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Hospitality and Travel Marketing: Tips to Promote Destinations Overall and Attract Russian Tourists

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Hospitality industry is not about business or economy. It is a wider notion including tourism and catering, service and entertainment, food, organization of museum and excursion activities and many others. Hospitality is important not only for a single person, an owner of a company, but for the whole country’s economy in general. In particular, it is relevant for those countries which economy directly depends on development of the tourism industry.

Why are some nations considered hospitable and others, on the contrary, offish and chilly? It happened so not only because of historic nuances: note that economies of countries that are notable for their reserved manners do not really rely on tourism. In contrast, predominantly touristic countries are proud of their hospitable residents and developed structure of recreation and entertainment. All these things shape hospitality industry.

Today we will talk about one of the key categories in the hospitality industry - hotel business, through the example of which we will delve into travel and hospitality marketing peculiarities.

How Do Hotels Promote Themselves in the Russian Internet?

Sales via third-party online booking services

We decided to start from this very thing because, as of today, placement in online booking systems is a key hospitality and travel marketing channel. Such placement is suitable for sales of rooms in any hotels, from hostels to business hotels.

Potential clients prefer to use booking portals or aggregators because:

  • all offers are gathered at the same place;
  • it is easy to compare prices and scope of services;
  • to book a room, an Internet connection is enough;
  • you can trust a hotel’s reputation as moderators stand up for true hotel ratings.

When registering with aggregators, hotels also gain certain advantages:

  • saving on advertising budget, as it is the aggregator that invests in promotion and context in commercial queries;
  • visibility of offers to users from any part of the world;
  • attraction of extra targeted traffic to the website;
  • participation in hotel ratings based on clients’ reviews.

Remember: the more aggregators you use to attract tourists, the higher the sales are.

Top 5 online booking services in Russia:

  • booking.com
  • trivago.ru
  • 101hotels.ru
  • ostrovok.ru
  • hotellook.ru

It is not enough to be present in booking systems—one also needs a promotion. You must learn terms of placement and search results, think over tariff schedules and option lists, monitor timeliness of prices and availability of rooms in the booking system.

Direct sales of rooms

Create your website

Having no own website, a hotel business, in fact, deprives itself of direct sales online. Definitely, publications on online booking websites lets you find new customers; however, do not miss an opportunity to get direct sales through your own online presence.

  • The website must be as easy-to-use as possible while providing users with comprehensive information. A tourist should have a chance to do the following right when on:
  • To look at and select a room by certain criteria. For that, you can adjust filters on your website. For example, the Hilton website lets you specify search results by such criteria as type of room, number of beds, and type of rate.

  • To book a room you liked most. Make sure that your order form has all boxes to be filled in to check in your hotel. Besides, present a user with choices to, for instance, check in online or via manager who will consult him or her online.

To pay for the room online. Again, the more payment options you provide a potential client with, the higher chances are that he or she will choose your very hotel.

Start context ads

You need to understand that competition in hotel business is also high online, and room search and booking websites take top positions for most keywords. For example, a query ‘Book a room in hotel Dubai’ shows various aggregators and ads of only one Hilton hotel on first pages, both in ads and in organic results. That is why we do not recommend hotels to launch context ads; however, if you have an objective like that, below we provided a list of relevant recommendation.

  • Adjust context ads to most specific queries.
  • Make ads with the use of all possible expansions: use extra links and details (for example, if you have a swimming pool and a babysitter, say it in the profile so that you do not need to mention it in the advertising text.
  • Optimize PPC and aim for being on the first page of search results—taking high competition into account, one should not really count on cheap clicks.

Search Engine Optimization

Why is this channel of no interest for small hotels? There are a limited number of rooms. They can be fully booked via context or publications with an aggregator, plus there are direct offline sales. Why should they overpay for orders that are knowingly over and above?

For many hotels, this is one of a few opportunities to hit the top of search results. Website optimization is a time-consuming tool. Hitting the top of relevant keywords can happen in 3 months—or in a year. As the competition is dreadfully high even for brand queries, it is best for hotels to combine SEO promotion and context ads. For example, when you search ‘Hilton Dubai booking’, the Hilton websites takes first positions in context ads, but only the 9th place in organic results, right after aggregators.

Social media ads

Set up targeted ads in popular social media in Russia (VKontakte, Facebook, and Instagram) with a last minute deal or a special offer, for example, with a promo code for a discount when booking a room. Such ads will let you increase the reach, while clicks and conversion may cost less than, for example, when launching context ads. However, the opposite can also be true. That is why we recommend experimenting with various advertising channels and budgets: see what channel brings more leads at a lower price and invest more funds there. Above all, do not cater to clicks! Evaluate channels only by a lead cost, or a really booked a room in your hotel by a tourist.

Offline Promotion

The main offline promotion channel for foreign hotels in the Russian market is still cooperation with tour operators and agencies.

Firstly, this is due to the fact that more than 60% Russian tourists prefer organized tours, while most independent travelers, as a rule, purchase tickets and book hotels online (consequently, for their attraction it is reasonable to use channels that we considered above).

Secondly, nearly 80% Russian tourists prefer to stay in hotels when traveling.

4-star hotels are the most popular ones among Russian tourists. In 2017, the share of guests in 4-star hotels grew by 2%, while one in 3-star hotels decreased by 3%. At the same time, stays in 5-star and 2 star hotels and hostels did not change.

An important factor for Russian travellers to choose a hotel is still recommendations (not only by tour operators).

So, in March there was an award ceremony Starway World Best Hotels in Moscow, where the best hotels of 2018 were announced, chosen by tourists. More than 260 thousand travelers took part in voting. Apart from the general rating, the best hotels for family recreation were also chosen this year.

This award is established by Coral Travel, one of the leading tour operators. The nomination of a hotel for the award is crucial for the market, since it is tourists who act as experts while selecting the best of the best. In total, 261,942 tourists took part in polling in 2018, evaluating 6,801 hotels in 98 destinations of 31 countries of the world.

As for tourists who stayed in Top 100 hotels, the average satisfaction score is 4.72 out of 5 (or 94.4%). The hotels that hit Top 10 got 4.88 points (or 97.6%).

The award established by Coral Travel, as market analysts believe, is the today’s most impartial assessment of hotels. In particular, a relationship between an operator and a hotel does not matter for selection of the best, nor is it considered when finding winners and a number of tourists who stayed in one or another hotel.

Brand Promotion — Image Cultivation

As we already noted above, there is no sense for small hotels to compete with aggregators online. However, they should not forget about an image component.

To cultivate and maintain a brand image, any type of hotel needs to involve such promotion channels as publications with bloggers and influencers. Within your budget, there are two ways of promotion through assistance of bloggers.

  • Option 1. Invite one blogger

This option is suitable for small hotels. Depending on the purpose, the time of a blogger’s stay in your hotel can vary from one day to two weeks. The advantage of inviting one blogger is that you do not need to care about an entertainment program—it is enough to arrange accommodation, to introduce the blogger to hotel services and surrounding features, and, as a rule, you will get a loyal blogger who will make a story (or a number of them) about your hotel. The disadvantage is obvious—the reach will not be so big as compared to, for instance, a blog tour.

A detailed review can also become a spice in promotion of a small hotel. The main point is, after the review is published, make sure that this blog is read by as many Runet users as possible: launch targeted ads with a link to the blog, use the review in your emailing, share it on your website.

  • Option 2. Organize a blog tour

A blog tour is an optimal format of work with bloggers for big facilities or several small hotels united by shared vision. The advantage of this format is that just in three-four days or even less you can tell quite a big heap of Internet users about your hotel.

Working with bloggers is an element of a long-term strategy, and its efficiency and result depend a lot on the hoteliers’ works. However, there is another factor of no small importance: we recommend contacting experts for organization of blog tours! If your hotel network has a team of marketers and PR specialists who can handle all the work on organization and conduction of a blog tour, go right ahead. But if there is only one person in your team dealing with event management and marketing, it is better to delegate this task to an agency. In fact, a blog tour is not only about invitation of bloggers (whose choice, by the way, must be very responsible in order not to go wrong with disloyal audience) and their informing about your hotel, but also about control of the bloggers’ activities during the tour, as well as monitoring of content about your hotel during and after the tour (coordination of posts, deadlines etc.).

Just like in work with one blogger, it is important to involve all promotion channels you have after publication of blog tour materials to raise the reach. What a hotel needs from bloggers is, first and foremost, content. However, bringing this information to potential clients and platforms where bookings are actually made is already a task of the hotel’s team.

Apart from blog tours, big networks also need to involve offline channels in terms of brand promotion: placement in magazines, fitness clubs, on TV.

2018 Best Hotels

1st place. The best hotel is Mitsis Ramira 5* in Greece for the second year in a row.

2nd place. Next is Cornelia de Luxe Resort (Turkey).

3rd place. Bronze is taken by Maxx Royal Belek Golf Resort 5* (Turkey).

Most awards were received by Turkish (62) and Greek (11) hotels. Hotels of Vietnam (6), Thailand (5), UAE (3), Russia (1) were awarded, too.

Best hotels for vacations with children

Top 3 leaders nominated as Child Friendliness Hotels are Turkish 5* hotels:

1. Maxx Royal Kemer Resort

2. Maxx Royal Belek Golf Resort

3. Cornelia de Luxe Resort

Best hotels for vacations of children and parents

1. Xanadu Resort Hotel

2. Gloria Golf Resort

3. Gloria Serenity Resort

4. Otium Hotel Life

5. Titanic de Luxe Golf Belek

All hotels here are 5*.

Award as a quality score

As the Hotel Manager of ELA Quality Resort Belek, Mr. Ufuk Gezgin, noted, the Starway World Best Hotels award is of high importance for hoteliers.

“Throughout the year, we do a lot of work to ensure high-quality service in the hotel, and it is important for us to know that we do this work well. Clients staying in our hotel are satisfied with our service, and this award proves it”, said Mr. Gezgin.

Mr. Stelios Matsigkos, Hotel Manager of Rodos Village Beach Hotel 5*, highlighted in his comment for Vestnik ATOR that being awarded with Starway World Best Hotels is largely an effective tool to attract tourists.

“The award gives the hotel a head start as opposed to competitors, as clients can see from many channels that this is us who provided a very good level of service valued by travelers themselves”, he noted.

Sales Manager of Jaz Hotel Group, Mr. Nader Hanna, also believes that the award is an important focus for tourists when choosing a hotel.

“For us, it is important to be a nominee at Starway World Best Hotels. When clients see that the hotel has an award, they can rest assured about quality of the service that they can get in this hotel”, he tells to Vestnik ATOR.

First of all, this refers to attraction of new guests. “Frequent guests, most often, already know where they go and why. For new clients, when choosing a hotel, grades and rating are very important—they look for comments, reviews of the hotel service. Besides, the nomination is important for all hotel employees. Many of them do not know talk to guests directly and cannot get any feedback about their job. At the same time, it is very important for them to know that their work is done not for nothing. Employees are particles of a big hotel system, and their labor is additionally rewarded in such a way”, says a representative of Gloria Golf Resort 5*, Inna Pruhlo.

Event participants also noted the importance of the fact that the award is established and granted by a big tour operator, one of the recognized leaders in the travel market.

“We know that tourists follow reviews of other people most often. And when a person sees that a hotel received an award of Starway World Best Hotels founded by Coral Travel, he or she understands that he or she can trust these reviews. Coral Travel is a figure of merit. It is not for nothing that their motto is “Your vacation is in safe hands”. We are very happy to get this award. This demonstrates that our hotels are not only popular but also accord with positioning of Coral Travel in the market”, told representatives of Vinpearl network, Ngak Dui An and Yulia Marchenko.

Hoteliers noted that they widely use information about their award in hotel promotion. They place it on exhibits in hotels, on their websites, as well as in the context of participation in tourism exhibitions and other events all over the world.

Conclusions

Is it still hard for you to decide on your hospitality travel marketing strategy, calculate the hotel promotion budget in the Russian market, and choose optimal channels of interaction with consumers? Contact RMAA Travel. Our experts will save your time and help attract tourists from Russia to your hotel.

Do you want to know more about the Russian outbound travel market? Download our research Russian Tourism Market Report: Trends, Analysis & Statistics and learn more about how to attract Russian tourists to your country.

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About the Author

Digital marketing manager, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Group Blog

Author Yulia Vasilyeva
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