With so much competition from hotel chains and sites like Airbnb, running an independent hotel or guest house can be hard work. So what can you do to keep your occupancy rates up? These six digital marketing techniques can help you attract guests.
6 ways to increase occupancy rates
Whether you run a small hotel or a guest house, you can keep up with other big-name chains. Here’s how.
- Give away a room on social media.
- Write local tour guides.
- Post property photos on Instagram.
- Build links on travel websites.
- Showcase customer reviews.
- Refresh your website.
Want to learn more about these digital marketing tactics? Then keep reading.
1. Give away a room on social media
Social media contests are all too common these days, but in hospitality, they can attract some serious attention. Offer a free night at your hotel to encourage people to follow you, like your page, and share your content with their friends.
You can run the giveaway strategically, offering the free room during a slow period.
If your social media competition brings in 1,000 new followers — all of whom are potential customers — then it's well worth sacrificing a guest room for the night in exchange for increased exposure and, eventually, occupancy rates. Check out the below example from POD Boutique Hotel.
2. Write local tour guides
Content marketing is, without a doubt, one of the most effective ways to promote your small business online. There are lots of ways you can incorporate content into your marketing strategy, but the simplest and most effective is by writing tour guides about your city.
Post content about what travelers are searching for, such as the best local restaurants and fun activities in the area.
By creating your own high-quality content that provides information and advice to potential guests, you'll be able to bring in free, organic traffic from search engines like Google and Bing. And the more people who land on your website and read your content, the more people who will gain awareness of your hotel.
3. Post property photos on Instagram
Modern travelers can be choosy, and they want to be sure they're staying in a clean, comfortable environment. You can reassure them — and show off your rooms — by creating an Instagram account for your hotel and posting regular images and videos.
No need to hire a professional photographer to take images for you. Just make up a few of your favorite rooms, open the windows to let in some natural light, and snap away.
Showing different areas of your hotel — like the breakfast room and check-in desk — will add more value to your channels and allow potential guests to visualize their hotel experience.
4. Build links on travel websites
Link building is essential if you want your website to rank for competitive terms.
Businesses pay big bucks for their hotels to be featured in the top spot when people search for “hotels in X city,” but the good news is that you can rank on the first page with an effective link building strategy.
Approach local travel websites, bloggers and influencers and ask if they'd be interested in linking back to your hotel on their resources page.
If you've got the time and enjoy writing, you could even pitch guest blogs to local travel and tourism websites. This will let you show off your knowledge of the local area and gain a link to your site in the process.
The key to a successful link building and guest blogging campaign is consistency. Start off small by reaching out to hyperlocal websites, and then expand your efforts as you gain confidence and experience writing for others.
Over time, you'll build a strong link profile, and search engines will see your site as more authoritative and rank you accordingly.
Editor’s note: Another way to boost your credibility is to make sure your hotel is listed on a number of directories. Consider using a tool like GoDaddy’s Local Business Listings, and your information will be automatically sent to sites like TripAdvisor, Google, Yelp and more — all from one easy-to-manage dashboard.
5. Showcase customer reviews
In today's digital-first world where consumers buy products and services before ever seeing them in the flesh, reviews are everything.
A whopping 88 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations, while 83 percent of TripAdvisor users read reviews before booking a hotel. That’s why showcasing reviews on your website can be effective in helping to keep your occupancy rates up.
While you'll understandably want to put the spotlight on positive reviews, try not to censor them too much.
According to Capterra, 52 percent of buyers say they trust a product more if they see negative reviews alongside positive ones. Offer a mix, or better yet, install a widget from a reputable and independent feedback website, like TripAdvisor or Expedia.
6. Refresh your website
You wouldn't go 10 years without giving your rooms a new coat of paint, so don't let your website sit and collect dust either.
Regularly refreshing your website will ensure that customers are greeted with a modern, attractive design when they research your hotel.
The hospitality industry is a competitive market, so you need to pull out all the stops to impress potential guests. Hire a web designer if your marketing budget allows, or pay for a premium theme that allows you to make frequent changes.
So there you have it — six ways to up your occupancy rates with digital marketing. Choosing an easy-to-remember domain name should be a priority, too, so you can add it to your business cards and leaflets.