The top 5 things you need to know in hotel digital marketing right now.

Staying innovative in your digital marketing strategy means staying up-to-date with the ever-changing digital landscape. From TripAdvisor evolving into a social travel platform with new research and sharing tools to Google Maps adding a follow button for businesses, learn more about the top things you need to know now in hotel digital marketing.

1. SEO: Google launches a “follow” button for businesses in Google Maps.

Earlier this year, Google added a posting feature to Google My Business listings, allowing businesses to post updates directly to their local listing. Now, Google has added a “follow” button for businesses featured on Google Maps so users can subscribe to a business’s updates, which will display in a new tab for users called “For You.” In light of this new feature, businesses will be able to launch a Google My Business listing three months prior to opening, in order to build awareness and traction.

Now hotels have a new way to engage with potential guests, keeping them in the know of spa or dining specials or driving awareness of new hotel openings on Google Maps, up to three months before the first guest sets foot in the lobby.

2. SEM: Google expands Exact Match to include close variants focused on query intent.

Google has officially rolled out exact match to include variants that share the same meaning of the keyword, including implied words and paraphrases. Now, instead of focusing on the exact wording of the keyword, Google is focusing more on the intent of the keyword to potentially reach more users with relevant ads, even when the query itself might be worded slightly differently.

In light of this change, hotel search marketers may be able to spend less time building out exhaustive lists of keywords for campaigns and more time analysing search term reports for new and negative keywords once a campaign gains traction.

3. Display: AMP Story Ads come out of beta with Google Ad Manager support.

AMP Story Ads are full-screen ads that appear directly within a Google AMP story to promote products, services, and content. They’re now accessible to everyone with the Google Ad Manager. Hotel brands with a strong blog presence or editorial content hub can utilise AMP Story Ads to promote content to mobile users on the go.

4. Social: TripAdvisor goes social with personal ways for travel planners to connect and share advice.

The new TripAdvisor expands its community beyond travelers to also include brands, social media influencers, publishers, and friends. Travel planners can now follow and connect with individuals or content creators who share information that is relevant to their travel research and interests.

“Complementing our more than 661 million reviews and opinions, TripAdvisor members will be able to create and view inspirational and helpful new forms of content including photos, videos and articles,” TripAdvisor announced on their investor relations forum. “Members will also have the ability to create “Trips,” which can be in-depth travel guides, itineraries, or simple wish lists of things to do while traveling. Trips can be made private and saved for personal use or shared with the community to inspire and help others.”

As TripAdvisor evolves more into a social community, there’s potential for TripAdvisor to dramatically change the way travelers research and plan travel. While the impact of these changes remains to be seen, hotel brands should keep a pulse on these changes to find new ways to leverage in their digital strategy. HEBS Digital is currently developing best practices on ways hotels can take advantage of these new TripAdvisor features.

5. Design: Particle website backgrounds.

Hotels with limited video assets that still want engaging animation throughout their web design should consider a particle background. Particle backgrounds are lightweight java script animations that allow movement to be created as a subtle part of the website background. This is a great way to make a website more exciting and interactive without overwhelming visitors.

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