Hotel managers are being targeted weekly, even daily by new affiliate sites promising to increase share and brand awareness. Many of these are interesting like new site “The Guest Book” while others ask for intimidating discounts or high fees for inclusion. Before hotels move to explore new acquisition channels, it is important to be sure that your own house is in order by checking in on direct acquisition channels. These channels should be explored and optimized before looking to new partnerships:
- Search Engine Marketing is critical from the organic and paid sides in attracting upper funnel traffic. Ensuring that your website is optimized for non-branded keywords related to your destination or property type and has complementing PPC campaigns is critical to success. This is not as easy as it sounds, but it is a non-negotiable in the current digital landscape. Hotel organizations must identify the right partners to keep their sites optimized and their SEM campaigns running as efficiently as possible with a careful balance between conversion goals and pure acquisition goals.
- Content Marketing puts your hotel in front of potential guests before they know to be looking for you. If Google is King, content is the Queen calling the shots. A combination of blog posts, website content, social media tools, and outreach must be employed to assist travellers in their research and planning processes. Evergreen and seasonal content should be used in collaboration for a meaningful long-term strategy that attracts users, links and social cues to your site, ultimately feeding back into your SEO strategy.
- Display Media has dramatically expanded in its capabilities over the past few years to leave a variety of options at the hotelier’s disposal. In addition to display on travel partner sites, there are additional options now available. Hoteliers should start with contextual targeting available with limited minimum spends and social media advertising as gateway media activities. As budgets allow, first party display media, advertising on leading travel sites and dynamic rate marketing are valuable tools to acquire new sources of traffic.
- Partner Listings may feel antiquated, but many travellers, especially Boomers or international guests, still research destinations in a traditional way; visiting websites about the market and attractions in addition to hotels. Your listings on your CVB website, local University websites and various market attraction sites are still valid, likely free, sources of users. Check back frequently on these listings to ensure pictures and descriptions are up to date.
- Meta Search allows hoteliers to compete directly with OTA’s to acquire new traffic from users whom are already a captive audience. While the landscape is getting tighter here, especially with Google’s recent announcements and Trip Advisor’s addition of Instant Book, hotels should consider this as a channel for defense against OTA’s and capturing new demand.
TRI Hospitality helps hotel organizations identify the right partners to maximize their acquisition strategies. This includes channels, agencies and technology that collaborate to optimize the traffic to your website, blog and other owned channels to be qualified and meaningful.