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Incorporating Competitions into Hotel Digital Marketing Strategies

By Yunus on 27 October 2023

In the digital marketing landscape, competitions are a potent tool for hotels to amplify their brand awareness, engage with their audience, and foster a sense of community. Gamification enhances the effectiveness of competitions, making them an attractive strategy for hotels keen on elevating their online presence and customer engagement.
This blog post delves into why competitions are effective and outlines strategies for successfully implementing them in your digital marketing campaigns. 

Why are Competitions So Effective?

Enhanced Engagement

Gamification elements such as points, votes, leaderboards, and achievements inject a fun, competitive spirit into competitions. Participants are driven to engage more, spurred by a sense of accomplishment as they climb up the ranks or earn accolades. For hotels, this heightened engagement can translate into a broader reach and a more vibrant online community.

Motivation and Incentivisation

The allure of prizes taps into participants' intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, urging them to delve deeper into the competition. Whether it’s a complimentary weekend stay or exclusive discounts, the promise of rewards can significantly boost participation rates and foster a closer connection between your hotel and your audience.

Social Interaction

Features, such as social sharing, provide an avenue for participants to interact, share their experiences, and discuss the competition. This sense of community can enhance brand loyalty and encourage word-of-mouth recommendations, further expanding your hotel’s reach.

Enhanced User Experience

Gamification enriches the competition experience by adding a layer of excitement and enjoyment. The playful, interactive nature of gamified competitions creates a positive, memorable interaction with your brand, which can enhance customer satisfaction and retention. 

What Works

Attractive Prizes

The allure of a valuable prize can dramatically increase the number of entries and the level of engagement a competition receives. If your goal is to attain widespread participation, you should offer attractive prizes or, even better money, can't buy experiences.

Tiered Prizes and Engagement Mechanics

Catering to various audience segments by offering a range of prizes is a wise strategy. Offer simpler, random-draw prizes for those deterred by extensive engagement, and separate rewards for participants willing to actively engage in the competition. You can also offer prizes to winners picked by judges to ensure that participants feel that they still stand a chance to win for the quality of their entries. Consider implementing daily or weekly prizes to maintain enthusiasm and engagement throughout the competition’s duration.

Clear Rules and Engagement Mechanics

A successful competition hinges on clear, straightforward rules and engagement mechanics. Ensure that the entry process is intuitive and the rules are unambiguous to prevent confusion and encourage participation. The moment your rules get ambiguous or there is room for interpretation is the moment you begin to lose participants.

Keep the Barrier to Entry Low

A lower barrier to entry will encourage higher participation rates. While elaborately designed competitions may seem appealing, they could deter potential participants. Keeping the entry process simple and straightforward is often more effective.

What Doesn’t Work

Avoid outdated tactics like asking people to like, share and follow as a condition for entry. Many competition enthusiasts, known as 'compers', create accounts solely for entering competitions, which could lead to a rise in bogus followers rather than genuine engagement. Moreover, social media algorithms now limit the reach of such content, rendering this strategy ineffective.

Types of Competitions

Photo contests

Photo contests are a powerful way to engage your audience. However, if the focus is too narrow, like only asking for photos of your hotel, you might find participation to be limited.

We ran a competition called Millennium Lens for Millennium Hotels and Resorts and the competition performed really well. By asking people to share their travel moments, this contest leveraged a broader theme that resonated with a wider audience. This, in turn, generated a wealth of diverse, visually appealing content that not only promoted the hotel brand but also celebrated the larger experience of travel. The global presence of Millennium Hotels added to the appeal, as participants from different locations could share their unique experiences.

Bespoke contests

Bespoke contests offer a tailored experience that can work well, especially if they tie into popular culture. We created a Squid Game-themed competition for Millennium Hotels and Resorts which ran as a chatbot on social media. The competition engaged participants in a fun and interactive manner, mirroring the competitive narrative of Squid Game. By requiring guests to answer questions correctly three times in a row to win, it added a layer of challenge that made the contest more engaging. The social media platform and the chatbot interface ensured a low barrier to entry, making it easy for individuals to participate, thus broadening the reach of the competition.

Stay-to-win contests

'Stay to Win' contests provide a direct incentive for guests to book a stay at your hotel. However, the effectiveness of such competitions often hinges on the attractiveness of the prize and the length of the competition. These types of competitions usually need to run for longer periods of time.  We created an award-winning competition for Millennium Hotels and Resorts, Stay Like a Millionaire.  By offering a compelling prize of one million points to My Millennium members, the contest incentivised bookings and membership sign-ups. The clear mechanics of the contest - stay at the hotel for a chance to win - made it easy for guests to understand how to participate. Moreover, running the contest over nine months ensured continuous engagement and provided ample opportunity for guests to take part. This type of contest not only boosts occupancy rates but also fosters loyalty and engagement with the hotel’s loyalty programme.

Competitions Enhance Hotel Digital Marketing Strategies

Incorporating competitions into your digital marketing strategy can significantly enhance your hotel’s online engagement and brand awareness. By understanding what drives participation and ensuring a well-structured, rewarding competition, hotels can create a rich, enjoyable experience for their audience while achieving their marketing objectives. 

Through strategic planning and a customer-centric approach, competitions can serve as a powerful tool in a hotel's digital marketing arsenal, paving the way for a stronger online community and heightened brand loyalty.

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