5 low-cost, content-marketing tips for hotels
13 FEBRUARY 2015 2:57 PM
Independent hoteliers can benefit by implementing content-marketing strategies. And often it can be done with little to no budget, panelists said during a webinar.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Hoteliers can connect with travelers on a deeper level—without adding much extra cost—by implementing content marketing as a permanent fixture within their marketing strategies, panelists said during a recent webinar.
During the webinar titled “Content marketing 101 for hotels,” hosted by Leonardo, two independent hoteliers discussed low-cost, effective ways to implement content marketing strategies for their respective hotels.
“Content marketing is wonderful because you have relevant content on the Internet that is drawing potential customers straight to your website,” said Adele Gutman, VP of sales, marketing and revenue for Library Hotel Collection. “It’s not that you’re selling to them. They’re finding you because they’re looking for that information.”
Gutman manages content marketing for the collection’s four Manhattan properties in New York City, and because her hotels don’t affiliate with a brand, the marketing budget tends to be smaller. “We have to be more creative,” she said.
At the Hotel Josef and the Hotel Maximilian (both in Prague), Creative Director Clementine Amiraux uses content marketing as a way to stay visible and make sure people are booking direct. Both properties share the same owner. Amiraux said the hotels have limited cooperation with online travel agencies, which can cause them to “lose quite a bit of visibility.”
Amiraux and Gutman shared concrete examples of content marketing campaigns that have proven successful. Following are five ways to do content marketing on a small budget:
1. Create a thoughtful, well-researched hashtag campaign
“In order to know what the right content is for you, you have to listen to your customers to find out what their needs are,” Gutman said. This means reading reviews, reading emails, listening to social media and paying attention to questions in the hotel website’s chat box, she said.
Prior to launching Library Hotel Collection’s #TipsforTravelers initiative (which is now the name of Library Hotel Collection’s blog), Gutman did all of that and more to figure out what guests were having trouble with while traveling.
“I asked every stakeholder in the company to write down for me what you wish your customers or the general public understood about our business,” Gutman said. Between the four New York hotels that participated, 80% of the points they wanted to make were the same kind of content.
For example, some stakeholders brought up that guests don’t understand the size difference between the full-size bed, queen-size bed and king-size bed. Gutman and her team put together a homemade infographic and featured it in a post on the company’s blog. The Library Hotel Collection tweeted it, posted it on Facebook and continues to circulate it, Gutman said.
“It gave our staff a tool to communicate,” she said. “All of these things have really helped reduce the incidents where people say, ‘I didn’t realize a full-size bed would be this size.’ We call this the ‘spinach’: the kind of info that is good for the audience.”
2. Create a Web series on YouTube
Amiraux found that guests coming to the Hotel Josef and Hotel Maximilian were “travelers more than tourists,” and she wanted to create something that would be useful for them. Enter “Praguing Around,” a Web series featuring Amiraux showcasing hidden local gems in and around Prague.
“I wanted to show them a different face of Prague than what you’d find in a tourist guide,” she said.
The videos also are featured on all guestroom TVs at both hotels, she added.
While Library Hotel Collection hasn’t launched its own Web series, Gutman said hoteliers shouldn’t forget the power of video.
For example, when Book Expo America was coming to New York last June, Gutman challenged her team to send 30-second videos of them dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy.” The team then compiled the snippets into a 4-minute video and made a blog post welcoming book lovers to the city and hotel.
“If you Google ‘Book Expo,’ that video comes up,” Gutman said. In seven days, the video had 1,400 views, she added.
3. Market the basics really well
Information on guestrooms, hotel amenities and features on property are still top of mind for guests arriving to the hotel. When figuring out a content marketing strategy for Hotel Josef and Hotel Maximilian, Amiraux found that guests do want to see information specific to the properties.
“They really want to have help preparing their stay and dreaming about it,” she said.
Sharing property information on social media is one way to market and showcase the “nuts and bolts” of a hotel. “Any of our social media is leading our guests to our website. We want our content there to be the best (high-res photos, videos, fresh content, etc.),” Amiraux said.
Gutman took the basics to the next level at Manhattan’s Hotel Giraffe. While researching and reading reviews of the hotel on TripAdvisor, she noticed previous guests had written reviews on how well the hotel staff treated their children.
These reviews sparked an idea to play up the family-friendly side of Hotel Giraffe, and Gutman created a blog post titled “10 reasons why Hotel Giraffe is a perfect fit for your family.”
“We started reaching out to bloggers who blogged about family travel. We wrote press releases. After a while, we started getting rewards for (being) family-friendly,” Gutman said.
4. Don’t be afraid to use crowd pleasers
Gutman said what the Library Hotel Collection has found to be most popular with its audience is a photo of a cat with books.
“This is the way it is. This is what we call the ‘candy,’” Gutman said. “We try to post things like this that are the crowd pleasers. When people see stuff like this, they say, ‘This is the club I want to belong to.’”
Sharing content aimed at pleasing the audience expands a hotel’s reach, she added. That can come in handy later when a hotel has something more important to share such as blog posts.
5. Find your niche
Guests at Hotel Josef were constantly raving about the hotel’s breakfast, Amiraux said. While not every hotelier has the ability to open a bakery, doing so has helped the hotel vocalize what it’s good at: breakfast.
“In Josef, we opened our own bakery because we wanted our breakfast to be even better than it was,” Amiraux said. “We had this vision of wanting a fresh smell of a croissant in the morning.”
The hotel brought in a baker from Paris to have this vision become a reality, and now Amiraux shares tidbits from The Bakery at Josef via social media. “Every day I ask our chef what the breakfast of the day is,” she said, adding that it could be a way to share a special occasion for a guest such as a birthday or anniversary.