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INDUSTRY INSIGHT: Simple ways to increase hotel bookings

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
INDUSTRY INSIGHT: Simple ways to increase hotel bookings

TravelDailyMedia in conversation with STAAH uncovers ways technology can help hoteliers increase bookings and maximise revenue, to keep business afloat…

Following the Independent Hotel Show 2019, it seems as if a common concern shared by hoteliers is how to increase bookings and revenue. It’s a huge challenge when you are also hands-on with the day-to-day operations of the property. Regardless of size of hotel – and empire – no one is spared from this challenge, and who can argue with the prospect of more guests?

STAAH, an innovator in hospitality solutions, offers products that put property owners in control by empowering them with technology that helps attract, convert, analyse and maximise online reach and revenue. In layman’s terms, STAAH provides hotel owners with the technology that does all the work for them.

The company offers technology solutions for hospitality distribution, direct bookings and digital marketing services. These are used by all segments of the hospitality industry, from big hotel and motel chains to boutique properties, independent hotels, holiday parks and guest houses.

It’s is a real-time online distribution platform that allows hoteliers to reach a captive global audience through the company’s 200+ hotel channel manager integrations with OTAs, GDS and other booking platforms.

Using STAAH’s Channel Manager, hoteliers can manage the rates and inventory anytime, anywhere. This allows them to make informed decisions to grow bookings. It’s the one system that manages all OTAs using a single log-in. It helps hotels grow direct bookings with real-time and quick updates to all channels, ensuring rate parity. Moreover, customise packages, price filtrations, multiple currency handling, dynamic and seasonal pricing any time.

User-friendly booking engine

Who doesn’t love direct bookings? When bookings are made on third-party channels, hotels have to pay hefty commissions of up to 30 per cent. However, there are times that booking engines of hotels tend to be daunting and not-so user-friendly. Increase hotel bookings with STAAH’s customisable booking engine.

STAAH can completely customise the booking engine to meet the creative and operational needs of your property or chain. Equipped with advanced features such as WatchMyRate (a price compare widget) that allows hoteliers to ensure rate parity while encouraging guests to book direct.

Engaging website is a must

There is no better way to attract guests than to have a beautiful and engaging website. Convert web visitors into paying guests with great content and amazing web design. STAAH makes it easier for hotels to establish web presence using its intuitive content management system that even non-geeks can operate and instant publish of updates that will increase hotel bookings.

Improve your online reputation

Guess what? Your guests’ feedback matters! STAAH’s ReviewMinder is a review management system that alerts owners of new online reviews across multiple sites in one easy dashboard and responds directly to customers.

Manage your online reputation by knowing what is out there. This way, hotels can share or respond to reviews in a timely manner. Using ReviewMinder, hotels can also consolidate ratings as well as sort reviews by keywords, sentiments and channel partners to get valuable insights.

Upsell with gift vouchers

Unleash the true power of gift vouchers with a feature-rich e-shop. It allows guests to buy gift vouchers directly from the website increasing hotel’s revenue. Gift Voucher Engine enhances guest experience by giving them the ability to buy experiences from your existing website with our simple and mobile-friendly design.

Image credit: STAAH

STAAH takes pride that its products are easy to use and the fact that one doesn’t have to be tech-savvy to use them. STAAH focuses on developing products that are intuitive and reliable. STAAH works with 9000+ properties in 90+ countries. The company also works closely with its partner properties to continuously improve their effectiveness and efficiency, helping businesses get closer to their goals.

Whether you own a teeny-tiny B&B or a chain of hotels, STAAH can tailor its technology to increase hotel bookings and serve your needs.

STAAH is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Main image credit: Pixabay

4 reasons why hotels should consider 3D photography

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
4 reasons why hotels should consider 3D photography

In a response to the industry insight on styling a hotel for design press article, Hotel Designs’ official hotel review photographer, ACT Studios, argues that 3D photography is where the future of hotel marketing is heading…

Predictions for trends over the next couple of years in the hotel and hospitality sector abound. But there is general consensus that technology will continue to play a greater role in both the stay of a guest as well as the booking process itself.

Virtual tour photography has an essential part to play here, enhancing the anticipatory experience of the traveller in advance of their stay, as well quickly and easily answering guest’s questions and concerns about location, layout and facilities.

So just how exactly can virtual tour photography enhance the guest experience? And what value can it add to your website?

What is virtual tour photography?

Virtual tour photography is essentially an immersive, three dimensional digital means of bringing a room to life for the viewer. 3d tours are created using a special type of Matterport camera, which produces a 360 degree image of a room, which users can then browse online at their leisure.

Users simply click on the image itself to then ‘step in’ to the picture, with the option to turn in any direction to explore a feature in more detail. Want to view the room from the other side of the bed? It’s Easy. Using your mouse (or a touch screen) you can simply click (or tap) on the picture and spin the view in a direction to suit you. Fancy a peek in the bathroom? Maybe to check if it has a walk in shower? Again, just click or tap on the direction you would like to take.

3D photography even lets you leave the room to explore different rooms on another floor. And essentially look round the whole property, which can be really helpful if you need to check if the bedroom is on the ground floor. Or see if the bathroom has a shower over it. Or where your nearest fire exit is.

The real beauty of 3D virtual tours is that they are incredibly simple to use. And extremely intuitive.

4 ways in which 3D photography can help your hotel business

1) 3D photography can improve your guest experience and ratings

Image credit: Hotel Designs’ interactive hotel review of Oddfellows On The Park. Read full review here.

Positive feedback and ratings count and anything that helps improve the customer journey for a guest deserves serious thought. And when it comes to the hotel guest’s customer journey, 3D photography can play a pivotal role in the consideration phase.

Once a customer is aware that you exist – perhaps via a touch point such as a post on social media or an article in a third party publication – the next phase in the customer journey is consideration. This is when they arrive at your website and look through it in detail before deciding to make a purchase.

It is well known how financially competitive the hospitality industry is and not every accommodation provider wishes to differentiate on price. Therefore, having the ability to see a building in all its dimensions – from a floor plan, to a dollhouse view to stepping into any of the key rooms – can positively influence their decision to buy in your favour. And most importantly, take them away from your competitors.

2) 360 photography can refresh your brand image

Image credit: Hotel Designs’ interactive hotel review of University Arms, Cambridge. Read full review here.

“The quality of the imagery is second to none.” – Mario Ovsenjak, General Manager, Hotel Gotham.

Guests have long come to expect well composed, professionally taken, high resolution photography when it comes to browsing both on and offline.

Which is why the supply of high quality hospitality photography remains a core service for ACT Studios, taking us throughout the UK and Europe to photograph some of the most incredible accommodation providers.

But brands that already have great photography are rightly asking “what’s next?” when it comes to updating their brand image, differentiating their offering and setting themselves apart from the competition.

The answer is 3d photography. Offering guests the ability to virtually ‘step into’ a hotel bedroom, dining room or lounge. To explore an area in minute detail. Or just get an overall feel for what they are about to book.

“Adding a fully immersive experience by adding virtual tour photography can increase occupancy by 14 per cent.”

3) 360 virtual tour photography can help improve your occupancy rates

Image credit: Hotel Designs’ interactive hotel review of Hotel Gotham. Read the full review here.

Recent research by TripAdviser shows that having at least one photo of your property on a property page actually increases the likelihood of a booking enquiry by 225 per cent. And that for properties with at least 100 photos, engagement levels rise to 151 per cent and likelihood of a booking inquiry rises to 238 per cent compared to properties with no photos

In addition, a study by Matterport concluded that adding a fully immersive experience by adding virtual tour photography can increase occupancy by 14 per cent and yield a 15 per cent increase in online engagement.

4) Virtual tours are an honest complement to photography that encourages trust

By offering guests the option of seeing and freely exploring a given room or area in its entirety before they buy, guests can more easily and more quickly judge for themselves how suitable (or not) a hotel is for them. There is therefore genuine honestly in a 3d virtual tour. And as marketers know, honesty breeds trust, which then sees guests returning time after time.

If you would like to find out more about how 3D photography can work alongside your existing photography – or perhaps how you can refresh both your still photography and your virtual tours, to produce a more consistent brand image – then contact ACT Studios here.

Main image credit: ACT Studios

5 ways to use storytelling to increase hotel revenue

800 533 Hamish Kilburn

As consumers become more and more design savvy when checking in to a hotel, marketing expert Chloe Bennet from UK Services Reviews explores ways in which hotels can increase their profits with the perfect narrative… 

Storytelling is an invaluable component of any hotel marketing strategy. Sharing the right narrative is perfect for content marketing as well as creating a bio that allows hotels to connect with their audience. Here are six ways to use storytelling to increase hotel revenue.

People tell stories, and listen to stories, every day without even realising it. “Stories resonate with customers on a deep, human level. In order to succeed in this industry, your marketing efforts must go beyond simply selling hotel rooms at a certain price. You need to connect with your customer base on an emotional level, so that you can make yourself stand out in an overcrowded and competitive market,” suggests Jose Guenther, storyteller at Academized. The digital age has created a ton of opportunities for marketers to use storytelling, which is fortunate because many customers are wary of conventional marketing tactics.

“It’s all about weaving together the different strands to create an interesting and engaging narrative.”

1) Visual storytelling and hotel marketing online

So how do we go about using online storytelling to increase hotel revenue? It’s all about weaving together the different strands to create an interesting and engaging narrative. Guests checking in are a lot less concerned with basic elements such as amenities and information about the room. It’s not that these things aren’t important, it’s just that in the digital age, guests are looking for visuals of what a hotel has to offer. Whenever you can, tell your story through high resolution photographs, combined with riveting narratives. Hotels should focus on interactive storytelling whenever possible, using things like short videos that shows off the hotel’s best features. It’s hard to go wrong with video content, as long as you keep in mind how short attention spans are online.

2) Shaping your digital story

A hotel’s number one job when crafting its story is to create a connection with its audience. Consumers tend to make purchasing decisions based on how they feel, not how they think. If a hotel wants to connect with its audience in this way, it has to get to know its guests first. Target the right segments, learn what they’re looking for, and create content that appeals to them and their needs. Segments and groups will respond differently to different forms of content, so don’t take a shotgun approach that tries to market to everyone at once. A great story told through the wrong kind of content will not be as effective.

3) Make your stories authentic

A hotel’s stories should feel real and have a natural flow to them. If a hotel can include stories from its guests, then that is even better. There’s no reason for a hotel to make stories up, instead hotels should have a wealth of stories and experiences to draw from. Make the story align with the strongest aspects of the hotel, whatever that may be.

4) Storytelling methods

There are a ton of different ways to tell your story, and you’ll probably find there are multiple ones that work for your situation and audience. Will you take advantage of the two-way communication that using social media offers? Maybe you’ll even put the call out to your audience to create some original content. Each hotel’s methods will depend on its audience and its goals. It’s critical that hotels have a goal that can be measured, so they can determine how effective its storytelling is. Data collecting should work to steer the storytelling strategy back on course if it needs correcting or adjustments.

5) Tell better stories by improving your writing skills

To use storytelling to increase your hotel revenue, you’ll need to be writing at a decent level. A lot of people don’t even realise where their writing weaknesses lie. Thanks to the online age, though, there are a number of effective websites out their to help professionals start writing the first chapter:

  • ViaWriting and MyWritingWay – Use these grammar resources to check over your copy for grammatical errors. Don’t risk leaving in mistakes that can discredit you and make you look like an amateur.
  • Big Assignments and Assignment Help – Check out these editing tools, they’ve been reviewed positively by Revieweal and can make your life a lot easier.
  • WritingPopulist and LetsGoandLearn – Read through these writing blogs and improve your knowledge about the writing process. Even if you’re an experienced writer you can find some helpful suggestions and tips here.
  • OXEssays and AustralianReviewer – These online proofreading tools, recommended at BestBritishEssays, are the perfect solution to leaving typos in your copy. Why risk leaving an error in when there are tools that can help?
  • SimpleGrad and State Of Writing – Try out these online writing guides. If you’re struggling with storytelling, there’s a good chance it’s because you’re rushing out drafts without following the proper writing process.

Guests have a myriad of options when it comes to hotels, so it’s crucial to get creative. Good storytelling can differentiate a hotel from the crowd and allow it to form an emotional connection with your audience by sharing its unique personality.

Main image credit: Pexels

Marketing for the modern age: Negative Keywords – the quickest way to save a fortune on advertising

Hamish Kilburn

For four weeks, Hotel Designs has been working with author and CEO of DHM, Adam Hamadache, in order to explore the minefield of marketing. In his fourth and final article in the series, Hamadache explores how identifying your brand’s negative keywords could help you to unlock a new audience…

Pay-per-click advertising is something that just about every hotel has tried at some point, usually with underwhelming results.

Typically, Google search ads gets the nod, with a carefully selected array of search terms (keywords) chosen, a daily budget set, and the campaign is set live.

Whether this is set up by a marketing consultant, an agency, or even someone within the hotel itself, little regard is often given to ‘negative keywords’, if at all. These are the type of words and phrases that you don’t want to bid on, deeming them unsuitable or irrelevant to your product.

Perhaps the most simplistic and obvious example being the omission of ‘cheap’ or ‘budget’ if you happen to be a luxury hotel bidding on a phrase-match or broad-match of the keyword ‘hotels in [your location]’. Put simply – your ad will appear when ‘hotels in [your location] is googled, but not when ‘cheap hotels in [your location]’ is googled.

What you’re doing here is classing ‘cheap’ and ‘budget’ as negative keywords, in the hope that the users who click on your ads are (to a certain extent) pre-qualified, and hence, reducing the chance of wasted clicks and money.

Fascinatingly, negative keywords are widely underused in hotel PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns, even if an external “expert” has set up the campaign and is managing it. All too often, my team and I will research which companies are advertising on certain keywords and find that the ad for a hotel in Devon has appeared for the keyword ‘wedding venues Lancashire’. Whilst the more observant of browsers might spot this and choose not to click, the majority of Googlers are trigger-happy and care-free with their clicks, serving to burn through the hotel’s (often modest) budget in a wasteful fashion.

“Sometimes the words and phrases you might wish to omit as negative keywords are less obvious.”

Whilst this location-based ad is an example of an incorrect campaign setup, sometimes the words and phrases you might wish to omit as negative keywords are less obvious. For instance, a spa hotel may bid on a broad-match of the keyword ‘spa hotels near Bristol’ and ensure that price-led words (cheap, budget, etc) and incorrect locations are saved as negative keywords during the setup but find that further words and phrases need to be omitted weeks after the campaign launches. ‘Spa hotels near Bristol with an outdoor pool’, for example could have been the actual search term typed into Google that achieved a click but omitting ‘outdoor pool’ wouldn’t necessarily be an immediately obvious choice as a negative keyword if the hotel in question doesn’t have this facility.

This is where continuous management of your negative keywords is essential to keep wastage at a minimum. To do this, it’s a simple case of regularly (we recommend weekly) reviewing the actual phrases that people Googled before clicking on your ad, which you can access easily – this is referred to as your ‘search terms report’.

Reading through this list, you’ll be able to see the weird and wonderful list of things people Googled that were deemed a broad-match or phrase-match to your selected keyword. So when you thought you were innocently targeting people searching for ‘hotels in Manchester’ you might find that you paid £2.47 for a single click when someone searched for ‘why are hotels in Manchester so expensive?’ or ‘what are the best hotels in Manchester to photograph.’ Clearly the intent to book in these two examples is somewhere between low and non-existent.

Worse still, it is not uncommon to find a poorly managed campaign regularly spending 60-80 per cent of the budget on clicks where the Googled terms are similar to the above examples, serving to burn through the budget with an enormous amount of wastage and few (if any) conversions.

The solution however is simple, if time-consuming at first. A weekly review of the search term report will show you where your budget is being spent and what you will to need omit thereafter. In this example, ‘photo’ or ‘photograph’ is unlikely to crop up regularly but worth adding to the negative keyword list. ‘Expensive’ featuring in the browser’s search might suggest a low-price requirement and should be added if the hotel in question is at the higher end of the market, and similarly a search term that features ‘why’ is likely to come from a browser with little or no intent to book and would also be a good term to add to the negative keyword list.

If a PPC campaign is well-managed, the list of negative keywords should continue to grow, serving to refine the clicks to only the most suitable, high-intent browsers. Hotels can be forgiven for not having the time or knowledge to implement this continuously and effectively, but marketing professionals cannot. If in doubt about the effectiveness of your PPC campaign, it’s advisable to ask the person or agency managing it for the list of negative keywords associated to the campaign. Based on the high volume of poorly managed campaigns we see regularly from hotels, there’s a good chance that list won’t be long.

About the author

Adam Hamadache is the author of Amazon No.1 best-selling hotel book The Direct Method and the CEO of hotel marketing agency DHM. Having worked with hotels (including his own) for more than 10 years, Hamadache has created a proven marketing strategy to reduce over-reliance on expensive third party bookings. 

The first article in this series by Hamadache explored why hotels should be ‘remarketing’ themselves.
The second article in this series by Hamadache explored why hotels should learn all about the new SEO.
The third article in this series by Hamadache explored the significance of algorithm changes 

Main image credit: Pixabay

Marketing for the modern age: Algorithm changes don’t do it for me either – but this is HUGE

Hamish Kilburn

For four weeks, Hotel Designs is working with author and CEO of DHM, Adam Hamadache, in order to explore the minefield of marketing. In his third article in the series of four, Hamadache explores why hotels should explore a video-centric approach to their social media platforms in light of the algorithm changes…

For those of us that are not technically-minded (or gifted, for that matter), an ‘algorithm change’ by one of the big tech companies offers little in the way of stimulation. Not least because there seems to be a new one every month, with each new update promising to ‘change the internet as we know it’ or so the scaremongers would have us believe.

So when Facebook were making a ‘big announcement’ earlier this year, understandably, few paid a great deal of notice across the hotel industry. And yet, it’s probably been the biggest digital shift since those online travel agents turned up 10+ years ago. Remarkably though, nearly 12 months have gone by and it’s still relatively unnoticed by many.

The logical question therefore being: if it’s gone unnoticed by so many, was it really all that important?

The answer to that question is undoubtedly ‘yes’, and here’s why:

Most hotels, especially those at the higher end of the luxury spectrum, spend time, money and effort on keeping their Facebook pages up to date, but without a basic grasp of the Facebook algorithm change that came into effect in January 2018, a hefty chunk of that investment is being completely wasted.

“So if you happen to have 10,000 Facebook likes on your hotel’s page, but 9,500 haven’t really engaged with your content for a long time, your audience is not 10,000, it’s much closer to 500.”

At the start of 2018, Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and CEO of Facebook, announced that the social media platform would be prioritising ‘meaningful interactions’, meaning that as a user, you will be served posts that it believes you are most likely to engage with by way of a like, comment or share. Furthermore, ‘friends’ would get a higher prioritisation than ‘pages’ (businesses) in your newsfeed. It went further to explain that content from within ‘groups’ would also be given a higher level of prioritisation. All very logical.

To put it another way, if someone liked your page two years ago and hasn’t liked, commented or shared any of your posts in that time, the chances of them continuing to see your Facebook posts is close to zero. So if you happen to have 10,000 Facebook likes on your hotel’s page, but 9,500 haven’t really engaged with your content for a long time, your audience is not 10,000, it’s much closer to 500.

This all makes commercial sense – for years Facebook gave us all a very loud megaphone for free. We could boom our messages to a captive audience, chat with them and even sell our products and services to them. Now they’ve effectively turned down our metaphorical megaphones to a volume slightly louder than a whisper, and conveniently given us access to the volume button, but only if we’re prepared to pay for it via boosted posts and the like.

“Beautiful room pans and aerobatic drone shots that bring the product to life, sell a hotel far better than a cluster of images.”

The most notable thing however is that video posting doesn’t seem to have been subject to the same limitations in reach. Where an image or text post might reach 300 people, the same content in video would likely reach closer to 1,000, all things being equal.

That’s significant for hotels, especially at the higher end of the market, who’s products lend themselves well to this medium. Beautiful room pans and aerobatic drone shots that bring the product to life, sell a hotel far better than a cluster of images. And yet, fewer than two per cent of hotels are utilising this channel to its full potential, continuing to naively post text and images to an audience that hasn’t necessarily lost interest, they just can’t hear you through the noise.

‘Groups’ on Facebook are also a fantastic way to quieten the pages and friends competing for your customer’s attention. Facebook deems a group slightly higher ranked than a standard business page, so encouraging your followers to join a ‘VIP’ or ‘special offers’ club has proven a useful means to continue the conversation and engagement.

There of course remains the question as to whether Facebook has had its day, and whether other social channels will take the mantel of the biggest social media platform. A valid discussion point, but as of September 2018, Facebook still had 2.27 billion active users use its site, compared to Instagram’s one billion.

The world of social media will inevitably change over time, but for now, Facebook is still top dog, and hotels who invest in content for the site, must adopt a video-centric approach, or risk having their messages drowned out by the noise.

About the author

Adam Hamadache is the author of Amazon No.1 best-selling hotel book The Direct Method and the CEO of hotel marketing agency DHM. Having worked with hotels (including his own) for more than 10 years, Hamadache has created a proven marketing strategy to reduce over-reliance on expensive third party bookings. 

The first article in this serires by Hamadache explored why hotels should be ‘remarketing’ themselves.
The second article in this serires by Hamadache explored why hotels should learn all about the new SEO

Main image credit: Pexels

Marketing for the modern age: Conversion Rate Optimisation – the new ‘SEO’

Hamish Kilburn

For four weeks, Hotel Designs is working with author and CEO of DHM, Adam Hamadache, in order to explore the minefield of marketing. In his second article in the series of four, Hamadache explores a new acronym that should be on every hotel group’s radar, CRO… 

For years, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has dominated the rhetoric, and discussion around digital marketing in the boutique hotel sector. SEO of course being the process of optimising your website in such a way that moves its listing further up the rankings on search engines like Google for search terms that fit the product best. In short, SEO is about more relevant traffic to your website.

However, a new acronym has popped up in recent years, and it’s worth taking note. CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) is the process of analysing website data in a bid to improve the amount of transactions achieved, relative to the volume of traffic received. Or in plain English: trying to squeeze as much business out of your website as possible.

The reason CRO – rather than SEO – should be on your radar, is best explained by the “leaky bucket” analogy. The basic premise being that your website is very much like a water bucket with lots of tiny holes in it. SEO is akin to pouring more water in at the top, whereas CRO is identifying where those holes are, and plugging them. The argument here being; CRO is the far wiser pursuit, in an attempt to keep more water in the bucket.

“The general rule of thumb is that if you keep browsers on your website for longer, the chances of them turning from ‘looker’ to ‘booker’ increases.”

An example of one of these ‘holes’ might be the image gallery page on your website, where perhaps 20 per cent of your traffic is leaving your website because the page is too slow to load. The ‘plugging’ of this ‘hole’ would be to speed up the loading time of this page, reducing the amount of people who get frustrated and leave. Simple, but effective.

Whilst this one small change is unlikely to rocket your conversion stats, the general rule of thumb is that if you keep browsers on your website for longer, the chances of them turning from ‘looker’ to ‘booker’ increases.

An advanced CRO strategy goes beyond just speeding up the load time and can involve things like split-testing landing pages – the process of serving 50% of your website’s traffic to version A of the website, and the other half to version B to determine which version converts best.

Put into practice, this might also involve the use of geo-targeted landing pages, using a sophisticated IP address tracking tool to determine the location of the web-browser, and using that information to present them a homepage most likely to serve them best. Whilst the technicalities of this can be complex, the premise of serving food and beverage imagery and copy to web-browsers within close proximity of the hotel, and accommodation-themed content to those a little further afield makes logical sense and can vastly improve conversion rates.

“And therein lies the other big problem with SEO – it’s more difficult than ever to work your way up the ranks.”

Yes, the technology of websites has moved on, but why should a CRO budget be replacing your SEO budget, you might wonder? Chances are, your hotel website doesn’t need more traffic, it just needs to convert more of it. It’s not uncommon for a 30-bedroom property to receive over 5,000 unique users to its website each month, but average one booking a day through its direct channel.

In the above website example, 5,000 unique users are needed to achieve 30 bookings each month: a conversion rate of 0.6 per cent. To achieve one extra booking per day, an SEO strategy would need to deliver an extra 5,000 unique users each month, whereas a CRO strategy would need to find just an extra 30 customers out of the original 5,000. Needless to say, it’s a great deal easier and cheaper to double your website’s conversion rate, than it is to double your traffic.

And therein lies the other big problem with SEO – it’s more difficult than ever to work your way up the ranks, let alone double the volume of traffic. Google’s become incredibly smart, to the point where the strategies that guaranteed higher traffic just 3 years ago, actively work against your website today. And who’s to say that the things your SEO agency are doing today, won’t change next year and undo all their good work?

Whilst this is unlikely, Google’s algorithms are almost certain to continue to adapt and become smarter, leaving a “traffic plateau effect” for businesses like boutique hotels, unable to rank high for the most lucrative search terms, but served a healthy and well-proportioned dose of traffic for their needs.

The point is, and has always been this: it’s not important how much traffic your website gets, rather how much of that traffic goes onto convert into a booking. CRO – the intelligent use of data and technology to convert more sales – should be prioritised over SEO based on both logical and economical grounds.

About the author

Adam Hamadache is the author of Amazon No.1 best-selling hotel book The Direct Method and the CEO of hotel marketing agency DHM. Having worked with hotels (including his own) for more than 10 years, Hamadache has created a proven marketing strategy to reduce over-reliance on expensive third party bookings. 

The first article in this serires by Hamadache explored why hotels should be ‘remarketing’ themselves

Main image credit: Pixabay

Marketing for the modern age: Every Hotel Should be ‘Remarketing’ itself

Hamish Kilburn

For four weeks, Hotel Designs is working with author and CEO of DHM, Adam Hamadache, in order to explore the minefield of marketing. In his first article in the series of four, Hamadache explains why every hotel should be looking into new ways to market their business…

We’ve all seen those ads that seemingly ‘follow’ us around the internet. One second, you’re browsing for a new pair of shoes, five minutes later you’re being unwittingly followed by that very pair of shoes on a website completely unrelated.

If it’s not happened to you yet with footwear, it’s almost certainly occurred on your web browser as a result of searching hotels on Expedia or Booking. Minutes, hours or even days later, that hotel you liked the look of in the Cotswolds for the weekend break you’re planning is displayed in front of you again, complete with price, image and a ‘book now’ button.

Google refers to this form of advertising as remarketing – so named as they are ads fed to you only once you’ve visited a particular website or webpage, and literally re-marketed back at you, in a bid to encourage you to return and complete your purchase. Facebook also runs something similar across its network of both Facebook and Instagram.

Needless to say, it’s an incredibly effective way of reminding hotel bookers to return and complete their booking – especially leisure bookers who are looking for that special-occasion stay and perhaps wanting to spend a little more than usual.

Consumers have more choice than ever before, which has inevitably meant the time taken to successfully choose and book a hotel has become longer in recent years. In some cases, leisure bookers are taking weeks to choose the right hotel, on the right platform that represents the highest value based on their own individual booking criteria.

This is why remarketing is so effective – you only need to have a potential booker visit your website once, and Google will allow you to follow that customer for as long as 18 months – for free!

Seems too good to be true, but here’s how it works: a simple piece of coding is placed on your website, dropping a cookie on the user’s web browser. That cookie then triggers your hotel’s ads on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis on websites across the internet. Impressions (views) of these ads cost you (the advertiser) absolutely nothing.

Let’s put this in more pragmatic terms: using this form of advertising, you’ll be able to advertise back to anyone that has previously visited your website in excess of 40,000 times, for about the cost of £40 per month. That would be the equivalent of running advertising all the way around Chelsea Football Club’s stadium, full of potential customers that have shown some interest in your hotel in the last month, and paying just £40 for the privilege.

The reason it’s so inexpensive is primarily due to the click-through-rate (CTR) being extremely low. These ads will appear in the background, gently reminding your potential customers about your hotel but few will click (and you only pay when someone clicks). Rather, they’ll probably need to see your ad 30, 40, 50 times before any action is taken.

Despite the cost being so low, and the targeting being so high, the real magic of this form of advertising, arguably is that so few hotels take advantage of this clever platform. It’s rare to see an individual or an independent hotel advertising in this way. This ultimately means that implementing this form of advertising can give your hotel a distinct advantage over your competition, not to mention the online travel agents!

“At present, Google allow you to run these ads for a maximum cookie duration of 540 days.”

In terms of the design of these ads; simple is best. An eye-catching image, your hotel’s logo, a ‘book now’ button, and on some of the larger-sized ads, a ‘book-direct’ message is advisable. These ads shouldn’t be a platform to sell all the benefits of the hotel, rather an opportunity to remind the potential customer of your business and hope they return to complete their booking.

At present, Google allow you to run these ads for a maximum cookie duration of 540 days. This means that your ads can be shown to each individual web-browser for up to 18 months, or until they decide to clear their cookies. Given the low cost of this advertising, it’s advisable to utilise this maximum length, as it can never hurt to gently stay in touch, reminding the web-browser that you exist and are open for business.

Typically, best-practice dictates that the style and design of these ads changes every few months, and these ads can even be animated to really catch the eye of your next hotel guest.

About the author

Adam Hamadache is the author of Amazon No.1 best-selling hotel book The Direct Method and the CEO of hotel marketing agency DHM. Having worked with hotels (including his own) for more than 10 years, Hamadache has created a proven marketing strategy to reduce over-reliance on expensive third party bookings. 

Main image credit: Pexels

Check-in desk at Hotel Indigo York

Stepping in before checking in

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As technology continues to evolve hotel design, Hotel Designs go behind the lens to investigate how tech is helping hotels also evolve their visual marketing…

Surprises, when it comes to the overall hotel look, feel and experience, are not often well received among modern travellers when checking in to a design hotel. A hotel, thats photographs online do not reflect the reality, are setting their guests – and their business for that matter – up for a loss. Instead, modern guests strive for a seamless experience led by the clever design of the building and its interiors. Reflect this in the marketing, and you are on to a winner, will allow your guests to check in to a familiar home.

Cue the launch of ACT Studios, a photography specialist based in the UK that provides hotels with innovative, interactive photography that allows the user to ‘step in’ to the photo to view the hotel from the perspective of a guest checking in.

The ‘Step In’ offering is a clever blend of beautifully taken photography and digital walk-through technology. It’s a simple, powerful enhancement to any existing hospitality focused business website. In delivering ‘Step In’ photography, the company blends professionally taken and edited photography with innovative Matterport walk-throughs, which allows hospitality properties to entice visitors visually in the design of the property. It then allows users to smoothly step directly into every property image scene in your gallery to explore each detail, delight and deeply engage. We will bring all rooms and facilities to life beautifully and elegantly.

Act Studio will support Hotel Designs on its hotel reviews in the future. “Considering how visual our industry is, we are delighted to work with the forward-thinking tech experts at Act Studio in order to bring our readers an interactive experience when reading out in-depth hotel reviews,” said editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn. “Technology, especially in photography, is evolving at such a rapid pace and it’s important for us as well as hotels to react to the trends.”

The company, which started operating in the luxury holiday property market, is already working with leading hotel brands such as IHG Hotel Indigo, Goodwood Hotel and Classic British Hotels as well as other brands.

Act Studio, now looking to expand its portfolios of hotels it works with, has local photographers covering England and Wales and prides itself on reacting latest tech trends in order to reflect the best possible results.

Image credit: Hotel Indigo York/ACT Studios

Animation of online marketing

INSIGHT: How is the hotel market performing online?

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The Hotel Sector Report has published a brief look into who is winning and who is losing the battle in the hotel sector online…

The Hotel Sector Report, produced by digital marketing specialists Inside Online, ranks 46 of the leading websites within this competitive market according to their online performance.

The annual study reveals the successes and shortcomings of each website, highlighting where there is room for improvement.

Other stand-out results from visibility include:

  • Accor Hotels [117 per cent] recorded the most significant increase among the top 10
  • The top 10 saw a majority (nine) see a rise in their visibility year-on-year
  • Marriott saw a reduction on its previous years’ visibility as Q Hotels dropped out due to a 21 per cent reduction, and was replaced by Radisson Blu after its 23 per cent increase

“It’s been a fantastic year for the hotel sector with nine of the top ten seeing improvements in their visibility,” commented Gemma Curtis, Inbound Content Marketer, at Inside Online. “It looks like paid media is the way forward when it comes to getting your Hotel site to the top of the SERPs.

“Overall, there is a big difference between the number of the brand searches and owned social score across the board. Content was on-brand, frequently posted and mostly varied but we weren’t wowed by any hotel company in particular.

“With an estimated 85 per cent of millennials using their phones to make purchases now, social is a huge asset to your business. Brands should focus on making engaging content which invites interaction to boost their owned social scores.”

Five-star social

Following Hotel Designs’ recent focus on social media, it seems as if UK company Premier Inn leads the overall social charts, coming in first place for brand searches per month but outside of the top five for owned social scores, led by Marriott.

The top five social scorers:

  • Premier Inn is the top performer with 1,500,000 monthly searches
  • Travelodge, Village Hotels, Marriott and Radisson Blu rounded out the top five for searches per month
  • Marriott leads owned social scores with Hilton, Accor, Melia and Intercontinental making up the top five

The social score considers followers and engaged conversations on all major social platforms.

Despite leading the overall charts, Premier Inn has a high brand search with 1,500,000; however, this hasn’t translated to their owned social score [659]. Likewise, Travelodge recorded a brand search score of 1,000,000 against an owned score of 202

Similarly, however, Hotel Duvin [40,500] had a high brand search but recorded an owned score of 86, while Britannia Hotels scored 27,100 against 13. Easy Hotels has a brand search score of 22,200 but owned social of 26 while Corinthia and Warner Leisure both score 12,100 for brand search against owned scores of 73 and 61.

Conversely, Marriott leads the owned search scores with 5,214 but only recorded a brand search score of 60,500.

Lodges to links

Links have always been an important ranking factor and can make all the difference to how far up a brand appears on Google. Consistently gaining new high-quality links can be great for business; however, high-link volumes without the quality could spell trouble ahead.

Hilton has the highest average number of links per month of high quality, which is likely because they are an international brand with many different subdomains and franchises. Most of their links are going to the various hotel sites, and they don’t appear to have any creative content outlet.

IHG, on the other hand, has a blog gaining many links, covering topics such as the best places to shop, eat, stay or things to do in various cities – which puts them in second place.

There are several sites with ‘high-quality, low-volume’ links; these include Radisson Collection, Star Hotel Collezione, Apex Hotels, CP London City and Point-A Hotels.

Conversely, there are also sites with ‘low-quality, high-volume’ links, such as Corinthia, Best Western, Q Hotels, Campanile and W London. Consistently gaining a high quantity of low-authority links highlights an urgent need to address your off-site reputation.


Perfect hotel brochure

Guest Blog: 5 key steps for a perfect hotel brochure

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Although it may seem like the hotel industry is always a booming one, there is still plenty of marketing that needs to be made, simply because the industry is so competitive.

There are always people looking to travel and stay abroad but only a limited number of places to do so! With this in mind, it’s so important that you create perfect hotel brochures for your potential customers to reference, luring them into everything your hotel has to offer and securing that all-important sale.

To help you get started, here are five steps from Gloria Kopp at Australia Help you need to take to ensure perfection and the highest quality…

Format Properly
When it comes to putting all your photos and content together, you can’t just stick it in any old place. You need to make sure everything is nicely laid out and flows properly. You can use tools like Easy Word Count to make sure that your content fits nicely in your brochure and doesn’t exceed your publisher’s word limit and tools like Adobe Spark to create your brochure on your own!

perfect hotel brochure

You need to make sure everything is nicely laid out and flows properly…

Create a Captivating Headline
The headline of your brochure is the first impression you’re going to make with your customers, so you want to write something that grabs their attention and doesn’t let them go. Imagine your brochure is sitting on a rack with dozens of other brochures. What can you write about your hotel that will make you brochure leap out in front of all the rest? When it comes to writing a headline, be sure to use proper grammar. Otherwise, people will instantly dismiss your hotel due to lack of professionalism. You can check this aspect using tools like State of Writing. Alternatively, if you’re stuck for an idea, use copywriting services like Ukwritings to create your headlines for you.

Utilise the Best Photos
Nothing sells a hotel better than the photos that are in the brochure. You can use as many visual words as you want but nothing will sell or create an emotional image in your potential customer’s heads than an actual high-quality image. Whether you’re advertising your actual hotel, the location, the city you’re based in or even activities your hotel provides, use images to really catch your customer’s attention. If you’re stuck and not sure where to look for images, try searching on Pixabay, or use the free templates and images found on Canva.

perfect hotel brochure

Nothing will sell or create an emotional image in your potential customer’s heads than an actual high-quality image…

Writing Your Content
Of course, the most important part of your sales technique once your customer has actually picked up your brochure is by leading them in further with your written content. This means you need to create an email in your readers head about what their experience is going to be like. For example; “During your stay at **hotel name**, we pride ourselves on doing everything we can to ensure that your stay will create memories that will last a lifetime. Start your day with sweeping views of the beautiful, crystal-clear oceans that roll in a cool sea breeze as you make your way to the intercontinental breakfast. Then, the day is yours to do as you please, but you’ll have complete peace of mind knowing your room is clean and ready for the perfect night’s sleep, ready to start all over again the next day.”

This is a very condensed summary of a hotel, but as you can see, it creates an image in your readers head that will make them want to stay at your hotel, which is, of course, the end goal. If you’re struggling with ideas, you can use content tools like Essay Roo or Academadvisor to help.

perfect hotel brochure

The most important part of your sales technique once your customer has actually picked up your brochure is by leading them in further with written content…

Ensure Accuracy
If someone is reading through your brochure and it’s full of spelling mistakes, typos and incorrectly formatted sentences, this unprofessional image that you’re giving to your potential customers is going to push them away. To them, if you can’t even spot a spelling mistake in your work, how are you supposed to give them an unforgettable holiday of a lifetime? This means you’re going to need to proofread your brochure as the final thing that you do. If you doubt your proofreading skills, you can always use proofreading tools like Cite It In and Boomessays, so you don’t have to risk poor quality content.

As you can see, there are a number of things you can do to make sure that your brochure stands out from the crowd and has the impact you want it to have. Just make sure you follow this guide and leave no room for error!

Gloria KoppGloria Kopp is an advertising manager and a content marketer at Australian Help. She is a regular contributor at Engadget and Paper Fellows blogs. Besides, Gloria is an author of Studydemic educational blog where she shares her writing and career advice with students.

Guest Blog: ‘Hotels are missing vital marketing messages’

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A guest blog from Professor Stuart Barnes on the importance of marketing for hoteliers…

Hotels are losing customers because they aren’t using the most effective marketing messages for their ratings, reveals new research from King’s Business School. The researchers have created a model that exposes the truth about hotel performance using text from online customer reviews on websites such as TripAdvisor.

Professor Stuart BarnesUsing a big data set of more than a quarter of a million online reviews for more than 25,000 hotels in 16 countries, a total of 19 controllable factors were found to be vital for hotels to manage in their interactions with visitors. These included checking in and out, communication, homeliness, room experience and accommodating pets.

The research further identified the most important dimensions according to the star rating of hotels, with homeliness and events management being important for five-star hotels, while room experience and communication were basic requirements at one-star level.

“However, not all factors are considered by hotels and hotel comparison websites, like homeliness and natural beauty which the research revealed to be important for top-rated hotels and older consumers,” says Professor Stuart Barnes, “and so key marketing messages are being missed that would target the ideal customers. Hotels need to position themselves carefully.”

Clear differences were also found according to demographic segments. For example, men are more sensitive to price than women, while female hotel customers place greater significance on the standard of the bathroom.

The results, recently published in the journal Tourism Management, have clear implications for how hotels effectively market their offerings to different customers.

The application of advanced, mathematical machine learning techniques has provided an important development in marketing as Barnes, in collaboration with Hohai University, used them to develop a new model, which was compared with traditional numerical ratings. The approach provides a potential solution for many businesses seeking to understand the voice of their customers.

Stuart is Professor of Marketing at King’s College London