Search engines like content. In particular, Google rewards websites that have original, well-written content with a higher PageRank. But more importantly, travelers like content. Specifically, they like well-written content. This is key for hoteliers, because even if Google likes your site, it’s people who book hotel stays, not search engines.
The right content helps travelers remember you. When you consider that the average traveler visits more than 22 sites over 9 browsing sessions when booking a trip, you better believe your hotel needs content that is meatier than the standard marketing fluff. Phrases like spacious rooms with breathtaking views are not going to help anyone remember your hotel after they’ve sifted through 22 websites. These phrases aren’t going to help your rankings, either. Why do I say that? Well, a simple Google search brings up 280,000 exact matches for that empty phrase. You have spacious rooms with breathtaking views? So does everybody else. These phrases have very little value to travelers, and they certainly aren’t the memorable gems you need on your hotel website. So, how is your hotel going to rank higher in search engine results while being memorable to travelers? With better content. With stories that stick in travelers’ minds. And it all starts with a blog.
If you’re ready to take your hotel marketing to the next level, here is a cheat sheet to get you started: Create a content strategy.
Without a strategy, you’re dead in the water. Before you write so much as a single blog post, you need to answer one question: What do you want this blog to accomplish for your property? After you’ve determined your goals, it’s time to map out an editorial calendar that fits your blog’s purpose.
Create a posting schedule that’s realistic for your resources, i.e. if your marketing department is a one-man (or woman) show, you probably don’t want to schedule four blog posts a week. Creating a calendar that is manageable will help you stick with it and provide consistent content. Fill the calendar for the next few weeks with post ideas, but also look six months or a year ahead to fill in special promotions, anniversaries and holiday posts. At the same time, you should be creating a social media calendar that will help you promote these posts to your followers, whether they’re on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or another social network. If your marketing department is a little larger, you can delegate roles. Who will be in charge of writing posts? Editing? Uploading to the CMS? Responding to comments? If you want your blog launch to go smoothly, make sure everyone knows his or her roles before you get started.
Mix up your content.
Keep your content fresh and your readers happy with different post types. You might have weekly posts that run on a set day each week, like a “What’s Going on This Weekend” roundup or a “Tuesday Travel Photo” post with guest-submitted pictures. Balance this with different types of posts (think profiles, travel tips, promos and local itineraries) to keep readers hungry for more.
Mine your staff for stories.
Afraid you’re going to run out of topics to blog about? Don’t worry: It’s not likely. The hotel staff is a gold mine for content. You just have to be ready to dig for creative ideas. Do you have an onsite restaurant? Why not blog about the chef’s background or the menu inspiration? You could share cocktail recipes or, if you’re feeling extra creative, upload a video of a cooking demonstration. Do you have a planner who could share insider tips on how to make a meeting run as smoothly as possible or a spa supervisor who could share skincare or relaxation advice? Look at the hotel staff through the eyes of a traveler. What burning questions would a guest want to ask them? Answer those questions on the blog.
Keep it valuable.
What’s valuable to your guests? Any marketing pro worth her salt should know the answer to this. Are your guests budget-conscious travelers looking to see the city on a dime? In that case, valuable content includes discount codes and guides to experiencing your city on the cheap. Or, are you a boutique hotel best known for its lively art and music scene? Your guests would love the inside scoop on local musicians and artists. Know your audience, figure out what is valuable to them, and deliver it with every post.
A blog cannot be all things to all people. If you’re trying to target both the travel trade and leisure markets, you’re going to have a hard time doing both in a single blog. This is where targeted blogs, like one for meeting planners and another for leisure guests, come into play. Is your hotel actively trying to target other markets, like destination weddings? A wedding blog can show off your property to brides-to-be, helping you gain a reputation in this market. Are you trying to target families next summer? Then you might consider launching a “Family-Friendly (Your City)” blog, positioning your hotel as the go-to resource for families planning a visit to your destination. If this sounds overwhelming, just remember to start small. Build one blog for your hotel, not a dozen. Look for results and new opportunities, then shift or expand your efforts.
Sufficiently staff your blog.
As your hotel blog grows, you might see new opportunities pop up, but you may run into issues finding enough staff. Or, you might find that managing a hotel blog is more time-consuming than expected. The initial high hopes for continuous content might turn into sporadic press releases masquerading as blog posts. When it gets to this point, it’s time to consider working with a professional content writer or provider who can develop content ideas, keep the blog updated with regular posts and help you persuade travelers to book their next stay.
Marissa Willman – Guest Blogger & Hospitality Copywriter A full-time freelance writer, Marissa Willman crafts articles, blog posts and website content that inspires travelers to make the most of their wanderlust. She also helps hotels and travel industry clients hook ‘em and book ‘em with well-crafted content. Marissa blogs about content marketing for the hospitality and tourism industries on her website, HospitalityCopywriter.com.