News for the Hospitality Executive
July 19, 2012 - Turning a hotel’s online lookers into bookers was the topic of discussion at a recent event hosted by hotel management firm R. A. Rauch & Associates at the Hilton Garden Inn San Diego/Del Mar. At the event, RAR president Robert Rauch teamed up with Adam Brownstein,co-founder of Buuteeq, to share online marketing insights and trends to about 50 tourism professionals. Buuteeq is a digital marketing system for boutique hotels that boasts a portfolio of more than 3,200 hotels around the world.
Brownstein stressed today’s new requirement for a digital marketing system for boutique hotels. “SEO is nonsense,” Brownstein said. Referring to the massive and ever-complicated attempts to figure out what Google likes and doesn’t like, Brownstein said the only solution is a digital marketing system that allows hotels to continually update their sites with great content and photos.
Plus, the hotel industry is now a science that relies on sophisticated algorithms for revenue management, distribution channel management for the plethora of OTAs and social media marketing,” Rauch added.
Here’s a wrap-up of Rauch’s and Brownstein’s Top 5 Hotel Digital Marketing Tips to Implement Before 2013.
Go Social to Get Bookings
Today, hotels can offer direct bookings through Facebook and smartphone apps, offering convenience and direct contact. Facebook pages serve as a way to extend a hotel’s relationship with its customers beyond their actual stay. Hilton estimates that about 615,000 customers have downloaded its mobile apps. Their customer relationship management system includes detailed preferences for guests, something that could also be gleaned from a hotel’s Facebook fans.
Mobile Optimization is No Longer Optional
More and more travelers will be turning to their mobile devices to not only research lodging and travel options, but to book and communicate room preferences directly with the hotel. Google is projecting that mobile will overtake PCs as the most common web-access device by 2013 and will represent 80 percent by 2015! With travelers adopting smart phones and tablets at such a rapid pace, it’s crucial for hoteliers to optimize their Website for mobile usage to capture potential mobile transactions.
Create Your Online Community
By 2016, half of the travel industry will be using social media as a way of generating revenue and bookings. Get on board if you are not yet busy with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the maze of social media opportunities. However many you incorporate, have a plan to consistently engage and interact with your online following. These are the people who are ripe to become your brand ambassadors and they are a necessary element of traffic-driving success.
Build a Brand
Rauch talked about rejecting commoditization by “branding” your culture. Brownstein reiterated that hotels should be selling a culture and a philosophy, not just room nights. “If you’re a luxury hotel, you should sell the luxury experience. If you’re a value hotel, you’re selling a stress-free vacation void of money worries,” Brownstein said.
Know Your Analytics
It is paramount to a hotel’s success to measure and monitor online marketing efforts to know what’s working and what’s not. Smart hoteliers can use this information to their advantage to track financial performance of this medium and see where their marketing efforts should be focused.
“Checking Google Analytics is easy so it shouldn’t be ignored,” Brownstein said. Through analytics, you can see what people are searching for, what visitors are clicking on, where they first click, and where referral traffic comes from. Plus, you’ll also find demographics and see how many people are using your mobile site.
Mid-Year Lodging Forecast
Rauch also released his mid-year Lodging Forecast at the conference.
“The San Diego market continues to exhibit signs of positive growth in both occupancy and average rate,” Rauch said. “The occupancy will finish the year at 71 percent, up 2 percent year over year. ADR will be at $132, up 4 percent over 2011 and revenue per available room (REVPAR) will be up to over $90, an increase of 6 percent.”
At this rate, by 2014, Rauch believes we will have surpassed the peak years of 2007-2008 which was 73 percent at over $140. He anticipates this pattern will continue as room demand outpaces supply growth over the next three years or more.
So what is the bottom line? Now is the time to own hotels, but only if you keep up with technology.
Rauch is president of R. A. Rauch & Associates, Inc and is a nationally recognized hotelier serving clients in all facets of the industry. Rauch has more than 35 years of hospitality-related management experience and his company currently manages and operates the Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego/Del Mar, Hilton Garden Inn San Diego/Del Mar, the historic El Cordova Hotel in Coronado, and the Quality Inn & Suites Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. He also manages the oceanfront Pantai Inn, Southern California’s only Indonesian-inspired hotel property and Pacific View Inn, a recently acquired hotel also on the Pacific Ocean in San Diego’s Pacific Beach. Find out more about Rauch and his team, plus see how he can drive your hotel to success at www.HotelGuru.com.
Robert A. Rauch, CHA, President
R. A. Rauch & Associates, Inc.
11025 Vista Sorrento Parkway
San Diego, CA 92130