5 exercises to pump-up your hotel eMarketing muscle.
By Neil Salerno
Friday, 5th October 2007
Through the years, the job of hotel manager has become more complex and increasingly more difficult than ever before.

The challenges that hotel managers face today -have been further complicated by the popularity, and growing importance of the Internet.

Today, managers are often forced to assign many tasks to junior management and staff individuals; but, more managers need to hold-onto eMarketing tasks and create a personal relationship with the Internet.

Assign eMarketing Tasks Carefully

Choosing which tasks to assign and, which ones to handle personally, is often the measure of successful management. When it comes time to delegate tasks, we urge senior management to retain some involvement in Internet management; you can buff-up your eMarketing muscle through daily exercise.

Some managers and owners view Internet marketing as a purely static and inert form of advertising, which requires little attention after the site is published. Because of this mistaken belief, managing the Internet and other electronic marketing sometimes gets assigned to someone else to maintain. This could be a big mistake.

The Internet's deceptive simplicity fools many hoteliers into believing that all they need do is to have a web site created, publish it to the net, and business will come flowing in. We've all learned that the Internet is intensely complex; it's not just what your site says that's important, it's how it says it that's important, too. You can get it to work for you.

Fish Where the Fish Are

The old expression "fish where the fish are" is important here; no other segment in your marketing plan has more potential business than the Internet. Flex your muscles and create a working partnership between hotel manager, sales director, and web site manager to actively manage this critical business source; it's that important.

The fact is that there are many pro-active steps which can be taken to promote the popularity of your web site as well as improve its productivity. Optimizing your web site from a search and sales stand-point is an important process and will always produce measurable results. Your web site manager can then create SEO, a link strategy, marketing partnerships, and other promotion techniques, which can lead your hotel to market domination.

As I have said many times, a hotel web site must perform two functions; it must be designed to satisfy search engines so people can find the site and, once found, it must have the necessary content to demonstrate value and sell reservations; no small task.

It is these two separate and distinct functions that make web site design different and more complex than simply designing a brochure-type web site. Your first exercise is to determine just how effective your site is in serving both vital functions. How familiar are you with the effectiveness of your own web site?

Well-managed web sites consistently undergo adjustments to stay current and relevant to changes in the marketplace. Take some time every week to explore your online marketplace. Be familiar with your own site as well as those of the competition. What are they offering?

Comprehensive Web Site Reviews

If you haven't already done so, your next exercise is to have someone, with hotel Internet experience, review your site to see how well it serves search and sales demands. Often, a third-party viewpoint and some minor improvements can create a remarkable positive impact on Internet sales results.

Stop judging your web site solely by how good it looks; the biggest scam in the world is web designers that create a pretty web site that can't be found through generic search and has too little content to generate reservations. What you paid to have your site designed means nothing; we've seen plenty of very expensive sites that simply look good, but are totally dysfunctional from a search and sales stand-point.

Know Your Productivity Numbers

Next, know the numbers; number of visitors versus bookers. What rates are being offered on your site or on your booking engine? How do they compare with the competition? What is your site's closing ratio? Are you still simply counting unique visitors to determine your site's success or are you finally tuned-in to measuring bookings and your site's sales effectiveness?

Use your industry experience; does the company, which manages your web site, understand hotel marketing? Are they in step with hotel industry changes; do they understand how and why people select hotels? Your next exercise is to take time, at least once per month, to discuss your web site, and its results, with your site's web manager. Deepen your understanding of how the Internet works and why it's working or not working for you.

Position your Rates against the Competition

Next, use an on-line rate comparison tool, such as Kayak.com, to compare your Internet rates with those being offered by the competition; and do it often. Undervaluing your hotel rates can be even more disastrous than over-valuing them. Position your rates to parallel your proper place in the market.

People don't purchase hotel rooms by rate alone; they almost always make a value judgment. That value judgment includes all necessary elements of hotel's location, facilities, and amenities as compared to the rates offered. All these elements need constant and consistent attention. Exercise your eMarketing muscles often; the rewards are huge.

Contact:Neil Salerno, CHME, CHA
Hotel Marketing Coach
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