Inbound Hotel Marketing — Best Practices for Independent Hoteliers

Hotel-marketing expert Nafsika Bourma shares with hoteliers her best practices for a new online technique: inbound marketing. When done correctly, it’s especially effective because it focuses on attracting and engaging the traveller without underestimating their knowledge and evaluation abilities, empowering them to make an informed booking decision they won’t be disappointed with.  

We’re now halfway through the year, which means it’s time for hotel managers to take stock of the business goals they set back in January. Are they on track to meet them? If not, there’s no reason to stress. There’s still time to turn things around and hit every target by the end of the year.

By incorporating some inbound marketing activities into a hotel’s overall marketing strategy, hoteliers build a strong marketing basis that, even if it requires a bit of patience, it will lead them to more successful and profitable results in the long run.

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What is inbound hotel marketing?

Before anything else, let’s look at what inbound marketing is and what makes it effective.

Since HubSpot is a passionate ambassador of inbound marketing, I’ll use their definition for it: “Inbound marketing is an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive… Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing does not need to fight for potential customers’ attention.”

The bottom line: Rather than you having to look for guests, inbound marketing works by encouraging guests to look for your hotel.

What’s important to know about inbound marketing?

The goal is to attract people to your hotel by giving them the chance to approach you, to communicate with your brand and find relevant information about you on their own.

Before getting started, identify what kinds of content your potential or current customers would love to find on the Internet. When you know who your target audiences are, you can provide the kind of content they’ll find relevant and helpful — content that resonates with them.

And be sure to focus on quality and relevance rather than quantity and frequency. Creating a content calendar can help with that. And when it comes to distributing content through email campaigns, focus on the customers who have already given their consent to be contacted, rather than buying lists.

Inbound hotel marketing: best practices for attracting guests

There are many effective approaches to inbound marketing, and it’s always best to personalize a hotel’s strategy to its character and audience. Here are my suggestions for getting started:

Suggestion #1

Run a blog on your hotel’s website. Consider articles on topics such as the location of your business, nearby attractions, travel blogger guest posts, and to-do lists. This kind of content can really attract travellers.

Suggestion #2

Take control of your hotel’s profile on metasearch sites. Add your hotel details, descriptions, and images to make sure you don’t just appear in search results, but that you really stand out and that your online presence speaks to your potential guests.

Suggestion #3

Be present on social media sites. For these platforms, make sure to adopt a more casual tone and focus on photos, as this is the kind of content travellers look for on social media. Give your current guests a chance to share their photos too. And use these sites as communication channels with potential and past guests as well.

Suggestion #4

Optimise your SEO techniques. The best way to attract customers without pushing and annoying them is through the successful implementation of SEO tactics. Both your website and your blog content should be optimised for search engines!

Inbound hotel marketing: best practices for converting guests

Once you’ve attracted potential customers to your website, you’re now faced with the next challenge: convincing them to book. I’ve got a couple suggestions for that, too:

Suggestion #1

Make sure your CTAs are clearly visible, directly stated, and compelling: “Book now” is always a classic one for a hotel website or Facebook business page, and it works.

Suggestion #2

Provide useful, engaging information on your official hotel website: Local events, driving directions, and activities to do in the area are all great ideas. And be sure there’s a way for guests to get in touch with you and, ideally, book your hotel right on the website.

Inbound hotel marketing: best practices for building loyalty

Inbound marketing isn’t just good for attracting new guests — it also works for building valuable long-term relationships with current and previous guests, turning them into repeat direct-bookers and ambassadors for your hotel.

Which leads me to my final suggestion in this article:

Collect and implement guest feedback. Ask guests to complete surveys, which will not only help you make your services perfect, but also personalise your guest experience and the content you share through your inbound marketing activities.

And pay close attention to the online reviews guests are leaving on review sites and the online content they’re sharing on social media, as this is the first step in the reputation management aspect of inbound marketing.

And there you have it — inbound marketing for hotels in a nutshell. The key thing to remember is that you’re not chasing travellers online, but attracting travellers to you and giving them reasons to choose you over your competition. In other words, focus on providing the kind of relevant, high-quality online content that empowers your guests to find you and book with you all on their own.