Hospitality is one of the most competitive industries in the global economy. There are more food, drink, and hotel options than ever, from glamorous hotels and five-star bars to Airbnbs and roadside shacks. As the hospitality industry changes to meet customer demand, so does hospitality marketing.
In the past few years, brands have adjusted how they market to customers to connect with them digitally and keep them coming back. Modern marketers use a combination of technical data and evocative emotions to lure in customers and capture their attention.
Check out these five trends in hospitality marketing and how they make businesses change how they promote their brands.
1. Experiential Marketing Is Becoming Synonymous with Hospitality Marketing
Experiential marketing is one of the hottest buzzwords in the hospitality and marketing industry. Interestingly enough, hospitality marketing is experiential marketing. From the second customers start to engage with your brand, customers want positive experiences. Hotels, bars, and restaurants are some of the most-reviewed businesses because customers expect positive experiences.
Modern hotels can tap into experiential marketing by focusing on the entire customer experience and tapping into the five senses.
Along with creating visually stunning food and drinks, hospitality brands can tap into the sounds and even scents of customers. For example, a Michelin star restaurant actually has guests listen to beach sounds on an iPod to connect their customers with their dishes. You don’t have to be that extreme, but simply creating a playlist with on-brand overhead music can go a long way.
Your customers want something to rave about. If you want to get noticed and rack up reviews for voice search results, you need to create something that makes customers remember your brand long after they leave.
2. Social Media Is the New Search Engine
No one denies the power of Google and Bing for hospitality research and recommendations, but there are other players driving customer behavior and turning prospective customers into buyers. Their names are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The power of social media and peer-to-peer marketing is not to be underestimated. Crewfire estimates that 82% of consumers actively seek out brand recommendations from friends before making a purchase.
Not only that, but the average small business gets 60% of its customers from referrals.
Strategic businesses grow their social followings and with engage with existing customers on social media and take steps to market to new ones. This might mean hosting an Instagram photo contest or asking customers to leave reviews. It also includes promoting social channels in the real world by highlighting social profiles in restaurants and businesses.
3. Customers Are More Comfortable Talking to Chatbots
Historically, chatbots have been clunky phone interfaces that frustrate and annoy your customers. Nothing ruins a vacation like screaming “Representative,” over the phone. However, modern chatbots are changing things up. They are more intuitive than voice records and give the impression that you’re talking to a real person.
Salesforce reports that 69% of customers prefer chatbots to answer quick questions, and 62% of customers use them for 24-hour customer service.
It’s easy to find examples of chatbots in the hospitality industry. Both Kayak and Expedia have bots on Facebook, and Expedia is also on Skype. Try starting a message with them to see what it’s like talking to their AI machine learning robots.
Then, set up a chatbot on for your website and bring one it into your in-store experience by setting up touchscreen monitors and other digital signage in your lobby that allows guests to get the answers they need.
4. Voice Search Is Growing Increasingly Popular
If your customers are more comfortable talking to chatbots on computers, they’re also more comfortable asking questions of their phones and making demands of digital assistants. Experts predict that more than 30% of all searches will be conducted without a screen by 2020 as more people invest in voice assistants.
In fact, only 13% of homes had smart speakers in 2017, but the number is expected to grow to 50% by 2022.
More people are turning to their voice assistants to ask questions and complete tasks. Even with screens, people use voice search. People increasingly start a task with a voice search instead of typing questions and then look at their screen for answers.
Voice search is already impacting the hospitality industry. For the past year now, Alexa has been able to book hotel rooms, make restaurant reservations, or help users find the best bars in the area.
To make reservations or contact a business, voice search often prompts users to call. Be sure that your business is set up to take in these calls in a professional and expedited way. Create an on-hold message strategy that answers customer frequently asked questions and quickly helps users get to the department they need.
5. Hotels Are Opting for Video and VR Content
People love video content. If a picture says a thousand words, then a video says millions of words within a few seconds. Videos of relatively inexpensive to create and can stay relevant for several months or years.
More than 80% of Internet users say they would rather watch a video than read information via text.
Whether you’re broadcasting an event live from your restaurant or creating a tour video of a wedding venue, custom videos can sell your customers on your hospitality brand and vision.
Video marketing has been popular for several years now, but more brands are taking these a step further with virtual reality. Customers can feel exactly what it’s like to walk around your resort or curl up on a bed overlooking the sea with your VR video content. VR takes experiential marketing a step further by starting the experience during the research process.
Video is a powerful tool for getting customers to visit your location. It’s also a great tool for engaging them once they arrive.
You can use large-scale video walls and interactive displays to share important and fun information with guests. These platforms allow you to relay useful details about your location and promote your other offerings all while providing an uplifted guest experience.
Keep Up With New Hospitality Marketing Trends
Customers continue to change how they choose hospitality brands and what makes them love certain businesses over others. To continue to cater to changing customer wants and needs, you need to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and changes in hospitality marketing.
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