With lockdown measures being eased, UK hotel owners will be wrestling to maximize their bookings from bookings from couples and families desperate for a break but nervous about flying abroad. Meanwhile, the Government’s strict quarantine policy discourage many international travellers who may have otherwise visited the UK this summer.
The upshot of this is that hotel owners will need to concentrate their attention on the most viable sources of customers, and your digital marketing tools may be the most insightful and flexible in this changing marketplace.
If you are considering stepping up your marketing activity to capture the pent-up demand, then a data-led approach to decision making will be required in this unique set of circumstance. We believe there are six key factors hotel owners should consider in their advertising strategy in reaching out to a domestic audience in this exceptional period.
Follow the UK data signals
Hotel owners will need to learn quickly about the tactics for winning business from the UK holiday-makers doing a full ‘staycation’ for the first time. Even if they have been targeting UK consumers in recent time, the audience behaviour will no doubt be different in these summer months.
Hotel owners will need to look at their booking and web traffic data through a new lens, asking themselves what the consumer signals are telling them about the types of message that are resulting in bookings and the channels that are most effective. One aspect will be to see how much of their website traffic and how many enquiries and bookings are coming from the UK.
But also the balance of families and couples, activities and additional information browsing that will tell you much about the needs and mindset of the prospects. Based on this information, they will need to adapt creative, create new audience segmentations, and shift their budgets to maximize bookings. By following the data and reacting accordingly they will be well placed to win new customers.
Set up analytics reporting to identify source market Analytics platforms and reporting tools will need to be adjusted to look at the market in new ways. Many hotel owners will simply not have their analytics set up for the domestic market.
They will be used to drawing on international insights to shape advertising campaigns. But past performance based on international metrics may not be appropriate in these months as lockdown ends and quarantine rules are relaxed. Additionally, the buying cycle may need to be monitored, as consumers are panicked about lack of room availability and rising prices. While hotel owners might have worked on longer lead times in ‘normal times’, bookings this summer may follow different patterns.
Adapt digital ad copy and landing pages
Many hotel owners will have a better understanding of what will work for international visitors than UK customers. The motivations and appetites of domestic holidaymakers will no doubt be different, and so the content of ads and websites should be reviewed with an eye to how a UK audience will react to the attractions in and around the hotel. Landing page ad copy and digital ads will need to be examined with a fine tooth comb to ensure the best engagement and conversion can be achieved for UK customers. Copy that might have worked in other territories may not convince a UK market.
Using your own channels Many companies will be competing in the same bids for paid ad campaigns pushing up rates exponentially. Hotel owners should therefore also focus on their own channels to drive engagement and conversions. Email marketing is an effective communication tool to build engagement with ‘warm’ leads and former guests. With the correct permissions being granted, messages can be tailored based on customers’ preferences. In this way your offers have resonance and engage your customers’ tastes. This should be complemented by follow-up paid activity to provide an additional touchpoint to drive customers to that final booking.
Reassure nervous guests with your comprehensive COVID policies
Hotel owners need to provide timely and relevant communications to customers about their potential visit and Covid policies. This should include communicating any restrictions that might be in place, specific social distancing requirements at dinner or in interactions with guests or staff. Polls show a large number of British people extremely nervous about any social interaction post lockdown. Funnel analysis of your website visitors’ usage of the pages on your Covid policies will provide valuable insights as to the importance of this information in the buying process and the correlation between bookings and Covid-related browsing.
Prospective guests will need reassuring, so the more you can supply detail and information, the better.
Ensure you adopt a mobile-first approach In this new world it is crucial to do anything you can to have a head start over other competitors. This means ensuring a mobile-first strategy should be adopted. We recently conducted one of the most comprehensive studies of mobile site effectiveness commissioned, ‘Milliseconds Make Millions’. This revealed a 0.1 second improvement in the load-time of key pages of the mobile sites of travel brands delivered a 10.1% increase in conversion rate, a decrease of 5.4% in bounce rate on the product listings page, a 3% increase in page views per session and a 1.9% up lift in average order value. These marginal gains could mean hotel owners can win business ahead of competitors.
By adapting strategies now, hotel owners can make the most of what promises to be a difficult and possibly unique summer. A new approach and a rigorous examination of the data should be enacted to win customers more used to taking a plane rather than driving in a car to their holiday destination.
By Richard Wheaton is UK MD of data company fifty-five