The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world’s economy almost overnight and brought unprecedented challenges for the hospitality industry.
With vaccines administered to various age groups, things are finally opening up, including small hotels and motels that suffered severely because of the travel shutdown.
Small hotels and motel business face a lot of competition now due to the rise in the number of hotels, homestays, hotel aggregators, and websites such as Airbnb means that the challenges continue to rise.
However, small hotels and motels have their own set of advantages that make them well-liked and appreciated by travellers. These include:
- A cosy, intimate atmosphere
- Personalised approach
- Immersion in local culture
- An increased focus on guests
- Diversity in design
- Unexplored, unusual experiences
- Greater attention to detail
But these advantages need proof. How can you make sure that people find your hotel, like what they see, book their stay, and help you accelerate the growth of your business?
1. Make your business easily searchable
Today, If a traveller thinks “let’s go”, s/he will use their mobile and type in requirements into a search engine. It’s important to ensure that your website is search optimised – especially for mobile devices – so that it shows up on the first page of online searches.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) using popular hotel-specific keywords is a good way to target the people searching for a hotel in your location. Also, optimise your website to load up quickly on mobile to ensure users don’t go away due to higher loading time.
Also, don’t limit yourself to just one search engine, social platform, or travel website. Do proper research and make sure you’re there where people are typically booking from.
2. Know and target your customer
What kind of small hotel are you? Are you a B&B in a hill station? A heritage stay in a city in Rajasthan? A hotel on the outskirts of a metro? A small motel in the heart of the city? A boutique property in a historic location?
The kind of hotel you are determines who your typical guest will be and should drive your marketing activities and promotions. People have different travel styles, and tend to book differently. They want different experiences and come with different budgets.
Customer analytics can help with income targeting and attract customers with varied budgets.
Social media now offers targeting options, which mean you can split your target audience into types and run dedicated campaigns to send out the right message.
3. Increase marketing spends during peak seasons
Many people may choose to travel off-season these days, but there’s no denying the fact that certain seasons are more popular to travel. Bookings – and rates – tend to be higher during these seasons, which means that you need to prepare “to spend more to earn more”.
Hotel owners tend to be more aware of their peak seasons, but often ignore increasing their marketing activities to reap the benefits.
It makes more sense to study your booking charts, figure out peaks, and then allocate more of your marketing budget before and during the busy periods. Ad scheduling can help run your ads to take advantage of peak times.
4. Opt for remarketing and retargeting
Three out of four people start the booking process, get distracted, and then end up abandoning the entire booking. The reason could be any. Maybe they decided to look for a better deal, maybe they thought of going for a branded hotel, or ….the list can go on.
Google Ads and social media platforms can help you set up remarketing ads that ensure you bring back errant customers.
What you need to do is approach them again and try and persuade them to complete the booking. Remarketing is important in the hotel business to reduce the high abandonment rate and bring back people by showing them enticing photographs and offering good deals.
5. Offer incentives to attract more guests
Small hotels and motels are fighting branded properties and star hotels in almost every city. So, why should a guest choose you? You need to provide them with reasons to pick you and keep coming back for more.
The easiest way is to offer separate rates for online bookings or offer all guests a welcome discount. Incentives work well as they create a sense of urgency that makes people want to book so they don’t miss limited-time offers.
Other incentives can be early check-ins, late checkouts, discounts on F&B, access to the spa, or deals for staying more than three nights. Marketing your location – popular tourist attractions, restaurants, and more – will give prospective travellers even more reason to consider closing that booking.
6. Harness technology to tell your story
The availability of tools like Google Analytics is a great way to grow your hotel’s business. Learn more about your customers every single day to optimise your ads.
Use Facebook Live and Instagram Stories to post videos of your small hotel and facilities – the food, the leisure areas, and more. Content is king, but these days, video is the emperor.
Creating a virtual tour on your hotel’s website with photos, videos, or 3D diagramming may seem unnecessary but it offers travellers a chance to take a sneak peek at the amenities you provide and a virtual walk through the rooms.
7. Engage with customers regularly
Your website should be top-notch, on the desktop, laptop, and mobile. A clean and attractive online website, with beautiful photographs, is sure to entice customers. Making it easy to navigate and quick is sure to keep them there.
Apart from the design of your website, make sure to connect with customers – old and prospective – regular. Blogs, photos, videos, and other travel-specific content in an easy, striking format helps create engagement.
Also, keep the customer at the centre of all your activities and treat them exceptionally to get stellar reviews, referrals, and return visits. A customer loyalty programme – with discounts and other perks – can ensure that customers become repeat clients and spread your message among family and friends.
Even after the Covid-19 pandemic ends, make sure you highlight safety and hygiene measures in all marketing and guest communication.
Your hotel may be small, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dream big. These strategies can help you use your online presence to accelerate your business. Let Boost360 show you how.