Fresh Hospitality Marketing Concepts That Get Results

Posted on in Blog

On the heels of COVID-19, marketing strategies for hotels and resorts have shifted to meet guests’ priorities and preferences. A decade ago, hospitality market trends were primarily focused on the rise of short-term rentals and high-profile acquisitions. Today, the newest trends in the hotel industry and adjacent industries are focused on how – and where – guests make travel plans. Marketers must understand the impacts of these trends to adjust their approach.

Tourism and Hospitality’s New Reality

Hospitality Market Consolidation

Long a charmingly fragmented market, the hospitality industry saw substantial merger and acquisition activity in the 2010s, leading to top-heavy consolidations. Brands like Marriot, IHG and others used more than a decade of low interest rates and increased demand to finance the acquisition of smaller hotel chains and portfolios. By 2019, the share of independently owned hotels fell from 66% to just 40% over 30 years.

Accor, which operates hotels and resorts worldwide, led the M&A trend. It grew from 3,600 hotels to operating nearly 5,000 properties in just six years.

Related content: 5 Digital Marketing Strategies for Resorts

Lingering Competition with Short-Term Rentals

Consolidation has offered companies a degree of insulation from one of the most disruptive hospitality trends since commercial aviation: short-term rentals. Airbnb, VRBO and other platforms have doubled their market share since 2018, claiming 15% of hospitality market share. That leaves traditional hotel and resort properties with a filling 85% of the pie, but there’s plenty of lingering concern. That’s a big reason hotel associations have helped fund lobbying organizations trying to ban short-term rentals, with the bill totaling billions annually.

Shifting Consumer Behavior

Revenge spending” from 2022 and 2023 largely fizzled out as average household credit debt reached all-new highs in Q1 2024. While travel spending may still be healthy, it won’t be the standout year that experts had previously predicted. For hospitality marketers, it’s an opportunity to reach guests with new relatable marketing that acknowledges expenses without detracting from the “experience” value proposition.

Third-Party Websites

  • Third-party sites typically take 10-14% of booking revenue, which immediately impacts a hospitality business’s bottom line. Prioritizing direct bookings is helping companies big and small retain revenue and protect profit margins. Getting users to book on your own website is also an opportunity to boost first-party data as Chrome phases out third-party cookies in 2024.
  • The marketing strategies below create a clear path through all the challenges presented by these market conditions.

Three Marketing Strategies for Hotels and Resorts

1. Acknowledge Costs While Promising Value

Inflation in the hospitality sector hovered over 5% in Q1 2024, nearly double the national inflation rate. Traveling has always been one of the first casualties when discretionary spending drops, and that’s an even bigger issue when inflation for hotel stays and airline tickets remains stubbornly high. Property managers also face increased operating costs, including labor and insurance rates. All these factors necessitate a new approach to marketing messaging.

Test your messaging. Use value-focused copy in paid search and display ads, social media posts, and various campaigns to help travelers justify the cost of their next adventure. Invest the time to A/B test ads and landing pages that address price in a way that allows customers to rationalize the expense, not shirk it.

Offer incentives. Include limited-time discounts within remarketing campaigns. The average research period for a trip is more than three months, so incentivize users within this window to maximize impact. And don’t bail on paid media right away; the average traveler spends 20-30 hours researching a trip, which means they’ll likely take multiple touchpoints across several channels before converting.

Create multi-room discounts. Fill off-season periods with multi-room discounts, a particularly attractive option for families and wedding or event parties.  

2. Tap into Repeat Customers

There’s a reason leading hotel chains invest millions in their customer loyalty programs each year. The cost of acquiring a new customer is five times more than welcoming back a returning guest. In an industry with 30% operating margins (and shrinking), that’s a huge difference.

As you’d expect, hotel customer-rewards members travel more than the general public – on average, 22.4% more, and they stay 28% longer.

Win the inbox. Email marketing is an easy and impactful way to deliver hospitality content personalized to reward members. For multi-location hotel operators, list segmentation offers the flexibility to support specific locations that may entice new travel destinations, giving guests a sense of familiarity no matter where they roam.

3. Make It Organic (and Cage-free)

Organic search engine marketing for hotels and resorts is an easy win. Create hospitality content that celebrates local attractions and events with SEO-relevant keywords.

Think events and passions. Focus on events and festivals to capture tourist traffic. Additionally, create content for those who travel to pursue their passions: For example, local history topics may appeal to some prospects, and recreational and outdoor sports topics may appeal to those “silent sports” enthusiasts.

Some relevant event-keyword examples could be:

national cherry festival – 1,600 US-based Google searches per month

  • hotel near cherry festival traverse city – 40

sea otter classic – 4,400

  • sea otter classic lodging – 10
  • sea otter classic hotels – 0-10
  • hotels near sea otter classic – 0-10

Enjoy Your Stay with Oneupweb

For more than two decades, we’ve helped resorts and hotels reach guests with a range of marketing services. Working with Oneupweb gives hospitality marketers access to support that integrates SEO, content marketing, paid media, social media and development experts. (The only thing missing is a free breakfast – and we’re working on that.) See what sets us apart; get in touch or call (231) 922-9977 today to get started.

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