As we dive into 2024, the buzzword is 'personalisation', stretching across both digital and physical realms. It's a year where hotel marketers are reshaping their strategies to mirror the high-tech lifestyles of modern travellers. Think cutting-edge video content, innovative tech for daily operations, and the rise of virtual tours–it's all here. Dive into the biggest trends that are making waves in the dynamic world of hotel marketing this year.
1. Video content: the reigning king
Last year we saw video take centre stage and this year is no different. The popularity of short-form video is still strong and marketers everywhere are rightfully making it a crucial part of their strategies. 91% of brands use video as a marketing tool. More importantly, 87% of marketers say video has a direct, positive impact on sales. As a result, video will continue to be the top content marketing tool for hotel marketers in 2024.
Social platforms are also noticing the impact video has on their visitors. Pinterest noted that people scroll three times slower than they do on other social platforms when they see video. Plus, viewers retain 95% of a message when watching it on video compared to 10% when reading text. That's why video is great for raising awareness about your hotel's brand. Particularly if you target younger audiences such as Gen Z, including videos in your organic and paid marketing campaigns is the best way to be seen in 2024.
Luckily, you can create impactful videos even with a small team or budget. Since AI became a part of many marketers' arsenal, companies are saving up to 80% of time and budget compared to traditional video production. Whether you're integrating virtual tours on your website to showcase amenities or creating videos for your social channels to tell your story, there are a few best practices. Remember to always optimise your videos for the channel on which they will be published. This can mean short-form vertical for social channels like Instagram, and longer, horizontal videos for YouTube or your website. Another good tip is to focus on emotional storytelling that captures your visitors' hearts. Lastly, use your guests' positive experiences. Integrating user-generated content (UGC) can boost credibility and save you creation time.
2. Hyper-personalisation through journey-focused campaigns
Over the past few years, consumers have become more and more empowered. They can get what they want when they want it, delivered to their doorstep. To gain back control, many companies have taken advantage of the data available to them to understand their customers and their needs. By anticipating the next moves in the decision journey, you can personalise each step to increase the probability of converting website visitors into guests. In 2024, it's time for hotel marketers to turn to more proactive ways of personalising the guest journey.
Customer journey campaigns focus on guiding and influencing potential guests at different stages of their booking journey. This means creating relevant and personalised experiences for them at every touchpoint, from the moment they stay looking for their holiday until after their stay at your hotel. Like this, you will build a strong connection with them and build loyalty. Plus, a well-defined customer journey can result in a 49% increase in revenue.
Get started by deeply knowing your ideal target audience—who they are, what they want and how to reach them. Follow their journey to booking your hotel and then, think of ways to personalise each touchpoint. From the different websites they might visit before reaching yours, to ads, emails or social media pages, and ending with post-stay surveys and emails. Every interaction impacts the experience and in 2024, a fully-personalised experience is crucial.
3. All things high-tech
“Hey Alexa, what are the best hostels in Tokyo?” For the 2024 traveller, there's no such thing as using too much tech for everyday tasks. Alongside packing the essentials, using AI to help plan trips has already become just another part of travellers' to-do lists. Plus, years of staffing and operational issues, hotels everywhere can save both time and money by incorporating more technology into their practices.
On the traveller front, this year sees the rise of voice search. Already nearly half of Americans use voice search on their smartphone to discover information. More than 80% of results returned by Google Assistants are from the top three organic search results on the results page. That's why it's high time for hotels to crank up their SEO. On top of that, rethinking your content will also help. Use conversational keywords and create simple content using natural language to be easily found when guests use voice search.
Just as people are comfortable incorporating tech into everyday life, hotels can also benefit from the high-tech route. Given travellers' frequent use of mobile devices, automated text messages are gaining momentum. You can incorporate them to share important information with guests and expect a high open rate—98% compared to the 20% of emails. And while we're still on the topic of mobile phones, contactless payments are also a staple for post-COVID transactions. Whether done via ApplePay or with a bank card, contactless payments are among the top hotel marketing trends, helping to provide a frictionless experience for your guests.
4. Smart cookieless personalisation
It's no news that travellers need personalised experiences when booking their trips. In general, 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that offers a tailored purchasing experience. What is new is the way online personalisation will be done in 2024.
Cookies have been a huge part of online personalisation for decades, helping you log in or showing you relevant ads. However, 2024 is the year when Google puts an end to the reign of third-party cookies. From early in the year, Google will start blocking third-party cookies for 1% of users, aiming to fully remove third-party cookies by mid-2024. And as guests' privacy needs are shifting, advertisers are already seeing an impact. Without access to these cookies, some traditional strategies such as retargeting can become more challenging.
If you're part of the 63% of marketers that have no clear strategy for cookieless personalisation, now's the time to act. In the cookieless era, you need to be resourceful in the way you collect data and then use the data responsibly and ethically. Consider using first-party data—this is data collected from your customer base, subscribers and site visitors whenever they interact with your website, marketing material or when they make a purchase. This can give you plenty of data to personalise your email campaigns, website messages and the offers on your website.
5. Conversational commerce using Generative AI
In the past year, Generative AI has managed to sneak its way into marketers' daily work so it's no wonder that it is at the centre of a crucial hotel marketing trend for 2024. Though 75% of marketers use Gen AI for content creation and copywriting, the possibilities of incorporating Gen AI into your hotel marketing are endless. Particularly exciting for hoteliers are the opportunities for personalisation. 84% of digital marketing leaders believe that AI can help with personalisation and for good reason. Building upon the previous trend of smart personalisation, hotel marketing professionals can take a page out of eCommerce platforms' books to boost conversion on their direct channels.
A thriving trend in eCommerce has been conversational commerce. This is exactly what it sounds like—enabling consumers to shop and communicate with brands through messaging channels. Think chatbots, social messaging and virtual assistants. By integrating Gen AI into your website and enabling conversational commerce, you can have a direct impact on your guests' trip-planning experience. Plus, you can enhance your customer service experience and boost sales.
Nothing beats the human touch when it comes to hospitality. However, a well-trained chatbot answering FAQs and helping guests with bookings can make a huge difference. And this doesn't have to be just on your website. Consider messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat to exchange messages and help drive decision-making.
6. AR & VR Tours
With the amount of hotels available online, it's becoming harder and harder to distinguish your hotel from the crowd. That's why hotel marketers everywhere are finding more memorable and engaging ways to showcase their facilities and offer guests a sneak peek into the experience they offer. Particularly, we're talking about integrating AR and VR into your hotel website with virtual tours. A whopping 98% of people think 360° video is more exciting than regular imagery. As a result, not only are younger guests 130% more likely to book a place if there is a virtual tour, but they also spend 5 to 10 times on websites with virtual tours. This immersive technology captivates potential guests, making them more excited about the experience. On top of that, it makes them more confident in their booking choices.
Incorporating AR and VR into hotel marketing strategies goes beyond simple virtual tours. Creating immersive experiences using VR can bring a multitude of benefits to both hotels and guests. They improve the experience on your website and can help in securing more direct bookings. Plus, AR and VR tours offer a unique opportunity for storytelling, allowing hotels to weave narratives about their heritage, culture, and USPs in an engaging way. You can use them to showcase interesting information about your rooms, historical facts about the hotel and even information about artwork around the lobby. Plus, they can provide guests with a chance to look around your area before booking—seeing nearby landmarks, attractions and restaurants. This level of personalisation not only increases engagement but also helps in creating a more profound emotional connection with the property.
7. Socially responsible brand values
2024 is not the first year when CSR is more than just a nice-to-have. Modern travellers are informed and they value buying from businesses that align with their values. This trend reflects a growing awareness and concern about environmental issues. In fact, despite the high costs of living, many people would consider paying more for products and services that protect the environment. And given that 71% of travellers intend to travel more sustainably, hotels must cater to this growing segment. Despite the growing demand for sustainability, it's not easy for sustainability-minded travellers to find truly green accommodation. Acting quickly can help you get ahead of this growing trend.
For this year in particular, there is an increased focus on green certifications and labels in hotel marketing, as well as more focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Though obtaining a green certification usually involves a cost, there are a range of powerful certifications to choose from depending on what you're willing to invest in. For instance, TripAdvisor's certification is free, but holds immense power when displayed on your website.
Plus, in 2024, the hotel industry recognizes the critical importance of DEI in creating welcoming environments for all guests. Embracing DEI not only reflects the rich tapestry of global cultures but also ensures that events and services resonate deeply with diverse stakeholders, fostering a sense of belonging and community. Of course, it's essential for creating inclusive environments. You can integrate DEI into your hotel marketing by showcasing diverse teams, promoting culturally varied events, and highlighting inclusive policies. Like this, you'll not only appeal to a global audience but also demonstrate a commitment to embracing and celebrating diversity.
8. Influencer marketing—here to stay
Let's talk about influencer marketing. Sure, it's been around the block for a few years now, but in 2024, it's not just hanging in there; it's thriving. Gone are the days when influencer marketing was just an experimental strategy in a marketer's playbook. Today, it's a powerhouse, a crucial part of the marketing mix for hotels looking to make a real impact. Itvs all about authenticity and connection now. Influencers are no longer just faces with followings; they're trusted voices shaping guest perceptions and decisions. They bring that personal touch, transforming a hotel's story from just another ad into a relatable, aspirational experience. And let's face it, in a world where we scroll through ads like they're going out of style, that personal recommendation from a favourite influencer? It's gold.
Top hotel brands are strategically partnering with influencers who embody their ethos, turning authentic, relatable stories into powerful tools for marketing and audience engagement. Of course, they know what they're doing. Businesses tend to make $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. With a high ROI and the potential to truly boost your hotel's awareness, influencer marketing is a great activity to invest in this year. And it doesn't just have to be major, expensive influencers that you're working with. Micro-influencers make up nearly 50% of all influencers and their power of influence is massive.
The year of digital personalisation
As we wrap up our exploration of the top hotel marketing trends for 2024, one thing is crystal clear: the future of hotel marketing is vibrant, dynamic, and unapologetically digital. From the immersive world of AR and VR to the authentic voices of influencers, these trends aren't just shaping the way hotels connect with guests; they're redefining the very essence of the guest experience. As hoteliers, embracing these trends means not just staying ahead of the curve but also offering personalized, memorable, and deeply engaging experiences that resonate with the modern traveller.
So, whether you're sprucing up your social media strategy or reimagining your customer journey, the time is now to infuse these trends into your hotel marketing playbook. Here's to a year of innovation, connection, and unparalleled guest experiences!