Running a small hotel isn’t easy, but it certainly is rewarding. Right now, of course, things for small hotel owners are far from smooth sailing. As the COVID-19 saga rages on, marketing services as a hospitality business will require a certain level of out-of-the-box thinking.
The small hotel marketing tips below are aimed at offering practical advice that will help you navigate these uncertain times.
Related: Insights from travel industry insiders on managing through the COVID-19 crisis
5 tips for marketing your small hotel
Remember: Your hotel is unique, comfortable, cozy, reasonably priced and provides a welcoming haven for travelers from all walks of life. These unique selling propositions will serve as the key components in your hotel marketing arsenal, so use them to your advantage and follow these tips for marketing your small hotel to travelers.
- Optimize your website.
- Capitalize on email marketing.
- Keep up with reviews and listings.
- Get busy blogging.
- Join the conversation on social media.
Let’s dive in.
1. Optimize your website
It’s likely that you already have a functional, eye-catching, SEO-friendly website for your small hotel.
Moreover, including valuable, relevant information is essential. Make sure potential guests know what you’re doing in the wake of COVID-19. If your hours have changed, for instance, share that information prominently on your website.
Many people overlook it, but the user experience (UX) on your website matters far more than amazing graphics and striking photography. Ensure that your website is easy for visitors to navigate and that it performs just as well on mobile devices as it does on desktop computers.
To create or update a website that can increase conversions and keep your audience connected with you, filling up your rooms when the time is right, start with these helpful guides:
- 12 lodging website updates to make during a downturn
- Improvements to make on your website during COVID-19 downtime
- How to create a COVID-19 FAQ page for your business’s website
- How to optimize images for the web
- How to do SEO keyword research to drive traffic to your website
- Mastering keyword research to attract new clients
Editor’s note: Need a website? Check out GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing solution, which includes built-in marketing tools like SEO, email marketing, Google My Business integrations and social media.
2. Capitalize on email marketing
As one of the oldest and best-performing digital marketing channels on the planet, email marketing offers a solid return on investment.
Whether you’re sharing news of a recent renovation, promoting a special offer or showcasing a content marketing asset, email marketing is a valuable marketing tool that keeps travelers engaged.
And, in the current climate, email marketing offers a direct and personable way to share important information with your customers and guide them through these rainy days.
As you start to build your email marketing campaigns, keep these key elements in mind:
- Choose an effective, easy-to-use email marketing tool.
- When writing the copy, let your unique voice — one that represents you and your hotel — shine through. This will make your emails engaging and encourage potential customers to make a reservation.
- Be as personal as possible in your emails. Today’s tech-savvy travelers don’t often respond well to stale, one-size-fits-all sales messages.
- Always end your emails with a strong call-to-action (CTA) to drive readers further into the sales funnel. A clearly defined CTA button (such as, “See all available rooms,” or “Make a reservation”) will prompt your potential customers to take the desired course of action.
- A snappy yet informative subject line will help boost your email open rates. To learn how to write them, read our guide to writing effective email subject lines.
Related: 7 ways to increase email open rates
3. Keep up with reviews and listings
When we say listings, we mean the reviews, testimonials and directory entries on third-party sites such as TripAdvisor, Google My Business and guest blogs.
Not only do reviews help build brand awareness, loyalty and trust, but they also increase the online visibility of your small hotel, exponentially.
For the best results, ensure you have comprehensive profiles and useful content included on all of your online profiles, including TripAdvisor, Google My Business and Yelp.
This will give your visitors a multitude of platforms on which to share their experiences of your small hotel while providing useful information about your business to an engaged community.
During the pandemic, go through all customer reviews and testimonials with a fine-tooth comb, branching out to previous guests to see how they are and ask them what they would like from their future stay when the virus has calmed down. This is an excellent way to maintain engagement and build brand loyalty.
Also, ensure your listings help your small hotel by following these savvy tips:
- Always respond to reviews and queries, positive or negative, swiftly and professionally.
- Never let your emotions get the better of you in your responses. This will only hurt your reputation.
- Share testimonials on your website, in your emails and on your social media channels.
- If you win a TripAdvisor award, include the badge on your website and in other promotional channels. People trust hotels with awards, so always be loud and proud.
Related: Update online reviews to increase trust in your business
4. Get busy blogging
In the COVID-19 age especially, content is king. So, invest as much time and effort as you possibly can in blogging.
Small businesses that create informative blog content can earn, on average, 126% more lead growth than small businesses that don’t. So, if you haven’t got a blog for your small hotel, consider starting one now.
If you create blog content that you know will offer direct value to your audience, you will strengthen connections while increasing the chances of filling up your rooms when the doors open again.
Here are some potential small hotel blog post ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- How to set up a “home staycation” during the COVID-19 outbreak
- Need to travel right now? Here’s how to stay safe & compliant
- 15 virtual tours you can take while in lockdown
- Here’s what we’re doing behind the scenes during the pandemic
- Regular staff and renovation updates
- Reasons to visit our hotel when the lockdown is officially lifted
These are ideas that you can use for inspiration. And, if you need help setting things up, here is a guide to starting a blog in seven simple steps.
5. Join the conversation on social media
Social media is a powerful tool. With an ever-growing choice of platforms to explore and droves of active users the world over, getting social and joining the conversation is only logical.
In a time where we’re all thrust into isolation, the best thing you can do as a small hotel owner is to share relevant content and spark up meaningful conversations (they can be funny or lighthearted, too) across your most engaged social media platforms.
Take the time to explore hashtags relevant to your locale and niche, leaving comments or looking at what your target audience is talking about as inspiration for your own social media posts.
Be sure to respond to any consumer comments or requests in a timely fashion, doing all you can to reassure and help people with potential issues or pain points.
To help you with your social efforts, here are some resources for your reading pleasure:
- 5 ways to send updates on social media during COVID-19
- Using social media to engage customers in a crisis
- A beginner’s guide to social media for small business
With these five tips, you’ll be well on your way to marketing your small hotel to travelers while maintaining connections with your audience during the current crisis.
Soon enough, when the time is right, you’ll be lighting up your “No Vacancy” sign and turning down the sheets for happy travelers from destinations galore!
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