Thoughts on Online Hotel Marketing in 2009
A change is certainly afoot in the way that hotels are connecting with customers. Hotels and hoteliers from New York to New Zealand are leveraging new forms of hotel marketing to reach a technology savvy customer base.
In fact, on the customer side, the search data for “hotels” is certainly telling. Google search data indicates that 618,000,000 searched for hotels in March up from an average of 414,000,000 despite the fact that were in a marginal economy. It seems that even though overall travel numbers may be down or stagnant, that people are going online to find their travel solutions. Here is a collaborative project to better understand the changing landscape in hotel and destination marketing, including insight from Todd Lucier of Tourism Keys, Patrick Landman of Xotels, and others:
• Consumer influences on one another will be much more pronounced with wider acceptance of social media and giving and receiving advice on tools like Twitter, Tripadvisor and Facebook.
• Tourism businesses better be good and have ways of encouraging good word of mouth and monitoring the attitudes of visiting guests.
• Lets go back and look at the hotel websites from a guests perspective. What does he want, how will he be able to find your hotel website. Stop thinking as a hotelier and become more of a destination marketer…
• [M]aking sure that your Hotel website is based on a CMS system that allows internal staff to update the website content, news, offers and images with ease.
• Also of high importance is the ability to offer visitors a “Best Price Guarantee”. When users arrive at your website, they should know that they don’t need to go anywhere else to shop for prices.
• Information such a prices, photos, offers, room types and booking should be easy to navigate to and above the page fold.
• Search Engine Optimization & Geo Search – One of the most cost effective methods of driving traffic and reservations online is a robust and effective SEO strategy. There is no charge per click, once an initial investment has been made, the sky is the limit for the benefits achieved through SEO.
• Hotels need to make sure that they are registered as a minimum with Google local and Google maps and all of the correct information is present within their listing. Hotels that have successfully optimized a map listing were able to jump to top position in Google for broad keywords like “Hotel in [Insert City]”
• Work with a professional company to optimize your website for increased performance within the Search Engines. This is a cost effective means of driving increased traffic to you website. A good SEO company will work with you to make sure that a professional and effective revenue driving strategy is in place and you
are getting good return for your initial outlay. Regular reporting and campaign analysis should be conducted to achieve optimal performance and benefit tracking both ranking and more importantly traffic gained from the Search Engines.
Where do you think hotel and destination marketing is heading in 2009 and beyond?