Money is an issue. Money is always an issue.
So spend it wisely.
To begin with, don’t be seduced by low cost. "You get what you pay for" is almost always true. Low cost and high quality are rarely compatible. Make one or the other a priority.
With that in mind, here's a three-part approach that we think works well for independent hotels and resorts.
Focus your target - Start with geography. From your own records and your local CVB, determine where most of the traffic to your area hails from. Focus on the top four, or maybe even just the top one or two, depending on your available resources. A geography that is already sending guests your way is an opportunity. Unless you're a destination resort, your CVB should do the heavy lifting of getting them to come to town. Your job is to get them to stay at your place when they do.
Creative message delivery - Now go beyond PPC or ad-tech placement. Don’t drop your PPC campaign, just augment it with some strong brand-message display. And don’t put all your eggs into an ad-tech basket with computer-generated placement.
There is life beyond cubes and leaderboards, and there are a lot of attention-getting toys out there you can use. So talk to ad reps for the media outlets in those targeted geographies. Newspapers, radio and TV stations all have websites – with leisure/travel sections. Those folks can offer you an impressive array of creative tools, like geo fencing, channel roadblock, video, pre-roll, contextual re-retargeting, page takeovers, sliding billboards and more.
Those sorts of things are not typically available to you with ad-tech. And, although totally discounting any medium but digital could be a mistake, you don’t have to be running print or broadcast to make use of them, either. Besides, placing your own ads in a target geography will generally get you a better, more focused audience.
It’s also important to stay away – well away – from lookalike creative that makes it more difficult to distinguish your property from the competition. Make a little noise of your own.
Close the deal on your website - Think about what happens when you pull someone to your website. Don’t just send them to the home page or specials page and stop there. Have your advertising agency and your web firm work together to create a landing page that will connect your advertising and your website.
And while you're at it, make sure your website is interesting and engaging – not just a brochure on wheels. Your advertising should bring them to your site for a reason other than price. Your website should close the deal.
Marketing and sales communications today is a fairly dizzying arena with many choices and options and various experts whispering in your ear. And there are a lot more ins and outs and details and side roads than we could cover in a single email. But as a general rule, we think you can get a lot out of a limited marketing budget if you do a few fundamental things and do them well:
1) aim at the right target, 2) send out a strong message and 3) close the deal.