Hotel Digital Marketing: A Complete Guide

Kshitij Chaudhary
2 min read
May 9, 2024

If you want to do anything of significance, a spray-and-pray approach simply won’t cut it. Sooner or later, you’ll need a bulletproof plan instead, something that keeps you focused and aligns your efforts in one direction. 

The same is true for boosting your hotel revenue.

One-off social posts or haphazard discounts aren’t enough. You need a long-term, strategic plan—something that will give you results in the long term. 

In a digital world, this only means one thing: you need a hotel digital marketing plan. Lucky for you, we have all of this covered. But before you draw a marketing plan for your hotel, let’s get our basics right first.

What Is Digital Marketing for Hotels?

Digital marketing for hotels, or hotel digital marketing, refers to the group of processes or tactics by which hotels can boost their revenue through the Internet. Naturally, a plan of such sort is all-encompassing: it includes everything from social media and email marketing to influencer marketing and WhatsApp marketing; all of them can help you reach new prospective guests and boost your hotel revenue.

While some people confuse hotel marketing with marketing and so use the terms interchangeably, there are some significant differences. 

For one, true to its name, digital marketing is solely focused on digital channels like email, social, mobile and online search. This helps you collect as much data as possible on your campaigns, get instant feedback on what you’re doing, and quickly adapt to what works and what doesn’t.

Moreover, it's way cheaper, too, making it a fantastic addition for small and medium businesses.

So what are some ways that it can help you? Let's find out.

Why Is Hotel Digital Marketing Important for Your Business?

While getting data-based insights is one of the big wins in the digital age, it’s not the whole story by any means. There are many other things that make a digital marketing plan a great addition to your hotel revenue arsenal.

1. Cost Effectiveness

Digital marketing leaves traditional advertising and marketing in the dust as far as ROI comes. Features like retargeting and analytics, for example, make your marketing efforts far more effective for your hotels.

This feature is convenient for small and medium businesses that can’t foot the big bill for traditional advertising channels TV, newspaper, and radio programs.

2. Boost in Visibility   

Adapting digital marketing to your hotel lets you be where your guests are—which is digital. 

Don’t take our word for it. As research by MARA shows, 72% of bookings happen within 48 hours of a Google search, while a whopping 80% of travelers claim to read hotel reviews before swiping their card.

Through a combination of online reviews, social media, influencer marketing, and the like—all parts of an effective hotel digital marketing plan—you can appear just in the right places during the online searches of these travelers.

3. Analytics

As its name suggests, through analytics, you can analyze precisely how or where your campaigns are performing. In english-speak, you get rapid, real-time feedback on what works and doesn’t.

In the hubbub of the 21st-century hotel business, this quick data-based decision makes a massive difference to your bottom-line outcomes. 

How to Build a Hotel Digital Marketing Plan? 

You’ll always have to keep some elements in mind before you start putting out a solid hotel digital marketing plan. 

Remember: an effective hotel digital marketing plan will always consist of this template to keep all your hotel marketing efforts focused and concentrated in a single place. For this reason, it’s critical that you get some basic building blocks right. 

While the content or specifics can change depending on your needs, these basics will always remain. Here are the basic elements of hotel digital marketing plan:

1. Pick a Targeted Audience

Picking a specific audience keeps you from following a scatter-gun approach to your marketing.

By constantly focusing on things like demographics, age, education, profession, etc., and then tailoring your marketing to them, you ensure that your marketing efforts actually make an impact.

You wouldn’t speak to a sixth grader the same way you’d talk with a business consultant, right? The same thing holds for hotel digital marketing here.

2. Write Your Goals and KPIs

Constantly working towards goals will help you prioritize your goals, decide where you should focus on any movement, or whether you should drop an idea that doesn’t seem to be working.

It will also keep you from leaving what you want to achieve in the abstract-land.

3. Craft Your Communication and Unique Selling Points

A good communication strategy ensures consistency across internal and external communications, that you speak the same language both with your guests and within your teams.

It also includes defining your unique selling points—what differentiates you from your competitors—to entice travelers to book with you.

While the exact implementation will differ depending on your specific situation, here are a few basic steps to follow:

  1. Nail down your messaging first.
  2. Keep it consistent.
  3. Make sure you highlight your unique selling points.
  4. Measure your success and iterate on what works and what does not.

That’s it—with your communication and USP sealed, it’s then time to move on to something even more critical.

4. Do a Competitor Analysis 

Competitor analysis is about studying and then adapting to your competitor’s strategy. It lets you in on what your competitors are doing well, the things you’re missing out on, and so on.

In short, it gives you a complete picture of what you should do to stand out in your hotel marketing efforts.

Here’s how you can do competitor analysis as a hotelier:

  1. Make a list of all your competitors
  2. Go through all of your competitor’s content and messaging
  3. Review all critical metrics like SEO, content strategy, and tactics (social media, blogs, emails, etc.)
  4. Implement everything that you believe will help you out

5. Set Down Your Budget

Marketing budgets have seen massive cuts in the post-COVID times. 

Setting a budget down then keeps you from wasting your resources and makes sure you make the most out of your marketing efforts.

Here’s how you can put down a budget:

  1. See the industry benchmark reports for an idea of what your competitors are spending on their marketing
  2. Allocate a portion of your total revenue as your budget at the start itself
  3. Verify your campaign results and make relevant changes

6. Measure and Iterate Your Results

Measurement is the final part of a good marketing plan and is as critical a part of your marketing plan as others.

In short, it lets you know if your marketing is working or not.

Moreover, what you measure also depends on your original KPIs. Whether it’s sales qualified leads, awareness, etc.—so, “success” looks different to different people. 

Run Your Hotel Digital Marketing Through These 8 Top Channels 

There’s no one-size-fits-all in marketing, so you have a host of channels to choose from—it all depends on what you want to achieve.

With that clear, let’s dive into all your options.

1. Google Ads 

Google Ads is a paid advertising program from Google. For hoteliers like yourself, it’s a great way to appear in front of new guests you’d otherwise miss out on—by appearing at the top of search results for specific keywords. 

It is reflected in numbers too. As research from Notify Visitors shows, for every 1$ invested into Google Ads, a business receives an average of 2$ in revenue.

For hotels, let’s take the example of “hotels in madrid”.

Here’s what you’ll see when you put these keywords into your search:

google ads

As you can see, the teams with the “sponsored” tag are at the top of the search results.

So the message is clear: make sure you mix Google ads into your hotel marketing strategy.                                                 

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

An SEO strategy ensures you appear at the top of Google search results. When it comes to hotel SEO, though, there’s a caveat.

When you do SEO for your hotel, it’s not about coming out on top of Google search results here. Those spots will always be occupied by OTAs - you’re just not winning that battle. Here’s just one example:

Hotel SEO

 As you can see, for a simple “hotels in Delhi” query, after the Google Hotels sponsored and organic listings, only OTAs come out at the top; there are no organic websites in sight.

So, you need to focus somewhere else. But where? 

Google’s Business Profile is your answer.

Research from Publer has shown that an average business on Google Business Profile, or GBP, receives 1260 monthly views. Similarly, 56% of customers' actions on GBP can result in website visits.

So Google Business Profiles (GBP) work.

To boost your hotel's digital marketing efforts, here’s how you can create a GBP:

  1. Set up your Google Business Profile and claim your business map.
  2. Engage with travelers through photos, replying to reviews, and regular chats.
  3. Manage your hotel details like amenities, business hours, hotel highlights, etc.

That’s it for a full breakdown, you can also check out Google’s complete guide on hotel business profile.

3. Metasearch Advertising

Metasearch advertising is advertising your hotel on top metasearch engines like Trivago, Google Hotels, Kayak, etc. 

A metasearch engine for hotels, as its name suggests, is a search engine. It collects hotel information such as rates and amenities from multiple sources and puts it in an easy-to-digest format for travelers. Its primary function is to ease the hotel comparison process for interested travelers.

Here’s a simple search result from Trivago, a popular metasearch engine:


As you can see, at the top of search results comes an ad from Holiday Inn Express, followed by other organic results.

While it may look similar to OTA advertising—and be neglected for that reason—it’s nowhere near the same thing. For one, it commands interest from many travelers, with metasearch accounting for 80% of all bookings in India, as research cited by Skift shows. 

Google Hotels, along with its advertising program called Hotel Ads, leads the pack here, with a clear 70% market share in metasearch engines. In other words, make sure most of your advertising budget is set aside for Hotel Ads. 

4. Facebook and Instagram Advertising

With most people today glued to their phones, it’s no wonder 65% of bookings are completed from a smartphone, as research from dcs+ shows.

So, putting your offerings in front of customers through paid advertising is table stakes. As a hotelier, that only means two things: Facebook and Instagram advertising.

Let’s look at them both.

4.1. Facebook Advertising

Facebook commands a behemoth of 2.08 billion daily active users on average, with millennials making the most popular group by far, as shown in a lengthy piece by Backlinko.

Naturally, then, your advertising has to be tailored to this fact. While a complete Facebook advertising plan is out of the scope of this guide, make sure you’re doing the following:

  1. Run carousel ads to show different amenities and rooms in your hotel.
  2. Make event-based ads to capture travelers attending nearby events such as a concert or music festival.
  3. Run video ads to boost organic and inorganic content about your hotel and reach new users.
  4. Make use of retargeting. Reach out to your old guests or prospective guests who have interacted with your website or social media before, as they’re more likely to book from you again.

Follow these tactics, and you’ll be miles ahead of your competition.

4.2. Instagram Advertising

Instagram is a purely visual platform, and for this reason, it’s ranked at the top of every hotel marketer's survey about their go-to marketing channels.

In a survey by Thesus, for example, 82% of the respondents claimed that Instagram influences their travel planning in at least some way. And what exactly can you do on Instagram? Everything from partnering with influencers to posting about your hotel food and amenities, from live guest hotel reviews to posting about your rooms and other leaves—it doesn’t get better for hoteliers.

5. Content Marketing on Social Media

Content marketing for hotels is a big subject, but something specific stands out here, too: content marketing on social media.

In one go, it can boost your online awareness, gain more followers, and drive more bookings.

Here are a few things to try:

  1. Create informative and engaging content that draws your audience to interact with you online.
  2. Put your hotel amenities, food, and other relevant attractions on display to entice them to book with you instead of a competitor.
  3.  Share guest testimonials on video reels to build your online reputation.
  4. Create and share staff interviews to build an authentic brand and showcase your expertise.

Do this well, and you’ll be ahead of most of your competition.

6. Email Marketing

In the wake of the rising costs of paid ads and low organic content reach, email marketing will be your next best option.

Don’t believe us. As research from Mail Chimp has shown, in the US and Canada alone, email marketing gives hoteliers an average click-through rate between 1.17-3.01 and a conversion rate of 0.08-0.35.

Moreover, emails are a great way to offer discounts, coupons, and loyalty programs—all things that will bring you more revenue.

To set up a good email marketing campaign, follow the below steps:

1. Set your email marketing goals

2. Pick an email marketing platform

3. Create engaging content with catchy headlines and great body copy

4. Offer discounts or promotions in your emails to boost conversions

That’s it—do this well, and you will be ahead of most of your competition.

7. WhatsApp Marketing

When it comes to ROI, results from WhatsApp are through the roof.

From Click-to-WhatsApp ads to ease of data capture, broadcast lists to review capturing—WhatsApp can do it all for you, as we show in our WhatsApp hotel marketing guide. Moreover, WhatsApp also wipes the floor with other marketing channels, giving you a massive 98% open rate. Among other things, you can:

  1. Use WhatsApp for guest retention.
  2. Collect guest reviews at the guest’s convenience. 
  3. Use carousels to showcase your rooms and amenities right on WhatsApp chat.

As you can see, WhatsApp is a neat hotel digital marketing tool—one that you should rely on more than others. So make sure you make WhatsApp an integral part of your hotel's digital marketing plan.

8. Online Reputation Management 

Online Reputation Management, or ORM, in hospitality involves influencing how prospective guests perceive you. It is managed by swiftly responding to negative reviews and boosting positive ones. 

There are a slew of ways you can do this.

  1. Use social media to reply to guest queries or feedback. Hilton Hotel’s X handle, for instance, is famous for resolving guest queries on its social media platform.  
  2. Regularly monitor metasearch websites and OTAs for reviews. In fact, get a review automation tool like Brance’s Google chatbot, which will automate all your Google reviews instantly.
  3. Use WhatsApp to encourage positive reviews—at their convenience. Moreover, with a smart WhatsApp chatbot, you can practically automate most of this process.   

Again, online reputation management is a beast of its own and so deserves a piece of its own, but follow the above tips, and you’ll be miles ahead of most.

Hotel Digital Marketing to Boost Your Revenue 

Your hotel's digital marketing plan plays one of the most important roles when it comes to boosting your hotel revenue. It includes everything from your overall plan to tactics like individual channels like social media, email, and content marketing.

After you’ve your online marketing all set up, make sure you don’t forget other essential areas like revenue management and hotel tech.

Read Also - Hotel Marketing; A Complete Guide With Tactics

Kshitij Chaudhary

Kshitij founded Brance with the vision of helping hoteliers increase their direct bookings using AI. Over the last ten years, he has led the Marketing and Growth of several technology organizations and start-ups such as BCG, Shuttl, House of Beauty, etc.

He also loves traveling and sports.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is First Response Time important in inside sales?

First Response Time holds a great importance in inside sales because it influences customer satisfaction. Ultra-fast responses improve the chances of potential leads getting converted into paying and loyal customers.

What are the consequences of a delayed first response in inside sales?

A delay in First response time can result in missed opportunities, customer frustration, and a negative impact on conversion rates. Potential leads may lose interest or shift to competitors when experience a delay in response time.

What role does technology play in reducing first response time?

Technology plays a vital role in reducing first response time through automation. AI-driven chatbots streamline the communication process and enables faster interactions.

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