The hospitality industry has always been highly competitive and with the rise of travel aggregator sites such as Booking.com and Expedia, competition has only increased.
These types of travel sites have made browsing and booking accommodation so simple and convenient that, if you’re not on any of them, it can feel like you’re invisible.
So how can hotels fight their way through the noise of the aggregators and compete in this fierce marketplace? Here are 3 ways to go it alone – and succeed.
1. Make use of email marketing
Email marketing is a fantastic way to directly engage with your customers and gives you the opportunity to build some invaluable brand loyalty. With direct access to customers’ inboxes, you can cultivate a real relationship with them, increasing the likelihood of them booking with you again. There are a variety of email types to use, including: welcome emails, offers and discounts, news and events and emails to encourage ratings and reviews. And for keeping your brand in your customers’ minds, seasonal emails that are “just because” are a great addition to your email arsenal. These types of emails are great for brand awareness and to tempt customers in without being too pushy.
2. Be savvy with organic search
Organically, competing with travel aggregators is a mammoth task. Searching “hotels London” in Google sees, unsurprisingly, the travel aggregator sites dominating page 1 of the search returns.
Instead, look to capitalise on the growing popularity of local search and voice search. Both of these tend to favour localised, longer tailed keywords with increased buyer intent, as the browser is further along in their search journey. For example “luxury hotels with pool Chelsea.” By searching this you can see how a few hotels have managed to break in to the first page of search returns, sitting amongst the mighty aggregators.
We’ve written about how hotels can take advantage of voice search to give you a more in depth look.
3. Utilise ppc
Because competing organically is so difficult, it’s worth increasing your chance of being found via the search engines by developing a ppc strategy. Combining ppc and seo maximises your visibility online with ppc delivering paid-for, immediate visibility that can be time-tailored depending on your needs. You can see that by searching “luxury hotels in London” that the top ppc results are not any of the travel aggregator sites.
There’s also the emergence of Google Hotel Ads that could make the likes of TripAdvisor and Booking.com a bit nervy. According to Google, 75% of leisure travellers and 55% of business travellers use its search engine to plan a trip. Hotel Ads connect you directly with users when they are actively searching for a destination to book a hotel, rather than relying on a third party. The feed displays hotel information such as; hotel name, location, price, rating (review) and images in the form of a Google Hotel Ad:
You can find out more about how to take advantage of Google Hotel Ads in our more detailed post here.
It may seem as though the travel aggregator sites can’t be beaten, but as you can see, there are some methods you can use to ensure you’re competing. For help dominating the hospitality industry, have a chat with us! We’ve got experience and more importantly success, working with hotels to increase their online footprint and drive relevant users to their website.