Google search engines changes, mobile devices and gamification are just some of the changes in hotel marketing trends. Are you up-to-date?
Are you familiar with current hotel marketing trends? Not only has mobile become larger than life, but Google has also made significant changes to its search engine pages. All of this means traffic is increasingly moving to paid searches, social media and even offline channels. Hotel owners and managers need to adjust marketing efforts to stay current.
It’s not all bad news, though. Engagement and conversion rates continue to increase. But it’s important to know what’s changing, be able to anticipate where search traffic is going and figure out how to get your hotel marketing there. According to Curata, 75 percent of marketers are increasing their spending on content marketing in 2017. But remember that the point isn’t just to create more content. It’s the quality of that content — and how engaging it is — that matters most.
How Google Search Has Changed
In February, Google started making changes to its search engine; specifically, what comes up when someone searches on a desktop computer. It used to be that two or three paid GoogleAds showed up on the right-hand side of the page. Now, though, there are generally four paid text ads and they sit right at the top of the search listings. Some say these changes may be an attempt to standardize how ads appear everywhere as more people use mobile devices. Whatever the rationale, the change pushes organic search results further down the page where they are less likely to be seen.
GoogleAds results continue to be redesigned to look more appealing and even more like organic listings. The text ads now have double headlines, more characters and include links. These recent changes have already increased click-through rates by 20 percent. The company’s redesign of Google AdWords is a big indicator that paid searches are becoming key at Google, and hotels should adjust their marketing plan accordingly.
It’s also significant that in some search results, Google’s “knowledge panel” — which includes maps, reviews, images and other information both organic and paid (from Google Hotel Ads) — is more prominent now. Knowledge panels often include call extensions, which are clickable buttons allowing a searcher to dial directly from the Knowledge Panel result. This means the searcher does not need to click through to a company’s website.
Incorporating Gamification Into Your Marketing
Are you making use of gamification in your marketing plans? That’s when you use game-like elements to make promotions, loyalty programs and staff training more engaging. Consider adding a quick game to your booking engine to catch a potential guest’s attention and make your property stand out. A game may take just a few seconds to play, but can entice guests if you include a desirable grand prize or offer the draw that everyone who plays wins something, such as a free breakfast or late checkout).
Gamification can also happen at the front desk. A quick game that guests can play on their mobile device while they wait in line in your lobby can improve your hotel’s first impression. It can also add a social element to your guests’ stay and be a great opportunity to distribute coupons.
Modern Hotel Marketing at Work
Marriott International ran a gamification campaign called “#YouAreHere Sweepstakes,” offering 30 destination prizes. People could tweet or post to Instagram to try to win, but only after they joined the Marriott Rewards program. Starwood Hotels and Resorts recently teamed with Foursquare and used gamification to enhance its Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program. Guests earned points by using Foursquare to check in to their Starwood Hotel. In just a few months, the company gave out nearly 10 million points.
Hotel Prinz-Luitpold-Bad in Bavaria, Germany grants its guests membership in “Luitpold’s Knights of the Round Table” after reaching a set number of nights at the hotel. At 21 nights, a guest is promoted to the rank of “squire” and told how many more nights are needed to reach the next level and get a free meal — but they must also do a good deed in the name of Luitpold’s Knights of the Round Table. In the program’s first year, approximately 100 guests participated by doing a good deed. “The good deeds in this ‘game’ included everything from caring for very sick people, to making donations to mountain rescue, to raising support for kindergarten projects in Africa,” said Armin Gross, hotel director. “Even better — the guests feel important, needed and connect even stronger to the hotel than before.”
If you know how hotel marketing trends are changing and are thoughtful about how you will reach and interact with potential guests, you can market more successfully than ever.