How Hotels Can Use Big Data to Inform Marketing Strategy

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Last week it was my pleasure to attend the Hotel Designs Summit in Stansted to share some insights about metasearch and big data. The Hotel Designs Summit is a unique and highly customised event that brings hoteliers and suppliers together to discuss leading design, facilities, and hotel development solutions.

As well as presenting, I had the opportunity to speak to a number of hoteliers and learn about their challenges with hotel marketing in the pursuit of excellence and unique guest experiences. In this blog post, I’ll share some insights from my seminar along with various ways that you can incorporate big data into your hotel marketing strategy.

Metasearch matters for hotels

68% of UK travellers use metasearch when looking for hotels. This means that as many as every two out of three guests who walk through your hotel’s doors have found information about your hotel on a metasearch site, and potentially made their booking through a deal that they found on metasearch. This can be without you doing any proactive metasearch marketing.

You can get big data

Big data has become a bit of a buzz-word and the way it is talked about can make it seem unattainable, but don’t be deterred: big data is everything which cannot be contained in a single PC, but needs to run in several synchronised machines and scalable technologies – i.e. two or more computers that talk to each other to process the data.

That is good news because data is everywhere, and having ‘big data’ simply requires you to identify the data, have a vision for how you use it, and capture it. With the development of cloud computing this doesn’t have to equate to a huge investment in technological infrastructure.

At trivago, big data is a collection of all of the details from more than 4 million search queries per day by more than 120 million travellers who use trivago every month. It also includes the accommodation information of over 1 million hotels and 250 booking sites. We use it for identifying what travellers search for, where they want to go, what hotels they like to stay in the most, and all sorts of things that help us improve our websites for travellers, down to the smallest details like the colour of a button!

You can use big data

Clever marketing will help you win more bookings, and big data can reveal travel trends that help you make decisions about your marketing strategy. But where do you begin?

These are the recommendations I gave at the Summit based on just a small segment of our big data. They can help you identify the kind of data you should look for – whether that be to collect and analyse yourself, or to seek from external sources and reports available online.

Target travellers based on where they are coming from

Marketing to locals makes a lot of sense, but it shouldn’t end there. ‘Big data’ shows us that travellers are coming to the UK from abroad as well.

Naturally, the majority of searches to UK destinations comes from the UK itself. However, at the Hotel Designs Summit, I was able to reveal that the four European markets with the highest volume of searches to UK destinations are Germany, Italy, Spain and France (in that order).

London, Edinburgh and Manchester take out the top three spots for most searched destinations across all five countries, with one exception that Jersey takes third spot in place of Manchester for French travellers. Also highly featured in the top searched destinations are seaside locations and other major cities.

This information can help you decide where you should invest your marketing budget, based on your location and the demand of the international markets.

It also means that your hotel metasearch profiles should be optimised for domestic travellers as well as international ones. Moreover, priority should be given to the locales mentioned above. Start optimising your hotel profile by translating the description of your hotel into the above languages. Next, look to their Bank Holidays and cater to those dates ahead of time by marketing with travellers from the corresponding country in mind.

Schedule your marketing activity based on when travellers are searching

We know that some seasons have a higher demand than others, and in each season there is a busy period. From your own booking data you can identify when people book compared to when they will stay, but this doesn’t help you to know when to invest in marketing to attract travellers to your hotel or destination in the early stages of their research.

We can identify this from the search trends on trivago, and therefore the windows of opportunity in each season when you can get the highest exposure of your marketing and therefore the highest potential return for your marketing investment.

Based on UK traffic trends we can identify that the window of opportunity in UK during Winter, when traffic sees that highest peak, is in the second week in January.

Appeal to travellers’ search behaviour and motivations

So at this point you’ve consulted big data to determine where to market your hotel and when to invest in campaigns, but now what should you highlight about your hotel? You should focus on different features according to the type of travellers that you cater to at your hotel.

From our data we have identified three key types of travellers and their search behaviour, and from this you can identify what motivates them and therefore what you should tell them about your hotel.

Business guests look for short stays at the beginning of the week, and since they are not travelling for leisure they are more likely to be attracted to things that offer them some routine and home comforts – your gym, the high-speed Wi-Fi, your complimentary newspaper, and, if they are anything like me, your great coffee!

Weekend travellers are spontaneous and scramble to find their ideal hotel the day of or thereabouts at the end of the work-week, so hook them with services that add value and convenience to their stay – your great breakfast that they can fill up on before a day of exploring, your 24-hour check-in, late check-out or left luggage services to give them a stress free experience that fits in around those last minute flights they booked at awkward arrival and departure times.

Vacationers stay for longer, at least a week, and they use their downtime on weekends to plan and book their travel, so highlight what you can offer that will help them tick a few things off their long list so they can get back to their weekend – your airport transfers, your proximity to local points of interest, and discounts or deals you have with local tour operators and attractions.

Get started with our metasearch marketing tools

Everything I’ve mentioned here – utilising metasearch, identifying demand from different markets, monitoring traffic trends – can be achieved with our online tools; and check out our other posts on creating hotel marketing content for more tips.

If you’re interested in the data behind these insights, keep an eye out for some seasonal trends coming up on the blog, and if you have a burning desire for a specific insight, leave us a comment below.


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