In hospitality your Internet approach is a two-step process:
This direct-to-consumer model should become the foundation, the centerpiece of your hotel's online distribution strategy. Why?
Hotel Website Marketing
The hotel website is not an online brochure, it is your 24/7 sales and marketing tool. It should be simple, nice, informative, useful and efficient. That is why many major brands and lodging companies have streamlined and simplified their websites.
Do you have a real-time booking engine? The booking engine should be prominently displayed on the Home Page and become the "heart" of the hotel website. All web pages within the website should prominently feature the "Online Reservations" or "Book Now" button.
Numerous studies show that savvy Internet users, most likely a substantial portion of your most valuable customers, will not book a hotel/motel.B7B/Condo, etc., that does not offer a real-time booking on its website. And if you have a booking engine is it capable of booking in real-time transient, corporate rates, preferred rates, special accounts and promotional rates, hotel packages and group reservations? Do you offer a full array of bookable hotel packages, family packages, and weekend specials on your website? Do you offer online real-time booking for group and convention housing inventory?
Search Engine Strategy
85% of Internet users rely on search engines to locate relevant information on the Web (e.g. Yahoo, AltaVista, etc). Independent lodging companies that are not part of a major brand and do not have the marketing budget and name recognition of a major brand must rely even more on search engine referrals.
Therefore positioning your hotel website on the Web is an extremely important component of your overall Internet marketing strategy. When people search for "Your Hotel" does your hotel appear as listing # 130 on search result page # 7? Or does it appear at all? Internet users rarely go beyond the second or third results page.
How can your hotel improve its ranking on the top search engines? This is a two-step process.
If your hotel does not currently generate at least 8%-10% of your bookings from the Web, you should be concerned. Why? This year over 7% of all revenues in hospitality will be Internet-generated. If you do not fare better than the national averages, you are already behind your pro-active competitors.
Over 192 million North Americans are active Internet users (Nielsen) and 37 million of them have already purchased travel online.
The Internet offers vast, interactive, rich media and most importantly, growing distribution market. All major brands have figured this out. Some hotels already generate 20%-30% of their bookings from the Internet.
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