The hospitality and tourism industry is bouncing back in a big way after the pandemic, so it’s the perfect time to get the message out with some marketing strategies to boost bookings.
In 2023, creative content marketing will be more important than ever as image and video content continues to generate leads. Hotels that have a significant number of high-quality photos on their websites see a 15% increase in conversion rates, while websites with video content are 53 times more likely to come up in a Google search.
Data and Artificial Intelligence also continue to shape marketing strategy in the hospitality industry this year, while mobile bookings continue to grow in popularity and multichannel marketing expands to embrace TikTok and other trending forms of social media.
Marketing has always been essential in Hospitality with so much competition among operators.
Now as the industry reopens, it’s even more critical for hospitality businesses to invest in marketing and win back customers.
Hospitality marketing plays a crucial role in:
- Finding customers to grow a new hospitality business
- Building a loyal customer base for established brands,
- Engaging in social media conversation.
Hospitality marketing strategies for 2023
Let’s take a closer look at hospitality marketing strategies for each of these three important outcomes in 2023.
1. Use of hospitality marketing to grow a new business
A marketing strategy is an essential component of the business plan for any new hospitality business, no matter how big or small. Once the bricks and mortar are all in place, you need to make sure that the world knows your business exists and that it’s better than the local competition.
A typical hospitality marketing plan for a new business to expand its reach and find new customers will address key areas such as:
- Unique Selling Points (USPs) and location in the market
- Target audiences and market research on how to reach them
- Design of an excellent website with a direct booking platform
- Mobile compatibility of all your booking channels
- Social media marketing strategy
- A reputation management strategy, including policies on dealing with complaints
- Advertising strategy and budget
- Strategic Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and display ads
- Email marketing plan
For any new hospitality business, it’s essential to get your first customers through the door and find ways to encourage them to share their positive experiences online. Research shows that 52% of individuals would never book a hotel that had zero reviews.
There are many different effective marketing strategies that new hospitality businesses can adopt to try and get their important first customers through the door. For example:
- Offering rewards programs and discounts for new customers and for customers who write reviews is another way to grow your customer base and enhance online credibility.
- Marketing towards locals and engaging with local communities is an essential way to generate interest, find return customers, and encourage word-of-mouth business.
For new hospitality businesses, social media content marketing offers a low-cost, high Return on Investment (ROI) opportunity to reach much-needed audiences. Roughly 6 in 10 customers make their booking choices based on information they find online: by putting attractive content on your website, blog and social media channels, you can use SEO, hashtags and links to draw traffic to your website.
Read on for more information on social media strategies and content marketing.
2. Hospitality marketing to build a loyal customer base
Repeat customers are the backbone of the hospitality industry, keeping many hotels, restaurants and bars going no matter what’s trending. They are a steady source of regular income regardless of market fluctuations, providing on average about 40% of the revenue of a typical hospitality business. On top of that, gaining a new customer is 7 to 8 times more costly than keeping an existing one.
Loyal customers also provide an important and completely free-of-charge service; word-of-mouth advertising to their friends and family. The importance of this can’t be understated; research shows that word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing, resulting in five times more sales than paid advertising.
There’s no substitute for offering really great service, food or overall experience when it comes to building and maintaining a loyal customer base. However, marketing also plays an essential role in helping even established hospitality brands to keep customers coming back.
Some key strategies in hospitality marketing to build a loyal customer base include:
Personalisation across all communications channels and interactions is an important marketing strategy for building customer loyalty. In an era when booking systems are impersonal and anonymous, it’s no surprise that people want personalised service and human interaction; a full 86% of consumers surveyed report that personalisation plays a role in their purchase decisions.
Effective strategies for personalisation in hospitality can take the form of:
- Branded apps that allow for saved individual preferences and continuous communication across all channels
- Tailored experience packages and personalised advice for hotel guests
- Add-ons and options for personal choice
- Building customer profiles
- Empathetic social media engagement
Frequency and loyalty rewards programs
Programs that reward frequency and loyalty are common marketing strategies for hospitality businesses to engender customer loyalty. From a simple ‘buy ten get one free’ coffee card at a local cafe, to frequent flyer points and high-end luxury hotel rewards programs, these strategies are effective tools for customer retention. In fact, studies show that 69% of customers allow the presence of rewards or loyalty programs to influence their shopping decisions.
According to one marketing agency specialising in loyalty programs, they serve multiple functions for a hospitality brand including:
- Protect market share from competitors,
- Steal high-value customers from competitors,
- Create an opportunity cost for using a competitor.
3. Essential Hospitality Social Media Marketing
Hospitality, tourism and social media form an interdependent triad for many hospitality businesses and customers in 2023: 74% of travellers use social media while on vacation, 89% of millennials post to social media while travelling, and 85% of travellers book their trips on mobile devices.
Customers like to share their experiences, businesses like to be tagged, and potential new customers like to browse social media for tips and recommendations. It’s a win-win for everyone.
No matter what kind of hospitality business you are operating, a social media marketing strategy is compulsory. Hospitality consumers use social media to share their experiences, publish reviews, find recommendations, and express feedback directly to hospitality brands. Your business will be seen or discussed on social media, so it’s essential to engage in that conversation. An effective social media presence in hospitality leads to:
- Increased reach to new audiences
- More conversations about your brand
- Higher engagement with customers
- Better authority with ratings and review systems
There are several components to effective social media marketing for hospitality.
Content marketing across different channels: TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and blog posts are all common channels for marketing content that’s engaging, personal and on-brand. It’s effective for enhancing SEO, brand visibility and recognition, generating customer loyalty and 67% of marketers report that content marketing generates leads.
Regular engagement across channels: Engaging directly with customers in conversations on social media is an essential strategy for reaching new audiences and raising brand awareness through use of hashtags, links to other users and comments. It’s also important for engaging directly with negative publicity on social media from dissatisfied customers.
Influencer marketing: With word of mouth playing a significant role in booking recommendations, influencer marketing offers hospitality businesses a high Return on Investment (ROI) marketing opportunity. For the price of a meal or a room, your business could reach hundreds of thousands of new potential customers.
Responding to feedback and reviews from customers: In 2023, every single customer is a potential critic online. According to data from ReviewTracker, over 40% of hotel guests will leave a review if they have a positive experience and 48% of guests will leave a review after a bad experience.
These reviews do have a big impact on hospitality businesses. According to one survey by TripAdvisor, 81% of people frequently or always read reviews before booking a hotel. It’s important for hospitality businesses to take a productive and proactive role when it comes to customer reviews and feedback. The best strategies for responding are: listen to feedback, apologise and respond empathetically, provide refunds in a timely manner and offer rewards for a ‘second chance’.
Are you a hospitality or tourism professional and you want to learn more about marketing for the hospitality industry? Marketing forms a core subject of many hospitality courses and degrees on offer at Torrens University.
See here for more information about studying a Bachelor of Business (Hospitality Management).