Media Coverage

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The Importance of Visual Content in Hotel Marketing

April 11, 2018

By Wayne Jasek - Exclusive for 4Hoteliers.com
Wednesday, 11th April 2018 

Exclusive Feature: The way a hotel markets itself visually will do a lot to build its reputation and attract business in 2018, so in order to maximise the effectiveness of visual marketing, hoteliers need to ensure that content effortlessly cascades across all platforms, hits the right brand note, and is ultimately centred on the audience’s needs, not a creative team’s ego.

Video marketing should be at the core of any visual branding efforts, because it has the power to make hotels, their rooms and facilities, memorable. Many people consider themselves visual learners who remember names and faces, better than facts and figures — and that’s why video is such a powerful, emotive brand medium. A video is one of the cheapest and most direct ways to explain concepts and show authenticity as a brand.

Here are some video marketing themes all hoteliers need to consider:

Go Live & 360

Live video, through Facebook Live or Periscope, is ultra-low-cost (they can be executed on a smartphone). Every time a hotel brand goes live, its followers will be sent a notification. Hoteliers should look to use this to their advantage when planning their broadcasting schedule. The content being created does not need to be entirely scripted. Part of the excitement of live video is the chance to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes within a company.

Hoteliers that have not experimented with Facebook’s 360-degree videos, should do so. It can be an excellent way for brands to draw attention to room features and increase click-through rates to their pages and websites. For example, if a high-end hotel has recently completed a refurbishment, a tour of the new site, including spa facilities and new room types, can be a great way to introduce the revamped property to potential guests. You can even boost your 360-degree post using Facebook advertising.

Perishable Mediums

Snapchat and Instagram Stories allow hotel brands to successfully draw views with 10-second bursts of video. Plus, with the addition of swipe up links to your website, it has never been easier to turn these story views into sales and guest stays.

Use Stories to promote discounts on rooms and unique, exclusively-tailored packages. Time-sensitive offers, like 20% off, do a lot to draw in first-time customers. Through personal reach you can identify a target audience and pick out tailored offers and imagery to pique their curiosity.

Shoppable Social Media

Social selling is an exciting medium for visual marketers to explore, and Instagram and Pinterest are two of the channels where visually minded brands and marketers can make a real difference.

Brands can now create Shoppable Pins and Instagram Galleries that allow users to click and buy without even leaving the app. This could potentially boost hotel brand awareness on these visual platforms, if the photography being displayed is professional and is in line with audience expectations.

To ensure brand visuals will be effective, hoteliers need to conduct audience and competitor analysis, concentrating specifically on the aesthetics. For example, for a property decorated in a retro style, low contrast, old-timey photography can be popular with guests. They can use stock photos, but it’s best to edit them to make them feel more on-brand.

Interactive Visual Content and Social Proof

Hotels on Snapchat will already be aware that they can create their own filters and promote them via the platform. These are a great way to get people sharing marketing messages with their friends. User-generated content can, and should, also be a feature of any brand’s product pages and website design.

For hoteliers looking to attract millennial guests, massive social proof points can be added to if they include some Instagram photos of guests enjoying their facilities. In many instances, hotels are doing their best to gain traction through all of their marketing channels, by marrying their content with that of their users. It’s a clever way of getting closer to guests without needing to resort to pushy or invasive ads.

To better engage with potential guests, all hotels need to enhance their visual marketing efforts, through generating engaging content and disseminating this on the right platform to reach the right audience. Video marketing content helps place visitors in an immersive online experience. Those hotels that take their audience on a journey with visual branding are positioning themselves to succeed in a competitive digital marketplace.

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.

Wayne Jasek is the Director of APAC Operations for Kentico. He specialises in helping hoteliers deliver executional online experiences that turn visitors into customers.

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The Future of Commerce is Online – Are You?

April 06, 2018

By WAYNE JASEK

 APRIL 6, 2018

The world has gone digital. Your customers are just as busy as you are and are better connected than ever before. Never have they had so much choice in what they buy, how they buy it, and who from. Competition and expectation are high; inconvenience and tolerance are low. It’s not a trend. It’s not a temporary blip in the history of commerce. It’s the future. Selling online is crucial to business success. And an eStore is a necessity. So what? Build it and they will come?

Put yourself on the scene – get social

While many small businesses may think that once you build a website, it is inevitable that over time the right people will naturally come across your website. But without the right investments and strategy, it’s all too easy for potential customers to get lost in the myriad other websites and end up on a rival businesses page. So, you first need to let people know that you’re online and have the right product or service to fit their need.

Cheap and easy, engaging potential customers by creating rich and visually exciting content across social platforms is still one of the most effective ways of getting your brand out there and getting people interested.

Remember, however, it’s not your website – it’s a social space. So, share videos of how you create products, posts on fun product facts, or photos of the new office dog. (Nothing gets attention quite like a cute puppy!) This kind of content helps fill the digital void between you and your potential customer and encourages interaction and engagement – your first step to getting people in the door and learning more about them.

Social platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, offer sophisticated tools like post boosting and targeted advertising based on demographics specific to your business – so your content is pushed to the people who are most likely to be interested in what you’re offering, and there’s a greater chance they’ll visit your online store.

What about your eStore?

Make sure you’ve chosen an eCommerce solution that’s up for the job, and then make the most of its super-sophisticated tools. Personalise the page to the customer’s location (e.g. free delivery to Helena, Melbourne), make smart product recommendations based on other users’ preferences (e.g., customers who bought this scarf bought these gloves to match), offer first-time customer or volume discounts (e.g., only $9 each when you buy three), and ensure the whole customer journey is smooth from start to finish (e.g., multilingual content, fast loading pages, easy-to-navigate architecture, useful product filters, images and video in product descriptions, customer reviews and ratings, easy options for payment via multiple gateways in multiple currencies, and automated thank you confirmations.)

And while you’re at it, get them to sign up to your automated monthly newsletter detailing all new products and special deals, offer them voucher codes in return for recommendations on Facebook or for filling out an online questionnaire, reward their loyalty with free shipping or discounts, automatically remind them about abandoned baskets, and encourage them to use wish lists and share them with friends (aka potential new customers).

Exceed expectations – plan for success

Today, it isn’t enough to simply build a website, integrate an online store, and wait. You need to be engaging those potential customers, pulling them in with your creative and catchy content. Business owners must tailor online shopping experiences assisting customers with purchase decisions, and making parting with their money the least painful thing they’ve done all day. And when you get the hang of it, you’ll not just have customers that love your brand and what you offer, but you’ll have dramatically increased sales, glowing referrals, and customers for the long-term.

Wayne Jasek, Director-APAC, Kentico

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Right to be forgotten: The death of data-driven marketing?

April 04, 2018

By Duncan Hendy

Designed to harmonize customer rights across Europe, the GDPR is one of the most significant developments in customer data use and management is recent years and it’s going to shake a few things up when it arrives in May 2018, specifically in terms of data collection and storage.

For you to collect customer data, users must clearly give permission for you to contact them and should be informed as to why and how their data will be processed, and all consent should be verifiable and the records accessible upon request.

The type of data you can collect should not be superfluous to needs and you will have to be able to legally justify the processing of it as being of “legitimate interests” to both you and the user. Data kept will have to be up to date or removed.

But in addition to the regulations around how data is collected and used, companies have to brace themselves for the right a customer will have to revoke consent entirely. Known as their right to be forgotten (or right to erasure). Should a user request to have some or all of their data deleted, you have to be able to provably do so securely and completely from every part of your organization (including backups and any scans, photographs, or copies) unless there is a very specific and compelling reason why you need to keep the information (e.g. loan providers).

Then the data controller must delete and remove said data “without undue delay”, within a month of the request, and be able to prove it. It is also their responsibility to take “all reasonable steps” to inform third parties to whom the information was made available (encrypted, of course) of the erasure request and require them to follow suit (as they are jointly responsible). Customers also have the right to request to have their data sent to them in a commonly-used, machine-readable format.

For many, GDPR is the death of data and the murder of marketing as we have come to love it.

In recent years, personal customer data has become the lifeblood of effective marketing—content personalization, targeted advertising, drip marketing campaigns, to name a few—and has led to the holistic enhancement of the customer experience; proven to have a dramatically positive impact on sales.

But just as it is often restrictions in life that ignite our creativity, the new regulation might prove to be a boon for data-addicted marketers, and forward-thinking businesses can embrace the values of permission-based marketing that the GDPR is heralding, showing the rest of the pack what leaner, cleaner data-driven marketing can do.

And it can do—no major paradigm shift required. It just means tightening our focus on nurturing the customer relationships of those who actually want it. Kind of like the best practice marketing techniques that have been talked about for a decade.

As you know, opt-in data outperforms non- in open rates, engagement, and conversions. So, once we get over the initial shock of a loss in data quantity, we can appreciate our improved data quality and focus our efforts on our most coveted prize: customer loyalty. You know, the stuff that makes our mouths water—repeat custom, word-of-mouth referrals, social sharing, increased sales, and boosted revenue.

And while getting more of what we want, the customer gets ethical use of their private data and transparency in how we use it—all the things they love.

How’s that for win-win?

So where do we start? 

Get on board: Resistance is futile (and eye-wateringly expensive), so the quicker you get on board with why the GDPR exists and can be good for business, the sooner you can leverage its value to you. Take a long, detailed look at all your current processes and systems. You may be surprised to find that becoming compliant actually leads to better clarity and more efficient working processes.

Get ready: Start now to get data up to date, with no duplicates or inaccuracies, and make sure it’s compliant by getting re-permissions from your current customers ahead of the inevitable blizzard of pre-enforcement requests. You may well receive a lot of erasure requests, but a spotless contact management system means sparkling marketing campaigns that work with greater efficiency and efficacy.

Get savvy: If you can demonstrate lawful “legitimate interests”, you might be able to continue to process current data. Some documents are not classed as personal data and therefore not subject to the right to erasure. There are also exceptions to a user’s right to be forgotten. So dive deep into the specifics of GDPR and what it really requires of yourbusiness. It’s certainly not time to panic. But it IS time to think about getting a legal advisor and maybe creating a Data Protection Officer post.

Get supported: Some ahead-of-the-curve content management systems offer sophisticated tools to help you get and stay GDPR compliant. Things like mapped data flows, multiple consent management, consented-only personalization and activity tracking, consent forms customizable to your specific needs, as well as easy data downloads in XML formats to respond to customer requests and easy-to-use data deletion features to respond quickly to right-to-be-forgotten invocations.

So no, data-driven marketing is not dead. It’s just growing up. Leaving the wasteful, and even intrusive behind, it now has its focus on longer-lasting and more meaningful relationships in which both parties get what they want. And forward-thinking businesses that look beyond the dark cloud of data despair to see the GDPR silver lining will be first in line to reap the rewards of win-win marketing.

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