From 2020 until the present, the hotel and travel sector adopted a series of digital marketing trends that will continue to grow in the following years.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, hotels and other travel operators - like planes, trains, ferries, and so on - adopted health and safety measures, touchless technologies, and marketing trends, revamping and revolutionizing how they serve guests. These technologies and marketing trends are here to stay and will continue to evolve.
Focus on Video in all Its Forms
Hotels and travel operators observed that guests and consumers prefer watching all sorts of video content. Therefore, they adapted their marketing strategies to incorporate video in all its forms. For example, video advertising soared in 2021-2022.
Wyzowl published recently their Video Marketing Statistics 2022 with several key findings:
- 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool;
- 92% of marketers consider video an essential marketing tool;
- 79% of non-video marketers planned to use video as a marketing tool in 2022;
- the coronavirus pandemic affected the video marketing plans for 64% of the marketers in 2021 and 2022;
- 63% of marketers expected the pandemic to affect their video marketing budget for 2021, compared to only 50% in 2022;
- 55% of video marketers create videos in-house, compared to 12% who hire external companies.
As to what formats of video marketers will use in 2022, a majority of 42% prefer live-action video - like livestreaming - compared to animation 33% or screen captures 16%.
When you look at these statistics, remember that Cisco predicted in 2017 that Internet video traffic would be 82% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2022. Unfortunately, the numbers are not in yet to confirm the predictions, but in this infographic by Animoto, you can still see how much users consumed video content in 2021 compared to 2019.
So, when you consider what type of video formats you should use, think of livestreaming, video presentations of your hotel and its facilities, area videos, and even drone videos that will allow the viewers to see the hotel grounds and its neighbourhood. Then, show your potential guests everything you can to convince them that you are the best choice to book in 2022 and the future.
Another vital aspect you should consider is using video in your advertising campaigns on social media. All social media platforms today support video ads, and you should take advantage of these opportunities to present your property in the best light.
Optimize for Short Booking Lead-in Times
Did you know that guests prefer last-minute bookings or shorter booking windows? They also favour direct bookings over third-party options like travel agencies, Expedia, and other OTAs.
80 Days surveyed over 600 hoteliers in 2022 and found that 92% of them observed shorter booking lead-in times as one of the main trends of 2021.
Direct bookings will count for a 50% share in the booking market by 2022, per Phocusright statistics. Why? Because hotels offer best price guarantees, special packages, and guest perks for direct bookings.
Guests also choose direct bookings because they prefer a more flexible refund experience and direct interaction with the hoteliers rather than having their questions and concerns addressed by intermediaries. Obviously, the hoteliers are the only ones who can address these issues timely because they know their business - rooms, facilities, and amenities - better than third parties.
So, plan on optimizing your booking channels for direct bookings by making the booking experience faster and eliminating non-essential form fields. In addition, create engaging content on social media to lead guests to your direct booking channels. Finally, improve the user experience on your website: fast loading times, easy navigation, compelling texts, and awe-inspiring visual content (images and video).
Strengthen Your Digital Presence
Prepare to meet travellers where they are. Most of them are mobile - always on the go. Therefore, you should have a mobile-ready site or an app to allow them to access all the information they need about your hotel or travel service. But mobile sites and apps are not enough.
Bring your social media profiles up to date - especially the most popular, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. Use these social networks to post updates and advertise your offers and services. Engage consumers in a two-way dialogue rather than just broadcasting. Also, remember how effective and affordable video marketing has become in the past couple of years.
It would also help to include a chatbot in your digital marketing strategy for 2022 and beyond. The bot can act as a digital concierge, responding to users' questions, reminding them of special offers, directing them to your direct booking channel, etc.
You could also implement a suite of digital services like a breakfast menu, spa bookings, tour guides, digital check-in, and anything else to improve the guest experience and reduce your staff's workload.
Another critical factor to consider when improving your digital presence is that travellers are increasingly inclined to "see" before they book, and virtual tours are gaining popularity. Here you can use video or virtual reality tours. Virtual reality will be a powerful contender in the following years despite being too costly for many hoteliers. However, Statista predicts that the VR market size will increase from $5 billion in 2021 to more than $12 billion by 2024.
It is also important to be available on chat and messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Instagram Direct, Telegram, and so on, to be available for users who prefer contacting you this way instead of emailing or calling.
When you strengthen your digital presence, keep in mind that Google will phase out the third-party cookies in the Chrome browser by the end of 2022. So, you will no longer be able to track your website visitors using cookies. However, other browsers blocked third-party cookies ten years ago, and marketers can still track their visitors. So, you must find alternatives for Google Chrome since it is the most used browser in the world.
Instead of focusing on third-party cookies, which track users' behaviours on other sites, their browsing habits, and purchase interests, focus on first-party, which track only essential user information on your website and don't share it with other websites or advertising partners.
You must constantly adapt to the digital marketing trends. Some may be harder to follow, requiring more financial effort and manpower, however you cannot remain competitive without adopting them as fast as possible. Still, put your customer first remains the evergreen rule for marketing in the digital age both online and offline.