I have been noticing a lot of talk when it comes to the major thing in competing against the OTA's and most of the weight of the conversation is about a great converting website. Large mass marketing companies are promoting to hotels that they have the best website that will do all the selling, and story telling in order to convert visitors into guests that book at your hotel. This is great, and is a must, but its not the do all when it comes to digitally marketing your hotel for survival. Yes I used the word survival because if you really realized how much time and effort is spent by the OTA's such as Priceline, Expedia, and others creating new fresh content surrounding your hotel you would be amazed. This is how OTA's are starting to drain the direct bookings that hotels were getting through their own website or brand.com website. Watering down your room revenue profits.
Priceline's secondary company Booking.com went and purchased a hospitality marketing agency just a year or so ago, that was called Buuteeq. Buuteeq made websites for the hotel industry that would integrate all the social facets of digital marketing. Since Booking.com took it over and now calls it Bookingsuite they have been hitting hotels hard convincing them that they need a 3rd party website to help gain more bookings. So they have a few packages in which one is where its totally free, where they build your hotel a 3rd party website and only charge you commissions for any of the bookings. Another package allows you to have a blog, and to have more pages and consult with a content manager. This way you can build the online digital content about your hotel around their booking engine. They charge a pretty hefty monthly fee for what that program does. I mean their sites do convert very well, but your brand.com site can do the same thing. Before you go and sign up for something like this with them, or any other large media agency, you really need to know the following.
Websites do not just automatically pull in traffic. I know there are some designers and developers out there that will tell you their website will generate a load of traffic and converting visitors into customers, but its simply not true. You have to direct traffic to a website by creating fresh new content that uses the key words that are being typed into search engines by your possible guests. With out having this content through social media platforms, stand alone blog, book marking, and SEO of your own site, your not going to be found on search.
HERE IS A BLOG POST FROM BOOKING SUITE TELLING YOU NOT TO BLOG BUT GET THEIR WEBSITE COMPLETE AND CREATE CONTENT ON THEIR PLATFORM.
So you go and create content on their booking platform making them commissions on bookings. Covering up any content you have that directs people to your lowest cost booking source. Which is your own website or brand.com website.
Another main thing is do you want to have a company that is not only taking your website visitors away from your lowest cost booking channel, but a company that is also working for your competition. I have seen Booking.com flood a market with their stand alone websites. This is just watering down your marketing even more, why a bigger company makes the profits off of your hard work. That's really how I view it. I also understand that you might not have time to do your own digital marketing for your hotel and that it seems like an easy way out. This is why we offer packages for hotels that are based on getting traffic to your own brand.com website.
If you would like more information on how New Simple Marketing can help you market your hotel online and bring revenue through your most profitable booking source fill out the contact form below, or visit our Hotel Marketing Services Page.
Hotels are losing more and more bookings to online travel agencies now more then ever, and some hoteliers are scratching their heads wondering why. There are quite a few reasons for this. Travelers are wanting to get more information on their lodging choices. They want to know where the hotel is located, what events are being held in the area, what businesses the hotel is located next too, etc. Major brands do not do this correctly on there brand.com websites. Brands have been more focused on marketing there brands and over all company then marketing individual hotels. The online travel agencies also known as OTA's are doing this for every hotel that is in their system. They are building a strong online presence not only around their brand, but also around your hotel, which means that the content from the OTA's are more likely to be seen then your information on your hotels website.
If you do a search for your hotel in your local area, look at the search results. If you have not invested in creating a strong local online presence of your hotel, your going to see more ads, listings and content created by large OTA's such as Expedia and Priceline.com. Did you know that Priceline bought a hotel website marketing company that is now called Booking Suite? Why they are creating an online presence for your hotel, they are still getting 15% commissions why taking guests that would normally book directly with the hotel to their websites, and booking channels. Causing you to loose out on revenue and profits.
Hotels in the US will see a strong rise in occupancy this year, but will also be loosing in profits due to the fact that the OTA's are now starting to gain over 40% of online bookings due to there marketing efforts. Why most independent hotels depend on OTA's for there online bookings it does not have to be this way. Whether your a hotel that is with a large brand, or an independent hotel that has no flag, you can still take back bookings from the OTA's and send them to your lowest cost channel which is your own website or your brand.com website.
While hotels need to still do a local marketing effort by calling on local businesses, and reaching out to event coordinators, having a strong online presence is crucial now for any hotels success and profitability. Being on Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and having a blog are necessary tools for operating a hotel now and well into the future. Keeping up with online reviews, making sure your reputation is being well managed, and that you have current and consistent information on all booking channels is a must!
I have heard from some hoteliers and management companies that they are shutting down there social media pages, because the brands they are associated with are already doing there social media marketing. I can't tell you how truly wrong they are in this way of thinking. So we went and looked at various brand social media pages and what we discovered is that they are promoting the brand, promoting their loyalty programs, and promoting just a few hotels that are in heavy travel resort destinations. They are not promoting your hotel or your local area. Most brand.com websites have events posted on your hotels page, that don't even happen in your area. So for these companies and hotels that say there brand is marketing them on social media and so they will shut down there pages because they don't have the time to manage them properly, are making a big mistake and handing the business over to OTA's or even worse there competition.
So if your looking to take back your bookings to where you make the most profit, you need to have a strong online presence. What will be even better is hiring an online sales team. Now before you think that your going to increase your payroll, and that its just another added cost, you need to look at your Start Report, and drive around your area and look at other hotels parking lots. Is your hotel gaining market share or are you loosing out to your competition who might have a stronger online presence then you. Then look at your P&L from the past years, and see where your booking and reservation costs are rising. Then ask yourself can you not afford to hire an online sales team?
Hiring an online sales team by utilizing a company that has experience in marketing hotels is not going to cost you a fortune as the services they provide will be driving traffic to your lowest cost booking engine, and gaining more travelers viewing your hotel online so you can gain new guests. Increase bookings and profits.
Why Digital Marketing Is Important To Hotel Industry
The hotel industry has many various trends, and they are constantly changing such as the ever changing world of marketing, especially for hotels. Hotel industry trends in digital marketing has made even a bigger change and with most hotels jumping on board, its crucial that you don't allow your property to get behind.
Did you know that 6 out of 10 travelers will change their mind on their hotel selection due to something that they read on Trip Advisor, Facebook, or even by doing a new google search? That's a pretty large number, and if your hotel does not have that strong of an online presence, chances are you are loosing bookings to your competition.
Do you want to see how your hotel stacks up to the competition? Do a google search for your property this way. Type in the search (My Hotel in your city and state) example: If you manage or own a Super 8 in Charleston North Carolina then type in the search (Super 8 In Charleston North Carolina) now go through the items that come up on the search. How many actually show up that are for your hotel? Or do you see a lot of various links to 3rd Party OTA's such as Expedia, Hotels.com or Priceline? You might even see a link to one of your competitors. When people do searches for your hotel you can see that they have many various places to click on in order to get the information they want to make a purchasing decision. Your hotel needs to follow the trend and have as much digital content out there so they are booking with you, and not an OTA which cuts into your profits. Worse yet they could even book with the competition. This is why digital marketing is the major hotel industry trend to raise your occupancy.
Digital Marketing Trend For Hotel Industry Can Be Expensive
If you are unable to follow this hotel industry trend for yourself, it could cost you quite a bit of money to digitally market your hotel, however there are ways you can outsource this and have it be more beneficial to your bottom line, by choosing the right company. Most marketing companies that going after hotels do not have hotel experience. They think that the online marketing trends that work for their other clients will work for hotels as well, and they are sadly mistaking. Also do not get sucked in by the companies that are offering 3rd party websites saying that their system will generate bookings on their own so you can focus on your guests. Why the websites look very nice, and they are integrated with a booking engine so guests can make online reservation, ask yourself this.
How are these sites being found?
Its one thing to have a great looking website, but I have seen where a basic website with property information, loaded with pictures, and video have converted more guests, based on how the guests find the website through their search. Future guests are searching for your hotel in many different ways. Keyword research for hotel digital marketing is crucial.
Just building a website is not enough. Digital marketing trend for the hotel industry is like planting a garden. The website is the base, the dirt so to speak. It needs to have seeds planted in order to make the garden grow, and in order to do that you need to nurture the seeds. With the hotel industry trend of digital marketing taking fold, its very important to start nurturing your garden now.
Hire A Company That Has Experience In Hotels
To make sure your digital marketing packs the punch your looking for hiring a digital marketing agency that has experience in hotels can give you a better return on your investment. Your hotel needs to come up in various searches for your area, based on what guests are typing into Google. You need to build your presence around your room generators, whether its a large hospital, manufacturing business, or events that bring in out of town guests. You need to be able to come up on all of those searches and be able to tell your hotels story to these guests so they feel that they have enough information to book at your hotel instead of constantly searching. People want to be informed and they are hungry for information.
Most marketing companies do not know all the trends in our industry and how to find these kind of drivers that will send traffic to your website. The more traffic to your website, will lead to more bookings if the traffic is targeted to the guests. At New Simple Marketing we know how do just that. The president and chief marketing consultant for New Simple Marketing is a 15 year hotel management and sales veteran, so when you hire us to do your digital marketing for your hotel not only are you going to be promoting your hotel on various digital channels, but we are going to be driving targeted visitors to your website that are looking for a hotel in your area. Its like hiring an online sales team at the fraction of the cost.
See How We Can Market Your Hotel And Build Your Online Presence
We can start on most hotel projects and have it up and running with in 7 days! Not only do we work fast for you in order to get your online presence built, but we also will not take on another hotel client with in 10 miles of your property. The reason we do this, is because we want to drive business to your hotel, and not your competition. When you work with us, your getting a partner in sales, and not just a company looking to saturate the area with new clients.
So if you want to stay or get with thishotel industry trend, get on the digital marketing band wagon now, and start raising your rev par. Call us at 563-265-2717
Old School Sales and Marketing Still Has It's Place
Why 86% of travelers book their hotels online, that leaves 14% that don't. When your talking about millions of travelers that's still a large number. Hotels that incorporate a good digital campaign but also has a sales staff to work on direct sales activities perform higher then those that just rely on their online booking channels.
The following if done along with digital marketing will help increase your occupancy, and revenues for 2015. You need to keep in mind there are still people out there that don't care for Facebook, don't know how to tweet, and still prefer phone calls and face to face interaction. Make sure you incorporate these things in your marketing plan if you already haven't.
1. Travel Agents- Why this seems to be a dying breed, they are still used today, and have regained some of their market share. When people call travel agents they are usually booking flight, hotel and rental cars at the same time. The ease of using a professional travel agent makes things more convenient even for baby boomers, who are the largest spenders in hotels. Do a quarterly mailing to the top 50 travel agents that are producing for your property. Make sure they are updated on any amenity changes, upgrades, services, and events going on in your area. During your shoulder and slow season offer them double commissions for stays that happen during these times. You will see a 5% to 10% increase in business from them over time after you start this.
2. News Papers- Scouring your local news paper and business journal for your area can have a load of leads in them if you are paying attention. People getting promoted, married, or even dying are leads for your hotel. The person at their job getting promoted could be the person that handles the spending for lodging or works closely to the person that makes those decisions. Send them a congratulations letter in the mail, and maybe even offer them a free night (Make sure this company does use hotels in the area before giving them a free night). Engagements announcements you can contact the couple by looking them up on Google, and ask them if they need a hotel for their big day for out of town guests. Funerals are never something that people budget for as far as going to them. So if your property offers a bereavement rate, you need to make sure all the funeral homes in your area have this information. Ask them to recommend, leave your items in lobby, and even ask if you could be linked on their website. Build a relationship with these businesses. Local Events can sometimes be announced in your local news paper and could be something you didn't even know about that could be bringing a large number of rooms to your area. Haven't you been sitting there and fill up all of a sudden, and wonder what was going on in your area? We have all been there, but if we know about it sooner, we can use good revenue management practices and get more revenue.
3. Business To Business Sales Calls- Getting yourself or your sales team out talking to area local businesses is still a great way to increase your hotels occupancy. Why most hotels are being completely ran my the general manager and no sales team, your general manager can make time to make at least 10 sales calls a week. Getting in front of the businesses that can use your hotel or recommend people to stay at your hotel is still a number 1 way to increase your corporate travel. Remember most hotels are stopping this, or the sales team is too young and not completely trained on this good ole technique. So you will get great results by implementing this into your property's marketing plan. Send one of your best front desk agents if you don't have time to do this. Send them out with business cards, rack cards or brochures on your property so they can hand these out to the decision makers.
4.Construction Business- Face it the economy in most places are doing really good, and when this happens growth happens. There are probably plenty of construction projects slated for your area in 2015 and could be going on right now. These types of projects bring in people from out of town. I don't care where you live and if the General contractor says they are all local. Most of the time when our economy booms like this, construction companies can be short handed and will sub contract some of the work out to out of town companies. So have your sales staff, GM, or Front desk agent take some flyers with your information and special rate for construction along with a couple dozen of donuts to the site and talk to the foreman. Believe it or not the donuts will be the key to the foreman keeping and handing out your information, instead of throwing it in the trash.
Start working on these four items now, and make a hit list on what businesses to call on, who is going to read the daily paper every day for leads, and who is going to go out and make these sales calls. If you work really hard at both digital marketing, and old school sales practices you will see a great growth in your occupancy, and even rates. If you build a high demand for your property you will be able to raise rates on your transient business.
Keep watching our blog for more ways to increase your hotels occupancy in 2015.
Read our past blog post about Digital Marketing for Hotels in 2015
Are You Using Your Guest Service Agents To Their Full Potential?
Most hotels are not utlilizing their front desk agents to their full potential when it comes to increasing their occupancy and ADR. This is due to lack of training, and thinking outside of the box. I have used my front desk agents as sales tools many times over in various hotels. Your guest service agents are on the front line and can be used to increase your hotel occupany and ADR more then you know. There are many ways that you can tap into this revenue generating source if you implement the following plan and make sure that you keep up with it. Over a period of a few months after training you will start seeing a difference.
Reservation Training- Are your front desk agents trained in asking for the sale? Do they know the area that surrounds your hotel? Do they know the hotel as far as the services and amenities that you offer? Placing time and money into training your front line staff is crucial to any hotels success. When taking reservations they guest service agent needs to know how to qualify the guest, know whats going on in the area during the time that the guest is making the reservation, and needs to let the guest know the amenities and services that come with their hotel room, before giving out the rate. I cant tell you how many times reservations are not made because the guest service agent does not know that much about the hotel, or the area, and simply just gives the guest a rate when they answer the phone. If you would like a step by step reservation technique simply email me at email@example.com and I will send what I use at the hotels I manage.
Marketing Mailings- Another great thing i have our front desk do at our midscale hotel properties is send out a thank you letter to the guests with in a day after they check out. Simply thanking them for their stay and offering them a 10% discount on their next visit into their area. You can also start a maling campaign to area businesses by letting them know about any promotions your doing, or any new renovations that are taking place or have been completed at the hotel. Create the letter and let the front desk do the heading and addressing them to local businesses.
Grabbing Leads From Current Guests- Your Front Desk if your first line of defense once that guest comes into your hotel. Train your front desk agents to ask what brings the person to the area, and when they say business, make sure they are noting the business in the company profile of your PMS. This way you or the Director of Sales can follow up with the company to see if they have more people coming to your area.
Newspapers- Your area newspaper is a great resource of information on whats going on in your area. Have your night auditor read the daily paper and highlight things that are happening that could generate room nights for you. Then you and your sales manager can follow up by contacting them and asking them for the business. Large companies that are hiring, special local events, engagement announcements are all great things to generate a few extra room nights for your hotel.
If you start to implement just these few items, you will start seeing an increase in occupancy at your hotel. Also if your Front Desk Agents are well aware of the services and ammenities at your property, and they qualify the guest they have the opportunity to up sell them to higher priced rooms based on their guests needs and will close more reservations sales then having them hang up and call your competition.