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The Most Important Idea in Hotel Digital Marketing

  • November 26, 2020
    Digital Marketing

As business owners, we often see marketing in terms of facts and figures. How many people can I get to my website? How far can I move up the Google rankings? How much revenue can I generate?


At its core, however, effective marketing is about something much more primitive. 


We humans are wired to understand the world through stories. Before we had iPhones or TV or newspapers—heck, even before we had written language itself—we made sense of our surroundings and our purpose in the world by sharing stories with each other. 


The most successful marketing is not that which simply offers a compelling value proposition, but that which tells a compelling story—a story in which the customer is the protagonist.


This is especially true in travel marketing. When someone stays at your hotel, they’re paying you for an experience, not a physical product. As they navigate their path to purchase they will be spinning a story in their head of what their potential experience will look like: the fun things they’ll do, the places they can relax, the ways that your hotel reflects their lifestyle, and so on. 


What Does ‘Digital Storytelling’ Mean?


As hotel digital marketers, we often say that our job is to “tell the story” of your hotel. Some people take this to mean that we want to recount the origins of your hotel and all the things that have happened there over the years. That’s not correct. When we use the word “story” here, we’re not talking about episodes from the past, but about your hotel’s unique identity and personality in the present. The important “story” here is the one that is unfolding in the mind of a potential guest as they shop for accommodations.   


What Does Digital Storytelling Look Like?


If your guest’s experience is a novel, your hotel website is chapter 1. It’s where the story begins. Think of OTAs, ads, search engines and review platforms as prologues and footnotes—they either bring people into, or temporarily divert them, from the core of the story, which begins in earnest on your hotel website.


Your website is also a very powerful vehicle for crafting a marketing story. You have text, images, video, design, eCommerce—plus it’s interactive.  


The goal with storytelling on your hotel website is to invite guests to see themselves as part of your story and to allow guests to see your hotel as part of theirs. 


Images and video should be focused on capturing the experience of what it’s like to stay at your property and experience the surrounding area. Text should focus not on the features and benefits of the property, but on what it’s like to experience them. And the navigation and structure of your website should allow guests to easily plan and envision their trip with you. 


Find the Right Audience


Some stories are universal. Others appeal to a specific type of person.


When thinking about the types of travelers most likely to see your type of hotel as a valuable part of their travel story, technology gives us some powerful tools to make this link.  


Digital advertising on platforms like Google and Facebook allows hotels to target people based on age, location, gender, even income level. Most interestingly, these platforms can also allow us to target ads to people based on their hobbies, interests and past browsing behavior. 


All this means that you can craft a story that appeals to your specific target audience, and even use advertising to craft micro-narratives that appeal to different segments of your target audience. 


Take Action to Tell Your Story


Great novels don’t write themselves. And neither will your hotel’s story naturally emerge from half-hearted marketing efforts. It takes serious commitment, research and ongoing work to successfully market your hotel online using digital storytelling. 


This time is indeed a wise investment, since data demonstrates that those businesses that make these efforts are rewarded with a larger audience and many advantages over their competitors. 


To learn more about how to effectively tell your hotel’s story online, give us a call here at Digital Hospitality. We’re happy to help in any way we can.


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