The long-term success of a hospitality business depends on your ability to adapt your marketing strategy to that which will help you reach more travelers, build trust and recognition, acquire new customers, and optimize booking revenues.

Why is Marketing So Important for Hospitality Businesses?

Marketing is indispensable to the success of a hospitality business because it focuses on the creation and maintenance of a positive relationship and experience between the business and its customers.

For those who are looking to engage more customers with their travel or hotel business, it’s best to use different digital marketing mediums to efficiently advertise to their niche audiences. 

Importance of Staying on Top of Digital Marketing Trends

With the speed at which things change on the web, it is absolutely vital to keep up with the latest marketing trends in hospitality in order to adapt your approach to where the market is headed.

For example, the COVID-19 pandemic had a great effect on if, when, and how consumers travel, as well as the importance of factors like safety, cleanliness, and reputation.   

To help equip you for your 2021 hospitality marketing planning, we have prepared a list of general digital marketing trends for the hospitality industry, as well as those related to the challenges associated with the pandemic. 

General Hospitality Marketing Trends

Personalization

Personalization continues to grow and has become an expectation of the consumer. In fact, a recent report found that almost 60% of travelers think brands should offer a personalized experience based on their preferences or past behaviors.  

The main goal of personalized marketing is to communicate and engage with potential customers as individuals. This can be done by delivering individualized content on your website and email that targets customers through data collection and automation technology.

Personalization services are particularly important for tour operators and hotel marketers since their clients and guests are acquired through targeted emails. This is one of the most straightforward marketing strategies in the hospitality industry as it helps to build a personal relationship with customers while encouraging them to commit to a return visit. 

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is one of the fastest-growing marketing strategies for hospitality businesses. Influencer marketing is the digital counterpart to the traditional word-of-mouth approach used to increase brand awareness and to generate direct bookings for hotels. With influencer marketing, you partner with key influencers that have a large following on social media to promote your brand to their audience. Through this strategy, businesses are able to raise brand awareness and reach a bigger audience for your travel or hotel, while building trust and credibility through the endorsement of trusted influencers. 

User-Generated Content

Some of the most trusted content online is content created by users, which comes in many different forms such as comments, testimonials, blog posts, forums, and social publications. Recent studies indicate a rise in user-generated content (UGC), which is a good thing for brands, especially when statistics indicate that conversion rates increase on product pages that incorporate user-generated content. 

Marketers can harness the power of user-generated content by encouraging guests to show off their experience and leave reviews on their social media pages. You can also create brand hashtags, run contests, or you can set up photo booths at your hotel or location. When executed well, user-generated content works can be much more powerful than other traditional marketing efforts because your customers are essentially selling the experience for you. 

Video Marketing

Online video consumption is growing at a startling rate. In fact, the average consumer is expected to watch an average of 100 minutes of video per day in 2021. It’s no surprise then why 92% of marketers say that video is an important marketing tool for their marketing strategy.

Facebook Live, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms are some of the best mediums to use for video marketing your hotel or travel business. Beautiful scenery and gorgeous locations surrounding your resort or hotel can easily capture the attention of audiences especially if it is delivered in an exciting video.

With the many different video options available — from promotional videos, hotel live streams, hotel highlights, and customer interviews, there’s always something for your business to market through video.

Remarketing Ads

Remarketing focuses on connecting with users who have already shown interest in your hotel or travel business through a trackable action such as a website visit, watching a video on YouTube, or engaging with your content on social media.

The use of remarketing has grown significantly, with 49% of brands having a dedicated budget for retargeting in 2019 vs. less than 20% in 2013. And it’s no wonder when studies indicate that retargeting ads have a 400% higher click-through rate and result in a 148% higher website conversion rate. 

One powerful example of the application of remarketing in the hospitality sector is serving ads to re-engage users who spent time on your website but didn’t continue with booking a room. 

Connect to Online Travel Agencies to Increase Bookings

With 51% of travelers making their hotel bookings through online travel agencies (OTAs) vs. booking directly with the hotel, OTAs are one of the most crucial channels for distribution for hospitality businesses.

Because of their success, the number of travel agencies has significantly increased in the past few years. Such services allow customers to go online and lookup services and products in one place, rather than having to visit individual websites. As a result, it should be a priority to establish a partnership with one or more travel agencies. 

Improve Customer Experience with Chatbots

Chatbots are a relatively new technology but have quickly become a key component of many businesses’ digital engagement strategy. Chatbot use is expected to grow at a rate of 30% per year

Chatbots can be particularly useful for businesses in the hospitality sector, as they allow for rapid responses to customer queries, whether or not you have staff available to answer those questions.

Chatbots can also be used to help guide potential customers through the booking stages, offer ing encouragement for the completion of bookings as well as to provide support for questions that arise during the booking process. 

COVID-Related Hospitality Marketing Trends

Promote Safety in Marketing and Communications

The most paramount trend in hospitality is being aware of safety procedures, which is more relevant today than ever. With the surge in COVID-19 cases, it is now more important to highlight safety and hygiene, which need to be strictly implemented throughout your facilities to protect customers. This means relocating tables to make room for social distancing, increased frequency in cleaning, making sure that masks are worn at all times, and making sure to offer contactless payment via mobile apps.    

Emphasize Leisure Opportunities

For hospitality businesses that focus on business travelers, you may find that there’s a need to change strategies and make use of marketing campaigns that call out to leisure visitors. Even with the pandemic, the demand for leisurely travels still exists, where there’s an opportunity to focus on couples, families, and small groups. Just be sure to have your hotel or destination in the right channels to ensure its visibility, while you highlight every facility that encourages its purpose. A great idea is to emphasize attractions that are close to your hotel or restaurant to get more potential visitors. 

Renewed Focus on Local Customers

Because the Covid-19 pandemic has put a restriction on international customers, one of the biggest opportunities in hospitality right now is to renew focus on your local customers. Some things that you can do to appeal to locals is offer services such as food delivery, massage services, gyms, and saunas in your facilities. If you own a hotel or cafe, you may offer free wi-fi for customers wanting to do remote work. 

Offer Flexible Cancellations

One more way to show that your business effectively responds to COVID-19 is by offering your customers something unique. Businesses think that everything is about pricing, but the reality is, customers are happy to pay for the quality that’s given to them. This is where you need to think about what will make you stand out. Offering customers the freedom to cancel their booking will allow them to re-book without any hassles. This will not only keep your customer experience smooth, but it will also help to keep your business running swimmingly.   

Now is the Time to Act on These Hospitality Marketing Trends

The year 2021 is sure to have even more surprises in store. To ensure that your business thrives into the new year, make sure to stay updated with the latest hospitality marketing trends. And more importantly, act on what you learn so that you can stay competitive and increase your value to your consumers. 

Need help tuning up your 2021 marketing strategy? Contact us today to learn how we can help. Click here to learn more about our proven approach to helping businesses in the hospitality industry.

Meet the Author:

Carl Lefever

Carl Lefever, Founder & Strategist

Carl is the founder of Improve & Grow, LLC, where his primary passion is helping businesses grow by improving their online marketing. He leads the team and is involved in developing and executing internet marketing strategies for our clients. Carl's background is in continuous improvement disciplines, focused on sales and marketing operations. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt. He is a proud father of 4 girls and loves traveling and supporting missions work.