Competition in the hotel industry is fierce, requiring companies to get more and more creative with their marketing strategies in order to stand out in their crowded field.
No wonder industry leaders have developed innovative marketing strategies that can be translated to fit almost any other type of business. Here are those strategies:
1. Cater to the buyer’s desire for an innovative experience.
Many large hotel corporations are discovering that modern travelers planning their itineraries are looking for more than just a bed and a room-service menu. With the rise of Airbnb and other home-sharing services, numerous outlets now exist for travelers to book a bare-bones sleeping accommodation. And studies suggest that these options are especially popular for millennial business travelers who take more frequent trips than their older colleagues.
But these travelers also want to spend less time in their rooms while in the hotel.
In response, hotel companies are aggressively marketing to these more social customers with experiences such as guest meet-and-greets, social happy hours, yoga classes, and hotel scavenger hunts. Such targeting perfectly illustrates sophisticated audience segmentation, a strategy that any company can use to create a more effective marketing plan.
Takeaway: When hotel companies see that their customers aren’t interested in the status quo any longer, they expend every effort to find out what marketing message will appeal to their specific clientele. Your company can do the same.
2. Pull out all of the stops for your loyal customers.
If there’s one area where the best hotels succeed, it’s in innovating the experience they offer to their most loyal guests. Of course, every customer is important and should be treated to an exceptional experience, but hotel companies know that repeat customers provide an inexpensive and reliable source of revenue, so they go all out when it comes to courting their continued loyalty.
Mobile technology is making it even easier for brands to connect with their repeat customers. For instance, industry giants such as Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott have continued to add functionality to their rewards program apps, giving guests the option of actions such as selecting specific rooms and checking in online, or chatting with a member of the concierge staff so they can make requests without having to pick up the hotel phone or visit the front desk.
Takeaway: Mobile-based perks are something all customer-service industries should pursue.
3. Promote employee 'ambassadors' on social media.
One of the great things about social media and content sharing is that they allow brands to provide customers with an insider’s point of view or an expert’s guide to a relevant topic.
A company’s employees are one of the most consistently underutilized sources for this knowledge.
Many hotel companies love to put their employees front-and-center on their social media platforms and other content channels, where they can provide unique insights to guests or take them behind the scenes of various departments for a look inside the organization.
Takeaway: Customers enjoy being treated to insider info, and any company can use this "insider" strategy to form a bond with its customers that goes beyond the product or service and connects with perceptions of the brand itself.
4. Think outside the box when creating content.
Most companies love the concept of content marketing because it’s inexpensive but has the potential to lead to a significant ROI when practiced correctly. However, many leaders are satisfied just using their company blog as an outlet for content, and stopping there. Several different hotel companies are proving that thinking creatively about content presents new opportunities for engaging with customers on a more substantive level.
One of the most notable examples is Four Seasons, a brand recognized around the world for its commitment to providing luxury to its guests throughout their experience. The company produces regular content for its eponymous magazine, carrying on the tradition of luxury and offering guests a glimpse through the lens of the Four Seasons lifestyle into the brand's destinations and activities.
Takeaway: Other industries might think about emulating Four Seasons' content approach.
5. Personalize your message as often as possible.
Hotel companies have access to a huge cache of data concerning their customers’ preferences, and the best organizations use this info to deliver intensely personalized messages that keep their guests coming back time after time. Take this example featuring Ritz-Carlton: When a family’s young child left a stuffed animal at a Ritz-Carlton property, not only did the parents receive the toy mailed to their home a couple of days later, but also received a series of photos showing the stuffed animal on various adventures throughout the hotel (essentially a targeted marketing message designed to let the family know what they could look forward to on their next visit).
Takeaway: Your company may not know which newspaper your customer prefers or how he or she likes that morning cup of coffee, but you can still follow the example leading hotels have set, to deliver a message built from the ground up specifically for your customer.