There is a very negative energy currently attached to the travel and hotel industries. Of course, with the virus being here it’s understandable to a degree, but we can’t dwell on the past, we can’t stay in the past and think of how great it was last year or the year before. Things happened, the industry is struggling, actually industries are struggling, but if we sit and wait for things to improve miraculously, we are in for disappointment.
There is so much data out there about how many people travel and where they travel. We won’t go into data today because we all know that there are less people traveling in Europe and there are definitely fewer people travelling internationally. Most people book trips locally – staycation is the keyword for the hospitality industry in 2020 and, it looks like, in 2021.
But if people are not traveling, where are the opportunities Alex, I hear you ask. Firstly, we need to understand that when we use phrases like ‘people are not traveling’, ‘people are scared’, ‘people lose their jobs’ and so on, what we need to understand is that we mean some people. By some, I mean not 7 billion people on planet earth, not 66 million people that live in the United Kingdom, or 741.4 million people who live in Europe or 5.5 million people that live in Barcelona. It’s some people.
Some people are not going to travel. Some of these people are going to comment on an Instagram post saying ‘not now’ when you post about traveling. That’s okay – we need to accept the fact that some people have different opinions and develop different habits. When this category of people say ‘now is not the time to travel or book a hotel’, we need to have empathy and say that’s okay, it’s not for you right now, maybe in the future. Right now, we are speaking with people who are looking to book, we are speaking with people who are planning to travel in the next 30 days.
Based on research that I read, people are still booking last minute holidays. On Monday they might book a trip for the upcoming weekend, so a lot of hotels are booked last minute.
We need to identify people who are traveling, people who are willing to travel, people who are thinking about destinations they want to go. Identify them, then add value for those people.
How a hotel can add value? There are a lot of ways, but the best way is by creating valuable content, on a blog and on social media. In the travel industry one of the most successful case studies with usage of content marketing is Away Travel Bags. They’ve built a Travel Magazine called Here and launched a podcast, Airplane Mode. Their growth is fuelled by great content. They get it. That’s why since 2015, the company has raised $31 million in funding and sold more than 300,000 suitcases to eager fans.
Here’s a very recent example. In the past month I’ve been looking for a hotel in Barcelona. I noticed that all hotels were very focused on the product:
book a room today
book two nights and get one free, and so on.
Some hotels had a page on their website about their new cleaning procedures, which is great. But there is one problem – all of them are focused on the product. I always say, we as companies, as brands need to become media companies. We need to think like bloggers, influencers and media companies do. They all add value to their audience. And by ‘all’ I actually mean some because obviously not everybody does. Otherwise we will be competing purely on price, and once we compete for price which looks a race to the top is actually a race to the bottom. We’ve lost the game.
Another fascinating thing I realized when looking at hotels was that not even one of them mentioned a story about the hotel, or even who the owner of the hotel is– and, yes, after I checked OTAs websites I checked individual websites. They were all identical. Some website designs were great, others outdated, but none of them had a story, or ideas. That’s where independent hoteliers have a huge opportunity. This is gold: an opportunity to connect with the guest on an emotional level.
While writing this article I found a beautiful coffee shop hidden in one of Barcelona’s small streets. It’s called Bicioci Bike Café, and it has an amazing menu as well. There are two things to learn here. Firstly, they didn’t have a printed menu – you scan the QR code of the wall and see the menu on your own mobile device. The second thing is this – the juice I ordered is delicious. You must try it out; Banana & Red Fruits.
Have a look at the interior design of the coffee shop – how beautiful is it?
Not even one hotel mentioned this coffee shop! Another coffee shop I went is Café Cometa – a beautiful place with no WIFI and a vegan banana cake that you can’t miss. Again, not even one hotel mentioned it.
You might be thinking this is all good – but how to execute it? Okay, the first step is to create a content strategy.
In your content strategy you need to identify who you want to target as your potential hotel guest. In the marketing world we call it your target audience. Is it couples, or single travellers, or perhaps digital nomads? Maybe you want to target families. It all starts with who you want to target as your core audience. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have a second and a third audience that you wish to target! It just means you create segments and create targeted campaigns to each individual that will help you have better results (that is, convert guests from looking around to actually booking the hotel room).
Once you identified who you want to attract you need to create content that will add value for that audience, here are a few examples of how hotels in Barcelona can create content that can add value to potential guests:
- How to Travel When You Don’t Drink Alcohol in Barcelona
- Where to Go If You Don’t Drink Alcohol
- Great Vegan Places in Barcelona or Must Visit Places for Foodies
- Creative Places to Work in Barcelona
- Nightlife ideas during COVID in Barcelona
- Great Places to Explore in Barcelona
- Transportation Ideas When Visiting Barcelona
- How to Move Around in Barcelona
You get the point – things that will add value for potential guests. I believe a lot of travellers want to skip tourist traps, and there is a huge opportunity to create content that will help them do that.
Once you create your long form content – i.e. blog articles, or perhaps start a podcast, then you can create ‘micro-content’ for your social media, your Instagram, Facebook, TikTok Pinterest and so on. Then you can promote your content to potential guests.
Let me ask you a question. What is more interesting – seeing a hotel competing on price, or a hotel that cares and adds value to potential guests by creating creative and valuable content?
In London we see hotels promoting the same touristy things as everyone else. London is so much more than Oxford Street and Big Ben. If a guest has never been in London, it’s nice to see the main touristy attractions but once you’ve been, there are other places to visit. London is one of the most beautiful and stunning cities in the world. There are so many things you can do and explore. But the real question is, who is going to grab this opportunity?
So, while we are all facing challenges and obstacles in the industry, we can look at things we can do to improve and do our best. We can say that we are going to do what we can with what we have, and do that.
If you need help with creating a content strategy, and creating content that is valuable to your guests, let’s have a chat, we can bounce off ideas and see how your hotel can add interesting and valuable content. You can send me an email on [email protected] or get in touch with me today.
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