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
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
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 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.