Budgeting for Hotel Digital Marketing in 2014.
By Anil Aggarwal
Tuesday, 26th November 2013
With search technology continuing to change to provide users with the most relevant information, we narrowed down and summarized some of the key digital marketing trends and provided some budgeting ideas for 2014 hotel digital marketing initiatives below.
1. Website on Steroids– Engagement, Freshness, Mobile Compatibility, and Structured Data
4Hoteliers Image LibraryA lot has changed in the search engine world in the last 12 months. However, the basics still are the same. Search engines continue to reward sites with good quality original content including informational and multi-media content.

Websites with features such as ability to leave reviews, polls, and social media integration create engagement and freshness and are preferred over sites without such capabilities. From the technology point of view, one of the key changes involves around structured data and download speed of your site.

Your websites should have schemas or micro-data, which provides structured content to search engines, making it easier for them to decipher the information provided on your website. In addition, ensuring your website has fast download times and good user-experience are keys to ranking high.
Key Takeaway - If your site has not been updated for 2-3 years, it may be a good idea to budget for a new website. Your site should have schema markup, download quickly, and be mobile compatible. Engaging and socially sharable content is also plus.
2. Robust Mobile Strategy

4Hoteliers Image LibraryMobile traffic to surpass desktop in 2014 – over 1.2B people access the web from their mobile devices, and 31 percent of adults own a tablet device. A robust mobile strategy for 2014 is a must-have.

Make sure your website is responsive, which automatically adjusts based on the browser window and scales based on device type.

Add mobile promotion to your web strategies such as paid search on mobile as we've seen high yields for our clients who have ran mobile PPC.
Key Takeaway - budget for a responsive website and mobile promotion channels.

3. Local and SEO
4Hoteliers Image LibraryLocal and search engine optimization will continue to be critical for marketing your website. Local search optimization should include optimizing the local profiles on Google and Bing and ensuring you have accurate information on your local search profiles on Google and Bing.

In addition, it's key to have consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) across all the local data aggregators and local search channels. Data consistency needs to be checked in real time. Use of software tools such as Milestone's NaptuneTM will help ensure consistency of NAP across the local eco-system and prominent presence of your hotel in local search and map search results. Listings in relevant niche specific directories such as weddings, spa, golf, etc. that are relevant to your property will help drive search relevance.

Content marketing is a key component of search engine optimization and universal presence across platforms and channels. Search results will be more customized to a user's preferences based on local, social, and personal preferences. This will imply that the focus on SEO will continue to shift away from keyword rankings to providing more relevant content and focus on traffic and conversion.
Key Takeaway - budget for local search optimization and directory listings in relevant, high-quality directories.
4. Paid Search and Media Spend

4Hoteliers Image LibraryThis is an area that we will see a lot more marketing opportunities as we go into 2014. In addition to traditional PPC channels such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, there are several other channels that are showing excellent results for hotels seeking presence on online channels.

Some of the other channels include – Google Hotel Finder, TripConnect, TripAdvisor Business Listings, Expedia Ads, Yelp PPC, Remarketing, Search Retargeting, etc. Our recommendation is to allocate a significant amount of marketing expense to media purchases in 2014. This would specially be more relevant to independent hotels without brand's marketing support.
Key Takeaway – increase paid search media spend and budget for media purchases on key channels – Google PPC, Google Display, Bing PPC, Google Hotel Finder, TripConnect, TripAdvisor Business Listings, Expedia Ads, Yelp PPC, Remarketing, etc. Select channels based on the end goal. Do you want to build brand awareness or is your focus simply on conversion?

5. Social Media
4Hoteliers Image LibrarySocial Media is continuing to grow in significance and its influence on the overall digital marketing strategies is key. Social media marketing is closely integrated with search engine optimization and developing a brand equity with your guests. Placement of hotels on search engine results pages are impacted by the hotel's presence in the user's social circles.

Our recommendation is for every hotel to allocate some budget to social marketing initiatives. The budget will vary depending on the size and the market for the hotel. One of the key challenges hotels have is to determine what content to post on social media channels.

Use of tools like MediaConnect360TM can help provide localized content ideas and simplify the management of social channels. Key social channels that are integrated within this tool include Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, photo sharing channels, etc.
Key Takeaway – create a robust social media strategy and budget for a social media management software and social media marketing services.

6. Guest Reviews and Ratings
4Hoteliers Image LibraryReviews will continue to influence a consumer's decision in choosing a particular property over others, and will also impact search engine placement as a property with more favorable reviews reflect a better user experience.
Key Takeaway - budget for reviews monitoring software

Contributed by Anil Aggarwal, CEO, Milestone Internet Marketing, Inc.
For more details on the leading trends and a template worksheet for creating a digital marketing plan for 2014, please contact sales@milestoneinternet.com for a detailed demo.
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