95% of adults say that they prefer to research vacation destinations online versus offline. While your 2020 budget was likely written and locked-in months ago, it’s no wonder that hotel digital marketing is such a widely discussed topic during budget season and throughout the year.
Hoteliers rely on a variety of online marketing tactics including business listings, social media, PPC ads, blog posts, and more to create awareness, build loyalty, and drive new bookings. But with so many options and a limited budget, where should you allocate resources to ensure that you maximize your return on investment?
The Top Hotel Digital Marketing Channels of 2018
Bringing in new business is expensive, and when it comes to hotel digital marketing, we tend to invest the lion’s share of our budget in a few reliable channels to ensure that we get the biggest bang for our buck.
In a 2018 study, Sojern found that travel marketers allocated the majority of their digital advertising spending to the following channels:
Social media: 30% of digital advertising budget
Paid search: 19% of digital advertising budget
OTAs: 10% of digital advertising budget
Sites like Facebook and Google, as well as OTAs, likely serve as a significant contributor to filling your funnel with shoppers and converting many of those shoppers into actual bookings. You may even be discussing the possibility of allocating more funds to some of these sites as the year goes on with the goal of increasing your brand awareness.
But, is spending more money on awareness advertising really the most cost-effective way to increase your sales?
81% of Travelers Rely on Online Reviews When Choosing a Hotel
You are already generating leads through your current marketing tactics and driving consumers to the next step, between awareness and conversion, where they research your hotel to find information that will make them feel confident in their booking decision.
Since 92% of consumers say that they trust peer reviews over advertising, it should come as no surprise that more than 81% of travelers say they turn to online reviews to assist them in making their decision.
What they find will greatly influence their purchasing behavior:
88% of consumers will filter out hotels with an average star rating below three.
32% of consumers will filter out hotels with an average star rating below four.
51% say that they would dismiss a hotel, or even cancel a reservation, due to a negative review.
65% are more likely to book a hotel that responds to reviews versus a comparable hotel that doesn’t.
79% are willing to pay more for a hotel with a higher rating.
By increasing review volume, providing management responses, and incorporating guest feedback into your business practices, you can put your best foot forward online and convert a higher percentage of shoppers, maximizing the ROI of your existing hotel digital marketing spend.
Conversely, if your business is spending time and money to bring new leads in only to lose them due to a lackluster reputation, you are leaving reservations and revenue on the table, essentially throwing your marketing dollars away.
Online Reviews Can Make or Break Your Digital Marketing Success at All Levels
According to Fastbooking, each month, on average, 42% of the unique visitors on your website will check your hotel booking engine for availability and rates, 9% will move forward into the booking process, but only 2.2% finalize the sale. However, online reviews are so influential that they found that when hotel websites featured a review widget, they experienced a 15% increase in booking conversion.
Facebook, Google, and OTAs, the top three sources of travel industry digital advertising spending, have also recognized that online reviews play a key role in influencing consumer behavior. They promote reviews and ratings front and center on their sites, allowing your online reputation to drastically impact the success of your marketing tactics at every stage from awareness to conversion:
Imagine a Facebook user sees one of your ads and thinks your hotel may be perfect for a future getaway. But, when they click through to your page, they see that you have a 3 out of 5 rating and that the first two reviews mention housekeeping issues. Will they follow you and consider your hotel as a future vacation destination?
What happens when a shopper reads a negative review on Expedia, or TripAdvisor, or Google? Do they take a chance with you, or do they move along to the next hotel listing? Would they react differently if you had provided a thoughtful management response?
Is an Investment in Reputation Management Right for Your Hotel?
Your online reputation is in the spotlight on the web’s most popular booking and travel sites, and you can count on the majority of travelers to read reviews during their decision-making process. To spend money on hotel digital marketing tactics without considering your reputation can undermine all of your efforts.
For a similar cost to outsourcing your social media management, you can hire a reputation management agency to assist you in creating and implementing a strategy to enhance your online reputation.
Consider the number of unique visitors that you are currently driving to your TripAdvisor page, Google Business listing, OTAs, and even your own website each month. You’ve already put in the work to get them this far, what would your return on investment be if you could convert just a few more of these potential guests each day?
Could this allow you to reach your goals in 2020?
To learn more about what a reputation management strategy can do for your hotel, send us an email through our contact form to set up a consultation or give us a call at 855-979-6800.