A worldwide pandemic has turned every type of business upside down. Small, middle, and big business suffers from COVID disaster and seems like there is no way out round it.
The hotel business is not an exception. This niche suffers the most due to the limitations caused by COVID and the absence of tourists that would have rooms in the hotels.
Likely, those hotel owners who run their business online, have more chances to stay the course and boost the income once the quarantine ends.
To succeed, they need to rethink their business approach and rebuild a marketing funnel.
In this guide, hotel business owners will get a detailed step-by-step tutorial on how to adjust their marketing funnel to the post-COVID period. Let’s begin!
The essence of marketing funnel
Basically, any marketing funnel serves to attract new leads and convert them into customers. It consists of four main stages – awareness, interest, consideration, and conversion. However, sometimes you can find a slightly different variation of the funnel that includes one more stage called retention.
You might wonder why this marketing life-cycle is compared to the funnel. The explanation lies behind the “drops out” that appear during the entire customer journey.
Therefore, the first stage of the funnel called “awareness” always has a larger number of potential leads compared to the bottom part called “conversion.”
For instance, if you review a search volume for the inquiry “hotel cleaning tips” you will see that only 90 people search this on Google per month.
You cover this topic on your blog and 40 people read the information on the tips you suggest. It means these 40 people landed at the first stage of the funnel – awareness.
They notice that you offer a 25% discount for anyone who subscribes to your newsletter (actually, you just want to enrich your email list.) Let’s say, 15 leads accepted your discount and you got their emails. Afterwards, with the help of a smart marketing campaign, you managed to convert 5 leads into your hotel tenants.
Consequently, your marketing funnel has the following decrease in numbers 90-40-15-5.
As you can see, this is the exact reflection of a funnel shape.
Now, let’s review each stage one-by-one.
1. The first stage is awareness
This very stage is all about spreading the word about your brand or service and earning some recognition among your target audience.
The purpose of the awareness stage is to let people understand that your service is aware of the problem and can help solve it. Consequently, you must work on your brand awareness using various channels, like:
- Cover topics related to your niche on your blog
- Participate in niche-related podcasts
- Publish your content on third-party resources
- Run ads
- Produce video content (host a YouTube channel)
- Visit conferences
- Do SEO for your website
However, the reality is that these all channels can boost your service’s brand awareness, but it doesn’t mean that you will get conversions right off the bat.
Likely, to turn the table on, you should hire a marketing professional who will change the situation in your business drastically. These specialists can move your hotel business down the funnel. They create a connection “problem + your service = solution” and let more people find out about it.
As mentioned above, there are a few basic channels that could help you reach out to your potential customers. Let’s review them:
1. Google search
The first place where people go to find a solution for their issues is Google. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you promote. The only thing that matters is what queries people are typing on Google to find the service you offer.
If you produce content on your blog that covers topics related to your niche, you will have more chances to get noticed by your target audience. You might wonder how content could be connected with the queries people search on Google.
As a rule, you mention all niche-related terms and queries in the content. Hence, when someone types a query, Google suggests the results per request that would include content from your blog.
To find these niche-specific terms, you need to start with keyword research. There are different SEO tools you can use for this purpose. One of them is Keywords Explorer from Ahrefs. This tool helps you find relative topics that your potential customers are looking for.
If you want to reach a wider audience, you should start by analyzing broader topics. For example, let’s review the SEO stats and other keywords ideas for the query “hotel industry”:
From the screenshot, you can see that there are 6K+ keyword suggestions that you can use in your content marketing efforts.
2. YouTube channel
Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search platform after Google?
It is caused by the fact that video content is way more engaging compared to other content forms. And clever business owners have already realized that this platform is worth their attention. Therefore, they understood that YouTube is another lucrative way to attract leads.
There are two wonderful ways to work on your hotel brand awareness with the help of YouTube.
- Launch your own channel
- Collaborate with popular YouTube niche-related channels
The practice shows that the second way is far more productive. YouTube suggests a huge number of channels that base their content on hotel reviews mostly. For example, the channel “the Luxury Travel Expert” is all about traveling but the author reviews the hotels as well.
This channel has 700K subscribers and over 141 million views. If you check out how many views “hotel review” videos have, you will be astonished.
Each video has a really impressive number of views. It means that if you build collaboration with the channel, your hotel business will get outstanding brand awareness.
If you want to boost brand awareness not only with hotel reviews, you can cover various marketing hotel trends on your own channel as well. But before starting with recording video content, you must do keyword research.
3. Online communities
You can find almost every answer to the question on Google.
However, what are you going to do if there is some sort of question that doesn’t have a direct answer to it?
If it is some topic that needs to be covered in a long-form conversation, you should start exploring different online communities to find the information you need. Communities such as Quora, Reddit, Facebook groups can gather people with the same interests and problems. If people have common issues, they are willingly going to find the best solution by participating in different chats.
This is a great opportunity for you to let people know that your service can solve their problems. What’s more important, you can find useful information and business tips for yourself.
Did you know that Reddit receives 14 billion page views each month? It is a tremendous number for an online community. And you can use this benefit in increasing brand awareness.
For example, COVID affected the hotel business immensely. You noticed that the pandemic has changed consumer behavior and you must know how to move your business forward. Reddit can suggest to you lots of communities and threads where you can find the information you need.
To get the most of online communities, you should remember a few principles:
- Follow the rules that the community has
- Bring value to the community (don’t be focused on getting leads only)
- Participate in threads
- No spam
2. The second stage is interest
At this stage, your potential customers dive deeper into your service. It means that people will type more specific inquiries on Google and follow the experts within the niche.
Your task is to rank for these specific queries and to become an expert by yourself.
Rank for specific queries
To put it simply, you need to explore such terms that would be with high business potential for your hospitality business. For instance, your target audience might search “hotel booking sites” and your aim is to create a piece of content that would suggest such websites for booking.
The trick here is that you not only cover the niche-related topic but solve the problem of your target audience. Plus, you might suggest those websites that you have business relationships with.
Become a niche expert
One thing to be a successful businessman, the other – to be a niche expert or influencer. If you start a blog and produce high-quality content just for SEO, you won’t be able to attract and retain a target audience constantly.
Your purpose is to educate people and cover such topics that would help them see the other sides of this business. This way will allow you to build your community with tons of followers. And promote your business more genuinely.
This stage of the funnel is pre-phase to conversion. At this stage, people decide whether to become your customer or choose the other alternatives. Your task here is to convince them to choose your hotel.
And the best way to do this is by giving the facts why you are the only one right solution. Count on your business intelligence and help your customer to discover why they should trust you.
According to a modern-day pandemic caused by COVID-19, you should reveal all public health measures that are taken in your hotel. Your potential residents must know that they will be safe staying at your hotel.
Therefore, you should develop a specific content marketing strategy that would highlight this topic in detail. Furthermore, you should pay attention to covering the exact steps that small business owners in the hospitality niche should take to fight against COVID-19.
As a result, if you show people that you take care of them and know how to solve their problems, you will earn their trust.
Another thing you should do is to dominate in SERP with modifier keywords. Let’s see how to do this effectively.
You know how people tend to choose a hotel to stay in for a few days. They go to Google and type something like “best hotels in Florida 2020“, right? They review the recommendations and stop on a couple of variations to choose from. After finding the last argument in favor of some hotel they make a final decision.
Hence, to make sure your target audience will be able to find your hotel across different lists, you must optimize your content for such modifiers as “best”, “top”, “vs”, etc.
To find all possible combinations of such queries you can use Keywords Explorer tool again.
Implement these tips and you will push your leads closer to the final stage of your marketing funnel.
4. The final stage – Conversion
If your leads are at this stage – your marketing strategies worked. The last thing you should do at this stage is to give a final nudge to your leads.
What does it mean?
It means you should offer them something valuable that would lean them toward renting a room in the hotel. It could be different discounts, attractive offers, etc.
For example, during the pandemic period, all hotel residents will get food supplementation or free sanitizers. Plus, they will have an opportunity to play online games and visit the gym without the fear of being infected.
Think carefully about what other strategies you can implement to force your hot leads to get converted into your customers.
The hospitality business should have its own marketing funnel. The funnel that would lead your target audience through all stages. This route has its difficulties you will have to overcome.
Likely, you have just got familiar with the marketing funnel for the hotel niche specifically. You are aware of what you will have to do and what strategies should be implemented for a better result.
Keep in mind that the purpose of the funnel is not only to acquire new customers but encourage them to become your loyal brand advocates.