As a hotel revenue manager or marketing manager, one of the things that may be top of mind for you—especially when anticipating potential low booking periods—is: Should I be running sponsored ads?
If you are already running sponsored ads for your hotel, perhaps you are asking yourself: Should I be doing more pay per click (PPC) marketing? Or should I be cutting back?
As many hotel marketers and revenue managers know, and Tambourine clearly spells out, “PPC has become standard for most hotels…From a small boutique property on Venice Beach to a Hilton in Chicago, branded to independent, hotels across the globe rely on PPC as their default channel to generate traffic from customers whose search activity demonstrates a clear intent to purchase.”
Regardless of your current PPC activities, you certainly want to know which platforms will deliver the best return on your marketing dollars. It is important to make well-informed and data-driven decisions for your PPC program, because you need to use your marketing dollars efficiently and, ultimately, book rooms.
Our recommendation for hotels of all sizes—from boutiques to international brands—is that you either consider starting a sponsored listings program or that you take a moment to evaluate your current sponsored listings.
Five characteristics to look for in your sponsored ads solution:
1) Availability-Connected Advertising
Do your ads only show when you have availability for the travel shopper’s travel window?
This concept is key. If your sponsored listing is shown to a travel shopper who is looking for a specific travel window and they click on it, only to discover that you have no rooms available, not only have you wasted your advertising dollars, you have alienated a potential customer. They don’t know that the ad service is the disconnected technology. All they know is that they wanted to book with you and now they can’t. End result: your money is spent but your potential customers are annoyed.
Key takeaway: Ensure that whatever platform you select is able to connect with your hotel management software.
2) Account Management
When you need help, are you able to get in touch with a real human?
Digital marketing, compared to print or out of home, is relatively self-service. And this works for most of us, most of the time. But when you need someone to help you optimize your campaign, are you able to get a person on the line or are you left scrolling through self-help posts?
Many large digital marketing platforms only offer personalized support to clients that spend millions (if not hundreds of millions) of dollars annually. Most users are left to fend for themselves. If you are lucky enough to get live support, that individual is usually unfamiliar with the nuances of your market and your competitive set. Unfortunately, this means that the support that comes with most PPC marketing is generic and not always applicable to your business.
Key takeaway: Look for a PPC platform that will provide a supporting specialist who has a deep understanding of your market and can ensure your strategies are consistently driving value for you.
3) Targeting Relevant Audiences at Scale
Does the platform deliver your sponsored listings to the right travel shoppers at the right time? Additionally, does it provide you with access to that audience at scale?
The ability to target the audience of your sponsored listings is key to delivering highly relevant sponsored content. Armed with the knowledge that you already possess about your ideal audience(s) and why they book with you, you should be targeting your ads accordingly. Does the sponsored ads platform allow you to target specific types of travelers—those who you know are likely to book with you?
Not only should your sponsored ad solution allow you to target based on key characteristics, but, to be effective, it must also provide you with a scale that exposes your ads to enough travel shoppers.
Key takeaway: Be sure that the platform you select will get your sponsored listings in front of the right travel shopper at the right time through a combination of scale and targeting.
Taking the targeting concept to the next level, can you customize the content of your sponsored listings in a way that engages travelers?
If you know that someone is looking for amenities like a pool, or that they are traveling with kids, (and you know that this is your perfect audience), then you have a golden opportunity to design your ad copy and images with that targeted audience in mind.
Any good sponsored listing solution should allow you to include copy that highlights your amenities (“kid-friendly restaurant,” or “within walking distance of the shopping district”) and should allow you to add compelling images that show travel shoppers why they should book with you.
Key takeaway: Select a platform that allows you to showcase the best of your hotel in both images and words.
Last but certainly not least: How will you know if your ads are working?
When you log into whatever platform you are using, do you see easy to understand, up to date, and relevant reports? Are you able to understand how many rooms your ads have driven? Are your reports customizable and easily interpretable?
Key takeaway: Ensure that your sponsored listing platform has dynamic reporting that helps you evaluate your marketing efforts and provides you with key business insights.
Now that you know what to look for, we suggest you take a look at the TravelAds Sponsored Listing solution. It can flex to accommodate your budget, encompasses the scale of all of Expedia Group’s brands, is targeted and customizable, and provides advertisers with access to knowledgeable support. In short, TravelAds can help you get the most out of your PPC efforts by strategically aligning to your business goals and driving bookings.