HOSPITALITY MARKETING

2022 Hotel Marketing Trends and How Property Owners Can Prepare

Nancy Huang

By Nancy Huang

As travel starts to pick up again, lodging operators are allocating more resources to building awareness and generating demand. But traveler behavior has changed since the pandemic, and that requires taking fresh new approaches to hospitality marketing efforts.

Here we look at how the travel landscape is evolving in 2022 and how independent properties can implement targeted marketing strategies to compete with branded hotels with large budgets. We’ll also share marketing tips specific to the hotel industry.

 

2022 trends in traveler behavior 

First, let’s look at how travel patterns have changed in 2022. In Cloudbeds’ Travel Trends Report 2022, we identified a number of current trends, including:

  • Continued strong local and leisure travel
  • Gradual recovery of business travel, group travel, and international travel
  • Shorter booking windows, longer stays, and more money to spend
  • Continued demand for flexibility in cancellation policies and date changes
  • Preferences for outdoor, coastal, and small-town destinations
  • Preference for destinations with low Covid-19 rates and fewer restrictions
  • Growing demand for contactless services

2022 hotel marketing trends 

In response to changing travel patterns, operators of accommodations of all types and sizes are reshaping marketing campaigns to capture greater market share.

Let’s start with three overarching marketing trends:

 

1. Guest experience marketing

A hotel stay is much more than a room – it’s an experience, and a large number of today’s travelers are seeking intimate, safe, and local experiences. Operators of independent properties are ideally positioned to tap into these desires.

What hoteliers and hosts can do to benefit:

  • Promote experiences that appeal to today’s travel preferences. Whether it’s family activities for local staycationers, extra space for extended stays, strong wifi for workcations, or outdoor venues offering a close connection to nature, showcase the features that travelers are looking for.
  • Reassure travelers you’re providing a safe, worry-free environment. Share up-to-date information on safety protocols and local restrictions as applicable.
  • Advertise contactless services. Options include mobile check-in, food ordering by QR code or mobile app, digital messaging, and contactless payments.

2. The never-ending quest for direct bookings

During the pandemic, the proportion of direct bookings increased substantially in comparison to OTA bookings for many hotels, as big-name OTAs lowered their advertising budgets during times of travel restrictions.

What hoteliers and hosts can do to benefit:

  • Make the booking process as easy as possible for travelers. Use a website booking engine that’s integrated with your website and property management system (PMS)
  • Encourage visitors to book on your website by displaying a best rate guarantee. Add other incentives and promotions to discourage potential customers from booking elsewhere.
  • Work with metasearch platforms. Use Google Hotel Ads, Kayak, and Trivago and activate your free booking links on Google to attract more visitors to your website.

3. Marketing sustainability

The pandemic has created an increased awareness for responsible, eco-friendly travel. When planning trips, more travelers are looking for properties that promote sustainable practices.

What hoteliers and hosts can do:

  • Take your environmental program to the next level. Invest in green initiatives, such as switching to refillable bath amenities and eco-friendly cleaning products, eliminating single-use plastics, and purchasing more local and sustainable products.
  • Make it easy for hotel guests to opt out of daily housekeeping services. This new trend helps reduce the consumption of water, energy, and cleaning products.
  • Highlight sustainable practices on your hotel website. Make travelers feel good about their decision to stay with you by showcasing your green initiatives on your website, in hotel rooms, and throughout your property, where applicable.

Hotel marketing trend: sustainability

 

2022 digital marketing trends 

As travel planning on digital channels remains strong and continues to grow, hoteliers should place increased focus on online marketing. McKinsey reports that 58% of all customer interactions globally are now digital, compared to 36% prior to the pandemic.

Here are several trends we’re seeing specific to digital marketing in the hospitality industry:

 

1. Website & SEO

In any market conditions, your website remains the most important platform for promoting your property online. During the pandemic, many properties allowed hotel website content to go stale, directly impacting traffic and conversions.

What hoteliers and hosts can do:

  • Make 2022 the year to refresh or redesign your website. Ensure that it mirrors the quality of the guest experience on property, is mobile-friendly, and has undergone search engine optimization to rank high for keywords relevant to your location.
  • Add content that reflects the latest travel trends. Make sure to add information, such as FAQs that answer travelers’ top questions, special offers and upsells, and information about local attractions.
  • Be clear about your cancellation policy and make it easy to find on your website. Remember that flexibility is a priority. As hotel business picks up, consider tightening your cancellation policy to discourage “trip stacking” – booking stays at multiple hotels over the same period.
  • Optimize your property for local searches too. Get listed on Google My Business, manage guest reviews on Google too, and make sure your key business information is accurate everywhere that you’re listed. More local SEO tips here.

 

Hotel Marketing Trends

 

2. Online advertising 

Online advertising became more challenging in 2021 after Apple implemented new privacy features to curb data tracking. Even so, highly targeted ads on Google and Facebook are still an effective way for small properties to compete with OTAs and big hotel brands.

What hoteliers and hosts can do:

  • Set aside a budget for cost-per-click advertising (or refresh an existing ad campaign). Bid on keywords that are relevant to your location, market, and property type, and appeal to your ideal target audience. To get started on the right foot, consider working with a digital marketing agency.
  • Create campaigns around topical keywords such as local travel, staycations, extended stays, free cancellation, and small weddings and events.
  • Monitor travel restrictions closely and change geo-targeting parameters to reflect where travelers are coming from, new markets that open up, and regions where new travel restrictions might lead to an increase in demand to your area.

For more information, check out our hotel search engine marketing.

 

3. Email marketing 

Email is a low-cost way to drive hotel bookings from people who are already familiar with your property – either former guests or website visitors who’ve subscribed to your email list. Marketing to past guests has even more advantages today, as travelers are opting for safe, familiar destinations.

What hoteliers and hosts can do:

  • According to a recent Expedia report, people are feeling an overwhelming sense of vacation deprivation. You can tap into this desire to travel by sending out special offers that appeal to people’s need to escape, have fun, and treat themselves.
  • Segment your subscriber lists by demographics, interests, and booking behavior, and send them targeted, personalized messages to entice them back.
  • Use email automation software to streamline communications across the guest journey, with customized marketing emails and automated confirmations, pre-stay messages, and post-stay feedback requests.

For more information, check out our step-by-step guide to hotel email marketing.

 

4. Social media and influencer marketing

Social media platforms continue to evolve as a hotel marketing channel, with Facebook all but shutting out organic posts from brands while new opportunities arise on Instagram and TikTok.

What hoteliers and hosts can do:

  • Leverage the power of user-generated content. Encourage guests to share photos and tag your property. Add spots with photographic opportunities throughout your property in areas with a great view, nature settings, or striking artwork and design.
  • Reach new audiences by posting short videos to Instagram Reels and TikTok. Choose trendy themes like staycations, remote work, and postponed weddings and reunions that are finally happening.
  • Invite social media influencers for a free stay in exchange for sharing photos, videos, and commentary with their communities.

For more information, check out our guide, How Hotels Win on Social Media in 2022.

Social media for hotels -ebook

 

5. Online reviews 

Online reviews are regaining momentum as more travelers hit the road. This presents an unprecedented opportunity for properties to rebuild and reshape their reputation and leverage it to convert more travelers.

What hoteliers and hosts can do:

  • Step up review solicitation efforts with automated post-stay review requests. Travelers like to read a selection of recent reviews before making a booking decision. If your recent reviews are limited, it may be time to put effort into getting more.
  • When responding to reviews, draw attention to positive comments related to travel trends, such as contactless services, safety protocols, and workation experiences.
  • Look for clues in guest feedback to market your property more effectively. What do guests rave about? What do they complain about? Ensure that your messaging sets the right expectations and leaves room for staff to exceed them.

 

6. Video marketing

As evidenced by social media trends like Instagram Stories and TikTok, Video is steadily growing in popularity as a medium for planning trips and sharing customer experiences. Millennials and Gen Z show a preference for video content especially. If you’re not using video to promote your property, you’re missing out on the power of visual marketing.

What hoteliers and hosts can do:

  • Make this the year to create that property video you always wanted – or to update an old one. Hire a professional videographer to ensure your investment pays off.
  • Create a property channel on YouTube or Vimeo. Upload a few high-quality videos, add titles and tags to optimize them for search results, and promote the channel on your website and social media pages.
  • If you already have a channel, don’t let it go stale. Keep content fresh by uploading new videos regularly, monitoring comments, and growing your subscriber list.

 

On the radar: long-term hotel marketing trends  

Finally, here are three trends that are still in the early stages but are expected to gain traction in 2022:

  • Chatbots. In this time of labor shortages, chatbots can ease the burden on hotel employees by providing potential guests with instant answers to frequently asked questions and freeing up staff for more complex tasks. A chatbot can also be an effective marketing tool by providing vital information throughout the purchase journey.
  • Virtual reality. After years of hype, 2022 might just be the year virtual reality starts taking off in the travel industry. As a marketing tool, virtual reality allows travelers to experience a property remotely, whereas augmented reality can enhance the traveler’s experience on site.
  • The metaverse. The metaverse is a virtual environment where people use avatars to play games, explore digital worlds, meet people, and shop. While it may be a long time before people travel in the metaverse, it has strong potential as a marketing tool for giving people a taste of hotel experiences from their desktop.

 

Ready to take your marketing to the next level with Cloudbeds?
Published on 10 March, 2022
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About Nancy Huang

Nancy Huang

Nancy Huang is the Director of Marketing Communications at Cloudbeds. She has 15 years of experience working in marketing at the intersection where hospitality and travel meets technology and e-commerce. When she’s not studying travel trends or ideating marketing campaigns, she loves traveling, dining, and swimming in really cold lakes.

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