Digital Hotel Marketing Trends for 2023
The world of digital marketing is constantly evolving. New social platforms arrive on the scene, artificial intelligence is getting smarter and smarter, while user habits and concerns have a big influence as well. How to cope with all of this? We'll help you make sense of it all by cherry-picking interesting developments you can use to your advantage for your hotel marketing strategy.
Looking back on 2022
Before we look at future trends, let’s have an oliebol (yes, Google that, non-Dutchies) and reminisce about what has changed in the past year. Here’s an overview of important digital marketing developments that you may or may not have heard about in 2022.
They all want to be like TikTok
Instagram and Facebook were and are both experimenting with new algorithms that will show more content in your feed from accounts you don’t follow. This content is based on your behavior in the app, just like TikTok. Although there are options to only see the accounts you are following or the accounts you have marked as favorites, the default feed will show a mix of content from known and suggested creators.
Fun fact: TikTok has generated as many users in two years as Instagram has in eight years time. In reaction to that, Meta started focusing on short-form videos – reels – on its platforms. Later it added overlay ads for users to be able to monetize their content.
User Generated Content
Who can sell your hotel room better than you? Your guests! That is why User Generated Content (UGC) has taken a flight this year. Your audience (especially Gen-Z) will get convinced to stay with you more easily when seeing a praise from someone like them (a hotel guest or an influencer) – next to the ads of the brand itself. UGC could for example be an image, video or review (re-)posted on social media or another channel. Positive UGC from your employees about working at your hotel could have the same effect for your employer branding, as it is more authentic.
Liking stories & audience interaction
Instagram added another way to react to a story, by simply tapping a heart icon. This makes it easier for users to react (without having to pick an emoji or send a message) and for creators to measure how successful the story was. Furthermore, it became possible to have more audience interaction in stories through polls and question stickers.
Google Performance Max is here
Instead of having separate campaigns, Google now allows you to advertise on Google Maps, Gmail, Google Display, YouTube, and Google Search within one campaign called Performance Max (or PMax). Although this makes it easier to create multi-channel campaigns, the option to only advertise on Google Maps disappeared.
Bye bye Google Analytics 3
As Google is calling it a day for old Analytics 3 (a.k.a. Universal Analytics), we really needed to get used to its successor: Google Analytics 4. Although GA3 is still working, the setup of GA4 was necessary to be able to compare year-to-year data in 2023. So if you haven’t made that change yet, please do so a.s.a.p.!
Looking ahead to 2023
Predicting the future isn’t easy and there’s lots to talk about. To keep it simple and not overload you with information we have decided to narrow it down to 2 important subjects for hoteliers: Google search updates and why you should double down on (social media) video content.
Google Search updates
As you might have noticed over the years, Google search has come a long way since just showing 10 blue links. There are now ways to search by humming into your phone to find a song or using a screenshot to find a product. Still, old-fashioned text searches will stay popular. These are the updates that will roll out soon.
- Pre-populated results and refined queries
Google already gives you suggestions when typing in your search query. On mobile, in the app, it will make this even more visual by showing refined queries or special Google results (such as a location page) that are easy to tap.
This means that users will probably choose more specific search queries suggested by Google. Instead of using more general, short keyword combinations that do not give us a lot of context, they might tap on suggested longer keyword combinations. For marketers, this could mean that we have more insight into what a user’s actual intent is. Longer keyword combinations could get more search volume, making it easier for hoteliers to reach the right audience.
OHM’s advice: Focus your SEA and SEO efforts on specific, niche keyword combinations, that really fit your hotel. Chances are higher that you will reach a user that is interested in staying with you. Furthermore, make sure that your other Google profiles are up to date (such as your Google Business Profile), as Google might suggest it as a pre-populated result of an unfinished query.
- Local restaurant searches
In the coming time, Google will focus on improving local searches for restaurants. After optimizing search results for on-the-go ‘restaurant near me’ types of queries during the past years, Google wants to take it a step further. Namely, helping you to find where to eat a certain dish you are craving. Moreover, it will become easier to find out a restaurant’s specialty.
As an example of the updated local search results, Google shows us where to find soup dumplings near Kirkland. Want to get more specific? Add a filter like ‘vegan’ or ‘spicy’. To make it easier to quickly find out what a restaurant is known for, Google will add photos with ‘People say’ quotes to a search result. These are based on the Google reviews your restaurant guests write and probably the pictures they post with them.
OHM’s advice: Make sure your menu always is up to date on your website, but most certainly also on your Google Business Profile. It will be helpful if your dishes have names that are relatable for Google to include them in the search results. Because it is not totally clear if the ‘People Say’-quotes will feature photos by guests or your own, we would highly recommend investing in good food photography. You want to have a mouth-watering picture of each of your dishes. Lastly, encourage your guests to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile, so that there is enough content for Google to work with.
- SEO & link building
Search Engine Optimisation is the constant act of making your website understandable for search engines (mainly Google). Link building is the act of creating incoming links to your website. Formerly, the latter was super important, as the number of quality links basically decided your ranking. As Google’s intelligence grew over the years, more and more website factors became crucial for a high spot on the search result page.
OHM’s advice: Focus on writing quality content that really adds new information for the benefit of the user. Don’t just rewrite the content you’ve found on the web, but put your own spin on it. As an added bonus, if the content is valuable and original, backlinks will follow almost automatically.
A trend that has been developing for some time now, is that video is getting more popular than text or image as a preferred way of consuming content. Have a look at the growing numbers of users that rely on TikTok and YouTube for their daily dose of entertainment, inspiration, and information, and you’ll know what we mean.
- Video creation
There’s no better way to show off your property than through a professionally made video. When published in the right way, it could be visible on computers and connected TVs worldwide. Thanks to unlimited data plans and advanced big screen mobile phones we can watch endlessly, even on the go. Taking into account that the human brain processes moving images much faster than text makes the decision to focus on video marketing easy.
OHM’s advice: Gather a team of in-house video talent or invest in a good videographer. Don’t forget to create content for different formats: landscape (e.g. YouTube), vertical (mobile), and square (social media feeds). By creating different versions of the same video, you can test which structure and length work best.
- Short-form video
Whether it’s a reel on social media, a YouTube Short, or a short video somewhere else – this type of content is here to stay and will only gain popularity in 2023. Instagram tried to make reels their main form of content, while Google said it would experiment with including short-form video (less than 5 minutes, filmed in portrait mode) more often in search results. Do you need any more convincing?
OHM’s advice: Reels in general are less polished than other types of videos. If it fits your brand, don’t be afraid of creating your own content with a smartphone or a good camera. Give your (potential) guests an unfiltered behind-the-scenes look or use it as a tool to attract new talent as part of your recruitment marketing. Using trending sounds or trending songs (that fit your brand) helps users find your content much faster. All videos that use the same sound are collected on the same page and will also be picked up much faster by the algorithm. These trends can become very popular in a short time and reach a lot of users. By using the right hashtags, location-tag and (trending) sound, an account that has 500 followers can reach up to 50.000 views on a single Reels. That’s a hundred times the range of your followers. Lack of resources or time for a reel production? Team up with an influencer – with the right audience – that can create UGC for you to use.
To make reels more visible, it will soon be possible to cross-post an Instagram Reel to Facebook. You can already manually re-post reels on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. This again shows the popularity of this form of content.
OHM’s advice: To save on time and costs, create a reel on one of the platforms (Instagram or TikTok) and save it after posting. You can then upload it on another channel. In the case of TikTok, the logo will be visible on the reel after saving. When posting that reel on Instagram, your audience will see that you are on TikTok as well, which could result in more followers. Re-posting on YouTube? Add #Short at the end of your video’s title to be featured in YouTube Shorts.
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