School’s out, leisure travel’s up. If you work in the hospitality industry, summer is probably your busiest season. But are you getting as many visitors as you could from your online marketing efforts? If your online marketing went into hibernation this winter and failed to get a fresh start this spring, it’s especially important to make some changes now.
Here are 7 actionable tips to help travelers find your site when they’re booking their summer trip.
Update your website content to reflect the season.
As a hospitality business, failing to keep your website updated is kind of like leaving your Christmas lights up year round… only worse. Not only does an infrequently updated website look bad, it’s also likely to rank lower in the search engine results pages (SERPs) than sites that regularly add new, original content—and that means visitors are less likely to discover you organically.
Of course, SEO value isn’t the only good reason to add fresh summer content to your site. Chances are, visitors who land on your site are already contemplating a summer getaway, and having visual and written content that aligns with their wants will help convince them to book. Try adding bright outdoor photos taken on or around your property, and consider writing summer guides letting visitors know what there is to do in your area this time of year.
Make sure your site is optimized for mobile.
According to a recent update from Google, mobile searches have outpaced desktop searches in the US and 9 other countries. On top of that, sites that are mobile-friendly (i.e. are easy to read and navigate no matter what size screen they’re on) rank higher in the SERPs than those that are not optimized for mobile.
Even if they convert on a desktop computer, many of your prospective guests will begin their summer travel research on a phone or tablet, so you need to make sure your site utilizes responsive design and looks good on all screen sizes.
Pay attention to the window between booking and traveling.
Many hotels and vacation rental companies are discovering that the window between when a guest books a room and when they arrive has narrowed considerably in the last several years. To figure out when your PPC ads for summer travel will be most effective, you need to figure out the average window for your business. For example, if the 4th of July week is typically your busiest time of year, and you determine that your guests book 30 days out on average, you should start running PPC ads for this holiday weekend in early June.
So how do you find your business’s booking window? Look at historical data from recent summers, as well as emerging trends in your booking system. You should also pay attention to when competitors are increasing their PPC spend.
Spruce up your local SEO.
Location matters, online and off. When most vacation-goers start planning a trip, they search for some combination of a place name and a venue, such as “Las Vegas hotels” or “best restaurants Atlanta”, so you need to make sure your business is ranking for relevant local searches. Here are a few things you should be doing for local SEO to increase the return on your summer hospitality marketing campaigns:
- Claim your business listing on as many relevant places as you can, including Google, Bing, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and UrbanSpoon (for restaurants)
- Make sure your Google+ business page is completely filled in
- Make sure your name, address, and phone number are structured as data on your site so that search engines can easily categorize them
- Research keywords that have a relatively high volume of traffic but low competition from other area businesses (e.g. “Austin hotels” is a very broad search, while “Austin hotels near South Congress” is a more specific search that will likely have less competition)
- Try to get your business listed in well-ranked niche and local directories
Don’t forget about local web users who aren’t traveling far but still want to take a mini-vacation. According to a 2015 Skift survey, 62% of Americans don’t plan to take a big summer vacation this year because they are too busy or can’t afford it, but 33% of Americans say they will still take short trips on the weekend.
Consider crafting PPC ads that are specifically targeted to people within your city or state. Use your site and social media to promote a special discount rate or package deal for locals. Add content to your blog that gives readers tips on how to be a tourist in their own city. There are great hospitality marketing opportunities for businesses even when travelers are sticking closer to home.
Use retargeting ads with compelling incentives.
Taking a summer vacation is a big decision, and most people don’t commit after just one short perusal of a hotel or vacation rental company’s website. Keep in mind that people who visit your site are likely in the research phase, and be ready to remind them about your accommodations as they move closer to the decision-making phase.
You can stay top of mind by retargeting ads to people who have visited your site without converting—just make sure the ads give them a good reason to choose you. For example, for people who looked at your ‘Rooms’ page, you might create an ad offering a one-week only discount on a standard room.
Invite summer visitors back again.
The end of this vacation season doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship with your summer guests. Encourage guests to follow you on social media or subscribe to your email newsletter (try offering an incentive, like a special discount for subscribers), and keep sharing engaging content about your facilities and region that will make them want to come back again next year.
It’s impossible to fit a complete guide to online seasonal hospitality marketing into one blog post. Want to learn more? Share your question or comment below, or contact us to start a conversation.