It used to be that taking a holiday meant hitting the road in your own country and heading to the seaside of your closest coastline for a few days’ rest and recuperation.
However, air travel, discount airlines and technological advancements in the booking process over the past decades led to all this changing. International travel is now the norm and crossing borders is done by millions of people every day without thinking.According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a record-breaking 1.2 billion tourists travelled abroad in 2015, with Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific all recording around five per cent increases in international arrivals.This was a rise of 50 million compared to 2014 and the sixth consecutive year of above-average growth. Although the UNWTO Confidence Index suggests growth this year will be slightly lower than in the previous two years, it’s still expected that there will be a four per cent growth in international travel worldwide in 2016.For hotel owners and anyone else working in a hospitality marketing agency, it is imperative that this trend is cashed in on – hotels must ensure they do all they can to lure guests in from international markets.But how is this possible, particularly if your hotel is small and independently owned, rather than being part of a big chain with an already international presence? How can your property compete among the big fish?Here are a few ideas that could assist with your marketing plan and hopefully ensure that your guest list is made up of people from all over the world.
According to TripAdvisor, there will be considerable increases in travel from Turkey, India, New Zealand, South Africa and Brazil this year. Many of these tourists will have different requirements than, say, holidaymakers from the US or UK, so it is vital to cater for them specifically.In order to do this, you will have to find out where your guests are coming from, which means carrying out analytics on bookings and working out where around the globe people are being attracted to your property from. Build an attractive website If you want to be seen as an international player, then it’s important that your website looks the part. If it hasn’t been upgraded in years, make time this year to give it an overhaul and ensure it appears smart and easily navigable.
Also, think about potential language barriers; you should offer translation facilities for your content if you know it is being viewed by people who don’t speak English as a first language, and tailor content such as landing pages to suit specific cultures if you think there might be a clash with your own. Revamp your property It might sound obvious, but a tired-looking hotel isn’t going to attract people to stay – and it certainly won’t encourage repeat business. There are some beautiful hotels out there and if yours doesn’t compare with them, it will get overlooked by discerning international guests.Even if you don’t have a huge budget, you could consider setting aside some to revitalise the lobby and communal areas and perhaps give a fresh lick of paint to the rooms, just to show you are up to date. Take part in internet marketing Thanks to the internet, you have a huge marketing tool at your disposal and this can help independent hotels to stand out amid the crowds – but only if you use it properly. For example, certain social media channels might be really big in one nation and practically unused in another – are you making sure you have a cross-channel presence to cover them all? Also, don’t forget that there will be language differences among international travellers when searching for hotels and researching trips. Keywords and sentences are likely to be utilised differently, so consider this when making a plan for search engine optimisation (holiday and vacation are just one good example of this phenomenon). You might want to think about using targeted ads for particular countries if you have found via analytics that many of your would-be guests reside there.
One further good idea is making the most of high-quality links to lead back to your hotel’s website, which is looked on favourably by search engines. For instance, you could encourage popular bloggers to write about you by providing them with a free stay in exchange for a review, which should help you to capture some of their audience.Provide great amenities International travellers are likely to be looking for more luxurious accommodation than people simply booking a quick trip close to where they live, so ensure you provide them with a home away from home.Let them relax after a long journey with a free breakfast next morning, a complimentary shuttle service, free Wi-Fi and, importantly, staff who are able to speak their language.
Creature comforts such as this can make all the difference when it comes to good reviews and repeat visits.Consider using OTAs Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) can be expensive, but they can also be useful for smaller hotels because they get your name out there among the bigger properties. If you can encourage guests to book direct through your website after seeing you on an OTA, you’ll avoid the commission but still reap the rewards of better visibility.Offer packages People who are travelling internationally are likely to want to pack plenty of new experiences into their trips, so they will probably want to book sightseeing tours and other things to do during their holiday. You can encourage them to book with your hotel by offering both accommodation and trips or excursions as part of a package deal, perhaps at a special rate. You could even consider partnering up with local tour operators to facilitate this and then advertising using their names to boost credibility when marketing such deals.
Even if people don’t book packages immediately, you can upsell them later via email before they arrive or even at the lobby when they check in.International travel only looks set to grow over the coming years, so make sure your hotel reaches out across the globe to keep on boosting revenue.