Marketing Strategies for Hotels in the Digital Age (Part 1)

Over the years, talking and working with many hotels, I have realized that in the Hotellerie industry there is a dichotomy similar to the one we find in many other industries; one one side, we find hoteliers who have stereotyped their behavior to one similar to their competitors and do the exact same promotional activities, complaining about the poor results they get, while on the other there are enlightened hoteliers who have realized that the world is increasingly digital and want to develop additional revenue that is directly proportional and attributable to modern strategies and tools. And they are increasingly increasing performance.

This is why I decided to share these thoughts on a topic I have snubbed for too many years: Marketing for Hotels and especially of Digital Marketing can be the differentiating element in a way where people “online” represent 90% of your potential customers.

I am Giancarlo De Leonardo, a former fellow hotelier and restaurateur, now founder of Caro Collega, a community of enlightened hoteliers who want to understand how to ride the opportunities that the digital revolution makes available to the Hotel industry as well.
Below, dear friend Hotelier, you will find some considerations from the experience I have gained together with the Digital Dream Team of Caro Collega to improve the digital positioning of Hotels like yours.

In this article

Website Optimization

Website optimization is the cornerstone of any hotel digital marketing strategy. In an age when a guest’s first impression often comes from the virtual world rather than a physical encounter, having an efficient, functional, and engaging website is essential.

Here are some key practices for optimizing your hotel website:

  • Responsive Design: we live in a world dominated by mobile devices. Make sure your website fits perfectly on smartphones, tablets, and desktops. A responsive design ensures a smooth user experience and reduces the risk of lost bookings from mobile users.
  • Loading Speed: The patience of online users is minimal. If your website takes too long to load, you may lose potential customers. Use tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights to monitor and improve your site’s speed.
  • Easy navigation: your website’s structure should allow users to easily find what they are looking for, whether it’s details about rooms, services offered, or information about rates and availability.
  • Quality content: high-resolution images of rooms, facilities, and common areas are essential. Complement these images with detailed, engaging descriptions that highlight what makes your hotel unique.
  • Straightforward CTAs (Call to Action): booking buttons should be clearly visible on every page. Encourage users to take action, whether it’s booking a room, signing up for your newsletter or contacting the front desk for more information.
  • Social media integration: integrate social profiles into the website, allowing users to connect, share and interact with your brand on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or TikTok.
  • Optimized SEO: use keywords relevant to your industry and location to improve search engine rankings. Structure URLs logically and use catchy meta-descriptions.
  • Security and privacy: ensuring a secure website not only protects your business, but also enhances user trust. Implement an SSL certificate and comply with privacy laws by informing users how their data is handled.

In summary, an optimized website is more than just a digital storefront for your hotel. It is a powerful tool that, when used correctly, can increase visibility, improve reputation and, most importantly, increase bookings.
In a sector as competitive as the Hotellerie market, investing time and resources in website optimization can mean the difference between success and anonymity in the vast digital world.

SEO and Local SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a crucial component of any hotel’s digital strategy in the modern era. But while generic SEO focuses on optimizing your website for search engines on a global scale, Local SEO aims to make your property visible to people searching for accommodations in your specific area. Let’s delve into both strategies.

1 – SEO (for search engines): SEO is the art of optimizing a website so that it appears among the top search engine results for keywords and not just if you put your business’ proper name. Some of the activities involved in SEO for Hotels are:

  • Keyword Identification: research and integrate relevant keywords related to the hotel industry into the content of your website. These keywords can range from “luxury hotel” to “rooms with a sea view” or specific to your offering.
  • On-Page Optimization: in addition to keywords, ensure that titles, meta descriptions, URLs and content are optimized for search. This also includes creating high-quality content (photos, videos, text) that answers common traveler questions.
  • Backlinking: working to get high-quality links from websites outside of yours can increase your authority in the eyes of search engines, improving your ranking.

2 – Local SEO: Being a hotel, your clientele is often local or looking for an accomodation near you. This is how Local SEO for Hotels comes into play:

  • Hotel Profile on Google Maps (formerly Google My Business): create and optimize the hotel profile on Google Maps. Be sure to provide accurate information such as address, phone number and opening hours. Upload high-quality photos and encourage reviews.
  • Reviews: as mentioned above, encourage your guests to leave reviews. Respond to these reviews in a professional manner, whether positive or negative, as it shows a commitment to customer care and positively affects your visibility.
  • Citations: make sure your hotel’s information is consistent in all online directories. This includes local directories, review sites and booking platforms.
  • Localized Content: write content specific to your area, such as local travel guides or upcoming events. This not only helps with SEO but also positions your hotel as a resource for visitors.

In conclusion, while generic SEO helps position your hotel on search engines, Local SEO ensures that your hotel’s physical address is positioned. Both are critical to ensure that your hotel is visible online and to convert website visitors into actual guests. In such a crowded and competitive market, attention to detail in SEO can become the key driver that will decide between having a full room and an empty one.

Content Marketing

Content marketing represents one of the most powerful tools a hotel can use to attract, inform, and engage a target audience. It’s not just about promoting your property; it’s about delivering value, connecting with potential guests, and positioning yourself as an authority in the hospitality industry. Here’s how you can make the most of content marketing in the hospitality industry:

1. Blogging: A blog is a great way to share useful and relevant information with a target audience.

  • Local Guides: write articles about local attractions, must-visit restaurants, events in town, and other points of interest. This not only helps SEO, but also shows visitors that you are well informed about your area.
  • Travel Tips: offer advice on how to make reservations, what to bring on a trip, how to plan itineraries, and other useful information for travelers.

2. Video Marketing: Visual content has a profound impact on engagement.

  • Virtual Tours: offer potential guests a virtual tour of the rooms, facilities, and common areas.
  • Testimonials: share video testimonials from satisfied guests or interviews with your employees to show the human side of your business.

3. Infographics: this visual content can share a lot of information in a digestible format.

  • Hotel History: chart a timeline of milestones in your establishment or the surrounding area.
  • Fun Facts: share statistics or fun facts about tourism in the area or hotel-related trivia.

4. Podcasts: with the rise in popularity of podcasts, you might consider starting a podcast related to the world of tourism and hospitality.
5. eBooks and Guides: create detailed guides or eBooks to offer in exchange for newsletter subscription.

  • Complete Guides: for example, “The Complete Guide to Exploring [City Name].”
  • Comparisons: “Camping vs. Hotels: What to Choose for Your Vacations.”

caro collega

In conclusion, content marketing is not just about talking about your hotel; it focuses on providing value to your audience by answering their questions, satisfying their curiosities, and helping them on their travel journey. Well-planned content marketing can not only increase the hotel’s online visibility, but also build a community of loyal followers and boost direct bookings.

In a digital age, where trust and information are everything, offering quality content can actually translate into significant ROI (Return on Investment) for your hotel. But that was just the first part inherent in hotel marketing strategies. In the second part of this article, I will delve into more strategies, covering email and influencer marketing, the power of reviews, and online reputation management.

So, if you want to know more continue to follow me because I will soon publish the second part of these considerations.

Article written by Giancarlo De Leonardo, former Restaurateur and Hotelier, founder of Caro Collega