2023 is predicted to be another big year for the travel industry. Flight travel is expected to reach over 85% of 2019 levels throughout 2023. There is a big opportunity for hotel marketers to help capitalise on this demand and reach new and emerging audiences. However, 70% of marketers are describing their workload as high already—working on average on five campaigns at a time. Because of that, having a clear hotel marketing strategy for 2023 is just as important as ever to focus efforts.
There are growing challenges and concerns like changing privacy regulations, reaching audiences, and a lack of high-quality data. Thus, it’s critical for hotel marketers to narrow in on areas of opportunity for the hotel industry. To help refine your strategy for the coming year, here are 8 hotel marketing trends for 2023:
1. The power of video (short and long-form)
It’s no surprise that video is becoming more and more important. And now short-form video is having it’s moment in the spotlight. TikTok, Reels and even YouTube Shorts are becoming increasingly popular. In 2023, video will be an important pillar for marketing strategies. 90% of marketers who have already been using short-form video say they will maintain or increase their investment in 2023. Brands will need to incorporate video, or risk getting left behind. Specifically, 21% of marketers are planning to use short-form video in 2023. And it’s not just Gen Z on TikTok anymore either—50% of Millennials and almost 40% of Gen-Xers were using TikTok in 2022. The message is clear. Video is a key trend for 2023.
2. Generative AI and ChatGPT
To prove a point with this one, I used Generative AI to help write about this specific trend for 2023:
“Generative AI is a type of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that uses deep learning algorithms to generate new content from existing data. Generative AI can generate text, images, and audio from existing examples. It can be used to create original artwork, music, or stories, as well as more practical applications such as creating personalised product recommendations or customer service chatbots. Generative AI has the potential to revolutionize the way hoteliers and hotel marketers interact with their customers. It could provide automated customer service through natural language processing (NLP) and chatbot technologies. This would enable hoteliers and hotel marketers to respond quickly to customer inquiries without needing a human representative on hand. Additionally, Generative AI could be used to create personalized recommendations for customers based on their past interactions with the hotel or its services. This could help increase customer satisfaction by providing tailored experiences for each guest.”
Generative AI could also create SEO-friendly content for hotels’ websites and social media profiles. These would help improve visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). Also, hoteliers can use it to generate marketing content such as promotional emails or blog posts about upcoming events or special offers at the hotel. Overall, Generative AI will become an increasingly important tool for hoteliers and hotel marketers in 2023. That is because it has the potential to automate many of their tasks while providing customers with better experiences.
3. Using social media as a search engine
How people are searching and using social media is changing. Younger generations are already turning to social media to research and evaluate brands. And now, more travellers are starting to prefer TikTok over Google for trip research. In fact, 40% of travellers over 30 now note this preference. And although these travellers might be on the other channels you’re already building, such as Facebook or Instagram, it’s important to note that people use different social media channels for different reasons. For example, many people prefer YouTube for recommendations, as 87% of people agree that YouTube creators give recommendations they can trust. And the power of TikTok content for travel inspiration can already be seen. A great example is how two relatively unknown destinations in China became famous and almost overrun with tourists, seemingly overnight because of TikTok.
4. Travellers will expect Elevated UX on all devices
We all understand the importance of guest experience at the hotel. However, in 2023, user experience online, and across all devices nonetheless, will be a crucial trend to keep an eye on. At the beginning of 2022, mobile overtook desktop for internet usage. Now, mobile searches account for 60% of search volume. As Next-Gen travellers continue to grow in terms of market share and buying power, catering to their mobile-optimised exploration and buying expectations will be important in attracting and converting these guests. This means also improving UX across all devices. Some key UX trends to keep an eye on for 2023 are minimalism and “blanding” (websites free of intrusive advertising), animated elements to build engagement, “scrollytelling” (telling a story as the user scrolls), use of bold colours and utilising video content.
5. Creating complete campaigns with customer journey mapping
As more channels and avenues of communication are added, it’s important to make sure that there are the right touchpoints at the right time. Like this, you will nurture leads into guests—rather than just adding more noise. Customer journey mapping creates a visual picture of how your customer feels, acts and thinks throughout the buying process. Understanding how your guests are planning, researching and evaluating can help form a strong foundation as you build out your hotel marketing plan. If you focus just on individual touchpoints, rather than looking at the wider picture, it can mean that you are missing key milestones or opportunities to convert these guests. With 90% of guests now expecting a personalised experience, customer journey mapping can also help with ensuring complete campaigns that make use of segmentation and personalisation, without leaving gaps.
6. Increased importance of social responsibility
We already saw that travellers were starting to think about sustainability and the environmental impact of travel in 2022: two-thirds of consumers already considered sustainable travel a priority. And in 2023, we’ll see the importance of corporate social responsibility even further. 52% of US consumers consider a brand’s values in their decision-making. Moreover, marketers that have already been investing in social responsibility content are planning to maintain or increase their investment in it too—in fact, that’s a huge 89% who are continuing with this. Not only is this just a “nice to have” but it’s proving important as an ongoing strategy.
7. More data-backed decision-making with the adoption of GA4
In 2020, Google created their new Google Analytics 4 product, which will improve analytics measurement for marketers and decision-makers. This means that on 1 July 2023, Universal Analytics (UA) will be officially sunsetted by Google. Afterwards, GA4 will be the new analytics platform. Although Google isn’t forcing anyone to switch over just yet, marketers should set up the new GA4 accounts as soon as possible to ensure that historical data is collected before UA is sunset.
GA4 works without cookies, instead, leveraging machine learning and statistical modelling. GA4 also comes with four types of reports. These are made to give a much more accurate view of the customer journey, including acquisition, engagement, monetisation, and retention. As a result, your team will be able to get a top-level view of how potential guests are finding you, engaging with your content, making bookings, and coming back for more. You can read more about what GA4 means for hotel marketers here.
8. Influencers continue to prove ROI
The reign of the influencer continues—and although working with influencers isn’t new anymore, it’s still a powerful addition to your hotel marketing tactics. 93% of marketers have now used influencers in their campaigns. Moreover, 89% of marketers that have worked with influencers plan to maintain or increase their investment in influencer marketing in 2023. Micro and nano influencers will also be a great addition to your influencer marketing. These smaller influencers are seen as more authentic, reliable and credible—values that resonate with younger audiences like Next-Gen. Plus, they’re more affordable too—an influencer with 1,000 to 10,000 followers can charge up to $100 per post, and accounts with over a million followers charge upwards of $10,000 per Instagram post.
2023 is yet another exciting year for the travel industry. Take the opportunity to capitalise on the demand of new emerging audiences. From ChatGPT to sustainability, stay ahead of these trends to create more effective campaigns, improve customer satisfaction and drive growth for your hotel. With a clear strategy in place, the opportunities for success are endless.