Often times the spectrum of customer service ends up in a frustrating circle. The hospitality industry is ever-changing and a close eye must be kept on keeping up with those responsible for solid five star customer service! To attain the best levels of guest experience you must focus on the tools that you utilize in a hotel. As an independent hotelier, you have to constantly market your hotel to attract travelers thus skyrocketing your business by making your brand more relevant. Unfortunately, if you’re not a part of a large chain and you don’t run a huge property, the time and attention a solid marketing strategy takes can be a drain on your available resources. When you’re trying to drive direct bookings, the challenge can be especially intimidating.
The thing is that managing a hotel can be an all-consuming role for a hotelier! There are melange of tasks that a hotelier will need a hotel marketing tool to ensure their brand is relevant and stays at the top of mind with current and potential customers in your niche. To help make this task a little easier, we are going to unveil the top ten types of handy tool every hotel marketer should know. So, fasten your seatbelts & enjoy the ride!
1. Social Listening Tools: On social media in today’s world, everyone has a voice. So what are people saying about your brand on social media? Wouldn’t it be great to know when your audience mentions your hotel brand? Good news is, you can listen to those conversations with the help of social media listening tools. These tools allow you to monitor conversations through flagging certain keywords, hashtags, or brand mentions online.
What you do with these mentions are totally up to you. Ideally, if someone mentions your brand in a positive way (for example, through an Instagram post, commending your property on a fun stay), you could express your gratitude through a reply. Similarly, if someone had a negative experience and wrote a less than stellar review on their blog and tweeted the post to their followers, you can reach out via the comments or on social to offer to fix the issue. Social media listening tools will help you identify these conversations happening in the sea of content online. Some of our favorites tools are Mention, Hootsuite, and Tweetreach.
2. Analytical Tools: One tool in your marketing toolbox is your hotel website. To figure out how well this marketing tool is performing for you and your property, you can use Google Analytics. This free tool from our friends at Google empowers you with the digital analytics tools you need in order to figure out all the touchpoints your customers receives during their customer journey. Knowing how customers interact with your website can tell a qualitative story of how customers come and go into your ecosystem. If you’re creating content on your hotel website (for example, with a blog), Google Analytics also tells you how much traffic your posts are generating.
Google Analytics is an especially powerful tool when it comes to direct bookings. It tells you from which sites your visitors found your site, how long they stayed on your website, and even where they are located geographically. This is especially useful information to know if you’re using paid advertising. By knowing where your biggest audience is, you’ll know which geographic location you want to target your ads.
And since we’re on the topic of Google, a bonus tool to use (that is also free!) is Google Alerts. Set an alert for the frequency you’d like to be notified and on a keyword that you want (your hotel’s name is a great first step) and start getting notifications of when you’re mentioned on the web.
3. Survey Tools: Surveys are a great way to get honest and quick customer feedback and conduct market research. While you may not think of a survey tool as a hotel marketing tool, it can inform you as to what people want to see more of from your brand. What kind of hotel promotions do your customers want to see more of? What do they love about staying at your property? Figuring out these nuggets of information can inform what you show off more often in your hotel marketing.
Now that we’ve convinced you to give survey tools a test drive (hopefully!), we have some suggestions on tools to try. Companies such as Typeform, Google Forms, or Survey Monkey are great tools to test out and see which ones you like the best.
4. Task Management Tools: Managing your upcoming marketing campaigns and work load is an important aspect of running any business. Good thing there are task management tools can make this a whole easier. Being able to organize, track, and prioritize your day to day, for yourself and your team, can be made easier with a few these tools. It’s especially handy when you’re planning out a new marketing campaign (for example, a seasonal hotel email marketing campaign or a user-generated content campaign). You can track each project milestone, add comments, attach important files, and see what other work is still left to be done in the project.
There’s a whole host of hotel marketing tools out there to help you stay on task and focused when it comes to marketing your property. And with so little time and so many marketing projects to take on, these tools are here to help you be smarter about how you market your hotel and best of all, save time in the process. Trello, Asana, and Flow are just a few of the options out there to help organize your working day.
5. Channel Management Tools: It is relatively easy to manage your hotel’s own website, but it becomes increasingly difficult as the number of distribution channels start to grow. When hoteliers decide to use online booking platforms or metasearch engines to gain more visibility, bookings are then made and modified simultaneously on multiple websites – making it nearly impossible to track them all. This is when channel managers come in handy.
Channel managers oversee all distribution channels, continuously updating the number of available rooms on across all of them. That means you do not risk overbooking your property or misinforming your guests about the availability of certain rooms. Not only is it significantly safer, as you do not have to fear misleading your customers, but most importantly, it is much more efficient, as you can focus on other tasks, instead of keeping an eye on every website you cooperate with.
6. Online Travel Aggregators: Love them or hate them, today it is nearly impossible to run a successful hotel business without OTAs. Websites dedicated purely to bookings have taken over a large chunk of the industry. There are various types of OTAs dealing with different aspects of hotel and lodging, however, most of them are focused on hotels and flights, with car rentals and activity packages taking the next spots.
We spoke about distribution channels and how to manage them and OTAs are one of the main reasons why the channel managers were created in the first place! The idea is brilliant – showing all of the offers from each city in one, easily accessible place. It is much easier for customers, as they do not have to search the entire Internet for the right offer. It is also great for hoteliers, as before, only hoteliers with budgets for good online advertising were easily found online. Now, with a more level playing field, each hotel gets a chance.
Of course, the existence of such powerful companies that monopolize the market comes with some issues. The first of them is the commission charged by OTAs. Fees are tearing down many smaller hoteliers, who have to hand on up to 30% of what could have been their revenue to the booking platforms. Then there are also rate parity clauses which don’t allow hotels to show different pricing on any of their channels. This means that they can’t give discounts on their own websites.
There are a few ways hotels can fight back. One is making sure that the local governments make the mandate of rate parity illegal. Secondly, hotels can use online travel agents that do not charge a commission, such as Bidroom.com. Bidroom has found a way to work successfully without the need of imposing any fees on hoteliers and it also fights against the unfair practices of other OTAs.
7. Email Tracking Tools: While on the subject of increased productivity, it is impossible to dismiss email tracking tools. As a hotelier, you send hundreds of emails each week. Some of them are more urgent, some can wait, but they are all important in their own way. That’s why email tracking tools are so useful. On many occasions, you want to be sure your message was delivered and not sent to spam. You want to know whether it has been opened or left untouched. Tracking tools let you better control your conversations and be more aware of what is happening in your relations with recipients.
They are also useful for marketing purposes, as you can see how many clicks you got and how many of your messages were even taken into consideration. Gmail has its own dedicated tracking tool called the MailTracker and Chrome also offers its own tracking engine. Yesware is another great option that works with both Gmail and Outlook.
8. Offers: The most important section on your website is, of course, the offer page. You want them to be clean and easy to navigate. You need your guests to know exactly what to do and which buttons to click in order to make a booking. You also want to maximize your sales possibilities. There are a few useful tools you should think about using to improve the buying experience as well as possibly increase your revenue.
Firstly, you need the right system of the booking buttons. One you should consider as it is very popular in the industry, is Siteminder’s BookingButton. It makes your guests’ experience a lot easier, gives you many additional options you can choose from and works on mobile devices as well as desktops.
Secondly, you should think about adding special offer options to your web page. A good tool for this purpose is Picreel. It makes special offers you customize pop up on the screen when guests want to leave your website. You can tempt them with special offers, additional benefits or discounts to convince them to book a room in your hotel.
9. Online Payment Tools: Lastly, when guests decide to book at your hotel, they often expect to be able to pay online. Paying with cash is becoming less popular, and even credit card payments are losing their popularity. People want to do everything quickly – find a hotel, book it and pay for it, all in one sitting. It goes without saying that online payment tools are a must for any entrepreneur displaying business on the Internet.
The most popular of online payment tool is PayPal. It processes millions of transactions each day, operating in almost every country in the world and in nearly 30 different currencies. Few alternatives to PayPal include Google Wallet, Authorize.net or Square.
10. Content Management System: In today’s digital world, blog writing and content creation prove to be the most necessary ingredient to success for several companies including the hotel industry. Earlier days (in 2013-14), mostly all the blogs were only thought of as personal diaries published to the Internet.
However, today nearly 40% of companies use blogs for marketing purposes, and over 46% of people read blogs more than once a day (good job, content creators!) Regardless of the industry – whether you are running a bakeshop, law firm, a hotel or technology start-up – creating and managing content properly should be the top goal in order to increase more inbound traffic to your website and become a trusted advisor of your brand!
If you want to have your in-house team, identify a handful of employees who could provide quality blog content and then start out at 4-5 per month and utilize a CMS to manage your content properly so that you can easily reuse it when required.
So, now you know the top 10 types of handy tool a hotel marketer should know! Now, you can know and learn more about the latest trends in the hospitality industry without any fuss. Boost your hotel bookings and revenue on the go via our exclusive and FREE eBooks and exceed your guests’ expectation by redefining their experience and make them say WOW every time they visit your hotel! Download your eBook NOW!