Holistic hospitality marketing


Cover your bases for a better bottom line


In the current climate of fierce competition, innovative strategies are essential to drive demand and maximize revenue. One such strategy involves the adoption of a holistic hotel marketing approach designed to enhance brand awareness as well as boost occupancy, rates, and revenue.

A holistic marketing approach involves a 360-degree view of all hotel marketing operations to identify improvement areas and growth opportunities. The clue is in the name – the holistic approach probes into the efficiency and interdependency of all marketing elements, allowing for a more consistent, well-balanced marketing strategy.

A task of these proportions is, of course, best divided into multiple steps. According to best practice industry research, there are three crucial phases in adopting a holistic marketing approach. Let’s break them down and discuss how to best implement each one.

Research and discovery

The research and discovery phase is the bedrock of any successful marketing strategy, since it increases your understanding of your hotel’s current visibility status and reach. Different stakeholders often deem this phase unnecessary, but its importance can’t be overstated. Without first conducting thorough research, you risk expending energy suggesting improvements already in the works, rather than channeling your efforts into growth.

There are several ways to conduct this research:

  • Reviewing and auditing marketing agreements and analyzing the performance of distribution channels, such as GDS or Booking.com, provides valuable insights into your hotel’s current market positioning and potential areas for improvement.
  • Understanding website traffic through tools like Google Analytics offers crucial demographic and behavioral data that can be channeled into more targeted marketing campaigns.
  • Assessing the effectiveness of existing marketing channels, CRM systems, and databases also allows you to identify areas of strength and weakness.
  • Familiarizing yourself with your hotel’s performance metrics and budget allocations provides essential context for strategic decision-making.
  • Gaining a good understanding of the budget you’re able to allocate, based on your expectations, current state of revenues, revenue forecast, and any particular circumstances affecting your segment of the market.

The length of this process will depend on the size of your hotel. Regardless of how much time is required for your research and discovery, look at the time spent on this phase as an investment, as it sets the stage for informed and effective marketing strategies tailored to your hotel’s unique needs.

Sales & Distribution

A successful hotel marketing strategy needs to leverage multiple sales and distribution channels to maximize brand awareness efforts.

Once you understand your hotel’s current brand image – which should be “cohesive, clear, and compelling” according to Jamie O’Grady, a founding partner of J/PR – it’s essential to make sure all existing platforms are fully optimized. This includes captivating visuals, compelling property descriptions, and accurate location information. Invest in professional photography and videography that enhances your hotel’s visual appeal to attract potential guests browsing various platforms.

In addition to optimizing existing marketing channels, explore opportunities to expand your reach further. Platforms such as Consortia, Tablet Hotels, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith can help you tap into new markets and demographics. Memberships with local chambers of commerce, conventions, and CVBs can facilitate networking opportunities with local businesses, carving new revenue streams through corporate bookings and event collaborations.

Direct sales outreach is another critical component of a holistic marketing strategy. Engaging with universities by leveraging alumni relations, student affairs, and faculty connections can secure long-term partnerships for student housing and event accommodations. Creating a calendar aligned with university events can ensure timely outreach and maximize booking opportunities. You also can explore partnerships with local businesses in your area, such as hospitals and consulting firms, to capture niche markets and fulfill specific accommodation needs.

These strategies are just the tip of the iceberg. A holistic marketing approach for your hotel would need to take into account your unique position in terms of sales and distribution opportunities, and capitalize on the outlets that others may not have access to, making your hotel stand out from the crowd.

Digital Marketing Audit

You’ve identified areas for growth, optimized existing platforms, and cast the net wide to foster new connections. Now how do you ensure your brand is making the most of its digital presence?

In today’s digital age, a robust online presence is essential if you’re looking to stay competitive and relevant. Conducting a comprehensive audit of existing digital marketing efforts is paramount to identifying areas of optimization and improvement. (The thorough research gathered in the R&D phase mentioned above will make this step easier.) Your digital marketing audit could include the following steps:

  • Evaluate the performance of each digital channel, including social media, paid advertising, and email marketing, to determine their effectiveness in reaching and engaging target audiences.
  • On social media, focus on growth and engagement strategies tailored to the unique preferences of your target demographic. Implement targeted advertising campaigns and leverage user-generated content to enhance authenticity and credibility. Be prepared to offer incentives. It’s a reciprocal relationship: collaborating with influencers and local content creators can further amplify your hotel’s brand visibility and foster genuine connections with potential guests, who may eventually become regulars.
  • If you use email marketing, review the cadence of your newsletters and the content to ensure they feel relevant and valuable to subscribers. A good rule of thumb is to leverage personalized email campaigns based on guest preferences and behaviors. Using data analytics tools, track key metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to make data-driven tweaks and optimize your email marketing efforts.

A comprehensive, holistic marketing strategy can pave the way to boosting your brand’s presence, driving demand, and maximizing revenue for your hotel.

Armed with insights from your in-depth research and audit results, you’ll be able to identify the actions you need to implement. Don’t shy from enlisting the help of an industry professional to help devise a tailored action plan. To stay on the path to success, close collaboration with internal team members and external partners is vital to ensure the seamless execution of marketing initiatives, as well as regular monitoring of performance metrics and KPIs across all channels and adjusting your strategies accordingly.

There’s no escaping the ferocity of competition in the hotel world, but by prioritizing continuous improvement with a holistic plan, and adapting to changing market dynamics by continually optimizing strategies, you can hold your place in the arena, and even come out on top.

Jacqueline Villamil is the Chief Operating Officer at Strategic Solution Partners, a premier hospitality consulting and task force firm. Prior to joining SSP, Jacqueline accrued two decades of experience in sales, marketing, and revenue management of mid-scale, upscale, luxury, and lifestyle-concept hotels. Jacqueline also served as the Vice President of Sales for HEI Hotels & Resorts, Merritt Hospitality, and in director roles in sales and marketing for properties within Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels Corporation, and Meristar Hotels & Resorts, among others.

Deirdre Ryan has more than 20 years of experience in sales and marketing within the hospitality industry. With her unique skill set that combines strategy, revenue growth, and creativity, she has achieved financial success and brand growth throughout her career. 


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