Hotel Marketing Strategies That Get Results

by Jennifer Dunphy

Jan 24, 2013

The online marketing landscape is constantly evolving and morphing into new collaborations between numerous online avenues. It’s no longer about simply creating a social media strategy, a search engine optimization strategy or a  banner ad campaign for your hotel; it’s about creating an overall online presence that enhances your websites visibility to the people that matter the most… Your potential guests. The ever increasing importance of being present where your potential customers are searching has created a fragmented web, but offers the searcher more options. It is critical for businesses to be visible wherever their target market may be spending time online; whether that may be on Google, social networks such as Facebook, blogs, online magazines, or specialty review sites like TripAdvisior. If you are not present, you are missing out on new bookings.

 

 

With the economy improving, Americans are once again traveling and taking vacations vs. hanging out around home on a stay-cation. But how are they finding their accommodations, booking their arrangements and what are they doing after their trip that can impact your hotels bottom line?  I recently had the pleasure to interview Gail Riley with Highland Haven Creekside Inn, a romantic inn located in the picturesque foothills of Evergreen Colorado, just 30 minutes west of Denver. The main topic of our discussion was why marketing hotels, inns and resorts has changed and will continue to be a volatile online proposition. Read the interview below to learn how Highland Haven Creekside Inn is staying ahead of the curve with their online strategies and keeping their bookings high.

 

 

Hotel Marketing Strategies That Get Results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vayu Media: What is the size of your hotel/B&B or resort?

 

Highland Haven: 17 rooms, suites, and cottages. 1 TreeHouse

 

Vayu Media: What makes your hotel special?

 

Highland Haven:  Luxury amenities. Proximity to Denver. Walking distance to town. High quality throughout.

 

Vayu Media: What special amenities does your hotel offer ( spa, excursions, pool, vineyard, etc)?

 

Highland Haven: Hot Tubs, Steam Showers, Creekside setting, full homemade breakfast, breakfast in bed, pillow top mattress, romance trays, wireless, flat screen tvs

 

Vayu Media: What are your busy seasons? Slow seasons?

 

Highland Haven: Busy-Summer (June-September) Slow-Winter (October-February)

 

Vayu Media: Do your marketing campaigns change to cater to the seasonality of your hotel?

 

Highland Haven: Yes for food, holidays, weather (things to do), the photos we use, parties/events

 

Vayu Media: How many employees does your hotel have?

 

Highland Haven:  12-20

 

Vayu Media: Who is your target market/ideal guest?

 

Highland Haven:  People celebrating romance & birthdays.

 

Vayu Media: How has marketing your resort has changed over the past 5 years?

 

Highland Haven:  It has changed considerably through Social media, print, website. There is just so much to market to!

 

Vayu Media: What are you doing about the changing landscape to ensure that you reach your potential guests?

 

Highland Haven: Constantly upgrading website, mobile site, being webmaster to business site to make changes when needed. Working in conjunction with other businesses(spa, winery, lake, restaurants). Community involvement. Consistent about philanthropy. Staying up to date with Social Networking! Seek free marketing by inviting travel writers, magazine owners to stay here for free or discounted rates. We have 2 books written by owner to help promote. Not abandoning old school tactics

 

Vayu Media: How are you responding to changes online (new companies, consolidations, competition, Google changes, etc)

Highland Haven:  Using companies like bandb.com which puts us on all major booking engines. Promoting reviews on trip advisor and b&B.com. Using Search engine optimization to stay relevant on Google and search engines.  Making sure we are relevant compared to our competitors on websites. Revisiting listings.

 

Vayu Media: How would you rate the overall visibility of your hotel to potential guests? (online presence, offline presence, location)

 

Highland Haven: Using larger websites like b&b.com, lanierband to stay online presence-constant battle to stay relevant.  We would rate ourselves excellent on offline and location. Online presence needs improvement.

 

Vayu Media: What strategies have you implemented for growth (SEO, PPC, Social Media, Banner Ads, Mobile Marketing, Blogs, booking engines, online travel agencies etc.)?

 

Highland Haven: SEO, Social media, mobile marketing, and booking engines are always high priority. We stay away from banner ads and Pay Per Click.

 

Vayu Media: What booking engines/travel search engines/ hotel review sites do you feel are important to have representation on?

 

Highland Haven: Google, Bing, Yahoo, Trip Advisor, Yelp, BandB.com

 

Vayu Media: Which booking engines/travel search engines/ hotel review sites do you find yield the best results?

 

Highland Haven: Google, BandB.com, TripAdvisor are the best!

 

Vayu Media: Do you incentivize your guests to write reviews on 3rd party sites like TriAdvisor, Yelp, etc? How do you do this?

 

Highland Haven: We do but in a very subtle way- on our thank you emails.

 

Vayu Media: Has your hotel ever been featured or advertised in (online or in print) any of the known travel guides (Lonely Planet, Frommers, Eyewitness Travel, Fodors, etc. )

 

Highland Haven: Yes, Frommers, Fodors (fodors choice)

Vayu Media: What other travel related websites or magazines have you advertised in that you found to be effective?

 

Highland Haven: Sunset Magazine, local Colorado based magazines

 

Vayu Media: Do you consider the marketing strategies that you implemented “out of the box” or industry standard?

 

Highland Haven: More out of the Box-Carefully groomed relationships with food critics, editors, publishers, ets.

 

Vayu Media: What type of local partnerships does your hotel have?

 

Highland Haven:  Winery, Spa, Restaurants- packages, chambers.

 

Vayu Media: What outside influences impact your hotel the most?

 

Highland Haven:  Economy, Weather

 

Vayu Media: What has the success rate been with your online marketing campaigns?

 

Highland Haven: Slightly unsuccessful in PPC, Social media very successful!

 

Vayu Media: How long did it take to achieve the desired results?

 

Highland Haven: months

 

Vayu Media: Was this an ongoing or a onetime strategy?

 

Highland Haven:  Ongoing!

 

Vayu Media: What was the ROI of this strategy?

 

Highland Haven: A lot is unknown but high for social media since it just costs us time

 

Vayu Media: Which online marketing avenue has provided the highest ROI?

 

Highland Haven:  Social Media

Vayu Media: What is a defined conversion for you? A booking/reservation? A request for quote? A call? A newsletter subscription? Other?

 

Highland Haven:  A booking/reservation

 

Vayu Media: Do you have an online booking system? If so, which one are you using?

 

Highland Haven: Rezovation, Bandb.com

 

Vayu Media: Do you require a deposit and how does this affect your sales/cancellation rates?

 

Highland Haven:  Yes we require a ½ deposit for one night stay. One night deposit for more than one night stay. It helps lower cancellations; However, we don’t alienate the guests . Bottom line we want them back.

 

Vayu Media: What type of analytics are you implementing to track the success of your marketing campaigns?

 

Highland Haven: Google analytics, bandb.com reports

 

Vayu Media: What is your targeted conversion rate/ occupancy rate?

 

Highland Haven:  No target rate, just try to compete with our best years, and insure our guests come back.

 

Vayu Media: What conversion rates/ occupancy rates are you achieving?

 

Highland Haven: 50%

 

Vayu Media: What is your monthly traffic rate to your website? How much does this increase with each online marketing campaign that you have implemented?

 

Highland Haven: Need more research on this one but we do know the traffic spikes when we do a Constant contact or Facebook campaign.

 

Vayu Media: Do you have a dedicated person or dedicated team handling your online marketing endeavors?

Highland Haven: Owner and Manager

 

Vayu Media: How long have you been using the internet as a marketing avenue for your hotel? Were you an early adopter, or late to the game?

 

Highland Haven: We were an early adopter(on it since the beginning)

 

Vayu Media: What type of offline marketing / advertising do you do for your hotel?

 

Highland Haven: Massive amounts. We Consistently have a high quantity of offline marketing going on. Newspapers, Magazines, 2 Books written by owner

 

Vayu Media: Has something surprised you that you thought wouldn’t work but did work for you or vice versa?

 

Highland Haven: Magazine ads haven’t worked upfront but over time add to our name recognition.

 

Vayu Media: Why do you feel that you have been successful with your online marketing endeavors while many hotels struggle with this?

 

Highland Haven: I think because our product is so amazing and marketable it makes it easier.

 

Vayu Media: What’s next on your list? Is there an avenue that you have wanted to explore but have not had the time or budget for it?

 

Highland Haven: Thanks to you we have a lot to work on. Our list is growing.  Staying on top of all aspects of social media. Travel agencies and travel guides are next on our list.

 

Vayu Media: What advice can you offer to otherhotels that are interested in trying similar strategies?

 

Highland Haven:  Set yourself apart from competitors and stay ahead of the trends.

 

The web has an uncanny ability to grow and better yet, engage your past, current, and potential guests. It is a tool of discovery for those that do not know you and an avenue of engagement for those that have already experienced your hospitality

As Gail mentions, it is essential to set yourself apart from the competition and it wasn’t surprising to me that social media offered her the highest ROI. Differentiating your hotel from the rest of the competition extends beyond just the competing hotels in your local vicinity and extends into the world wide web of competition. When people are searching for online for vacations packages, you want to have that extra something that makes your hotel THE destination vs merely the accommodation at their chosen destination. This is where having a social presence can make a big impact. Social media has been proven to heavily influence peoples travel decisions.  In fact, 48% of people consulting their social media connections have actually changed something about their travel arrangements after gaining feedback from their social circle. They changed plans ranging from their choice of hotel, airline, resorts, even their end destinations. Think about how this could impact your hotels bookings.  Did you know that 52% of Facebook users stated that their friends’ photos inspired their holiday choices and travel plans, additionally, 55% of travelers liked Facebook pages specific to their vacation?

 

With countless strategies out there for hotel marketing it can be difficult to choose the best options for your hotel that will properly communicate with your desired guests, it is critical to keep in mind that a comprehensive approach will always be the best solution no matter which avenues you delve into. Hotels need to interact and have a presence online where their potential guests are interacting; whether that may be on the search engines, social media sites like Pinterest and Facebook, trip review sites like TripAdvisor, blogs, or through their mobile phones. It is critical to make sure that it is easy for your potential guests to find you and engage with you. It does not matter how large or how small your hotel is, online marketing is a must have if you want to be found when people are researching for their vacations and then again when they are ready to make their decisions and ultimately their bookings. If they can’t find your hotel, they will find a competitor.

 

Once your guest has left your hotel, what they say about their stay can greatly impact future bookings. 92% of consumers say they trust earned media such as word of mouth ( Social Media ) and recommendations from friends and family , above all other forms of advertising. Furthermore 70% of global consumers say that online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising. An additional 46% of travelers post hotel review after their vacations, while 76% will post their vacation photos to their social networks. While your guests are with you make sure that their stay is memorable ( in a good way ), and encourage them to blog, check in and share their experience with their personal network. Word of mouth doesn’t get better than the social web.

What online travel marketing strategies has your hotel implemented to achieve success within your campaigns? Share your strategies with us below in the comments section.

 

 Highland Haven Creekside Inn

 

Gail Riley’s

Gail Riley

 

Discover a place like no other in the picturesque foothills of Evergreen, Colorado only 30 minutes west of Denver, at Colorado’s most romantic Highland Haven Creekside Inn. A charmed location, nestled along 400 feet of the lulling Bear Creek, the Inn is just a short stroll from the intriguing town offerings; galleries, winery, live music, boutiques, and coffee shops. Just a little further is the pristine Evergreen Lake. Select from Luxury Suites, Cottages, Junior Suites and Guest Rooms. Premium rooms offer features that include Jacuzzi tubs, private hot tubs, flickering fireplaces, flat screen TVs, king beds, fluffy bath robes-all with remarkable views in a classic, “Colorado Chic” style. Ask about our cottages that are perfect for vacation rental either for a family or couples getaway. In each room you will find thoughtful touches and painstaking attention to detail.

Included in your room rate is a generous home-made breakfast with recipes featured in the owner, Gail Riley’s new book,Colorado Cravings. This is a breakfast that brings guests back!

Treat yourself and your loved one to a romantic celebration in the beautiful, wooded setting. Offering a variety of luxuries, opt for the champagne or port tray ready in your room upon arrival. Romance is our specialty, earning the inn numerous awards.

 

 

Ideal for business, we offer the most memorable meeting spaces coupled with accommodations expressly designed for the discriminating businessperson.

The Highland Haven strikes the right balance between intimacy and professionalism; here you have your choice of detailed attention or respectful privacy. Your wish is our command; here our staff excels at customer service and are eager prove it.  www.highlandhaven.com


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