Hotel marketing strategy 2021: the essentials
There are varying schools of thought on what the great travel rebound will look like, but one certainty is that the consumer mindset has changed. Front and centre is cleanliness and safety – and with that comes a tendency to spend longer planning and researching a prospective stay. This shift towards more considered choices is an opportunity to capture pent-up interest by providing both inspiration and information. Here are some key considerations for your hotel marketing strategy this year.
Prioritise your digital hotel lobby
That is, your homepage. It’s the first impression, the front desk, a welcoming space with rich visual impact. Travellers are lingering longer in the dreaming and planning stages of a trip than in pre-pandemic times, so it is vitally important that this grand entry point delivers an easy and enjoyable user experience. Standard-setting websites achieve two things: they motivate people to take a trip, while anticipating the needs and questions of guests and answering them fully. The more detail you can provide, the better – and this includes a gallery of high-quality photos (20 plus for small hotels, up to 100 for larger properties), plus a blog, which will give you room to turn your knowledge of the local area into engaging content.
Cleanliness is the key message
Perhaps unsurprisingly, insights show that cleanliness is a top consideration for all travellers in 2021, with Expedia reporting that four out of five travellers will factor health and hygiene measures into their booking decisions. The delicate balance to be mastered is that of the joy and lightness of travel, underpinned by reassurances around safety and hygiene. Information should be detailed and easily accessible; many brands are making use of video to demonstrate how enhanced practices are being deftly woven into a warm and soulful hotel experience.
Understand your target audience
Recognising the motivations and concerns of your target market is crucial to re-engaging grounded past guests and appealing to a newly relevant audience. In order to communicate effectively, it’s worth exploring how behaviours and attitudes may have evolved with changing circumstances. This depends on the demographic; affluent Millennials are expected to lead the recovery of overseas travel, but across all groups, there is an ongoing cautiousness that requires timely and sensitive messaging. If your target audience is now domestic, consider how spaces can be reimagined, play up wellbeing and F&B, and encourage stay extensions.
Promote direct bookings
In times of turbulence, customers turn to trusted brands when deciding who is worthy of their hard-earned tourist dollar. Not only is familiarity appealing, but there are perceived advantages to booking a stay directly: communication is easier, the service more personalised, and amendments more straightforward in the event of travel restrictions. Ultimately, today’s traveller needs to feel confident that their expectations will be met, whatever may arise. Loyalty schemes should ideally feature a price incentive, but also an assurance of care and flexibility.
Focus on brand authenticity
Cecelia Adjei, former global brand partnerships manager for VisitBritain, recently called 2021 the “year of the conscious consumer”. It’s not an overnight trend. In recent years, the modern traveller has been seeking more from hospitality than high thread-count sheets. In some ways it goes back to the original purpose of the industry: making people feel comfortable and welcome. But it’s also about contributing positively to the local area and working with communities, which has the additional benefit of creating a stronger sense of place and authenticity. The pandemic has galvanised the desire to support hotel brands that feel humanised, not detached, and congruent with our values and lifestyle. Brand-agnostic browsing is out, meaningful engagement is in.
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