Remember in the iconic Sci-Fi flick, Aliens, when the marine (played by Bill Paxson) said “Game Over”? That’s exactly what happened to Office Depot and Microsoft when they forgot to test.
I’ve got a book coming out about CRO — Conversion Rate Optimization — which involves testing your websites and landing pages as an essential tactic, so I thought I’d tell you a story about two well known brands who failed to test, and lost millions because of it.
It was the year 2000 and the two big brands looked around them and realized things were going to change. Microsoft realized that software in a box was going to move into the cloud. Office Depot saw the same writing on the wall and realized that it would mean aisles of software in boxes, representing significant revenue, drying up and vanishing. What to do? Bingo. Start selling software as a service in the stores. So, they created something called bCentral (yep, the official press release is still out there) — a package of website creation, scheduling, and ecommerce tools — then hired a cadre of sales and ecommerce consultants in 20 different major US cities to sell the services and consult with clients. (more…)
Smaller properties of 6-20 rooms can be reluctant to maintain a presence and room inventory on OTAs like Expedia and TripAdvisor. But are they shooting themselves in the foot? Both the “Billboard Effect” and the “Pay to Play Effect” do indicate that you’re leaving money at the table.
The Billboard Effect: Did you know that industry studies show using OTAs increases room reservations — at your own site? According to an article on Hotel Business Review, “…Cornell Professor Chris Anderson found that a hotel’s direct bookings increased from 7.5 to 26% when listed on Expedia, perfectly illustrating the impact that the billboard effect has on a property’s direct bookings.”
It works like this… a prospective guest sees the generic site they create for you on Expedia or Hotels.com or TripAdvisor (your “billboard” on that platform), then leaves the OTA site to book at your own site, assuming you are set up for smart on-site booking and mobile ready. (more…)
Innkeepers and hoteliers wear so many hats, that it can be hard to concentrate on lifting your marketing game. Fortunately we live in an era with a wealth of online marketing resources and technologies plus research for boosting results. But the the best solutions go beyond tactics and technology to the core of persuasion psychology. I’ve learned a lot about all this in close to 35 years in the trenches, so I’m pleased to share my own top 10 list to help you win the quest for heads in beds:
1) Triple-Leverage your blog content: Make your blog do triple duty. First, write each blog post with highly relevant content to increase your rankings. Second, use an automation tool (we like Hootsuite, or Delvr.it) to automatically push posts to social media — set it and forget it. Third, set your blog RSS feed to go out monthly with excerpts from your posts and a special or two using a smart email service like MailChimp (great pricing — send to 2,000 subscribers monthly for free).
Which of the three images are essential to engage prospective guests? Answer: The people shot (bottom right) — folks buy on emotion. But which pictures do innkeepers show more of on their websites?
2) Sell the sizzle, not the steak: Should a sailboard manufacturer sell the composition of the board, or the experience of sailing across the water? Should a restaurant show it’s store front and food only, or sell the social experience the venue affords? Should an Inn show only its rooms (the steak); or show guests enjoying breakfasts and heading off to local adventures (the sizzle)? You get it. Sure, it’s easier to settle just for room and building photos, but you’ll sell more when you present the sizzle of the vacation. (more…)
When it comes to online reservations at various OTAs — which should you get more heads in beds?
There are a lot of OTAs — Online Travel Agencies (like Hotels.com) — out there for Innkeepers and Hoteliers to consider in their marketing mix. There are also GDS’s — Global Distribution Systems — that give you access to the Google Hotel Booking network among other things. How best to make an informed choice, and should you use these channels at all?
Our Webdirexion Hotel Marketing Solutions philosophy is that while you should seek to maximize bookings at your own website, the OTAs and GDS’s are the devils you must deal with — and pay the 15% (or higher) commissions. Why? Industry statistics show that most hotel searches begin at the search engine (usually Google, of course), and then about 20% of searches continue at an OTA with about 20% at your own site. (more…)
Cloud-based hotel management software: a primer for hoteliers & innkeepers
Facilitating online bookings is getting easier with smart cloud based systems.
Increasingly, hoteliers and inn-keepers are turning towards cloud-based software solutions to manage bookings and inventory, set rates and parameters, and integrate with third-party applications and online travel agencies (OTAs). Here are a few things to know about cloud-based hotel management software and systems.
What is cloud-based hotel management software? Cloud-based hotel booking software refers to software used by hoteliers primarily to facilitate room bookings and manage rates and inventory — often across channels. Data is stored and backed up in the cloud (as opposed to a static server or a virtual private network), allowing users easy access to data and systems without the need to invest in hardware. Larger properties may need to consider a PMS (Property Management System) or POS (Point of Service Software) for integration and management of gift shops, coffeeshops, and other departments in a Hotel. (more…)
Webdirexion LLC, an online marketing agency with clients across the US and overseas, has announced a new focus on Hotel and Inn Marketing Solutions, now with cloud based, mobile-ready booking integrations. The package includes components that facilitate automated room inventory allocations to OTAs, plus integrations with point of service software for coffee shops and gift shops, accounting software, analytics and marketing software.
“We have an experienced team for marketing hotels and inns, and saw a growing need for smart room booking and online marketing in the hospitality industry, so we’ve put together some great packages for all hotels of all sizes,” explains Scott Frangos, President and “chief optimizer” for Webdirexion. “For the past two years, we’ve helped a Hotel and Resort client in Costa Rica grow with smart lead gathering landing campaigns, attractive slideshows, and compelling mini-sites focusing on the different business aspects of the property.” (more…)