Digital marketing is more important than ever, especially for independent hotels trying to stay competitive against big brands, online travel agencies (OTAs), and other boutique properties. And without the digital marketing support of a big-name brand, independent hotels may need to spend more dollars and allot more of their budgets toward digital marketing. Yet in order to maximize ROI and avoid wasting money, independent hotels need to be prudent, efficient, and informed about the channels and tools they choose to use. To help independent hotels maximize their online exposure and their digital marketing spend, HospitalityNet.org offered these three vital tips for efficient and effective digital marketing.
1. Welcome a Flexible Digital Marketing Budget
With today’s steady stream of marketing tools and digital technologies, digital marketing budgets must remain flexible to allow for continual testing and tweaking. If a certain method is not productive, it must be simple to shift those resources into another technique until the most successful method is found. And with the wealth of digital options and research showing that more than 55% percent of hotel bookings now occur online, it’s essential for independent hotels to allot their time and resources toward the right hospitality marketing methods.
So, how much should a hotel spend on digital marketing? According to The Smart Hotelier’s Guide to 2015 Digital Marketing Budget Planning, some experts say that a whopping 75% of a hotel’s marketing budget should be directed toward digital marketing. That’s because the hospitality industry is so strongly dependent on personal recommendations, as well as the fact that digital is the fastest and simplest distribution channel. But just as important as the amount allocated is the flexibility of budget so that strategies can be easily modified and optimized for maximum effectiveness.
2. Accommodate Online Users with Website Enhancements
Website enhancement strategies are key components of an independent hotel’s entire digital marketing approach. It’s essential to invest the time and money to present a property well through responsive web design, continual enhancements, and sweeping optimization. A poorly designed or non-optimized site can result in a negative user experience, lost revenue, and forsaken competitive advantage. That’s why experts say that website redesign and enhancements should account for 4–5% of the digital marketing budget.
3. Profit by Making Room for Website Revenue Optimization Strategies
Along with website enhancements, independent hotels need to incorporate website revenue optimization strategies into their hospitality marketing strategies. According to a recent hospitality survey, hoteliers saw an astounding 70% ROI from their online investments. That’s why independent hotels need to use a variety of digital marketing efforts to maximize revenue and results, such as:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is essential to meet the standards set by search engines, as well as to penetrate the crowded and competitive online arena. It needs to align with SEM for maximum ROI and should comprise 16–17% of the digital marketing budget.
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM): This has become more complicated today, so it demands an ongoing time commitment to implement properly. While increased competition from online travel agencies (OTAs) adds to its difficulty, independent hotels have the advantage of not needing to depend on brand keywords, but rather on simply distinguishing themselves from the big brands. Strive to have SEM equal 11–12% of the digital marketing budget.
- Meta Search Marketing: In hospitality, meta search is a kind of online advertising based on real-time room rate and availability data. It’s vital for independent hotels in order to boost online bookings and divert online data away from OTAs. It should comprise around 11–12% of the digital marketing budget.
- Dynamic Rate Marketing (DRM): Aligning with meta search, this is a direct-response marketing system that provides real-time hotel inventory and pricing. It has become very popular because it demands little cost and time, but can make a big difference.
- Email Marketing: This allows independent hotels to maximize their reach in this multi-device era. But to be most effective, every single email must be optimized for desktop, mobile, and tablet devices. Email marketing should make up 4–5% of the digital marketing budget.
- Organic & Paid Social Media: A strong, organic social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and other social channels is required for independent hotels because it offers access to an abundance of vocal brand advocates. But this organic social media must be constantly updated and responsive to consumer feedback. Just as essential is paid social media because its well-executed promotional and ad campaigns can help a hotel boost their number of bookings and help build a strong email database.
Use these expert tips as your guide to developing a digital marketing budget that is prudent, promising, and profitable for your independent hotel.
Help your hotel brand earn more exposure and ROI with digital marketing. Contact MDG Advertising.
MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton and New York, NY, is one of Florida’s top hospitality marketing companies and branding firms. MDG’s core capabilities include advertising, branding, logo design, creative, infographic development, digital marketing, creative media planning and buying, radio and TV advertising, website design and development, email marketing, mobile marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, and SEO. To stay on top of the latest trends in travel marketing and advertising, contact MDG Advertising.
Written by Michael Del Gigante