Obviously, anyone interested in how to increase hotel bookings has acknowledged their current problem – low booking rate. And now, here you are seeking for practical solution.
So you’ve got 20 – 100 hotel rooms available for daily revenue generation. But the low booking rate poses a great challenge.
Wait; there could be an underlying bigger issue.
The profit margin recorded after deduction of monthly operating cost of round the clock power system, personnel and possibly Wifi falls far below expectation.
Interestingly, if your means of livelihood, personal growth and happiness depends on this hospitality enterprise, then there is a need to do something differently better.
However, when your daily schedule is filled with only the responsibilities of managing existing resources, policies and processes, I bet you’ll continue to lack the ability for better competitive strategies.
Now, how can Google search engine marketing help to increase hotel bookings? And why Google search in the first place?
Search Engine Marketing For Hotels
Before we go in to explore how to increase hotel bookings from Google search, here is why I chose Google – with 77.4% market share, it is the #1 search engine across all countries in the world, including Nigeria.
Based on what we know about the digital landscape in Nigeria, majority of search engine traffic flows through mobile devices.
This includes people searching for hotel rooms and related services across different states, cities and locales. Below is a sample screenshot of what I mean.
Probably, you are reading this post on a mobile device. Remember that a great percentage of your target customers are people on the go – travelers.
Mind you that some of the prospects searching for keywords like these are not currently in Enugu (or your operating location). How do you reach them exactly the time they are in need of your services? Keep on reading.
To further buttress this point, a 2016 study by Hotels.ng revealed that 60% of hotel bookings happen on mobile devices. Other demographic insights also abound in that report.
Generally, search engine marketing is of two forms. Below this paragraph, we’ll explore them one by one.
Paid Search Engine Marketing
This is a pay per click online marketing strategy in which people and companies pay money directly to Google to place their adverts relating to selected keywords.
Sometime it is called performance based advertising. And here is how paid search advertising work.
If I go to Google and search for ‘hotels in Abuja’ and then click your advert that popped up, Google will deduct a specified amount from your prepaid advert billing account.
Without the advert being clicked to drive booking prospects to your website, you won’t pay anything. In other words, you won’t be paying for visibility and brand impressions only; just like radio, newspaper, television and bill boards.
On a deeper level, there are some market dynamics that determines how much you’ll pay for each prospect delivered to your hotel booking website.
You can check this post on how to set Google adwords budget for more insight.
Search Engine Optimization For Hotels
This is the second form of search engine marketing. Unlike PPC search ads, you don’t pay money directly to Google or other search engines for them to list the links to your website for each relevant keyword or phrase. What is SEO you may ask?
Well, here is how search engine optimization work.
First it is a process of making your web pages eligible for higher ranking within search engine result pages and for specific search terms.
This involves doing research to select the relevant keywords and phrases that real prospects use when they are searching for specific products, services, location, equipment or solution to their current problems.
You use tools like Google keyword planner, Ahrefs keyword explorer, Long Tail Pro or Semrush for this.
The second part is using the selected keywords to create contents for your website and individual pages. Examples are service descriptions, blog posts and other web pages.
Thirdly, organic SEO is about building links that leads both human users and search engine crawlers to your website. These are the core parts of active search engine optimization.
If you are not active in this regard, it means your hotel website could be an empty conference hall.
No deal. No revenue.
In order to leverage search engine optimization to increase direct hotel bookings, two options are in front of you – learn as much as you can and do the work yourself or hire an SEO expert.
The same thing applies to pay per click search engine advertising with Google adwords.
Thus, the whole essence is to reach and attract interested prospects only and exactly the moment they are in active search for your services.
Google calls this purchase loop ‘I Want To Buy Moment’.
Now, let’s look at specific ways and actions you can take to boost your hotel promotion strategies. I believe these will enrich your sales promotion ideas at the end. Here we go.
#1: Go Beyond Your Operating Location
As noted earlier, a great percentage of prospective, money-in-hand hotel customers are travelers on the go.
Based on this fact, you don’t have to depend 100% on local residents or people within commutable distance. But how do I know, you may ask?
Well, I am a typical example of young adults who book hotel rooms only when they travel. And as for me, I often start my search for rooms within my budget prior to arriving on the location.
The other time is when am already on the road – inside a bus or an airport.
Going beyond operating location is a perfect strategy for single state or city hotels. This could be a real competitive advantage if done properly. In some countries, Google adwords provides capabilities to reach people who are inside an airport.
Other than this, you can as well select the location of prospects you want to attract vis adword location targeting.
Think about people searching for keywords like ‘hotels near Lagos airport Ikeja’. Add your own city name if you are not operating out of Lagos.
#2: Invest In Local SEO
If you want to increase the quality of your daily, weekly and monthly website traffic (ie: real prospects), then local search engine optimization is one of the best ways to accomplish that.
It is simply a process of using location based keywords to attract people from organic search engine result pages.
The premise is that people searching for such terms in relation to specific services are often within that location or interested in visiting very soon.
Soon in this context could be within the next 24 hours or 30 days.
This also implies that even people from outside the country searching for hotels in specific cities will find your website. Among other things, it gives the potential booking customers opportunities to see your rooms and prices before visiting the location.
To do this very well, there are lots of intricate dynamics behind it. However, except you want to take online SEO course, here is a guide on search engine optimization for hotels.
#3: Leverage On Strategic Timing
If you are still shouting at radio stations during working hours all in the name of growing brand awareness and inducing top of mind recall, think again.
You can do better than that.
On the surface it may seem there is no special time for growing brand awareness. However, when it comes to direct service marketing, advertising at different hours of the day can hardly have equal effects.
And we all know that with most traditional advertising mediums the outcomes of your advertising spend can hardly be measured.
In effect, you are throwing money in the air or gambling when you pay for brand impressions only. Without doubt, I am 100% sure you need results better than that.
So what am I saying about strategic timing?
Launch your Google adwords campaigns when prospective customers are in booking mode. This will increase conversion rate.
Run your ads between 12:00pm – 09:00pm. Increase your ad spending on weekends. Note that you can as well attract people searching for competing hotel brand names and then show what you’ve got at the right time. Don’t ignore this.
#4: Showcase Your Unique Amenities
When it comes to amenities, all hotels are not created equal. The same fact holds true for the taste and purchasing power of your target customers.
Here is a common scenario.
Someone spends good amount of money to build aesthetically cool hotel website. And within that, there are lots of images displaying rooms and amenities as well as a page called gallery.
But the big question is how many qualified prospects visit this website on daily basis to see all the amenities that makes you the best in town?
The other practice is to create social media pages. Post few pictures and forget it or some boring contents that no one cares to read.
Contrary to this, you can use Facebook advertising to make your amenities visible to a well targeted audience based on demographic variables like age, gender, location, industry, job titles and many others.
But that isn’t the focus of this post for now.
Interestingly, there are many ways to showcase your hotel amenities to qualified and interested people even before they decide to visit a particular hotel.
Let’s look at some of them in the context of google search engine marketing. The following options apply to both adwords and SEO.
Swimming Pool Related Keywords: Examples ‘Enugu hotels with swimming pool’ ‘hotels in Abuja with swimming pool’. If you have this in your place, use Google adwords to attract people to a page that showcases them.
Conference Hall Related Keywords: Think of search terms like ‘event centers in your location’, ‘conference halls in your location’ and others like them. Create specific pages for this and start driving search engine traffic to them.
Fitness Gym Related Keywords: Both local residents and periodic visitors often look for fitness gyms within the hotels they choose to book. Give a special page to your gym facilities. Add multiple clear images. And start driving traffic to it.
#Tip: Add phone numbers and email on top of every image. People searching for specific products and services are often in price comparison mode. And some people may not be aware that the amount in their hands can afford quality amenities like your own.
#5: Make Your Price Range Known
Yes, I know it is stated clearly in your website. But here is one fact worth reiterating.
‘The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement’ – Anonymous.
And I guess this is the single most important reason why you are reading this.
Unless there is a law banning the display of prices in your operating location, by all means make your price range known to as much prospects as possible.
Note here that the statement or goal isn’t to make your price range and amenities known to everyone in your target location, but only the prospects actively searching for your type of services.
People searching for keywords like ‘affordable hotels’ in your target location are often in price comparison mode.
The usual intent is to find what matches their personality, taste and budget. If you are waiting for them to reach your website or location before they know, then you are practically missing out daily on online advert originated bookings.
#6: Use Google Adwords Remarketing
Once, again the essence of price comparison in a pre-booking context is worth repeating.
Well, Google adwords remarketing helps smart business owners and marketers to key into that context.
The thing is that when interested prospects visit your website and leave to continue their search for some reasons, remarketing or retargeting gives you the opportunity to stay in front of them across different online mediums and devices.
Through Google adwords, you can use this competitive marketing strategy to bring back and convert a percentage of people who viewed your website or specific pages.
For example, if I visited a page about hotel room rates in your site and leave to continue my search and price comparison, Google adwords remarketing list for search ads (RLSA) make it possible to target only the people who viewed that specific page.
Remember that a great percentage of (local/international) travelers start their hotel search 1 – 7 days before arriving at a specified destination.
If you are creative enough, you can use influential ad copies and exclusive discounts to reach only the prospects who visited your booking page within the last 1 – 30 days.
Here is a remarketing case study of over 200% ROI on $4168 ad spend.
Beside RLSA, Gmail, Youtube, online banner display, past customer emails and even Facebook can be leverage to launch an integrated remarketing campaign to increase hotel bookings online and offline.
Below is an example of remarketing ad done on Facebook.
With this, you now know that hotel sales promotion strategies goes beyond free posting on Facebook and other social media platforms.
At this point, the question that could be popping in your mind is – how long would it take me to learn all of this?
Here is one good option you have – hire a digital marketing consultant. The other route is to employ a full time expert which will add up to your monthly salary bill.
One thing is obvious to you and i. And that is; there is a great competition within your target market.
Thus, if you are not exploring new initiatives, you’ll continue to have the same unimpressive results you’ve always had. In addition to that, you could be losing even ready customers within your reach to the nearest smart competitors.
But now, with Google adwords you have a great competitive advantage. That is if you put what you just learnt to work.
Among many other things you now know how to go beyond your operating location, use precise location based search terms. And then leverage strategic timing, showcase your unique amenities as well as retargeting.
As noted before, the core benefit is – you’ll be attracting only the prospects actively searching for your hotel services.
Done very well, this will help you to answer questions around how to increase hotel bookings, both online and offline. Go take some actions today.
Share your experience or challenges in the comment section. You can as well join our Facebook group – The Search Tribe to discuss, discover and leverage working strategies to attract only the people in need of your products/services – Now.