A high occupancy rate is every hotelier’s dream. And to reach that high occupancy rate, hotels are heavily reliant on a good strategy. In the past, you may have devised a seemingly perfect marketing strategy in hopes of attracting as many bookings as possible. However, you may have also been disappointed to find that you weren’t getting the results you hoped for. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to invest more in your marketing or improve the on-premise experience. The fact is, while some of your unique selling points (USPs) are perfect for some travellers, they are less relevant for others. This is why having a well-defined target audience, and knowing its ins and outs, is crucial.

Catering to everyone means catering to no one. And by having a set target audience and tailoring your marketing for it, you’ll be able to provide the personalised experience that travellers crave. On top of that, good targeting offers more benefits. Think more efficient spend of your marketing budget, better use of time by investing it in high-value prospects and being able to reach those that see more value in what you offer.

To ensure a focused and highly targeted marketing strategy, here are the 3 steps you need to take to ensure you best appeal to your target audience.

Three people looking at a phone together
Having a well-defined target audience, and knowing its ins and outs, is crucial.

Step 1: Define and understand your target audience

When it comes down to terminology, it’s easy to mix up the ideas of ‘target market’ and ‘target audience’. And while both of them are highly relevant to you, it’s essential that you distinguish and identify both properly.

In the context of hotels, a ‘target market’ is a broad set of people that your hotel could potentially appeal to. A few ways to segment your target market is by looking at demographics such as age, income and location. A ‘target audience’ is a more specific set of people within your target market that you want to reach with specific marketing messaging.

Ways to define your target market and audience

One of the best ways to identify your target market is by looking at your existing customers. What is it that attracts them to your hotel, and what do they have in common? Luckily, for hotels, this information can be easily obtained. You can start by looking at information from your PMS or Google Analytics data. This can help you form a broad idea of what your target market could look like. For a more in-depth analysis, look at reviews, social media comments, surveys or even from conversations your front desk may have with guests. If you feel like there are gaps that you want to fill, consider sending out a post-stay survey via email.

People talking over the reception counter at a hotel.
You can start by looking at what characteristics your hotel guests have in common.

Use your data to form insights

What you should aim to do is get to know who your guests already are, and what they enjoyed about your hotel. You can then use this information to find out what potential guests you are most likely to attract. Having data is great, but you are trying to form insights—this means analysing the data to form conclusions about the wants and needs of your hotel’s target audience. Afterwards, you will be able to tailor your marketing to suit the insights you have identified and attract the potential guests most likely to convert.

For example, you may have found through surveys that your quiet and cosy bar area, as well as your high internet speed, have been attracting many remote workers. Or potentially, your proximity to a forest and your exquisite spa have been attracting couples looking for a retreat away from the bustle of the city. Keep this information in mind, and use it in your favour.

People writing on sticky notes to form conclusions about a marketing campaign
Put together all the insights you have gathered to form conclusions about your target audience.

Step 2: Tailor your marketing efforts to meet your target audience’s needs

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your marketing strategy to reach your target audience. Keep all the elements that have been bringing you direct bookings already. These can be social media, your website or email marketing. However, you will need to take a few extra steps when devising the content for these channels.

Reaching the right audience

You need to make sure your message reaches the right audience. One easy way to do this is by setting up targeted messaging on your website. Like this, you will have the chance to create separate messages for different customer segments. On top of that, not only will this be done automatically for you, but you will also get to target specific groups in your booking engine.

A screenshot of targeted messages in the booking engine.
You can use the insights you have about your audience to create targeted messages in the booking engine.

Creating the right content

You need to make sure you “speak your guests’ language”. Tailor your messaging to make sure that you highlight the USPs they want to see when they book a hotel. For instance, families may not care about “Fast Wi-fi” when booking a hotel, but remote workers will surely do. Make sure you understand what your guests need, and highlight that in your offers. This also extends to your email marketing. For a highly targeted approach, you can personalise your pre- and post-stay emails based on each audience you have identified.

Messaging is just one way to make sure you reach your desired target audience. Another is imagery. For instance, when posting on social media, choose imagery that is relatable to your target audience. For instance, if you target couples looking for a quiet retreat, it might be best not to use families with children in your imagery.

On the topic of making your marketing relatable to your target audience, you can also consider collaborating with an influencer. Particularly if you find influencers that your audience would identify with, you open yourself up to a whole new audience of people that may not have heard of your hotel before. And don’t just look for big influencers—working with micro and nano influencers is useful too (and cheaper).

An offer for a target audience consisting of couples.
An offer for a target audience consisting of couples.

Step 3: Use data to measure and optimize your marketing efforts

After implementing your targeted approach, you will need to measure its current performance against your previous performance. You can look at metrics such as conversion rates, click-through rates, and numbers of bookings. If the effort doesn’t seem to make a difference in the numbers, you may have failed to uncover the most valuable insights for your target audience. However, if the numbers have improved, you are on the right path.

Of course, you need to constantly optimise your efforts. Make changes to your offers over time to see how different versions perform. Some options you can consider are changes to your offers’ titles, descriptions and USPs highlighted. On top of that. you may reconsider certain marketing channels. Is your social media underperforming? Consider where your audience spends most of their online time, and shift your focus there.

Get ready for highly converting targeted marketing

It’s crucial to speak the language of your guests. And though you may think you know who they are, you might be surprised at some insights you can uncover. Don’t be afraid to dig deep into what your current guests like and dislike about your hotel. And after you’ve understood your audience, make changes to your strategy accordingly. The sooner you start refining your target audience and speaking their language, the sooner you can reap the benefits. So the best time to start is now.

May 11, 2023
Written by
Hotelchamp Team