I’m just getting caught up. Tail end of December Ryan Bifulco had following excellent article on HotelInteractive.com. If you don’t subscribe to HotelInteractive.com, give it serious consideration.
There are countless studies and reports touting how critical it is for hotels to be active with blogs, search engines, e-mail and social networks. Yet many hoteliers are still very skeptical about new media and Internet advertising. With empty rooms to fill in 2010, perhaps more hotels will warm up to these online hotel marketing programs:
- Rethink your Distribution. Partner with people that produce results. Grow your bookings through a combination of targeted banners, text links and e-mails. Distribution does not just mean listing on Expedia anymore. Look at meta search players and travel sites to fish in new ponds.
- Stop Ignoring the Power of Viral Marketing. This year it’s about engaging potential customers using online videos, podcasts, blogs, games and social networks. All of these areas allow users to spread the word about your hotel as they share it with their friends.
- Participate in Social Networks. This doesn’t mean slapping up a Facebook page without also having a fan page and group as well as the right audience as friends. Having a Twitter page with 50 followers won’t do the trick, so be an active part of the conversations to boost your following (audience) and make sure you know the Twitter lingo such as “#traveltuesday.”
- Fuse in Digital PR. It used to be important to just have your hotel featured in the Sunday section of The New York Times. Today it’s also vital to have your hotel show up on popular online sites like About.com, which coincidentally is owned by The New York Times and draws in 60 million unique users a month.
- Retarget Travelers. 98 percent of the users that visit a Web site leave without buying anything. But hotels can use retargeting to have a second shot at advertising to that same potential visitor even after he has left your site.
- Revisit your SEO plan. SEO has changed more in the last year than in the last five years. SEO does not mean buying your way into Google (we call that SEM, folks). It means making your site as friendly as possible to the search engines. It also means doing more with blogs, bookmarks, social media, video SEO and audio SEO.
- Shoot an HD video. Time to upgrade those hotel photos from five years ago!
- Package your Hotel. You need to offer more than the traditional “breakfast package.” Get creative and sell the experience. Why not put together a “Thrill Seeker Package” which includes the room and a day of skydiving. And don’t be stingy on your room rate, as you can mask it within the total price of the package.
- Publish your own E-mail Newsletter. When guests register online or at the hotel, ask them for their e-mail address and see if they might be interested in receiving a monthly newsletter filled with interesting information about the hotel, specials, packages, seasonal menus, etc. Building this internal database of travelers interested in your hotel brand is priceless and an excellent way to market your hotel throughout the year.
- Develop a Digital Strategy. Brainstorm with your team and work with experts to understand how to tie all these things together in a way that fits your brand. The items listed above are all related and must be harnessed together to really get ahead.