Blogging for Lodging - Are You Blogging Yet? - Part 2
By Benu Aggarwal
Wednesday, 5th December 2007
Part two of blogging for lodging looks at top tips for making your blog successful- promoting your blog- methods of tracking your blog's ROI- provides examples of Lodging Industry Blogs and answers FAQS about Blogging.

5 Tips For Making Your Lodging Blog Successful

1- Talk about your destination - Local area attractions and exciting information - rather than about your hotel.
2- Commit time to manage your blog – Unlike your website, your blog does require commitment of your time. Moderate your blog carefully on a weekly basis. Socialize with bloggers who are blogging about your area and request that they review your blog.
3- Convert readers by offering time sensitive offers, discount tickets to attractions, and information about local deals, etc.
4- Offer local videos and podcasts about your area on your blog.
5- Under a dining category, add a post about your hotel's restaurant and add a personal touch by offering a great recipe from your hotel chef.

Promoting Blogs

The journey of blog promotion is never ending. Here are 10 steps you can take to promote your blog. The more action steps you will take, the more successful you will be and the more ROI you will gain.

1. Create a step by step marketing plan for promoting your blog.
2. Enroll your blog in to blog search engines.
3. Enroll your blog RSS in to RSS search engines.
4. Inform your customers about your blog and the flexibility of adding comments. Make sure to moderate your comments.
5. Offer online functionality for surveys and polls, etc.
6. Offer time sensitive offers, such as coupons, local specials, etc. at least two to three times a month. Send an email campaign to let people know that they can find offers only on your blog.
7. Let your visiting hotel guests know about the blog and ask them to post comments about their experiences with your hotel and the destination. You may want to check first that the guests had a great time.
8. Socialize your blog - this is a very important step towards promoting your blog. You have to seek out bloggers who are blogging about your area and your topics. It is easy to find bloggers specific to your industry by using blog search engines such as Technorati. Make a list of relevant bloggers and write about their blog on your blog. Ask these bloggers to review your blog. If they find your blog relevant and informational, they will post positive reviews on their blog about your blog and will give your blog a very qualitative link.
9. Offer periodic podcasts about local events, attractions, and things to do, etc.
10. Inform and train your employees to be aware of the blog and be a part of the promotional strategy. When they answer a call, they should be able to provide additional information about the blog.

Tracking Your Blog's ROI

Blogs give businesses indirect, long-term ROI. The best return on investment from a blog comes from gaining a better understanding of your customer. From the customer point of view, people do business with people they know. When people read your blog and comment on your blog, they feel they know you and your business. They might not have an immediate need for your services, but eventually, when they have a need or their friends have need, they will call you.

You can track your blog's ROI by:

  • Enrolling/submitting your feed using Feedburner, software that gives you the flexibility to manage RSS feeds and track usage of subscribers.
  • Adding online tracking software such as Urchin and Webtrend to track unique visitors, page views, and referrals, etc.
  • Phone Tracking - add phone tracking on your blog to find out what people are asking when they call after reviewing your blog.
Examples of Lodging Industry Blogs

Your blog can focus on delivering news, establishing you as a leader, or can be niche, destination or company specific. Here are few blogs established for the lodging industry.

Leader Blogs - Lodging industry leaders or franchise companies can create a blog to communicate their corporate initiatives, news and history, or add a personal touch by adding voice casts. Bill Marriott has done a great job of this, showcasing Marriott policy, personal achievements, and the Marriott family. Check out his active blog at http://www.blogs.marriott.com /

Niche Specific Blogs – The lodging industry can create niche specific blogs. Examples of such blogs include those catering to luxury travelers and travelers looking for great deals or travel videos such as Upgrade Travel Blogs. Other travel blog feature tips, news, and commentary for business and leisure travelers looking for comfort, style, and convenience while getting great deals. Check out http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/

Destination Specific Blogs – These blogs showcase a destination, featuring top attractions, tours, dining, etc., and offer featured hotels. Destination blogs can feature one hotel or can be used by several hotels. Essentially they are not focusing on the hotel, but rather they are talking about a destination that brings people to the hotel. Once readers decide to try a destination and things to do, they can choose to stay at one of the featured hotels. Check out http://blog.rivernorthhotel.com and Experience Washington blog.

Company Specific Blogs – Companies marketing to a specific industry can create a blog focused on that industry. Blog categories highlight the main products the company is offering. For example, on Milestone's blog we talk about emerging trends, email marketing tips, local search, blogs, podcasts and information relevant to internet marketing. Check out http://blog.milestoneinternet.com  and http://www.thelobby.com/ 

FAQS about Blogging

Here are some of the questions I get asked about blogs. I tried to summarize my point of view in the answer.

Q: What if people write negative comments about me or my business because of personal rivalry on my blog?

A: You can moderate all the comments posted on your blog. That means, only allow the comments you want or delete the comments which are motivated by personal rivalries.

Q: What should the URL be for my blog?

A: There are two ways to go about it. Your URL can be blog.yourmainsiteurl.com or separate from your website. There are pros and cons of going either way. If you use blog.yourmainsiteurl.com as your blog URL (that means establish a subdomian), you tend to gain traffic and page rank fairly quickly because your website already has relevancy built up. The negative aspect is that it may negate some trust.

Successful bloggers might have a hard time trusting you since they know that you are in the business of selling a product or service. On the another hand, if your URL is separate from your domain, it will be easier to gain trust but harder to gain traffic/ page rank since it is a brand new domain you are marketing. We have done both types of blog URLs, and it really depends on your long-term goals.

Q: Is it possible to customize the look and feel of a blog?

A: Blogs are created by using blog open source software. While its is hard to have complete freedom over the look and feel of your blog, you can use open source codes to somewhat customize the look and feel of the blog.

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/
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