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News for the Hospitality Executive

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Don’t Get Taken for a Ride: Implement
a “Website Owners’ Bill of Rights”
March 12, 2007 - With an “airline passengers’ bill of rights” now in the news, it is the perfect time to consider your rights as a website owner. Airline passengers are not the only consumers being taken for a ride! Hotel owners need to be aware of certain hazards and pitfalls associated with some internet marketing vendors. Don’t get trapped in a plane, or a website contract, unless you know exactly what you can expect in any eventuality!

When you enter into a relationship with an internet marking firm, you need to know what kind of long-term partner they will be. Often, the true colors of an internet marketing company are revealed when you decide not to work with them anymore. This is something you have to prepare for before it happens! Insist upon a “Website Owners’ Bill of Rights” to ensure that you are working with an internet marketing company that is ethical and can provide all the services you need…and none of the headaches you don’t need.

1. ALWAYS own your domain. Not having ownership of your domain is one of the most common and painful issues that arises with internet marketing vendors in the hotel industry. Vendors often buy domains for hotels in their name instead of using the property or owner’s name. This is fine until you wish to stop working with them. Then you are at their mercy: if they are willing to sell you the domain, they can name their price.

2. Once you’ve paid for the website, YOU own it. Once you pay for your website, it is yours, whether or not you stay with the vendor that created it. You also have the right to take over your own website without damage being inflicted. Some internet marketing companies try to remove content, stock photography and other elements that you paid for in full. In other cases, hotel websites have been badly slashed: coding and optimization deleted, style sheets removed, interior page links altered, etc. Ask the vendor about their “ownership” and transfer policies before you hire them to design your website.

3. Make sure you are fully informed about SEO strategies and their risks. To boost their organic search results, some companies will use “link farms,” an approach that is viewed as a form of spamming by search engines such as Google. You will see quick results that seem to reflect well on a new vendor’s efforts, but you also will be banned from the search engines if they find out! “Dark hat” SEO practices are being used every day without the hotels’ knowledge, putting their websites in jeopardy. 

4. Say NO to templates and generic strategies. One-stop shops will give you a website that looks just like everyone else’s. Find an internet marketing company that will give your hotel or brand its own look and a customized search marketing strategy.

5. Don’t be seduced by unrealistic ROI projections. Beware of vendors who set unrealistic expectations. It is impossible to predict ROI until a campaign has been researched and initiated. Furthermore, what worked for a hotel in New York might not work in California. Any vendor that tells you otherwise is pulling the wool over your eyes.

6. READ the fine print on monthly reports. Don’t be satisfied with an upward curve on a chart or stats that reflect only website traffic. Conversion is what counts. In addition, keep in mind that there are many ways to present data. Tell your vendors to “keep it real” when it comes to results, and to be prepared to discuss them with you.

7. Don’t be pressured into choosing SEO or PPC. SEO and PPC are designed to work together. However, some internet marketing companies will push for a one-way approach at the cost of decreased exposure and revenue for the hotel. Any vendor that only believes in one component of SEO/PPC is dragging the hotel down a path of mediocrity. The best search engine marketing campaigns take full advantage of both.

8. Consider the costs of using WEB 2.0 before you make the leap. User-generated content has taken off! Several companies are banking on this trend by convincing hotels to participate in the WEB 2.0 phenomenon. Blogs, RSS and videos can be great, but you need to be aware of the time commitment they require. All hoteliers know that running a hotel is a big enough challenge: taking time out to produce authentic content and to keep it fresh can be a burden. Furthermore, you relinquish control when you use social networking sites; negative postings can harm your hotel’s image.

9. Look beyond price: package deals aren’t always as good as they seem. Don’t buy everything a vendor has to offer because it’s convenient. They want the sale: it’s up to you to be discerning. Search marketing is a highly specialized skill. Many firms may offer it as a service, but they will not necessarily get you the best results. Hire the best designer and the best search marketing team, and require them to work together, even if they work for different firms. 

10. Don’t compromise functionality. Hotels do not need a 50-page web site for SEO! Many marketing companies will advise you to increase the number of pages on your site, adding irrelevant information to “add depth” and “increase SEO.” The hotel then pays an additional cost for both design and SEO. Design companies may recommend extensive use of flash, which can be striking but is incompatible with search engines. Remember…your marketing efforts should never interfere with website functionality. Make it easy for users to find good, concise information on your website that leads them to BUY! 

Evision means Business 

Evision Worldwide generates incremental online revenue to help your hotel become a market leader. Our solutions work with your existing website setup and structure, so there’s no need to invest in expensive redesign. Our PPC team has provided winning, targeted solutions for hotels, resorts, property management groups and leading brands, consistently outperforming our competition in hospitality and travel pay per click marketing in the US and worldwide. 

Visit www.evisionworldwide.com  to request a free search engine marketing analysis.

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Contact:

Vikram Singh, CEO
Evision Worldwide LLC 
T 415 244 9861 
F 415 520 4774
vikram@evisionworldwide.com 
www.evisionworldwide.com


 

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Also See: Evision Worldwide’s Prescription for Hotels: Get Your PPC From a Specialist / January 2007
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