|Why Develop a Content Strategy for your Hotel?|
By Gideon Dean, Principal, Americas
Thursday, 17th January 2013
Never before has original content been more important in a hotel online marketing strategy.
Recent changes in search engine algorithms, particularly the advent of Google Panda as well as the surge in social media channels, has placed new importance on original content.
What defines my hotel content?
A hotel's content will include any information, rate data, maps and rich media appearing on any public domains for the purposes of informing users about the services, location and brand affiliation of that hotel.
What makes it so important?
Much online content is either connected or at least indexed by search engines in such a way as to make access by users easy. Increasingly social media, review sites, message boards, forums, and blogs are seeking to attract users and their principle currency is content.
There is a process of constant innovation on how best to present content relative to each channel and specific audience. That provides an excellent opportunity for hotels and hotel brands to take control of their own original content, make it excellent and relevant and have a plan to get it in front of the users most likely to be interested.
5 key elements to a successful content strategy
Start by auditing your current content, how it is stored and distributed and most importantly, who gets to see it. Understanding your customer segments and their information needs is a cornerstone in developing an effective content marketing plan.
Set some goals. Define exactly what you want to accomplish with your content strategy and most importantly why you want to accomplish it. Your content strategy goals should include key metrics to measure the success of the plan. These can be measured through site analytics packages, social media usage tools and of course, improved reservation volumes. It is important to link the outcome of your content strategy to the wider business goals for the hotel.
Identify your resources and tools. Having set some goals, you will be able to define what you need to accomplish them. If you haven't done so already, then make someone responsible for this initiative. In today's digital world, all businesses have become publishers and it's important that this is included in your marketing skill set. Furthermore, pick the right tools to do the job - there are many content management platforms available so choose one and an analytics package which best suit your business. Be prepared to use external resources in specialist fields like rich media and invest in training your team to write optimized-ready content.
Cast the net wide. No matter how great your content is or how much authority your website has, it is not going to reach every possible audience type. This is where paid and unpaid content syndication can help you. The simplest form is to share your content through your own social channels.
At the more complex end of the spectrum, you can pay to syndicate your content to other sites through paid content syndication, banners or social advertising. Identify which authors, evangelists and influencers are helping you reach your goals through their own efforts. Create reciprocal links to sites where there can be a mutually beneficial exchange. Use your staff in ways that emphasize the unique nature of your content - A Chef's blog with a recipe of the week for example. Look at who is regularly commenting on your content and seek to reciprocate. Follow the people who follow you on Twitter. Reward those who are helping you with these kinds of social gifts. Be aware of the importance of mobile channels and plan for them. Ensure you are listed in all local directories.
Measure, adjust and measure again. Channels and customer segments will continue to evolve and content can become irrelevant very quickly. Ensure that measuring the results of your content marketing strategy always references your wider business goals.
In searching for, identifying and choosing a hotel, consumers have a bewildering array of options online. To have the opportunity to influence traveler's decisions as early as possible, hotels need to have relevant, optimized content at the center of any effective marketing strategy.
It's your content, make sure you are better at using it than anyone else!
Author: Gideon Dean, Principal, Americas
Gideon works mostly in the fields of online and social commerce, media and content strategies and digital business evolution. Equally comfortable at executive or hotel level engagements, hotel and travel distribution and technology continue to be his passion and focus.
© The Hotel Solutions Partnership Ltd. Reprinted with permission.