Whether you’re at a Hotel, Resort, Vacation Rental Management Company or a B&B, getting to full occupancy doesn’t happen overnight. There are thousands of businesses vying for travelers so your business needs to stand out from the rest. With changes to Google, OTA competition, Airbnb, and buyer behavior it can be a challenge to know how to market your property. In today’s travel landscape it’s essential to have a full funnel marketing strategy and be seen from traveler’s first Google search to creating a reservation at your property. This overview of how to get more bookings with a full funnel marketing Strategy will go over:
- Top of Funnel: Awareness
- Middle of Funnel: Engagement
- Bottom of Funnel: Conversion
Top of Funnel
Top of funnel marketing involves getting your property found by travelers that are just starting their search. They may be going to Google and searching general keywords such as Wisconsin dells resorts or NY hotels. Others may start their search on an OTA or Metasearch site. These travelers are just starting their search, so how do you stand out from all of the travel businesses and be seen? Here are a few strategies on how to get more bookings by bringing in travelers at the top of the funnel:
- Travel Blog
- Paid Search: Top of funnel keywords
- Marketplace Listings
If you want to be found by travelers online content is king. The website pages you create should be created with organic search in mind. A great way to be found by organic searches is to try and rank for organic keywords within a travel blog. These keywords can be very high level and not necessarily associated with lodging. Some examples could be North Myrtle Beach Bike Rentals, Ontario Dog Sledding or even Valentine’s Day Restaurant Ideas.
Whether someone is looking to travel to your area or don’t have any idea that they are traveling yet, the main goal is to get them to your website over 1.4 billion people travel each year so there’s a wide audience to capture. Once travelers make it to your website you have so many tools to keep your property at the top of their mind. More on that later.
With Google continuing to change its search engine it’s essential to have a paid search campaign. Looking at their search engine results pages today you can see that most of the time organic results are below the fold. More and more travelers are clicking on ads instead of organic results. This is where bidding on top of the funnel keywords can get more travelers to your website.
Although bidding on the right keywords is important don’t forget about Search Engine Optimization for your paid campaigns. Google is still trying to get travelers relevant information even on their ads. In the end, it’s still very important to have a quality website that is optimized for search whether it’s paid or unpaid.
It’s important for your property to be found in as many places as possible. This can be OTAs such as Expedia and Airbnb, directly on Google Hotel Ads (Metasearch) or an advertising site such as ResortsandLodges.com. Although we always prefer direct bookings, being listed on OTAs is essential. OTAs cast a wide net and any lodging search travelers do they will see the likes of Expedia and Airbnb in the top results. Also, many travelers prefer marketplace sites to compare and contrast amenities and prices.
It’s not really ideal to pay the hefty commissions but sometimes it’s necessary. Consider it a marketing cost for a first-time guest. Once they have stayed at your property once, you should be able to get them to stay again and book direct with the right marketing strategy. When a guest never hears from you again or they continue booking your property through an OTA that’s when the commission fees really hurt. It’s important to stay in front of travelers and get them to come back, this time booking direct.
Middle of Funnel
Congratulations! A traveler found your property online. Whether you’re marketing to a traveler who has merely seen your property online or who has booked through you previously they are now in the middle of your marketing funnel. With an average buying cycle of 80 days for travel, it is paramount to stay in front of them. Don’t let them forget about you! Here are some strategies on how to get more bookings by staying in front of travelers for the full buying cycle:
- Email capture and email marketing
- Social Media Retargeting Ads
- Paid Search: Brand Protection
What better way to get someone to stay in front of travelers than having them request to be sent more information? Conversion optimization consists of a pop-up that allows travelers to enter their email to receive more info and offers. Once they sign up they are enrolled in an email drip campaign to try and get them back to your website. This allows you to continue to stay in front of them until they’re ready to buy.
So now that they subscribed to your email list what should you send them? If you had an offer in the pop-up that should be your first email. Make sure your emails are relevant. If they aren’t what travelers expect then you’ll get the dreaded unsubscribe. Overall your emails should be:
- have a strong call to action
- high quality
Social Media Display Retargeting
Not everyone that visits your website will give you their information. With display ads, you can stay in front of travelers just by having them visit your website. Once a traveler visits your website they receive a cookie showing they visited your site. They will then start seeing ads for your property pop up on their social media sites. Once they are ready to book they will come back to you!
These ads should not only remind people about your property but compel them to act. Show what’s best about your property with compelling photos. This is a great place where you can highlight deals and packages and where you can really target visitors. If you offer golf you can target golfing specials to the travelers who visited your golf course page. If they are interested in a family vacation you can target them with family ads.
Paid Search: Brand Protection
If you aren’t showing up on the top of the Google page for your branded keywords you may want to look into brand protection. The only time this is really necessary is if a competitor is bidding on your name or your company name is similar to a common keyword search. So for example, if your company is called New York Lodging LLC you probably would need some help getting to the front page for New York Lodging.
Some marketing agencies may take advantage of branded keywords just to pad their stats. They will bid on your brand name when it’s not really necessary to boost their numbers. Travelers will click on the first result, which would be your ad, giving you a low cost per click and a high conversion rate for your paid campaigns. The problem is that if the ad wasn’t there, your website would still be at the top of the page organically and you would get all that traffic for free.
If your website is at the top of the page when searching your brand name then there is no need to bid on your branded keywords. The travelers searching for you already know your company and are probably considering staying with you.
Bottom of Funnel
Now the traveler has found you AND is ready to buy! This is where you need to work to close the sale and get them to book direct. If they’re looking at your property on Metasearch you want them to pick your site so they can book direct. Once they’re on your site you want to keep them there to close the sale. Here are some strategies on how to get more bookings and close the sale.
- Competitive pricing
- Cart Abandonment
When OTAs are brought into the equation pricing gets a lot more interesting. Not only do you need to have competitive pricing with other properties around you but you need to have competitive pricing with the OTAs that your properties are listed on. This is really important when looking at Google’s Metasearch platform.
When a traveler clicks on your property within Google Hotel Ads it will show the pricing of OTAs along with your direct booking price if you are listed. Your price should be the same or lower than the OTAs. Most of the time travelers are going to go with the lowest price and you want to avoid paying additional commissions when possible.
Lastly, cart abandonment strategies can be the last line of defense against a lost booking. By showing exit intent pop-ups on the booking page when a traveler tries to leave you can keep them on the page longer. If they started filling out the form with their email and they do end up leaving you can send them timely emails reminding them of the booking process that they started or possibly giving them a discount.
This can be genuinely helpful to consumers. It could be that they got distracted and left or their computer froze up. It gives them a chance to continue where they left off in the booking process without having to put in the effort to find your website again.
Digital marketing can be a daunting subject. There are a ton of digital marketing strategies you can try and every business is different. Overall the goal is to help travelers find your property and help them through the buyer’s journey. By learning how to get more Bookings with a full funnel strategy your lodging company will thrive and create many memories for guests to come.
About TRAVELNET SOLUTIONS
Providing integrated solutions for the hospitality industry, TRAVELNET Solutions has a full suite of services ranging from Property Management Software, CRM, Digital Marketing, and Cloud Contact Center.
Our mission is to transform how hospitality works. Everyday we strive to solve the most difficult technology and workflow challenges, and we work tirelessly to provide solutions to help our customers become more efficient and profitable. Our vision of the future is a world where every hospitality company is able to compete on a level playing field. Our goal is to become our customer’s business concierge. It all starts with one question: How can we help you?