Today’s travelers are sophisticated. They’re looking for inspiration—searching and booking unique and custom travel experiences more than ever before.
The result is a more individualized path to purchase. Customers are using many different forms of technology to jump from search to social media, or virtually anywhere else their devices may take them on any given day. Marketers must be just as agile and able to shift their strategy just as quickly in order to influence potential guests wherever they are in their journey.
Since the modern traveler is always on, brands must be too in order to better understand what their customers want and need at any moment.
A full 67% of all hotel searches start with Google. Travelers are researching options more often, starting much earlier, and using a number of different sources from start to finish. Utilizing Search Engine Marketing (SEM) allows a brand to be top of mind when travelers are in their initial dreaming and planning stages.
According to Sojern’s 2019 State of the Travel Industry Report, paid search is utilized almost equally across hotel segments, meaning search is no longer just an option for hotel corporations with large marketing budgets. To impress potential guests in this crucial stage, all hotels need to have a comprehensive SEM strategy.
Marketers who effectively utilize data to target travelers across multiple channels, rather than narrowing their focus, maximize the ability to understand travelers’ online behaviors and influence them at exactly the right time. Scaling efforts by pairing search with programmatic display will reach more travelers along their journey, ultimately leading to more direct bookings.
In this fast paced, ever-changing digital landscape one thing is clear: social media isn’t going anywhere. Of the digital channels utilized in 2018 by hoteliers, Facebook and Instagram received the most budget. In fact, many hotel marketers only plan to further increase their digital ad spend on Facebook and Instagram for 2019 and beyond.
With 2 billion monthly active users on Facebook and 700 million Instagrammers, the scale of social media cannot be overstated. Reaching such a large audience, having an active social media presence can and will drive an increase in direct bookings.
“Facebook is important because of the size and scale — you just can’t beat their audience. And because consumers are on the platform to think about and aspire to travel, you have to be there. Our team is testing every aspect of our Facebook campaigns, from photos to call to action, to see where our audiences are interacting with us.”– Brent Bouldin, Vice President of Marketing, Media and Customer Acquisition
The majority (79%) of international luxury hotel marketers identified social media as their top branding strategy. Facebook offers Facebook Ads, Facebook Travel Ads, and Facebook Stories, while Instagram offers both Ads and Stories. There are also Twitter Ads, Pinterest Ads and Snapchat Ads. Facebook Ads were ranked most popular across the various hotel segments, but all forms of social ads are a valuable marketing tool.
Successful hotel marketers are taking advantage of expanding their brand reach by connecting with this ever-growing audience. If hotels are not utilizing social media as part of their multi-channel strategy, they are missing out on potentially hundreds of opportunities to influence travelers on their path to purchase.
“These days, you cannot focus your marketing spend on one particular channel because there is no single conversion path” – Blessy Townes, Vice President & Head of Digital, Discovery Hospitality
Engaging with prospective guests as they quickly navigate through various websites, social media channels and devices can be a complex challenge. By creating a seamless multi-channel strategy that reaches travelers across search, display, and social media, hotel marketers can create a cohesive message that captures more travelers wherever they are at in the journey.
Take for example Breezes Bali Resort & Spa, who partnered with Sojern to run their marketing strategy across multiple digital offerings to drive them more direct bookings.
With Pay on the Stay, Sojern’s commission product, The Breezes Bali consolidated its display, SEM, Facebook and Instagram campaigns. The results were outstanding: $107K USD in direct booking revenue in 19 months, a 30-40% increase in incremental revenue, and a 35% increase in incremental room nights.
No matter where a potential guest is on their path to purchase, hotel brands need to meet them every step of the way in order to stay competitive. By combining search, programmatic display, and social media efforts, hotel marketers will increase their opportunities to inspire, engage, and influence travelers to book directly with them.
Download our full State of the Industry: The 2019 Report on Travel Advertising today for more insights on the importance of a multi-channel marketing strategy.