Which Is Best: In-House Marketing vs a Marketing Agency For Hotels?

Mar 11, 2022 | Hotel Marketing | Reading Time: 8 minutes

“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.”

Nicolau Maquiavel wisely said in his book The Prince.

The truth is that, these days, when all information in the world is at our fingertips, it’s more important than ever that hotels become their best version when it comes to an impactful online presence and a one-of-a-kind guest experience.

Guests expect much more than price range and good pictures on your website.

Your hotel needs to allure potential visitors with the promise of an experience worth their time, and nurture this relationship for as long as it takes with a well-thought marketing strategy.

However, as soon as hoteliers start thinking about a marketing strategy for their hotels, the question arises—should they invest in an in-house marketing team or opt for an outsourced marketing agency?

The idea of having a dedicated marketing agency solving all marketing problems for you sounds tempting, but so does your own creative team.

If, like many hoteliers, you’re at an impasse about your approach, you’ve come to the right place.

We bring you advantages and disadvantages of each type of marketing so that you can have all information you need to make an informed decision.

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No matter how you choose to do your marketing, it might be helpful to consider some areas an efficient marketing strategy for your hotel  encompass:

  • Advertising
  • Lead capture and segmentation
  • Branding strategy
  • CRM
  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • Events
  • Email marketing
  • Website
  • Chatbots

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What is the difference between in-house marketing vs a marketing agency for hotels?

In house marketing happens when you hire your own marketing team to draw up all your strategies and handle customer service for you.

Outsourced marketing will involve hiring a marketing agency to handle your marketing demands under a contract. Such agency can be niched in the hospitality industry or not.

Pros of in-house marketing for hotels

1. Understanding of your business

No agency will ever transmit the mood, voice, and essence of your business as well as you can.

There is a huge gap when it comes to specific questions regarding the stay in your hotel and once you delegate that to a third party, all exchanges might sound superficial.

Whereas, if your own people are answering questions, the flow will appear seamless to guests, and you’ll sound uber professional.

2. Exclusivity

A marketing agency has many clients to take care of, which means they’ll use some of their time to work on your leads,  website, social media, and any other service you request from them.

When you keep it in-house, though, you’ll have a team from 9-5, 5 days a week, focusing solely on your marketing strategy and customer service.

You control  deadlines, deliverables, and campaigns.

3. Your data is kept in house

If you keep your marketing in house, all data from CRM systems and client database is safely kept with you.

Granted, no one is immune to cybercrime, but when you don’t outsource, you’re eliminating yet another step as you hand over control of your data to an agency.

When you opt for an agency, you can’t ever really know everything that goes on in behind the scenes. For Pete’s sake, sometimes we can’t even see it when it’s in-house. So, be very careful before sharing your customers’ data with an agency.

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4. A cohesive brand identity

If your marketing is being done by people who have a deep understanding of your business, it’s much easier to get them to speak the same language and truly get the voice and mood of your hotel our there.

Everything needs to be coherent, not only written content, but videos, images, answers on social media, the script of your chatbots, ads, and so on.

cohesive brand identity

Source: Hospitality Copywriting 

Cons of in-house marketing for hotels

1. It can cost more

If you have an in-house team, you need a marketing manager, a content writer, a social media and email marketing specialist, an SEO analyst, and so on.

That means you have all these additional paychecks to add to your financial bookings. And tough the quality tends to be much better, you have vacation time to think about, training, and budgeting in all costs with events.

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2. You’re not sharing data, but maybe because you aren’t even collecting it

Whether you are new or experienced in marketing, one thing is for certain—it’s only by studying your leads that you can improve your business to your audience.

If handling data isn’t a part of what happens in your in-house marketing, then you better get an agency taking care of it for you. Data analysis translates into better profits and practices, and most importantly, happier customers.

3. The founder’s syndrome

This is a difficult point to talk about. However, many hotel owners, especially of small businesses, have a difficult time not interfering and micromanaging their marketing teams. It can be hard to let people do what you hired them to do because, from the owners’ perspective, no one shares the passion you do for your business.

That might be true, but remind yourself that you’re a great hotelier, and that this doesn’t make you a great marketer. If you can’t not interfere, you should truly consider outsourcing your marketing. It can help you greatly with a fresh outsider perspective, which all businesses need so much.

👉 Recommended: Our article, The In-Depth Guide To Hotel Management And How To Be A Great Manager covers operations, software, automation, certifications, leadership soft skills, and more! Dive in!

Pros of outsourced marketing for hotels

1. It’s like having your marketing consultancy

The right marketing agency is really good at what they do, and it will always be in their best interest to see you grow.

Every doubt you have about your numbers, strategies, and next-steps, and you can pick up the phone and call your specialists, who should help you see strengths and weaknesses in your marketing.

If you’re doing your marketing in-house, unless you really have the budget to hire experts, there will inadvertently be some trial and error.

2. The latest tech

You have  costumers to please and a business to run, that can make it difficult to stay up to date with the latest and most effective tech out there.

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in house marketing vs agency for hotel

Even with a in-house marketing team, it might be difficult to balance which products are an investment priority.

When you work with an agency, they’ll bring this to the table, since they’re constantly innovating to keep up with new market demands and optimal ways to handle marketing.

3. You get extras

When you run your marketing in house, there are many situations where youll have to compromise. Sometimes it just isn’t possible to get the nicest tech and resources out there.

A marketing agency, though, can offer you nice extras you’d never dream of getting if you were managing all systems and platforms.

For example, this might include unbelievable video editing programs, minimal and UX optimized web design.

It can bring in data from high-impact software, skill sets you could never hire,  even partnerships with influencers you wouldn’t be able to get on your own.

Cons of agency marketing

1. There will be some compromising involved

Contrary to what most business owners think when they envision hiring a marketing agency, they won’t get a yes to every request. This can cause a lot of miscommunication on both sides.

Your agency can advise you, agree on contract terms and deliveries, but they aren’t bent on serving you. You need to very well define your business goals from the first point of contact.

If you don’t know what those are, we advise you not to go to an agency, but to put the house in order first— it might save you money and help you see things more clearly.

2. It might make you feel like you can stop marketing

Marketing is about keeping your business alive in a world which, like it or not, has become fully digitalized.

Partnering with a marketing agency doesn’t put you off the hook. It’s still your business, and you’ll still get endless selling and upselling opportunities you need a qualified team to handle on your own.

Most marketing agencies will work with a contributing approach where both sides meet in the middle. You still have to care about your business and customers, help it grow and keepFF the essence alive in every exchange.

3. It requires long-term thinking and low expectations

In all honesty, most marketing campaigns require some time to get the ROI going, but agencies have set dates and phases with which they will implement changes for you.

It’s likely that you won’t be able to schedule a meeting with an agency in the same way you can with your in-house marketing team. It depends on your contract, but they might charge extra for emergencies or not be able to cover a new demand at all.

Imagine you have to retrace some steps or put up a campaign (let’s say, for example, your hotel wins an unexpected award you should market) by the end of the week, what is the solution then?

4. You need to monitor things closely

A marketing agency need to come back to you with performance reports, leads, results, ROI, and a very clear read on the data being collected and what is being done with it.

It’s a two-way street. You should never sit back and wait things out. Have a good control system with access passwords, and keep an eye on deadlines. In fact, you should own all accounts related to your business, and  keep a monthly track of promised results and data.

So, which one is better: In-house marketing or an agency for hotels?

Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer because it depends on the peculiarities and size of your business.

By taking a look at the pros and cons of each marketing model, the answer should look more obvious. In any case, here is a friendly reminder—no matter which strategy works best for your business, both require an investment on your part, and neither will be 100% guaranteed.

That said, you might even opt for doing the majority of your marketing strategy in house and outsourcing some parts of it (or vice versa).

Evaluate, write costs down for both options to help you see what makes more sense for your hotel and where you want to be in the short and long terms.

Consult more than one agency before deciding, ask other hoteliers (of similar size and public) about what worked for them, research. And if you’re going for in-house, map out needs and goals, but don’t forget to also compute marketing costs such as channels and tools.

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