Hotel Online  Special Report

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 Steps to Develop Your Hotel's
Presence on the Web
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By: Neil Salerno, CHME, CHA Ė February 2005

The Internet is the greatest compilation of information ever created by mankind, but sometimes finding the specific information you need, can be a daunting task. With 64 million web sites and growing, the Internet has become a true mammoth to navigate. 

Third-party suppliers got the early jump-start in the race for travel dominance on the Internet and, today, they continue to hone their skills and techniques. Franchise hotel sites are working to capture a greater share of Internet business and are improving daily. Interestingly, franchisors continue to include GDS and voice reservations in their Internet numbers to claim dominance over third-party sites; a little misleading. The battle between them continues.

To promote your hotel on the Internet, you can continue to rely on your franchise, if you have one, and/or rely on the more experienced third-party suppliers; or you can help yourself by using your own web site to help increase your local market share on the Internet. 

Owners and managers of smaller hotels and, especially, independent small properties are always seeking ways to compete in the new world of electronic marketing, but find it increasingly difficult to find the resources they need. As one of my clients stated recently, ďMy hotel is small and Iím surrounded by larger franchised hotels, how can I make sure I get my fair share of Internet business? Where can I find the help I need?Ē

Help is on its way. HotelInternetResources.com is building a data base of hotel-friendly web site developers, hosting companies, Internet marketing companies, booking engines, site enhancement tools, and many other resources to help ease your search for assistance. Their site should be live by April and it is totally free for both the hotel community and those Internet Resources listed in their data base. 

Our dream is to see every Independent Hotel, Bed & Breakfast Inn, and Boutique Hotel, of any size, with its own reservations-producing web site. We want to destroy the notion that it is an expensive and complicated process. There are resources available that will conceptualize, build, and maintain your web site within your budget. The best of these will even guarantee a great return-on-your-investment.

If you donít have your own web site, what are you waiting for? The Internet is still the least expensive way to market your property to the general public. If you shop around, you will find many qualified web developers who can get you started within your budget; developers who know the hotel industry, and the type of site necessary to produce business for your hotel. 

If you have a web site and it just isnít producing reservations as you had hoped, have your site analyzed by an expert, before you consider using ďsearch and booking engine expertsĒ to add tools and enhancements to an unworkable web site. A web site analysis should provide you with a road-map of everything which needs to be changed to make your site fully productive. Itís very much like bringing your vehicle to be checked out to see what can make it work better. 

A poorly designed and/or poorly hosted web site cannot be improved by simply using search engine technology. Recently, I had a client whose site was so rich with flash elements that no search engines would even spider or index his site. In spite of this, he was paying another company to continue to submit the site to search engines. The result was that, for many months, he received zero referrals from search engines; no surprise. 

Now, donít get me wrong, his web site was beautiful and very entertaining with its morphed photos, flash, and complicated design, but it had few visitors and fewer reservations. Recently, we re-designed his site to make it searchable; it received 23 search engine referrals Ė in the first day of being published; no magic, just simple search-friendly redesign.

There are several distinct steps to develop your presence on the web. 

  • Choose a developer who is focused on producing reservations on your site. Avoid techies who are only focused on creating a masterpiece of design.
  • Who will host my web site? Is their technology compatible with hotel web site design? Are they limited in the design technology they can serve?
  • Find a developer with hotel experience or has access to someone with hotel experience to co-develop your site. Your site is published to sell hotel rooms; do they understand how to sell rooms? 
  • Make certain your developer begins with the end-in-mind; traffic and reservations production. 
  • Does the designer know how to prepare a fully searchable web site? Search engines are constantly improving and search terms should be evaluated often.
  • Find a web developer who will take ownership of the results.
  • Find a developer that has the ability and knowledge to help strengthen your results with marketing methods such as reciprocal links, newsletters, and other traffic-producing techniques. A web site is a work in progress.
  • Only accept reservations and unique visitors as a measure of success; number of ďhitsĒ is no longer an acceptable benchmark. 
The expertise and the tools you need are available. Begin with an analysis of your site; it could be the best small investment you ever made to make your web site more productive.


Companies wishing to be considered for a free listing on the hotelinternetresources.com web site, please send request, listing your web site to:
listing@hotelinternetresources.com

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Contact:

Neil L. Salerno, CHME, CHA
The Hotel Marketing Coach
www.hotelmarketingcoach.com
Htlmgr5125@msn.com


 
Also See: Five Hotel Internet Marketing Myths - Busted!/ Neil Salerno / January 2005
How Does Your Hotel Web Site Measure-Up? 2005 Will Be the Internetís Most Productive Year so Far / Neil Salerno / January 2005
Are You Being Out-Hustled By Your Competition? How to Dominate Your Hotel's Market Set / Neil Salerno / December 2004
Why Are Some Hotel Companies Plagued By Management Turnover? Is This Systematic of Poor Performance? / Neil Salerno / December 2004
Basic Components of a Hotel Website: Current Weather, Flash Animation, and Virtual Tours?? Plain Talk About Internet Sales / Neil Salerno / February 2004
Donít Compromise Your Goals In 2004; Five New Yearís Resolutions You Will Want To Keep / Neil Salerno / January 2004
No More Whining About Third-Party Suppliers; You Control Your Own Fate On The Net / Neil Salerno / December 2003
Six 'Maxiís' Guaranteed To Boost Hotel Sales / Neil Salerno / November 2003
Itís Time To Take Back Control Of Rates & Rooms - But Is The Enemy...Us? / Neil Salerno / November 2003
Booking Engines Are Like A Box of Chocolates...You Never Know What Youíre Gonna Get! / Neil Salerno / October 2003
Hotel Web Site & Search Engine Optimization; Always A Work In Progress / Neil L. Salerno / October 2003
Hotel Budgets and Marketing Plans; Oh No, Is It That Time Again? / Neil L. Salerno / September 2003
Increasing Hotel Internet Sales Is Not Rocket Science...And It Doesnít Have To Be Costly Either / Neil L. Salerno / September 2003
Are You Treating Third Party eWholesalers As Competititon Or a Valuable Marketing Partner? / Neil L. Salerno / August 2003
How Often Have You Heard, 'I could have gotten a better rate but the client saw our rates on the Internet' ? Itís Time To Get Back To Selling Location, Facilities, and Services / Neil L. Salerno / August 2003
Before You Begin that Marketing Plan Challenge Your Sales Team; Expect More and Get More / Neil L. Salerno / July 2003
Jump Up and Shout Yes - Delivering Best Online Customer Experience, Nice Job Vividence! / Neil L. Salerno / July 2003
Is The Internet Delivering On Its Promise? Well, It Depends on How you Look at It / Neil L. Salerno / June 2003
Coaching and Mentoring, Sometimes A New Paradigm Can Go A Long Way / Neil L. Salerno / June 2003
Sales Training Works Well, But Sales Mentoring Makes It More Effective; Mentoring Lasts a Lifetime / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
Is It Time For A Sales Tune-up? How Healthy Was Your Last Forecast? / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
Hotel Web Sites; Want it Creative or Effective? / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
If You Always Do What You Have Always Done.... Youíll Always Get What You Always Got! Hotelierís Mantra... Thinking Outside The Box / Neil L. Salerno / April 2003
Good Sales Planning - The Basics Still Work / Neil L. Salerno / April 2003


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