Industry research points the way to 3 basic and effective online advertising strategies for hotels and B&Bs
Businesses in virtually every industry make it a priority to build advertising into their budgets. While OTAs are a form of advertising, innkeepers end up competing with them for direct bookings. But there are options for advertisers to drive direct bookings themselves, and let OTAs book the rooms they can’t.
We recently conducted a survey of 100 innkeepers & independent hoteliers about advertising and found that more than one third of them were not engaging in any kind of advertising at all.
Why not? When advertising is done right, it brings in more money than it costs. In the hotel industry specifically, using advertising to drive direct bookings and take advantage of the billboard effect from OTAs can be quite effective. Here are some more findings and advice based on the same survey results.
Paid Listings on Non-OTA Sites
Paid Listings can help market your property to a wider audience, and increase your domain authority and revenue in the process. Some examples of these websites include BNBFinder, ILoveInns, Unique Inns, Best Romantic Inns, TripAdvisor, and Resorts & Lodges. Only 27% of the innkeepers we surveyed choose to market their property with paid listings. Due to big changes at BedandBreakfast.com, which resulted in many properties losing the most valuable link they had – it’s time to re-evaluate paid listings for your property.
Paid Listing Ideas
You should make an effort to get your property listed on industry-focused associations, directories, trade organizations, or blogs. These companies are just advertising your hotel, not competing with you for reservations like an OTA. Much like link building, these listings will help you get found by potential guests, drive more direct bookings, and improve your overall ranking on Google.
How to tell if it is working?
Analytics can help you easily and accurately attribute revenue to paid listings with 3rd party sites. SEO tools like the SEO comparison tool found in Odysys can show you how these listings impact your overall domain authority, which drives improved rankings in Google.
Quick Next Steps:
- Give your property maximum exposure and credibility by exhausting the link & listing opportunities available to you
- Improve your local citations (listings). Work with Odysys’ local business listing service, which helps your property rank better in Google’s map results.
Retargeting ads are an easy, cost-effective, and overall great element of any digital marketing strategy. Surprisingly, only 13% of innkeepers surveyed use this advertising tool to drive and increase their direct bookings. We call guests who visit your website but click away without making a reservation abandoned bookings.
Retargeting ads keep your property top of mind for these abandoned bookings who are still in the early stages of the booking journey and entice them back to your site to make a booking.
OTAs Retarget to Book Your Property Too
Retargeting campaigns are in OTAs arsenal also. OTAs like Expedia and TripAdvisor run retargeting campaigns for abandoned bookings who saw YOUR listing on their website but didn’t book. This is yet another way an OTA can “steal’ direct bookings from you. They will drive people who are interested in your property back to their OTA site. They do it because it works!
Here is an example of an ad that appeared on a customer’s Instagram when they saw a hotel listing on TripAdvisor.
Innkeepers can do this very same thing and drive people back to your website who visited but didn’t book!
Quick Next Steps
- Learn more about retargeting ads and what you can do to beat OTAs at their own game!
- Enlist Odysys’ “Reservation Recapture” services to create a retargeting advertising strategy for your property.
Search Ads / Google AdWords
It seems that many innkeepers understand the value in Google AdWords. 40% of innkeepers we surveyed are using Google AdWords. The reality today is that Google search results are being overtaken by “features” like ads, business listings, map results, OTA availability etc. In other words even your #1 ranking in Google is sometimes halfway down the results page. When managed correctly, Google Adwords (and Bing Ads) can be extremely effective at driving direct bookings.
How to Use Google AdWords
Target Your Brand Name: Simply advertising for your property’s name in Google AdWords is a good way to “push” OTA ads out of the way and give your website more of a chance to claim a direct booking. Even if you aren’t using OTAs to market your property, the search results for your property name is still full of competition.
Target “Let’s Book It” and “Time to Make a Plan” Keywords: potential guests in the booking and planning stage search for keywords like “Portland Oregon Bed & Breakfast”. It gets more complicated and expensive when it comes to developing and executing a strategy to target these keywords. We recommend working with an expert or getting training on how to properly create and manage AdWords campaigns like these, otherwise it is really easy to spend money and get no results. There are a few other considerations like property size and location that really help determine whether or not targeting these types of keywords will pencil out for your property.
Quick Next steps:
- Learn more about Google AdWords!
- Hire an expert: Odysys offers affordable Google AdWords campaign management services
Basic and effective advertising strategies like non-OTA paid listings, retargeting, and Google Ads are low hanging fruits for innkeepers to bring more direct booking revenue to their properties. If you are interested in learning more about these strategies, check out our related blog post about the basics of advertising and promotion.