03 Apr Luxury Hotel Marketing Rescue Mission
I recently got called out to help with a luxury hotel in a very tough marketplace to see if the Luxury Branded team could help out. The online marketing game is always changing and a lot of hotels still don’t quite get it when it comes to building an audience. This particular luxury hotel has excellent reviews, decades in the business and a lot of unique features you’d expect to find at a place of this caliber.
With that being said, for the third year in a row this luxury hotel has had diminishing sales and overall site traffic numbers. This is one of my favorite parts! Figuring out what the hotel is not doing correctly in this area and putting together a plan, testing and achieving real results.
What We Changed
Hotels are seeing ridiculous PPC costs, volatile “organic” search results and this is why you should always be building a list and a social following. This gets you a little freedom from the PPC costs, and they will go a long way to increasing value in other areas such as links.
Building a targeted social following is something a lot of luxury hotels are still not doing. I don’t know if there is a lack of time, or if it’s just a matter of funding. For this particular hotel, they just didn’t quite know where to put more effort for a good ROI. We gave them two options to explore:
1) Let your employees be rewarded for social media participation. We would set their team up with branded accounts on all the social networks they had the best results from. We also set up a point system for interaction that would earn employees other bonuses and benefits.
This ended up costing what a full time social media manager would, so it makes for an interesting option. I must add that a strict social media employee policy and contract should be in place. You would really have to know your team and have the right people involved to make this option work.
2) Hiring a new team member to handle the full time job of building a social following was the other option. Luckily there was an employee who could move into the position. All it would take was a few months and an aggressive strategy to attract a lot of attention.
On-site Training & Strategy
Next thing I knew I was on a plane, heading to a stay in a luxury hotel that was going to be anything but relaxing. We have an on-site training program here that involves reorganizing and re-energizing your local and global marketing efforts. It puts a major focus on bringing out what makes your hotel unique to both your current audience as well as new faces.
Content marketing is what drives the system and just some of the things we set in place are:
// Get a photographer and videographer to create beautiful imagery.
// Create unique packages and experiences that only your hotel offers.
// Have a rewards system in place for guest social media participation.
// Run contests to build mass follower numbers.
// Get bloggers writing about, linking to and sharing your hotel with their following.
// Help the client get involved with their community
During my stay with a client like this I make it a priority to have a 6 month plan outlined in detail for their team to take over, or have us do the work. We can easily arrange an abundance of digital content such as beautiful HD videos and high resolution images ready to be tagged and pinned all over the web.
There’s no better way to create an emotional response in someone than telling a story with beautiful HD content. This was a major need for this hotel as they haven’t updated photos in years… Ouch! If this is starting to sound like your hotel operation, then give us a call quick.
Social Media Risk & Reward
Photo Credit: Getty Images
// Using Employees
If this is an option for you, it can work out very well when it’s smoothly coordinated with your staff and marketing team. Get your staff on the lookout in their day-to-day operations for anything unique or worthy of capturing. I’d also get them set up with social media alerts for your brand.
For hotels, you can focus on:
// Monitor Foursquare checkins and follow up with clients in real time.
// Set up Twitter for brand mentions, blog posts, news and other social media.
// Double up Twitter for taking customer support requests.
// Follow up with clients via social media after they’ve stayed. Offer them a coupon for the next stay if they fill out a review/survey.
// Respond to review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and others.
// Reward employees for great engagement.
I would definitely recommend running some of those items through with a manager before going out live on your accounts. This is a lot to manage, but there is help out there.
// Social Mention
This is a free tool that lets you set up social media alerts, and it has an API which you can use to your advantage if you have a programmer on board. This tool is a “must” in our opinion, even just checking it once a day.
This is an enterprise level social media marketing and monitoring tool that comes with just about every bell and whistle. Prices start at US $800/month and go up to $3200/month for a lot of data access. I recommend Brandwatch because I’ve tested most tools and really liked this one the most. There are MANY really good SMM tools out there so check out this post to see a whole list of other options.
Hotel Link Bait
Luxury hotels have a whole host of ways to attract a lot of viral buzz. We all know that is followed by links and targeted social media followers. This client had an active blog so we put a focus on mending the real world with the digital, and connect with customers on a global and local level.
One way to attract both a global and local audience is with events. Our client wasn’t actively pursuing this avenue and the right events can attract a lot of buzz. If you’re a luxury hotel, well then the opportunities to cater to VIP events, weddings, charity nights and conferences should be abundant.
Since this hotel was oceanside there were a lot of weddings, birthdays and corporate events. Those are all fine and dandy, but I however wanted to expand on those. While most luxury hotels will cover those areas I suggested, we play around with events that they might have to create, or be more open about. Such as:
// Host industry events for high-end food, real estate and business meetings.
// Get mastermind groups aware of your business meeting spaces.
// Look out for local award shows and connect with event coordinators.
// Be aware of conferences in town and create specials around the event
// Unique Experiences
This is where it can get fun and exciting and you can let your marketing team (or ours) do some brain flexing and come up with tailored experiences found only at your hotel. These packages and experiences will serve as a powerful marketing tool as it usually connects you with other businesses. We came up with three unique packages that only our client had, but we can start off your thinking with ideas such as:
// Luxury golf day and spa packages.
// Offer a yacht experience.
// Romantic vacation packages (great for both local and global attention).
// Super luxury package with private jet, spa and all the fixings.
These events and experiences are exactly what a content marketer loves. We can take this and get press coverage, get travel and luxury blogs to write about it, list it in local event websites, and write about it on our blog and through other social media means. We can get niche links from wedding sites, golf courses and whomever you’re partnering with. Relationships are the key in my humble opinion, and this is a great way to build them! A perfect example of something extraordinary was when The Hazelton Hotel offered a $199,000 two day getaway.
// Always Have Contests Going
I cannot stress this aspect enough. Contests are the quickest way to build highly targeted social followers, links and brand buzz all at the same time. The secret to building the right aspects is all in the prize. A lot of companies just give away an iPad or something similar and that attracts useless followers for the most part.
We run our client contests mainly in two ways.
1) Utilize hotel giveaways – This is an easy one because you can run this contest locally or globally and offer a week long stay at your hotel as a prize. This will attract the right type of people because if they enter, they’re going to have the funds to fly out and consume… Well, it’s safe to assume based on the data we’ve collected over the years.
2) Content participation based contests – This is a great way to get the best bang for your marketing buck. Having your social fans participate in the contest by having to create written or visual content is a win/win. You’re going to have tons of people creating content for you which you can later use. It will provide tons of social signals and links to get thrown your way. If you make it so a piece of media that was entered had to be voted on, well then you’re going to encourage a way more viral sharing system. Your users will be out there promoting the work for you!
// Track Your Competition Already
So many clients we come across have no tracking other than Google Analytics… 90% don’t even have goal conversions set up in GA. Everyone should be tracking their link profile since it’s the lifeblood of what makes you rank… Yes, even still in this day and age. You should also know how your top competition is doing and luckily there are many affordable options out there.
Since much of our team comes from working over at Linkbuildr, we have a good handle on what to use and how to set it all up.
Cognitive SEO – http://cognitiveseo.com/
Once it’s been set up correctly, this software will track your links, mentions and rankings and produce an easy-to-read report. Cognitive SEO also has a great dashboard that’s easy to set up, just give it an hour and you should be a pro at it. This is another reason why I recommend it… It’s powerful and easy.
// Turned It Around
We have put all these strategies into play over the past few months and have already seen huge improvements with this hotel. All this work wasn’t cheap and I wouldn’t expect to see an ROI until 6 months in. Once the system is going strong, however, it will pay for itself 100x over and it can be expanded on by your own marketing team.
If you’d like me to take a look at your current marketing system at your hotel, don’t hesitate to contact me through our contact form here. I’d be more than happy to have a discussion with you on what I think and what could potentially be done… Oh, and it doesn’t cost a thing!