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In the today’s challenging market, it is vitally important that stretch your budget to the maximum. The COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdowns have profoundly changed and challenged the hotel industry in an unprecedented way. Digital marketing is now more vital than ever as online marketing continues to increase in importance by the day. In this article, you will be provided with an overview of the best digital marketing strategies and services to help maximize your return in the midst of the uncertain times and challenges we are facing in 2021.

The importance of digital marketing is amplified by the fact that more than 80% of travel bookings are made online via an app or website without any human interaction.

It is not only vital for your hotel to be online, but to be visible online to the right customers at exactly the right time. In this regard, finding and utilizing the right digital channels for your business and your budget is absolutely key.

Here is a concise overview of some of the most important channels for you need to use and integrate into your digital marketing strategy, along with the estimated required budget for each:

Your Business Website

Your hotel website is always going to be the place which attracts the most online traffic, and therefore makes up the greatest part of your online presence. As your most important digital asset, it should also be your most important online booking channel. Your website should have a superb design and be easy to navigate. Make sure your website is built and designed in a way that is

  • ADA Compliant
  • GDPR Compliant
  • Mobile-First
  • SEO-friendly
  • Fast loading
  • Designed to Maximize Conversion

A website design should never be more than three years old, at which time it normally becomes dated. If yours is, consider budgeting for a re-design within the next year.

How Much Should You Budget for a Website Redesign?

It depends on how old your current design is. If your hotel website’s current design is more than 5 years old, you might have to consider building an entirely new site from scratch. Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress provide an ideal platform and framework compatible with all the website attributes listed above. Having the right CMS framework makes redesigning your website much simpler.

Budget: For redesigning your website, the minimum costs would be around $2000-5000. However, if you are building a completely new site, you should budget for around $10,000 to $15,000.

Consider Additional Website Tools

In order to maximize the marketing potential of your site, additional tools to consider include:

  • Specialized content personalization
  • ADA compliance monitoring
  • Marketing messaging and rate abandonment pop-ups
  • Live chat services
  • Booking abandonment email marketing
  • Price comparison tools

Website Management, Maintenance and Hosting

Websites need ongoing care to be maintained and to ensure optimal functionality. Be sure to keep up with the latest updates with regard to your site’s speed, security, forms as well as CMS version updates.

Budget: A minimum of $300-$600 per month.

Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be an integral part of any digital marketing strategy in 2021. But this has also become a necessary ongoing expense, with search engines such as Google changing its algorithm an estimated 500-600 times per year. Because your competitors are constantly vying for the best spots on search engine result pages, you need to invest in ongoing SEO optimization services in order to consistently maintain and improve your brand’s online visibility and image.
The importance of search engine optimization is amplified by the following figures:

  • Google’s data shows that searches related to keywords such as “tonight” have increased by more than 500% over the past five years.
  • According to the latest data, nearly travel bookings start with a Google search or through some other search engine.

A bi-annual SEO audit, analysis and clean-up should be the bare minimum for any hotel as a base-level service to ensure your website maintains an optimal and organic online presence. If your hotel’s objective is to maximize traffic to your web pages, however, and drive revenue through content creation, you will need a more advanced level of SEO service. Costs can vary significantly depending on the aggressiveness and scope of the SEO services you employ. Make sure to take out an SEO package that is tailor-made for your specific needs and able to meet your objectives.

Budget: $300-$5000 per month (remember that costs may vary based on the amount of social channels being managed as well as the amount of content being published.)

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising online is a skill in itself. You need your ads to appear at exactly the right time and place to reach the right audience. When making decisions related to paid advertising online, it is vital to always keep your business strategies and aims in mind. Paid channels that potential guests are most likely to use to make bookings, must always be prioritized. Some channels you ought to consider include:

Paid Search

Paid search entails paying search engines to place your advertisement on search engine result pages. Your budget for paid search will depend on a number of factors, including the competitiveness of the market and the aims of your campaign. However, effectively managing this marketing strategy simply isn’t as simple as paying Google for an advertisement. There’s a lot more to it and your own website’s content is decisive in this regard.

The idea is to minimize your cost-per-click and maximize the visibility of your ads. In this regard it is vital that your marketing agency effectively manage your campaign. If an agency is effectively running a top-to-bottom-of-the-funnel campaign, you may see an ROI on paid search as low as 2:1. I would suggest that an agency is doing a good job at a 7:1 ROI.

Minimum Budget: Depending on your clients, industry, objectives, and locations targeted, budgets range from $1,000 to $10,000 per month

Agency Management Fees on Paid Search: Depending on your budget and agency, you can expect management fees to be anywhere from 10% – 30% of your budget for paid search advertising.


If you’re unfamiliar with Metasearch, you can find detailed information here [].

Essentially, metasearch aggregators compare hotel room rates from various online travel agencies (OTAs) and other booking sites all in one place. Important metasearch sites include Google Hotel Ads, TripAdvisor, HotelsCombined, Kayak, and Trivago. These sites allow travellers to search and compare hotels in terms of their pricing and reviews. The metasearch engine provides them with multiple booking options all consolidated in one location. Once the user selects and option, they are transferred to that particular website where they can complete their booking.

Google Ads and Tripadvisor generally has the highest traffic and production. It is advised to start advertising here before reverting to platforms such as Kayak, Trivago and HotelsCombined as needed.

Minimum Budget:

  • Google: $500/month
  • TripAdvisor: $500/month
  • HotelsCombined: $250/month
  • Kayak: $250/month
  • Trivago: $250/month


This is something to be considered as a brand awareness digital marketing strategy with has to be approached with caution. Display advertising normally refer to banner ads, but can at times include video, social media and in-app advertising. Some display products out there charge commission for every booking. The assumption is often made that the booking at your hotel is 100% due to display ads. However, consider the number and percentage of bookers who actually click on display ads they see on a site. Even sites like google have a dismally low click rate-to-read rate of only 0.46% []. Moreover, an increasing number of people regard display ads as intrusive and make use of adblockers [].

I am in no way suggesting that display should not be a part of a hotel’s digital marketing strategy. It can certainly play a role in branding and serve as a tool for influencing a potential guest to book your hotel. But display is only one of many marketing tactics that influences potential guests to finally book your hotel. It should only be used in strategic combination with SEO, Paid Search, Display, Social, & Email marketing, which all play varying levels of influence in the final booking.

I would strongly recommend investing in display platforms or products that do not charge commission on each booking. The best platform in this regard is Google.

At minimum, budget $500-$1000 per month on display prospecting and remarketing campaigns.

Additional Digital Marketing Services

Reputation Management

This entails monitoring and responding to hotel reviews on various review sites.

Consider the following important stats which pertain to the influence of reviews over potential guests at your hotel:

  • 96% of potential clients consider reviews important when searching for a hotel
  • 88% filter out hotels with an average star rating below 3.
  • Nearly 80% will read between six and twelve reviews before making a purchase decision.

Hotels with higher ratings also have better search engine results. As part of its commitment to the user experience, Google rewards high-rated businesses in several ways. When it comes to search rankings, the company confirms that “Google reviews count and scores are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.”

Your budget for this marketing strategy will vary depending on your target market, the type of hotel, the number of review channels and the type of reputation management services you employ, but consider a minimum budget of $500 per month for a quality review monitoring and responding service.

Targeted Promotions

Every marketing channel, whether that be SEO, Paid, or Social, is always delivered by an agency with a strategy. However, hotels should also consider targeted marketing campaigns specifically designed to aggressively promote an amenity, event, need date, or special offer for a limited period of time (typically for 3 months or less). These campaigns can serve you well in achieving additional, tangential goals that typically exist beyond those set forth by your ongoing SEO, Paid, or social marketing services. With targeted marketing campaigns you can utilize several digital channels within a single integrated campaign to meet a targeted short-term objective.

Depending on the setup, strategy and management of a targeted marketing campaign running for ninety days, you should budget for around $800 to $2000. Additionally, your hotel should also budget for media spend during the campaign period.

Blog Marketing

The right content on your hotel’s blog can be a very lucrative from an SEO perspective. Rightly executing a blog marketing campaign is crucial, otherwise you run the risk of wasting marketing dollars on a campaign that yields little return on investment. Blog marketing done the right way is extremely time-sensitive. At minimum, a hotel should post new content once a month, with each post and topic targeted to a specific audience, providing value to readers, and be optimized for search engines.

Consider spending a minimum of $200 per blog post.

Your Hotel Budget

In an ever-changing landscape, the digital hotel marketing industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The COVID-19 pandemic has also largely contributed to increased digitalization when it comes to marketing strategies. It is important to stay on top of trends and continually re-evaluate which new tools, products and services will serve to optimize your hotel’s unique marketing strategy. That being said, most of the marketing channels which have historically provided the highest ROI year-after-year are those outlined above, so be sure to focus on them.

Thankfully, in the process of coming to grips with all the elements of digital marketing and how they work to produce the best results for your hotel, you are not alone. Contact Blue Magnet Interactive and schedule a quick phone call for an overview of your budget needs. We analyse the goals of your hotel and help you determine the right marketing mix in order for you to achieve your goals, even if it means guiding you to a different agency or service. It is vitally important that you feel confident in the marketing strategy you choose to adopt to ensure your hotel’s continuing success.