We are going to take a look at free advertising options for hotels, resorts, guesthouses, bed & breakfast, hostels, motels, camping grounds, etc. that may drastically increase room bookings and reservations. Hoteliers have at their disposal many powerful tools to implement free or cost zero hotel advertising with a very clear intent, high room occupancy.
The number one tool... the must have, is a good website. By good we are talking about a modern design were all SEO "search engine optimization" and SEF "search engine friendly" are pre-built alongside social media networks interaction.
Modern website designs need to display hotels in an appealing way to travelers, packed with eye candy. They also need to be easy to navigate and book rooms, prospect travelers shouldn't waist time with unfriendly checkout experiences or contact forms, the overall customer satisfaction and hotel rating starts with your website flow. Make sure to use some of the usual hotel "eye candy" like sliders, photo galleries, video galleries, virtual tours, virtual local guides, local events calendar, etc.
Market just my hotel?
Typically no. The website alongside your hotel should market your local area and display any partnerships with local businesses, sports teams, tourism boards, chambers of commerce, town halls, museums, etc. Remember that these relationships need to be reciprocated by your partners to achieve your free hotel advertising.
Your website design and brand need to be implemented across several online and offline platforms in cohesive effort for instance, your website design, specially the landing page, your printed media (leaflets, business cards, channel guides, menus, hotel keys, do not disturb signs, etc.) and the social media networks your hotel is present.
SEO & SEF
Good quality SEO & SEF depend only on your wise choice of website platform because these facilities are usually pre-built into websites software or packages. Keep in mind to choose website packages with automatic sitemap creation and update, google webmaster connection and google analytics connection. Free organic search engine traffic does not come in a day but it's extremely important to generate free hotel bookings and reservations. Assuming your website contains SEO & SEF built-in, the organic search engine traffic only occurs when you have good, original and fresh website content like pages, posts, articles, blog, news, etc. For this you don't need to spend money hiring a SEO consultant, you can achieve this task yourself using the blogging tools your website package provides. Recommendation, publish at least a new article or post every month about your hotel or your local community (great places to visit nearby, things to do, best restaurants, wine tours, local events, etc.). It will pay off.
Social Media "tricks"
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc. are just a few of the many social networks you can choose from, don't try to be present on all of them if you are not willing to update your profile page or check for reviews frequently, there's nothing worse than an empty or very outdated social media network profile page, our recommendation is to choose one or two social networks and keep them updated alongside your website. As explained above, create your hotel social networks profile pages using the same branding or design used in your website, specially the landing page, the same applies when you create posts to update your social media profile.
What to post?
You can update your social profile every time you create new website article or blog post, with a good website package like Hoteloni, "og sharing meta tags" are builtin and you should easily be able to share new website articles or posts at a click of a button, take a look at the bottom of this page and click the Hoteloni facebook share button. Besides your website content you can also share an array of other interesting social media posts like special deals, activities, local community news and events, staff stories, guest stories, ratings, photos, etc. Remember that each good quality post gets re-shared by followers and you gain a huge amount of free marketing.
Eye candy again!
The world today and specially social media networks are all about the visual and the design, the appealing "eye candy". Share photos or videos but keep in mind the importance of their quality, treat each photo or video the same way a professional would do and use innovative photography (angles, filters, 3D, enhancements) to make them stand out for potential customers. It's not complicated or in need of big software investments, today even mobile phones have an outstanding photo and video resolution and a bunch of easy to use filters and other image enhancements.
Did you know guests work for you?
Treat your hotel guests as social media marketers to get free social media posts. Make sure to create exclusive sharing hashtags for your hotel example, #myHotel or @myHotel and publicize those hashtags in your website and all printed marketing paper (leaflets, business cards, channel guides, menus, hotel keys, do not disturb signs, etc.). Create special designed areas or niches in your hotel where your guests can shoot videos or photos, places like the swimming pool, bar, restaurant, lobby, garden, etc., if possible try to incorporate your hotel name and hashtag into the designed area in order to get them included in each of your guests photos or videos. The younger generation is all about selfies so don't waist a perfectly good empty white wall, create a beautiful, tasteful mural to help the selfie generation market you for free.
Free hotel stays?
You are probably thinking we are crazy but... no!
If you are lucky to get a booking from a travel writer or travel blogger offer them a complimentary stay to be sure they write a good article or rating about your hotel.
If you are not lucky to get bookings from travel writers or bloggers then you should actively search, contact and ask these influencers to write and market your hotel with the prospect of free accommodation, not payment.
If they require help, put yourself at their disposal with information, photos or videos. Remember, this all gets shared on social media.
Ask and you shall get!
You are likely to increase your guests social media interaction with your hotel if you ask them for reviews in places like tripadvisor, booking.com, yelp, facebook, twitter, etc. but remember one very important aspect "do not ask for positive reviews" since most networks forbid hoteliers from asking them. Ratings are usually one of the first things customers read when searching for hotel accommodation, providing a good service will generate good reviews, having lot's of constant reviews will generate free advertising and higher hotel occupancy.
Special Social Networks
If you are a photo or video enthusiast it's a good idea to use Instagram social network. Statistics show it's being used as a primary method of research and decision when choosing accommodation.
It's not your typical social network but we decided to incorporate Google Business page here. Your hotel information (price, rooms, contact information, photos, and reviews) should be present in Google Business to increase your hotel ranking in Google searches, to accurately display your hotel location and information in Google Maps and, to create virtual 3D tours of your hotel with Google Business View (360 degrees tours). These photographic tours will be available in Google Street views, Business Views and you can also incorporate them in your website virtual tours.
Other non typical social networks engage users with discount coupons. By being present on these networks you can raise your hotel occupancy via hotel discount coupons and you are also market your hotel free.
Create the habit to respond in a timely manner to comments, ratings, mentions, shares, questions, etc. on the social networks you are present. Even if the content is neutral or negative it's all free marketing also, statistics show that by engaging these maters with fast, polite answers raises customer satisfaction and creates a feeling of reassurance in prospect customers.
Loyalty Programs "friends"
Creating customer loyalty programs for special segments of the travel market example, frequent business travelers, older demographics, students school trips, sports teams away trips, etc. is also a great way to implement no cost marketing where the same costumers keep coming back to your hotel. Many times you can implement these programs with just your staff talking to your guests about the loyalty program and getting their phone numbers or emails.
Group Events "buzz"
Packages for group events impact free hotel advertising? They sure do, hosting good service events (family and friends reunions, school and student reunions, sport teams reunions, congresses, business meetings, marketing research, brainstorm sessions, weddings, anniversaries, etc.) will directly influence attendees to freely advertise your hotel for future events and will generate literally a ton of social media "buzz" immensely more powerful than traditional paid ads.