Digitalization is growing in leaps and bounds. To this effect, the traveler’s customer journey is increasingly becoming complex. Independent hoteliers have to adjust their marketing strategy and technological efforts.

As part of efforts to get travelers engaged and in turn, retain them as existing customers while they journey along, the OTAs have been making huge investments in digital tech solutions and other marketing initiatives.

On the other hand, Independent hoteliers are finding themselves in a “Marketing black hole” that only allows for the OTAs to monopolize guest relationships. In recent years, this investment has proven to be very lucrative for the OTAs granting them a 40 percent increase in total market share.

Is there any way out for independent hotelier?

To win the direct booking, independent hoteliers must be willing to move ahead of the current competition to acquire more travel consumers. But they must first understand the constituents of digital marketing – guest engagement, acquisition and retention – and how they relate.

Secondly, it is needful for independents to get involved with each and every constituent of digital marketing leaving no stone unturned. It is through this that they will be able to regain their rightful place and win direct bookings.

Independent hoteliers must be willing to expand their marketing efforts to spread across all phases of the customer journey which  include

5 stages of booking a hotel

Below are the 3 categories of digital marketing and what they represent:

  • Guest Engagement: This majorly involves various marketing initiatives such as content marketing, influencer marketing, PR. social media, brand marketing, and so on which are aimed at helping hoteliers connect with online travelers in the planning and dreaming phases.
  • Guest Acquisition: This is an aspect of digital marketing that is aimed at helping hoteliers acquire new customers while involving various initiatives established on the successful engagements of customers in the planning and dreaming phases.
  • Guest Retention: It’s a marketing strategy established to enable hoteliers to scale through the experiencing and sharing phases to win guest loyalty based on the existing customer relationship.

What is the current state of things?

Most independent hoteliers erroneously ignore the relevance of other marketing categories and concentrate all their efforts on Guest Acquisition Marketing alone. As a result of this, they begin to experience downtime and losses in business, such as

  • Reduced hotel bottom line
  • Over-dependence on the OTA
  • Drop in the number of return customers due to the lack of interest in the experiencing and sharing phases
  • Inability to engage and acquire new customers and potential guests.
  • Inability to meet up with the competition caused by the OTAs through their marketing initiatives thereby leading to worsening ROIs in marketing campaigns.
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