2017 is set to be a rewarding year full of growth for property owners around the world. This year, your property’s marketing will be more important than ever and more influential to your business practices. Last year, we predicted what we thought would have the most marketing influence in 2016. Everything from video to online reviews had a huge impact on the competitive landscape. We’ve refreshed our list for 2017 with 16 marketing trends we expect to see this year.
1. Content is King
Content remains king of the castle this year. To stay relevant and top of mind, your property should regularly produce new content. Produce content for your website, social media, travel blogs to expand your digital footprint and reach more potential travelers. Google and other search engines love new content and that’s because consumers (travelers!) are searching for new stuff to read, watch, and share.
Keep people in the know with your blog, videos, social media posts, event calendars, city guides and more.
2. Video Will Dominate the Web
Using videos to market your property will remain popular in 2017. Facebook now gives preference to video content and YouTube remains one of the strongest platforms. Video content comes in many different forms and your property can experiment with it different ways. People and businesses are now using video on all sorts of different platforms to entice and educate potential consumers.
As a travel brand, there are an endless amount of videos that you can produce to grab the attention of the consumer. Showcase your property, city, staff, local events, your restaurant’s recipes and more. Most importantly, you should experiment and see what works.
When we create content, we often think of the lasting impacts or evergreen effects it will have. But, this year, we should embrace short-lived and micro content that may only be helpful or interesting for a short duration of time.
For example, creating content around a local event may generate a lot of traffic and conversation that could produce real benefits for your property. Videos, helpful guides, Instagram posts, tweets don’t have to be long and complicated to make a big impact.
4. Email Marketing Lives On
Email marketing remains one of the cheapest and most effective ways to market to your guests. Email allows you to market to communicate especially well with your existing guests before, during, and after their trip. Use email to send them helpful information about your property, your location (events, city favorites, etc), and gives you an opportunity to present upsells.
This year, put some more structure behind your email strategy and decide how often and at what intervals you want to send emails.
5. Mobile will Take Over Desktop
It has long been predicted that mobile bookings will exceed desktop bookings as smartphones and tablets take control of our lives. Even if guests do not book their trip on mobile, it’s highly likely to interact with you at some point on mobile. If your website is not mobile optimized, you need to make plans to fix your site in the near future.
Google, travelers, and just about everyone else does not enjoy accessing non-mobile optimized websites. Your booking engine should also be mobile-optimized so that guests can complete their bookings in one session. If potential travelers are unable to complete bookings on your site, you run the risk of them booking somewhere else.
6. Make Your Guests Feel Special with Personalization
2017 will be all about personalization. In hospitality-centric businesses especially, making each guest feel special is important. There are endless amounts of ways you add personal touches to your guests’ stay.
For example, create fields in your booking engine that allow guests to explain the purpose of their trip. Special events like honeymoons, anniversaries, birthdays, and the like can and should have some sort of personalization added to them.
Treating guests like they are individuals gives them a story to tell and spread to their friends. These word-of-mouth moments go a long way.
7. Reputation Management Takes Center Stage
Online review websites have done an incredible job at building loyal fan bases and generating a lot of traffic. It’s important to keep an eye on all of your online platforms and ensure that you’re staying ahead of any negative reviews. We believe it’s good practice to respond to all of your reviews, but at the very least, all user-generated negative reviews should be addressed.
8. Maturing and Growth of Social Media Platforms
As we mentioned in our 2017 hospitality trends article, we expect 2017 to be a year where existing platforms of all types will start to mature. Social media platforms, especially, will start to mature and we’ll see fewer new services start to popup. Depending on how much effort your property has put into social media, you may have a lot of work to do, or you may just need to continue doing what you’ve already planned.
Social media is incredibly important during the research and discovery stages of travel. When a potential guest is doing research on your property, they are more than likely going to glance at your online channels. Social is also a great way to gain someone’s attention before they even know who you are.
9. Print Isn’t Dead Afterall
In late 2016, Airbnb announced that they would begin to produce print travel guides, which seems like an odd thing to do in 2017. The world has already gone digital and we rely on the internet for all types of information. But, companies like Airbnb are making a bet that print might not be ready to go away forever just yet.
We don’t suggest that you go out and produce your own full-length travel guide, but it may be a good idea to produce physical maps, brochures, and other helpful guides for your city. Our ebook on how to make a city guide can help steer you in the right direction.
10. Distribution Channels
New distribution channels are a great way to market your property. A healthy distribution strategy is essential to a successful marketing strategy in 2017. Direct bookings and third party distribution channels both have their place for almost all types of properties. Third party channels, like Expedia and Booking.com, spend a significant amount of money advertising their listings online. Use these channels to your advantage and consider adding a few in the new year.
Adding new distribution channels is easy with channel managers like myallocator.
11. Focus on Location
We predict that local and shared experiences will be at the forefront of hospitality trends in 2017, which means that your property should capitalize on the local area. There are a few different ways you can bring focus to your location’s unique aspects. First and foremost, create trainings for your staff and concierge so that you’re up-to-date on local trends and the best spots for different types of guests. Many properties have staff from all over the country and world, so they may not always know the area well.
Second, as a part of your content strategy, include guides and posts about your location. Not only is this good for search engine optimization purposes, but also for your staff to direct guests while they are at your property. Maps and city guides are especially helpful for guests who are on the go. Don’t forget that physical guides are a good idea too, especially if your property attracts a lot of international guests.
12. Powerful Software
Every year, software innovations make doing business easier and more efficient. In 2017, we expect software to continue to fuel marketing strategies with new tools that help us do better work faster. Everything from email distribution platforms to revenue management modules will surely make an impact on marketing strategies.
Cloudbeds is a hospitality management software solution that helps properties of all sizes run more efficient, profitable businesses.
13. Automation to Eliminate Busy Work
Directly related to powerful software, there are countless solutions out there that help us eliminate busy work. Scheduling content, social media posts, press releases, partnership announcements, and the likes can all use a little automation. We never suggest robots or software automate tasks that require a certain level of creative input. Automation should be used for things like pre-arrival and post-stay emails, confirmations, and reminders.
14. Data Driven Marketing
When making marketing decisions, there are a number of metrics that you should look at. For any type of property, you want to know how your guests are finding you, where they’re booking, and the different profit margins by channel, just to name a few.
Choose a property management system, like Cloudbeds, that has powerful reporting capabilities. In the case of Cloudbeds, we have reports that give a high-level and detailed reporting giving property owners and managers a more holistic view of their business.
Keep track of data over time so that you pull insights into whether certain marketing activities are paying off over time. You should analyze fluctuations so you’re making the most informed decisions.
15. Conversions Through Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms can be optimized to drive bookings, even without advertising. For example, Facebook has a button that you can customize with a number of different call-to-actions including Book Now. You can direct the URL to any destination. For your property’s page, you should direct them to your direct booking engine or website. You shouldn’t send them to a third-party channel because then you have to pay commission and you earned that booking all on your own.
16. Have fun!
Travel marketing should be fun! Travel and wanderlust are everlasting themes of the internet and your property can greatly benefit from these trends. Independent hoteliers and operators are some of the most passionate people we’ve met and if you infuse that into your marketing, you’ll reap the benefits. When making your plans this year, don’t forget to let your own passion shine through.