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With the increase in travellers and hotel guests using online channels to research and book accommodation locally and abroad, it’s important that hoteliers and travel accommodation sites create an internet marketing strategy that boosts customer acquisition and retention.
In the US alone, 36% of internet users look for reviews before booking hotel accommodation according to a YouGov poll. So, offering a quality service is important because this reflects in online reviews and is a big factor in the choice that customers make.
Here are some hotel internet marketing strategy tips to consider as you create your strategy:
Online Reputation Management
More and more hotels and travel accommodation sites are increasing their spending on online reputation management. According to eMarketer about 60% of hoteliers are planning to put investment in reputation management and only 33% are looking to spend on large-scale renovations in 2015.
While price ranks as the number one factor in booking decisions, cited by 96% of respondents, ratings on review sites and online reviews came a close second and third at 88% and 86% respectively. So, overall online reputation management is critical for hotels and it should be a key part of a hotel internet marketing strategy.
This means focusing on the areas that are of importance to guests and which feature prominently in reviews such as staff service, quality of rooms and service, cleanliness etc.
Photos and videos posted by other consumers were important to 85% of respondents according to a TripAdvisor survey. Prospects will be looking to see where they will be staying and it’s important to set a good impression here.
Promotional Strategy (Traffic Acquisition)
The web offers many opportunities to promote hotel services and capture locals and out-of-town travellers. One effective channel is through social media on sites like Google+ that also hosts customer reviews that feature prominently in search engine results and Google Maps for local searches.
Here, hotels have more control over the messages, images and offers and they can work towards building that initial relationship before they are redirected to the website to book.
Launching pay per click (PPC) campaigns is now essential for many hotels and these are paid ads that appear on Google, Bing, Yahoo and search partners. Advertisers are able to tailor their message and have more control than natural search traffic which takes longer to update.
With PPC on Google Adwords in particular, there is the option to display customer reviews alongside standard text ads and these help to increase customer confidence and lead to high click through rates (CTR). Google has partnered with 3rd party review sites like Feefo, Trustpilot, Poupeo, ResellerRatings and others, to display reviews for businesses that have them. Google will only display ads when the hotel has at least 30 reviews from customers.
Staff performance is of paramount importance and if they are not trained and educated on service delivery, guests needs will not be met. This is one prominent factor that is included in online reviews and each member of staff should be trained on how to be friendly, welcoming and quick in providing service.
As a service, variability (the changes in the service provided by each staff member) is always an issue. No two employees will provide the same service and it is difficult to standardise the service, so training is crucial and this should be provided regularly to both new and current staff members.