Hotel Marketing Guide: 25 Tips to Market Your Hotel and Stand Out from the Competition
With new hotels constantly opening, plus the growth of websites like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway, it’s incredibly challenging for hotels – especially boutique hotels – to stand out in their marketing against the competition.
It’s no longer enough to be listed on travel sites. Hotels need to get creative with their marketing tools to stand out.
So what can a hotel event planner do to ensure people find your property and get so excited they can’t wait to book?
Get started generating revenue and differentiating your hotel from the competition by checking out our handy hotel marketing guide.
Hotel Marketing Guide table of contents:
- Hotel marketing basics: where to get started
- Take your hotel marketing to the next level
- Helpful hotel sales and marketing tools to try
Hotel marketing basics: where to get started
- Establish a unique identity
To contend with the competition, your hotel needs to offer something unique and distinctly different to entice potential guests. And hotel marketing initiatives need to reflect that unique value. Every hotel has a great story to share, whether it’s an interesting history, special amenities, or other property details.
Find your unique value by developing a list of hotel traits, features, or characteristics that are unlike other hotels. You can also expand to the surrounding area or local region to find what makes your property special. Then craft a story around those traits or features and incorporate those unique details in all of your hotel marketing efforts.
- Maximize your website
Your website is your hotel’s most critical marketing tool, as this is where people go to find all the details. A compelling, up-to-date, easy-to-navigate, and engaging website that is viewable on all mobile devices sets you apart from competitors.
Aside from providing basic details and amenities, focus on influencing travelers to book through engaging blogs, photos, articles, menus, and other helpful information for your property and the surrounding area.
- Use search engine optimization (SEO) to increase visibility
SEO optimization is crucial if you’re looking to create long-term brand awareness, expand your audience reach, and generate more revenue.
According to Forrester research, about 80 percent of website visits begin in a search engine or a directory service. Help search engines find your hotel website by using well-researched keywords and SEO-friendly title tags, which help prospective guests find you.
- Prioritize content marketing
Original content and SEO work hand in hand; by creating helpful content for site visitors, such as blog posts or articles, images, and videos, your site will rank better in search results.
Make sure your content is high quality and optimized for keywords you want to rank for. And since search engines like freshness, update content on a consistent cadence.
- Connect with audiences on social media
There are 4.70 billion social media users worldwide. That’s a lot of potential eyeballs on your marketing content, which can raise your hotel’s visibility.
A regular sharing schedule is the best way to keep potential visitors and guests engaged on social media. Instagram is the go-to for posting eye-catching photos and videos that highlight the beauty of your property and location, but TikTok is gaining in popularity too. Don’t forget about Twitter and YouTube. The key is to know your audience and deliver content where they frequent.
- Stay top-of-mind through email marketing
Email is the best digital marketing channel to promote your hotel, nurture future guests, upsell and cross-sell rooms, and keep in touch with past guests long after their stay.
Part of the big draw for hotel event planners is that email marketing remains one of the few channels hotels own – meaning it’s easier to control when and how frequently guests and subscribers hear from you. Use this touchpoint thoughtfully to lead to more direct bookings, increased customer loyalty, and lower marketing costs.
- Utilize reviews
81% of people “always or frequently” read online reviews before booking hotel accommodations.
At or immediately following checkout, ask guests to leave a review of their visit. Don’t forget to monitor reviews on popular booking sites too. Whether the feedback is good or bad, each review offers a new and unique opportunity for hotels to showcase their property to other potential guests.
- Share examples of on-site meetings and events
Beyond reviews of guests, differentiate your hotel by sharing examples of meetings or events held at the property.
For example, did your hotel host an annual fundraising gala that broke donation records? Or did you welcome the top 100 sales associates from a global Fortune 500 company? Share those details in addition to photos and details of the room layout, food and beverage, and other logistics to add more impact to your marketing.
Take your hotel marketing to the next level
- Update your imagery
As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. High-quality, artistically stylized images can drive bookings: photos play a 60% role in a hotel guest’s decision-making process.
Images play both a functional and emotional role. Because they convey what the hotel, rooms, and amenities are like and, at the same time, provide an opportunity to inspire and connect with travelers and their hotel or destination, the quality and style of the images used across your hotel promotions can be the difference between your marketing trending or falling flat.
- Create a virtual tour
Virtual site tours are becoming expected capabilities for event venues – and with good reason. 3D and 360 video walkthroughs immerse customers and guests into your hotel’s property and invoke FOMO that makes them want to visit.
More importantly, utilizing these virtual marketing tools can drive considerable revenue. For example, Allseated hospitality clients have seen a 30 percent sales increase by investing in digital twin-based virtual venue tours and event floor planning tools.
- Communicate your reputation for top-notch service
One compelling way to differentiate your hotel from the competition is top-notch service. Like Nordstrom’s approach to customer service, going the extra mile in the hotel and hospitality industry for guests can yield mega returns.
Build a culture with top-notch service at the center, where the staff is empowered to find ways to make a guest’s stay memorable – whether providing a surprise gift at check-in, greeting them by name throughout their stay, or helping solve a problem.
- Tell guest stories
A great story from a past guest can earn you a new customer. Encourage famous and not-so-famous guests to share what brought them to your hotel and use their stories in your marketing efforts.
- Highlight team members
Cori Copley is well-known to Fairmont Copley Plaza guests. But she isn’t a typical staff member—she’s the third of the hotel’s famous black Labrador canine ambassadors. Cori has her own web page and thousands of followers on Instagram. She greets visitors at arrival, and guests can book time with her to go for walks or runs, complete with a booklet highlighting the local Boston area.
The people behind your hotel are another element that makes your property unique. Showcase them as you market your hotel — whether they are a top chef, esthetician, masseuse, personal trainer, bellman, housekeeping, or back-of-the-house team member.
- Expand your marketing influencer sphere
Guests are likely posting pics of your hotel daily, which their friends and peers see. Turn them into advocates to expand your hotel marketing reach.
For example, the 1888 Hotel in Sydney, Australia, has in the past rewarded guests with more than 10,000 Instagram followers with a complimentary stay when they post pics of their stay. The hotel has also offered guests a chance to win a free night at the hotel when they share pictures of the hotel on Instagram using the hashtag #1888hotel.
Using advocates and influencers increases the likelihood of your hotel appearing in searches and social channels, from initial planning to post-stay reviews, giving you an edge over the competition.
- Feature local experiences
Many guests, especially millennial travelers, want to immerse themselves in the local scene, and the hotels they stay in play a considerable role in that experience.
Stand out from the competition by giving guests ways to experience the destination as local residents. For example, instead of a typical guided city tour, offer a walking tour, like The Garland’s North Hollywood neighborhood tour, complete with a stop at the famed Brady Bunch house!
Another route is to create social experiences where guests can meet and interact with local residents, artists, musicians and DJs, and more.
- Showcase your local involvement and support
Farm-to-table dining has been a buzzword for a while, and hotels have been simultaneously taking advantage of the trend to show their local community support. Differentiate your hotel’s food and beverage offerings with ingredients sourced from nearby farms – or even the hotel’s on-site garden.
Another way to support the local community is decorating with locally produced art, like Provenance Hotels. In addition to designing each hotel around a unique local theme, Provenance also “co-conspires” with locals to offer a wide range of tasty treats and unique experiences.
- Share your efforts to protect the environment
There are easy ways to showcase your efforts to protect the environment that aren’t about credits or points for skipping housekeeping.
For example, hotels have ample opportunity to differentiate by promoting their eco-friendly choices, like glass cups, stoneware mugs, or water carafes, instead of paper and plastic items. And energy-saving lightbulbs are an obvious choice when it’s time to replace burned-out bulbs. Guests appreciate the sustainable approach, and it’s a way to stand out compared to the competition.
Helpful hotel sales and marketing tools to try
There are many different email marketing platforms, from simple, self-serve to more complex platforms that integrate with CRMs and other technology. Mailchimp is the #1 email marketing and automation brand for good reason – it offers email templates, single-step automations, and built-in analytics, plus many more features that make it a robust marketing platform.
While photos of your property and amenities should be the focus, sometimes hotel event planners need free stock images to supplement marketing and content initiatives.
While free stock photo sites abound, Unsplash claims they have over 265,000 contributing photographers and a growing library of nearly 3.5 million photos. All images are free to download and use for commercial and non-commercial purposes.
We’ve already touted the benefits of using virtual tour technology to transport guests to your property digitally.
And because visualizing an event is one of the trickiest tasks in the sales process, virtually showcasing hotel event spaces to clients anywhere in the world can help hotel event planners close new business more quickly and often without needing onsite meetings.
With so much emphasis on eye-catching visuals and the need for fresh content, hotels often need graphic design tools.
Canva is an online (and free!) graphic design platform created for those who don’t have graphic design skills. Its intuitive and easy-to-use interface makes creating different kinds of custom imagery easy – everything from social media banners, blog post headers, Instagram and Twitter graphics, flyers, posters, and other marketing collateral.
Going beyond a standard spell-check tool, millions use Grammarly to make writing clearer and more effective.
When you write with Grammarly, their sophisticated artificial intelligence system analyzes each sentence. It looks for ways to improve your writing, whether correcting a verb tense, suggesting a stronger synonym, or offering a clearer sentence structure. The Chrome extension also makes it easy to check writing across different tools – whether on your phone or computer, in your browser or word processor – to ensure your clear and effective communications.
This free writing tool helps make your writing bold and clear. Type or paste any amount of text into the Hemingway App to see suggestions to avoid passive voice, tighten up long-winded text, and find simpler alternatives to complex words.
With attention spans getting shorter and shorter, this tool helps create concise communications with high readability.
Because hyper-relevant content is vital to direct hotel bookings, Buzzsumo is one of the best tools to understand keywords, trending stories, customer questions, and content trending related to your location.
Search a phrase, keyword, or domain (like that of a competing hotel) to discover topics of interest that can be used for content marketing, understand what your competitors share, and monitor brand mentions.
Enhance your social media marketing across Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more with this social media management tool. Instead of logging into multiple platforms, create, schedule, and publish content from one central location – with the main dashboard that provides real-time insights.
Hootsuite also functions as a social media monitoring platform, allowing hotel properties to track mentions of their hotel name, social media handles, or any other essential keywords — which is excellent for understanding brand reach, engaging with guests, and identifying any customer issues before they turn into a more significant concern.
Whether you’re brand new to hotel marketing or are looking to take your current efforts to the next level, bookmark these twenty-five tips as your go-to reference to differentiate your property from the competition and increase revenue.