As digitalisation advances and accommodation providers increasingly strive to reduce their dependence on online travel agencies (OTAs), it has become even more essential for hoteliers to keep up with digital marketing trends. This can prove challenging as the expectations, needs and behaviours of travellers are constantly evolving, with Google constantly updating its rules and algorithms as well. It seems if you stay static for even one season your business will fall behind your competitors and lose appeal with potential guests.
To optimise your strategy for the remainder of the year, here are three digital marketing tips from Avvio’s in-house digital agency:
1. The magic of metasearch
There has been a lot of talk about the direct booking war between OTAs and hotels recently, yet little attention has been paid to metasearch, which has been quietly strengthening its impact on the travel industry and has now become a much more valuable channel than in previous years.
A metasearch engine is essentially a search engine that gathers up and presents information on your hotel rates and availability to website browsers, so that they can find your hotel more easily online. Metasearch engines, like Tripadvisor, Trivago and Google Hotel Price Ads (HPA) differ from OTAs as they link back to the hotel’s direct website, rather than selling the rates themselves.
At Avvio our hotel partners have seen huge growth in the volume of direct bookings generated by metasearch. A couple of years ago, accommodation providers would have to pay an average cost per acquisition (CPA) of roughly 12%. Now hotels can achieve CPA’s of between 7-8% on average and drive a much higher return on their investment.
It’s unsurprising that Google HPA has powered ahead as the biggest generator of revenue for Avvio partners. In the second quarter of 2017, Google HPA contributed nearly half (48%) of overall metasearch revenue and continues to be a top earner for our partners. Looking at other metasearch channels Trivago contributed 31% of overall revenue with TripAdvisor at 17%.
The path ahead is clear, in 2017 you should increase your focus on metasearch and make sure you distribute your budget in a way that’s going to generate you the highest possible return on investment. Based on the results above, you may find it in your best interest to allocate more of your budget to Google HPA than to TripAdvisor, which isn’t driving as much revenue right now.
Avvio has full connectivity to all metasearch channels meaning that hoteliers who partner with Avvio can feed their rates and availability directly to some of the world’s most influential travel shopper websites from their Avvio booking platform. Avvio experts work closely with each of our partners so they can help strategise about how to generate the highest return from each metasearch channels.
2. Drive direct and SEO with video
A recent survey by Hubspot has revealed that video is now the most popular form of content consumed online, with website visitors paying more attention to videos than they do text, images, podcasts or infographics. Hubspot has also found that video is projected to claim more than 80% of all web traffic by 2019 and embedding videos in landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%. Because videos are more widely shared across social networks and more willingly consumed online, they typically draw more people to your website and are likely to improve your search ranking.
As such, hotels increasingly feature videos on their site to draw in potential guests, improve SEO and showcase their range of rooms and services. The Castle Leslie Estate, an exquisite heritage hotel nestled in the Irish countryside, has a whole section of their website dedicated to video. Shoppers can browse these videos and get a stronger sense of the property’s personality and brand. Clips showcasing the Castle Leslie’s various services, suggested activities and of course, the stunning rooms, restaurants and grounds, helps potential guests to imagine themselves staying there.
Videos enable brands to communicate their personality and exceptional guest experience more effectively online. Shots of smiling hotel staff and guests receiving their meal at the hotel restaurant or enjoying a massage at the spa, showcase the guest experience far more effectively than a static image. Video brings website visitors from their homes into the hotel and invites them to tour the rooms while browsing the website. This gives a more rounded, complete view of your property and the experience they are likely to have there, which in turn, builds trust and evokes a more emotional response from the shopper, which incentivises them to book direct.
If you have beautiful grounds to show off, like the Castle Leslie Estate, consider shooting a video with aerial drones. This can do wonders for attracting guests who want a breath of fresh air or who enjoy outside activities. Alternatively, city hotels can take panoramic videos from the top floor of their property, looking out at the skyline. If your greatest appeal lies in your hotel’s interior, take your guests on a video tour of your various rooms, services and restaurant facilities. The Limerick Strand, whose restaurant has won several awards, hosts a video on their site to show their passion and pride for their organic, locally sourced food, which helps to attract not only potential hotel guests but also locals looking for a place to dine out.
Remember to keep your videos under a minute long. Visible Measures have revealed that 44% of viewers will stop watching a video after 1 minute, and 60% by 2 minutes, so make your videos short and sweet.
3. Make friends with mobile or lose friends with Google
In August 2016, Google announced that mobile devices accounted for more than 50% of all search terms, making mobile the most popular device to use when accessing the internet.
This means hoteliers cannot afford to focus solely on shoppers browsing from a desktop or laptop. Make sure your website is fully optimised for mobile bookers, or risk losing potential guests who will be frustrated at trying to navigate a site which looks confusing on a small screen.
Mobile optimised websites are not only likely to attract more bookings coming from multiple devices; but they will also rank higher on Google search results, thanks to the change of the search engine’s algorithm in 2015. This means that if you want your website to be found faster than your competitors you must develop your brand’s mobile presence, especially if you place high importance in organic search results. Smaller screens make pay per click ads much more effective, so it’s almost impossible to get organic search results above the fold on mobile. At Avvio, we’ve seen times when there were four ads before organic search was reached. You have no chance of showing above the fold if you’re not optimised for mobile.
Accommodation providers also need to make sure their website is fast to load. Mobile shoppers are typically strapped for time and are likely browsing on weaker internet connections. Anything slower than an instant loading time is likely to frustrate browsers and discourage them from booking direct. In fact, Akamai has revealed that 40% of website visitors will drop off a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load! For quick tips on how to maximise page speed, use Google page speed tools, to test how fast the pages on your website load and suggest ways to make them even faster.
All of Avvio-designed websites are fully responsive and optimised for all devices to deliver a smooth and seamless user experience for shoppers. We also ensure that all our websites have the highest possible pages peed, whilst being visually attractive and specifically designed to maximise direct bookings.
At Avvio we have recently been recognised as Google Premier Partners for our expertise in implementing the latest digital marketing strategies and best practices. Discover how the Temple Bar Hotel has used Avvio’s web design and digital services to attract their global audience, or to learn more about how we can help you with your digital marketing strategy, speak to our digital team at firstname.lastname@example.org.