Hotel Online  Special Report

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Hotel Web Basics That Really
Work…Content is King

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By: Neil Salerno, Hotel Marketing Coach – July 2005

Whether you call it the Internet or an electronic channel, it’s still an inexpensive and effective means of promoting your hotel. There are some simple tactics which promote success in web marketing. Don’t be fooled by those huge numbers of “hits” on your site. The true measure of your site’s success is the number of reservations it generates. 

The most important first step is to make sure your web site is designed for success. What is success? Success means attracting people to your site, then converting lookers to bookers. 

Sometimes, web site owners, themselves, are the biggest obstacle to efficient site design; it’s called human ego. Web sites are public instruments and the design or “look” of a hotel web site is often greatly influenced by everyone involved with the hotel. I call it “design by committee”. Design-by-committee generally results in a confusing, difficult to navigate web site. Everyone has an opinion; often an uninformed one, based upon how good it looks versus how well it works.

The design of an effective hotel site involves much more than how it looks; and herein lays the problem. There are basic “rules-of-the-road” so to speak, which greatly affect how well a site performs. The first is its search ability. Techies love movement and flashy design; unfortunately, search engines do not. Savvy designers know how to fool search engines, but they spend more time trying to get around search engine parameters than they spend on the site’s content; and content is king. Search spiders read copy, yet designers devote less time and effort to the “words” and concentrate on making a site pretty with photography. 

Here’s a news flash for owners, managers, and other interested parties; the site is not being designed for you. It is hopefully being designed to attract new guests. If you really need to be involved in your site’s design, learn search engine parameters and the way they work, before you impose your will on the designer. 

The next very important requirement is to create a simple navigation scheme. “Buried links”, links accessible only from other links, are very slick looking, but confuse search spiders and, more importantly, they also confuse the site’s users. Your site is not an online brochure; it’s an online sales instrument. If an online brochure is what you want, be satisfied with mediocre sales results. 

Content is king. It’s still amazing to me how many site designers neglect the hotel’s location information on their site. The assets of your location are the most important considerations for choosing a hotel. Your hotel’s address is only a small part of your location. Distance to/from attractions, activities, and businesses play a major role in hotel selection. Accessibility is the next consideration. Accesses to/from major cities and/or airports are important considerations.

Content is king. We have all heard the old axiom “a picture says a thousand words”; in life this is very true; except when it comes to web sites. Good photography is important but search engines do not read photography. Carefully written copy on your site can boost your site’s popularity by making it easier to find. For many sites, the copy appears to be written simply to fill empty space instead of actually providing important information. 

Content is king. Reciprocal links are those which, by mutual agreement, reside on your site and, in turn, contain a link to your web site from the linked site. Reciprocal links can boost the overall popularity of your web site by borrowing the popularity of the linked site. Good examples are links to blogs, news articles, and attractions. But, caution, your home page should never contain an external link. Would you really want to entice someone to exit your site from your home page?

Content is king. The popularity of the Internet has also spawned a new breed of site designers eager to cash-in on this new income source. Web site designers are not necessarily good hotel marketers. It seems that everyone involved with the Internet have now become hotel web marketers; without ever spending two days in the hotel business. If necessary, hire a hotel sales person to oversee the building of your site. Make sure good basic principles of hotel sales are being utilized. 

When shopping for someone to oversee the design and perform the marketing for your site, ask questions. Hotel sales and marketing experience should be a basic prerequisite. Choose someone who understands the principles and methodology involved with hotel sales and marketing. Choose someone who will utilize those principles to meld your Internet marketing effort into your hotel’s direct sales program. Not doing so is sort of like hiring a plumber to fix your electric wiring. Selling rooms is not like selling widgets or designing technical web tools. 

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Contact:

Neil Salerno, C.H.M.E., C.H.A.
The Hotel Marketing Coach
www.hotelmarketingcoach.com
NeilS@hotelmarketingcoach.com
607/331-3626

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Also See: Hotel Supplier Sites versus Online Travel Agents; The War Chronicles / Neil Salerno / June 2005
New Hotel Technology Surround Us; Yet Face-to-face Selling is Still Most Productive / Neil Salerno / June 2005
The Internet…The Great Equalizer For Independent Hotels / Neil Salerno / June 2005
Third-Party Booking Sites Still Dominate Internet Sales;  Why Do So Many Consider this Bad? / Neil Salerno / April 2005
Now That Online Hotel Booking Is Here to Stay, New Challenges Emerge / Neil Salerno / April 2005
Independent Boutique Hotels Can Compete With their Big Box Neighbors / Neil Salerno / April 2005
Who Are Your Most Important Guests? We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby! / Neil Salerno / March 2005
New Consumer Hotel Booking Preferences - They Love the Internet…Now What? / Neil Salerno / March 2005
Who Would Have Thought - Today's Hotel Marketing Necessity Is Also its Best Value / March 2005
Time For a Hotel Web Site “Make-Over”? Methods for Building a Successful Web Site Change / Neil Salerno / March 2005
Create Impact by Developing a Link Strategy For Your Hotel Web Site / Neil Salerno / February 2005
Steps to Develop Your Hotel's Presence on the Web / Neil Salerno / February 2005
Five Hotel Internet Marketing Myths - Busted!/ Neil Salerno / January 2005
How Does Your Hotel Web Site Measure-Up? 2005 Will Be the Internet’s 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
Don’t Compromise Your Goals In 2004; Five New Year’s 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 'Maxi’s' Guaranteed To Boost Hotel Sales / Neil Salerno / November 2003
It’s 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 You’re 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 Doesn’t 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' ? It’s 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.... You’ll Always Get What You Always Got! Hotelier’s 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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