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The Essential Guide to Hospitality Marketing

The Essential Guide to Hospitality Marketing

You're in the hospitality business, selling experiences, memories, and excellent service. Your marketing efforts need to capture that magic and entice potential guests.

Hospitality marketing revolves around promoting hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars, tourism companies, and other hospitality businesses/services. It showcases why people should choose your hotel over competitors, book a table at your restaurant, or go on one of your tours.

But it's about more than just advertising rooms or menus. Hospitality marketing amplifies your brand story, personality, and unique hospitality experience across multiple channels. Let's dive into the world of hospitality marketing!

Why Hospitality Marketing Matters

What Is Hospitality Marketing

Creating Invaluable Connections

At its core, hospitality is about human connections – those memorable interactions that make people feel welcome, relaxed and happy. Spot-on hospitality marketing reflects those connections in creative ways.

It allows you to emotionally connect with your target audience BEFORE they even set foot on your premises. With strategic, dynamic marketing, you're making those all-important human connections from the get-go.

Earning Trust and Loyalty

People book hospitality experiences based on trust. Your marketing materials often give potential guests the first impression of your business.

Exceptional hospitality marketing earns that trust and loyalty from the outset. It shows guests the quality, comfort and professionalism they can expect. When done right, marketing efforts reassure travellers that their money (and treasured vacation time!) is in good hands.

Combating Tough Competition

Hospitality is an intensely competitive arena thanks to online ratings/reviews and near-total market transparency. Eye-catching, persuasive marketing is one of your biggest weapons for outshining local competitors.

With a memorable marketing strategy, you stand out and give travellers a compelling reason to pick you over the dozens of other options.

Boosting Revenue Streams

As part of the experience economy, hospitality marketing promotes revenue-boosting opportunities beyond just rooms or tables. It allows you to merchandise things like:

  • Spa packages
  • Golf rounds
  • Equipment rentals
  • Excursions/tours
  • In-house restaurants
  • Venue hire
  • Reward programs
  • Gift cards

With creative hospitality marketing flair, you're maximising revenue potential from multiple lucrative streams.

Key Hospitality Marketing Strategies

Content Marketing Metrics

Here are some of the most valuable marketing techniques and channels for promoting hospitality businesses:

Content Marketing: The Cornerstone

Content marketing is one of the most powerful promotional strategies for the hospitality sector. Why? Because it allows you to inspire travel daydreams through compelling visual/written content!

You're showcasing your incredible hospitality experience through videos, photography, blog posts, social media posts and more. Appealing to their emotions and wanderlust gives people a taste of that vacation feeling.

The key is creating high-quality, attention-grabbing content that markets your offerings in an aspirational yet authentic way. User-generated content like guest reviews/photos also lends powerful social proof to these marketing efforts.

Social Media: The Modern “Word of Mouth”

Speaking of user-generated content and social proof…social media has become the modern version of “word-of-mouth” marketing for hospitality businesses. It's where the honest conversations happen between guests, influencers, locals and your brand.

From Facebook and Instagram to TikTok and Twitter, social media allows you to:

  • Share a “behind-the-scenes” peek into your hospitality experience
  • Engage in conversations and address guest queries/concerns
  • Leverage influencer marketing to boost brand awareness
  • Run targeted ads for special offers, packages, events, etc.
  • Monitor your online sentiment and reputation
  • Showcase your unique personality/brand voice

Hospitality is fundamentally about PEOPLE. Social media brings that people-first connection to your marketing in an authentic, relatable way.

Loyalty Programs: The Repeat Bookings

While content marketing and social media lure new guests through the door, loyalty programs encourage repeat business from your existing customers. This is crucial for maximising revenue in the hospitality arena.

Modern loyalty programs digitally track and reward frequent guests through mobile apps, keycards or account numbers. Points accumulate with bookings/spending and then can be redeemed for free nights, room upgrades, dining credits, and other benefits.

Well-designed loyalty programs foster brand affinity and deliver personalised perks in exchange for guest data and repeat bookings. It's an area where sophisticated hospitality CRM software can give you a substantial competitive edge.

Targeted Email Marketing

Despite being one of the oldest marketing channels, email is still a remarkably powerful hospitality marketing tool, especially for personalised, automated and behaviour-triggered email campaigns.

You can segment guest lists based on demographics and interests, and design email flows to send tailored offers and content. It could be promoting a last-minute spa package to local subscribers or upselling airport transfers to incoming international guests.

Well-timed and personalised email marketing automates sales while boosting occupancy rates and ancillary revenue streams.

Metasearch and OTAs

If guests can't FIND you online amid the endless listings and options, even the catchiest hospitality marketing won't matter! Metasearch engines like Kayak and TripAdvisor, alongside OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) like Expedia, provide visibility.

These platforms compile and compare rates/availability across thousands of properties globally. With strategic SEO and paid advertising through these channels, you maximise visibility and bookings despite the crowded marketplace.

Crucial Hospitality Marketing Components

Hospitality Marketing Strategies

Robust hospitality marketing plans merge multiple interrelated components in a unified, cohesive strategy across all marketing channels. Here are some key components to focus on:

Brand Identity and Voice

Your hospitality brand should have a distinct personality that shines through your visual branding, copywriting/messaging, customer service philosophy and overall guest experience. What vibe, style and tone do you want to convey?

From cool and contemporary to cosy and welcoming – define then consistently reinforce your unique brand identity across all consumer touchpoints. That's how you craft and market a signature, memorable hospitality experience.

Captivating Visuals

Compelling imagery and videos are becoming the universal language in an increasingly visual world driven by social media, especially in hospitality, where the “product” you're selling is an intangible EXPERIENCE.

Focus on professional, inspirational photography highlighting your facilities, amenities, surroundings and atmosphere. Creative videography further brings these elements to life, capturing ambient energy and emotion.

Immersive 360° photography/video tours are a growing trend, showing guests precisely what they book and building trust.

Stellar Website Design

Websites remain the foundation and conversion point for all digital hospitality marketing activities. Every online promotion – PPC ads, email newsletters or social media posts – funnels visitors to your website to book.

As such, you need a modern, responsive website with intuitive navigation and browsing experiences tailored to different booking journeys. Simple, uncluttered design, fast page load times, and seamless mobile UX are non-negotiable.

Your website should spotlight your unique hospitality experience with compelling visuals/copy while streamlining the booking process (research shows even a 1-second delay can impact conversions by 7%!).

Related:  The Application of Principles of Psychology in Design

Mobile-Optimised Presence

Speaking of mobile, consider how mobile-centric travel research and booking have become. 70% of all travel searches and ~30% of online bookings now happen via mobile. And this percentage keeps rising every year.

When marketing your hospitality business, mobile-friendly design is crucial across your website, email campaigns, social media presence, and digital ads. Ensuring everything is optimised for mobile browsing, with frictionless booking flows, provides an enormous advantage.

Localised and Personalised Messaging

Travellers researching and booking accommodation increasingly expect relevant, customised and localised experiences. 80% of consumers are likelier to buy when a brand delivers personalised messaging.

This could involve location/language-based website versions, localised social media campaigns, tailored email marketing flows based on audience segments or retargeted ads using data collected through hospitality CRM software.

The more personalised you can make the hospitality marketing experience, the better it will convert.

Data and Tech: The Game-Changers

While creative branding and emotional marketing have their place, modern hospitality marketing increasingly relies on cold, complex DATA combined with smart tech solutions to gain a razor-sharp competitive edge.

Big Data and AI Targeting

Data lakes about guest profiles, browsing behaviours, booking patterns and more feed into AI-powered targeting capabilities. This allows hospitality businesses to serve hyper-relevant content, ads, offers and product recommendations at just the right micro-moments.

Applying sophisticated, extensive data segmentation and predictive analytics surfaces opportunities to market the right offering to the right audience at precisely the right time based on their digital footprint.

Marketing Attribution and ROI

Gone are the days of throwing money at vague marketing activities and hoping they work! Digital marketing attribution models track EXACTLY which campaigns, channels, ads, and content drive qualified leads and revenue.

Hospitality CRMs integrate this granular attribution data so you know the precise ROI and conversion impact of any given marketing effort. This data-driven visibility optimises where to focus time, effort and budget for maximum effect.

Revenue Management Systems

Pricing is fundamental to hospitality marketing – getting it right directly impacts revenue. That's where intelligent revenue management systems provide a considerable advantage.

Leveraging AI and machine learning algorithms, these tools dynamically adjust room rates, package offers, upsells, and more in response to market conditions, demand forecasts, competitor pricing and dozens of other factors. It's a more automated, data-driven way to profit-optimise all marketing efforts.

Chatbots and Automation

As marketing outreach across dozens of digital touchpoints increases, automation handles much of the heavy lifting. We're talking chatbots for instantaneous guest communication, automated booking flows, self-service options, and intelligent email marketing workflows.

By automating many routine inquiries and workflows, your staff bandwidth is freed up to focus on more complicated queries, relationship building and personalised hospitality excellence where it matters most.

Stellar Hospitality Marketing Examples

Hospitality Marketing Example Virgin Hotels

Let's look at some inspirational examples of hospitality businesses nailing their marketing strategies, with key takeaways:

Virgin Hotels: Music-Inspired Cool-Factor

The Brand: Sir Richard Branson's ultra-hip Virgin Hotels collection is stylish, playful and dripping with a rebellious “rock star” attitude.

Key Marketing Concept: The marketing centres around a unified music/entertainment theme speaking directly to younger, creative travellers seeking an unconventional, energetic hotel experience.

Standout Examples: The entire brand embodies a music-inspired vibe from the architecture/design to social media persona to unique amenities like:

  • Rooms with turntables and neon guitar-shaped lighting
  • Vinyl record loan program
  • Live performance venues and Comedy Club
  • Creative cocktail menus nodding to rock star personas

Takeaways: Hospitality marketing succeeds by laser-targeting a niche guest demographic and authentic brand personality, then consistently delivering that unique promise across the entire guest journey.

Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa: Luxurious Tranquillity

The Brand: An ultra-exclusive, serene resort embracing the relaxed Caribbean lifestyle and French sophistication on the island of St. Barts.

Key Marketing Concept: Sophisticated social media/digital marketing that captures the resort's laid-back luxury, Zen-like tranquillity and jaw-dropping natural setting.

Standout Examples: Impeccable photography and videography seizes on design details, lush landscapes and intimate moments of bliss throughout the resort grounds. Their organic social content is genuinely an aspirational travel fantasy!

Takeaways: Effective visual hospitality marketing transcends features and amenities, speaking to the FEELINGS an experience will evoke through powerful imagery and vibrant storytelling.

Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group: Quirky Brand Voice

The Brand: Boutique hotels/restaurants known for an irreverent spirit, locally-inspired design flourishes and heartfelt hospitality.

Key Marketing Concept: A personality-driven brand voice oozing with quirky humour and localised authenticity for each property. Speaks directly to creative, in-the-know urbanites.

Standout Examples: Kimpton's OG blog “Life is Suite”, and zany social media posts showcase tons of localised wit/wordplay inspired by each hotel's surroundings. Copywriting exudes abundant personality plus on-brand quirkiness.

Takeaways: Developing and consistently reinforcing a fun, relatable brand persona is vital for resonating with audiences and building affinity – transcending “corporate speak.” Lean into what makes your hospitality story unique.

Virgin Voyages: Revolutionising Cruise Marketing

The Brand: A new-age, adults-only cruise line built around a “Rebellious Luxe” design philosophy mixing premium amenities with rock n' roll swagger.

Key Marketing Concept: “Revving up” the typically sleepy (and family-oriented) cruise marketing category through immersive VR, edgy humour and a “Rebellious Luxe” aesthetic for younger, more adventurous cruisers.

Standout Example: Teaser marketing included an outrageous video of a plushy Virgin mascot partying aboard Virgin Voyages and “defecating” out a cruise ship design rendering. It's a real shocker for a typically stodgy industry!

Takeaway: Taking risks with bold, disruptive campaigns can jolt an entire industry and demographic if executed authentically. Virgin Voyages leaned heavily into its unique brand positioning to drive differentiation.

In Closing…

We've covered so much ground! But there's no single pathway to crafting successful hospitality marketing campaigns. What works will ultimately depend on your brand positioning, target audience and unique goals.

Remember that you're selling far more than just a product or service in the hospitality world. You're selling unbeatable service, awe-inspiring settings, relaxing retreats, memorable moments, and seamless guest experiences that delight.

Fuse market research, data, tech innovations and infinite creativity to devise marketing strategies that emphasise the human side of hospitality. That emotional spark is what truly resonates and brings people through the doors again and again.

Hospitality Marketing FAQs:

What's the biggest hospitality marketing challenge?

Standing out in an immensely crowded, increasingly commoditised sector. You need breakthrough creative concepts and meticulous audience targeting to win over travellers bombarded by endless options.

How has the pandemic affected hospitality marketing?

The pandemic disrupted traditional strategies focused on print, outdoor ads and in-person events. It accelerated digital transformation around mobile, contactless technologies, automation and more personalised digital marketing means.

What role does influencer marketing play?

Social proof and recommendations remain hugely influential in hospitality, making influencer marketing a powerful vehicle. Just be sure to identify relatable influencers with genuine resonance with your target guests.

Why is cohesive omnichannel marketing crucial?

The average traveller now consults over 15 digital touchpoints when researching hospitality options. Cohesive omnichannel presence and messaging are essential for maximising channel visibility and conversions.

How do you measure hospitality marketing ROI?

The latest attribution models and hospitality CRM/analytics platforms allow tracking every step of the guest journey from awareness to booking/repeat stays, detailing the precise revenue impact of each marketing component.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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