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Take a fresh look at multichannel, web marketing strategies

Take a fresh look at multichannel, web marketing strategies

As the travel and hospitality industry emerges from its recession-induced coma, hoteliers need to develop an action plan to capitalize on resurgent travel demand. Last week, I discussed the importance of unlocking the marketing budget, but doing so smartly and strategically via direct online marketing. This week, we’ll explore multichannel marketing and the need for most operators to reexamine their own website offerings.

Action Plan: Embrace multichannel marketing—the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts

Today’s hyper-interactive travel consumers are seeing your marketing messages across a variety of different channels. Now more than ever, there is a convergence of new and traditional digital formats, of interactive and offline marketing channels such as social media and print, hotel websites and social media initiatives, mobile and email, etc. Hoteliers need to reach future and current customers at multiple touch-points. For instance, if you launch an email campaign to the hotel’s own opt-in list, combine it with a tweet on Twitter, a posting on Facebook, a promotion on your website (this is a must), and a paid search campaign on Google.

 

At the same time, some marketing initiatives, if judged on their own merits, generate disappointing ROIs. For example, many hoteliers are struggling to justify returns from social marketing initiatives. The same applies to display advertising and online sponsorships which rarely produce significant ROIs as stand-alone marketing formats. But unleashing a marketing promotional campaign simultaneously across all available marketing channels produces compounded effect and far greater returns than each individual marketing format.

 

Examples:

  • An interactive 30-day Free Room Giveaway Sweepstakes on the hotel website, supported by a multi-channel marketing via social media, mobile, email, strategic linking, SEO and online sponsorships produces great results and customer engagements.
  • Banner advertising and online sponsorships directly affect bookings and ROI from search engine marketing campaigns. Industry case studies confirm that the moment banner campaigns are paused or stopped, the conversions from paid search go down dramatically. The moment banner campaigns re-commence paid search bookings increase.

Action Plan: Take a hard look at the hotel website

Due to economic considerations, many hotel websites have been practically abandoned during the past 2 years. Many hotel websites offer old photos and stale content and read more like an online brochure than a vibrant and engaging digital presence of the hotel.  When there is practically no Web 2.0 functionality on the website, there is nothing to stimulate interactivity with the user. This is contrary to the mere nature of today’s hyper-interactive Internet user who is tweeting, texting, emailing, communicating with friends and commenting on hotel and restaurant review sites. 

Hotel Internet marketing starts and ends with the hotel website. The hotel website has become the first, the only, and in many cases, the last point of contact with the travel consumer. It is only natural that re-designing, enhancing and optimizing the hotel website should be the top priority. A website re-design is typically a 90-120 day project. Our experience shows that any website optimizations, enhancements or re-designs pay for themselves within 3-4 months.

 Here are some important items to consider:

  • Maximize the value of the site. It is the hotel’s most important marketing asset today.
  • Make the site reflect 2010-2011 industry’s best practices: user-friendly, search engine-friendly, travel booker-friendly, and Web 2.0 friendly.
  • Optimize, enhance, and re-design if necessary.
  • If the site is over 12 months old, Web 2.0 and SEO optimizations are now due in order to take full advantage of the much cheaper organic search related visitors to your site. Make sure the hotel website is optimized for:
  • Travel consumers: the site must describe all aspects of the hotel product and services
  • Important business segments: your website should address all key customer segments, from meeting and group planners, to corporate and leisure travelers
  • Search engines: make sure the site’s keyword density, headers, page titles, description and keyword tags adhere to best practices
  • If the site is over two years old, a website re-design is a must and should be considered in Q3 or Q4 of 2010, or at least budgeted for early 2011.

Consider this case study of the ROI experience by a luxury boutique hotel in Oregon wine country that redesigned its property website: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Results from 9 months since launch of new re-designed website

 

 

 

Unique Visitors

 

 

180,614

 

 

Total Bookings

 

 

868

 

 

Total Room Nights

 

 

1516

 

 

Total Revenue

 

 

$517,386

 

 

Total Spend, including:

 

 

$42,981

 

 

Marketing Spend

 

 

$16,176

 

 

Additional Fees (campaign management, hosting, etc)

 

 

$9,305

 

 

Website Buildout Cost

 

 

$17,500

 

 

Results:

 

 

 

 

 

ROI(Return On Investment)

 

 

1,104% (11 times)

 

 

ROAS (Return on Ad Dollar Spent)

 

 

3,098% (31 times)

 

 

 

 

Are you experiencing these kinds of returns? If not, it might be time to rethink your web investment. I look forward to our continued dialogue. Next week, we’ll tackle the exponentially growing importance of social and mobile media.

 

 

 

 

 

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