By Margaret Mastrogiacomo, EVP of Strategy
As Q3 comes to an end and hoteliers prepare their Q4 digital strategy, it’s important to keep a pulse on the evolving digital landscape to make a greater impact on performance.
This month, Google Search added flight and hotel features around COVID-19, Instagram launched Reels, and breaking the rules of typography becomes a budding design trend. From Search to Social Media and Design, here are the top 5 things you need to know now in hotel digital marketing.
1. Search: Google search adds flight and hotel features around COVID-19.
After a few weeks of testing, Google has officially launched new flight search and travel search features to help those who are traveling during the pandemic. Google said these updates are important “because the impact of COVID-19 on destinations can vary, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest travel-related information for places you may want to visit.”
Google is showing “travel trends” and “travel advisory” notices in specific regions that people are searching for.
Therefore, if searchers are looking for a hotel in a location, Google will show the percentage of hotels with availability in that region and the percentage of flights that are operating to that destination.
Hoteliers should explore the travel advisories that Google is displaying for their destination as this may impact conversion rate for your hotel. For instance, when searching for hotels in San Francisco, Google Travel revealed that only 36% of flights are currently operating, which may impact someone’s decision to book if they are a fly-in market. When participating in Google Hotel Ads, be sure to utilize the meta callout feature reassuring guests of your flexible cancellation policy. Users can also filter by free cancellation only, so if you are offering free cancellation due to COVID-19, be sure that your hotel is appearing for this filter.
2. CRM: Capitalize on customer data to enhance the guest experience.
While personalized guest communication based on guest data and preferences is becoming more widely utilized by hotel marketers, capitalizing on guest data to personalize the guest experience is still a missed opportunity for many hotel brands. Take the guest experience to the next level by asking guests for preferences for their upcoming stay such as pillow firmness, desired room temperature, or even more personal preferences like their favorite wine. All these preferences can help surprise and delight guests throughout their stay. For instance, when a guest checks in to their room, the room can be already set to their desired temperature with the pillow type they prefer. If they are celebrating a special occasion, you can welcome them with their favorite wine.
3. Social Media: Instagram launches Reels to compete with TikTok.
On August 5th, Instagram debuted Reels, a new short-form video format on Instagram available to users in the United States. Reels allows users to record and edit short-form videos with audio and music soundtracks mirroring what users already do on TikTok.
Instagram has said that the Reels video format will live inside of Stories, which users can create in the top-left corner of the Home feed. When users scroll through their Home feed or Explore page, they will be able to tell which posts are Reels clips by a clapboard icon in the bottom-left corner. A new tab will also be added to users’ profiles to showcase all their Reels in one place. The tab will live alongside the traditional grid of recent posts, as well as tabs for viewing IGTV videos and posts a user was tagged in.
Similarly to when Instagram launched Stories as a response to Snapchat, we believe that Instagram users will quickly embrace this new feature as an alternative to TikTok, especially the millennial and Gen X demographics.
While this new feature doesn’t have any advertising opportunities for brands quite yet, it’s an opportunity for brand pages to get more playful with their organic content and to increase visibility on the Explore page.
4. Display: COVID-19 demands creativity from display campaign CTAs.
While traveler anxiety around the pandemic continues, hotel marketers need to get creative with CTAs to better align with the way travelers are planning. For local feeder markets, booking windows are shrinking while for long-haul feeder markets, they are expanding. With the dreaming phase in the travel planning journey expanding for long-haul markets, there is greater opportunity to capitalize on this phase. Consider A/B testing softer CTAs beyond “Book Now” such as “Check Availability” and “Explore Now.” For local staycations and last-minute impulse bookings, consider testing CTAs such as “Get Away” and “Stay Now” focusing more on the last-minute vacation experience instead of the transaction.
5. Design: Breaking typography rules.
To create more visually engaging design, designers are becoming more daring and breaking the rules of typography. The key to making this design trend work is that even when breaking typeface rules, such as odd spacing, sizing, or even line spacing or breaks, the user still needs to understand the message you are communicating. Most commonly, typography in this style is more of an art element and less of an informational one.
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NextGuest provides hoteliers with everything they need to thrive in the digital world, including industry-leading website development, digital marketing, CRM, CMS, hospitality technology solutions, and high-level consulting to some of the world’s top hotel brands. While each of our services is available on its own, together they provide an all-encompassing partner that helps hoteliers acquire, engage, and retain their next guest.
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