Key Consumer Insights for Effective Hotel Marketing Strategy

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1 Key Consumer Insights for Effective Hotel Marketing Strategy

2 Effective Hotel Marketing Strategy / 2 Introduction RezNext recently conducted a survey among leading hoteliers in India on their digital marketing activities, ROI and customer acquisition programs. We also reached out to a sample size of 100 travellers to understand their online research habits and hotel booking patterns, how they felt connected to a hotel brand, what put them off and their booking patterns. We have analysed the results and are presenting them to you in an industry report on hotel marketing that looks at what hoteliers are currently doing to drive online business and consumer reaction to the same. This report attempts to bridge the gap in a hotel s digital marketing strategy with consumer insights. E-commerce is on the rise across all business segments in India. A large number of consumers are seeking to purchase products and services online because of two primary reasons convenience and instant gratification. HOTEL BOOK NOW The e-commerce industry in India has grown steadily from $4.4 billion in 2010 to $13.6 billion in By the end of 2015 it is set to reach $16 billion. With access to internet on smart devices, consumers can now immediately search, compare and purchase what they want while on-the-go. The impact of growing e-commerce on the Indian Hospitality Industry In our survey among travellers over 70% said that they prefer to search hotels online. It is increasingly important for hoteliers to ensure that their property is visible across various online platforms and that their brand message is communicated across all online touch points with consumers.

3 Effective Hotel Marketing Strategy / 3 1 Hoteliers are at a risk of losing upto 40% of guests who prefer to book a hotel online. According to the survey conducted among hoteliers, 90% mentioned that digital marketing is a critical part of their hotel promotion strategy. Similarly travellers, over 75%, also indicated that their preferred mode of booking hotels was online. However when asked what would deter them from making an online hotel booking, close to 30% of travellers said that not being able to find the hotel s website online would be a put off. Close to 10% also said that if relevant information was not found online then they would not select that particular hotel. Another important deterrent was that no payment option was available on the hotel website. 40% of hoteliers said that they did not have a payment option on their website. The survey among hoteliers also reveals that only 4% of hoteliers have a good content strategy through a blog in place. This is an important way to improve organic search results as well as provide travellers all the information they need on the hotel, the local tourist spots, weather guidance, eateries close by and more. 20% of hoteliers who have adopted search engine optimisation also see it yielding good conversions. Website not found Less information Hoteliers are at a risk of losing up to 40% of guests who prefer to book a hotel online because their website is not optimised, their content does not say much and there is no secure payment option. Hoteliers must look at adopting search engine optimisation, an integrated content strategy and guest-centric booking technology that is integrated with a PCI compliant payment gateway. The content on the website should be key word optimised, informative and engaging. Also make sure that the navigation is simple and design elegant. Sharing images, videos on the website and other channels is a great way to connect with consumers and keep the content fresh. Also integrating a booking engine with a secure payment gateway helps to earn the trust of the guest. A guest-centric booking engine will display real-time inventory on your website, and help you cross sell your services. Guests can make a purchase involving multiple items (rooms different room types, services meals, airport transfers) and get an instant booking confirmation. maharaja Hotel.com HOTEL WEBSITE HOTEL WEBSITE BOOK NOW No booking & payment option

4 Effective Hotel Marketing Strategy / 4 2 Interactive posts on social media elicit high response from consumers. Over 40% of hoteliers mentioned that they engage with their consumer segments on Facebook. Likewise more than 45% of travellers were open to connecting with hotels on social media channels and found creative interactive content interesting. Social networking website Facebook s Indian user base has grown over 5% from 112 million monthly active users to 118 million in Q % of Facebook India's daily traffic comes through mobile phones as of December Social media platforms, especially Facebook, should be looked upon as a two-way communication channel. While posting videos and images on social media channels is important, it is also necessary that hoteliers connect with online community members through engaging content. Asking guests to post their travel pictures on the hotel s Facebook page with a 5% discount on dinner reward, or hosting a Selfie at the Hotel or Best moment at the Hotel contest among guests encourages participation from consumers.

5 Effective Hotel Marketing Strategy / 5 3 Over 40% of travellers book hotels using their mobiles. More than 50% are keen to download mobile apps. Smartphone usage in India is growing at a fast rate. 41% of India s e-commerce is driven through mobile apps. Hoteliers should look at maximising this opportunity by offering a mobile-optimised website that follows Google s standards in order to rank better for organic search. India is expected to have 651 million smartphones and 18.7 million tablets by The country is the second largest smartphone market globally. HOTEL WEBSITE Points to keep in mind when creating a responsive website: The website should not include features that are not compatible with mobile devices such as Flash Content should be legible without having to zoom into the page Do not use horizontal scroll Navigation should be simple and links easily clickable BOOK NOW Also, mobile apps are a great way to connect with guests on a personal level. But less than 20% of hoteliers are leveraging this to optimise profitability and enhance guest experience. Mobile apps are a great way to build customer loyalty and drive relationship-based marketing, as it gives hoteliers the opportunity to engage with their loyal guest segment and share exclusive promotions and deals with them.

6 Effective Hotel Marketing Strategy / 6 4 Loyalty programs can drive higher direct bookings. According to the survey, close to 90% travellers stated that they will book through the hotel s website if they are awarded loyalty points and benefits. This can be a great way to drive direct bookings and improve online booking revenues. However, 65% hoteliers do not have an exclusive loyalty program for guests who book directly on brand.com. The goal of any marketing program is to drive profitable bookings to the hotel. In this regard loyalty programs can be an important tool. According to the survey, one of the main reasons why travellers (32%) are reluctant to book on the hotel s website is because the rates are higher than third party channels. Rate parity must also be applicable for the hotel website. The rates published for the hotel across third party sites and on the brand site must be the same. Hotel can offer reward points through loyalty programs that can be redeemed for F&B services or room upgrade. This will not only ensure more direct revenues, it will also improve your guest relationship with both first-time and repeat customers. Loyalty Card

7 Effective Hotel Marketing Strategy / 7 5 is a preferred tool of communication for both travellers and hoteliers. Both travellers and hoteliers are of the opinion that ers are one of the most favoured modes of communication. 30% hoteliers indicated that marketing yields the highest ROI among their online marketing tactics. More than 60% travellers also stated that ers on promotions and packages grab their attention best. For an effective marketing plan, hoteliers need to maintain a high-quality database of customers. This requires guest profiles to be recorded at all touch points to capture as much as information about the guests as possible. This will help segment the database based on several criteria, depending on the objective of the marketing campaign or nature of the promotion. Lists can be segmented based on location (to promote a short term event such as food festival), gender (to launch a women s day campaign), age, preferences and more.

8 Effective Hotel Marketing Strategy / % of travellers will not book a hotel with bad reviews irrespective of its price being the lowest. All travellers agreed that they read online reviews before booking a hotel online. In fact, over 80% respondents said, they will not book a hotel if it has no reviews and over 90% travellers mentioned that they will not book a hotel that has predominantly negative reviews even if the room rates are comparatively low. Even hoteliers understand the importance of online reviews and close to 85% mentioned that they respond to online reviews posted by guests on a regular basis. Online Reviews Responding to online reviews, especially negative feedback is crucial. But along with it hoteliers should also look to take advantage of the positive feedback posted by people. First, display reviews and their responses on the website and on social media channels. This acts as a great strategy to influence decisions off people at the time of booking their stay. Ensure to collect feedback from customers at the time of check-out. Also make sure that you look into negative remarks and improve your service. Another way to capitalise on positive reviews is to create promotions, marketing plans and rate strategy around them. If the spa service has received favourable reviews, increase rates for some of the packages and also promote it across all online channels.

9 Effective Hotel Marketing Strategy / 9 7 Metasearch is gaining in importance. India is slowly warming up to the concept of metasearch. In our survey, 45% of travellers mentioned they like to book through metasearch engines such as Google Hotel Finder as that gives them an easier option to compare rates. On the other hand 75% hoteliers have also adopted metasearch as part of their digital marketing strategy. Metasearch should be treated more as a marketing channel and less as a distribution channel. A concentrated effort has to be made by hoteliers to ensure they are listed on leading metasearch channels such as Google Hotel Finder, Trip Advisor, Kayak, Trivago and more. It entails real-time supply of rates and inventory, planned marketing campaigns, managing rate parity, monitoring competitor pricing and bid management. A well-crafted metasearch marketing plan can help you feature among the top listed hotels on these websites and improve your direct revenue. Meta Search

10 Effective Hotel Marketing Strategy / 10 8 Adopt an intelligent distribution strategy. According to the survey, OTAs still remain the most preferred booking channel for travellers. More than 40% people indicated they book their stay through various online demand generators. Over 40% travellers also indicated that more than lower rates, what attracted them more to a particular hotel was special packages/deals displayed on the OTA sites. Supplying real-time inventory and rates to online travel agents is not enough. A crucial step in digital marketing is connecting with the consumer, understanding what they seek and delivering it across all online channels. To achieve this, hoteliers should first segment their target audience based on their requirements. Second they need to create packages around these customer segments. For instance create a 2-night package with complimentary wi-fi for a business traveller; or 3-night package with a complimentary spa session and dinner for honeymooners. Third ensure these packages are displayed on the brand.com and also distributed to the right online channels. For example, don t display honeymoon packages on a channel that is giving high bookings from business travellers. Marketing the right offer to the right customers is crucial to maximise the ROI on your promotional campaigns. For more information write to us at or call us at South Asia Middle East Asia Pacific Africa

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