Hotel Marketing: A Complete Guide With Tactics

Anuj Punjani
2 min read
May 12, 2024

Growing revenue and maintaining profitability is no child’s play, at least for hoteliers. We don’t care who disagrees, but it takes far more than a couple of weekly Instagram posts or event marketing campaigns.

Keeping your ADR from plummeting, maintaining a healthy bracket of direct bookings, or partnering with OTAs—it all comes into the picture. In other words, it takes blood, sweat, and, more importantly, a full-blown hotel marketing plan to move the needle in any meaningful way. 

Lucky for you, we’ve done all the heavy lifting and now present a cheat code to help you achieve all of that. But before we get into building you a hotel marketing plan, let’s first define hotel marketing.

What Is Hotel Marketing? 

Hotel marketing refers to all the marketing activities and tactics that help you reach more guests and, ultimately, generate more revenue for your hotel. Sometimes also known as a hotel marketing plan, it consists of a mixed approach of offline and online marketing to ensure you keep attracting new guests and keep the old ones coming back.

Don’t take our word for it. Research from Emersion Wellness, for example, has shown that as many as 45% of travelers use search engines, online travel agents, or hotel websites to make a booking.

So unless you’re optimizing for digital marketing, that’s an awful lot of missed bookings.

A good hotel marketing plan is made up of everything from high-level aspects like the different marketing strategies to a collection of lower-level tactics such as social media marketing, branding, customer relationship management, and so on.

But before you get down to whip out a full-blown plan, let’s first examine what makes a hotel plan worthwhile in the first place.

Starting Right: Why Is Hotel Marketing Important?

As the 2022 research from Statista shows, the hotel and motel industry in the United States alone spent a combined 2.8 billion U.S. dollars on their marketing budget.

In other words, the world of hotels is a very noisy place; to stand out, you need to keep up with all the tricks and tools of the trade. And hotel marketing, as you probably guessed, is exactly what will help you do that effectively. 

But how do you go about setting up a complete marketing plan for your hotel? Let’s find out.

Mastering the Art of Hotel Marketing Plan: A Step-by-Step Blueprint

Hotel Marketing Plan

Different elements go into a successful hotel marketing plan, and as we never get tired of pointing out, yours will vary according to your needs. 

However, it’s also true that in any hotel marketing plan, you will always find some standard pointers, some common steps or tactics that you’ll always want to stick to if you want to see any kind of boost in revenue.

Learn what they are from below.

1. Identify Your Target Audience

As the old saying goes, if you’re selling to everyone, you’re selling to no one. This is where a tightly defined target audience can help.

A target audience refers to the group of people most likely to buy your product or services. For hoteliers like you, these are the people most likely to book your hotel rooms.  

Miss this, and you risk your marketing falling on deaf ears, your sales managers perpetually missing their quarterly quota, and ultimately, not seeing anything resembling consistent growth - it's not a pretty picture.

This is why you absolutely need a target audience before you create even a single creative.

Follow the below things to figure out your target audience:

  1. Use Social Media Insights
  2. Check Your Website Analytics
  3. Set up a Buyer's Persona
  4. Carry a Through a Competitor's Research
  5. Test and Revise

Keep these at the top of your mind while you're building your target audience, and you will be good to go.

2. Develop Your Marketing Communication Strategy

As a famous psychologist once quipped, it’s not just what you say but how you say something that can have a massive impact. This old chestnut, often shared heartily at communication and debating clubs, strikes at the truth and importance of a good communication strategy. Unsurprisingly, you need it for your hotel marketing plan too. 

In brief, it ensures that what you say to your target audience is highly relevant. That it repeatedly sends out a coherent message most pertinent to your audience. That it doesn’t suck.

Here’s how you can develop a marketing communication strategy:

1. Define your message: Now that you’ve honed in on your target audience, it’s time to set down what you’ll say.

This is where you show your unique value to your audience, of what makes you different from others. Talk about all your amenities here, all your great offers and discounts, and even the side activities you offer.

You have full permission to show off here so don’t be shy.

2. Pick your medium: You have to speak the right thing at the right place. In terms of hotel marketing, this means your marketing has to adapt to whatever platform you’re on.

So if you’re on Instagram, go heavy on visuals with complete candor. Post the pics of your hotel rooms, the delicious food you offer, the unique surroundings—it all counts.

Similarly, on LinkedIn, you have to be more professional in your tone. Being professional without coming off as too robotic is what counts.

3. Implement: After you have figured out both the message and medium, it’s now time to implement your communication strategy. It’s essential to have a team of good writers to execute this for you, lest there’s a botch up in your communication materials.

Do your marketing communication well and it will ensure your hotel marketing works the best.

3. Optimize Your Pricing

Post-COVID hotel prices have been a wild ride, to say the least. 

A massive slump during and post the 2020 crisis, a sharp uptick in demand brought about by the lifting up of the lockdown, and then a surge in consumer demand—only now do things finally seem to be returning to normal with room demands simmering down in 2024.

In a VUCA climate of such sorts, your hotel pricing can be your knight or Achilles heel, if you let it.

So how do you optimize your pricing?

By combining a host of ways, it turns out. In fact, there’s more than a single way to maximize your hotel pricing. Just some of the ways that can affect it include:

  1. The place where your hotel is located
  2. Your competitor’s pricing
  3. Your target audience and market
  4. Your hotel’s USP (Unique selling point)
  5. Economy

As you can see, many things can swing your hotel pricing in one way or another. This is why revenue management, the art of tweaking your inventory to maximize your hotel revenue, is a separate area of study in itself.

You can also try your hand at picking and mixing varied pricing strategies. Let’s look at some.

3.1. Dynamic pricing strategy: As you probably guessed from its name, dynamic pricing strategy is about tweaking your pricing every day as per the market demand and supply of rooms.

To adopt a good dynamic pricing strategy, you’ll most probably need a good PMS and a revenue management director. So get them. Then, sit down and carefully craft a solid dynamic pricing strategy.

3.2. Length-of-stay pricing: Doing rounds during festival and holiday times in particular, a LOS pricing strategy means promoting length-based discounts on long bookings.

This is something regularly adopted by hotels around the world and should be part of your strategy, too.

3.3. Competitor-based pricing: Competitor-based pricing is all about competitor analysis and then changing your pricing based on it.

Here, you look at everything from your competitor’s price increases and decreases to get a bird’s eye view of the market. 

Then, based on the data, you adapt accordingly.

3.4. Cost-based pricing:

This is one of the most basic strategies in the realm of hotel marketing, but it's still used a lot. It’s about setting up your pricing based on a clear-cut base price, depending on what it costs you to run a hotel.

However, make sure you try to optimize the rates as per market trends.

The above pricing methodologies are just a few examples of the more extensive options available, but the larger point of pricing stays the same.

4. Set Your SMART Goals

Probably nothing good would ever get done in life if we didn’t have goals. Goals give us a direction, something to look forward to. Put simply, they push you to work day in and out, even when you might not feel like it.

When it comes to hotel marketing, its no wonder then that goal setting also takes a central place. 

Often put as SMART goals, they are necessary to keep your hotel marketing strategy aligned with your overall goal, which is growing your revenue. SMART here, of course, stands for something specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. 

Here's how they are defined:

1. Specific: Specifying your goals helps you—you guessed it—specify the goal of your hotel marketing campaign.

It could range anything from raising brand awareness to increasing qualified leads, or reputation management to growing your blog traffic.

So jot down what you want before you start anything.

2. Measurable: You can avoid shooting arrows in the dark if you make sure your campaigns are measurable.

In other words, setting up sound measurement systems ensures instant feedback on what works and what doesn't. It also makes sure you can adapt almost immediately.

3. Attainable: Setting up big goals is fantastic, but you need to be grounded too. Attainable goals ensure that you're setting up targets you can actually meet with your budget.

Increasing your hotel bookings by 30% in the next six months, for example, is an attainable goal. Taking your new blog’s views to one million/month in the next three months? Most definitely not.

4. Relevant: As you would've probably guessed, relevant goals keep you aligned with your vision.

It allows you to stick with goals or tasks that fit within the overall mission of your hotel marketing plan.

5. Time-bound: Work expands to fill in the time available for its completion—that's Parkinson's law in a nutshell. What this means is that people, in general, take far longer to complete a task than the time required for it.

By setting up realistic time bounds for your hotel marketing campaigns, you will avoid wasting your time here, using your resources to achieve far more than you’d otherwise.

5. Pick the Right Channels for Your Hotel Marketing Plan

While social media might come in handy for boosting your brand awareness or reaching new audiences through targeted advertising, it is WhatsApp marketing that will give you the best conversions through a combination of discounts and coupons.

So the message is clear: depending on what you want to achieve, you will always have different channels to market your hotel products or services. 

Let’s look at them all.

1. Online Channels 

Online channels, as their name suggests, are all about optimizing your digital marketing options. Yes, this means you have a massive and wide window to watch over. It also means you get to measure and iterate on what works and what doesn't too.

So let’s look at all the individual components on your plate.

1. Paid Digital Advertising -

As its name suggests, paid digital advertising refers to all the paid advertising activities carried out to boost your brand awareness and reach.

Popular social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn offer advertising services that can help you reach a massive audience you’d otherwise not be able to.

However, digital advertising comes with a hefty price—it’s high costs and play-to-pay nature. So it’s essential that you have a pre-planned budget in mind to keep you from overspending.

Similarly, you also need to set SMART KPIs and audience segments, so as to make the most out of your paid campaigns.   

All in all, make sure you adopt a mix of organic and paid social media strategies. Do that, and you’ll be bound to get steady social media growth in the long term.

a. Use Social Media for Hotel Marketing

If you only take one thing away from here, let it be this: to stay relevant online, you have to be on social media, and you have to be garnering your audiences’ attention—there are no ifs-and-buts here, really.

With so many platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you need a solid strategy to grow your audience as much as possible.

So how do you do that?

When it comes to social media in hotel marketing, nothing beats visually captivating content. Everything from finely shot pictures to professionally edited short-form videos will come under this. Indeed, as one research showed, 97% of travelers use social media to share pictures of their trips.

Right there, you get a big opportunity to showcase your properties and amenities indirectly.

From your end, you can make use of targeting tools to collaborate with social media influencers and other partners and reach your desired target market. Then there’s also brand awareness, which social media can help you build through engaging, shareable with the help of in-house social media marketers.

2. Emails Marketing  

Across industries, email marketing delivers the best ROI, giving you $36 for every dollar you spend, as research by Litmus shows.

But what about hotels?

The story is not much different here, either. According to Mail Chimps’ research, “emails have a 10.25-20.25 percent open rate, 1.17-3.01 percent average click-through rate, and 0.08-0.35 conversion rate for hotels in Canada and the United States.”

So, as far as hotel marketing is concerned, emails are a goldmine for you.

Now, email marketing for hotels deserves a whole post on its own, but here’s the gist of everything you need in short for effective email marketing for your hotel:

a. Set Your Goals

Are you looking to drive more traffic to your website? Or does boosting your direct bookings take first priority? Or, perhaps you are looking to increase the number of members for your loyalty program?

All of these are valid and worthy long-term goals, but you have to be strategic about your choices.

Therefore, the quicker you get clear on your campaign goals, the easier it will be to perform better later on.

b. Pick an Email Marketing Platform  

An email platform like HubSpot or MailChimp can make all the difference in your marketing. 

From built-in email templates to design solutions, features for A/B testing to advanced analytics, an email tool offers these and many more hacks that can make or break your email marketing campaigns.

c. Create Your Content    

Content is the foundation that will give your email marketing some sense of stability. It is how you offer something valuable to your target audience.

In your case, it can be a really stimulating discount poster showing 30% off, a sharp email subject line packed with numbers and emojis, offerings based on festivals or long weekends, and the like.

So follow the above steps, and you’ll be ahead of most in no time.

3. WhatsApp Marketing

WhatsApp marketing offers the highest open rate of 98%, with email marketing making it a close second. Unsurprisingly, then, WhatsApp plays a significant role in hotel marketing, as covered in-depth in our hotel WhatsApp marketing guide.

In short, WhatsApp marketing can help you:

  1. Make use of flow messages to capture check-in and check-out details, get new bookings, and even collect guest feedback.
  2. The click-to-WhatsApp feature sends your guests directly to your WhatsApp business chat as soon as they click on any Google or Facebook ad.
  3. Improve customer retention through a combination of promotional messaging, broadcast lists, and data capturing. 
  4. Upsell to more guests because of WhatsApp’s high open rate.

So make sure you try everything from our WhatsApp marketing guide, and you will be good to go.

4. Build Organic Traffic to Your Website

While paying for advertising is always an option, you cannot build your entire marketing plan on the wobbly foundation of third-party vendors like Google and Facebook. That’s why you need organic content, a collection of marketing materials created by your team for your marketing channels like blogs, email, social media, etc.

Let’s look at all organic marketing channels.

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the process of optimizing your website content to appear higher in search engines, thereby improving your ranking in search results.

As Search Engine Land, a leading publication in SEO, puts it: the better visibility your pages have, the more likely they will be found and clicked on.  

2. Content Marketing

Content marketing is a subset of marketing that focuses on creating and publishing relevant and likable content for a targeted audience to turn them into customers. For hoteliers, the goal of content marketing is simple: to attract and retain prospective guests to your hotel.

Hotels worldwide use everything from text to images for marketing, all in an effort to stand out from the crowd and attract more visitors to their websites (and turn them into long-term visitors).

3. Youtube Marketing

As the second-largest search engine and capturing the attention of the average user for more than 10 hours, YouTube cannot be left out of your effective marketing plan. Short reels and long tours that cover everything from your hotel amenities to delicious food, and even interviews with in-house specialists like cooks, customer service reps, etc., all improve your marketing.

4. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing refers to all your collaborations with popular influencers—from social media influencers to actos alike—to take your marketing to the next level.

It’s stupendosuly effective too. In fact, according to a study carried out by Tomoson, every $1 spent on influencer marketing reaps in $6.50 for businesses—a staggering 6x return, in short.

To the surprise of many, influencer marketing is a highly complex process. It consists of:

1. Figuring out the right influencer for your brand: micro or macro influencer, etc.
2. Setting up relevant goals and tracking, like UTM tags, discount codes, etc.
3. Planning giveaways and unique competitions, etc., to create a buzz.

So make sure you have a plan in place for your influencer marketing before you dive headfirst into it.

2. OTA Marketing

Online Travel Agents, or OTAs for short, have become part of the online travel booking experience over time.

The ease of quick, hassle-free online booking, along with a clear comparison of price and amenities that popular OTAs like MakeMyTrip or provide, has won over plenty of travelers and guests alike.

So if you're looking to succeed, you simply cannot neglect spending your marketing efforts on different OTAs.

It's also important to note that hotel bookings through OTAs might cost you a bit—they take ~15-25% commission on each booking—so you should not put all your eggs in the OTA basket.

In other words, you need to optimize your own marketing channels as much as possible to avoid any hefty commission charges.

3. Travel Sellers or GDS for Hotel Marketing

Using Global Distributions Systems, or GDS for short, can be another handy distribution channel (and an often neglected one) to help you increase your hotel bookings.

Top GDS providers like Amadeus and Sabre serve a combination of more than 1,000s hotels in hundreds of countries all around the world.

To increase your bookings through travel sellers or GDS, you can begin by connecting and establishing yourself as the best option for travelers in the GDS arena. Travelers are looking for the best options, or sudden schedule changes happen all the time.

When you have worked on positioning yourself as the best option in front of travel sellers or GDS marketing, guess who they will be recommending as the first option?

4. GDS Advertising

GDS Advertising works by advertising your hotels in the form of text or image banners on popular GDS systems like Amadeus and Sabre. This works well because almost all the popular travel agents use a GDS system for their flights and hotel bookings.

Indeed, according to Stratoflow, around 65% of travel bookings worldwide are done through a GDS.

By making GDS an integral part of your marketing distribution channel, you can effectively advertise yourself to online travel agents who are generally seen as trusted experts in hotel bookings.

A well-laid-out GDS advertisement will include all the information, such as amenities, ratings, and photos, that prospective guests check before making a purchase, so it's critical for you to stand out.

5. Hotel Metasearch Advertising

Don't get worried because of its complex name. Metasearch advertising is nothing but advertising your hotels on top of metasearch engines.

And what are those? In hotel and travel bookings, meta-search engines are specific types of search engines that aggregate information from multiple search engines to give you the best results for your booking and travel inquiries.

If you have ever used Trivago, Tripadvisor, or Google Hotel Ads, you have used a metasearch engine.

Much like GDS from above, metasearch engines work by listing all the important details of a hotel that a guest might need to make an informed choice photos, amenities, guest reviews, ratings, and price and so make it very easy and appealing to make a booking from right then and there.

For instance, research from Eyefortravel conducted in Australia, USA, UK, and Canada, showed that around 73% of travelers use a metasearch website regularly, and 46% of them always use one.

So the implication for you is straightforward: go where your guests are and advertise your hotels on metasearch engines.

6. Event Marketing

Event marketing is a type of marketing that promotes a product or service through the planning, organizing, and execution of an event. If you’ve ever been to trade shows, conferences, business parties, and the like, you’ve already gotten some taste of what event marketing looks like in practice.

With 95% of marketers believing in its value and another 64% thinking of it as a handy brand awareness-building tool, it’s also a great tool to have in your hotel marketing plan.

A few ways you can implement Event marketing for hotels include:

1. Hosting on-site events like corporate meetings, professional conferences, etc., to increase bookings and raise awareness for future bookings through word of mouth.
2. Giving your hotel space for charity and other non-profit events.
3. Collaborate with local businesses, such as theme parks or art galleries, and raise your brand awareness and total revenue. 

7. Plan Out Your Budget Across Channels

There's no point in setting out a 360* hotel marketing campaign if you can't afford it.

Depending on the resources and tactics you want to employ—digital advertising, WhatsApp marketing, and so on—you can make your hotel marketing campaign as wide or lean as possible.

For example, digital advertising platforms like Facebook and Instagram can use as many of your resources as you'd like, so you have to set an upper limit.

Similarly, you can’t wholly throw away traditional advertising. Everything from billboards to airport commercials still continues to boost awareness everywhere—you will have to leave out some separate budget for that as well.

So make sure you have your budget planned out well in advance.

8. Optimize Your Customer Retention Strategies 

As per one study, gaining a new guest can cost as much as five to eight times more than retaining an existing one. So, customer retention is always something that will play a central role in your hotel marketing plan.

Some of the essential customer retention strategies that you can follow include:

a. Loyalty programs: Loyalty programs are the north star of customer retention tactics. They aid in everything from boosting direct bookings to increasing retention rates (and hence revenue). Although some still disagree, they help you in increasing your overall revenue through pushing your guests to spend more too.

Here are a few ways you can carry them out:

  1. Offer points-based rewards for making more purchases. The more purchases they make—buying lunch or dinner, availing themselves of extra amenities, etc.—the more points they get for future spending.
  2. Collaborate with complementary businesses, such as airlines, car/bike rental companies, nearby tourist interests, etc., to offer points and coupons for the present and future. 
  3. Send special rates for birthdays or anniversaries to boost long-term relationships.

b. Post-Stay Follow-ups: It's not enough to simply complete a booking. After the guest leaves, it's critical to take their surveys and follow-ups about their stay experience.

Although a double-edged sword, this will give you helpful feedback about customer experience and expectations, as well as make the guest feel valuable and important.

c. Offer Promotion and Discounts: Sending out periodic promotions and discounts to your past and regular guests is also another handy tactic. Make sure you try to tailor your offers to the relevant seasons and festivals.

Similarly, you can adopt the membership model followed by the top OTAs, offering specific amenities and discounts based on your guest's membership level.    

9. Brand Marketing for Your Hotel 

Many hotels, particularly small and medium-sized ones, drop their brand marketing efforts altogether. It’s a game for folks with deep pockets, or so the common wisdom goes. They couldn’t be more off the mark.

Brand marketing makes you stand out from the crowd; it encapsulates your customers' perceptions of you. 

10. Optimize Your Website Design & Conversion Rates

Building up your marketing is just half the battle. If your goal is consistent growth, getting your Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is just as important. 

As Hubspot puts it, “CRO is achieved through content enhancements, split testing, and workflow improvements.” Website design also plays a role here, eventually leading to higher-qualified leads and lower-cost acquisitions.

As a hotelier, here are a few ways you can optimize your CRO:

  1. Optimize your home page. Keep clear, direct Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons, proper inner-linking, and offer sign-up forms. 
  2. A/B test your landing pages and optimizes them with clear CTAs as well.
  3. Simplify the booking process with professional UX/UI design.

Apart from CRO, make sure you also optimize your website. Some things to keep in mind for that:

  • Create and have an attention-grabbing website design.
  • Make use of quality images and videos wherever relevant on your site.
  • Encourage guest reviews for your properties and services.

That's it—do your website design and CRO diligently and you’ll be ahead of most of your competition.   

11. Secret hack to Double Conversions: Take Hotel bookings on WhatsApp / Instagram/ Facebook

Before they finalize a booking, your guests always go through their best options online. Social media is one of the biggest marketplaces for this. By offering booking opportunities to your guests where they are, you have a chance to instantly boost your booking opportunities.

Your biggest options in this include WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook.

Offering the best open rate of any social channel, WhatsApp is not only an excellent booking channel but also provides fantastic benefits for cross-selling and upsell strategies.

Moreover, by integrating your WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook account with an intelligent AI chatbot like Brance, you can go one step further and offer 27/7 guest services and booking automation—thus helping you boost your bookings through a fast, reliable payment gateway.

12. Do Lead Generation for Your Hotel

Through effective lead generation, you can create interest in your target audience for your products or services, in this case, your hotel bookings. This can naturally help you boost your hotel booking conversions.

Here are a few ways you can carry this out:

1. Make use of Click-to-WhatsApp and Facebook ads.
2. Optimize your Google ads to capture guest data, such as name, occupation, etc., in exchange for free coupons or discounts.
3. Partner with OTAs and metasearch engines to show your properties as the best recommendation.

13. Measure Your Results and Iterate       

What’s the point of spending all your time researching and carrying out marketing if you don’t measure it? As the pervasive saying goes in business classrooms the world over, what gets measured gets done.

Measuring your marketing efforts allows you to adapt your tactics both in the short and long term.

It also helps you track your results and compare them with those of your competitors in the present, which in turn helps you plan your spending and other activities accordingly.

With the advent and adoption of digital marketing, measurement, and analyzing your results are only going to get more and more critical.             

Perfect Your Hotel Marketing to Drive Revenue Growth   

And this concludes our guide on the hotel marketing strategies. 

To sum up, any successful hotel marketing plan will take a multichannel approach tailored to your unique business goals and position.

While the tactics and approaches will invariably vary–from paid online advertising to offline marketing activities like events and collaborations—ultimately, every concrete marketing plan for your hotel should aim to boost revenue.

Anuj Punjani

Anuj Punjani co-founded Brance and leads its engineering team. He studied at NSIT and the University of Michigan before working at Apple for about four years, where he worked on products like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

He's an avid trekker and enjoys playing lawn tennis and cricket in his free time.

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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