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Get the Most Out of Your Hotel's Ad Campaign

Tired of not getting the results you think ads deserve? Here’s how to be a big winner and capture more reservations.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
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by Ashley Sellhorst

If you’re like most properties out there, you’ve got rooms to sell and need travelers to visit your site to make that happen. Reaching the travelers who are most likely to book a room at your hotel with an ad at the right time is a great start, but what about that ad will influence a conversion? Travelers visit on average 38 sites before deciding to book, so it’s important that you make the most out of every chance you have to get in front of them.

The design and content of your ad makes a huge impact on whether or not a traveler is interested enough to actually click on it and then book a room — or at least notice your ad and search for your hotel later. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when creating your ads to ensure you’re getting as many guests through your doors as possible:

1. Use a compelling and relevant value proposition.

What works: Why should a traveler stay at your property? In clear, simple language, give your audience a reason to book. Keep your value proposition to no more than 1 to 2 messages and make sure that it’s both memorable and customized to the traveler you want to reach. For example, you may want to call out a competitive family rate or package if you’re trying to reach families. The more relevant the message, the more eye-catching it will be.

Also keep in mind that there are multiple properties and options for travelers coming into your city. The display ad you use is the best (and in some cases the only) way for you to tell the traveler why they should book a stay at your property. What do you offer that someone else may not? Ensure your value proposition is not only relevant, but also distinctive enough to differentiate you from your competitors.

What doesn’t work: Using a generic message or vague description like “Come stay with us at The Bed & Breakfast Inn” that isn’t customized to your target audience. If your message doesn’t give your audience a reason to click or search for your hotel later, it’s not worth including.

2. Use a strong call to action (CTA) and keep the ad simple.

What works: Clear and action-driving CTAs like “Book Now” or “Get This Deal.” Over 90% of visitors who read your headline also read your CTA, so make sure your CTA synchronizes with your headline and closes the deal. Testing multiple CTAs often and early to learn what action/color combo works best is also vital to improving your ad’s click-through rate. Keep your message and CTA as concise as possible and, if sizing the ad down results in too much content, don’t be afraid to reconfigure your layout.

What doesn’t work: A vague or open-ended CTA, like “Learn More.” This may be appropriate for an ad that is encouraging their audience to learn more about a product, but driving an immediate action, like a booking, requires a strong and straightforward CTA. Overwhelming your audience with too much information or unnecessary distractions. You only have so much time to make an impression, and the most straightforward and relevant messages will be noticed first.

3. Brand your ad.

What works: Including a logo that is easily readable, always present and in high resolution to heighten brand recognition. Another way to improve your brand awareness is to include your location, as this is a huge selling point for many hotels. For example, a Seattle property might say, “Conveniently located in Downtown Seattle.” Travelers looking to stay in Seattle will notice this over a hotel ad that doesn’t specify location.

What doesn’t work: An ad that isn’t clearly branded, or is inconsistent with what the traveler sees on your website. If your logo is low quality or hidden behind the rest of your content, travelers won’t associate your ad with your name or remember your hotel for future searches.

4. Don’t skimp on the visuals

What works: It’s not for nothing they say a picture is worth 1,000 words. Choose imagery that aligns with the ad content and provides a visually arresting message. Appealing imagery is especially important for hotels, as the perceived look and attractiveness of a property plays a large role in many travelers’ decision-making processes. An image of an inviting room, captured in good lighting with a professional camera, as opposed to a generic image of the building, can be ten times more effective at inciting a traveler’s interest.

What doesn’t work: Using poor-quality or bland images that don’t support your ad content or stand out. You don’t want to look like every other hotel out there, with the same stock photos.

5. Prevent creative burnout with fresh content.

What works: Swapping in ad creative monthly or sooner. Many hotels will find that refreshing their message seasonally is necessary to match what travelers are looking for. For example, if you’re a ski resort you might want to change your message and imagery from the ski season to the summer months. Working with a marketing technology company that offers dynamic creative services is an easy way to have your ad images automatically swapped out when necessary. This is especially valuable for hotels with multiple locations or target customers who need different variations of their ads served to different audiences.

As you refresh your content, make sure you continue to A/B test different elements of your ad. This entails putting two different sets of ads, version A and version B, in front of your audience to test things like image, CTA, and value proposition. Study the results, and let the consumers tell you which messaging they’re most receptive to.

What doesn’t work: Using the same ad content for extended periods of time. Ads that have been seen before result in ad fatigue and are likelier to be overlooked with time.

With so many options out there for travelers, hotels have to be on top of their game with every aspect of their campaign. Making sure your ad follows all the best practices is important, but don’t forget to consider what happens after the traveler clicks and lands on your booking page. In most cases you’ll only have up to 8 seconds to make an impression on your landing page, so make sure the visuals and the messaging match your ad, and that it’s as user-friendly and straightforward as possible. The easier it is for the traveler to make a booking, the more likely they’ll follow through. Couple a great landing page with your beautiful ad, and you’re on your way to occupying those rooms.

About Ashley Sellhorst

Ashley Sellhorst is a Hotel Solutions Manager on Sojern’s Property Solutions Team. Ashley joined Sojern in March of 2013, and quickly found her calling, working closely with hotel partners to help them grow their share of direct online bookings. Ashley holds a BS in Business Administration from Nebraska Wesleyan University.
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