These days most backpackers are equipped with a laptop, smartphone and/or tablet during their adventures. In addition to word of mouth and popular hostel search engines like HostelWorld, one of the most common ways that travelers find a hostel is through a simple Google search or social media. For this reason, it is crucial that hostels pay attention to their online marketing strategy to ensure they are not missing out on potential guests.
What are the Most Important Hostel Marketing Tactics?
For many business owners the ‘online marketing headache’ can be overwhelming, but combine that with the hands-on work needed to run a hostel in a foreign country and it can be very difficult. Here are the primary online marketing tactics that all hostel owners should be implementing for their business.
1) Content SEO & Blogging: Most travelers do a bit of research on their destination before they decide to book a hostel and go there. There’s no better resource for current travel information than a hostel located in your desired destination. The problem is that most hostels don’t share all of their wisdom online. Keeping an active blog with insider tips and things to do in their area can be a great way to generate more traffic and potential guests to a hostel website. It also helps to gain some trust from travelers if your information is helpful!
2) Local SEO: When someone types a search query such as ‘Medellin Hostel’ the Google Places program is triggered to show results in the area. What most hostels don’t realize is that these local profiles can be optimized to influence the Google algorithm and show up high in the search rankings.
3) Social Media: Whether we like it or not the age demographic that are most likely to use a hostel live on social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are just a few tools that can help to give your hostel a positive image to encourage visitors and connect with past guests to ensure that if they ever visit your city again they will always stay at your hostel!
4 Reasons Why Digital Marketing is Crucial for Hostels
1) Travelers are online frequently.
Over the last decade travel has changed drastically in how travelers interact with the Internet and technology during a trip. In the early 2000’s the most common way to connect to the Internet for a backpacker was to visit an Internet cafe or use a desktop computer at a hostel. For the majority of travelers now those days are over, as nearly everyone travels with a device that connects to WIFI. Whether it’s a tablet, smart phone or a laptop, travelers spend copious amounts of time using the Internet to share their experiences, communicate with loved ones back home, and do research about their journey.
2) Travelers use the Internet to find things to do.
The changes in technology for travelers have also modified the way they obtain information about where to go and what to do on their trip. Half a decade ago it was common to see travelers lugging around their large travel guides from Lonely Planet or Rough Guides for a source of information on what to do. These days most travelers find it far more convenient to simply use the Internet to research what to do as they have access to a variety of information and don’t need to carry a heavy, physical book.
3) Travelers trust local information.
The good thing about travelers using the Internet instead of guide books is that they have a variety of sources to chose from to figure out what they want to do. This gives more opportunity to smaller travel resources to capture some of the travel information market, especially if they provide more localized information. While Lonely Planet might be a household name and a common first stop for info on what to do in a new location, many people do not trust this information to be the most up to date. The amount of time it takes to deploy a writer to a location, to gather information, edit the book, and eventually publish, is significant and sometimes what used to be a popular dance club, bar or hostel might have fallen out of favor. Travelers also know that writers for publications like Lonely Planet are being paid to evaluate their destinations, which can often give a skewed perspective on what they are really like.
Most travelers much prefer ‘local information’ from people who actually live in the place and possess the most current information on what to do. Upon arrival at a hostel, asking the staff what to do is often the first thing a traveler does and they have a great respect for this local, insider perspective. If a hostel takes the time to execute an online marketing strategy that conveys this local information on their website, before a visitor arrives, they have a much higher likelihood of obtaining a new guest. Also, by simply providing relevant travel information about their city, a hostel has the opportunity to reach a far broader audience online. If someone is doing research for a trip and ends up finding the information they need on the blog of a hostel, there is a good chance they will evaluate that accommodation to see if they would like to stay there.
4) Travelers use the Internet to get a feel for their accommodation first.
In the same way that a storefront gives a feeling to a potential buyer or a book cover gives an impression to a potential reader, a website does the same for a hostel. If your website is well made to offer a positive user experience and provides a visitor with useful travel information to gain trust, there’s a good chance that a potential guest will already have a good impression of your hostel before they even step foot inside. People spend a lot of money to travel the world and a hostel experience can often make or break how much they enjoyed their trip. Employing a strong website and online marketing strategy to ensure that visitors get excited about your hostel, and the city they are about to visit, is a crucial first step for them to enjoy their adventure.
The Brandsmen work with hostels to help keep their beds filled using hostel marketing. If you need help with SEO, social media, content or anything related to digital branding please contact a Brandsmen today.