Top Marketing Trends for 2014
1. Mobile consciousness:While I’ll spare you the message that a) you need your own website and b) you need a mobile version of your own website, a huge trend that you need to keep in mind for 2014 is that most people are reading your inquiry response emails from mobile device. Keep your emails short, don’t assault your prospective inquirer with a massive essay of words, and don’t expect them to complete complicated payment processes on the spot either. Before you hit send, imagine what you’d do if you received that same email on an iPhone.
2. Video: While nothing new to the online marketing world, 2014 will provide huge opportunities in video. Because it’s such a wonderful way to convey personality, find a local videographer and put together your own trailer.
3. Proactivity: For owners and managers, the inn marketing game has, up until this point, been a lot about sitting back and watching the show. Sign up for a listing site, get bookings, cha-ching! Not any more. 2014 is the year for individuals to make strides over their competitors in the doing department. Wanna start a blog? Do it. Wanna begin an email newsletter? Do it. Read up on various blogs and forums. Put those tips you learn to use. Those who don’t do stuff in 2014 will lose out big.
4. Added value: No longer is your beautiful inn enough in itself. Why? There are bound to be (if not already) tons just like yours down the street! You (as the host) must now provide additional value to your guests in order to seal the booking. Whether it’s an Insider’s Guide or simply Helping, Not Selling, you’ll need to realize that what sets your inn apart is not necessarily a physical attribute but rather a value you’ve added to the experience.
5. Less words, more visuals: Whether you’re using video or gorgeous photos, 2014 will be a great time to reduce the need for elaborate descriptions and instead show visitors what they’ll get. Photographers, videographers, and graphic designers in this regard will have great influence on inn marketing success.
6. Slipping conversion rates: Don’t shoot the messenger, but the bad news is this: with more and more competitors, your historical conversion rates (the amount of inquiries you convert into actual bookings) is bound to decrease in 2014. The best of us will be able to weather the storm. But those who aren’t proactive will feel the effects…hard.
7. Storytelling: Stories will become integral in the marketing of your rental in 2014. With so many owners blabbering away about how great their property is, the only true rentals that will stand out are the ones that travelers can connect with through great stories. Find your stories and harness them.
8. Email marketing: I believe 2014 will be a breakout year for email marketing as it relates to owners/managers staying connected with former guests. Because inns are so prime for repeat guests (and email marketing is the #1 way to stay in touch with past clients) it is those who begin building their databases now that will get a head start on the competition.
9. Design matters: OK lemme just say it: many inn websites are really ugly. They don’t do their property(s) justice. 2014 will be a great time to realize that your website, your logo, your email signature…all these things should be as beautiful and professional as your home itself. Having great design is just another of the competitive advantages every single one of us is entitled to. Either do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Because design counts.