In my “early professional life,” I was also a hotelier, and I know very well the anxieties and fears of those who run a Hotel in today’s day and age. This is why I have undertaken a challenging outreach activity, including hotel consulting, where I explain how to break down the wall of distrust on digital marketing for hotels is mandatory to stay competitive and avoid having to sell your business and, therefore, a piece of Italy.
I am Giancarlo De Leonardo, a former hotelier and restaurateur, founder of Caro Collega, a club of enlightened entrepreneurs in the Ho.Re.Ca sector that helps me spread that digital culture necessary for a Hotel (or Restaurant) to be competitive in our days.
The starting point is simple: 90% of customers are online all day long, and if you don’t re-organize your Hotel to be present where they are, you risk extinction! Above all, you cannot think that being present on the OTAs (Booking, Expedia, Trivago, etc.) is enough!
Consequently, I wrote the first part of this article sharing with you my thoughts on how a hybrid digital approach can be a viable solution.
Mixing the skills and industry knowledge of some of the Hotel’s staff with those of a Digital Dream Team that is “committed” to the achievement of results (through a satisfied or reimbursed clause) is one way you can keep costs down and increase revenue.
And in this second part of the article, I will elaborate on these issues. Ready? Let’s look at them together!
In this article
- The extra turnover you give up today
- The “compliance” with operating costs
- The Integrated Digital Marketing Plan with the hybrid approach
- The development of a modern culture
- The Fundamental Steps
The extra turnover you give up today
No ifs or buts: if you don’t have full rooms every day of the year – where it’s not a seasonal business – or if you don’t have an occupancy rate above 90%, you’re losing money! And even if you had a very high room occupancy rate, you might be losing money because the average room sale price is too low and you didn’t realize it.
The consideration is the discovery of hot water: 90% of the niche market interested in your hotel spends 4/5 hours a day “online” on social (Instagram and Facebook), on entertainment platforms (TikTok), on Google (Google Maps and Google Search), reading reviews from other users (TripAdvisor, Yelp or Google).
Do you think you are working hard enough to carve out your own slice of this digital market? I did not do enough when I was a hotelier, and today that I am in contact with hoteliers on a daily basis, I realize that this problem is common. That’s why I do hotel consulting.
So, the advice is the following: get rid of your prejudices, get out of your comfort zone and explore viable avenues including the hybrid digital approach with respect to operating costs.
The “compliance” with operating costs
A hybrid approach to implementing a hotel digital marketing plan is desirable because it helps hotels keep operating costs under control in several ways. First, the main feature of an investment in digital marketing is that all actions are measurable.
After a very short time you will have awareness of ROI (Return On Investment), which translated into “ospitalese,” the language understood by everyone in the industry, means that revenue will increase in direct proportion to the investment made.
From experience I can tell you that in 12 months if you invest 100 you will generate an extra turnover directly attributable to digital activities of 300/500. Not bad at all!
In addition, by leveraging in-house expertise, a hotel can avoid having to outsource all the digital marketing activities for Hotel that it would need while also gaining a greater awareness of the activities that would be carried out, why and the results to be achieved.
In this case, you will have your own collaborator ready to update you on activities developed and results achieved.
Thus, the hybrid approach allows you to explore and implement available digital strategies and tools that are undervalued today.
Another benefit of introducing a hybrid digital approach, of which hotel consulting is a part, is that Caro Collega’s Digital Dream Team can provide training and support to the collaborators who are in the hotel’s employ, creating a stimulating and growth-oriented environment.
Finally, the hybrid approach fosters innovation and creativity. The combination of internal expertise and external input allows for the generation of new ideas and strategies that might not emerge if working with only one of the two components.
Innovation and creativity can bring more effective marketing results and greater customer engagement, which can translate into increased bookings and revenue at low operating costs.
The Integrated Digital Marketing Plan with the hybrid approach
But what does it mean to implement an integrated digital marketing plan? It means offering comprehensive hotel consulting, specifically implementing strategies and tools that can intercept potential digital customers.
Once the digital strategy has been defined, we start with the grounding of the digital system necessary to achieve the established goals. This can include optimizing the company website and landing pages necessary to promote “special” services and products, “advanced” social media management, creating quality digital content (videos and photos), planning online advertising campaigns, and so on.
Obviously this is a path that must be shaped according to the Hotel and the target market otherwise it would all be like now where every business does the “copy and paste ” of what it sees competitors doing, achieving insignificant results. And here is where hotel consulting is important, which Caro Collega takes care of thanks to a qualified team.
Another advantage of the hybrid approach is flexibility. Hotels can adapt resources according to their needs and available budget. When the hotel decides to implement a different tool, such as creating a presence on TikTok, it can integrate a new member of the Digital Dream Team. This keeps costs under control, avoiding the need to hire full-time staff or invest in expensive resources that may not be fully utilized.
The development of a modern culture
Another positive aspect of the hybrid digital approach is that it fosters a culture of learning and development within the hotel. Working with experienced external consultants provides an opportunity for training and growth for the internal team.
Staff can gain new skills and knowledge in the field of digital marketing for Hotels, which can be applied on an ongoing basis to improve the hotel’s marketing strategies and activities over the long term. This not only helps reduce costs in the long run, but also creates a stimulating and motivating work environment for employees.
Not to mention that a hybrid approach allows hotels to begin that process of digital empowerment that is essential to keep up with the rapidly changing world we live in.
Doing Digital Marketing for a hotel means presenting its offer to those “online” customers who are looking for a solution to a need, and that solution could be your proposal. Do you have any idea how cost-effective it can be to intercept a potential customer at a time when that customer is looking to fill a need in line with your offering?
Adopting a hybrid digital approach for a hotel means gaining new market share and staying competitive.
The Fundamental Steps
Let’s now look at some of the preparatory steps for a hotel to successfully implement an integrated digital marketing plan:
- Assess internal skills: first you should examine the skills already in your team and identify areas where additional skills are needed. This assessment helps you define which tasks can be handled internally and which require outside consultants.
- Identify external consultants: once you have become aware of the importance of a hybrid digital approach, you need to find a consultant to support you. The help you need can be of two types: rely on a “super partes” (i.e., “impartial”) consultant to help you understand where your hotel is today and what the future scenarios may be using the internal and external expertise you already work with. Or hire someone who inspires confidence and sets goals with you to achieve in 12 months. Remember that achieving memorable goals requires a competent, vertical TEAM in the Hospitality industry. Be wary of both generalist digital agencies and agencies that offer a standardized hotel product.
- Define marketing goals: define with the external team the marketing goals to be achieved. For example, increasing online bookings, increasing the average price per room or table at a restaurant or room service, increasing website traffic, increasing positive reviews, or other specific goals. Goals must be measurable and realistic.
- Develop an integrated strategy: internal staff and external team should be empowered to implement a digital marketing strategy for the hotel. A strategy based on several components such as website optimization, advanced social media management, professional content creation (videos and photos), online advertising and other activities relevant to the hotel industry, web reputation monitoring, etc.
- Continuous collaboration: it is important to maintain regular communication and constant collaboration between the internal team and external consultants. This synergy allows digital marketing activities to be aligned with business objectives and any adjustments to be made as needed to maximize the effectiveness of strategies.
- Monitoring and analyzing results: plan from the beginning to be informed monthly about the digital marketing activities developed each month and analyze the results obtained. However, do not expect results immediately, remember that the project is based on 12 months. However, month after month you will notice small improvements, especially if the external team is commi”ed to the achievement of the goals (satisfied or money back guarantee).
Imagining that a hotel can bill more thanks to digital marketing activities and hotel consulting that it did not develop before is an easily understandable line of reasoning: customers are “online” if I amplify the activity to intercept them and do not limit myself only to OTA work or basic social or web reputation management, I will attract the attention of an audience that the hotel did not have.
In conclusion, implementing an integrated Digital Marketing plan through a hybrid digital approach, combining in-house expertise with the input of a Digital Team of collaborators from outside the hotel, offers numerous benefits in terms of reducing costs and maximizing the effectiveness of marketing strategies.
This approach allows the expertise of vertical experts on digital marketing to be brought to bear without the long-term costs of hiring full-time staff. It also fosters innovation and creativity, enabling hotels to adapt to changing market needs and stand out from the competition. Therefore, enlightened hoteliers who want to embark on a path of hotel consulting, particularly digital experimentation, and growth, should seriously consider adopting a hybrid digital approach in their marketing strategy.
Article written by Giancarlo De Leonardo, former hotelier and restaurateur, founder of Caro Collega