Hotel Online  Special Report

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Hotel Web Site Productivity…The New Way to
Measure Your Site’s Effectiveness

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By: Neil Salerno – April 2006

The way I see it, search engines have become so convenient, user-friendly, and accurate that online consumers are being converted into search addicts. Search engines have become an essential part of the Internet. I feel bad for many hotel web sites that are not yet search-friendly and/or have not improved their site content to accommodate search requirements. 

The way I see it, many hoteliers still don’t-get-it. While hotel sites are getting more attractive, many simply ignore the basic requirements to be a searchable and functional web site. Both the design of the site and the text content make a huge contribution to the search ability of the site. Search engine compatibility is not complicated nor does it have to change the entire “feel’ of your web site. Many times minor changes can make a huge difference.

It’s obviously important to attract as many visitors as possible to your site. Your site means nothing unless people can see it. But your site’s design has a great influence on how search engines spider and rank your site; which will determine the number of visitors who will see your site. That’s right, folks, it’s a “Catch 22”; for those of you to young to remember, that’s a problem which revolves in a circle, over and over again. 

You should no longer be satisfied with web masters who simply track the number of visitors to your site. Site optimization includes the ability of your site to convert “lookers” to “bookers”. Getting visitors to see your site is only half the job; the easier half. How many visitors are actually making a reservation? Productivity means bookings.

I spoke to a professional the other day who was satisfied that the only way to increase bookings was to attract more visitors. Well, how about also optimizing the design of the site so that more of those additional visitors will make a reservation? 

Over time, many hotel web sites tend to become a collection of disjointed, unrelated information due to the hotel’s eagerness to include as much information as possible, as if that would make a difference. Sometimes less is more. Many others continually display information which is out-dated, due to simple neglect. A web site is not your hotel’s online brochure; it’s a continually evolving sales tool.

For independent hotels, web site optimization is an absolute must. Loyal franchise shoppers often overlook details on a franchise site because they are familiar with the requirements of that brand. But, only 20% to 25% of Internet searches are brand-specific. This leaves a lot of “opportunity” available to independent hotels. Your site’s ability to get ranked higher by search engines and its ability to “sell” rooms, once visitors get there, is critical to the site’s productivity. 

Don’t kid yourself, if your site is not producing well, the solution may not simply be fixed with search engine optimization (SEO). Getting more visitors to view a non-functional site, fixes nothing. Creating an effective sales tool involves a lot more than simply having pretty pictures and listing facts about the facilities and amenities of your hotel. Your site should be designed using sound hotel marketing principles; that means that it has to be designed to sell. You’ve heard it before; content is king. Many designers spend more time composing photos and flash elements than developing text and links, the most important part of your site.

Would you have your maintenance engineer write your hotel’s marketing plan? No more so than you would have your marketing director fix a leaking sink. Why would you leave it to anyone other than a hotel marketing professional to design your web site? I have a client who had his new flashy site designed by a major web design company to the tune of $6000. In six months the site produced reservations in the low single digits each month. After content and navigation changes, it now produces roughly thirty percent of all his reservations. 

For independent hotels, it is also necessary to provide the “instant gratification” that only an online booking engine can provide. Most hotel site visitors will not be satisfied with waiting for a fax or email confirmation of their reservation. I simply cannot understand why there are still so many hotel sites that don’t have the ability to accept an online “real-time” reservation. Many booking engines are seamless and easily affordable; the return on this minor investment is huge. 

Whoever has designed your site, make them accountable for reservation production; unless, of course, your bank now accepts deposits of unique users. According to Secure-Res, their average client site converts 3.48% of all visitors; wouldn’t it be common-sense that it should be much higher? Can you imagine making reservations for only 4 out of every 100 people that call your hotel?

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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 Revenue Management. . . The Way I See It / Neil Salerno / April 2006
Hotel Web Site Lookers & Bookers; Want to Convert Lookers on Your Web Site? / Neil Salerno / March 2006
Hotelier Rebuts Article Concerning Third-party Online Aggregators / Neil Salerno / February 2006
Great Opportunity for Independent Hotels - Cash-in on Electronic Sales / Neil Salerno / January 2006
Some Hoteliers Still Don’t Recognize the Benefits Derived from Third-party Listings; Shame, Shame, Shame on You! / Neil Salerno / January 2006
Online Hotel Rating Sites Driving Anxiety into  the Hearts of Many Hotel Managers / Neil Salerno / December 2005
Hotel Web Site Priorities –Some Do’s, Don’ts; Why the Heck Did You Do That? / Neil Salerno / November 2005
The Best Hotel Sales Director I Ever Met; What Do The Good Ones Have in Common? / Neil Salerno / November 2005
The Best Hotel General Manager I Ever Met / Neil Salerno / October 2005
What’s your eMarketing Proficiency? Using Electronic Marketing Tools / Neil Salerno / October 2005
When Times Get Tough…Get Tougher! Sell Harder Before You Cave-in on Rates / Neil Salerno / September 2005
The Web Site Conundrum…Are You Winning the Electronic Marketing Game? / Neil Salerno / August 2005
Lions and Tigers and Bears…Oh My; The Hotel Yellow Brick Road is Less Scary than It Used to Be / Neil Salerno / August 2005
Running Dry on Good Hotel Ideas? It’s not What You Know - It’s Who You Know / Neil Salerno / July 2005
Revenue Grabbing Tips for Independent Hotels; Start Thinking Like the Chains / Neil Salerno / July 2005
Hotel Web Basics That Really Work…Content is King / Neil Salerno / July 2005
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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