Journey through the funnel: Strategies for hospitality
What is it?
An Internet marketing funnel is a marketing strategy whereby you are constantly funneling new leads into your business, in the hopes of developing a sale and relationship with the user. A marketing funnel is often seen as an upside down pyramid. At the top, you lead potential clients to your website, in the middle you offer them valuable services if they sign up to your list, and at the end you convert them into customers. (wiki how)
Creating a precise funnel strategy is extremely important, especially when it comes to the hospitality industry. Thousands of agencies are vying for the attention of potential customers online.
Depending upon the quality of their services and the quality of their content and their subsequent marketing strategies, they may or may not get the attention that they desire. Which is to say that either the content displayed or their strategies has proved to be inefficient when it comes to changing potential on-lookers to active customers
In the case of hotel or tourism industry the end result is that of making a booking sale.
Identifying the primary problems and strategizing accordingly is therefore vital. Inbound marketing strategies primarily functions through identifying a particular problem and providing the solution for the same.
Understanding that these strategies revolve around your agencies and the niche that your advertising being found by the consumer. Banners and pop-up ads, although can reach a large mass of people, can also be considered annoying since they are invasive instead of being inviting.
The internet is not just a place for content to be presented, the internet is content.
The primary emphasis within this blog will be surrounding content. However, that is not exclusive to the written word.
The buzz around content marketing is therefore on the rise however the content that is written or visual needs to be presented accordingly. As explained previously the funnel is in the shape of an inverted pyramid. The base at top indicative of all people who are actively searching for something, in this case a hotel or tourism agency that fits their needs.
However not everyone or every customer is clearly aware about what they are searching for. Therefore, when it comes to funnel marketing techniques for hotel and tourism industry understanding how exactly the funnel works is essential.
The funnel represents the behavioral changes undergone by the customers and the increasing involvement with the brand.
It generally tends to have five stages, where the top three lead up to a sale and the last two ensures stability, therefore works as aftercare.
The top three is extremely important. These three stages are:
Marketing at each stage depends upon the platform that you use, for eg. the content and techniques that are search engine oriented may not necessarily work for social media platforms or emails. Customizing content depending upon the platform is necessary.
Strategies for websites:
The way a book is judged by both its cover and the content, your website will be judged for the same. This is precisely why both key aspects of the website have to be developed to its best. Gaining the attention of your customers is just the beginning, sustaining it is what pushes people through the funnel to make a booking.
Your audience may lie on a vast spectrum which is that they may be completely unaware of their exact problem or desire or may know exactly what they need and are therefore looking for an agency that will cater to that specific need.
Awareness can be directed at both types of audiences,those who are completely unaware and those who are. The awareness that you wish to generate through whichever means you wish can be tailored to inform, stimulate and excite people
At the top of the funnel(TOFU) lies awareness.
This when somebody is actively looking or searching for destinations, tourist spots, hotels on search engines.
Ensuring that your webpage turns up on the first page is extremely beneficial, however the sheer amount of agencies competing being the first link on google is way to high. This is mostly because nearly 55% of clicks are on the first link on the search engines. The accuracy to cater to a specific need or desire also dwindles down subsequently.
This is why specializing when it comes to content is highly necessary. The search for just ‘hotels’ is going to yield a million or so results, the search for luxury hotels in a target destination offering a restricted yet utterly specific attraction will lead to people eventually finding your website.
Curating content that is SEO friendly helps. This puts the message of your brand out to its intended or targeted audience. Especially using keywords like luxury, beach side views, etc in the headline and your content informs people about exactly what your agency or brand wishes to present. This also helps in filtering out unnecessary leads.
Awareness is also generated through social media platforms and have proved to be extremely efficient.
MOFU middle of the funnel consideration stage
The mindset of viewers during this stage is generally consideration. This generally involves people being interested in your service and considering their options.
The change in marketing techniques in this stage therefore also needs to undergo changes. Primarily from being lead generation oriented to demand generation oriented.
Although both these terms are used interchanging their functions and results are quite different. Lead generation revolves around collecting information to turn them into potential leads, where as demand generation focuses on creating demand around a particular service.
Advertising at this stage needs to be impactful and informative enough to create a demand for it. Social media platforms are also excellent ways to create a demand for a particular service. Especially with the rise of posting stories on Instagram and Facebook, generating demand is possible.
Social media works as a platform that displays lived experiences, put forth by people and therefore sets the foundation for generating trust. Especially if enough people have posted favorable reviews, the chances of their friends and followers opting for the same service is high.
Therefore, at this stage blogging, video logs, reviews from past guests is effective in making your agency look like the best fit. Hotel and tourist agencies could post live updates about their trips and experiences with their guests and the same could be expected of the tourists. The experiences need not be entirely positive as well. If there was a major issue at the hotel and you’ve managed to solve it, it proves that the agency is capable and will go to great lengths to solve issues and work towards the satisfaction of their customers.
Your marketing techniques can also be made better through the use of internet metrics that can guide you with regards to figuring out what is working and what isn't. Use of engagement metrics especially since this gives insight into how many people have visited, revisited your ads and long people stayed on the website.
End of the funnel Intent stage
The end of the funnel is where the actual sale is made, the content during this stage has to be primarily focused on how your service is better since this stage represents the decision to make a purchase.
The content during this stage should primarily involve the benefits of your service, the various services you offer and why your agency stands out from the rest.
Email marketing or rather a chain of automated emails which offers insight into various services you offer and all their details, including the price ranges and any offers with regards to the product.
However, it is necessary to understand that the stage involves two processes, one being the intention and the other being the action of actually booking.
All the information generated through the previous stages leads up to the customer intending to stay at the hotel. The next process is when the customer actually makes a booking.
The content being presented at this stage is everything that you have been working for, therefore unnecessarily long procedures or delays at this stage can be a major problem. Website designs that are too difficult to navigate or sites that take too long to load can be a major hindrance.
Your customers need to easily access the information that you are providing and exchange of information also has to be facilitated. A website page that offers multiple ways to make a booking and different payment options, which is easily accessible is a great way to ensure a
Loyalty and advocacy
As explained previously these three steps lead up to a sale. However, the key to the growth of a business is not only making a sale but also sustaining it. Sustaining and further strengthening the image of your hotel or tourism industry allows for further growth.
The relationship with your clients does not have to end after their stay at your hotel. Besides asking for reviews on the services you’ve provided, you can always ensure that they are loyal to the brand by keeping them in the loop of various updates within the industry.
Automated email chains are extremely successful with regards to keeping them interested in the brand. Using previously collected information you could curated emails and even short messages on various social media platforms as well to make sure to let them know that there are more benefits for them for being loyal customers. Personalising messages also goes a long way in ensuring their trust.
Once they understand the perks of staying loyal to the brand, there’s bound to be talks around your industry and the services you provide and the benefits of working with you. You could also ask them to endorse the brand.
People endorsing and advocating a brand within their social circles by word of mouth or through any other means works in the favour of your industry.
Reviews from peers and people that others look up to have always worked favourably, this however does not have to be restrained to advertising and causing awareness. Social media influencers who are actively advocating the brand can be given some benefits for doing the same.
The hospitality industry is an integral part of the service sector, being attuned to the changes in your social environment and more importantly being empathetic to the needs of the customers and working accordingly is a must.
Having a detailed and well developed strategy for each of your leads depending upon their position in the funnel eases the process of marketing on digital platforms. Especially having a basic understanding of what works and how your content should accommodate the views and needs at each stage of the funnel is vital.
As explained previously, the internet is content whether it be visual or verbal. Having an idea on how to create impactful and masterful content to lead people through the funnel to ensure their satisfaction and delight with your brand aids the process of sustainable growth of your industry.