and suggested actions are all things to consider as you work out your hotel marketing strategies for the final six months of the year.

Here, we’ve handpicked the most interesting of these trends so you can put them on your radar for the months to come.

The trends set to be big in the second half of 2017
Mobile: It’s no surprise that mobile is trending in the hotel digital marketing sector with Google confirming a mobile index set to launch later this year. In addition to mobile friendly web design, mobile should be front and centre when considering emails, content and your other marketing activity.

New payment options: Specifically, mobile payment. Could this be the year Apple Pay truly goes mainstream? You can already pay for your Starbucks and your supermarket shop with mobile payments, so why not give your guests that same flexibility?

No more tablets: The infographic shares that tablets could be in decline, with more users favouring larger smartphones over the mid-sized devices.

Paid search shifts: Extended text ads, different ad formats, a new AdWords interface and even competition from the on demand industry? Time to revamp your paid search hotel marketing strategies and get used to seeing PPC grab headlines again!

Digital Marketing
New channels for hotel room bookings: Some of the most marketing-forward hotels are already exploring new avenues to add to their hotel distribution channels, including Airbnb listings. This comes with its own challenges but, also suggests lots of potential to increase your revenue and drive up reservation numbers.

Snapchat Commerce: This is one trend you probably couldn’t predict but, a growing number of travel businesses are turning to Snapchat to advertise their offerings. With Facebook and Instagram ads now as prolific as AdWords or Bing paid search options, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the social media titans introduced new options to monetize their own user base.

Bing goes from strength to strength: It may be something you didn’t expect to read given Google’s search dominance but, Bing has been accumulating a bigger share of the market in 2017. With less than 10% it is still dwarfed by Google but, has a higher engagement rate and still handles several million searches per week, making it one to consider as you plan your Q4 hotel marketing strategies.

Live Streaming: Live streaming has had its nose pushed somewhat out of joint by the arrival of Virtual and Augmented Realities. But, before it had to jostle for position with AR and VR, it was an exciting prospect for marketers – marked significantly, by the launch of Facebook Live. Live streaming offers marketers a unique chance to connect with audiences, and offer authentic content experiences, making it a trend not to discount easily.
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Digital Marketing
E-mail marketing is one of the key hotel marketing strategies for any hotel brand serious about its conversions. While it’s thought to be one of the older, less dynamic marketing channels, email is consistently one of the best performing meaning its value and potential contribution to revenue growth should not be overlooked.

While email may not generate as much buzz as new technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, it has evolved with the times. One development that has had a substantial impact is the arrival of the mobile revolution. Hubspot estimates that 48% of customers now view e-mail on a mobile device. As more and more people browse on their smartphones and tablets, it’s important that an e-mail campaign holds up to mobile scrutiny. Here are some top tips and design considerations to keep in mind to make sure your e-mail templates are equally effective on the smaller screens of mobile devices.

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Increase the size of CTA buttons
All outbound links should be larger, ensuring they can be clicked on a touchscreen mobile device with ease. It’s vital to remember that the size of screen is apt to be smaller than a desktop or laptop device, and if your customers can’t clearly see – and click – the call to action prompting them to ‘Book Now’ or the enticing link to your website, then the effectiveness of your e-mail is immediately diminished.

Invest in a Responsive Design
If your e-mail marketing template doesn’t automatically adjust in size and dimensions to suit a mobile device, that’s bad news. A responsive design will change to suit the device it’s being viewed on with a CSS code, while an unresponsive design will look clunky, out of place, and fail to display vital information. This is a big turn-off for potential customers, and will make it both unappealing (and perhaps even impossible) for them to make a booking.

Keep It Brief
Clarity is everything when designing for mobile. Scrolling through lines and lines of copy isn’t viable on a mobile device. A key to crafting great design – and content – in a mobile-optimised email is to keep the content short and snappy and to the point. If you’re e-mailing to confirm a booking, confirm it in as little text as possible. If you’re soliciting business, be sure to hold the reader’s attention.

Use Images Cleverly (and Cautiously)
A great image can increase engagement – too many images is off-putting to customers, and on a mobile device can be downright confusing! Try and streamline your images and keep them to the top of the e-mail if possible (for instance in a header picture). This will draw in customers without drowning them in data before they’ve even got to the purpose of the communication.

Digital Hotelier are experts in digital marketing for the hotel industry. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you build mobile ready e-mails which create consistent results for your business.
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Digital Marketing
Reputation management is one of the most important hotel marketing strategies out there. In a world of TripAdvisor reviews, online customer service and word-of-mouth marketing, it’s never been more vital to ensure your hotel is coming across as a desirable and appealing place to stay.

So how can you tell if your hotel’s reputation needs a boost? And how can you manage your reputation more effectively? Here are five signs you need to address your hotel’s reputation, and some tips to help you along the way.

Reviews

More Complaints
One key sign that your reputation has taken a dip is a rise in customer complaints. Whether this is complaints in person at your reception desk, or online complaints on your Facebook or Twitter pages, it shows that your hotel is perceived as having poor quality rooms, services, staff or food.

Addressing the issue: Make a note of the most common complaints and take measures to resolve them, fast. Whether it’s an issue with your catering staff, noise complaints in certain areas of the hotel, or poor maid service, make sure you’re taking action, rather than allowing the complaints to grow and dominate your online presence.

Bad Reviews
Review websites like TripAdvisor and Expedia are becoming increasingly important in helping potential customers make decisions about their travel. Consistently poor reviews are a sure sign your hotel is suffering from a reputation problem – and the public nature of these reviews means they can put off potential guests from experiencing your hotel for themselves.

Addressing the issue: As with the complaints, make a note of the most common problems and address them, fast. You should also publicly respond to the people leaving bad reviews, thanking them for their feedback magnanimously and showing that you care about improving experiences for guests.

Trouble Attracting Talent
If you’re finding it hard to attract the top talent to your hotel, in any of your departments, it could be a sign that your poor reputation is spreading. The best chefs, mixologists, housekeeping supervisors and event planners in the industry don’t want to work for a hotel that is plagued with bad reviews, regular complaints and declining sales.

Addressing the issue: Consider bringing in a new member of staff to fix your reputation! As your reputation as a good employer improves, you’ll be able to bring in more talent, which in turn will result in better experiences for guests. It’s a cycle that requires a little time to gain momentum, but it’s important that you strive to make your hotel a great place to work.
Further tips for managing your hotel’s reputation:

  Reputation management is not a one-off activity, or even something you can do on a monthly basis. You should be proactively seeking to manage your reputation in real-time, rather than leaving bad reviews and online complaints without a response.
  Don’t use templates for responses – try to personalize every communication you have with customers, especially if they’re angry!
•  If a customer has had a truly bad experience, make it up to them with a discount, a free gift or some other kind of peace offering. Don’t get into the habit of handing these out after every minor complaint, but be aware that a small gift like this can go a long way!

Enhance your hotel marketing strategies and build a positive reputation with Digital Hotelier range of solutions. Contact the team today!
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