Online Marketing Consultancy

Icon

Advising the hotel industry how to increase their online revenue

Should you use Flash as the basis of your hotel website?

The answer is a clear and distinct NO!

While most agency clients love animated websites because they are so stylish, economically an all-Flash website just doesn’t make sense. This is for the following reasons:

1. Search engines hate Flash and how can your website generate business if it doesn’t get found?

2. Loading screens are annoying most people. In the past website optimation was a lot about download time. Even though most people now have broadband, they still don’t want to sit and wait for an entire website taking minutes to download. And even worse if you have to download a splash page first, with an intro movie you don’t want to see, before getting to the next loading screen for the actual site.

3. Flash doesn’t work on most mobile devices and they are becoming more and more popular. Who wouldn’t want to be able to book a hotel room on their iPhone?

4. Animation, if used excessively can really distract and annoy the user to the point that he leaves the site. After all, they just want information about your hotel and look at some pretty pictures. They don’t usually care about singing and dancing hotel logos.

5. Accessibility is not possible with Flash. Do you really want to lose customers that cannot navigate a Flash site?

However, while your website should not be programmed entirely in Flash, to use Flash elements is totally legitimate: Flash photo tours, for example or replace a static mood shot at the top of your page with a Flash animated movie. Even functionality can be programmed in Flash if you don’t programm for mobile devices, for example a quick reservation booking form, a location map etc. Important is, that the elements download fast and that there is enough text on the page to make it legible by search engines.

Filed under: Hotel Online Marketing, Hotel Websites, , , , , , , ,

Is Twitter trying to compete with Google?

Tweet this
Tweet this

Twitter has just launched a new home page with a prominent search feature:

New Twitter Home Page promoting search

New Twitter home page promoting search

Is Twitter trying to compete with Google?

There has been talk about Twitter as a search engine for a while and it is already used as such, for example by journalists and marketers, to discover the latest trends. While Google’s News results are pretty up-to-date, they are also mainstream, i.e. news provided by the big agencies and newspapers. Twitter, however, is a social media site and therefore shows what people in the street consider news. In that sense Twitter certainly offers something Google cannot provide at the moment and fills a niche.

Trends, i.e. topics that have been tweeted about most during the last 24 hours, are listed underneath the search box on the new home page. Both, the prominent search box and list of trends will probably attract new users when they find topics that are of interest to them.

So, yes Twitter seams to be aiming for expansion and could well compete with traditional search engines in a web 2.0 world. Even more reason to use Twitter to promote your hotel. But don’t just be there – have a plan!

Filed under: Hotel Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, , , , , , , ,

Why think twice before using audio on your hotel website

Tweet this
Tweet this

Have you ever sat in the office surfing the web, when entering a site suddenly filled your otherwise quiet room with music blasting from your speakers – every single one of your colleagues looking at you with a knowing smile? I’m sure you have. And what did you do immediately – without even thinking? You’ve hit the ‘back’ button of your browser before even trying to figure out how to work the mostly well-hidden audio controls.

This is why a hotel should not use audio on their website, unless the sound is set to mute on entering and the user can switch it on if they choose to.

Audio on websites is intrusive. In a recent survey, 87% of web users said they found ads that play music or sound frustrating: The Harris Poll PDF. This, however, does not only apply to video ads – a recent annoying marketing trend (Publishers: don’t annoy users with audio).

Statistics show indisputably that people look for and book hotel rooms during the week. They do this from the office in between work, when no one looks at their screen. And they don’t want to be caught out by even the smoothest, atmospheric music that you may think is essential to selling your stylish hotel. Once they’ve hit the ‘back’ button, you’ve lost them forever.
Is the audio really worth risking that?

Filed under: Hotel Websites, , , , , , , ,

Special Guide for businesses getting started on Twitter

Twitter has released a simple guide for businesses getting started with micro-blogging: Twitter 101 Special Guide

This guide won’t tell you well-kept secrets of social media marketing but is an easy-to-follow introduction to using Twitter. It explains how to set up a Twitter account and where to put essential information about your business. It also tells you how to find people you would want to follow and how to reach out to followers of your tweets. The ‘Learn the lingo’ section contains jargon from RT to hashtags and is very useful for beginners. ‘Best practices’ is particularly useful to figure out your Twitter strategy since it may give you ideas for promotions etc. It also teaches you about the tone to use for your tweets and how to avoid spamming. Finally, there is a section with ‘Case Studies’.

If your hotel/chain is not on Twitter yet, this basic guide will get you started.
But please remember to define your strategy:

Social Media: don’t just be there – have a plan!

Filed under: Social Media Marketing, , , , , , ,

First hotel meta search engine to utilize Facebook friend reviews

The US meta search engine hotelicopter.com is the first such engine to connect to Facebook for hotel reviews.

This is a big step. For the first time people will be able to see their friends’ hotel recommendations rather than rely on reviews of strangers – which, to be honest, could have been manipulated as happened in the famous Carribean Cruises scandal earlier this year.

With Facebook Connect, Facebook users can easily log into hotelicopter.com using their already existing Facebook account. This way, they instantly connect to friends that are using hotelicopter. People can then rate hotels and share their ratings with friends on Facebook.

helicopter.com is a meta travel search engine and searches over 30 leading travel sites. When people conduct a hotel search on hotelicopter.com, recommendations from their friends are brought up. Once you have decided on a hotel, hotelicopter.com displays what that hotel would cost if you booked on all those different travel sites.

The new concept of meta search and Facebook friend reviews helps people choose the best hotel for their stay and book it for the best available rate. It’s a brilliant combination, utilizing the trust already established between friends and taking hotel reviews one step further.

Filed under: Social Media Marketing, , , , ,

Why hotels need an individual website

Statistics show that travelers become ever more educated if it comes to their search behaviour.
According to a study by Ypartnership and Yankelovich, Inc. this is where travelers first go first when looking for a hotel or resort:

Web site of online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity 31%
Search engine like Google, Yahoo, MSN 26%
Web site of specific hotel chain 21%
Web site of individual hotel/resort 10%
Meta search engine that compares rates 5%

(See: Travelers’ Online Search Behavior Evolves)

You may say that the figure for ‘website of individual hotel/resort’ at 10% is still quite low. However, what this statistic doesn’t cover is what people do after their first visit.
I argue, that a large number of people after doing some research on the top three – online travel agency sites, search engines and even specific hotel chain sites – will search for the individual hotel/resort website of a property they have preselected. The reason being, that all of the above, in most cases, only offer very limited information about a property and show small or bad quality photos. A traveler cannot be certain what exactly to expect at the hotel and usually, this is not enough to make a buying decision. At least not for a leisure traveler who is about to book a hotel room, mirroring their lifestyle, for a very precious few days of their life: holiday. After all, successful hotels these days don’t sell rooms, they sell an experience. 
Take a look at the following two examples rated, among others, favourite websites in an article of the Hotel Magazine and you see what I mean:

Neither of the top three places travelers initially search a hotel/resort on, could possibly cater for the experience an individual hotel website can and should create.

The second element to focus on is trust. As the above figures show, travelers have come to use online agency websites and do trust the big ones they know. Though they may not trust a site they have never used before, even if it sells rooms at a cheaper rate.
However, if they visit an individual hotel website which is professionally done, layed out well and maintained properly – i.e. they get the impression that the hotel staff is looking after it – they will probably trust this site more and prefer to cut out the intermediary. If the rate is higher on an online agency site because of booking fees or commission, the decision will be even easier.

This is exactly what I could see happening in my last position when analysing the website and booking statistics of our large network of chain, traffic and individual websites. The individual hotel websites brought in many more online bookings than for example the chain site or other sites with more than one hotel featured. Moreover, traffic very often came from the search engines where people were searching for a specific hotel name. It is unlikely that all those people would have known the hotel name from previous visits, offline marketing or friends and family. No, they have found the name on online agency, destination, review and hotel chain sites during the first step of their search and looked for a preselected property in the second step. 

This is the reason why your hotel/resort needs an individual website. Create an experience, establish trust and the bookings will flow in. – And they will also come you much cheaper than any online agency booking which will cost you around a quarter of the room revenue.

Filed under: Hotel Websites, Search Engine Optimisation - SEO, , , , , , , , , , , ,

How does viral marketing work?

I undertook a small experiment a few weeks ago during the thunderstorm over Berlin. I posted a photo of the storm onto Twitter and other profile pages of social networking sites and wanted to see how much attention it gets. Remember, this was just a pic of an event that occurs quite frequently but only seconds after posting about 40 people had viewed it. The number of viewers got another push when a local newspaper returned my tweet and therefore published the photo to their followers. I’m proud to announce that the number of viewers has reached 170! Plus, the local paper is following me on Twitter.

This is a very good example of viral marketing and how social media marketing works. Exposure is generated by people sending on or repeating your message to their friends or contacts. You have probably heard of pyramide schemes before – very recently in the news was the fraud case of Bernard Madoff – or I’m sure you have received chain letters by snail or email. Viral marketing very much follows the same principle but in the positive sense of people wanting to inform their friends about the news. If a message is not interesting enough to be passed on, it won’t happen. There usually is no incentive or threat to retweet a message other than compelling content. Now imagine using that for business!

You need to have a story, though because that is what it is all about – having a conversation with people. When reading someone’s tweets or Facebook status updates we don’t normally think of them as institutions or corporations but we think of them as individuals whom we do trust more. What a chance for businesses that use Web 2.0 and viral marketing effectively!

Filed under: Social Media Marketing, Viral Marketing, , , , , , , , , ,

Social Media: don’t just be there – have a plan!

Even though this is meant for restaurants, I’m sure it applies to hotel marketing, too. The main point being that you actually think about how to use Twitter and Facebook before you start using them. Don’t just create accounts because everyone else has one!

It should be pretty easy to determine your target audience and choose the networks accordingly since, contrary to common believe, not everyone is on Twitter.

Finding interesting topics and keep the updates coming might be slightly harder. Tip number 2 from the article is essential – do some research before starting! Set up a research system for permanent use (for example using Google Alerts). This would also enable you to respond to tweets in the way another blog describes it: Twitter’s Real Value Is In Personal Connections. Responding to tweets is very important because Twitter and Facebook are conversational and not just one-way.

Be visual! The number of tweets can be enormous when you follow more than a dozen tweeters. The most compellent tweets are those that have a link to click on which opens up more information or even better shows an image. Images make it personal, people love looking at them and they will also remember visual information better than a plain message.

I also like point 5 in the article, to create brand ambassadors. Let’s be fair, there is quite a lot of work involved in keeping social media marketing afloat and it’s taking up resources. So, if you can find people who are passionate about your brand, utilize them.

Whatever you do with social media – and the possibilities are endless – do have a plan first! Not only so you know what you are doing but also so that you can put the necessary resources into place to enable you to sustain your effort.

Filed under: Social Media Marketing, , , , , ,

Welcome to the Online Marketing Blog!

About the author:

I have over 15 years experience in ecommerce, online marketing and web project management, all gained working for various companies within the hotel and travel industry.

German by origin, I spent 8 years in the UK working for Open World Ltd, an online agency promoting luxury hotels internationally. Open World’s client portfolio included many of the major hotel chains such as Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Peninsula Hotels, Small Luxury Hotels, Pan Pacific Hotels & Resorts, to name but a few.
In 2007 I returned to Berlin, to set up the ecommerce department and develop the e-commerce strategy for the young but fast growing hotel management company, Grand City Hotels & Resorts.

With e-conceptory, I now make my experiences available to those companies who would like to wow their clients with a professional internet presence.

In short this is what I have to offer:

e-commerce, ecommerce, e-business, ebusiness, hotel online marketing, hotel internet marketing, new media marketing, web project management, web design, web programming, usability, accessibility, seo, sem, social media networking

Read more: www.e-conceptory.com

Filed under: General, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About me

Corinna Witt : e-commerce, hotel internet marketing expert for hotels and the travel industry

Follow us in Twitter!

Flickr Photos

More Photos

Delicious Bookmarks