What Hoteliers Get Wrong With In-Context Ads
In our recent blog, Putting Contextual Advertising in Context for Hoteliers, we covered the many advantages that contextual advertising offers over more frequently used hotel advertising initiatives or strategies for driving direct bookings.
NB: This is an article from Sabre
So, what is holding hoteliers back from effectively implementing in-context ads? Here we take a look at how you can overcome the most common barriers that often stand in the way of many hoteliers today.
Sound Marketing Requires Sound Data
Like any business, a hotel’s success or failure is measured by profit and loss: the ability to maximize revenues while simultaneously containing costs. In order to achieve that balance, hotel owners, operators and asset managers need detailed, robust and actionable data that they can use to help guide and deliver measurable operational results.
With that said, having a lack of actionable data is a common challenge for many hotels. In the hospitality industry, data is your strongest currency. The more data you have, the better. But often there’s the inability to connect all that rich data across platforms. Data can exist in many different places, even outside your hotel, residing with various partners. For instance, first-party data, which captures discerning customer details like what they’re shopping for before they abandoned their cart, isn’t connected to third-party data that’s tied to advertising platforms targeting travel that deliver metrics on interest and intent. All of which makes the task of tying the data back to the customer at the individual level difficult and untimely.
Contextual advertising is behavioral and driven by customer data. It allows you to take your booking engine and CRS data and create highly relevant ads that are personalized to each unique guest based on their age/gender, social profiles, sites visited and booking channels, travel preferences and other valuable information gathered from past stays or travel searches.
Getting more granular, tapping into the right data can help hoteliers assess what their customers are looking for based on interests, demographics, possible budget range and desired vacation destinations, giving brands an opportunity to create a tailored offering to fit a user’s interests.
Data can also help hoteliers make informed, intelligent marketing decisions that will impact their bottom lines in a timely and meaningful way. Being able to measure your contextual advertising campaign’s overall performance (impressions, CTRs, CPC, return and conversion rates), social performance (posts, page views, engagement and reach), placement performance (clicks, impressions and bookings) are key for improving marketing as well as personalizing the guest experience that lead to more conversions.
Finally, two business maxims to always keep in mind: Data is only good if it is timely, and data only works if actioned. This is critical to boost direct bookings and increase room nights, ADR and overall hotel revenue.
Technology Often Creates Complexity
Technology that is not integrated together into one cohesive system can also play a limiting role in connecting different data sets. Siloed systems hold siloed data. But, the benefits of integration go beyond improved transfer of guest data. It enables hoteliers the ability to link information and automate interactions that foster ongoing personal communications with travelers searching for a place to stay.
For example, if a user was shopping for a particular room on Monday, but didn’t make an immediate purchase, hoteliers need to have technology in place that has the capability to track the user and intelligently market your hotel. This means, you can advertise the same room to the exact same person using display and social ads, but at a special rate for the next 30 days to try and recapture their interest to complete the booking. In other words, technology needs to both capture and smartly leverage data so it can be actioned in real-time to increase engagement.
In order to maximize the benefits of technology, all systems must work in conjunction with one another. A system’s integration adaptability is a deciding factor for operators when choosing a technology. Although a single provider for all systems is an ideal scenario, it is more common for properties to employ different hospitality software solutions by multiple vendors. If any one solution is not flexible enough to integrate with other systems, this fragmentation can lead to disjointed operations that hinder customer interactions and impact the guest experience.
Remember, your hotel guests desire brand experiences that are connected and contextually relevant at every point in their buying journeys. Your technology should work to bring it all efficiently and seamlessly together to ensure their first experience with your brand is a positive one.
In addition to these two factors, it is important to remember that advertising can be distracting. People today work and live across devices seamlessly throughout the day. When it comes to digital advertising timing is key. Reaching someone at the right moment usually means the difference between the message being received or ignored. Online ads can often annoy consumers if they disrupt or block desired content and will simply be overlooked. This is the last thing any hotelier wants.
Another challenge to think about, hotel marketing encompasses a huge array of topics, skills, and strategies that hoteliers like you need to be aware of — and also master. One hurdle to overcome is being able to quickly design and place your own ads. Having a contextual advertising solution that gives your hotel the ability to easily create their own ads without quite as much reliance on a graphic design team to layout a different size ad for every ad option provides a significant advantage. For hoteliers to succeed and attract as many travelers as possible, the ones that can quickly create and place relevant advertising built using dynamic content and personalized messaging are able to catch the attention of more guests — and win the booking war against other nearby rival hotels.
From checking friends’ Facebook posts while waiting to get your haircut to viewing posted photos on Instagram, social media plays a significant role in influencing our daily lives. With Facebook currently having 2.38 billion active monthly users and Instagram 1 billion, it should come as no surprise that social media increasingly plays a more essential role for travelers in their online purchase journey, spanning the inspiration, planning and booking stages. Just how much time are people spending visiting social media? According to GlobalWebIndex (GWI), online users spend on average 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social networking and messaging platforms.
On top of that, 50% of 18- and 19-year-olds and 42% of millennials (ages 20–36) think social media is the most relevant channel for ads based on Adobe’s State of Digital Advertising 2018 report. Nearly half of social media users (48%) have bought something after seeing an ad. This number increases to 53% and 56% for millennials and women, respectively. All of which makes it a marketing channel hotels must learn how to seamlessly integrate into their advertising efforts.
As guests begin planning their trips using a search engine, looking on social media for travel inspiration and seeing different travel banner ads, contextual marketing offers a broad-reaching platform for hoteliers to support the entire decision making and booking process. If you want to ensure your advertising isn’t overlooked or seen as a nuisance, you need to ensure your ads are relevant to the specific user or guest at the right place and time. Otherwise, what is the point of even advertising?
Making Every Ad Click Matter
Advertising your hotel online can become expensive, especially if your call to action is generic and not compelling or clearly defined. Connecting your hotel’s reservations platform with your marketing outlets allows you to directly connect travelers’ interests with sellable inventory. Visually showing a user their interest, while also offering a prospective guest both rate and availability information at the advertising level, has two major benefits that work to hoteliers’ advantage:
Reduction in click costs. First, qualifying users by price and availability, before spending marketing dollars on a click, provides a more focused approach. For example, if a user is not interested in the rate or availability shown and they don’t click on the ad, the hotelier doesn’t have to pay for a non-click. Click costs can range anywhere from $2 to $3 on retargeting tactics and as much as $5 to $10 on prospecting efforts. Including rate and availability information upfront, before a click is needed to fully engage with the ad, gives hoteliers a valuable cost-reduction contextual advertising strategy. Not only is your hotel positioned in front of the right people at the right moment, having contextually relevant information clearly visible right at the start confirms the users’ interest in the hotel is at the rate they wish to pay – leading to greater booking potential.
Higher click-through rates (CTRs). Second, dynamically displaying rates and qualifying travelers pre-click greatly influences the purchasing decision and drives more ad clicks. For instance, if the user is attracted by the rate/availability the ad presents, it will increase the CTR of qualified users because they see additional targeted information tied to their interest. In other words, the hotelier is placed directly in front of a potential guest, clearly communicating, “Here is what you would like, and here is the best rate at which you can book it now.” Compared to traditional marketing methods where price is unknown and often based upon perceived brand value, potential guests now have accurate depictions where they know exactly what is expected if they decide to click the ad. Implementing this strategy creates a less frustrating user experience and an easier path to conversion.
Across all industries, the average CTR for a search ad is 1.91%, and 0.35% for a display ad. – Hubspot
Connecting your hotel rooms, rates or promotions to qualified target audiences using in context dynamic advertising is an effective way to increase CTRs and bookings while lowering online ad costs.
Maximize Your Hotel’s Returns on Ad Spend
Capturing traveler’s attention online and engaging them to book your properties can be difficult. It’s easy for brands to blend in among the countless pop-up banners and endless promotional messages that shout for attention. That task becomes even harder when data becomes fragmented, technology systems are not linked and messaging becomes generic. That’s where finding the right technology can pay significant dividends for hoteliers.