Hotel Online  Special Report

Basic Components of a Hotel Website: Current Weather,
Flash Animation, and Virtual Tours?? 
Plain Talk About Internet Sales
By: Neil Salerno Ė February 2004

Internet marketing technology is a wonderful thing, but, as with most new technologies, it is quickly adding the burden of its own new language. The language of the Internet and web technology is easily understood among the techies who are creating it, but it tends to add confusion and misunderstanding for hoteliers and other technology outsiders. Although more and more hoteliers are developing a better understanding of the Internet and how it works, our lives will be less complicated if we can communicate in some plain talk. 

My mission has always been, and still is, to see more hotels with their own well-developed Websites that work to generate real-time online and offline reservations.  There seems to be a growing proliferation of technology-generated words being used to describe Web Site Marketing. Letís not let this language delay progress by unnecessarily confusing the issue. 

No offense, but two of my favorites are ďDirect To Consumer Online Distribution ChannelĒ and ďDirect Sphere Of Online Distribution InfluenceĒ and there are many more.  Címon people, we arenít building a rocket ship here. 

One of the first techniques I learned, as a new salesman many years ago, was to talk in the clientsí language if you want to be completely understood. Now Iím not saying that many people donít understand what a distribution channel is, but for many, techie words only add unnecessary barriers and confusion. From what I can see, the people fond of using this techie language have some sound techniques and ideas, but it really isnít necessary to saturate the hotel industry with more confusing and aristocratic language. We have enough of our own.

As I have said many times, marketing on the Internet is not rocket science. Letís not shroud its simplicity with a new language. Now I donít mean to upset the consultants and techies who are spawning this language, but I truly believe that the entire hotel industry gets stronger as more hotels embrace the Internet marketing concept. If you agree, then letís encourage more hotel participation through some plain talk.

Business generated from the Internet is rapidly on the increase, for sure, but hoteliers have much more on their plates to handle. Letís be clear, if you donít have a working search-savvy Website, capable of booking real-time online reservations, conventional wisdom says you should. For those who presently donít have one, itís neither expensive nor difficult to have one developed. 

Sure, there are many ways to maximize the results (reservations) you get from your site, but first invest the modest sum necessary to have your own hotel site. Yes, I have been suggesting, for a long time, that you make certain your siteís designer knows something about hotel marketing. I have actually seen some hotel sites, which didnít have the hotelís address or location information, but they sure look pretty. By the way, the importance of your location hasnít changed. Itís still number one in importance, followed by facilities and entertainment. 

When planning your site, concentrate on the basics. Adding unnecessary information such as access to the current weather, flash animation, and virtual tours do little to enhance the decision-making process. Low-density static photography does far more to sell your hotel than virtual tours, which take too long to download and wear on the users patience. According to many authorities only 32% of all Internet visitors have high-speed connections, at best. Even worse, the majority of these are at business locations and not at home where much travel shopping is done. 

When a majority of users have high-speed connections, you can always add the flash of which techies are so fond. One designer actually told me that he loves when the client tells him that speed is not an issue. Now thatís a bit of subjectivity in design you can do without.

Search engine friendliness is becoming more and more important in Website design, but submitting your site to search engines is not a panacea for success either. Getting more users to a poorly designed site is probably a bigger sin. Criteria for search engine submission are changing rapidly. More engines are moving to paid submission to guarantee search placement of your site and pay-per-click most often has a good return-on-investment.

If you are hurting for business, by all means, utilize third-party suppliers to help you. Most third-party opponents have never been responsible for a P&L statement.  Choose carefully; talk to their regional or local representative, limit their availability, and make sure you donít compromise your rates. With careful consideration, they will help you build exposure for your hotel and help you create some needed business base. 

If your franchise guarantees consumers the lowest available rate on their site, plan your direct rates accordingly. Your average rate is not a rate; itís the average of all your rates. Only 20%, or so, of Web shoppers search by brand. This is the strongest case for having your own site. Although some users will do some rate comparison from site to site, value added packaging and careful rate structuring can help protect your ADR.

Working the Internet is comprised of many small steps. Do the basics first, then build on those basics. If your hotel is one of the fortunate minorities, which has a good well-designed Website with all the necessary basic components, feel free to delve into the Internet world of high tech language and techniques. Until then, letís keep it simple.


Neil Salerno, CHME
1369 South Wembley Circle
Port Orange, Florida 32128

Also See: Donít Compromise Your Goals In 2004; Five New Yearís 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 'Maxiís' Guaranteed To Boost Hotel Sales / Neil Salerno / November 2003
Itís 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 Youíre 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 Doesnít 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' ? Itís 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.... Youíll Always Get What You Always Got! Hotelierís 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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