Every hotel business has been hit hard by the pandemic. Now more than ever, it’s important to hone your marketing strategy to ensure that you’re reaching the right potential customers, converting website traffic into leads and establishing a brand image that puts you ahead of the competition and means that guests are flooding back through your doors as the world starts to open up again.
Luxury hotel branding caters to a very specific clientele and has a unique marketing etiquette and visual language that can make finding relevant marketing advice pretty difficult.
We’ve taken our expertise in working with a wide range of businesses in the industry to put together this guide to taking your luxury hotel marketing strategy to the next level.
Get ready to take notes.
The first step of any successful hotel marketing strategy is to know who you’re trying to target with your marketing efforts.
It doesn’t matter how much money you throw at incredible advertising campaigns; if they’re not appealing to people who will book luxury hotel rooms then you might as well be doing nothing at all.
Before you even start brainstorming the platforms you’re going to use or the visuals you want to share, examine your existing customer base and compile data on features such as age range, gender, occupation and interests. This can be done through general research or by sending out surveys to previous guests to gather more specific information on why they chose your brand and what kind of hotel experience they look for before booking.
If you know your marketing strategy is going to include an initiative to expand your customer base and target a new demographic, this same research should be done for this group of potential guests.
You can use this information to build accurate customer profiles that will help you to identify things like pain points, common interests, values and priorities when booking a hotel. These profiles should also include details of the social media channels each group spends the most time on and what kind of content they engage with most frequently.
This gives you a much more solid understanding of who your marketing strategy is going to be targeting and will help each individual aspect of your overall efforts.
When most hotel brands do competitor analysis, they usually look to other businesses in the area and other businesses that offer a very similar experience. When it comes to the luxury accommodation market, you need to remember that the competition is international.
Consumers who regularly book stays at luxury hotels can afford to travel anywhere in the world. If they’re looking for a certain kind of holiday experience, the location of the hotel isn’t going to matter.
Whilst local competitor analysis is important, it’s also worth noting that you should identify which international brands are marketing to a similar customer base or what other hotels your regular customers stay with. Consider what strategies are being used by these brands to build an international audience, what it is that attracts new and repeat business, and how you can establish yourself as a unique competitor that is worth travelling across the continents for.
Every marketing strategy should include aspects of search engine optimisation for a reliable and sustainable method of increasing the visibility and traffic of their website and consequently growing their customer base.
If you’ve not already dipped your toe in the waters of SEO then you’re seriously missing out.
Also, where have you been for the last decade? Running marketing campaigns from under a rock?
SEO uses a variety of different techniques to improve how a website ranks in a search engine, helping more people find it when they search for relevant phrases. It’s not a tactic that yields instant effects, but it’s a method that gains momentum over time and can be incredibly effective when executed correctly.
When it comes to your hotel marketing strategy, SEO can be combined with content creation by using keyword research to dictate what topics you write about and phrases are used on your website and/or blog.
It can also be used as part of PR to help build links from established publications to your website and boost its overall domain rating, which will help your business to rank better in search engines. Whether you do this by sending out press releases, asking for reviews or partnering with other brands to promote each other’s businesses, you’ll increase brand visibility both directly and through the benefits that SEO brings.
Optimising your website for mobile should be included in all hotel marketing strategies, but it’s particularly important for luxury brands because their target audiences tend to use mobile devices much more than the general public.
This may depend on whether you cater to a specific niche of travellers, but in general, those who tend to book stays at luxury hotels are also technologically savvy and spend a lot of time conducting business and social interactions on their smartphones. Professionals, executives and entrepreneurs are likely to browse for and arrange accommodation whilst they’re on the move, so you can be certain that a large percentage of your bookings will come from mobile users.
Having a stylish and beautiful website is a staple for luxury hotel brands, and you need to make sure that this design translates across to other devices. Photos need to be rescaled, calls to action and important links should be resized so that they are still clear on the page, and interactive aspects like videos and animations need to be configured so that they still play automatically or can be accessed without too much faff.
If your site doesn’t load on mobile and instantly make sense to the user, they’re going to go somewhere else. Don’t let that happen.
All the best luxury hotel marketing strategies are built around the brand’s unique selling points.
Your USP is what sets you apart from the competition, makes you memorable and is normally what attracts people to your brand in the first place - why wouldn’t you put this at the heart of your advertising?
Perhaps there’s a notable historical figure that once owned the building and has influenced your brand image, or you’re located in the heart of a neighbourhood known for its unique character. Maybe you cater to a very specific kind of luxury traveller or offer your guests a bespoke experience from check-in to check out.
Whatever it is, your marketing strategy should focus on ways to highlight this stand-out feature and let potential customers know that they won’t get this experience anywhere else. Identify what problem this feature is solving for your customers or what wish it is fulfilling, and then use this emotional hook to develop advertising material, press releases and social media content.
Luxury travel consumers can afford to be choosy about where they stay, so they’re going to be looking for hotels that offer an experience they can’t get anywhere else. You need to ensure that every aspect of your branding and marketing communicates what this experience is so that your guests are in no doubt about what they’re booking.
If you’re still struggling to identify what your brand’s USP is, think about what your niche target audience is looking for when they book a luxury hotel and figure out how you can offer that in a new and memorable way.
Whether you start a hotel blog, an email newsletter or share regular posts, pictures and videos on your social media, content is a key part of every marketing strategy. But there are plenty of brands out there who are just creating content for the sake of it, which is one of the worst things you can do if you’re chasing tangible results with your marketing.
To ensure that sharing valuable, relevant and genuinely engaging content is at the heart of your luxury hotel marketing strategy, go back to your customer profiles. Use the information here to make note of the topics your target audience are interested in and what they are looking for when they book a hotel or a holiday, and then plan content around these topics to ensure you’re sharing things that your customers will actually want to consume.
You can also use keyword research to inspire blog content ideas, as this will let you know precisely what questions people are asking and what topics to cover in the things you write.
It’s worth planning an analysis and review stage of content creation into your marketing strategy as well, as a way of measuring whether your customers are engaging and enjoying what you produce. This could be through analysing the visits that posts on your website get, tracking the content that gets engaged with the most on social media or asking email newsletter subscribers to share their thoughts on what they find the most useful from the content you send out.
There’s no doubt about it; the best way to get potential customers to engage with your marketing material is to use an emotional hook.
This is a strategy that works particularly well with luxury hotel marketing because the experience is something that so many people lust after.
Targeting people’s emotions as a way of getting them to convert to customers is one of the oldest and most successful marketing strategies in the book. Once you’ve tapped into someone’s desires then your brand is more firmly planted in their head, meaning that they’re much more likely to think of you when it comes to booking a hotel.
If you want your luxury hotel marketing to hit an emotional nerve, you need to create advertisements or content that offers a slice of the experience your customers enjoy, engaging their senses and helping them to vividly imagine what your hotel is like.
Video is one of the best tools to do just that, as it’s the perfect way to capture a setting and a mood in a way that the viewer can really immerse themselves in.
Video content could be used on your website just as a way to show potential customers what the hotel looks like or to illustrate certain features like a spa, bar or restaurant. You can also do deeper into showing what staying at the hotel is like by creating ‘vlog’ style content of an overnight stay if it fits with your brand image, producing short video testimonials from guests or using video as a way of announcing new features, services or campaigns.
Many hotels use the tactic of discounting rooms or offering seasonal sales as a way to boost engagement and reach new customers. However, luxury hotels run the risk of damaging their brand image if they offer too many reduced rates, which is why the focus should be on adding value instead.
You’re going to still want to find ways to entice potential customers and offer exclusive deals, but need to ensure the image of a high-end, expensive brand is maintained. To do this, consider what additional features or services you could offer customers as part of their experience staying with you, whether this is discounts at the bar or restaurant, room upgrades and later check-outs or exclusive access to certain facilities.
Maintaining your image as a luxury brand is a top priority. Identifying how you can make your hotel experience more valuable is the best way to offer customers something extra whilst still uploading your exclusive status.
Influencer marketing is a technique that most of us are familiar with by now, but it’s one that a lot of luxury brands are still not capitalising on as much as they should. There’s no better way to strengthen your brand image than partnering with a figure in the industry with an established image or influence to reach an audience that will be interested in your hotel and improve your status by associations.
Partnerships with other luxury brands is also a fantastic way to increase the audience that your services are being advertised to, along with other benefits such as shares on social media, media attention for partnered campaigns and an ally in the industry to share insights with. Luxury consumers are loyal to the brands that they support, and you can be sure that an endorsement of your hotel from a trusted name with a big following will make a real difference.
Finally, personalisation should be a part of your marketing strategy if you want to build strong relationships with your customer base and get them to engage with your marketing content as much as possible. Luxury travellers are known for loving perks and personalised experiences, so you can use this to your advantage to bring elements of individual targeting into your approaches.
A key way to personalise outreach is through email marketing, where you can use automation to send out content that uses each customer’s name and tailor what is included based on the content they have previously engaged with and what you know about their interests. This ensures that your emails stay relevant and valuable and makes your customers feel valued themselves - a win-win.
Personalisation can also take the form of retargeted ads, introducing a loyalty program and using different visuals for different sectors of your target audience.
The luxury hotel customer can be a tough nut to crack, but combining our specific knowledge of this sector of the travel industry with proven tips for marketing success, the above guide is a great way to breathe new life into your advertising and business growth strategy.