In this last decade, the travel and hospitality industries have undergone a major disruption. The consumer funnel is being completely redefined by emerging players such as Airbnb, Onefinestay and VRBO. It’s hard to believe that Airbnb—now a household name worth over $38 billion—wasn’t founded until 2008. Clearly, it isn’t just a handful of early adopters and adventure-seekers who are changing the travel industry. Even established brands such as Hyatt are being forced to rethink their offerings and adjust to a new generation of traveler.
How can your hotel adapt to these rapid transformations? The first thing you can do is make sure you have a solid hotel mobile marketing plan that’s backed by research.
According to Statistica, millennial internet users spent an average of 223 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2017. That’s 35 minutes more than in 2016, and the upward trend is expected to continue. Of course, this likely isn’t news to you. It’s common sense that people are spending more time on their phones.
However, what may come as a surprise is that millennials are the only generation who plan to travel more in the future than they currently are. According to travel consultancy MMGY Global, 10% of U.S millennials plan to travel more this year than last.
With over half of internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it’s more important than ever for your marketing efforts to be mobile-first and catered to this new generation of travelers.
1. Make It Dead Easy to Book Online
The travel advisors at Resonance Company conducted a survey of over 1,500 millennials. Their research found that most prefer to book their vacations online; with two-thirds of those polled booking on travel websites and close to half booking through specific hotel, resort, and airline websites. The takeaway: any friction in the booking process can lead to a massive drop off in your sales funnel.
Test your website on every device and every browser. Interested guests should be able to book a stay in as few clicks as possible.
2. Encourage Online Reviews from Guests
Your hotel mobile marketing strategy needs to extend beyond your own website. The aforementioned survey also found that 31% of millennials look at online peer reviews and ratings from websites, such as TripAdvisor. A handful of reviews isn’t enough to convince someone to stay at your hotel. Gone are the days of paper forms asking, “How could we have done better?” Encourage past guests to leave online reviews by sending them a link to TripAdvisor after checkout via email, or better yet, text message. It’s also a good idea to place table tents in your rooms with a reminder to leave a review.
34% of survey respondents say they use their phones to post an online review every day while on vacation. Don’t delay in requesting feedback from your guests. These trust signals are essential to driving conversions.
3. Promote User Generated Content
What else are travelers doing on their phones while on vacation? Unsurprisingly, taking photos. A lot of them. On Instagram alone, 11% of millennials share images hourly, and 43% of them do so daily. These pictures can serve as valuable assets, if you know how to find them. Don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of this free advertising and social currency. Your social media profiles should be prominently featured on all guest communications such as emails, in-room materials, check-in booklets and more. Guests want to tag you, but if they can’t find you easily, they won’t.
While you’re at it, add an action button to your Instagram account that lets users book from your profile without leaving the app.
4. Invest in SEO
Your online presence on TripAdvisor, Facebook and Instagram are important. But Google continues to remain the top travel website. MMGY Global conducted a survey of nearly 3,000 American leisure travelers. The survey found that 41% of all travelers regularly visit Google to obtain travel information. This includes seeking ideas and inspiration, searching for advice and ratings, as well as comparing prices. Optimizing your website for search engines can drive a huge amount of visitors to your site, and revenue to your hotel. In addition to being mobile optimized, your website should be easy to navigate, have natural language and high-quality imagery.
SEO is a craft that takes years to master and is always changing. It’s worth the money to hire an expert to optimize your hotel’s website.
5. Produce Your Own Travel Guides
We’ve gone over how mobile technology is transforming the hospitality industry, and why you should gather content for social media from your guests. Marketers should also spend time producing their own content. What does the research from the experts say about this? 71% of millennials use their phone daily to visit websites to research things to see and do. Create an awesome user experience by making your website the hub for all the info your guests (and potential guests) may need. The internet is the new travel agency.
Write blogs, articles, and guides that convince travelers your destination is where they need to go and your hotel is where they need to stay. This content is a good opportunity to sell packages and increase the value of each of your guests.
6. Improve Your Guest Experience with Text Messaging
Digital marketing is just one aspect of ensuring the success of your brand. Once you drive bookings, you need to make sure those guests have a smooth, enjoyable experience. 33% of millennial travelers send a text every hour while on vacation, which makes it clear why leaders in the hospitality industry are using hotel text messaging to improve their customer experience. By asking guests to provide their phone numbers and opt-in to messages, hotels can use texts to:
We’ve used the word millennial ten times in this article. But by investing in hotel mobile marketing, you’re not just appealing to one generation—you’re future-proofing your business. These changes occurring in the hospitality industry aren’t fads. They’re trends that indicate what travelers are looking for now and in years to come. Implement a few of the strategies discussed above. Every effort adds up to help you prepare for the future, shape it, and get your share of hard-earned bookings.