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Top 9 digital marketing channels for hoteliers to boost online booking rates

Today’s travelers are using all types of devices and online channels to fulfill their travel planning needs. This is why hoteliers need to build and execute a comprehensive online marketing strategy to cover the most ground and always be where their customers are looking. By leveraging a wide variety of online marketing initiatives and unique channels, hotel marketers can increase online visibility and ultimately, the number of online hotel bookings.

But with a nearly endless list of potential marketing channels and marketing types, it can be difficult to know where to start or how to expand. Not anymore.

We’ve compiled a list of the 9 most valuable marketing channels for hotel advertisers, which all fall under four key online marketing strategies. If you’re short on time and looking for something in particular, simply click on the link to the section of interest:

By leveraging the following marketing initiatives and channels, you’ll be well on your way to maximizing your number of online bookings.

Getting started with Facebook Dynamic ads for Travel? This guide has everything you need to get your ads off the ground.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

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1. Google Hotel Ads

Google Hotel Ads online hotel bookings

TypeSEM
PlacementGoogle Search, Maps, Assistant
Pricing modelCost-per-click (CPC)
Ad set upFeed-based

Accounting for over 3.5 billion searches per day, it’s no question that Google is the king of all search engines. In order for hoteliers to get their share of visibility on the site, Google introduced Hotel Ads.

How it works: When a user searches for a hotel on Google, whether it be a generic or specific search, Google surfaces the most relevant hotel information, maximizing the chances of a booking. In order for Google to recognize which hotel is most relevant upon a given search, it requires advertisers to submit detailed hotel and price feeds.

By leveraging Hotel Ads, internationally recognized hotel chain, Hilton Worldwide, has seen a 45% increase in conversion and a 12% boost in ROI.

2. Bing Hotel Ads

bing_ads_online_hotel_bookings

TypeSEM
PlacementBing search results, Bing Maps
Pricing modelCost-per-click (CPC) or Cost-per-acquisition (CPA)
Ad set upFeed-based

Following Google’s lead, Bing is currently allowing select travel advertisers to test their new ad format, Bing Hotel Ads. With a near identical functionality to that of Google Hotel Ads, the format allows you to showcase real-time room rates, images, reviews, and key amenities to users on Bing search results pages and Bing Maps.

How it works: Once a user searches for a hotel on Bing, the channel will surface the most relevant hotel ads. By providing Bing with a high-quality, complete product data feed, it is able to easily recognize your hotel as being relevant upon a given search.

The format can help hotel chains boost direct online bookings, build brand awareness, and complement the existing text and dynamic search campaigns. To get started, you’ll need to request further information from your Bing account manager directly.

Social Media Marketing

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3. Facebook Dynamic Ads for Travel (DAT)

TypeRetargeting & Prospecting
PlacementFacebook, Instagram, Audience Network
Pricing modelPay-per-click (PPC)
Ad set upFeed-based

With around 2 billion monthly active users, Facebook has become a mecca for advertisers to engage a diverse audience. For prospecting, Facebook created Lookalike audiences to help advertisers find users similar to those who previously interacted or booked with their brand. Facebook Dynamic Ads for Travel enable hoteliers to go one step further and showcase highly-personalized hotel ads to users who’ve previously engaged with their brand themselves and are, therefore, most likely to book.

These ads can also appear on Instagram, another social media behemoth now with 1 billion monthly active users. The photo-sharing network is perfect for hotel marketers to showcase beautiful imagery of their hotel’s finest features. For example, if your hotel is equipped with an excellent chef, you could share an image of your hotel’s most beautiful dish to get more people, even locals, into your restaurant and hotel.

How it works: Facebook Dynamic Ads for Travel are fuelled by the information you provide in your travel catalog. This means you only need to create a single ad template in order to dynamically promote all of your hotels to a defined target audience. By installing the Facebook Pixel onto your website, Facebook is able to track user behavior, identify who is most likely to buy, and present them with highly-relevant ads.

Since using Facebook Dynamic Ads for Travel, Melia Hotels International has seen a 670% boost in ROAS.

Interested in getting started? Learn everything you need to know in our ebook: Your Complete Guide to Facebook Dynamic Ads for Travel. Download your copy here.

4. Pinterest

Pinterest_online_hotel_bookings

TypeOrganic and paid advertising
PlacementPinterest Boards, search results
Pricing modelCost-per-click (CPC) bidding

Pinterest’s 200 million monthly active users are highly-engaged and constantly looking for new ideas and inspiration. With a focus on beautiful imagery, it’s become a perfect platform for hoteliers to advertise beautiful accommodations. In fact, 68% of Pinterest users create Boards for places they want to visit and 46% look for hotels for upcoming vacations.

How it works: Once you create a Pinterest page for your business, you can create a variety of posts (pins), that showcase the beauty and uniqueness of your hotel. Once a user sees this, either through browsing different Boards (groupings of similar listings), they can save the pin to their own board (Save Buttons) or visit your website directly.

In order to boost the visibility of your pins, you can also leverage Promoted Pins. The luxury hotel chain, Four Season Hotels and Resorts saw a 1700% increase in daily average clicks to their website with Pinterest’s Save Buttons.

Metasearch Engine Marketing

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5. TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor_logo_online_hotel_bookings

TypeOrganic and paid advertising
PlacementTripAdvisor
Pricing modelCost-per-click (CPC) or Commission-based
Ad set upSponsored listing

Popular travel website, TripAdvisor, boasts 490 million average monthly unique visitors and over 700 million user-generated travel reviews. With an easy-to-use hotel search engine and an unbeatable positive reputation, the channel is a perfect opportunity to both list and advertise your hotels to an active audience.

Hotels can both list and advertise on TripAdvisor. If you choose to create organic search listings, your hotel will appear in the results when a user makes a relevant search. With TripAdvisor Sponsored Placements you’re able to boost your listing to drive high-quality traffic and heighten visibility.

How Sponsored Placements work: Since these ads are not feed-based, you’ll need to leverage some of your already listed hotels. Once you’ve identified which properties to promote, you’ll define a maximum daily budget that you’re willing to pay for clicks. Then, once a traveler searches for a hotel in the area where yours is based, your listing will appear at the top of the results page.

One of the largest hotels in Sorrento, Italy, Grand Hotel Aminta, saw a 20% increase in direct bookings in the span of 40 days by using Sponsored Placements.

6. trivago

Trivago_online_hotel_bookings

TypeOrganic and paid advertising
Placementtrivago
Pricing modelCost-per-click (CPC)
Ad set upSponsored listing

Trivago is a global hotel metasearch engine where its users can browse and compare hotel prices. Trivago is not involved in direct bookings, but rather facilitates matching holiday-makers with relevant hotel chains.

How it works: You or one of your booking system partners (OTAs) will provide hotel and price information to trivago in order to create the listing. Once a user clicks on your listing, they’ll be redirected to your website where they can book directly. The more you bid, the higher your hotel will rank and, therefore, the more clicks it will get. However, this can result in a higher CPC as well. Independent hoteliers use trivago’s Rate Connect tool to advertise their website rates on the channel.

Since using trivago’s Rate Connect solution, independent hotel, The Wellness Center Casanova, has seen a 47% increase in direct bookings.

7. KAYAK

kayak_online_hotel_bookings

PlacementKAYAK.com
Pricing modelFree
Ad set upSponsored listing

KAYAK was once known primarily as a flight meta-search engine. Now, however, it’s also heavily focused on hotels. As an aggregator, KAYAK takes information directly from websites of hotels and promotes them upon relevant searches in their platform.

How it works: There are two approaches you can take to using KAYAK as an advertising channel. The first is simply to manually connect your website and allow KAYAK to list your hotel upon a relevant search. In this case, a user who clicks on any of your listings will simply be redirected to your hotel website. The second approach is to list through your booking engine (i.e. DerbySoft). This is more scalable, as it allows you to include real-time rates and availability in your KAYAK listing.

Display and Affiliate Marketing

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8. Criteo Display Ads

criteo_online_hotel_bookings

TypeDynamic display advertising & retargeting
PlacementWebsites of third-party publishers
Pricing modelCost-per-click (CPC)
Ad set upFeed-based

Criteo is known for its powerful display advertising & retargeting capabilities. According to the channel, 98% of shoppers abandon carts and leave websites without completing a purchase or booking. This stat alone shows the importance of retargeting almost-buyers. With Criteo Display Ads, you’re able to re-engage shoppers who have previously interacted with your website, the ones who are most likely to convert.

Here, it’s important to maintain control of which of your offers are displayed to which users. This way, you’ll increase the quality of clicks, reduce bounce rates, and make the most of your ad spend. To do this, you’ll need to create highly-tailored hotel catalogs using capable feed management software, like Productsup, for example.

How it works: Criteo has a massive portfolio of publishers, all of whom they pay for advertising space. By Providing Criteo a product feed and pixel-access to your website, they’re able to display highly-tailored ads to the most relevant users, across thousands of website.

Travel advertisers leveraging Criteo display ads have seen a 244% increase in conversion rates on products that were previously abandoned in carts. Moreover, clicks from Display Ads have proven to keep shoppers on websites longer by up to five minutes, making it an average uplift of 241%.

9. AWIN

Awin logo

TypeAffiliate marketing
PlacementWebsites of third-party publishers (100,000+)
Pricing modelContract-based
Ad set upFeed-based

Affiliate marketing has been a long-standing strategy within the hotel advertising industry. AWIN, an affiliate network that delivered a total booking value of 656 million GDP in 2017, is one of the best ways to pursue these revenue-boosting marketing strategies.

How it works: Advertisers upload their travel catalog to the network, along with a commission offer. Essentially, this defines how much you’ll pay when an affiliate promotes your hotel to their audience. In the end, your hotel could appear on blogs, websites, mobile apps, or even in newsletters.

Keep in mind that, with affiliate marketing, better travel catalog quality will lead to better results. This is because it gives publishers more flexibility and creative freedom in promoting your hotel to their audience.

Whether it’s listing or advertising, success on these channels is directly correlated to the quality of information you provide. If your hotel catalog contains poor-quality travel images or incomplete descriptions, you’re going to miss out on clicks and potential bookings.

Moreover, getting granular with your campaign structure is not enough. In order to present the right ads to the users most likely to buy, you need to prepare a variety of high-tailored, localized hotel feeds. While you may not think this is possible with your current approach to feed management, it’s actually easy with the right solution.

With the right feed management software, executing a highly-personalized marketing strategy for your hotels is possible, and can even be easy. By leveraging these channels, you’re well on your way to “no vacancy” year round.

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