Hotel Online  Special Report

Increasing Hotel Internet Sales Is Not Rocket Science...
And It Doesn’t Have To Be Costly Either

By: Neil Salerno, September 2003

There appears to be many varying opinions and misunderstandings surrounding hotel Internet sales. I have to admit that it can get confusing, but it sure isn’t rocket science. There have been many articles written about new technology, Internet strategy, Community strategy, search engines, booking engines, and every other component of eMarketing on the Web. It seems that at least some of it only adds to the confusion.

For those hotels with knowledgeable eMarketing people on staff, and those who have hired outside expertise, there are many enhancements, which will multiply your results. But, for a good number of hotels, it’s wise to cut through the mysterious ninety-dollar technical language of this new technology and begin doing the Web basics.

If you are still relying solely upon your franchise Web Site, that’s fine, but know that only 20-30% of Internet travelers search for hotels by brand. According to the experts, at least fifty percent do a simple (city) (hotel) search. In most cases, this search will produce third-party Web Sites first. The goal is to be among the top 5 or 6 search results. If you are content with 20-30% exposure, ok. But, it simply doesn’t cost very much to have your own Web Site to multiple your exposure on the Internet. 

If you’ve decided to create a new Web Site, get marketing professional to help. Your first concern should be design. Seek a Webmaster, knowledgeable in hotel eMarketing, to design your site. Clarity, a good sales message, good navigability, good booking engine, and ease of data management will produce a good return on your modest investment.

For those hotels with the foresight to already have a Web Site, now what? A Web Site should be a work-in-progress. You will want it to sell rooms, but using it for promotions and new information will make it interesting for return visitors. View your site as a new visitor would and, by all means, make a reservation. Make sure there are no broken links or invalid information. If you haven’t updated your site in a few months, get someone to review it and make suggestions to improve it from a marketing standpoint.

Your booking engine is an essential part of your Web Site. Rate parity with your franchise Web Site is a good idea, but, by all means; keep your rates current within your booking engine. Choose a booking engine, which allows you to control all your data and provides you with the ability to measure production and maintain a database. 

To increase traffic to your site, consider using “Pay-per-click” search engine submission or one of the many search engine submission companies that specialize in placement for your site on the 1000 or so search engines. You can even make search engine submissions on your own by purchasing the necessary software, but do it frequently.

Global Distribution System (GDS)

The GDS still remains the number one source of electronic-media hotel sales and is often the most neglected. Although most, if not all, franchises require GDS reservations to go through their systems, you still control the rates by what you submit to their Central Reservations Offices. Your revenue management team needs to review every submission and do it frequently.

Your hotel can’t operate in a vacuum. Companies like TravelClick have reports available, and much more I might add, which will enable you to see your rates as well as those of all your competitors. Use this information to gain an insight for what the GDS user sees and make adjustments based on this data. It’s a good idea to touch these rates often and adjust to market conditions and your competitors’ rate offers. 

Third-party eWholesalers

No matter what your personal views might be, they are with us to stay. It still amazes me that so many people are still trying to find ways to defeat them instead of finding ways to partner with them. The notion of playing the rate game with them may be beneficial to the franchise-holders, but then again, I have never seen an individual hotel benefit financially from selling by “lowest available” rate. Those who suggest that individual hotels should be competing with eWholesalers, with even lower rates, have probably never been responsible for a hotel P&L statement. 

Suck it up, take three good breaths, and consider third-party business as a necessary deep-discount market segment, without them many people would never know your hotel exists. Consider that they are spending $Millions to promote your city and your hotel to millions of new potential travelers. Instead of trying to defeat their efforts, use their business to provide a base for your hotel by controlling room availability. 

Links and Submissions

Links to/from other related sites expand your spider-web and, thus, your exposure on the Internet. If you seek them out, you may find many ways to gain more exposure.

There are also several good meeting planner sites, which give you an opportunity to gain additional exposure to meeting planners. 

Neil L. Salerno, CHME
Hotel & Internet Marketing Solutions
1369 South Wembley Circle
Port Orange, Florida 32128
Also See: 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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