It is time for New Year resolutions: dive into 2019 with clear strategies for goals you wish to achieve, all outlined in an integrated and effective hotel marketing plan
As we are approaching a new calendar year, it is important to reflect upon both your personal and business growth. The challenges faced, successful methods, failed strategies and all those 2018 New Year’s resolutions that ceased to exist at the two-week mark.
Not only is it the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also the time of the year when you decide you want to learn French (again) and purchase a diet & exercise plan (because you didn’t like the last one, obviously). However, although not surprisingly, ultimately only around 8% of people reach their goals, according to 2018 research by Statistic Brain.
So why do we fail in fulfilling their ambitions? According to Philip Clarke, psychology lecturer at the University of Derby Online Learning, people tend to set long-term outcome goals, continually making the mistake of defining what they wish to achieve, but not thinking about how to actually do it. It is like wishing to save more money in the upcoming year but not having a clue about what your spending habits are to begin with.
Relatable, but what does this have to do with hotel marketing plans?
Not to say that ‘I wish to have my dream house next year’ is remotely comparable to developing a business, but it is crucial to highlight that planning is the key for attaining control in both. Your approach to defining marketing strategies for the next year must be more than posting a few photos in order to gain more followers on social media. Marketing opportunities in the digital era are wide-ranging, but in order to maximise them you must start the year with a concise and integrated marketing plan.
Unlike a marketing strategy which is driven by goals, a hotel marketing plan is your strategy in action. It is scheduling and identifying all the factors, steps and purposeful actions necessary to achieve those goals. And it must be structured to distinctly outline what you want your strategies’ outcomes to be and how do you plan on achieving them.
1. Start by defining your goals
So, the beds are perfectly made, there are mint chocolates on the pillows and drinks in the minibar – which means the guests are all you need. You have decided to invest in marketing techniques, but do you know what exactly do you want and expect to accomplish? Obviously, you aim to increase direct bookings and attract more guests. However, you must formalize your ideas. Do you want to improve your performance across digital spheres? If so, do you wish to focus on brand awareness, engagement or both? Have you recently refurbished and would like to promote your new interiors? Whatever they may be, clearly state them in your hotel marketing plan and use them as a foundation for the plan’s execution.
2. Great, now define them even more
Once you have a clearer idea of your aims, your hotel marketing plan must focus on each goal individually – do your research and set reasonable objectives. According to 2017 research conducted by CoSchedule, marketers who set clear and precise goals have a 429% greater chance of reporting successful campaigns. A realistic and specific goal would, for instance, be aiming to increase your following by 10% in the next month. Check out the market, industry’s averages and case studies of businesses similar to yours that are running successful social media marketing campaigns – how often do they post across platforms? Where? When? Are they engaging with their followers? How are their practices different from yours?
The research will not only help you set achievable goals, but you will also broaden your understanding of new marketing trends, revealing innovative ways of progressing your business.
3. Learn from the past
Past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour! Before you start sketching out your annual marketing plan, take a look at your performances in the past. It doesn’t matter whether you had a systematized hotel marketing plan last year, as you should be able to evaluate the effects of any previous marketing efforts. Be detailed – it is crucial to analyse the weaknesses of your past campaigns in order to improve your practices and benefit from them in the future.
Throughout the evaluation, make sure you consider the following questions:
• Have previous marketing strategies achieved required goals?
• How well do you know your target audience, and has it changed over the years?
• Which marketing efforts were effective and which ones were not?
• What is your marketing budget and were you able to stay within it?
• How much time and effort are focused on growing your digital presence and investing in digital marketing?
4. Who are you talking to?
Knowing your target audience is a vital component of your marketing strategies, especially if you are running a well-established hotel for a number of years. Considering the pace of digital transformations, it is important that you are quick to adapt to the changes in consumer purchasing patterns.
In one of our previous posts, we clarified how significant it is to adjust your marketing activities to cater the needs of millennials; remember, with two billion millennials globally, they are set to account for $1.4 trillion of total spending by 2020. And 97% of them share travel shots online – say hello to the 21st century digital word-of-mouth recommendation!
Additionally, make sure you use the data from your hotel’s website, OTAs and social network followers, in order to understand the customer personas. Talk to your guests during their stay or ask them to fill in short surveys. The data should, for example, include their age, type of travel, reason for travel, how they found out about you, why they chose your hotel in particular etc.
Having a clearer idea of their values & needs will serve you as a guide for designing marketing activities – depending on who you are marketing to, you will, for instance, collab with an influencer for an Instagram post, or choose display ads on relevant websites for customers relying on travel blogs and online agencies.
5. Accept that digital platforms are more than a tool for watching funny cat videos
No matter who your target audience is, establishing a strong digital media presence is a non-negotiable step of your hotel marketing plan. According to a 2018 report done by We Are Social and & Hootsuite, there are now more than four billion individuals online. A global imperative for digitalisation of everyday activities has emerged.
Research by Social Business Engine from 2015 also concluded that 75% of consumers say their purchasing choices are influenced by the content on social media; 48% of people turn to Instagram while planning a trip! However, managing social media, engaging with the audience, and using marketing tools offered by social networks is a full-time job, requiring labour, time and creativity. Depending on the size of your property and number of staff, you should consider hiring a social media & marketing manager.
The ubiquity of social media offers diverse opportunities and their interactive nature gives you a chance to engage with your customers, building a stronger sense of community. Also, content & influencer marketing across social media are innovative ways of raising brand awareness and reaching a large number of people world-wide; make sure you are up to date with the trends on the market and read more about the benefits of influencer marketing here.
For instance, if you opt to invest in influencer marketing on Instagram, there is a variety of ways to promote your hotel – from boomerang posts to Instagram stories providing links to your website. Also, location tags are the most effortless way to get influencer’s followers to your Instagram account/website via simple click, highlighting the importance of establishing a social media presence for your business. This ability to connect social network accounts to your website can significantly generate leads, increase website traffic, and foster brand continuity, by also streamlining the booking processes.
While choosing the right marketing activity entirely depends on what you wish to achieve, budgeting is nonetheless a critical step in your hotel marketing plan. For instance, approaching influencers with millions of followers is certainly not the most affordable option, and you must secure the funds to support such promotional campaigns. If you are looking for a less extravagant route, check out the benefits of collaborating with micro-influencers.
Still, finding the right balance between investing enough to see desired results and ensuring you do not go overboard, requires extensive preparations. Once you have chosen the appropriate marketing techniques, research the industry for methods of achieving them and average costs. Your plan should also include budget variance, which you can track throughout the year and amend it if necessary. If you notice a particular marketing technique being less costly than expected, you can utilise the remaining funds in a different and more expensive campaign.
7. Track & Measure
In order to evaluate which activities generate revenue and increase direct bookings, it is vital to track the effectiveness of executed marketing strategies. Make sure you measure the fluctuations in website traffic, engagement rates on social networks and visits to your accounts – Instagram offers analytical tools for measuring the impact and reach of your posts.
An increased visibility is certainly reflected in intangible values of gaining a larger audience. However, when it comes to return-on-investment (ROI), it is important to note that predicting revenue that is to be generated from marketing activities is complex and takes time. A number of factors have to be considered when calculating website and social media relations to financial profits. Find out more about how Swayy can help you track every influencer marketing campaign individually via Unique Tracking Links.
8. Revisit & Review
Finally, while a hotel marketing plan helps you run your business, it is definitely not a piece of paper you create now and forget mid-February, much like your New Year’s resolutions. As your business grows and marketing tactics are being implemented, it is important that your plan is being updated. Think of it as a living guide with specific goals and milestones, which can be used to allocate resources and measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. By sticking to the schedule outlined in the plan and reviewing it during changes in your business processes, you will maximise the advantages of marketing in the digital age, leading to rewarding results year after year.