|By: Neil Salerno, CHME, CHA Ė December 2004
For the last few years, the hotel industry has slowly morphed its understanding of the Internet from that of simple fascination into finally believing that the Internet is a serious, viable, and necessary medium to obtain hotel reservations. Just a few years ago, when I first started expressing my thoughts about the great Promise of the Internet for hotels, many hoteliers did not realize nor understand its true potential.
In those early days, most hotel web sites were poorly designed and, sadly, some still are. Most of those hotel sites were designed by web masters outside the industry, who had no clue as to how to attract buyers of hotel rooms. Many did not even provide a means to make reservations online. But, thanks to the many people who did see the Internetís potential, many more hoteliers are now solidly on the electronic channel bandwagon.
In the past, I expressed my personal thoughts on functional web site design; simplicity versus fancy entertainment, easy navigation versus organized confusion, static photos versus animation and/or photo morphing, and good photography versus 3D virtual tours, etc. Since those early days, many hotels cleaned up their sites into more direct, more simplistic, and functional designs and have improved their booking results substantially.
To verify this, simply view some of the best examples, franchise hotel sites. These sites were designed by the new talented and knowledgeable web site designers spawned during the hotel Internet revolution, in the last few years. Thanks, also to the many new Internet Marketing Companies, created during the past few years, web design, functionality, and marketing have improved considerably. Remember when older sites were designed by the office computer guru, who lacked any understanding of marketing hotel rooms? Weíve come a long way, havenít we?
But, we still have a long way yet to go. Internet sales have soared for everything from cars, widgets, and airline reservations to hotel rooms. Have your online reservations kept pace with your competition? If you donít know the answer, youíre probably not trying hard enough. There is data out there, in the form of electronic media subscription reports that will tell you that answer and much more. But, simply knowing the answer is not nearly enough. The secret to getting more Internet reservations is ďGet Serious about this exciting mediumĒ.
Getting Serious means itís time to finally budget electronic channel funds, just as you do for other marketing efforts. Marketing your hotel on the Internet will require an investment, but it has a great return rate. It is still more reasonable and more modest than most other forms of marketing.
Getting Serious also means itís time to complete your own due-diligence to fully understand your Internet customer. There is an abundance of data available for those who wish to review and use it. If you operate a franchise hotel, get serious enough to spend the time to learn from the many brilliant people on your franchise affiliation staff. Get Serious enough to learn how to get a greater share of business from the franchise web site. Many hoteliers today simply provide site information to the franchise and forget about it. Smart hoteliers make consistent changes in information to take advantage of seasons, promotions, franchise programs, etc.
If you are wise enough to also have your own web site, Get Serious enough to assign someone with the task of maximizing search engine results for your site(s). Your site is meaningless until people find it. Pay-per-click almost always provides an excellent ROI. Check with one or more of the very talented Internet Marketing Consultants out there. Fees are usually reasonable and sometimes even guaranteed.
Get Serious about your Internet sales program, your competition is.
Neil L. Salerno, CHME, CHA
The Hotel Marketing Coach
|Also See:||Are You Still Discounting? You Might Gain Some Occupancy, But Lose RevPar to Your Competition / 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|
|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|