If you’re anything like me, after a year (plus) of laying low and seeing barely more than the four walls of your apartment, you’re ready to get out. And with the vaccine roll-out increasing the chances for a “normal” summer, it’s finally time to plan a vacation!
Yes, this is great news for the travel business, particularly within the US. But international hospitality businesses: don’t give up hope. Americans used these past few months to renew their passports, or get their very first passport, and we’re raring to show them off at customs.
It’s been a while, and we know 2021 is a whole new world for hospitality marketing. Here are four major hospitality marketing trends with data-driven tips and ideas to respond so you can see success this year.
People are ready to travel again
First of all, searches for “travel to ____” have risen over 100% YOY globally, according to Google. So not only are we getting antsy, but we’re also doing our research. Intent is high and you should make sure that your local SEO is putting in the work for you.
Here are some ideas on how to seize the travel bug.
1. Curate full-stay experiences.
Turns out, consumers are ready for some complete rest and relaxation: searches for “resorts near me” have grown 80% YOY. I’m in, I could definitely use a week roving from a hotel room to a pool to an on-site restaurant, rinse and repeat.
But don’t get concerned if your business isn’t really in the “resort” category. It’s likely you can shift your business model to provide more resort-like accommodations for guests.
Run a bed and breakfast or boutique hotel? Partner with local guides, restaurants, or shops to offer activities that you could find at a resort as part of your hospitality marketing this year.
2. Keep the overseas connection.
If you’re looking to tempt foreign tourists back to your town, hotel, or restaurant, the time has come. Consumers are eager to use their new passports and are searching for “passport size” 60% more than they were last year.
While it may not be available to *all* foreign travelers yet, there are plenty of ways to bring the destination to you. Host a “Night in Paris” or “Under the Tuscan Grapes” wine tasting. Maybe have a themed dinner or host a talk on the cultural heritage of your area.
If you’re not familiar with Diner en Blanc, check them out for some inspiration. I love seeing pictures from these events and they’ve taken some creative steps to keep their audience engaged while the world was shut down.
3. Promote good hotel and BnB deals.
We all like to ball out on a budget. Personally, I love Hotel Tonight for great last-minute deals in the city. If you’re looking to fill rooms for a particularly slow weekend, think about promoting a great package deal for groups, e.g. “Win a long weekend away for you and 4 friends!”
I recommend leaning into micro-influencers on this one. Let your own fans do the heavy lifting to promote you, and allow them to give away a weekend at your hotel!
Consumers are searching for staycations
It’s been a tough year for a lot of us financially. And some of us don’t feel comfortable getting on a plane just yet. That doesn’t mean we don’t want a break from staring at our own walls. I’ve considered renting a nice hotel room in another New York borough just to get out of Brooklyn.
Here are some ideas for your hospitality marketing to capture the eyes of short-stay vacation seekers.
4. Show off luxurious weekend stays.
I’m a sucker for Instagram or TikTok travel influencer videos where they show off their fancy hotel rooms. I love a great soaking-in-the-tub snap or just-woke-up-in-pillow-heaven post. Repost, repost, repost when your guests highlight your space. And look into curating those picture-perfect moments through interior and landscape design.
5. Create romantic packages.
Google searches for “romantic getaway” and “valentine’s day decor” are skyrocketing. And, okay, we get it, a little romance in the outside world could add some spice to a quarantine relationship.
Groupon has a plethora of romantic getaway discounts!
Try and scoop up space on the search results page by creating a specific offering for a romantic getaway as part of your hospitality marketing. Special candlelit dinner for two? Discounted prices on massages when you book a room for a long weekend? Sounds like romance to me.
If you’re feeling run-down by SEO efforts, jump onto Groupon or local magazine lists to get featured!
6. Curate group activities.
Let’s not leave out those of us who aren’t searching for romantic vacations. We’re still planning Zoom martini nights with friends. Searches for “watch party” increased 400% YOY (no surprise there), but let’s talk about some better fun activities.
Other than an IRL martini night, think of ways that you can create a fun event for groups. While “walking trail” searches have also increased, leaning into our collective newfound love for the outdoors could mean curating an outdoor dining experience complete with a packed picnic basket or supplying a glamping weekend by sleeping under the stars.
We’re expanding our horizons
Aren’t quarantine hobbies a good time? I’ve personally been learning how to use my oven for something other than storage and doing a lot of writing. We’re looking for entertaining relaxation anywhere we can find it.
7. Offer classes or learning experiences.
One of the best things my office has done during this shutdown is offering free cooking classes! I’ve made a ton of not-so-pretty gnocchi and ravioli with my coworkers. Lean into learning experiences with your target audience with cooking, fitness, dance, or cocktail-making classes.
I like to scan Airbnb experiences for inspiration!
Even better, invite an employee to show off their skills to the guests; I certainly have coworkers with hidden talents and something to share, I bet yours do too.
8. Introduce unique, niche hobbies.
Have a niche offering? Why not teach other people how to master it? Or at least dabble in it. While most places can offer a hands-on cooking class experience, not every hotel has, say, an expert in hula dancing or a master poker player.
Is your space uniquely decorated for feng shui? Give a tutorial on how to mimic the space elsewhere. Think about the small, unique touches your staff executes to make your guests’ experience unique and capitalize on it.
This bar in Philadelphia does weekly collaborations with local vendors for their guests to get a well-rounded taste of the city while learning something new!
Hint: searches for “candle making” have risen by 300%. We’re spending more time at home and we want it to smell nice.
We’re excited to see and be seen
The time to be scene-y is back with a vengeance. It’s time to get out of our sweats, get some blisters from our brand new shoes, and get back to making fun of Instagram husbands. Searches like “makeup app” and “blow dryer brush” have skyrocketed by 200% YOY. So, get your blow-out, slap on some lipstick, and let’s make a scene.
9. Highlight wedding parties.
Vaccines are in and weddings are back! Searches including “wedding suit for…” are up 200%, as is “rose gold wedding suit for men,” and can I just say, I love that for you, men!
This is a great sign for hotels, event spaces, caterers, photographers and florists, bands and bartenders, brides and grooms, wedding parties and guests; should I keep going?
It’s time to break out your tried-and-true package deals for wedding parties, hoist chalkboard signs asking guests to tag the event space in their social posts, and ask the photographer for a few pictures to post on your website as alluring advertisements.
Go one step further and make sure your offering is listed on The Knot, WeddingWire, or Party Space. You’ll be easy to find when families are looking for a place to stay.
10. Try out social contests.
Who doesn’t love free…anything? Give your followers some clout by starting a social contest or Instagram giveaway to share pictures of guests at your hotel, restaurant, event space, or wearing some of your branded merch out and about. Repost the best ones to your story and post the winner on your page.
Need more tips on social contests? We have you covered.
11. Keep up with the trends.
We’re not *quite* done with loungewear yet! “Long tops for girls” was trending up on Google search and I can only hope it doesn’t mean the long shirts with a tight band at the bottom are making a comeback. In a time where we all want to emerge from quarantine as beautiful butterflies, make sure your offerings are on-trend for summer 2021.
And of course, follow your competitors to keep up with market offerings. That includes email lists, social channels, and local events.
Extra hospitality marketing tips from the pros:
Some friendly reminders to keep cleaning the house, even if business has been slow. The world keeps turning even if it seems like we’re stuck in time…
12. Refresh your digital outreach.
Has your digital marketing strategy changed drastically from where it was last year? Are you utilizing new channels, refreshing your website creative, or offering new promotions?
If you answered “no” to any of the above, it’s time to hit refresh. Consumers have drastically changed their habits in the last year, and it’s important to get in front of them in the right ways with your hospitality marketing.
@katkamalaniHOTEL HACKS from a flight attendant! #hotelhack #flightattendantlife #hoteltips #travelhack #fyp #traveltips♬ original sound – Kat Kamalani
13. Update your audience targeting.
Finally, who your audience was this time last year may not be who your audience is now. Your business has likely shifted over time, and the interests of your guests have as well. Take the time to reconsider who your target audience is, how to regain traction with anyone who has fallen off, and how to grab the eyeballs of new prospects.
Make your hospitality marketing trend in 2021.
Things are looking up for the travel and tourism business, and with the right hospitality marketing strategy in place, you can book rooms, fill your calendar, and entice tourists back to your location for a strong year.