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(Almost) everything starts with a search

Research has become second nature to consumers. People use search in those “I want to know,” “I want to do” and “I want to buy” moments.

Over 90% of customers report they use search at every stage of their customer lifecycle, and over 85% of customers say they use social channels for discovery and consideration or purchase.1

People are searching for inspiration, reviews, hotel attributes, locations and prices before taking action. Travelers research and shop around the clock across multiple devices and browsers.

What’s a marketer to do?

Instant access to information is great news for consumers, but the level of complexity is enough to keep marketers awake at night.  Complex and a tad intimidating? Sure, but getting it right can be the difference between your brand and the competition. To succeed, marketers should seek the milestones in the search journey.

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Milestone: Inspiration

Illuminate your offering

Every stage of the journey has been altered, consumers now look to the web for information and inform themselves before they even look to get in touch with your brand. In that process, the company that caters to those behaviors puts themselves in the best position to succeed – and that means having not only a website, but a presence in every channel where your prospective customers are seeking info.

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Invest in beautiful content

When making decision involving risk, such as an online purchase from a website, consumers tend to rely on intuition.  What seems like merely aesthetic design choices may actually be the way your customers learn to trust you (or don’t).  And that will influence whether they decide to make a purchase with your hotel.

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Publish keyword rich blogs, videos, photos

Whether it’s a landing page, Web site, blog or video post, make sure you target and embed the specific keywords and phrases your hotel guests are searching for. To identify those hot keywords, head on over to the social platforms your target audience frequents and see what’s trending. Pay close attention to the exact phrases they use and monitor popular industry terms and topics.

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Milestone: Vetting

Cultivate your social networks for authentic super fans

Your followers are powerful brand champions who can sing your hotel’s praises for you and inspire potential guests to envision what a stay would be like through their eyes.  More than any other time in history, a small group of highly engaged followers can exert tremendous influence over masses of people.

Having identified your most committed followers, you can enhance the relationship by rewarding their commitment, and featuring them on your platform. Everyone likes to be recognized, and by recognizing your most enthusiastic followers, you’ll be cementing the relationship and gaining authentic, earned mentions that proliferate through networks.

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84% of travelers have their hotel choices affected by what they see in online reviews

TripAdvisor is the 900-pound gorilla of hotel review sites. With roughly 661 million reviews that cover about 7.7 million accommodations, airlines, experiences, and restaurants, Google is gaining fast on TripAdvisor, having recently integrated its Hotel Finder into search. A good reputation with solid reviews and rankings is exactly what hotel shoppers are looking for to validate your brand promise in the real-world.

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Be ready. Be responsive. Be helpful.

You should expect travelers will have certain questions or trip planning scenarios they will want to run through. Having a chat bot or even live representative on your site that’s available to help guide them can be a swaying factor during their research of your hotel.

Milestone: Decision-making

Target creative & offers based on search history

A hotel guest is more likely to book a room and package that is in line with their search history – if the guest has been looking at spa pages and maybe even placed a room and spa package in the shopping cart, now is the time to keep serving up images and deals that relate to what they’ve told you their interested in. Not a family fun or business trip hotel deal.

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Integrate search + social

58% of customers in a recent Forrester report2 said they used social and search together. Time and align your content and marketing messages to follow the hotel guest throughout their search journey as it spills over into social and back to search before crossing the finish line of a booking.

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Still thinking about booking the suite, Jenny?

Now is the time to bust out your arsenal of personalized marketing tools (like retargeting via cookies) to make a connection with your hotel shopper in research mode.  This will convey to your guest the kind of customized, tailor made experience she is up for with your hotel.

Want to know more about reaching hotel guests in search? We can help – let’s talk! 

1 & 2: Forrester: Why Search + Social = Success for Brands

 

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