Vacation rental sites, like Airbnb and VRBO, have taken off in popularity over the past few years. As a hotelier, finding viable solutions to combat this threat can be difficult. Thankfully, vacation rental entities only make up for 13% of the available lodging in the United States, with 87% of the travel and hospitality real estate belonging to hoteliers. Where these sites fall short is within their marketing strategy. They do not offer some of the key differentiators that have defined the travel and hospitality industry for decades. Leveraging these important factors to your hotel’s advantage can help raise awareness, reach, and profits in the long-run. Let’s see how online marketing can help you achieve those objectives.
Strengthen the Amenities & Services You Already Have
According to a report published by the San Francisco Business Times, Airbnb has seen exponential growth in expanding its properties, boasting an annual compound growth rate of 153%. While traditional hotels are not as quick to expand their number of rooms, focusing on improving and promoting the services and amenities that you already have, will ensure a satisfied guest and increase your brand’s visibility on the web. Online marketing tactics, such as social media and search engine optimization (SEO), are two effective strategies that will help showcase your hotel’s existing service and amenities, making them front and center to potential guests as they search for these things while booking. Here’s a look at some of the benefits digital marketing offers for hoteliers:
- SEO: If your hotel specializes in certain amenities and services, like weddings or skiing, it’s important that you properly search optimize the web pages making those offerings. Particularly, if your property is located in a popular geographical area known for its access to a ski resort or close proximity to an attraction, share that on your website by listing each service and amenity as its own landing page and optimizing your landing page’s content to reflect keywords and phrases surrounding that activity. Indexing a large number of pages helps your brand beat out vacation rental sites by ranking higher on the search engine results page, as well as using the content to move consumers through the buyer’s journey and eventually converting.
- Social Media: It’s no lie that the social media is one of the best avenues for hoteliers to reach the travel community. Two of the most effective platforms to establish a presence on are Pinterest and Instagram. Pinterest is a gateway for hoteliers to reach a key purchasing demographic; females. 92% of all consumer purchases when it relates to vacations are made by this cohort. Instagram taps into an expansive travel community that creates user-generated stories that build off of your brand’s narrative through the use of visuals and hashtags, like #wanderlust. Social media presents the opportunity for hotels to create a story around your geographical region, guest experience, services and amenities. In addition, social media offers benefits to hotels like increasing the number of distribution channels, strengthening search engine optimization, and presenting the opportunity to cross link and network with others in the industry, all helping to rise above vacation rental sites.
Build Creditability through Trusted Reviews
A major downfall of Airbnb is their lack of credible guest reviews. Airbnb uses a two-way rating process that eliminates the confidentiality of the guest, causing some reviews to be falsified or wrongly portrayed. As a hotelier, you are at a major advantage by having a number of credible review sites, like Trip Advisor, at your disposal. Leveraging positive reviews helps build credibility among potential guests looking to stay. With 76% of U.S. travelers relying on travel review websites and hotel review aggregators to help finalize their travel plans, it’s important that you make positive reviews visible on your website and social media channels. Encouraging your guests to review their experience with your property is crucial for building a positive brand image online, ultimately swaying a customer to book with your hotel versus a vacation rental site. Here are some tips for encouraging more guest reviews:
- Incentivize hotel guests to review their stay with you by offering a discount at your restaurant or a free drink at the bar
- Use email marketing to remind and ask guests for a review after their stay
- Take advantage of Trip Advisor’s Facebook app by adding it to your Page, encouraging your social media followers to share their experience and for potential guests to read what others thought
- Make guest review sites accessible on your website, creating an easy process for users
Create an Experience through Your Website
Another benefit that vacation rental sites do not offer to its guests are special partnerships with popular attractions in the region. These partnerships are extremely valuable as an hotelier trying to beat out vacation rentals. It’s important to be leveraging the benefit that guests can book activities directly through your hotel, most of the time at a discounted rate. You can use numerous online marketing tactics to increase the visibility of your hotel’s special offers and partnerships by:
- Cross-linking other websites that are giving your hotel the special offer or promotion
- Creating unique landing pages to help educate and convert guests to book with you
- Placing calls-to-action (CTAs) on your site to gain the attention of website users
- Using social media advertising and content marketing to promote special packages and partnerships
- Using tailored search engine optimization (SEO) efforts to reach niche markets by using specific keywords
- Focusing on conversion rate optimization (CRO)
Let E-Power Marketing Help You Rise Above Vacation Rental Sites!
Effective online marketing not only helps your hotel beat out vacation rental sites, it helps you rise above your other competition, like online travel agents (OTAs). E-Power Marketing has a team of experts that can help increase your brand’s bookings through a variety of tactics. Boost your profits, fill your beds, and increase your reach with us! Contact E-Power today for a free online marketing consultation.