Travel to far-flung exotic destinations is considered special by most people. Who can resist the pull of a billboard with a tropical beach destination on a gloomy winter day in Europe? Or being captivated by quaint European cities in the midst of a hot summer in Asia.
Whether that visual is a billboard, a TV advertisement or a magazine cover, travel has always had a strong presence in every type of media. Travel advertisements look to inspire and they do – particularly when it is all about exciting destinations.
Advertising and the hotel perspective
Looking at it from a hotel perspective though, is there a lot you can do with travel advertisements? Aren’t they just too expensive? And arguably, it is the destination that attracts travellers and not the hotels themselves. Unless of course, the hotels in question are “destination hotels” like the Venetian or Atlantis the Palm.
Can hotels compete with destinations when it comes to travel advertising? And should they? Visual media is all powerful and it is important for hotels to use the power of tantalising imagery to tell a story. If there is an opportunity to piggyback on the destination marketing efforts, it is vital for hotels to utilise it. And irrespective of whether you are a corporate hotel or a leisure hotel, it is important to be able to tell a story when it comes to advertising it.
The all-important questions remain as to what that looks like, who you target and which medium you use to reach that audience. Is it going to be a television, print media, billboards, the internet or anything else?And the last and most obvious challenge is to have the right amount of budgets to reach the audience that your hotel seeks.
Then there is the other side of these questions – how do you know if you are capturing those potential travellers looking longingly at that picture perfect advertisement? After all, you want them to book your hotel and that is why you have spent all that money and effort!
As with all marketing activities, this relies on the plans made to target the right audience at the right time at the right place. It is important for every hotel to consider the power of travel advertising and seek opportunities to maximize visibility. While doing so, however, it is also important that they are able to reach out to the right customer. And what is right for one hotel is not right for another.
Have there been many changes – if so what are they?
So what has changed in the world of travel advertising? Big picture changes involve a proliferation of Internet-based visual media advertising.
YouTube has made video easily available to the wider public and travel companies have been able to make use of it extensively in their travel promotion activities.
Challenges and opportunities
While travel advertising is a powerful medium to reach customers, it is not for everyone. How hotels use it to their benefit depends on a number of factors.
Destination: How the destination markets itself and whether the hotel can leverage the power of the destination to promote itself in different ways. A strong destination marketing campaign can be very helpful for hotels there. If there is little or no destination advertising it becomes very difficult for a hotel to do stand-alone travel advertising and have an impact.
Budgets: The amount of money that the hotel has promotions and how it is being used across multiple avenues is also a real consideration. Advertising is expensive and unless you have a substantial budget allocation, travel advertising may not deliver the benefits you’re looking out for.
Type of hotel: This is another consideration for how important travel advertising is and influences the channels of advertising, overall spend on advertising and the frequency.
Reaching the right customers: All marketing is about being where the customers are. Travel advertising is no different. While travel advertising is glamorous and appealing the prohibitive costs involved makes it extremely important to try and reach high-quality customers who can provide the right return on investment.
Conversion: While reaching the right customers is one part of the challenge the other part involves getting them to actually book. In today’s world where the target audience is overwhelmed with different types of messaging it has become increasingly challenging for hotel marketers to increasingly reach the right audience but also reach them at the right time and finally getting them to take the step to book.
Social media: The role of social media has evolved and it offers probably the greatest of opportunities for hotels to reach a wider audience through travel advertising on a lower budget.
What is your hotel doing about travel advertising and should you be doing anything different?
Are you wondering about travel adverts and their impact?
Why not start by measuring the efforts so far and the impact it has made in shifting important business performance metrics? These could include areas such as Gross Room Revenue and Occupancy is the simplest of metrics.
It would also help to look at the retention of customers who have come as a result of travel advertising. This would indicate whether you have generated loyal customers or are they one-off customers booking a one-off promotion and never been back again.
Before running an online advertising campaign try to complete an audit of where you are in terms of fans and followers on social media. Consider rankings and travel reviews scores as well as the ratio of both followers and bookers through various channels.
Clearly, the advantage of online media promotions and advertising is the ease of measurement unlike offline advertising in print media and television.
Also, compare the mix of effort and expense spent on channels that are harder to measure vs the ones that are very obvious and can provide you with instant analytics.
What actions should your hotel take?
Best ways of finding out whether you should be doing any kind of travel advertising is by looking at the channels of business. This allows you to find out how customers discover your hotel, what their preferred booking channels are and finally understanding whether media has had a significant impact on their buying decision.
Once you understand this, it will help formulate decisions and tie it back to your original marketing plan – and what type of advertising would be appropriate for your hotel to generate the right return on investment.
Have a look at this ad budget planner that can be helpful once you know where you are headed.