Hotel Marketing Tech: 'Nice to Have' vs. 'Need to Have'
Hotel marketing is a complex and nuanced practice that requires planning, patience, and the ability to analyze and adapt to results. In practice, a hotel marketer blends a creative mindset with a strategic approach that uses strong creative in support of marketing campaigns that increase occupancy and revenues.
Let's look at the skills necessary for success in this role, as well as the technology that solves specific pain points encountered regularly by hotel marketers.
The three parts of a hotel marketer’s day-to-day
A hotel marketer’s role has three overlapping components: creativity, strategy, and relationship management. Across these components, a hotel marketer must be a team-oriented problem solver, as well as an outcome-based thinker that consistently plans and executes to achieve desired outcomes.
#1. Creativity. The creative part of a hotel marketer’s job is what draws many to the role. In the day-to-day breakdown of tasks, creativity flows throughout. Each day, a hotel marketer brainstorms new promotions, crafts social media messaging in support of existing promotions, analyzes campaign performance, and collaborates across departments to execute campaigns.
#2: Strategy. On the strategic side, a hotel marketer must be prepared. First, identify and understand the hotel’s niche: what are the guest demographics, where do they book, and what are their preferences? Once that’s clear, each marketing campaign should have a plan with clear objectives, creative collateral targeted to demographic and channel, and set milestones. As there will be overlapping campaigns at any given time, organization is key. Track your metrics, analyze performance via channel managers and booking tools, and iterate on your strategy.
#3: Relationships. The final pillar of a hotel marketer’s day-to-day is relationship management. With the GM, a successful hotel marketer must nurture clarity and foster trust, which ensures that the marketer has the support to execute ambitious plans. With the revenue management team, a successful hotel marketer must listen, be flexible, adapt to that team’s daily adjustments. Don’t be precious with marketing collateral and campaigns -- sometimes even the best campaigns must be paused in reaction to evolving revenue dynamics.
Tech to optimize workflow and fuel breakout successes
Whether it's encouraging more direct bookings or capturing demand from intermediaries, the bulk of the hotel marketer’s investment in technology relates to managing marketing spend. It’s all about discovering and implementing the right technology to optimize workflow and fuel the breakout successes that elevate the marketing team’s profile.
I want to improve...my customer acquisition costs.
By leveraging the expertise of digital marketing agencies that spend nearly all of its time on campaign optimization, a hotel may benefit from lower customer acquisition costs overall. Outsourcing this portion of marketing can also help solo hotel marketers gain perspective and creative input from an expert.
“They feel like an extension of our own team on property. In addition to being experts in the digital marketing field, they strive to understand our own business and frequently ask for updates on our current occupancy, ADR, business mix, etc. to provide better, well-rounded strategy recommendations that touch our major revenue centers. They are flexible in their reporting and put good tracking mechanisms in place to more accurately report on ROI...” -Reviewer sharing the benefits of using a digital marketing agency (read more Screen Pilot Reviews here)
For those who prefer handling internally, advertising technology for hotels has evolved to give marketers more direct control over ad spending on digital metasearch channels such as Google Hotel Ads.
Metrics impacted by digital marketing agencies: When using these tools, monitor your Customer Acquisition Costs (cost of advertising and any commissions). Don’t forget to include any payouts to the digital agency in your calculations!
I want to improve...content planning.
Whether its content marketing or social media management, marketing teams benefit from additional tech that improves team productivity and boosts transparency. There are rarely enough staff resources to manage the creation and distribution of content. As part of the weekly calendar, scheduling promotions is an ongoing event for hotel marketers. Having a clear content calendar, coupled with a social scheduler, allows marketing to be more efficient and transparent with all stakeholders.
Metrics impacted by content planning tools: When using the software, monitor your team’s response time to social media requests, as well as your “time to market” for content pieces, or how long it takes content to go from idea to publish.
I want to improve...our hotel’s reputation.
A hotel’s reputation has a direct impact on revenues. Recent research analyzing the correlation between ratings and room rates reveals that “a higher star rating implies higher online reviews” which is “positively related to higher pricing power.” The reputation management experts at Revinate found that -- assuming equal prices -- consumers are 3.9 times more likely to choose a hotel with a higher review score, while 76% of travellers are more likely to book a hotel with a higher score, regardless of price. For a hotel marketer, this means that securing positive reviews is as good as gold.
This process becomes second nature with reputation and review management tools. A portion of each day should be devoted to responding to reviews, as well as analyzing -- and improving -- existing efforts to secure reviews from past guests. An ambitious hotel marketer will also leverage the relationship with the GM to solve any concerns raised by guests, as well as building trust across departments to align everyone with a culture of guest-centricity.
Metrics impacted by reputation management software: When using reputation management software, track your hotel’s average review score, as well as your team’s response time to guest feedback and reviews.
I want to improve...our relationships with guests.
Another technology used each day by a hotel marketer is email marketing and CRM software. As the hub for guest profiles and marketing communications, the software is the framework for an effective marketing strategy that focuses on nurturing long-term guest relationships.
In fact, a hotel marketer spends so much time in a CRM that it should be the most carefully evaluated of all software. Each week, a hotel marketer should review scheduled promotions, collaborate with revenue management to craft creative promotions that resonate, and optimize for conversion.
Each quarter, existing segmentation should be reviewed and new segments tested. To streamline productivity, the best CRM will connect to a hotel’s PMS to automatically pull in guest profiles and send out post-stay surveys. The end result is higher productivity and better conversions that make a hotel marketer look great to the GM.
Metrics impacted by CRM software: When nurturing guest relationships, track your e-mail CTR rates, as well as unsubscribes. Also, in collaboration with your web team, strive to connect visits from e-mail subscribers to revenue to track ROI.
Just don't forget to get out from behind the computer!
With the right technology and strategy, changes shouldn’t surprise a hotel marketer. Technology encourages adaptability by reducing the time it takes to make changes on the fly. Just don’t forget the human touch that defines hospitality: get out from behind the computer, tour the property, and maintain relationships. On-the-ground always benefits a hotel marketer with short-term perspective and long-term social capital.