The paradox of hotel marketing - Insights

The paradox of hotel marketing

Hotel marketing strategyWe say we are in the hospitality industry. We say we care about service, but our conversations spin around investment, real estate, and interior design. 

You can easily see it in everyday life, whatever happened to the “host” in hospitality?

When was the last time you saw a GM in a lobby, let alone talk to you? GM’s these days are corporate managers, not “lords of the manor”.

The changing GM role has had a profound effect on the attitude of the team that they lead, the opinion of the guest as a “customer” and turned hotels from a home to a bed factory, driven by revenue management and churn.

While these areas are commercially important, at the core, we are hosts, welcoming guests as valued people to stay in our home and our marketing should reflect this.  There are few brands or properties that convey a welcoming, personalized message through their marketing.

How did we get there?

Things worked well for a long while. Hotels did not have to make too much of an effort to attract guests. Once the product was good, they had guests.

Guests were eager to try something special and new and different, employees were happy to work for big names and little money to have a prestigious hotel on their CV.

All we did – proudly show off our product (the designer rooms, the terrific location and the amenities) sign up for a few platforms to be listed and lean back.

A few years ago, cracks appeared in this sure-fire success strategy and then came Corona and all the smoldering issues surfaced and came crashing down on us: Price politics, commissions, not enough revenue, not enough staff.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that we gave away our power.

For years, we left our marketing to be handled by people outside our hotel.

For hoteliers, hotel marketing has always been “something nice to have” or something we dealt with on the side, but it was pretty much on the bottom of the priority list i.e. “we have more pressing matters to deal with…”

(I just have to think back to our annual hotel marketing meetings …)

Most hotel websites are nothing more than DL brochures: a list of their product features, a few images, and a reservations button (that’s hardly ever pressed)

But successful businesses and good profits are based on effective marketing – marketing that speaks to their visitors and triggers emotions, which leads to action:

  • It requires that you position yourself to attract the clientele (and the team!) you
  • You need to decide your niche.“We welcome every guest”, does not work.”
  • You need to interact with your guestson their buyer’s journey

And it’s so worth the effort:

  • Your ideal guest is likely to love your product and be willing to pay the price for it.
  • You can ask for the rates you want, ADR goes up, revenue goes up and you can invest in an even better hotel experience.

We are the people-persons and yet, in our online presentations, we hire a chic agency, show some grand pictures and never have a conversation with the prospect that enters our online shop!

We would never dream of treating our guests like this in real life.

Without good marketing, you’ll never have a flourishing hotel business.

Issues :

  • Boring social media posts – not speaking to the guest/potential customer
  • Newsletter that are not giving news, but talking about the latest deal
  • All I need is good images
  • I can write it myself
  • Nobody reads anymore
  • Misconceptions:
  • I need to hire an expensive agency
  • No one will find me, if I’m not on a booking platform
  • I need a social media manager
  • SEO is complicated – I need an expert

Look at the typical hotel websites around the world

The big chains “streamline” their marketing – every hotel looks pretty much the same and often they don’t even do a good job.

Some hotel chains have websites that are confusing, and ram-packed with bite-size info boxes.

What are they conveying to their visitors? “I’m a supermarket”

Luxury boutique hotels try to catch you with glossy or over dramatized images and the usual buzz words. They tell visitors: I don’t need to tell you about myself. I am posh. I am important.

From business to leisure hotels – a few images and some description in a distant language.

They say to visitors: I am one of many.

Exceptions: Virgin Hotels, Kimpton, some private hotels who talk to their guests with personality and spark.

What does a good hotel website look like?

  • Your guest is at the center of attention!
  • You can instantly see what this place is all about
  • It’s as easy as ABC to book a room

The two most important pages – Homepage and About Us Page

Why SEO takes you only so far and how we are wasting huuuuge direct booking potential on our home and about us page…

What a website should be and not be, speaking from the viewpoint of a guest.


Tags: digital marketing, hotel marketing

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