Facebook advertising is one of the highest ROI marketing channels because of the power it gives you to target the right people and personalise. If set up right, Facebook helps your hotel generate more direct business when you need it – and to precisely those assets you need to promote now.

In short it puts control in your hands as a hotel owner or manager because you can switch it on or off like a tap. And if you set it up right the ROI will be 100% transparent.

Unfortunately it’s all too easy to use Facebook advertising the wrong way. Avoid these pitfalls to boost your Facebook ad campaigns immediately:

1. Superficial targeting
A 4 or 5 star hotel GM may say: ‘I want more luxury clients for our premium services’. But direct targeting of upscale brand or travel affinities without deeper segmentation will blow through budgets because such audiences are already saturated.

Your hotel’s Facebook ads need to motivate the right people in a timely way.

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Use two contrasting approaches to find the right audience on Facebook:

ULTRA-NARROW: Segment micro-audiences by locality, proven behaviour or prior interactions. Example: Make an F&B offer to previous business guests who live within a certain radius, enjoy dining out or follow close competitors.
BROAD: Target a big audience but retarget based on engagement with your ad. Go for the sale in your retargeting not the initial ad. Example: A concierge video of local attractions retargeting a leisure offer to those who watch a specific segment.
Hotels and their agencies often get caught ‘betwixt and between’ which risks being lost in the crowd. Instead, EITHER be ultra-specific and go for direct conversion with an irresistibly timely and personalised offer…OR go broad for low CPC with engaging content to segment your audience for a confident one-two punch (convert in step two).

Above all test, don’t assume!

Extra tip: Combine broad targeting with Facebook Trip Consideration – a sweet spot to obtain high reach and good conversion if you execute well.

2. Inadequate remarketing
Putting generic ads in front of a cold audience is rarely profitable unless you are lucky. Retargeting of a ‘warmed up’ audience is usually where the money is.

You have a few options to do this right:

Launch an awareness, engagement or video views campaign to prime and qualify your audience. You may want to reinforce this with an email or Messenger sequence.
Use a custom audience from your email database, past interactions with your social media, affinity from a related source, lapsed guests, etc.
NB: Ensure you have the required permissions related to GDPR, privacy and local laws.

Do you manage multiple properties? Great! Share the Facebook pixel across your account to improve conversion by targeting people who already engage with your brand.

A Facebook Lookalike Audience is also likely to get better results than a cold audience.

Extra tip: Use retargeting across platforms (e.g. sharing data between Facebook and Google) for even better ROI.

3. Me-too messaging
As I live in London and follow hotels, I’m inundated with afternoon tea offers on my personal Facebook and Instagram, most of which are identical:

Image of trays and cakes in a luxury setting
Description based on ‘indulgence’ motivator – uninspiring to me as a health freak
No transparent pricing until I waste my time and the hotel’s budget by clicking
Poor mobile optimisation and inadequate use of FB mobile features
Facebook knows my preferences but the hotels presenting these offers or their agencies have been too lazy to use all its personalisation capabilities.

Imagine instead the following:

An ad that catches me at the very moment I’m thinking of booking afternoon tea for a friend or anniversary
An ad with engaging mobile-specific video or images with copy speaking to my specific interest or location
An ad that creates credible urgency by offering a transparent deal that genuinely disappears unless I act now
An ad that gives me the customer experience I’d expect from a 5 star hotel and makes me feel special from the ad itself (e.g. a call back, personalisation, gift, etc.)
In short: intercept your client’s ‘thought process’ to go deeper and stand out. It sounds like magic but Facebook makes it possible. Stimulate curiosity, intrigue and emotion.

Extra tip: Targeting time-constrained professionals? Our testing has shown that mobile ads are the only way to go. Desktop should be just an afterthought.

4. Bad timing
Time your ads properly and your conversion and ROI from Facebook ads will skyrocket. But it’s easier said than done.

How do you catch people right when they are planning to travel or book?

First of all activate Facebook’s ‘Trip Consideration’ feature, developed specifically for the travel sector:

https://developers.facebook.com/ads/blog/post/2018/03/06/trip-consideration/

Facebook says that Trip Consideration “optimizes ads delivery to people who expressed interest in travel, but have not yet selected a destination.” Qualifying your audiences by travel intent is a game-changer for multi-property brands with different locations. Are you using Facebook’s dynamic ads for travel and if not, why not?

How else do you time your campaigns effectively?

Pick a theme indirectly related to a landmark date e.g. instead of a Valentine’s ‘me too’ why not target romantic stays for the whole of February with a limited time offer?
Target your campaigns with personalised offers around birthdays, anniversaries or life events. Set these up to run automatically.
Target previous guests with a personalised offer near the same dates as their stay with you the previous year.
Use data from booking calendar searches (see below) to automatically present real-time offers linked to that guest’s interest or location.
Being ‘timely’ with your Facebook advertising is what makes everything tick.

Another aspect of timing is to make your offers ‘time sensitive’ with genuinely limited availability.

Extra tip: After split testing several ideas, automate the best ones to operate all year round, ensuring that you get daily reports at each funnel step to quickly rectify bottlenecks.

5. Lack of conversion focus
There are other tweaks that will hugely improve the conversion and ROI of your hotel’s Facebook ad campaigns.

Here are some of the things we’ve learned through extensive testing for different hotels:

Use dedicated landing pages for the campaign. A landing page usually converts at least 50% better. Sending people to your site confuses them and dilutes conversion.
Use FB-exclusive offers. Use promo codes specifically linked to your Facebook campaigns so that you track to the funnel endpoint.
Use Messenger/Chat CTAs. Don’t waste precious ad real estate on details. Just motivate people to message you. In some cases a bot sequence works best in others a real person in your team. Answer questions to convert.
Make it urgent. Notice how the OTAs always play up their limited inventory and the transient aspect of offers. Do the same in a classy way and your conversion will jump.
Get your hotel team on board. We work with the hotel sales team to ensure that lead conversion is maximised. Enhancements like text alerts can also be added. Speed in handling enquiries and leads also improves conversion.
Last but not least, we use a tool called Optimand to develop better targeting and drive superior conversion for our hotel clients.

This app is a quick install and analyses your hotel’s real-time demand. It is used by hoteliers around the world to increase direct bookings by letting you offer personalised rates while a lead is on your site based on geolocation, average stay, booking value and other criteria.

We use it with all our hotel Facebook campaigns because of the deep referral and conversion data it gives us – far superior to Google Analytics. It helps us optimise campaigns at the speed of light. Optimand lets us track revenues generated by specific Facebook ads and compare them to other referrals: it’s our secret weapon to deliver superior ROI to our hotel clients.

6. Poor revenue tracking
This takes a little time to set up but is essential in making your ROI from Facebook advertising transparent.

We use a combination of tools to execute this including funnel tracking analytics, Optimand and Google Analytics.

Transparent revenue tracking ensures your team buys in to these campaigns, which increases your ability to convert and close transactions with your leads, so it is a virtuous circle.

Once you’ve mastered Facebook advertising you can turn ‘evergreen’ campaigns on and off in line with your monthly or quarterly sales targets.

Finally…Be creative!
Stuck for ideas?

Here are some ideas for great Facebook campaigns you might consider for your hotel:

A Facebook-exclusive stay offer for Sunday nights combining a local attraction like a cinema, museum or restaurant
Last-minute F&B coupon campaign for companies within a fixed radius of your hotel
Spa + Afternoon Tea offer to target ladies who lunch in your vicinity
Gym open day (Facebook event) for companies nearby with a company-specific promo code and ad that targets only people who work there
Take guest email at check-in to retarget with relevant F&B deals during their stay
Target PAs of large companies in your area with a video tour of meeting & banquet facilities, offering an incentive (e.g. smoothie or a glass of wine) to book a show-round. A similar concept can be applied to wedding planners.
Create ‘intrigue’ and curiosity with your ads. Use a playful tone of voice in keeping with social media and watch your CPCs fall and your CTRs improve significantly.