Hotels and businesses in the hospitality sector often have fewer marketing resources and personnel than those in other industries. This means that the marketing efforts that firms in this field put forth need to be highly effective and well-targeted, as limited budgets mean a reduced number of channels for exposure.
Hoteliers for whom the main decision point is whether to market via email or another platform shouldn't put away their email contact lists just yet, as direct promotional messages remain highly relevant to the sector and can generate considerable return on investment.
The email vs. social media debate
Given that social media marketing is virtually free, it's easy to see why hotels with small marketing budgets might opt to devote their efforts to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Social networking platforms, however, still aren't offering the results that email is. According to a recent report by Web hosting provider Host Papa, email is still the preferred online marketing channel for 75 percent of adult consumers. Furthermore, the time users spend engaging with promotional messages is growing. In 2007, consumers spent 17 percent of their email time looking at commercial messages, while that figure stood at 30 percent in 2011.
Perhaps most noteworthy is that email marketing yielded a 4000 percent overall return on investment across all industries in 2012, according to Host Papa.
Meanwhile, just 61 percent of Web users login to social media sites, but 94 percent check email, the report showed. Email is more popular on mobile, too: 55 percent of smartphone and tablet users read emails on their devices, while only 36 percent access social media.
Strategizing for hospitality
In a recent post for Hotel News Resource, marketing strategist Madigan Pratt insisted that while social media can't simply be ignored, email marketing remains essential for the hospitality sector. Rather than choose one or the other, marketers in the field should know the strengths of each channel so that they can reap their full benefits.
"Email can be a powerful tool for driving revenue, but only when database marketing best practices are applied. Consequently when developing next year's marketing plans a good place to start is by auditing your email program to see if you are maximizing its impact on your bottom line," wrote Pratt.
Businesses can optimize email by obtaining rich data about their contacts and creating segmented email marketing lists to offer promotions tailored to recipients' interests. A contact who travels internationally on a regular basis can receive promotions on hotel rooms overseas, for instance.