All hotel managers dread the slow season. As the 2020 slow season approaches, hotel owners need to be setting their sights on boosting online visibility.   

Just because the season is “slow” doesn’t mean that your bookings have to be. When there are more choices for customers, competition is even greater – so you need to be at the top of your game to win people over.

Did you know that the average customer will check out 38 different hotel accommodation websites before confirming a booking – typically 45 days before their reservation?

During these slower times of the year, customers will have more options than ever – as many hotels have the space.

So, how can you attract these precious guests and increase bookings during the off season? 

Here are some strategies to improve your hotel marketing and increase bookings all year long.

Start by Conducting an SEO Audit to Understand Your Keyword Rankings

60% of leisure travelers and 55% of business guests will start their search for a hotel through a search engine

When people Google things like resorts in San Diego, cheap hotels in San Diego, lodging in San Diego, etc., you want your hotel’s website to show up at the top of the results pages. 

One of your first courses of action in the new year should be conducting a thorough SEO audit to optimize your site’s keywords and improve your rankings. 

First, you need to understand what aspects of SEO are most important for these localized searches. According to Moz, Google relies heavily on information from Google My Business (GMB) pages, presence of keywords in your site’s title tags, content, and Meta descriptions for ranking factors. 


Start off by covering your bases and updating all information on your GMB (such as location, hours of operation, contact information, and links to your website for immediate bookings). 

Then, start digging into your keyword rankings on Google Search Console to see how they are impacting your site’s traffic rates.

Go into Google Analytics, select “Acquisition”, “Search Console”, and “Queries.” 

This will generate a report showing you which keywords are bringing traffic to your website. You should look to see which ones are trending in your area – specifically long-tail phrases that you may be missing. 


For example, say you run an upscale hotel in downtown San Diego. Upon your keyword examination, your site might be ranking for general keywords like:

  • Hotels in San Diego – 30k searches/month
  • Hotels in San Diego near the beach – 200 searches/month
  • Hotel and spa San Diego – 250 searches/month

But, it might not be ranking for more focused keywords like:

  • 5-star hotel in San Diego – 150 searches/month
  • San Diego hotels near convention center – 400 searches/month
  • Luxury hotels in San Diego – 250 searches/month

^ by not ranking for these terms, you are essentially leaving traffic/bookings on the table.

It is also important to note that more customers will be using voice search than ever before in the upcoming year. 

Therefore, you need to be optimizing your hotel SEO for this trend. 

Most of these voice searches will be location-focused, with queries like “Where is a hotel close to the Diego airport?” Many of these queries are also triggered with question related words, like “how”, “best”, and “where.” 


Create Search-Optimized Content for the Area

Sometimes, you will need to give travelers a reason to check out your area during the off seasons. 

Most people may not think about checking out Oklahoma City during the hot summer, for instance. But if they knew about all the events that occur during this time – like the state fair –  it could attract more visitors to your hotel. 


You can entice travelers to check out the area during the off-season by creating keyword-infused travel guides on things to do. This helps you for several reasons.

First, this can increase your hotel content marketing strategy’s ROI by driving in traffic via your blog section. 

Second, it can help you gain valuable backlinks, which is a huge component in boosting organic search rankings. 

Most importantly, it can help to establish your hotel as a leading expert on the area. This will help to make travelers more comfortable booking with you. Additionally, it will show Google that you are worthy of top search rankings.  


Again, be sure to research long-tail local keywords to incorporate that target specific locations or give people a reason to come – such as “Why you should visit Montana in the spring” or “Fun things to do in Nashville all year round.” 

Once you have a good set of keywords to target with this content, start creating user-friendly guides to show visitors just why they should come to the area – and of course, stay in your conveniently located accommodations. 

Focus on Overall Website Design

Did you know that you will lose up to 38% of your online customers simply because they do not find your website attractive? 

You can expect this number to be even greater if your site has other issues, such as slow loading speeds, difficult navigation, or other glitches. 

Your website should reflect the beauty and ambiance of your hotel. 

Unfortunately, a poorly designed hotel website could be losing you sales all year-round. If one website is easier to use or simply looks better, customers are probably going to choose that one – even if it is more expensive. 

Therefore, making improvements to your site can help to boost bookings in both the slow and busy seasons. 

The UX (user experience) of hotel sites is an extremely important factor for customers in 2020. 

Be sure to focus on the elements that are most important to customers. 

Include lots of high-quality images that are updated to the current conditions of the rooms and common areas. You may even want to invest in filming a video or offering a virtual tour of the space, along with an exhaustive list of all the amenities you offer. 


Most importantly, be sure that the booking process of your website is optimized, too. 

If customers run into any issues while trying to book a reservation, they are far more likely to abandon the process. Focus on increasing speed on this page and also include several payment options (such as PayPal or Apple Pay) along with SSL certifications for data security. 

Ultimately, the booking process needs to be simple and quick. Every extra step in the process is another opportunity for the user to reconsider. 

Lastly, don’t forget about mobile optimization. 

According to Google, 73% of hotel searches come from mobile devices. If your website is not able to adjust to the small screens, you could lose out on a lot of potential guests. 

Consider Influencer and Micro-Influencer Marketing  

Influencers are a key component in today’s hotel marketing strategy mix.

Consumers rely heavily on the opinion of others to make decisions for them, which is one reason why influencer and micro-influencer marketing works so well. 

In fact, 49% of consumers state that they look to influencers for business recommendations. 

If you are trying to target a specific demographic (such as an age group or location), try reaching out to influencers who reach that audience and suggest a collaboration. This is especially effective for luxury hotel marketing

For example, The Pendry Hotel will often invite micro-influencers to share their experiences on their social platforms. This gives people a real look into the amenities this hotel has to offer and helps to reach wider audiences. 


While the price tag can certainly be high with bigger influencers, the returns can potentially be huge.

Build Engagement through Instagram and Facebook Stories 

“Stories” were a massive marketing tool throughout 2019 – and will continue to be in 2020 and beyond. 

Short-form posts like Instagram and Facebook stories only last for 24 hours – but they are still a great way to build engagement and promote events for your hotel. One-third of all Instagram stories come from businesses, and they are also highly shareable. 

Your hotel can use these platforms to share behind-the-scenes looks into events in the area or at your location. 

For example, the Moxy Hotel has partnered with the “U Up?” podcast for events around the country. They heavily rely on Instagram and Facebook stories to promote these events and often share images and videos as they happen.


Stories are a perfect way to share a raw, unfiltered look into what you offer – something that customers are becoming increasingly attracted to. 

Ramp Up User-Generated Content

There is no question regarding the important role that online reviews and ratings play in the hotel industry. 

Consumers these days are heavily influenced by online reviews – and the majority of customers read between 18-34 reviews before they trust a business enough to book with them!

This type of user-generated content is imperative for building trust and driving in new bookings. Additionally, getting more reviews can do wonders to improve your hotel SEO efforts. 

So, one major part of your hotel marketing strategy should be boosting the number of reviews you receive and utilizing this type of user-generated content to its fullest extent – whether it be on Yelp, TripAdvisor, or any other high-traffic review platform. 

Generally, people do not go out of their way to leave a review – unless their experience was either extraordinary or terrible. However, 70% of people who were asked to leave a review for a business went on to do so. 

With this in mind, a big part of your hotel email marketing should be sending all visitors a follow-up email with a request to leave a review.


Also, be sure to encourage visitors to upload their own images of the accommodations to boost the review’s credibility. Consumers like to see visual reviews because it offers them a more “realistic” look into the hotel. 


The secret to overcoming the “slow” booking season is to understand how to attract visitors to the area – not just your hotel. 

Organic SEO, social media, user-generated content, and a sexy website all need to be working in tandem to keep those rooms filled throughout the year. 

Which of these strategies will you be trying out next in 2020?