And, if you’re a busy independent hotel or revenue manager, crafting the perfect budget is just one task in a long line of never-ending to-do lists. In order to help you feel less overrun by the task, we here at Sojern put together 5 things to do when coming up with your marketing budget:
1. Clearly establish your marketing goals.
Be sure to ask yourself, “What result do I want to get out of this campaign?” Are you trying to drive awareness of a recent remodel or drive traffic to your site for direct bookings? If your goal is to drive more direct bookings, it’s crucial that you partner with vendors who support this goal. Then, establish a baseline metric and hold each vendor accountable. Be sure you that you have an actionable way to assess success.
2. Test similar channels, and let the results speak for themselves.
There’s nothing better than a side-by-side comparison when it comes to the world of advertising. Have multiple ideas you want to test out like search, meta-search, and display but unsure which will provide performance? Go ahead and try them all. Give them even budgets, set appropriate metrics, and let the results do the talking. Multiple tactics can help drive direct demand, so don’t be surprised if more than one gets you a positive direct-booking ROI.
3. Be patient.
Remember, you’re not going to see a positive return over night. Allow your initiatives ample time to do their jobs and promote your brand. While you should be patient, that doesn’t mean you can’t be concerned with results: analyze campaigns 30, 60, and 90 days after they launch in order to have an accurate depiction of your return, and results generated from the program.
For example, if you’re running a paid search campaign, it will take time to set up your campaign and see a return. As explained in this helpful video, your ads must build a reputation in order to start appearing in front of the right audience and driving traffic. In order to build this reputation, the ads are scored by big search engines on components such as relevance of keywords (aka relevance score). It takes time to collect enough data on how relevant your ads are to the keywords you’ve selected for your campaign. Since the process put in place by search engines takes time to ramp up, so too will your paid search campaigns. Patience, then, is not only a virtue—it’s a requirement!
4. Truly invest in your marketing tactics.
As we all know, it’s hard to compete with the big travel players that have unlimited marketing budgets. Luckily digital advertising can put your property front and center without breaking the bank. However, in order to see profitable returns, you need to spend enough to give the campaigns time to be successful.
Expecting huge results, but only allocating a small budget will limit performance and only leave you disappointed. Generally, as with many things in life, you will get out what you put in. So, it’s a good idea to allocate a healthy portion of your marketing budget to your campaigns. Then, you can truly see what kind of an impact it can have for your hotel.
5. Be wary of lengthy contracts.
In the digital world where you want to test and learn, there’s nothing worse than being locked into a long-term contract. If a campaign is not performing or not providing what you were promised, you should be able to move on quickly. Be sure you understand and are comfortable with the contract length. There’s nothing wrong with going back to the table and asking for more flexibility. You don’t need to get tied down to something that just isn’t working for you.
Anyone can create a marketing budget. But, it’s important to create one that is thoughtful and optimized for your unique budget, timeline, and hotel. While these five tips can help you plan a marketing budget that works for you, one of the best ways you can optimize your marketing budget is to partner with Sojern.
Check out one of our case studies to see how Sojern delivers powerful ROI for independent hoteliers, and start optimizing your marketing budget today.