5 Hospitality Marketing Trends to Know for 2022
As hospitality marketers have learned first hand in the last 18 months, the hospitality industry is constantly changing. As hospitality marketers, it’s our job to keep up with the trends and ensure we’re prepared for what might come next.
Whether we’re talking about hotel website design, hotel SEO, or one of the many impactful hotel advertising tactics, the landscape is always shifting. And in the competitive hotel landscape, being late to the game means putting your hotel behind the curve. In 2022, there will again be a number of changes in the industry that will impact the way hotels market themselves and drive bookings from travelers. The global pandemic altered travel behavior, but with the rebound has come a fresh perspective on how to best reach those travelers.
As hospitality marketers prepare for the future in 2022, there are five trends to be aware of that could help generate more awareness, bookings and revenue. Here’s a closer look at five trends that could help shape the future of hospitality marketing over the next 12 months.
Trend 1: Shifting Marketing Focus to Gen Z
In 2022, hospitality marketers will shift some of their focus to the youngest generation of travelers — Gen Z. Born after 1995, Gen Z is already a force to be reckoned with when it comes to travel spending. And as they continue to grow in size and influence, it’s important for hospitality marketers to understand their travel motivations and preferences.
Today, Gen Z makes up more than 20% of the population, and the segment of the group aged 18-26 is increasingly interested in travel. According to Booking.com’s Destination Gen Z study, 65% of respondents ranked ‘traveling and seeing the world,’ as the No. 1 way they plan to spend their money over the next 5 years. Phocuswright’s Gen Z Travelers: A Breed of Their Own report, meanwhile, found that 43% consider travel a top priority.
Gen Z travelers are different from any other generation before them, including Millennials. They’re the first truly digital-native generation, and they grew up with social media and instant gratification. This has shaped their travel habits — they’re more likely to book trips impulsively, seek out experiences, and are more cost-conscious when it comes to travel. And, they’re an important part of hospitality marketing both now and for the future, as outlined in ETC’s Study on Generation Z Traveler’s market study:
- Young travelers are likely to return and give more value to the destination over time
- Young travelers are the pioneers who discover new destinations
- Young travelers are at the cutting edge of using new technology
So, what does that mean for hospitality marketing? Hoteliers will be tasked with meeting Gen Z where they are, and with the experiences they seek. That’s increasingly on social media. The National Retail Foundation reports that Gen Z spends 4.5 hours daily on social media, and their top social media platforms — Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat — look different than older generations, where Facebook still leads the way. Hotels that have a strong mobile-first website presence and can engage Gen Z with both an organic and advertising strategy on these emerging social platforms, will put themselves ahead of the competition for the growing Gen Z.
Trend 2: The Rise of Experiential Marketing
In 2022, hospitality marketers will have to get creative when it comes to marketing their hotels. With the rise in popularity of social media and the experiences and behaviors learned from the global pandemic, travelers are more likely than ever before to book trips based on what they see online — even if they’ve never visited the destination before.
This is where experiential marketing comes in. Experiential marketing is all about creating unique, one-of-a-kind experiences for guests to share online. The more special the experience, the better chance it has at being shared on social media. A number of hotels have already jumped into the trend by creating unique, shareable experiences at their hotel. Luxury and boutique hotels — as well as resorts or ski lodges — have a leg up when it comes to experiential marketing as they already stand out in a crowded field.
What makes a boutique hotel stand out? It’s the combination of unique design, personalized service, and focus on experience. Boutique hotels often have a more intimate feel — making guests feel like they’re staying with friends rather than a corporation. This is something that hospitality marketers can capitalize on by emphasizing the personal touch their hotel provides.
Alongside experiential marketing opportunities when a guest is at your hotel, travelers are increasingly interested in seeing the experience before they arrive. During the pandemic, that led to an uptick in marketing tactics like virtual tours. Hoteliers will have the chance to embrace the continued emergence of virtual tours in 2022 as well as things like 360-degree room tours and early adoption into artificial and virtual reality experiences. Plus, being seen on platforms like Instagram, where many travelers find inspiration, is important as ever.
Trend 3: The Personalized Customer Experience
Personalization has always been a key for marketing in any industry, but in 2022, it’ll become even more important to hotel marketers. As consumers increasingly turn to travel agencies and concierge services, hospitality marketers will need to make sure their hotels stand out among the competition. The key to staying ahead of the competition is being able to offer personalized experiences that are tailored specifically for each guest.
The more your hotel can do this, the better chance it has at standing out in a crowded market and landing more direct bookings from travelers looking for an experience they won’t get anywhere else. According to Reinvate, 86% of consumers said personalization plays a role in their purchase decisions. That’s where personalized marketing comes in.
Having a personalized marketing strategy likely starts with having an organized CRM with well-defined customer segments. Utilizing data, hotels can better offer up personalized loyalty programs and meet a traveler with the right offer or recommendation at the right time.
There are an increasing number of ways for hoteliers to jump deeper into personalized marketing, but it begins with good data and guest profiles, which will help answer questions like what room type a guest typically books, how long they stay, and more. With this information, hoteliers can engage with a number of tactics including:
- Personalized email campaigns
- Specific offers and recommendations
- Geo-targeting and website retargeting ad campaigns
- One-to-one customer service on social media
- Custom chatbots and conversational marketing
- Personalized on-site experiences, such as text messages
Trend 4: Metasearch Continues Growing
Metasearch engines are becoming an increasingly important part of the travel planning process. According to one study, 94% of travelers use metasearch at least occasionally to compare hotel options when planning and booking. That number isn’t likely to fall in 2022 as travelers become more comfortable using these engines and more aware of their benefits.
At the onset of the pandemic, as travel-related searches dwindled, many hoteliers pulled back on advertising spend, specifically spend geared toward pay-per-click. In that move, hospitality marketers saw many benefits and strong return on ad spend (ROAS) with metasearch. Metasearch isn’t a replacement for PPC, OTA, or social media advertising, but it is a perfect compliment that is only expected to continue to grow in size.
With Google Hotel Ads now leading the way with as much as two-thirds of the metasearch market, the marketing tactic is here to stay. Because of the number of options available to hoteliers and the growing number of features, including metasearch in an advertising strategy is a good idea for almost any hotel, regardless of size or type.
Trend 5: Hotel Website Design that Tells a Story
Hotel website design will become even more important in driving direct bookings. Hoteliers need to focus on creating a website that tells the story of their hotel and its unique selling points. This means using high-quality visuals and emphasizing the experience your property provides.
Today’s hotel websites should be designed in a way that makes it easy for guests to explore your hotel and find the information they’re looking for. It should also be easy for them to book their stay directly on your website if it meets all of their needs. For today’s audiences, telling those stories is often best done through vivid photography, video, and even 360-degree view of your property. Hotels that can best tell their story have an opportunity to stand out in a crowded field of hotels and land more bookings.
In addition to thinking about the traveler when building, redesigning, or refreshing a hotel website, it’s also important to think about technical factors. Google, for example, is putting a heavy focus on both mobile experience and page experience (e.g. load times). That’s just one of four hotel website design trends we expect to be prevalent moving into 2022:
- Moving toward a minimalistic, modern look
- Prioritizing website page speed
- Increased importance on responsive design
- Telling a story and showcasing value in new ways
In 2022, hospitality marketers will have to keep up with ever-changing trends if they want to stay ahead of the competition. By focusing on boutique hotels, personalization, the concierge economy, experiential marketing, and micro-marketing, you’ll be well on your way to driving more bookings for your hotel in the new year.