7.395 BILLION TOTAL POPULATION
3.419 BILLION INTERNET USERS
2.307 BILLION SOCIAL MEDIA USERS
3.790 BILLION MOBILE USERS
1.968 BILLION ACTIVE MOBILE SOCIAL USERS 

Online Travel Agents (OTAs) & Meta Search Engines: Think of them as billboards with a travel focused viewership. » Search Engine Optimisation & Paid Per Click (PPC) Advertising: Such as Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. » Social Platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and many more. » Global Distribution System (GDS): An oldie but a goldie. » Your Website & Booking Engine: Including payment gateways. » Management Platforms: Including Channel Manager, Property Management System (PMS), and Revenue Management Software (RMS). Many factors come together to make this ecosystem work favourably for you, including content, data and reliable and insightful technology.

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According to a 2014 Google study, 22% of guests start their search on an OTA website, whilst 23% start on a search engine (where the OTAs spend considerable sums to ensure they stay on top)

Companies that use videos in their marketing enjoy a 27% higher CTR and 34% higher web conversion.

PROMOTE & GET FOUND WITH SEARCH 

ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT

Knowing what is being said about you and managing it well. Its techniques and strategies ensure that people find the right materials when they look for you on the Internet. We look in depth about the role of PR in this later in the guide.

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
After search, social platforms are the most powerful platform to engage customers and drive web traffic with the aim of conversions – for most properties this means a booking.

AFFILIATE MARKETING
One of the oldest forms of marketing on a digital platform. Affiliate marketing is a revenue share model where you incentivise others to sell on your behalf.

CONTENT MARKETING
Use smart storytelling to do the selling as explained above. 92% of consumers regularly read online reviews to learn about a business.

EMAIL MARKETING
Email marketing is a form of direct marketing that uses electronic mail as a means of communicating commercial or fundraising messages to an audience.

MOBILE MARKETING
Reaching out via mobile devices, be it text, apps and more.

BOOKING ENGINE
The most crucial aspect of digital marketing for a hotelier. A good booking engine can get you far and earn you lucrative direct business.

ANALYTICS
The best part about digital marketing is

DATA.
It is about making informed choices and using customer information and behavior to make your marketing machinery personalised and more efficient.

92% of consumers regularly read online reviews to learn about a business.

SOCIAL MEDIA ESSENTIALS
More than half of the world’s population uses the Internet, with nearly 2.8 billion of them being active social media users. Think of the opportunities this presents! Social media is a powerful platform to engage customers and drive web traffic. But like everything digital, the pit is endless. Don’t get sucked into the hype and create a profile on every social media platform possible. It is better to select the ones where you’re most likely to find your target audience. Most importantly, only take on as much as you can manage with your limited time and resources.


FACEBOOK: GETTING IT RIGHT 
Optimising your business page is a key to Facebook conversion, along with great content and audience targeting. Have a close look at your page and see you’re ticking off the boxes below that help it perform better. » Updated information. This includes contact details, profile and cover image (you can even post videos here now!), business details and room types & facilities (under services). » Customise your page to fit your property – the tab on the left can be ordered based on your requirements and custom tabs built (with developers involved) if needed. You can even pull in your TripAdvisor ratings in a few easy steps. Enable Ratings/ Reviews tab – critical to hospitality businesses. » Have the right call-to-action button – book now or learn more. » Good content. Post good content and often. Make it shareable and don’t make it all about you – remember this is a ‘social’ platform. Optimise your posts with keywords and remember the first 18 characters of your post serve as meta titles in search. Tag your images to improve discovery

People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising. - Mark Zuckerberg

INSTAGRAM: IS IT FOR YOU? 
If you fancy bringing some of the 700 million Instagram users on an Insta-Holiday to your place, then yes it is for you. You can do wonders by doing very little on this visual and rich storytelling platform. 

TIPS FOR #INSTASUCCESS 

  • Put together a content strategy. You don’t have to – and should not – create everything yourself. Share content already created. Create posts that prompt engagement. 
  • Hashtags are key to success. Get familiar with them. 
  • Identify and follow a whole bunch of influencers and guests. They will most likely follow you back. 
  • Share the love. Repost, comment…it’s all about engagement. 
  • Spy on your competitors. Knowing what’s happening will help you stay on top of trends and conversations. 
  • Tell an engaging visual story. Get behind the scenes. Show off your place with videos. The more compelling your story, greater the engagement and better it performs on the Instagram platform. Harness the powers of apps (many of them free) to beef up your images and videos.
  • It is ok, even important, to treat influencers with a big fan following to a free stay or some pampering in order them to post flattering grams about you

YOUTUBE: HOW WILL I CREATE SO MANY VIDEOS? 
The fear of creating voluminous and expensive videos keeps many away from YouTube, but it is the world’s second largest search engine with 300 hours of video uploaded every minute. Hardly worth ignoring? Getting started is easy. As you’d expect of a social platform and a Google product, everything is intuitive. All you need to do is follow the steps to setting-up. 

TIPS TO MAKING & OPTIMISING VIDEOS 
This is the part that puts most people off YouTube. But, creating basic videos is very simple. You just need a good phone, even better a good camera or video recorder. Before you start making videos, think of the sequence – what you want to show and how you will do it. Write a short script before starting the video. Unfortunately the YouTube Video Editor has been axed by Google (YouTube owner), but there are plenty other desktop tools and apps that more than make up for this departure. iMovie, Filmora, Animoto, Adobe Spark Video, Biteable, Lumyer and Quik by Go Pro ... the list is quite long. Another simple way to create quick videos is Facebook Live – you’ll have videos for two channels in one hit. Facebook Live videos can be downloaded once posted to your timeline. Then upload them to YouTube. When uploading a video, you’ll be asked to fill in a title, description and tags. These are essential components to have your video easily discoverable in YouTube search, so don’t skimp on them! Use keywords when filling these details, they’ll help with your search greatly – on YouTube and Google. Make sure to cross promote these videos on your social channels and website too

PR, PROMOTIONS & ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT 
Gone are the days of traditional PR. Modern public relations campaigns extend into online channels, leverage influencers and bloggers, touch social channels and keep in mind online reputation. Some of the things that sit within online PR:


  • Forming good relations with bloggers and online media. 
  • Collaborations with partner/industry businesses and promotions/ events. 
  • Online reputation management


INFLUENCER MARKETING: WHAT’S THAT? 
Essentially the digital age’s version of a celebrity endorsement, influencer marketing is a powerful way to connect with larger audiences, whatever your business size.

WHO ARE INFLUENCERS? WHERE CAN YOU FIND THEM? 
An influencer is someone with a significant online following, be it for their blog or social channels. What they post typically influences a large audience. You can find influencers for your property through a number of tools, some of them partially free like BuzzSumo, Klout, Twtrland and FollowerWonk.

HOW MUCH TO PAY INFLUENCERS? 
Financial compensation can come across as insincere; paying someone to write. A more popular way is to invite them to ‘experience’ your property. Consider partnering with a local operator or the DMO to provide a holistic experience – and share the cost.

SOME WAYS TO MOBILISE INFLUENCERS 
Reach out to influencers, host them and ask them to write about their experience or post on their social media. Host a fam trip; partnering with the local tourism board airline is a great option for this campaign. Organise a meet-up or event for influencers at your property. Encourage the participants to post from the event, better still do a live video. Why rely on just influencers; turn your fans into influencers by running contests. Make advocates out of your fans.

ONLINE REPUTATION: HOW TO GET MORE POSITIVE REVIEWS 

  • Make your property and service remarkable. Guests will love to talk about it… 
  • Is it easy for your guests to leave reviews? Follow up emails are great to build loyal customers and ask for reviews. 
  • Listen and improve your services where needed. There are plenty of listening tools available. 
  • Turn reviewers into brand ambassadors by posting positive reviews on your social channels and website. Consider incentivising good reviews – without it seeming like you’re ‘buying’ the good comments. 
  • Understand your audience and their demographics and focus on getting reviews on channel that appeal to this group. 
  • Manage the negative reviews. Ignoring them will only leave unhappy guests. Understand the cause of the grievance and address it in a calm and professional manner.
AUDIENCE SECTION 
Here you’ll find everything you need to know about your users (also known as visitors), including their demographics, general interests, location, language, how often they visit your website & what they do, and technology used to get to the website.

  • Sessions: This shows the number of times your site is visited. Session duration is an indication of how long a user spent on your site – a low session time could indicate that you content is not engaging or the user was unable to find what they wanted.
  • Users (or unique users) are the number of distinct users/visitors who request pages from your website during a specific period, no matter how many times they visit. New users are those who’ve visited your site for the first time, while a returning user has been to your website before – the latter is a good indicator of your website’s loyal following.
  • Bounce rate: A bounce is when a visitor arrives to your website and does one of the four actions (within 10-30 seconds, depending upon the set or adjusted bounce rate): clicked the button back, closed the browser, typed a new URL, or did nothing (session times out after 30 minutes). In the hospitality industry, a bounce rate of under 50% is considered good. 
  • Interests, Geo & Demographics: This gives you insights into your users. Who are they, where they are from and what they like.

ACQUISITION SECTION 
Everything you need to know about what drove people to your website – was it organic search, social media or paid channels?

BEHAVIOUR SECTION 
These reports will tell you everything you want to know about your content. » Entry & exit pages: Entry page is the first page a user visits on your website while the exit page is the last. The behavior section provides you an overview of top pages on your website, including entry and exit pages. » Site speed: How fast or slow do your web pages load? It is critical to ensure you have a fast loading website – both from a search and user perspective.

CONVERSION SECTION 
If you set up Goals within your Google Analytics, you can see how many conversions your website has received and what URLs they happened upon. You can also see the path that visitors took to complete the conversion. 

A QUICK NOTE ON FREE GOOGLE TOOLS
Having an online presence is essential for hotels of all sizes, but you don’t always have to spend a fortune in doing so. Luckily Google offers a treasure trove of powerful tools that are free to use and perfect to grow your business online.

35 DIGITAL MARKETING TOOLKIT FOR INDEPENDENT HOTELIERS GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
A marketing resources for any business, this free tool is absolutely essential for local SEO and to be found by your guests. Claim your business page and make it rich in information as it feeds into all Google channels.

GOOGLE+
Nowhere near as popular as other social platforms but Google+ a must for all marketers for its SEO value. So make the most of it, post often, build a community and encourage reviews on it.

GOOGLE TRENDS
This tool is ideal to determine what kind of marketing language to use on your website. Plug in your terms in the Google Trends search bar to see which searches are trending upwards and review the additional details Google provides.

GOOGLE KEYWORD PLANNER
Super easy to use, this is a great platform to search for keywords. For small hotels with limited resources and time, this is a great tool when creating content. Combine with Google Suggest (the drop down of keywords in Google Search Bar) to find phrases that will bring traffic to your site.

GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Once included in your website code, this tool helps you track all activity on your website, including where the users came from, time spent and pages viewed.

GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE
This is a two-way line of communication between your website and Google. Search Console will help you monitor, maintain and improve your website presence within Google’s search results.

YOUTUBE
YouTube is a fantastic platform to create, store and distribute videos. Not only is it the second largest search engine, creating video content on YouTube can also offer direct SEO benefits in Google Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).

THINK WITH GOOGLE
This free marketing resource from Google loaded with trends, marketing insights, industry research and creative inspiration to help you plan effective campaigns.

TESTMYSITE
It is commonly known that Google is changing its algorithm to meet the needs of this mobile-first audience. Google’s testmysite is an easy-to-use tool helps you find out how mobile friendly your site is and gives a list of specific fixes to address the issues.

GOOGLE ALERTS
Google Alerts are emails sent to you when Google finds new results that match your search term. It is a great way to keep on top of what is being said about your company or product, industry and even competitors.

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