Blogging for Lodging - Are You Blogging Yet? Part 1
By Benu Aggarwal
Monday, 3rd December 2007
Blogs are the hottest growing medium of communication for businesses and individuals. Based on Technorati research (blog search engine), there are almost 3 million blogs created every month, and bloggers create over 1.6 million posts per day, or over 18 updates a second!

What are Blogs?

Blogs are websites with content management systems that allow visitors to the site to add content. They are forums for organizations and individuals to exchange ideas and communicate with their partners, customers, employees, etc. You can create pages relevant for your business, post articles on different subjects, and offer a platform for others to write their comments or opinions on that post.

Blog Glossary

As a first step towards understanding blogs, its important to get familiarized with some key terms used in the blog world.

• Blogosphere - Community of bloggers
• Posts – Post is an article or a comment written on a blog.
• Trackback – A method for Web authors to request notification when somebody links to one of their documents. Trackbacks enable authors to keep track of who they are linking to, or referring to their articles.
• RSS – Real Simple Syndication
• Web Syndication - Refers to making Web feeds available from a site in order to provide other people with a summary of the website's recently added content
• Content Syndication – Ability for others to subscribe to the content on your site (using RSS feeds)
• Socializing the blog – Promoting your blog by asking relevant bloggers to review your site by posting, commenting and linking.

Why Blog?

Due of the interactive nature and ability for readers to write their reactions and comments, blogs offers a solid platform for writer and readers to interact and develop a mutual understanding of the opinions of the either party. This allows managers in organizations to get a closer look at what their employees feel or for companies to understand what their customers think of their products.

In the business environment, we believe that blogs offer a solid interaction forum that can be used by companies to read into their customers' minds, resulting in a better understanding of customer requirements. This information can be used effectively by companies to tailor their product offerings to best meet the needs of those customers. Blogs can be used effectively by companies to establish credibility and trust, and provide insight into the company's "philosophy and personality."

Blogs and Search Engines

For an online marketer, blogs offer a powerful marketing platform. Not only do blogs enable marketers to gain a better understanding of their customers, but the content posted on blogs is much easier to find on search engines as well. Search engines love blogs because they love fresh content. Every time new content is posted on a blog, the blog site pings the search engines. This results in frequent search engine spider visits and hence much higher optimization and ranking.

Blogs also have RSS (Real Simple Syndicate) functionality, which means as soon as your article/post is posted on your blog, people signed up to receive your RSS automatically receive information about your post. They come to your blog to read the post or read it in their RSS reader. It all happens in real time on your site. The more you write, the more people will read and comment. Bloggers link to each others blogs while commenting on the post. So, every time a blog has fresh content, whether you wrote a post or readers of the blog commented on your post, search engines get pinged and visit your site.

Blogs help in securing quality links from relevant blogs by trackbacks and comments, which in the blogging world is also called "socializing the blog." This helps in gaining link popularity and link relevancy, and helps drive relevant traffic very quickly.

Blogs for the Lodging Industry

The lodging industry can utilize blog technology very effectively as a marketing tool. Blogs can be used effectively by hotels and brands to communicate with their customers and to develop an understanding of their needs. In our opinion, one of the best forms of blogs for the hotel/lodging industry is focused on information about the hotel's local market.

Hotels can successfully utilze blogs to communicate about the attractions and places of interest in their local market. A significant amount of people visit hotels because of local events, attractions, things to do, etc. Therefore, blogs showcasing local destinations can be highly successful for hotel marketing.

There are several categories and functionalities to consider while developing lodging industry blogs. An example of a hotel industry blog can be found at http://blog.rivernorthhotel.com and http://www.experiencewashingtonstate.com/ In these examples, blogs discuss the destination and top attractions in the hotels' local market. It also has information about restaurants in the area and provides reader the ability to post comments and opinions. You can discuss the features and amenities that your lodging offers by creating a section for featured properties.

As I was writing this article, I felt like I was discovering a new passion and embarking on a new journey into the blog world. In upcoming articles, I will be covering even more ideas and strategies about blogging, as well as blog tips and success stories. In the name and game of blogging, I would like very much to hear from you. Please comment and I will surely respond. Thanks for reading!!

Benu Aggarwal is founder and president of Milestone Internet Marketing, experts in creating complete internet marketing solutions for the lodging and hospitality industry. Please contact Benu at benu@milestoneinternet.com 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ 

Look out for Part 2- 4hoteliers.com on Wednesday
Part two of blogging for lodging looks at top tips for making your blog successful, promotingyour blog, methods of tracking your blog's ROI, provides examples of Lodging Industry Blogs and answers FAQS about Blogging.

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