Hotel Marketing Trends for 2022
There is no doubt that the hospitality landscape looks a whole lot different to this time last year. Changes to consumer behaviour and needs have forced us to adapt our thinking.
The New Year has always been a great time to embrace change and integrate new ideas but given the prolonged challenges that Covid has thrust upon us, in 2022 it is essential to be up to date on what to focus on.
The following hotel marketing trends have been compiled according to frequency of mention in a variety of recent global hospitality reports.
So, let's get clued up for 2022.
1. Transparency to build trust
Transparency of information continues to be a demand driver as we move into the new year. If you provide the information the customer is searching for, you sow the seeds to build trust.
Building trust begins by generating connection on an emotional level with your future guest. How you do this is easier to achieve than you think.
Start by understanding who you are as a business, what you stand for and who you serve. When you can answer these questions, you really start to get intentional about the content you put out there.
In addition, ask yourself what you are looking to accomplish with every story, video, blog, and social media post? You want to educate, inform, and engage, but you also want to foster that subconscious emotional reaction of "Wow, this person really gets meǃ".
However, this connection alone is not quite all it takes. When someone enters your world, no matter how great the info on your site, they will probably have an additional question or a unique request.
Your receptibility, integrity, and flexibility to these requests are also key building blocks in generating trust.
Do you do what you say you are going to do?
How do you deal with in-house requests that you might not have anticipated?
Is your service constantly of a high standard regardless of time of day or the season of the year?
Does your service meet the expectations of what is sold?
Only you can answer these questions truthfully, and only you will know where there is room for improvement. One action you can take immediately is to review you own website content as if you were a customer. Is that all-important first impression aligned with what you know your guests will receive?
Is there something on your website that provides instant gratification? We get an immediate boost when we receive something that is of use to us. Now is the time to offer a free, really useful download, or even just access to member deals after your website visitor enters their name and email. This alone gives you the opportunity to continue to build that trust through a segmented email marketing campaign to the database that we talk about next.
2. Data collection and personalisation
Creating and maintaining a database that you can market to is the golden pillar of hospitality marketing.
Over the last few months, giants such as Apple, Google, and Facebook have been placing increased emphasis on customer privacy. There is no doubt that other channels and providers will follow.
This has created obstacles for marketers in their quest to follow the online booking journey of a customer.
It is clear that relying on 3rd party cookies is not a sustainable strategy.
To clarify, 3rd party cookies are those created by domains other than the one the user is visiting at the time. They are mainly used for tracking and online-advertising purposes.
It is much more sustainable to focus on using internal data and tracking 1st party cookies to understand, monitor, and build better connections with your guests.
1st party cookies are those that you collect on your site when someone visits. They are created by you, the host domain. These types of cookies are generally considered to be good as they provide a better user experience. 1st party cookies fall into the category of 1st party data collection, which also includes the information you save in you CRM system and emails you collect from prospective customers, along with personal data from other customer service interactions.
If you know what information you want to know, and how you plan to use it, suddenly the job of data collection does not seem so gargantuan.
What data should you be collecting?
a) guest type and interest (business, leisure, family, older couple, long/short stays),
b) their preferences (type of room, ancillary services booked),
c) booking behaviours (how did they book, length of booking window) and
d) supplementary information (where they live, last date of stay, birthday, and if they celebrated an anniversary at your property).
What should you do with this data once you have collected it?
Dusty, unused databases do not generate revenue.
Putting your database to work so that it allows you to personalise your interactions with you guests is key to exceeding expectations and delivering moments that customers want to share with others.
Building a robust profile of your customer allows you to do this. The more important you make someone feel, the more likely they are to spend more time (and money) with you, to recommend you, and return to stay again.
Of course, not all of your hotel guests will become repeat visitors, but by creating segments for the guests that you do host, you begin to better understand the needs of others according to their guest profile. A family with young children visiting for the first time for example, will want the same things as that family who returns every year. By sending them tailored information, information that is relevant to them, you can address their questions, concerns, and worries before they even check-in. That is how you create connection and make the best use possible of your data collection.
According to Steve Hyde from Push, nurturing and growing relationships with customers see 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost. That is a great return on investment.
Of course, there are online tools that can help you with your data collection, but even just assigning time each week to review and update your data can have a positive impact on guest satisfaction.
So, if not relying on 3rd party cookies is key, then this leads us perfectly into the next section.
3. Multichannel digital marketing
The most important place to start when reviewing your digital marketing set up is with your own website. It should not function as a mere brochure but as a customer-acquisition medium.
Your site should first and foremost be optimised for Google, (look out for my new Google Made Easy – A Toolkit for Hotels coming out soon).
Closely following is checking that your booking process is as seamless as possible. This has been said again and again, but when was the last time you went though the whole booking process as if you were a customer? Make this a priority as we start the new year.
Next comes getting bold with the channels you rely on to drive traffic to your hotel.
Periodically review the percentage of reservations that come in from OTAs. OTAs are useful for reaching segments you cannot always reach on you own, such as last minute or global. A balance of direct versus OTA bookings is imperative so that you maintain control over your guest data.
Driving traffic via metasearch engines such as Trip Advisor, Trivago, Kayak, and Google Hotel Search is also a great way to help you build internal data about your customers and target profiles. The benefit of metasearch is that you get to a) own the guest relationship, b) collect that all important high quality 1st party data, and c) have the opportunity to upsell before the guest arrives.
Getting on top of the Google Hotel Search game to drive direct traffic is covered in my new Google Made Easy - A Toolkit for Hotels eBook that comes out end January. If you are not already signed up to my email list, you can do so here to receive information about the Toolkit when it is published.
4. Price setting for 2022
Lack of historical booking data and trends presents a major problem for hotel owners and marketers. Even now, the pandemic continues to cause disruption to travel plans, meaning that only the most recent data is relevant.
To take decisions about how to set prices for 2022, monitor the last 3 to 6 months, segmented by room type, to see what has worked the best. Continue to offer free cancellation and only offer a non-refundable option for the domestic market and only in conjunction with something of added value to your target audience(s).
With the domestic market in mind, consider creating a fenced offer for those who sign up on your website. This is a "hidden" offer only available to these members, to whom you can continue to build a relationship though different types of interactions.
As the focus continues to be on staycations and short haul, take a moment to review which ancillary revenues and upsells work best for your customers so you can maximise revenue per stay.
Make sure, as always, that you have rate parity so that you are not caught out with another channel undercutting you lowest available rate.
5. Sustainability and destination focus
Google and Booking are leading the way in helping businesses showcase their responsible actions. This is a clear indicator of the increasing shift in consumer awareness and is available to all properties.
The only way to get serious about reducing your consumption is by measuring what you use as a business. Once you have this baseline data, you can prioritise an area to begin your water, energy, and food waste reduction journey.
Everything you need to know to get started on your journey to creating a green business can be found in this blog:
A focus on your destination is also more important than ever before and links into generating trust as mentioned above.
Very few people travel to just stay in their hotel room. By partnering up with local attractions, restaurants, and tour operators, you not only generate engaging content, but you also offer travellers the opportunity to get excited about, and feel safe in, your destination.
There are some great things happening in the realm of sustainability and responsible tourism at destination level. Projects such as SEAFUEL in Tenerife where they power hire cars using renewable resources, not only generate interest from consumers but also attract investment in the region too.
Working to mobilise action in your destination to tackle the most pressing problems increases the sense of community – and that has become a sought-after feature of any destination. It also sets you on your way to creating a better place to live in and to visit – the main concept of responsible tourism.
To find out more, take the free Introduction to Responsible Tourism short course here: The School for Responsible Tourism
By getting involved in something, however small, that has a positive impact on the planet and on your local community, you have a better chance of attracting staff and empowering those you already have, while at the same time offering customers the choices they are seeking so they are able to take informed decisions.
6. Generate online inspiration
Every day, millions of people seek and find inspiration for travel on social media, and because the time spent browsing is most often done on cell phones, it is critical that you build for mobile first.
Attention spans are short and competition is high. How to stand out in the crowded social space is a constant challenge for property owners.
To grab attention within seconds requires that you are very clear on what you want to communicate in each piece of content you put out there. Not every piece of content will appeal to everyone at the same time, but that's ok. Getting clear on your Unique Value Proposition, and understanding your target customer are crucial steps in defining the intention behind every piece of content you create. Find out more on that here:
It is also important to design content that appeals to the different stages of the research process from dreaming to gathering information to actively looking to book.
Short form videos are of particular importance and should be designed to be consumed with the sound off and should clearly communicate your message and end with a succinct CTA.
Also important for 2022 is to consider uploading video content to TikTok and YouTube instead of just to Facebook and Instagram.
In an interview at World Travel Market in London 2021, TikTok’s marketing manager shared that they see their fast-growing travel section as the perfect "opportunity to bring a holiday to life". The platform is seeing serious growth and there are some big name travel companies already taking full advantage.
Another important trend within the realm of generating online inspiration is virtual reality. Virtual tours literally took off during the pandemic, and hotels that incorporate one into their online presence generate a higher click through rate than those who don't. This what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of marketing fits in well with point number one about generating trust.
A couple of last things... get comfortable using and sharing user generated content too. It is yet another a great way to build that trust and generate emotional connection. Of course, you must check with the creation of the content that you can share it. As a rule, people are happy for you to do this when asked.
Also, always consider what you want people to do after they have seen your post. Yes, you would ideally love that they click the Book Now button, but in reality, they will probably want to consume some more information before they make that decision, so make sure there is something that links into your post and expands on what they are interested in.
This is where blogs come into play on your site. They should be cornerstone pieces of content that show up when someone has been inspired by something they saw on social. You don’t always have to answer a burning question, you can also inspire simply by entertaining. We all love a bit of good old storytelling, and tourism lends itself to that so well. Read this blog to find out more about how to better leverage storytelling in your hotel marketing:
So, in summary:
Review your website to make sure the first impression is aligned with what your guests experience and receive to help you build trust.
Spend time improving how you collect data and how you use it to personalise the guest experience.
Optimise your website for Google and make sure you BAR (best available rate) is listed fist on your site to help drive direct traffic via metasearch engines.
Create a members only offer to drive direct and to help you build your database.
Get responsible about your commitment to sustainability by measuring you own consumption, taking action to reduce, and getting involved at a community level to improve your destination.
Create social posts for mobile with a focus on short form video and get intentional about what action you want people to take after you have inspired them in any of you content.
Ultimately, in everything you do, create services that meet the needs of your target audiences, deliver moments that your guests want to share, and endeavour to make a positive difference by taking responsible actions in your destination.