I just received the list of most popular articles from hotelmarketing.com and am republishing it here. I couldn’t find it on their site and emailed them to publish it but am not sure if that’s going to happen any time soon since they also announce that they’re on holidays until January.
Looking through the list is quite interesting. I wrote about it in a Google+ post (which has limited distribution) so am republishing the content of that post here:
Just went through the hotelmarketing.com‘s list of most popular articles in 2011. An excellent list, reading through the list alone is a great analysis of what’s happening in the hospitality world. Here’s my analysis of the scene: Feel free to add yours.
1. Hoteliers are more and more worried about their dependency on OTAs. Rate Parity problems, Cutting availability to OTAs being flagged and more.
2. Hoteliers still haven’t figured out how to yield results from social media. And nobody blames them. The stats talk for themselves: while social media brings lots of visits and can be used as a branding strategy the conversion of those visitors is much lower than on search. And what should we talk about?
3. Hoteliers want more direct. OK that’s nothing new, it’s the eternal problem of every industry, how to increase direct sales.
4. Hoteliers are searching for new marketing ideas. The posts with catchy headlines like Google+ will re-shape search… andGroupon and Expedia… are high on the list indicating that new ideas are definitely on their mind, even if many are just not mature yet. It leads me to believe that the common phrase that hoteliers are not up-to-date is just wrong, they are probably more careful and aren’t going to invest heavily into stuff that doesn’t work.
5. Big names still work best. I guess this isn’t limited to hotels but if there is Facebook, TripAdvisor, Google, Kayak or other big name in the headline it just gets much more readers. That’s just one of the PR laws, big names sell.
It’s probably more revealing as a trend to see what posts were most read and shared than the content of the posts. It gives a great crowdsourcing of hotel marketers interests (at least those that read hotelmarketing.com).
I’ve been using Google+ for a few weeks now and I’m starting to get the hang of it. I am actually quite liking the design and feel for the platform and can’t wait for Google to open the business listing so we can really start using the platform for hotels. But meanwhile here are 5 ways a hotel can use Google+ for their property.
First of all it will require that the concierge or front desk staff open an account and become the “voice” of the hotel, this can’t be done trying to pretend to be a hotel, it needs to be an individual. But that can work too.
1. Open an account for the front desk or customer services of the hotel and determine who will be the user. It’s got to be a person.
2. Build circles for the different types of clients you have. This could be Summer holidays, New Year’s eve, Weekend breaks, Luxury Suites or so. Make groups with your guest types and load them into the system into various circles. It doesn’t matter if they are on Google+ or not because G+ has this great feature that one can share with people not on G+ via email. By clicking on the check box you can share stories, offers, photos or news to a particular circle which will get forwarded by email.
3. Create photo albums for the hotel and categorize them properly, such as room type, lobby, pool etc. Make this a display for the hotel. And remember to put captions with each photo providing a proper link for the hotel’s site and the specific page where they can get more information.
4. Remember this is a social network so it’s about talking to people and getting them to share their experience, comments, viewpoints etc. Don’t try to make this just a sales pitch for the hotel, interact with people, help them. And remind them of the great services that you can offer. That also means responding to their reviews and fixing things that went wrong.
5. Invite people to hangouts and if they’re interested answer questions about the hotel, how to get there, things to do in the area reassure people who haven’t been there before that your hotel is best for them. And those that have, tell them about new things being done in and around the hotel.
Couple of words of caution, don’t put people in too many circles as you’ll likely start spamming them and that’ll be the end of your Google+ experience for them. Don’t post everything public, use Circles for what they’re good for – making circles. Keep them exclusive it’s more fun that way and you get the right message to the right people.
And most importantly assume the viewpoint of the people getting your messages, if you write to them as if you were the one receiving the message you’ll get a long way. Nobody wants a sales pitch thrown at them all the time, they want to see the human side of the hotel.
Maybe Google+ is going to eliminate the need for email marketing altogether. I guess time will tell…
Last week we had to hear about how Google accused Bing of stealing their search results. The story went back and forth between the two companies for several days and in short, Bing was tracking search patterns of other users and used those results in their search engine. For the full story you can read this excellent article on The Next Web: http://thenextweb.com/microsoft/2011/02/04/the-great-google-v-bing-slap-fight-explained-piece-by-piece/
Now all technical information aside, from a PR standpoint this was a big mistake by Bing. It’s a old PR datum that, that which people pay attention to becomes more popular. And what Google has just done is make Bing more popular.
I always thought that Google didn’t care about Bing since Google’s market share is hardly affected by the arrival of Bing. But Google has just admitted that they consider Bing “dangerous” and they’ve just told the world that Bing exists and is a competitor.
I work with lots of SEO guys at WIHP and I’ve been telling them for a while now to start paying attention to Bing and start doing work on that search engine. They just laugh at it, but Google has just done me a great favor since they’re all wondering what is this company that can scare Google like this.
A great example of a PR mistake and how a little “attack” can play against you. Similar to hotels spending lots of time answering bad reviews, it just tells people that they are afraid of bad reviews. Well that’s for another day.
I noticed quite some hotels have not purchased the link to their website on their Tripadvisor page, which was understandable at first. I purchased the link for some hotels I was consulting to see the result.
Of course like everything new we thought this would be an avalanche of visits and bookings. After all we all know how important good or bad reviews are, so wouldn’t a link be great?
Well it didn’t really change things on the bookings to the websites we put it on so overall I can’t say it changed the range of direct bookings.
However looking into it more specifically here are some figures:
Hotel A, hotel located in the top 20 hotels in Paris, 6.3% of the direct bookings on their website over the last 2 month came from Tripadvisor. I’ll clarify here that Tripadvisor is the first contact those guests had with the hotel.
However Hotel B, which is also located in the tip 20 hotels in Paris only had 2.4% of their direct bookings come from Tripadvisor.
Hotels located much lower than that in the Tripadvisor ranking had much less impact.
Now that is when looking for Tripadvisor as the first referrer. This means no prior contact with the hotel.
But the value of the link goes further than that. It’s not about using it to bring brand new customers, but rather to increase your hotel’s chance in getting direct bookings…
The booking process currently goes something like this (and part of this is estimated):
Search Engine -> OTA -> Tripadvisor -> OTA or Hotel Website
If you want to increase your chance of getting taking a larger market share towards your website, then do everything you can to add your website link on the Tripadvisor page.
But that strategy (to pull in as much traffic as possible towards your site) isn’t just done on Tripadvisor, it’s an overall strategy you need to adopt in all your online marketing.
Currently Google Places displays rates in almost all countries, this has been available in the US as a beta for a while. But only recently did it start showing up in Europe. What does this mean for hotels?
There is a good and a bad, the good, a better qualifications filter for people visiting the website. What I mean is that a person that visits a website will know even before entering the website if this is in his budget. So it may reduce the visits to some degree, but on the other hand it bring visitors that are ready to buy. This is not a small point, even though it may hurt our ego to see the visits go down.
The bad is that currently it’s only OTA (Online Travel Agents) prices which means… big commissions to the OTAs and little to no profit for the hotels.
I have it from some sources that a booking engine called Bookassist, sent out an email to their customers saying they are adding the “official website prices” into the places page. If that is correct, that’s great news.
Since hotels are normally cheaper through their own site, this is to the hotel’s advantage (and guests).
I’ve looked around in Google Forums to try and find more information on this but haven’t seen anything yet. If you have information on how to connect one’s booking engine to Google Places please post a link in the comments.
- A viewpoint on advertising history
- HotelMarketing.com’s most popular of 2011
- ZMOT and hotel marketing
- Where hotels should get new guests [INFOGRAPHIC]
- Hotel Booking Trends an Infographic
- Five ways a hotel can use Google+
- Top referring sites for Hotels by WIHP
- How to Successfully open a hotel
- How do they find us?
- Do’s and Don’ts for a Hotel Website