Congratulations on your new hotel or resort adventure! Though inevitably a bit stressful, opening a new property is undoubtedly an exciting task.
Of course, you wouldn’t ever build and open your new property and just hope people show up. Rather, you will want to have a marketing plan in place to effectively promote your property in advance to generate interest and demand. Your brand is likely new and unheard of – so why should people care about yet another hotel? It is your job to convince them why.
Before any type of promotion or lead generation campaigns can begin, be sure you have developed the essential elements of your brand; this should include everything from your logo and color scheme for marketing materials to your brand concept and unique selling points. Without this, you cannot effectively communicate your message to your audience – you won’t have a message to communicate or an audience to target!
Once you have your branding completed and your target audience defined, you can move forward with promoting your property! Below are 9 essential ways to begin driving demand and reservations prior to opening your door.
1.) Have a Website or Landing Page
What good would promoting your fantastic new property be if you don’t have anywhere to drive traffic? If you have no way to collect information for future communications?
Setting up a website or, at minimum, a well thought out landing page is the very first step in promoting your new property. You might not have every single detail ironed out with room layouts or amenity offerings – and that’s fine. But, as soon as you have enough information related to your hotel’s concept, go ahead and secure your domain and set up your website.
The first iteration of your hotel or resort website should be designed with consistent branding and messaging that will be featured throughout your other marketing collateral. This can evolve over time, but consistency is key when using multiple channels to generate awareness and drive interest.
Key information pieces your website/landing page will need:
- High-quality images — showcase your destination/location, concept, lifestyle shots, and images of the property (if possible)
- General information related to the concept, opening date, etc.
- Contact page and information (phone number, email)
- Email collection pop-up
- Direct booking functionality
The email collection pop-up is perhaps the most important element of your website or landing page. Generating awareness and driving traffic to your new site ultimately serves one goal – to generate leads. Collecting email addresses will allow you to continue to communicate with potential guests in the future and nurture those leads into paying guests.
Also, it should go without saying that your website or landing page should be mobile-friendly. Having a responsive website is typically the route we recommend as it massively cuts down on maintenance and upkeep in the long run and ensures a consistent user experience across all devices.
Additionally, if your property has a set open date, be sure to have a booking engine solution integrated into your website to allow bookings. It is also beneficial to have an email address, contact form, and phone number readily available and visible on the site to ensure website visitors have multiple means of contacting your property for inquiries.
Pssst! Need an awesome, mobile-friendly booking engine? We have one of those! Schedule your free demo of GuestDesk today.
2.) Claim Local Listings
Local listings can make or break your search engine presence! Local listings not only take up a significant chunk of space on organic search results for brand-related searches, but they also allow your hotel to show up in the local search pack for relevant non-brand search queries. The only information you need to set up your local listings is a physical address, so do this as soon as possible when you have a property site established.
If you delay in claiming your local listings, Google will be forced to guess on information pertaining to your property. Or worse, someone else could claim your listing for you and provide false information.
To get started, claim your local listings on Google and Bing:
The process is very simple and will require a postcard to be mailed to your physical address. You can also specify amenity attributes, upload property images, and customize other information relevant to your hotel or resort here.
On Google specifically, you can also upload Google posts, a newer local search feature.
Of course, there are literally hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of listing sites across the internet that could feature your hotel’s NAP information. Luckily, there are also several software providers that can help you claim and manage these online listings to ensure accuracy and consistency.
3.) Social Media
Social media channels are another area where your property will want to, at minimum, claim usernames relevant to your brand. We recommend setting up profiles and claiming usernames for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Be sure to follow best practices for setting up each social media channel, which includes:
- Using high-quality images for your profile photo and header photo
- Claim a custom URL that is relevant to your brand and keep the usernames consistent across channels, if possible
- Verify your account across all platforms
- Fill out all profile information
Your long-term social media strategy should include a well thought out plan on your approach for each channel, defining and speaking to your target audience on each channel, your frequency for posting on each channel, and what types of content you plan to share.
Need a little inspiration? Check out our free guide – 75 Social Media Post Ideas For Hotels
Social media can also be a great place to start creating buzz for your property and generating leads for your email database. Be sure your site (upon completion) includes the Facebook retargeting pixel. This will allow you to reach unique and highly qualified audiences and invite them to “like” your page or revisit your website. Similarly, you can use different ad formats to achieve different goals to address different portions of the travel funnel. Use “like” ads to capture relevant audiences at the top of the funnel, video ads to generate awareness about the awesomeness of your hotel, lead generation ads to transform these interested fans into leads, and then website click ads or promoted posts paired with custom audiences or retargeting to start generating actual bookings.
Not sure where to get started? Check out our free guide – The Best Facebook Ad Formats For Hotels.
4.) Email Marketing
As discussed earlier, your website/landing page and other marketing efforts should be a lead generating machine. Email is often the most lucrative marketing channel for hotels and resorts if done correctly.
A few things to keep in mind while you are building your email campaigns:
- Make sure you are legally obtaining all email addresses and other prospect information
- Use a reputable and trustworthy email vendor
- Segment lists appropriately and send targeted messages for the best performance
- Set up automated drip campaigns for the best efficiency
- Use technology that supports email personalization and testing to boost performance
There are several ways hotels can use email marketing and email automation for revenue generation and guest nurturing, but for today’s discussion we will focus on the best uses prior to your hotel’s grand opening.
The most basic list you will want to set up is a general catch-all “newsletter” list that encompasses all of your contacts. An email newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with guests, share exciting property updates, and push exclusive promotions.
Speaking of promotions, you can get even more granular with your lists and target lists specific to where the lead was acquired. For example, you might run a Facebook lead generation campaign tied to a specific offer. You can then hit just your Facebook leads with a specific promotion exclusive to them.
Remember, your goal at this point is to build a relationship with your prospects. Your emails should generate excitement about your hotel, update leads on construction progress, inform them of any upcoming specials or events, and ultimately inspire them to book a stay with your property.
And, definitely do NOT spam your list! Sending too frequently or not providing value is a great way to get your hotel prospects to unsubscribe from your list.
Worried about unsubscribes? Learn 5 reasons why people unsubscribe and how to fix it!
5.) Public Relations
Whether you are a 10-room boutique property in a remote destination or a 300+ room property in a bustling metropolitan, your hotel has some unique value. Otherwise – why are you building the property in the first place?
Public relations can be a crucial component when it comes to generating buzz and securing bookings prior to your open date. Public relations can also be used in tandem with specific promotions or campaigns to help amplify reach.
The first step in creating a PR campaign for your hotel or resort is to identify what is unique about your property. Of course, the initial announcement about your brand is a great starting point, but carefully craft the details about your unique offerings and curate meaningful stories that will resonate with your target audience. Why are you special? Why should people travel to your destination and stay with you?
Before you begin, your hotel should also have a comprehensive media kit to make outreach and pitches easier. Your press kit can be a standalone landing page or exist on a dedicated “press” or “media” page that also showcases existing coverage.
To get started, consider having a landing page with construction progress. Update the photos regularly and share content via social media. You’d be surprised at how interested people will be in the changes and development of your property. And, this technique is a great way to share the story and progress behind your vision.
Integrating bloggers or influencers into the mix is another creative way to reach a qualified audience. Are health and wellness a focus for your property? Partner with a well-known yoga instructor for an event on property and work with the influencer to reach their loyal followers. Is using local ingredients incorporated into your on-site dining concept? Partner with a local chef or mixologist to host a cooking class, mixology class, or chef’s tasting event that utilizes locally sourced ingredients. The options are truly endless. Be creative, play to your strengths and key differentiators, and carefully hone in on relevant influencers with loyal audiences.
A long-term strategy, creating and distributing high-quality content that provides value to searchers can be an effective way to generate awareness and drive traffic back to your hotel website. Whether you want to curate content via a blog or create unique “guides” for your hotel or destination, any content produced should be well thought out and designed to be easy to access and navigate for both searchers and search engines alike.
Be sure to implement the SEO basics when it comes to publishing content to your site – this can make or break your organic search engine performance.
A few SEO tips to keep in mind include:
- Clean and intuitive URL structure
- Clever and concise article headline
- Enticing title tag and meta description
- Include relevant internal links throughout, where appropriate
- Include high-quality images with relevant image alt text
- Use headers to break up content or bulleted lists to make information easier to absorb
- Relevant calls to action throughout – what do you want this person to do? (ps – the answer is not always book!)
As far as content is concerned, whether you are publishing regularly to a blog or crafting highly targeted landing pages, be sure to carefully consider topics and complete plenty of research in advance. Throwing together half-hearted content is simply a waste of time. Do your homework. Type in search terms that you feel should prompt your content, see what is currently ranking, and then figure out how you can do it better.
TIP: Content takes many forms! Consider adding video content, guides, infographics, and even sound content (ex: podcast) into your content mix.
Still not convinced? Hear our thoughts on the Fuel Podcast – “Does My Hotel Need A Blog?”
7.) Pay Per Click Advertising
Despite some concerns about bidding for your own brand terms, the value of brand PPC has been proven time and time again. Not only is the return on brand PPC fantastic (often providing an over 1,000% ROAS), bidding on brand is often necessary because OTAs and metasearch sites are aggressive in this space. Concerns about potential cannibalism are massively overshadowed by the need to protect your brand.
Though actual numbers vary greatly, brand clicks are much more affordable than the commission you might end up paying an OTA or other third parties if a searcher finds their ad first. A brand click might only cost $1 where the commission for a stay could easily be $20 – $200+.
We always recommend bidding on brand for not only brand protection but also the highest return. As a new property, the OTAs might not have caught on yet (though don’t be mistaken – they will eventually) so clicks will be very inexpensive. Non-brand keyword targeting could also be an option and an exciting place to be creative with your positioning thought the return will not be nearly as lucrative as your primary objective will be to generate awareness and drive traffic. Finally, display advertising and retargeting are other avenues worth exploring when it comes to generating awareness and converting leads. Be creative and bold with your ads – this is your chance to be front and center. Craft copy that will excite and entice searchers.
Interested in getting started with pay per click? Obviously, you will need a website or landing page to drive your traffic. Ideally, your website will have direct booking functionality, thought an email signup form will suffice initially. Be sure to implement conversion tracking so you can accurately monitor performance. Conversion tracking for sales will need to be implemented on your booking engine and be altered to account for dynamic revenue tracking. Form submissions are a little easier to set up and implementation will vary based on your CMS.
Before you get started, hear the Top 10 PPC Mistakes on the Fuel Podcast.
8.) Local Partnerships
Word of mouth is inarguably the oldest and most effective form of advertising. But how do you get started? Start small and build a solid reputation within your local community. Community partnerships can be valuable in not only acquiring referrals but also when it comes to other, more niche, marketing efforts, like link building (for search engine optimization).
Here are a few ways you can partner with the local community:
- Join your local chamber of commerce. The chamber’s primary job is to support local businesses, so make use of this resource. Attend networking events and meet other local business owners. And, if possible, host a “business after hours” event at your property after you open to draw in new visitors and showcase your property.
- Feature local artwork. Featuring local art is a win/win for hotels. Not only does it give you the opportunity to feature local artists and help them promote their art, but it can also help your hotel save a little on decor.
- Host local events. Does your property have on-site dining or a lounge area? Does your hotel have a spa or other unique offering? Why not extend a welcoming hand out to the community and host fun events for locals? This could be anything from happy hour with live music, chef’s tasting dinners featuring a local chef, or a special yoga class featuring a local instructor. The options are endless! And, the local participants will gladly help promote your event to draw in a crowd.
9.) Track Everything
Every single marketing campaign you run should be tracked – email, pay per click, public relations, social media, etc. How else could you measure the results of your efforts? If you are new to analytics, we recommend starting with Google Analytics. It is free and relatively easy to implement (just be sure your cross-domain tracking is working properly!). Not only will tracking everything from the beginning allow you to quickly see what’s working (and what’s not), but it will also give you historical data to look back on throughout the years.
Here are a few resources to help you get started with Google Analytics:
Once you’ve gotten started, check out our post on 10 Hotel Marketing Metrics That Actually Matter.
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