I have a favourite analogy about hotels and how they should view
their website and online marketing initiatives; it usually
strikes a nerve pretty close to home...
Imagine if you printed 1,000 beautiful, four colour, ten page
brochures that stunningly captured the unique nature of your
hotel at ten bucks a piece...and then locked them away in a
cupboard...how effective would they be? Or how about creating a
masterful piece of direct mail that is riveting, stimulating and
worth a Pulitzer Prize...and then never sending it out? About
now you should be feeling very, very guilty...not about those
500 brochures still left in your cupboard (oops!), but about not
driving your website hard enough...
Building a great website without Search Engine Optimisation is
the same as those brochures or that direct mail piece; no matter
how captivating the text or how breathtaking the dynamic
imagery, if no-one can find your website when they are searching
online for that "luxury San Diego hotel", that "romantic B&B
outside Paris" or that "adventure scuba holiday in the
Maldives", then you have wasted your money. Not only that, but
the smart competition has already optimised their site and are
reaping the rewards; and you are missing those rewards.
What rewards I hear you ask? My last article received an
extraordinary response from the industry (well, over 100 emails
anyway...I've just finished answering the last few today)...some
genuinely asking for help, which I am always happy to try to
provide, but more than a few were saying "Show me the money!".
And it's a fair call. So, this week we polished up a couple of
Case Studies on Hotel Search Engine Optimisation projects that
we have recently completed and posted these on our website for
everyone to see.
To be honest, we picked a couple of the best ones for the Case
Studies but when we looked at a range of sites that we have
worked with over the last year, the results have been very
pleasing overall...and these hotels are still our clients which,
when invoicing time comes around each month, is the ultimate
test of client loyalty.
In Case Study One, we picked a mature four star inner city hotel
with over 400 rooms, extensive conference and events facilities
and multiple food and beverage outlets. They had a "mature"
website that had been upgraded to include a Content Management
system five months earlier but they hadn't done much with it.
Through applying sensible Hotel Search Engine Optimisation
techniques, direct online revenues more than tripled in three
months...conference and events online enquiries quadrupled with
sales conversions occurring at a staggering 75.0%...apparently,
when conference planners enquire online, they are ready to book!
The hotel invested $9,000 over three months and has since
increased annualised online revenues by a conservative $420,000
and still climbing...you wanted ROI? At a conservative 3.8% of
incremental revenues, this is a remarkable result.
For Case Study Two, we looked at a recently refurbished, five
star coastal resort hotel with approximately ninety rooms and
serviced apartments; they also offer meeting space and breakout
rooms to suit small to medium upscale conferences and corporate
training. The budget here was a little tighter so we focussed on
boosting their premium "romantic weekend escape" market. Through
our preliminary research, we also learned that they had welcomed
some great, premium corporate clients during the prior year that
had also bought team building and bonding packages from local
suppliers (What is it that makes the entire executive panel of a
company want to jump out of a perfectly good plane with just a
piece of cloth packed in a bag in the interests of team
bonding?). We sought to capitalise on this knowledge, creating
dedicated pages on the website to show off local suppliers for
adventure/team building activities and featured these on the
hotel website home page.
You want measurability in your marketing? Every day the owner of
this hotel logs in to see his website statistics and is now able
to equate changes in Unique Visits and online enquiries to
future sales trends. Unique Visits to their website grew from
1,000 to over 4,000 per month, conference leads have tripled and
"value added" team building sales quadrupled...and premium
"weekend escape" packages doubled even after a 30% price
increase! Ah, the wonders of yield management and dynamic
So, does Hotel Search Engine Optimisation really work? Yes...and
no. SEO will deliver traffic, leads and sales prospects...but it
still requires the hotel to be responsive, attractive and priced
to meet (or slightly exceed) the market. If you and your team
can respond to online enquiries same day, deliver a memorable
experience in reality that matches the consumers experience
online and at a price that offers genuine value for money, then
Hotel Search Engine Optimisation is for you.
And please understand...this channel is no longer the place to
dump cheap, last minute inventory; it is the place to wisely
invest your scarce marketing dollars for maximum ROI. In both
these Case Studies, the online channel is now their highest
yielding source of business.
My next article will be on the "5 Essentials For Effective
Online Marketing" which will provide you with some simple but
effective tips to start you on your way...plus, apparently this
kind of headline really grabs attention...and I always promised
myself that, one day, I would write a headline like that! Oh,
and keep an eye out for our "Hotel emarketing 101" workshops
coming up in May...pre-register now or register online from 1
- ends -
Keith Paulin is the General Manager of Hotel Marketing Workshop.
Like many hotel marketeers in the industry Keith "landed" in
hotel sales and marketing after commencing his career in hotel
operations. Keith has worked in senior marketing roles both
within the industry (Hilton, Regent, Hyatt, Accor) and in other
industries (HP, Lion Nathan, Shell) and has formal
qualifications in Marketing and Business Management. Hotel
Marketing Workshop works with chain and independent hotels
delivering tactical, practical hotel marketing strategies at
property level that work and, just as importantly, they assist
with expert implementation. Keith has a very strong interest in
the world of e-commerce, Search Engine Optimisation and Search
Engine Marketing and a clear track record in producing on-line
results in hotel internet marketing.
For more information contact: Keith Paulin General Manager Hotel
Suite 3017 323 Penshurst Street Willoughby NSW 2068
Voice: 61 (0)2 9882 1644 Fax: 61 (0)2 9882 2244 E-mail: