How This Sorrento Hotel Increased Direct Bookings by 20% in 40 Days
We recently spoke with leading hotelier and marketing expert Gianfranco Acampora, Owner and General Manager of the Grand Hotel Aminta in Sorrento, Italy — who shared these important insights into digital marketing best practices for hotels:
Can you tell us about the Grand Hotel Aminta and your role at the property?
The Grand Hotel Aminta is one of the largest hotels in Sorrento, set on a hill overlooking the Gulf of Naples with a commanding view of the city. Today, my brother and I divide management of the hotel’s operations. I’m focused on the Sales, Marketing and Guest Registration aspects of the business.
Can you provide more details on the seasonality and customer demand for the Aminta?
The Aminta is one of the only hotels in the area that’s open year-round, but it’s really a summer resort. Busy season is April to October, and low season is November to mid-March — with the exception of New Years’, thanks to the amazing fireworks display here in Sorrento.
Today, the vast majority of our customers come from the United Kingdom. We also work with a lot of Americans and Canadians.
You’ve been marketing your hotel online for many years. Can you tell us more about your strategy and how it’s evolved over time?
I’ve always been very interested in digital marketing — it’s not only my job, but also my hobby and passion. We were the first property in Sorrento to launch a website back in 1995, and the hotel has always done well in organic search. As others have started to move online, we’ve tried different things to maintain our competitive advantage like advertising with search engines and OTAs.
We quickly found that it’s quite hard to reach our target customers with search engine ads. There’s too many competitors bidding on top keywords and it’s really hard to be ranked first. However, Tripadvisor’s often among the top organic search results for those terms. Plus, guests often tell us that they actually found us on Tripadvisor. So, we evolved our strategy to be very focused on marketing on that site.
Can you say more about the searching behavior of your guests?
Sure, so we were bidding on search terms like “Sorrento Hotel with Pool.” Guests today tell us they usually do an initial query on a search engine for a term like “Sorrento Hotels,” but then there are just too many search results that are difficult to sort through. They quickly find Tripadvisor and use the site to do more specific research to find a property that meets their needs. Effectively, Tripadvisor becomes the search engine that’s used within a destination that guests use to find hotels, restaurants, etc.
What’s your strategy for working with Tripadvisor, specifically?
Tripadvisor is currently our most effective marketing tool. For example, with the new Sponsored Placements, the Aminta can appear above search results for Sorrento. That’s been so important for us. The ad drives traffic to us and people are able to contact us directly via our Business Advantage links. I’ve found it’s saving me commission costs because people are contacting us directly or booking on our website.
How has Sponsored Placements performed for you?
We’ve been very happy with the product. We continue to test it, but so far we’ve seen a 20% increase in direct bookings in 40 days. The tool is fantastic, is really easy to use, and the cost is minimal relative to the return on investment we’re seeing. Customers from this channel also seem to be quite valuable — they’re booking longer stays and above average room types.
What will your strategy be for using Sponsored Placements moving forward?
There are three budget options for Sponsored Placements. During the busy season - when our property is full - we’ll probably scale back to the lower budget option, but still run a campaign. It’s important to always maintain visibility for future bookings. Through the rest of the year — particularly in January and February as people start to plan for the summer — we’ll use one of the higher budget options to drive more traffic to our property.
What would you say to other hoteliers who are considering Sponsored Placements?
It’s definitely something you should try. The tool is easy to use … there are no keywords to choose or bids to set. Just choose what you want to spend on a daily basis, set it up and forget it.