Hotel marketing tips to welcome more guests

Did you know that according to a study by Statistica, the hotel website is the number one booking platform for babyboomers in the UK? Even 14% of UK’s millennials and a whopping 75% of all German travelers book directly on the hotel’s website.

Hotel Marketing statistics

Image source: Statistica

What can we learn from these hotel marketing statistics? If potential guests don’t find your website or find it appealing, they will book with the competition. It is not enough to rely only on booking portals.

How high is your share of bookings via your own website?

Your hotel website as a digital marketing tool

How do I manage to get more bookings through my hotel website? I would like to divide this into six categories:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Local Marketing/SEO
  • Social media marketing (organic and paid)
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Email Marketing
  • Conversion Rate Optimization

At first glance, hotel inbound marketing can seem overwhelming, but let’s take a step-by-step look at all the marketing efforts to draw the big picture.

SEO for hotels and inns

Search engine optimization pursues the goal of ranking as high as possible in Google – and as a matter of fact all other search engines – for the desired search term. The first thought for hotels is always “hotel + {location}”, “room + {location}”, etc. The problem with this is that the competition is very high: Not only all other hotels, but also all platforms like Booking, Airbnb, and Expedia compete for these keywords.

But there are ways to increase the chance and rank exactly for these terms and more.

Unfortunately, I have to go a bit further and get a bit technical. SEO, in simple terms, consists of two factors: technical on-site SEO and content (the actual words on the page).

On-Site SEO for Hotel

Technical SEO lays the foundation on which the keywords are built. It is important to have a healthy site.

Use the On-Site SEO form to get a quick, free analysis. (no strings attached)

Keyword Implementation for Organic Hotel Marketing

Once a healthy base is ensured, content can be added. The existing pages should also be optimized for certain keywords. For example, keywords like the location and more specific descriptions like “romantic”, “wellness”, “downtown”, or similar keywords should be strategically placed. Here are 6 tips on where to implement your keywords to grow your organic hotel marketing:

  • SEO Title: the text that will be placed in the metadata and shows up on Google as a clickable link in search results.
  • H1 Headline: the main headline of your pages.
  • More H2 – HX headings: see the headings of a page like a table of contents of a book. It has a title (SEO title) and heading for each chapter (H1). In the chapters, there are more sub-headings that are subordinated to the chapter (H2 to H6 for example).
  • Include them in the text, of course. Ideally in the first 500 words.
  • Anchor texts: Link texts from other pages to the page. (Cross-linking)
  • Image descriptions: add keywords to the image alt tag in the metadata of the files.

Content Marketing for Hotel SEO

The last point in website SEO is content marketing. Google looks at topical relevance and authority. What does this mean for your hotel marketing plan? Quite simply, be an expert in the area you want to rank for. In this specific case, create helpful content about the region or city you are in. It can be articles about sights, day trip destinations, public parking spaces, restaurants, bars, or even wellness facilities.

The more Google can relate you to the keywords, the better your page will stand not only for the topics covered but also for the higher-level keywords like “hotel in {location}”.

Furthermore, I often find information in PDFs on a hotel website. Especially for menus for breakfast or restaurants. But also often for wellness or other additional offers. Here’s the catch: search engines can’t read PDFs! Migrate the content to your site and you’ll see that you suddenly rank for spaghetti carbonara in {location}.

Bonus tip: Ask for email opt-ins on informational articles. The people who read these articles are surely planning a trip.

Local SEO marketing for hotels

There are overlaps to the previous SEO strategies, which I have already described. But there is another special feature: Google Maps

Local Hotel Marketing on Google Maps

Google Maps profiles are called Google Business Profiles (until recently Google My Business or short GMB). These business profiles show up on Google Maps, but also in local search queries.

Please refer to detailed tips on how to optimize your local marketing with Google My Business.

Anyways, here are 3 concrete local GMB tips for hotels:

  • Add relevant business categories – not only hotel, but also restaurant,  guest house, or similar.
  • Build relevant local business citations: TheBlueBook is certainly not relevant, but Apple Maps definitely is.
  • Offer direct messaging as a contact option. This can help with quick questions like “Can I check-in after 10 pm today?”

Social Media Hotel Marketing

Instagram and Facebook marketing for hotels is huge. We know reviews from other travelers are crucial, but so are social media accounts. Plus, it gives the opportunity to get deeper insights about a hotel – photos, videos, communication, customer service, etc.

Therefore, you should always maintain your organic (your own) social media channels. Regularly posting, but also commenting on posts is important.

In addition, social media advertising is great for targeting specific audiences. Of course, it can be hard to convince someone to take a trip. I would only use Facebook and Instagram Ads if the target audience is very clearly defined. But if it works it can be a very lucrative digital marketing campaign.

In any case, social networks should have a place in your hotel marketing strategy.

PPC Advertising

There are many types of digital advertising. Pay-per-click is a very good way to reach people who are already looking for accommodation. Unlike social media ads, where I don’t know if someone is looking to travel to my region, Google Ads (search engine marketing/SEM) can be placed for relevant keywords. In doing so, I recommend first defining the keywords very precisely: “Romantic Hotel in Portland city center” instead of “Hotel Portland”.

You can always scale by adding more keywords and expanding terms.

A crucial part of PPC advertising is that the landing page – the page the search ad points to – is relevant to the search query. Of course, hotels will be about booking. But let’s take the example above again: if we advertise a romantic hotel in the city center, this must be immediately recognizable on the landing page. A generic room like any other, will not get many bookings in the process.

Hotel Email Marketing

It is always good to build and maintain a relationship with (potential) hotel guests. Not only email addresses of previous visitors should be collected, but also those of interested guests.

It is recommended to announce not only discounts or promotions but also events or other updates. For example, it can be interesting to promote a weekend package around an event in the region.

Email marketing for hoteliers allows bringing a group of interested people closer to an idea of booking a trip they had not planned yet.

Website Conversion Rate Optimization

Generating website visitors is all well and good, but ultimately we want them to book a room with us. To do that, it’s important to keep an eye on conversion rates and use the data to make adjustments.

However, I would like to mention here again that it is not self-evident to get a reservation immediately, sometimes it is necessary to query the email address first and get a loyal visitor in the long run.