Every hotel is different and that’s why you need to make sure your advertising campaign isn’t simply a cookie-cutter plan to buy ads and then set it and forget it. And with all the options that are available to hotel marketers, it’s important to understand what will meet your unique needs, the various channels you can use, and how you can target the right traveler to meet your end goal of putting more heads in beds.
Let’s look at what you need to consider as you plan your campaign and the different approaches that are available to help you meet your goals.
Understand hotel industry trends
Before you start formalizing your campaign strategy, it’s essential to understand the current hospitality industry landscape and any emerging trends. Like any business, the hotel industry isn’t static and is always shifting and evolving. This is why it’s essential to have a good grasp on what’s happening — in your region and across the globe — because every shift in the tourism industry can have a broader impact on traveler behavior.
We’re able to help you understand what’s happening in the industry with our first-party research. This data is collected from travelers looking and booking across our 200+ Expedia Group branded travel websites. We also conduct third-party custom research and pair that with our first-party data to gain an even more well-rounded view of travelers’ values and behaviors.
If anyone knows travelers, we do. And we like sharing what we know. Here’s what our research has revealed. We encourage you to use these insights to connect with your target audience.
- Hotel industry professionals are optimistic and believe that travel demand will return to previous levels this year. Our first-party data backs this up: The second quarter of 2022 had the highest hotel bookings in Expedia Group history, and our fourth quarter data of the same year showed a 10% year-over-year global increase in search volume.
- International travel is resuming: One in two travelers are likely to book or have booked an international trip in the next 12 months.
- Low pricing is a priority for travelers: 23% of travelers value cost savings. This could be attributed, in part, to travelers citing inflation as a key factor impacting their travel decisions yet 43% of consumers also said their travel budget will be larger this year than last year.
- Flexible policies matter to travelers: 20% said the ability to get a full refund on bookings if they need to cancel was important.
- Business travel is picking up: 32% of travelers said they plan to take a business trip in the next 12 months.
- The number of travelers looking to blend work and play is on the rise: 76% of business travelers plan to extend their work trip for leisure in the next 12 months and 28% of travelers said they are looking to take a “flexcation” — a combination of remote work and leisure travel — in the next 12 months.
- Sustainability has become a priority with travelers, and they are looking for options when booking travel that includes environmentally conscious accommodations, recommendations for locally owned businesses, and restaurant and transportation options that have a low environmental impact.
Looking at these trends should help you develop distinctive marketing plans. For example, given that we see a climb in travelers wanting to travel internationally, you could consider targeting travelers from other countries. Since cost and refundable policies are important to travelers, you could highlight your hotel’s flexible policies and any special promotions you’re offering. And this could extend beyond a room rate promotion and include things like discounts on sightseeing tours, spa services, or other special amenities your hotel offers.
As sustainability continues to increase as something that travelers value, you’ll want to get the word out about your hotel’s sustainability practices, including recycling programs, the use of alternative power sources like solar, or your elimination of single-use plastics.
If you’re trying to attract business travelers or those looking to book an extended stay as part of their travel plans, showcase your hotel’s first-class business services and technology like touchless payments, in-app ordering, contactless check-in, or mobile room keys. Think about positioning your hotel’s technology with these travelers for their pre- or after-work interests. For example, you could create a scannable QR code that lets travelers book a training session at your on-site gym or view a map of the area’s amenities to make a reservation at a local restaurant.
Determine the goals of your campaign
Now that you’ve got a handle on trends in the hospitality industry, it’s time to map out the tactical parameters of your advertising campaign. To do this, it can be helpful to create a checklist that addresses the following:
- Determine if you want to align revenue goals to a timeframe like a certain season or if you want to increase package bookings throughout the year.
- Type of bookings. Identify if you’re looking to increase weekday stays or increase room nights with more business travelers or families.
- Duration and cadence of your campaign. If there are specific windows during the year when you want to run special promotions for an annual event or address low bookings during the shoulder season, account for these variables in your campaign calendar.
- Consistent monitoring. Depending on which of our advertising solutions you select, you should measure the impact of your campaigns on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. It could also be a mix of reporting. For example, if you are using a flexible, pay-per-click solution like TravelAds Sponsored Listings you may want to measure your campaign more frequently while a Creative Partnership campaign will require more long-term monitoring.
- Advertising budget. Funding for your campaign can fluctuate as travel seasons peak and ebb. An effective way to stretch your advertising budget is to enter a collective strategy with other similar hotels as part of a co-op campaign. These united efforts with hotels that have similar goals can deliver great results.
TIP: For your campaign, map out SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely. Keeping each of these in mind will help you build a solid strategy from the start and provide a valuable reference for what you want to achieve throughout the year.
Finding the right advertising solution
The advantage of our solutions is that they can help expand your reach through multiple channels, from social media and email to web, mobile, and video.
As you consider which channels you want to use to activate your campaign, determine the weight you’ll give each channel. For example, do you want to start with hotel display ads that appear in search results and couple that with emails targeted to specific travelers? If you’re in an exotic location or are targeting Gen Z travelers, is social media a priority channel? If you want to appeal to families, display ads that focus on family-friendly activities can help you connect with travelers looking for specific experiences.
Here’s an overview of the most frequently used solutions we see implemented in hotel marketing plans:
- TravelAds: Double your exposure in search results and leverage traveler targeting with custom copy and images to drive bookings. This easy-to-use solution gives you complete control and flexibility with a pay-as-you-go model.
- There’s no long-term commitment required, and TravelAds’ flexibility lets you quickly test and optimize your ads. Our robust reporting dashboards make it easy to monitor your campaign and with our technology, your ads only display when rooms are available.
- Display advertising: Engage and inspire the right travelers at the right point in their journey with ads that are seamlessly integrated across our 200+ travel websites. This solution also allows you to create branded emails to strengthen the connection with travelers.
- Co-op campaigns: We understand that budgets can be limited — that’s why we offer a solution that’s a collective effort with other hotels in your area that have similar hotel advertising campaign goals. To make it easy for you, we coordinate the hotels that want to participate.
This is a short list of the solutions we offer travel marketers and advertisers to help them meet their advertising campaign goals.
With more than 20 years of travel advertising media experience, we know that every hotel has different needs and that’s why we offer solutions to meet you where you’re at, whether you’re running a small bed-and-breakfast or managing advertising for a large, global brand.
We’re always here to help you meet your hotel advertising goals. To learn more about the array of advertising solutions we provide, connect with one of our experts today.