In a recent viewpoint published on HospitalityNet, the question was: What are hotel marketers top digital marketing resolutions to ensure success in 2023? 10 experts, including yours truly, shared their opinions and wisdom on the matter.
Here is an enhanced version of my take for what priorities should be for travel and hospitality marketers in the coming year.
Get that customer data!
If there is one area in particular I would recommend hoteliers to focus in this year, it would be gathering zero-party and first-party data from customers. I mean, this should be a priority any given year, but third-party data is getting more difficult to gather since Apple ceased tracking customers on Safari and iOS platforms since 2021. And soon enough – early 2024, unless Google change its mind again – Chrome will also cease tracking users.
Thus, it is becoming much more difficult to create retargeting campaigns with Google Ads or Meta Ads (Facebook, Instagram) which is usually done through third-party data collected through tracking cookies.
Getting permission to email is pivotal
What are the touchpoints where you can and should gather information about what customers like or dislike? Got their email address yet? Sending pre-stay offers with upsell opportunities or post-stay satisfaction surveys?
Getting that highly coveted email address and permission to engage is one of the ongoing challenges when clients book through Expedia or Booking. With OTAs expected to come back strong in 2023, even more of a reason to put this endeavour as a priority.
And with privacy laws getting more and more strict in Europe, Canada and USA, it is now of the utmost importance to get data from your customers directly, along with permission to engage in digital communications with them.
Back to basics, too
Finally, hoteliers should not forget basic, effective digital marketing tactics. These are not specific to 2023, but they remain tried and true tactics that are pertinent as ever as we move forward.
Work with Google
More than ever, you need to manage your Google business profile. This means including photos, informations and responding to reviews. Make sure your location is properly indicated on Google Maps, along with opening hours – specially during Holidays. And that your profile is as complete as possible, with details about services and amenities, so that Google can push your profile to more users according to their search behaviors.
Then there are Google Hotel listings, not to mention Google Ads, that can allow you to extend your reach to target audiences, assuming you have budgets allocated and specific objectives in given markets.
Enhance website SEO
Revamping your website to ensure SEO-friendly content, timely offers and best-price guarantees is always a good idea. Make sure you identify keywords that users may be entering in their online queries, and use them in your on-site-SEO: titles, meta-descriptions, URLs, images, etc.
Without getting too technical, you will also want to make sure your site is fast, mobile-friendly, and loaded with visuals and texts that appeal to your ideal customer. With 92% of online search going through Google on the global scene, it’s important to make sure your site is Google-friendly!
In other words, investing in SEO is making sure your site gets found whenever users are searching online, across various digital outposts that usually lead to your website (or social media accounts).
Posting regularly on social media
Posting regularly on key social platforms where your target audience can be found is another important tactic. Specially in travel, we need to post inspirational images, videos, reels, gifs, surveys, infographics, editorial content… you name it! Social media remain the #1 source for brand discovery, even though it may not lead to direct sales and immediate conversions.
Facebook has morphed into a customer service platform, while some users feel more comfortable texting your front desk or sales people through Instagram or Linkedin. The important thing is to have a solid presence where your target audience can be found, not necessarily on emerging or popular platforms, just for the sake of following trends.
Sending out newsletters
Last but not least, how are you communicating with your database of clients right now? This ties in directly with the very first point, brought up at the beginning of this article: banking on first-party data!
Having a clear focus, strategy and frequency for your newsletters will allow ongoing communication with your customers. Staying top-of-mind is of the utmost importance, specially as revenge travel remains true in 2023, meaning increased competition and noise in the travel sphere.
This is where it will become important to keep that line of communication open with your clients, through regular newsletters (weekly? monthly? quarterly?), complimenting other actions on social media, in your advertising campaigns and offline activities.