Hotel Online  Special Report

Who Would Have Thought - Today's Hotel Marketing
Necessity Is Also its Best Value
By: Neil Salerno, CHME, CHA Ė March 2005

To borrow a phrase from the Smith Travel Research web site ďItís not rocket scienceÖitís more important than thatĒ. Randy I give you credit, you nailed it. Of course Randy Smith was referring to research data, but it can apply to Internet marketing as well. 

All fluff and technical terminology aside, the Internet is still the most economical, value-packed marketing tool ever devised. But youíve heard that all before. Iím constantly amazed that it is still shrouded in mystery and misconceptions and, in some cases, not thought of at all.

For the past few years, Iíve tried to debunk some of the mystery and encourage hotels to go beyond simply publishing a web site but actually using their web site to market their hotels and sell rooms instead of thinking of their web site as a ďbrochureĒ. 

Many hoteliers have a difficult time seeing beyond the scant numbers of reservations some hotels see from their current web site. I guess there are two ways to look at it. 

There are those who feel that they are not getting enough production from their web site to warrant making any further investments to improve it. On the other hand, there are those who see the Internetís enormous potential and realize that a small investment can produce a huge return. Which one are you?

The Internet is also the great equalizer. Itís a marketplace where even the smallest boutique properties can compete with big box hotels; where small management companies can compete with the largest hotel franchises. It all boils-down to exposure and the ability of your site to properly represent your property to the public.

The Internet is affordable for even the smallest of properties. 

Unknown Legions of Web Site Visitors 

Some experts estimate that as many as 75% or more of all travelers use the Internet to research airline schedules and hotels before making their travel plans. We suspect that the majority of these travelers still make their reservations offline, but this is changing. Reservations made online are increasing rapidly as people gain confidence in the security of their transactions. 

In any event, this is good news for our industry. Imagine, if years ago, we found a magazine which had readership representing 75% of all travelers. It would be so chock full of ads, youíd have difficulty counting them. Well, imagine a publication, like the Internet, read daily by millions, begging for your participation.

The amazing thing is that the Internetís cost per reader is lower than any magazine ever printed. They key is how to get more readers to see and use your site. Although good Internet marketing is tedious and sometimes detailed, it really isnít complicated. But, it does require your attention.

Enough is known about the Internet that there are very few remaining naysayers, but there is a good way and a better way to approach it.  Perhaps the best advice this writer can give is to stay far away from those who think that fancy complicated gloriously designed web sites work better than simple functional web sites. It just isnít true.

I know that I have annoyed some people by advising hoteliers to seek web marketers with hotel marketing experience. The fact is that selling hotel rooms takes some expertise, knowledge of the marketplace, and how people choose accommodations. I would have no idea how to design a web site to sell widgets; how to market widgets or who might buy them. 

Face it, everyone who knows how to build a web site wants to join in on the action. Iíve seen hotel web sites that donít use correct travel terminology and/or donít understand that a hotelís location is still its most important selling factor. Like all other industries, our techniques and methods are constantly evolving and selling rooms is not like selling widgets or building booking engines. 

The old K.I.S.S. theory works very well with many things; web sites too. Iím amazed that so many people think their web site has to be a masterpiece. With hotel web sites, less is definitely more. Itís rare to find an hotelier who doesnít feel a need to add, add, add to an already functional web site. Do your best to resist this natural tendency.

Itís very easy to take a well-functioning site and turn it into a catch-all for any information people can conceive. Itís like a salesman who never stops talking. In sales, we teach newbies to ask, present, and close. Too much talking loses sales; too much information on a web site loses sales too.

There are many underlying factors such as download speeds, spider-ability, ease of navigation, key words and phrases, and the pure fact that most people just donít spend that much time on a web site. It always makes good sense to use a data-gathering engine such as Web Trends to see which pages people view and how long they view them; then, make adjustments accordingly. It might amaze you to see some of these numbers. 

No, ďItís not rocket scienceÖ.itís more important than thatĒ. Just as the belief in the importance of research data propelled Smith Travel Research into the foremost company of its kind; I urge you to believe in the Internetís potential to boost your occupancy.



Neil L. Salerno, CHME, CHA
The Hotel Marketing Coach

Also See: Time For a Hotel Web Site ďMake-OverĒ? Methods for Building a Successful Web Site Change / Neil Salerno / March 2005
Create Impact by Developing a Link Strategy For Your Hotel Web Site / Neil Salerno / February 2005
Steps to Develop Your Hotel's Presence on the Web / Neil Salerno / February 2005
Five Hotel Internet Marketing Myths - Busted!/ Neil Salerno / January 2005
How Does Your Hotel Web Site Measure-Up? 2005 Will Be the Internetís Most Productive Year so Far / Neil Salerno / January 2005
Are You Being Out-Hustled By Your Competition? How to Dominate Your Hotel's Market Set / Neil Salerno / December 2004
Why Are Some Hotel Companies Plagued By Management Turnover? Is This Systematic of Poor Performance? / 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

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