Moving into New Markets via Influencers

By Megan (Sterritt) Taylor Marketing & Public Relations Consultant, KWE Partners | February 17, 2019

It's not even 2019 but travel marketing has already changed in a big way. The biggest shift in our industry in the past year has been that the end-all-be-all travel purchaser is no longer just the GenX mom of two.

Your mom buyer is now getting vacation recommendations from the kids. They saw their favorite Disney star post a picture of the coolest Splash Pad and they have to go. Honeymooners are opting for multiple moons (pre-wedding moon, post-wedding mini-moon, buddy-moon, babymoon, etc.) rather than an over-the-top 2 to 3-week stint off the grid which is going to leave them so far behind at the office that it's just not worth doing.

Grandma wants to leave her son or daughter behind and whisk away the grand kids. She's retired, and striving to be the Cool Granny is real. The new lawyer who just passed the bar got that signing bonus and he's ready to use it before the grind of 80-hour workweeks start.

This shift in how vacation decision makers select where to go requires a shift in marketing strategy. New markets offer new opportunities.

As we start to target younger demographics, one avenue that has seen huge growth with travel marketing has been influencer marketing. Younger audiences trust individuals more than they trust your brand. They are selecting their vacation plans based on suggestions from people that that they follow, yet don't personally know on social media. This presents a big opportunity for travel brands. Working directly with these individuals is influencer marketing.

In addition to different demographics, there are also different niches that hotels can go after. We've all been creating packages and experiences for those special interests for many years now, so why does social media targeting have to be any different? People who like art follow artists, likewise with food, design and fashion. You should also consider using them to host themed getaways – health bloggers hosting a wellness week, food bloggers leading a foodie getaway.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.