Nowadays, in an environment where technology and the digital world is fundamental, we find the need to work more and more on our hotel’s website to try to attract visits, convert them into users who frequent it, and try by all means (with all the online strategies at our disposal) to convert them into direct bookings. And this is something we can only do with content. Content is the fuel of the engine we call the Internet.
Faced with the need to create this content, we find ourselves with several strategies at our disposal, but sometimes we do not know how to assess which one may be important for our objectives at any given time. Strategies such as the content marketing and branded content are based on content creation.While we always recommend including them within an Inbound methodology (which includes more content-based strategies), these two stand out for their usefulness and efficiency in generating value and achieving engagement.
Similarities and differences.
The line between content marketing and branded content is quite thin. Since both are based on the creation of content, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate which is which and at what point one or the other can be used to achieve one of our hotel’s objectives.
How are they similar?
Both strategies, in addition to being based on content, aim to reach potential customers in a non-intrusive way, that is, in a natural way through different content formats that provide value and are related to travel and tourism, in this case. Content marketing and branded content are intended to elicit a response from users, attracting them to other forms of content and educating them about your hotel brand. But there is more…
How do they differ?
On the one hand, content marketing is a more traditional online communication strategy that we know mainly from the blogging actions of our business. The main objective of content marketing is to educate the consumer on all aspects related to the industry, i.e. travel and tourism options available. This strategy gives power of decision to the users on our website.
And while it is essential for our hotel, we recommend that content marketing is linked to an Inbound methodology that also favors conversion. With the creation of Inbound content campaigns, we start with the distribution of content offers (eBooks, guides, downloadable infographics of interest to our users) that they reach through our blog posts. Once we get your
with the exchange of these downloadables, we can implement email marketing actions (also based on content) that support the whole campaign. In addition, social media strategies that promote the content. By adding value in this way, we gain the trust of these contacts, which will ultimately lead to more direct bookings.
On the other hand, branded content has a more playful objective. Part of the creative content is not only to provide value, but also to entertain and leave an impression in the user’s memory. It appeals to feelings to excite our potential customers, which is why it promotes storytelling (the story) mainly in audiovisual formats (not advertising), but also gamification, for example.
This strategy is useful to publicize the values of your hotel brand and improve the image that users have of it. However, although it is halfway between branding and content marketing, branded content has the peculiarity of not directly associating the brand with the content that is created. In other words, if you produce a video (we already know that video is one of the most attractive and memorable content formats), your brand is only a circumstantial element within the storytelling.
2. What strategy is best at any given time.
As we have already mentioned, content marketing within an Inbound methodology can allow you to get more visits to your hotel’s website and gain more quality contacts. So, if your goal is to increase your database with contacts more likely to make a direct reservation at your hotel, this strategy is the best.
However, keep in mind that in order to generate content you have to think about where your contacts are in their buying cycle as a consumer. This cycle is the famous traveller’s journey(dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing) on which you should base when planning, creating, publishing and distributing the right content.
Get inspired by the Kimpton Hotels blog:
And on the Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels blog:
On the other hand, this strategy, being linked to branding, is more effective when your objective is to generate a good impression among users and appeal to their emotions so that they associate your brand with the values you want to transmit about it. For example, the Marriot chain has already made two short films that follow the adventures of two bellboys at its hotels. They are stories full of humor, but mainly entertaining for their potential consumers:
For more information on how to work with branded content click here.
3. Practical example.
The fact that these strategies have different objectives does not mean that you have to choose between one or the other, as you can use both simultaneously to support a specific campaign, for example, a campaign to boost bookings for Valentine’s Day. In this case you could:
- Make a guide on the most romantic places and activities for couples near your hotel.
- Devise posts in the different states of the traveler’s journey that support this guide and follow SEO criteria: best destinations for romantic getaways for dreaming; what to do as a couple in such and such a place for planning, etc.
- Support this campaign by posting Valentine’s Day offers and recycling the content of your social media posts.
- Motivating your contacts (interested in this type of information) to move towards direct booking by sending emails with related content.
- Producing an experiential video (it can be short) in which the protagonists are a couple (similar to your target) enjoying the destination and in which your hotel brand is secondary.
As you can see there is work to be done, although you can decide which of the content strategies is in the best interest of your hotel.