Over the years I have worked closely with many businesses operating in the travel and tourism industry, from a nationwide car rental company to an owner-managed B&B and online travel agency.
It’s a tough industry to be in; with the rise of Airbnb and an oversaturated market, businesses need to be putting in a lot of consistent effort to attract guests. Using smarter digital marketing is a great way to do this. Below are 5 digital marketing strategies that will help your business thrive.
1. Make sure your website beautifully represents your establishment
A modern, responsive and clean design; professional branding; clear and persuasive copy; and high-quality, stunning images of your establishment are the essential ingredients of a successful website operating in the travel and tourism industry. Looks sell, so if your images and design are not up to scratch, you’re losing out to your competitors.
Make it fast and easy for users to quickly find the information they’re looking for and, when possible, have an online booking form and availability calendar so that guests can book instantly.
Get inspired: Here are some incredible hotel websites – https://www.mockplus.com/blog/post/hotel-website-design
2. Get listed on online booking sites
Increase your visibility online by getting listed on accommodation booking websites such as Booking.com, Safari Now and WhereToStay (to name a few). Make sure your listing looks great by using a range of high-quality photographs showing room interiors, establishment interiors, notable features and outdoor spaces.
I realise that some of you may be hesitant to do this due to the % commission you will need to pay, but unfortunately, it is a necessary evil when you consider the reach and market share of a platform such as booking.com. You will likely lose out to the competition if you are not on these listing sites.
Tip: Use an online booking service such as NightsBridge to improve efficiency. You can then automatically sync your booking calendar with all the popular booking sites, including booking.com.
3. Improve your website’s ranking in location-based search engine results
When people use Google to search for accommodation, they are at the point of being actively ready to book.
But generally, they won’t look beyond the first two pages of the Google results. Often they won’t even go further than the first page.
How to get on the first page of Google results? Unfortunately, it’s going to take a while and you’re going to have to work hard at it. The travel and tourism industry is competitive, and the big companies have big budgets to invest in search engine optimisation (they know how important it is).
A good starting point is to create a list of keywords and key terms that people would use to search for a business such as yours. Incorporate the keywords into your website’s copy. Make sure not to keyword stuff; Google has developed a clever algorithm that can spot keyword stuffing.
Also, register for a free Google my Business listing.
Blogging is another great way to improve SEO; write about the local area, publish posts about local events, news and things to do and see. Google loves fresh, useful and engaging content.
Further reading: Here is a great article if you want to learn more about local SEO for hotels and B&Bs –https://www.searchenginejournal.com/local-seo-for-hotels/292353/#close
4. Google Ads will work for your business
Google Ads work so well for boutique hotels, lodges and B&Bs because the business gets in front of people when they are actively looking to book.
Using Google Ads is a great way to instantly get onto the first page of Google, but, unlike SEO, Google Ads will cost you – every time someone clicks on your link, you will be charged.
At first, Google Ads can seem intimidating, but there are so many great guides and tutorials out there that will help you set up successful campaigns. And believe me – when you start seeing the amazing return on investment from Google Ads, you’ll be hooked.
Tip: Make sure that the web page (ie landing page) your Google Ads takes users to is designed to convert visitors into guests.
Further reading: Here is a great overview and guide to setting up your first Google Ads campaign:
5. Set up social media ads that are only shown to people who’ve recently visited your website
Stop wasting money on boosting your page and posts. Instead, install the Facebook Pixel on your website and start creating Facebook and Instagram Ad campaigns that are only shown to people who have just visited your website or create lookalike audiences using data from the pixel. Craft the ad so that it ‘speaks to them’ and perhaps offer them a discount code for booking. Link the ad straight back to your booking page.
This is the most effective way to do social media ads because people are more likely to book with a brand they have already come into contact with (ie visited the website) then one they have never heard of before.
Tip: If you have a WordPress website, use the free Pixel Caffeine plugin to instal your pixel and view its analytics right from inside your dashboard. It’s simple to set up and easy to use.
Further reading: Here is an in-depth guide about the power of the Facebook Pixel: