When I started my hotel digital marketing career in 2009, we were doing things differently. The industry lacked tools, knowledge, and marketers were relying on basic metrics to prepare for digital marketing decisions. By the mid-2010s, most hotels had digital marketing strategies that included OTA optimization, some paid ads, optimizing their website, and being active on social media. Everything was done manually. That's what I call the digital marketing stone age.
Today, tons of tools and resources are available to manage digital marketing more effectively. From business intelligence tools to market research and workflow-reducing solutions, there is a tool for every challenge. Too bad that most hotels are still stuck in the 2010s and don't make use of these. In this article I will introduce five must-have tools for an up-to-date modern digital marketing setup.
In most markets worldwide, the majority of online bookings are generated by OTAs. While hotel marketing teams prefer direct bookings, having a steady stream of OTA bookings cannot harm the business. OTA Insight is a brilliant tool that provides excellent metrics and insights on how your property performs on OTAs compared to the market. It's an essential tool to find opportunities and detect critical issues. The company just launched the first predictive market intelligence solution that captures hotel booking intent in real time to uncover new revenue opportunities.
Using OTA insight or similar OTA intelligence tools for marketing and commercial decision-making is a major step ahead of relying on basic OTA stats and the typical guesswork hotel managers do.
When it comes to social media management, around 60% of independent hotels are still stuck in the 2010s and do everything manually. That's sad. Meanwhile, smart marketing teams use social media tools to unlock a wealth of information and reduce the daunting workflow it takes to keep all social channels up to date.
Iconosquare is used by marketing agencies, making data-driven decisions for Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. The platform offers peace of mind in content scheduling, time-saving reporting, and in-depth analytics for both brands and agencies.
Other alternatives are Sprout Social, HootSuite, and Brand24.
Lots of hotels use CRM systems for good reasons. Managing loyalty programs, keeping track of guest profiles, creating integrated funnels, and automating communication is borderline impossible without a CRM nowadays. Several booking engines offer simplified CRM systems, but they are very far from the effectiveness of a dedicated CRM.
HubSpot is an industry-standard CRM solution that serves millions of businesses in various industries, offering tons of funnel management and customer relations automation features.
Quite a lot of hotel companies use Revinate as a CRM. Even for them, I would strongly recommend checking out HubSpot as it's better.
Pricing is small-business friendly, and the company even has a free basic CRM for those who can't spare a dime. If you think your hotel does not need a CRM, then good luck sending those birthday emails and following up on proposals manually.
Market Sampler is our very own market research solution that gives you the superpower to see inside the mind of your audience. Using micro-surveys, you can target research campaigns to anyone online based on demographics, interests, income level, and more.
In most cases, hotels use Market Sampler to measure brand awareness in key markets, check brand acceptance, and understand guest expectations from hotels like theirs. You can also use Market Sampler to measure what people think about your hotel website or adverts.
It is a smart and flexible tool that lets you launch research campaigns from as low as $50 and get data in just a few days.
Search engine optimization and content marketing are still very relevant to internet marketing - not only for hotels but in most industries. Too bad that over 70% of independent hotels only produce content for social media. Having well-written blog posts on a hotel website is the #1 factor for ranking in search engines and the way to go to attract free high-intent web traffic.
SemRush offers fantastic tools for professional-level search engine ranking and content marketing management. It allows you to spy on your competitors, identify the most lucrative and best-converting search terms, and use this information to improve the search engine presence of your hotel brand.
We don't argue that SEO is a hell of a work that requires continuous research, writing, and patience, but in the long term, a strong search engine presence will generate more revenue than paid ads can buy.
How much these tools cost? Does it worth the investment?
Using the above or similar tools will cost slightly over $1,000 monthly. For this you will unlock mission-critical business and market insights and reduce time needed to carry out otherwise time consuming tasks, and your team will be able to do a better job overall.
You will be able to automate email marketing campaigns, find ideal market segments to advertise for, manage your social media significantly better and improve the search engine traffic of your hotel. In case you measure the revenue and effectiveness of these activities already, you can do the maths if it's worthy.
If you are not tracking revenue from the above activities, it's a clear sign that your hotel has stuck in the digital stone age, and it is time to plan for better digital marketing management.