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.
Learn How To Get Guests To Review You On Trip Advisor
With over 80% of travelers now looking at hotel reviews before making their lodging decisions its more important today then it ever was to have your guest review your hotel on popular sites such as Trip Advisor. With most hoteliers knowing this, the question is always "How Do I get My Guests To Review My Hotel?". Well there are many ways that this can be done. There are a few good helpful hints in this video by Josiah McKenzie on how to get your guests to review your property.
Ideas To Get Your Guest To Review Your Hotel
1. Create Cards With Your Trip Advidor URL and hand them to guest at check out or place them with their express check out bill, asking them to review your hotel when they get home.
2. Create a memorable experience for your guests. Give them a reason to want to leave a review.
3. Ask For The Review
4. Use Trip Advisors new management tools to send emails out to past guests that recently stayed at your hotel so they can have the link infront of them.
Let your mind go with this and come up with creative ideas to get guests to want to review your hotel. I have seen so far that hotels with more positive reviews are actually getting more room bookings. Isnt that the reason we are in the hotel business?
No Sales Director For Your Hotel? Don't Worry
Now if your running a property with more then 150 rooms, this blog post will probably not do you that much good, however it will help. Properties under 100 rooms will get more benefit from this post. If your a General Manager or Owner Operator that has a property where you do not have a Sales Director to promote your property do not worry. There are some easy things that you can be doing that will increase occupancy at your hotel while focusing on your staff and guests.
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I totally understand being a General Manager with no sales staff, and worrying about your front desk, trying to find the right housekeepers, and taking care of your guests so they have a great experience. I have been there! You then get worried because you know your occupancy might be ok, but you also know that with a sales effort it can do better. You can be the General Manager and the Sales Director all at the same time. As hotel General Managers, we are required to wear many hats. While some GMs are not comfortable with sales, there is a way for those GMs to be very proactive in increasing occupancy at their properties.
Meet Your Local Convention and Visitors Bureau
Attending CVB Meetings is one thing, but you need to be up front and personal with the sales staff at your local CVB. These are the people that are responsible for showcasing your city, attractions, hotels and other businesses to out of town guests. Know who the sales managers are and what markets they represent. Reach out to them and talk to them about what projects they are working on, and invite them to a breakfast or lunch at your hotel. If you don't have Food N Beverage, order pizza, or take them to a dinning establishment close to your property and then take them on a tour of your hotel.
You want to treat them as a VIP guest during the dinning and touring process, and introduce them to your staff. This will leave a good impression of you and your property and they will remember you for it when it comes times when they are asked where to stay. Just don't stop with that, make sure you respond to all the RFPs that are sent to you even if your property is not a good match for their client. This way you will stay in their mind for when business that does match your property comes into town.
Stay in contact with them every few months, by either calling or dropping by their office with some treats. The main thing here is to stay in their minds, so they don't forget about you.
Reach Out To Your Area Funeral Homes
Nobody wants to think about death, its not one of the most happiest moments in someone's life. However just about everybody has out of town family members, and most of the time those people need a place to stay when they come home to pay their respects.
Send out a mailing to your area funeral homes and depending if your a Economy or Midscale property, offer them a bereavement rate for their customers. Remember that most bereavement rates are usually 15% to 25% off Rack Rate depending on where your property is positioned in the market. Funerals are not something people plan for, so when they have to travel and take off work, paying for a hotel room is usually not in the budget. Hotels that offer bereavement rates 9 times out of 10 will get the business.
If you have a small meeting room, let the funeral home know that if its not being used that you will allow them to let the families use it and bring in their own food n beverage. This is a great community gesture and will put you on the inside with your local funeral establishments. You never know who will be there locally and what they do for their own jobs. I have had numerous times that I have done this, and a person from the family thought it was a very nice gesture. They ended up holding their companies sales training at my property.
Ask For Business From Your Competition
I have had a lot of newer hotel owners look at me funny when I recommend this. I am not saying go and tell your competition down the street that your hurting for business, or what your key accounts are. I am simply saying build a rapport with area hotels sales managers, GMs, and Front Desk staff so on the nights that they are full, they will recommend people that are walking in, or calling to give you a try.
You never know what kind of business will come out of a relationship like this. You could become good friends with the DOS at the Best Western and she is working on a large piece of business, but she doesn't have all the rooms that they need so she remembers her friend and gives you a call.
Social Media Facebook, Twitter and Blogs
I am going to keep beating this into the ground, because I still hear that people do not have enough time for Social Media Marketing their properties. I am here to tell you, YOU NEED TO MAKE TIME!
With Facebook having over 900 million users, and Twitter boasting over 200 million users, that is a lot of eyes that you could be bringing to your property's website. It also gives a way for your loyal satisfied guests to tell their friends about your property. I am not going to go into all the nuts and bolts of building a good presence in social media because that is all a separate ball game, but you can read an article that we wrote a few weeks back on why some Hotels are missing the boat with Facebook by clicking here.
Get to work on these items and with in a week we will post part 2 of this post so you can continue marketing your hotel with out a Sales Director.