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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Content Marketing in Hospitality - Whats Your Strategy


What is Content Marketing? 
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is: 

“A marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” 

In the Digital Marketing of hospitality, content marketing means taking a holistic view of all of your digital content and aiming to have this content answer your customers’ needs as opposed to presenting them with just facts. Such content (in whatever form e.g. text, imagery, video, virtual tour etc.) is then distributed through your digital marketing channels such as on your hotel website, in email marketing campaigns, in social media updates and so on. Content can either be curated or preferably written by hotel staff with a mixture of the two being the optimum from a resources point of view. 

Sourcing or creating content for your Digital Strategy can initially appear to be hard work as you may think that all content has to be created from scratch, has to be unique, will take all of your time and will be never ending. However, content is all around you, whether it’s using your own existing content or finding new sources of content - there are many avenues to acquiring it. 

Why bother with Content Marketing? 
There are two key benefits to content marketing: 
(i) Interesting and relevant content is a clear way in which you can outshine your competitors 
(ii) It is the foundation of your Digital Marketing strategy and feeds into the following:

SEO: A strategic content strategy gives Google what it craves: unique, regular, relevant and fresh content – Google rewards your organic rankings accordingly.
Paid Search: Focused content pages gives you a ready set of interesting and relevant landing pages that address the needs of your customers.
Email Marketing: A coordinated content marketing strategy makes the job of sourcing engaging content (imagery, video, copy) for email distribution much easier. Repeat customers and email subscribers will appreciate it too as you won’t be filling their inbox yet again with another deal.
Social Media Marketing: Much the same way as you need interesting content for your website and email marketing campaigns, you need engaging content for your social media marketing strategy also.
Conversion Rate Optimisation: Through the general addressing of your customers’ needs through well-chosen and relevant content it will only have a positive effect on the conversion rates across each hotel business channel.

10 Ways to Get Your Hotel’s Content Marketing into shape: 

1. Make your existing website content more interesting 

2. Take a hard look at the rest of your website content. 
There’s only so far you can go in making content more interesting. You will still need to have the less exciting pages on your website to both assist your customers need for information and also to attract new customers through SEO.

Key Questions: when was the last time you read these sections of your site, when were they updated last and what is your plan to review the content on each of these sections. Put together a quick schedule on what needs to be done along with who can help over the next 12 months. 

3. Make the most of your colleagues’ experience 
In general content marketing should be all about telling your brand story. Who better to tell your brand story than your colleagues? Each head of department has expertise that you don’t, they are satisfying customers’ needs on a daily basis within their respective roles. They will also undoubtedly have their own up to date marketing collateral which more often than not never makes it to the website.

Key Question: Can you leverage expertise within your hotel (even on a quarterly basis) to assist you with your content strategy? 

4. Upcoming Events (both inside and close to your hotel) 
Upcoming events can be broken down into at least two categories: (i) events in your hotel and (ii) events nearby. Content in this regards can be largely made up of curated content i.e. content that is already readily available for you to use such as event logos, event copy, event videos etc. 

Key question: Have you mapped out your in-house events and events nearly for the year ahead? 

5. Video, Imagery and Virtual Tours 
Your potential and existing customers are digitally engaging with your hotel brand on larger screens than ever before, with higher definition displays, and typically are viewing your website over multiple devices. Ask yourself, how does your site fair in terms of its visuals? When was the last time you took a serious review of your sites imagery? How do you look on mobile, tablet and desktop. Is your imagery displaying the selling points of your hotel exterior, spa, views from hotel?

Key question: What is the plan this year for your visuals for your website? 

6. Make Full Use of Your Customer’s Voice 
In can be hard to get customer to sit down write a testimonial for you but many are already doing this (albeit in a short format) on the various social media platforms. What better content can you have than content that automatically does your selling for you? User-generated content (UGC) or in other words your customer’s opinion can be a great way to generate the type of content.

Key Question: Have you checked your recent customer posts on Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest, Four Square, Instagram, Google Plus – what are you customers saying that’s good about their hotel experience and how could you incorporate your customer’s voice into your website which would both add new content to your website? 


7. Seasonal Content 
Most hotels add at least a little content to their site around the main seasonal or holiday periods but with a more organised approach to these important dates it can be easy to pull together relevant content for Easter, summer, Midterm, Valentines, Halloween, Winter, Christmas and so on. The question here is how much do you need to write? Not very much really, but it has to be targeted: ‘Spoil Your Loved One This Valentines’ will get a higher click through rate than ‘Valentines Special Offers Rates from €99. 

Key Question: Do you have these seasonal type pages ready to go in advance of these upcoming seasons or holiday dates and have you an operational calendar in place to deploy them? 

8. Your Location - Regional Specific Content 
If you are destination property or even a property with a fantastic city centre location there are multiple opportunities for genuinely interesting content. Granted this can be one of the hardest content areas to write for but it is highly beneficial to your marketing efforts. 

Key Question: What are you saying (or not saying) in your digital strategy about your location? 

9. Multi-lingual Content 
This category of content (and its necessity) will be largely dependent on your target markets. If you do happen or are considering a multi-lingual site you need to take into consideration content from a multi-lingual perspective.

Key Question: Review your Ecommerce data to see non-English speaking language metrics 

10. Competitions 
Competitions are the old chestnuts of content and can deliver some of the highest engagement from existing and potential customers. Targeted competitions can take several formats such as: 

• Online Photo Competitions 
• Sponsored ‘Like’ our profile and win 

Key question: Have you any plans this year to run an online competition?