Ways We’re Seeing the Digital Transformation of the Hospitality Industry in 2024 and Beyond
It’s 2024, we’re living in a much-changed world, and no industry is feeling the impact like hospitality. However, that doesn’t mean the industry can't adapt and thrive. No matter which area of hospitality your business operates in, you’ve probably taken a substantial hit over the last 18 to 24 months. We’re going to give you a helping hand, providing the inside track on the latest hospitality marketing trends that can work wonders for your business.
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The Growing Importance of Digital Marketing
Just as the world has changed, so have your customers. In times of lockdowns and quarantines, people have had to become accustomed to technology, meaning digital hospitality marketing needs to be taken more seriously now. The vast majority of people, no matter their generation, own a smartphone, engage in some form of social media, and use the internet to research and book restaurants, hotels, bars, cafes, leisure activities, and much more.
With this in mind, it's no surprise that businesses need to go where their target audience is – online! SEO-friendly websites, exceptional reviews, social media activity, influencer marketing, online booking and ordering, and digital advertising are all part of the digital transformation within hospitality. So, what is the importance of hospitality marketing, and what trends do you need to adopt?
Focus on Targeting Local Customers
For a long time, travel has been a no-go, tourism has dropped, and with the rise of remote working, business travel is almost non-existent. The question is, how do you replace such a large portion of many hospitality businesses' target market? The answer – local customers!
Just because people can’t travel doesn’t mean they don’t want to get out, take a weekend break, enjoy local attractions, or head to a new restaurant – marketing for hospitality in tourism needs to take a switch to master local SEO. Our top tip for your local SEO journey is to complete your Google My Business profile, be thorough, and include as much information as possible. In addition, if you haven’t already been doing so, encourage your customers to leave Google reviews. Receiving multiple and frequent 5-star reviews will push you up the local search rankings. From now on, digital marketing in the hospitality industry will be heavily reliant on local SEO.
Online Reservations, Ordering & Table Service
If you were told two years ago that you’d be shocked to be handed a printed menu when walking into a bar or restaurant, you’d have thought the person telling you was crazy. Well, they’d have been absolutely correct. Due to COVID-19, the emergence of digital menus, ordering from your smartphone, and receiving table service has become the norm.
With many establishments forced to operate at reduced capacity, customers want to know your availability instantly, meaning you need to have an online booking system in place. Many people don’t have the time or patience to make a phone call for reservations. In addition, many would argue the removal of communal bar areas, and the introduction of table service has raised the level of customer service hospitality establishments are offering.
The Emergence of Virtual Reality
A hugely important tool for hotels, conference centers, and wedding and party venues – virtual reality gives potential clients the ability to experience your venue without traveling to view it in person. This highly immersive technology can be viewed on both web browsers and VR headsets, making it accessible to everyone.
While many believe VR does not entirely replicate the feeling of experiencing a venue in person, it’s the perfect alternative in times where travel is restricted and when people are busy. Virtual reality is only going to further expand into our everyday lives. Adopting it early will put marketing for hospitality and tourism on the path to success.
If there’s one thing people have had over the past two years, it’s time. Many people have spent that time engaging with social media – the home of influencer marketing. This new-found marketing channel offers hospitality businesses unlimited access to highly engaged audiences. Influencers have spent a great deal of time building followings that enjoy their content, trust their opinions, and value what they say. Now, imagine the power of an influencer recommending your establishment. In addition, it can be incredibly cost-effective. Perhaps you’re a small boutique hotel – why not offer a free night's stay to a travel influencer in exchange for an Instagram post, stories, or a blog?
What is user-generated content? Well, it’s essentially word of mouth in the form of social media posts, blog articles, forum conversations, or online reviews. Very few people purchase a product or service without hearing what other people think about it – that’s where user-generated content comes in. We suggest employing marketing tactics that encourage people to talk about your business online. Consider tagging your location on social media, incentivizing leaving an online review, or working with a journalist or travel blogger to link their article to your website.
The power of word of mouth is alive and kicking. In fact, it’s stronger than ever. Digital hospitality internet marketing relies on user-generated content, and the more positive things you can get people to say about your business, the better.
Promoting Safety Protocols
Lastly, a factor that pre-COVID would have been last on the list of priorities is now at the top. Reassuring customers that you’re following strict protocols to keep them safe will make many feel comfortable to return to your establishment. Your Google My Business profile will include many of these fields, but options include indicating that you have vaccinated staff, a cleaning schedule and that masks are required on your premises.
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Overall, digital transformation will be fruitful for the hospitality industry. It will help businesses streamline internal processes, provide exceptional service to visitors, and enable them to attract more customers. However, if you neglect to adapt and embrace changes, you’ll find yourself left behind in a rapidly evolving industry. However, don’t panic – our Las Vegas digital marketing agency is here to help you conquer all of that and get your hospitality business thriving again.
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