We all do it – when we’re waiting to check in or have just got to our rooms, we look at the hotel’s in-house magazine to look for related information on restaurants, local attractions, things to do or real estate.
Hotels and other parts of the travel industry produce an amazing number of these magazines every year – practically every hotel has one – but we think they are missing an opportunity by keeping them print-based. Here are three reasons why hotels should switch to creating these magazines on-line (digital) as well.
1. On-line media have a great ROI
We’re not saying print is dead – there’s still a place for it – but the amount of money hotels and other travel industry professionals must spend on printing each year is phenomenal. And the return is less and less.
A study on Buteeq  shows that digital outweighs print and traditional promotion methods for ROI. Meanwhile HEBS Digital  has published a study suggesting that the industry should spend 6-8% of its budget on online media.
Why should hotels spring for glossy, full color covers and pages (which are expensive) to create something that may end up in the garbage? There’s no denying the visual appeal of these publications, but if they are digital, people are much more likely to keep them. An online magazine takes up little physical space and, done right, can have the same visual appeal of the print counterpart. Best of all, it’s inexpensive to produce.
2. Customers Can Subscribe to Online Magazines
You know one of the major problems with hotel magazines? Customers can’t subscribe to them, or alternatively, if they can, it is utterly expensive to ship the magazines to them world-wide. But online magazines don’t have shipping costs, so visitors could subscribe to the magazine and stay updated on what’s happening. This type of appointment marketing could help hotels to form a connection with visitors. Offering a free online magazine for your hotel allows you to get permission to email customers by offering something of value in return. And that should have an effect on leads and sales.
3. Your content can be available after booking and before arrival
This is the part that I personally would find most useful. What better preparation for my stay than to receive the latest issue of the hotel’s magazine? After all, I am preparing my trip, so that is when tips and stories on what’s happening are most likely to influence my plans.
In summary, online magazines will help hotels to:
- increase the satisfaction of their travellers
- showcase their knowledge
- build a relationship with their customers
- market without overt sales pitches.
If you’re in the hotel business every time someone walks away with your print magazine and then throws it in the garbage you are losing out on a chance to connect and engage with that customer. That just doesn’t make sense. As part of the travel industry, hotels have been in the forefront of content marketing. Since we know that this is an effective way to get business leads it makes sense to jump on the latest content marketing trend and put your hotel magazines online.
Online magazines are a key tool for content marketing, and it’s something the hotel industry can use to provide information before customers book a stay, to build engagement during their stay, and to keep the relationship going after the stay.
We’re not the only ones to think this is a good idea. Recently, the Marriott hotel chain, which has 155 hotels worldwide, decided to put the emphasis on content marketing . The hotel chain provides value to its guests by helping them discover both what’s going on inside the hotel and what’s happening around it.
But online magazines for hotels can go even further. With more people researching purchases (including travel plans) on mobile devices, online magazines must be optimized and adapted to work with smartphones and tablets (read more here) and be SEO-optimized (more on the necessity and benefits of SEO can be found here). That’s why there’s no point in creating a PDF version of your existing hotel magazine. Instead, create an online magazine for your hotel that’s:
- interactive – online magazines can embed video and multimedia as well as active links that customers can follow.
- informative – with a mix of short snippets and in-depth articles
- optimized for social sharing – which is what most online users do with great content
- easily readable on mobile and tablet as well as desktop reading
- optimized for SEO, to get organic search results
Relevant, interesting content and actionable information will mean the people who read the online magazine for your hotel can use it to guide their decision making and begin to build a relationship with your brand.