12 Jul Luxury Hotels Look To Local Marketing
The luxury hotel industry has seen its ups and downs during the recession, and we’ve seen quite the trend shifting towards the local market. Our take on it has been that while there are still a good amount of travelers out there, they’re just choosing to spend their money on a getaway that doesn’t require airfare for two. We’ve noticed this in particular as our hotel clients have been wanting more and more to attract their own more affluent locals, as well as get more business through hotel-held events.
Photo & Research Credit: Jonathan Barsky
As you can see, certain locations are enjoying high demand for a local experience. I don’t blame them either! Within a 2 hour scenic drive along the coast where I live, I have all the luxury options I could hope for. We’ve been tasked with generating more local business increasingly more during the first half of 2013, and we’d love to share some of our strategies and experiences.
With every local luxury hotel marketing campaign we’ve attempted over the past few years, we mostly just targeted couples and of course events. Putting a strong focus on these two aspects will open up a world of marketing opportunities that can achieve a significant ROI for your hotel.
Local SEO + PPC + Social Media
The best part of all is that you can quickly tap into your local market both in the search engines, as well as in the social media landscape. Hotels don’t have to sit around waiting for organic rankings that will provide them with converting traffic. That will come in good time, but for now start generating a buzz and good things will happen sooner rather than later.
// Tapping Into Your Data
How many local followers do you have across all your social media channels? How much of your organic and paid search traffic is local? Don’t know? Well, then I suggest you stay glued to this section and anyone else can skip on down to the next part.
I think it’s quite important to have a peek under the hood and see what kind of local users you’re attracting. We’ll go into both your analytics software (I hope you have some) as well as social media analytics to find out this data. While we don’t need to go crazy in-depth here, we do want to get a good idea of just how many local eyes you’re playing with.
I’ll assume most of you are using Google Analytics but if not, don’t fret. Your analytics software is more than likely tracking location data and if not, it’s time to move to something else. Gathering your local data is quite easy and all you have to do is head on over to Standard Reports -> Overview -> Demographics -> Location and you will be brought to the screen which you see in the picture above.
From here, you can get a good idea country wise where it’s all coming from, but since we’re going local we want to pin point the city you’re in. To do this you just need to click on Country -> State/Province -> City and you’re in business. From here you will be able to see if the local crowd is paying attention or not. This will give you a good starting off point and from here on out, let’s make it a goal to improve those numbers month by month.
Of course with Facebook you can see a lot of good local data as well and figure out who you can tap into via this social network. Facebook, 99% of the time, is the top performing platform for luxury brands as it’s so diverse and it allows you to curate other social streams such as Twitter and Instagram into the page. It’s a powerful platform and if you have a large chunk of local followers, a contest might be an easy target for you.
If you don’t know how to check your analytics on Facebook then just append /page_insights_likes to your Facebook Page URL. So for example, ours is https://www.facebook.com/luxurybranded/page_insights_likes. From here you can set the dates and take a good look into just what’s going on at the local level.
It doesn’t end there, either. Take a look at your Page navigation and you can also get local data under Reach and Talking About This for even more details. Again, use this as a jumping off point and marker for comparing your marketing campaigns, especially when your boss wants to know if you managed to make it a success or not.
While I find a lot of luxury brands we talk to and work with are slightly hesitant to bother with Twitter much, we urge you to use it creatively. We here at Luxury Branded very much like Twitter for outreach, building relationships and even handling a little customer service from time to time. It can be a strong performing platform, although I think that partially depends on your product and your audience, especially if you appeal to an older generation.
Regardless of that, you can easily see where your followers are coming from thanks to Moz’s Follower Wonk.
To showcase the local data, Follower Wonk piggybacks on Google Maps and combines the two to demonstrate where everyone is. It’s not the most precise method, but it will give you a good number and you can move on from here. You can check a good amount of your data on the free plan, but anything in depth will require a Moz.com account.
Instagram is the newest kid on the block, especially when it comes to luxury brands and marketing. Now that Instagram has included video, I think it will be a prime marketing tool for a lot of luxury brands. In our post last month on luxury marketing on Instagram, we covered a lot of ground, but please focus on the analytics section with Nitrogr.am.
There’s no doubt that luxury hotels are hit and miss when it comes to Foursquare, but I’ve seen a lot of unique offerings scoring valuable real world marketing points. I’m big on utilizing Foursquare for promotions and local campaigns, although with Facebook’s check-in, I think that’s also a great focus. The only problem is that Instagram uses Foursquare for check-in data and it’s really quite cool. To learn more about Foursquare’s free analytics you can do so right here.
// Does Your Hotel Offer A Romantic Getaway?
If not then you should, and if you already do then great, how’s it performing for you? Couples are a great target and who couldn’t do with a one or two night romantic getaway? It turns out there are a lot of them and targeting this demographic has been very successful for us and our clients. A large portion of your hotel guests will have children and a busy work schedule, so they’ll be looking for a quick escape not only to save money, but to save time as well.
A bespoke romance package can be a great earner, especially if you pay attention to detail. Steer clear of just offering a night’s stay and a restaurant voucher. This is where we’ve seen low sales numbers for clients who have had these getaway packages but were not thinking outside the box. When that potential customer is viewing your romantic getaway offer, you better have features that will get the person excited.
Without giving away all of our good ideas, here are some of the value adds you can tag onto your luxury romance package:
– Luxury car hire service
– Local personal chef for in-room dining
– Bespoke flower services
– Spa related services
– Custom champagne and spirits awaiting customers in their room
– Local helicopter tours
– Late check-out
– A takeaway “goodie bag” to take the romance home
There are of course going to be unique experiences that are based solely on what’s available in your city, so look to those as another possible value add. While I would want to keep that couple in the hotel as much as possible as they’re more than likely to spend in-house, don’t discount the little excursions.
I would recommend seeing who in town offers what, connect and build a relationship and see if they fit in with a package like this. If it doesn’t, well perhaps then you can create another experience that isn’t necessarily based around romance. Think about bespoke golf packages and historic tours, or pair your guests with a yacht charter.
// How To Market This Romantic Getaway Locally
So now you have your fancy schmancy romantic getaway package, how are you going to get the word out? Easy! We’ll lay it out for you here, but if you find you’re low on time and needing help, give us a shout and we’d be happy to help.
There are so many unique ways to get a lot of local eyes on your product so I’ve listed everything below from least to most important. Even though you’re a luxury hotel, I’m well aware of what budgets are in play and there’s usually not much left over for something like this. For some of you, this may not even bring in an ROI, so talk about it with your team and be ready and willing to test out the market. Who knows, this may become a huge hit and you will never know until you try.
Traditional Media – Just about every city and town will have enough local newspapers, magazines and radio stations to get the word out. Make sure your CMO vets each source’s demographics as much as they can because this form of marketing is risky business.
Advertise on Local Blogs – There will always be a few big blogs in your area and they’re a tremendously great way to reach a local audience. You will, of course, want to get a good look at their media package first to determine if their local traffic is of any quality. Make sure you take notice of how many social media followers they have as well, and learn how you can tie that in with a social media based contest.
Google/Facebook PPC – Google PPC and Facebook’s Advertising platforms are extremely good for nabbing high quality local traffic. You can really target the right demographics here and no luxury hotel should be ignoring both of these for this type of task, or in general. If you’ve never done PPC before then we recommend getting in touch with us or consulting with another expert, because you can waste your money fast if you don’t do it properly. Creating the right type of ad/creative is crucial for success here.
Social Media Based Contests/Giveaways – This is, in my opinion of course, the best way to get the word out as well as to build some serious hotel buzz. Firstly you should create a social media based contest (in this case we recommend sticking to Facebook, but don’t discount Youtube or Instagram either), then you can require users to participate by creating content in order to be entered, or simply just target a sweepstakes to local users only. This will heavily beef up your local follower base, plus it should get the word out in a big way (hopefully leading to sales).
// It’s All About The Events
Hosting events at your hotel is obviously a crucial revenue generating aspect to this business and getting this part right can be tricky. We’ve helped luxury hotels come up with unique and bespoke events that cater to a local and international crowd. Since we’re on the topic of local marketing, we’ll focus on what you can do within a short period of time to really get a buzz going.
Your venue should attract an affluent crowd, that’s obvious, but how can we go above and beyond the norm and do something truly great? I hope this section gets your mind going and leads you to develop something a little more special for your hotel, something that will get noticed and make you money.
// Events 2.0
By now I’m sure you’ve had all sorts of events and conferences held at your hotel and they always seem to be the usual type: weddings, business conferences and family reunions. Those are great; don’t stop, let’s just start thinking outside the box in this area and see what else we can get up to.
The reason I named this little section Events 2.0 is because I want you to think of the marriage of the real world with the digital/social layer. These events should be attracting blog posts, Tweets, Facebook shares, Instagram pictures, Foursquare check-ins… You get the point?
Events That Intrigue Are Key!
So we all know of the usual event types such as weddings and industry/business conferences, but those both require a large area. Some luxury hotels cannot accommodate that large of a group, but don’t fret because there are still many other options to consider. While we won’t give away all our secrets, here are three different types of events you can run even at a luxury B&B:
1) Meetup.com – This site is great for finding groups who meet on various topics, and it also allows you to create your own event. Create an account and start networking with the group owners who are putting on events because they’re always looking for a venue. Some locations of this social network won’t be active yet, so build something similar or be the first in your area and start creating business or interest events hosted at your hotel.
2) Art Shows – We’ve had the pleasure of setting up and running a few art shows hosted at hotels that only featured local artists. This obviously brings in the right type of customer into your hotel and it also helps with the local economy in more ways than one. Embrace your local talent and give it a platform to take off all the while keeping your hotel brand in the minds of everyone in town.
3) Create Your Own – There are literally endless amounts of event ideas to come up with. Think local and think exciting because you’re a luxury hotel, and you should be upholding that image. I would also strongly think about how you can get media and local bloggers coming in. These people will bring in the links, the Tweets, the Facebook shares and the Instagram pictures and so forth.
Get The Word Out!
There are so many different and valuable marketing benefits to achieve when holding an event. Like I mentioned above, it’s the perfect way to mix the digital world with the physical. The hardest part is attracting media from across all the big social networks, all while planning and organizing your event. A lot of luxury hotels don’t have a large marketing staff and this can be an overload. My best advice is plan ahead and be in-the-know as to what needs to be accomplished. If you’re strapped for time, give me a call.
Your event should accumulate pictures, videos, location check-ins and hopefully a few dozen high quality natural links to boost you in the organic search results. Hopefully when you do real marketing you will see real results and make your hotel stand out from all the others in the area.
#Hashtags – First and foremost, get a hashtag created for the event so all the media can be easily found and grouped. Even on Youtube videos in the title, trust me, this will make your life after the event a breeze to deal with. If your hotel has a developer on board or at least on contract, have them prep a section on your site where all the media is grouped into a nice little format. The best example I can give is something like Paper.li.
Event Sites – This is where acquiring links comes in for the first round. There are many, many event sites both local and global where you can get your event listed. I’ve written on event marketing before in which you can see what I’m talking about, as well as get a list of current sites to submit to. I’d also recommend reading this, this and this.
Blogs – I would reach out to local bloggers that cover events and nightlife as there is a good chance they will cover your event. You know you’re going to be reaching the tech inclined locals and the word should spread pretty good. If you don’t know who the top bloggers in your city are, you should be ashamed 🙂
Press Release – Talk to your PR department and see who has the best local reach with their wire service. While I don’t think press releases themselves carry much SEO benefit, you never know who’s going to see the news and write about it. The crazier the event, the better the coverage, so make sure your event is quite unique.
Links From Attendees – Are you capturing user data for who’s attending? Make sure you can get at the people who took part so you can email/tweet/message them later. Since you’re using a hashtag for your event, this will also make it easier to find the influencers and make sure they can help further the SEO benefits afterwards.
// Rinse & Repeat
This will hopefully get your next event popping off like it should and lead to a whole system of running them properly in the future. They’re exceptionally fun and strategically brilliant in regards to your marketing efforts, so please give something new and exciting a try. If your hotel needs a little help don’t forget that Team Luxury Branded is here to help and we offer a wide range of consulting options.