How To Reach a New Target Audience With Your Hotel Website (Guest Post)
This is a guest post, written by Paula Carreirão of Asksuite.
Regardless of where in the world your hotel is, chances are, you’ve had to adapt your business to survive the pandemic crisis.
Though it might seem like a far-off future, the travel industry recovery is just around the corner. (OK, maybe two corners… but it will happen!)
In reality, when demand returns it will likely look quite different. The way you approach hotel marketing — and specifically, the content on your website — has to be different, too.
Your choices now will either speed up or slow down your business recovery.
Your website content can open doors to an entirely new target audience — or shut them out for good. So in this article, we’re going to talk about how to get clear on changes to your audience, how to figure out what they’re looking for, and how to speak directly to them on your hotel website.
Why your hotel website content probably needs an update
Most hoteliers know that marketing is a great acquisition channel. But what most don’t know is that marketing is more than communication: It’s about connection. This is why content plays a key role in your success.
We know that the pandemic has changed people’s behavior and businesses.
But if your destination’s borders are open, you might be seeing bookings coming in from different countries than the ones you were used to.
If your potential guests have changed, they might not want the same things as your old audience. Shouldn’t your offer be adjusted, then?
Let me give you an example:
Before the pandemic, maybe your event and function spaces were booked consistently. So of course, you would probably highlight this offering on your website as “the best place to meet people.”
Now, things have changed. So you take out some chairs, limit the capacity, and update your cleanliness policies. You may want to reposition this offering as a “spacious and safe place to work or meet remotely.”
The same place, with a different vibe — but now requiring a different message to a different target audience.
Ask yourself: Have you been focused only on pricing strategy or have you considered positioning? Have you stopped and analyzed your booking requests, even if there aren’t too many coming in?
Do you know what they’re looking for?
Now, converting direct bookings on your hotel website does depend on many factors. It’s not just content alone.
But I do believe that your website content can have a significant impact on your hotel revenue.
So here are three tips you can apply on your hotel website that will help you reposition for a new target audience.
How hotels can reach a new target audience with their content
Step One: get to Know your new target audience
Easier said than done, I know.
As I mentioned before, studies show that the travel landscape has changed, possibly for good, if not long-term. Now, many hotels are relying on locals to fill rooms — either local residents seeking a relaxing staycation or local executives looking to get some work done.
The basis of effective content marketing is knowing your audience, your potential guest.
That’s the only way to connect and say (or write) things that make sense to them. You should be “speaking their language” if you want to understand what they’re looking for, their interests, their needs and challenges.
In practice, a blog post about the best local live music venues might’ve been appealing to your audience once, but no longer resonates.
So my first tip is to learn as much about your new target audience as you can:
Analyze any data you have: Start with website traffic and booking enquiries
Check in with other local businesses: What trends are they seeing?
Follow your local visitors bureau to keep up with changes to travel restrictions
This might take time and it might seem tedious, but don’t skip this step. Understanding where the opportunity lies will help you build an effective hotel content strategy and convert potential bookings.
All of these sources can give you a better insight into how your audience is changing — and who you should target with your messaging.
Step Two: HIghlight the right things
If you’re like most hotels around the world, you’re probably getting booking requests from different people than you normally do. Does your website content highlight what’s important to them?
What interests one audience may not interest another...
For example, a local looking for a nearby hotel to enjoy a bit of a break from home will have different interests than an international guest looking for the “must-see” attractions in your destination.
Remember, you can’t be everything to everyone.
Consider the services and product you actually have to offer, but highlight the things your new audience wants to see.
Give these features and selling points prominent placement on your website, in your emails, and on social media.
This goes for things to do beyond your four walls, as well. Some local attractions and points of interest are no longer relevant or interesting to your new audience.
If you’re trying to reach locals who cannot travel outside your market — what do you think they need right now? What’s their unique problem or challenge? How can your hotel offer a solution?
Maybe this means creating a guide to lesser-known hiking trails or relaxing day spas nearby. Maybe you want to create a “remote work” package with a day use room rate, neck massage, and F&B credit.
Your findings in step one should help guide you.
Don’t forget that while reconsidering your written content, your photos and images matter, too. A picture is still worth a thousand words!
Step three: Don’t get lost in translation
We’ve talked about repositioning for a local audience, but what about international travelers?
When will international travel resume?
There’s no clear answer yet, unfortunately. The United States’ Dr. Anthony Fauci told the New York Times he expects travel restrictions may start easing up as more and more of the global population receives the vaccine.
But as he said, “It’s going to be gradual. There is no black and white, light switch on, light switch off.”
What we do know is this: Some countries are reopening borders, though requiring visitors show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test. Other countries are talking about creating “travel bubbles” with nearby nations.
International travel is coming back, in some shape or form, so don’t write it off yet from your marketing plans.
Attracting and converting international guests is much more than translating content into another language.
Marketing is about connection — and a great way to connect is to understand your audience’s culture. Simply translating the words doesn’t mean you’ve captured context.
As an international content marketer, it’s important to work with native speakers as much as possible to avoid any big misunderstandings. You can’t rely on technology (like Google Translate) to create content that reads in a natural way.
One common mistake is using localized expressions or sayings that simply don’t translate. Double check that your texts are more “neutral” in language.
Many languages have words with multiple meanings, or multiple translations based on different context. Working with a native speaker (or native marketer) can help you use the correct word for the correct context.
Part of creating a great hotel guest experience online means communicating carefully. If you’re aiming to attract an international audience, be mindful of the way you use translation to localize your content.
Travel demand is still picking up slowly for many hotels. But by making some small changes to your website content, hoteliers can reach a new target audience and appeal to them directly.
Here are three steps I recommend:
Evaluate if your target audience is still the same. If it has changed, adjust your marketing strategy as well.
Learn about your new target audience. Build content and offers that align with their interests, needs, and problems — be the solution they’re looking for.
Speak the traveler’s language. Localizing is part of aligning with their needs, especially if you’re in a position to attract a new international market. (And by “language,” I don’t just mean literally, but the context and meaning behind your words, too.)
Recovery is a long, perhaps slow process for many hotels — just take it one step a time.
Learning about how your audience has changed will only help you be more strategic (and effective!) with your content marketing in the long-term.