Digital Marketing Strategies For Hotels in Kenya
Digital marketing and marketing, in general, provides a vital outlet for keeping your business alive and showcasing your hotel. However, digital marketing strategies are dynamic and thus you have to constantly review and take advantages of emerging trends to stay on top of the competition. Marketing in the hospitality industry can be challenging since you are dealing with people looking to get the best value for their money. Therefore, you have to concurrently accommodate and preempt. Despite the competitive nature of the industry, you have to deal with guests, create campaigns, manage rooms, create offers and many more.
Digital marketing becomes one of the best options to manage your hospitality business through promotion of brand reputation, increasing sales or bookings, and manage offers and campaigns. Digital marketing has evolved over time with several benefits and disadvantages. On the positive side, digital marketing if done well can help you boost your online reach and promote your hotel to potential customers or bookers. However, digital marketing has also presented some challenges such as the increased competition in the digital space and the ever-changing search engine algorithms making it difficult to enhance your visibility online.
The digital space specifically for the hospitality industry has become highly competitive as the number of hotel booking sites increases. There are a number of hotel booking sites in Kenya managed both locally and internationally including Jumia Travel, Trip Advisor, booking.com, hotels.com, Travelstart, and EatOut among others. These entities have made it difficult to rank high on search engines as they are constantly optimizing their sites to secure top positions on search engines. However, they have also presented an opportunity for hoteliers to market their properties. By registering your hotel with them you are able to not only expand your online reach but also increase sales. However, that is just one bit of digital marketing there are many ways through which you can promote your hotel online to earn bookings or walk-in customers coming to enjoy your dishes. This article highlights the digital marketing strategies you can implement to increase your sales and manage your brand reputation.
1. Website optimization
Your hotel website or booking platform is the most important aspect of your digital marketing strategy. According to Google, travelers spend about an hour booking a hotel. It is estimated that they visit an average of 17 websites searching for their preferred hotel. The research also indicates that 90% of these viewers research or book on different devices including laptops, phones, and tablets. In such a case, you can imagine the number of visitors you might lose if your website is not mobile responsive. It also shows the importance of the website as the first sales and marketing point. Here are some of the tips to optimize your website.
First, it is important to ensure that your website is responsive and renders effectively on any device be it a laptop, tablet, or bole phone.
Photos of your dishes, the hotel rooms, pools or the general hotel compound are the most important factors that would make the visitor want to learn more about you. Therefore, you should make sure that you have plenty of high-quality photos that truly reflect your services on the website. You should regularly update the photos to ensure that they reflect the current outlook of the hotel.
Virtual Tour of the hotel
If you are providing accommodation you might want to consider making quality and informative videos of your property and uploading them to the website. The best way to go about this is to make a 360-degree Virtual Tour of your property covering the important areas of the hotel. Again make sure that your virtual tour reflects the actual outlook of your property such as Mimosa court. or CJs restaurant. virtual tours. While an animated virtual tour may seem visually appealing it denies your website visitors the real and intimate feeling of the property.
An example of a virtual tour by Mimosa Court
Search Engine Optimization
You can also optimize your website for higher ranking on search engines through a technique called search engine optimization. Search Engine optimization involves making vital updates on your website’s links, content (both test and images), code, and layout to boost its likelihood in ranking high on search engines like Google whenever someone searches for keywords matching your services. You may be wondering why you should bother about ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs). Well, research shows that 33% of the clicks go to the first position result, 17% to the second result, and 11% to the third one. If your website appears on the second page then expect about 1% or less. If you are competing with a nearby hotel offering the same services then SEO can become handy to boost your ranking on search engine and increase site clicks. Read our recent article on the importance of SEO to your business
However, as noted earlier, the hospitality industry not just in Kenya but internationally is highly competitive, especially in the online space. For instance, if you were to search for a keyword like “hotels in Nairobi” not a single hotel website appears on the first page of Google as shown below. Instead, you are presented with a list of several hotel booking sites. However, a visitor will find your hotel listed in some of those hotel booking sites and visit your website to learn more about your services. Normally, when someone types your company name, they expect either your website or social media handles to appear in the first 3 search results. Nonetheless, if your website is not optimized then it may not even appear on the first page of Google and thus when a visitor starts doubting your credibility or legibility. This is where SEO comes in. SEO is wide but grasping the basic and crucial techniques can get you going. First, you should ensure that photos are named appropriately for easy indexing by search engine bots. You should also ensure that your links are optimized to reflect the relevant page content.
How hotel booking sites dominate search results
2. Promote your hotel with Social media marketing
Social media has become an important medium to meet and interact with your followers. If optimized and used strategically, it can become one of the best tools for boosting your check-in or booking numbers. However, this has not been the case for some hotels due to use of an ineffective approach. It is apparent that people are likely to follow a page on social media because they have an affinity for the brand, they use the products frequently or they just love the services. Unfortunately, hotels especially those offering accommodation represent a temporary place in a guest’s life and thus may take several visits to develop the attachment. This makes it difficult for such hotels to gain a large fan base on social media that can be converted to guests. However, as mentioned in our reputation management article, such hotels can use social to interact with their current, past and future guest, provide customer service by solving customer issues on time or share positive experiences with a guest.
On the other hand, social media can be an important place for product development or promotion of hotels offering meals alone. You can use social media to promote a new or special dish you have added to your menu. Social media can also be the best channel to promote a new service or service improvement such as food delivery. The Nairobi Burger Festival #nairobiburgerfestival is one of the perfect examples of food festivals you can participate in to grow your social media audience and customer base.
Here is how you can utilize different social media platforms for your hotel.
Build you business with Facebook
Facebook is one of the best mediums to build a stable image of your business and have a solid audience. Facebook has lots of features you can utilize to build a full company profile and an online shop. It has a menu section where you can list your dishes, a booking button where customers can book for rooms, live videos, stories and many more. The Facebook page appears among the top in the search results whenever someone looks up your hotel online. Therefore, be sure to have a considerable audience and a complete page because Facebook shows the number of photos and followers.
Update your Customers through Twitter
Many businesses overlook the importance of Twitter as a social media platform to promote their brands. However, Twitter presents a broader audience where people can easily make orders or book their reservations. Similar to Facebook, Twitter has also introduced live footage through periscope where you can share live coverage of your hotel with customers. Unlike Facebook, Twitter has a unique point of customer service where you can respond directly and quickly to customer’s concerns. We all know that if your hotel was involved in some controversial issues then Twitter will be the first place to learn about it. Through its hashtag feature, Twitter becomes a single most important platform for reputation management. That’s why it is important to have an active twitter account where you can constantly update the customers of your products and services.
Engage customers through Instagram
Research shows that more than 76% of people share their experience on Instagram whilst on vacation. This demonstrates your repost potential and ability to boost customer loyalty while growing your audience. Instagram has been integrated with Facebook and now you even have a larger audience to target with your ads. Let’s not forget the fact that Instagram has updated its hashtag feature and now you can have your content shared to a wider audience by adding a relevant hashtag in your Bio section. Users can now follow hashtags of their interest and by linking your account to that hashtag you earn their viewership. You can also participate in online festivals such as the #nairobiburgerfestival
Nairobi burger festival Instagram hashgtag
There are various social media platforms out there but it is important to develop an effective social media strategy and choose the most relevant platform to execute it. Here is a summary of social media usage tips.
- You can use social media to offer loyalty points and incentives for guest that like, visit or share posts about the hotel
- Trade shares, likes and tweets on social media platforms to encourage more engagement.
- Run regular competitions to boost user-generated content.
3. Local search engine optimization
Your business website might not appear in the regular results list but it may be listed in the Google My Business. Research indicates that more 40% of mobile searchers looking for information related to hotels and restaurants and are likely to call the businesses. Google My Business makes it easy for customers to place such calls. So if you are not in Google My Business then you are missing out on a golden opportunity for free internet marketing. Like Facebook, Google My Business allows you to create a complete business profile for your hotel the difference is that you can effortlessly rank high on search results. It also makes it easy for potential customers especially in your locality to find your hotel and get in touch with you. With Google My Business you can set up your hotel profile with the following information:
- Hotel photos
- Your contact information
- Your hotel location
- Hours of operation
- A short description of your hotel
- Availability of your hotel rooms
- Links to booking sites like Jumia Travel, TripAdvisor
Similar to other booking websites Google My Business also allows guest to leave reviews about your hotel and services which will be featured in the search results. Here is an example of how a complete Hotel profile would look like.
Other than Google My Business there are several local listing websites such as Jumia Travel, EatOut, TripAdvisor, Trivago, Hotels.com, hotelcombined.com and booking.com among others. You can improve your local SEO by setting up a complete profile on these websites consisting of quality photos of your property, location, prices, availability, and a short description of the hotel. As mentioned earlier, such websites are constantly optimized to rank high on search engines and creating a profile with them can boost your online presence significantly. Most of them allow guest to leave reviews which if managed well can improve your reputation.
4. Pay per Click (PPC) or paid search
Google delivers both organic (natural) results and paid Ads. You can differentiate the two by the Ad icon placed below the result title. Such ads are placed there by businesses which pay Google to rank high for specific keywords in certain areas. It allows a business to dominate its competitors especially in a highly competitive industry like hospitality. For example, at the time of this writing, if you typed the phrase “hotels in Nairobi” you would be presented with a list of paid ads as shown below.
The Google paid search allows businesses to bid for certain keywords like in our case “hotels in Nairobi” upon which your position in the search result is determined. While the bid amount is the major determining factor, Google also considers other factors such as website optimization for ranking. The best thing about Pay Per Click is that Google doesn’t charge you a dime unless someone actually clicks your ads. However, paid search requires a well thought out strategy in order to attract a higher number of clicks and achieve a considerable ROI.
Let us help you get more hotel guest through online marketing
Well, that’s it for now as far as digital marketing strategies are concerned but, we look forward to updating the article in the near future. We hope that the list helps you kick-start your online marketing efforts for your hotel.
Pryton Technologies is a digital marketing company offering services such as search engine optimization, social media advertising, content marketing, web design and email marketing. We have a competent team ready to help you get more guests through digital marketing. We can also empower your in-house marketing team on the digital marketing skills through digital marketing training. Meanwhile, you can submit your hotel website for FREE SEO analysis.