Our March 07 Podcast is Out

We just posted our April 07 podcast.  Check it out here: http://www.lodginginteractive.com/podcast.htm and you can also listen in to last month’s.  Let us know what you think.

AAA Launches New Online Travel Agency

AAA is out to reinvent the online travel
agency, and yesterday officially launched a new and expanded website
with myriad features not found anywhere else of the web at www.aaa.com.
The site, designed for the leisure traveler who goes by car, is geared
toward the 88 percent of vacationers who take to the automobile when
it’s time to get away.

Click  here to read more.

Online Group Sales Techniques

There are two types of hotel group and meeting sales prospects.  There
are the professional meeting planners and group organizers and there
are the single event planners.  A single event planner is generally an
inexperienced person arranging for an event for the first time.
Examples of the single event are weddings, graduation or other
gatherings of family or friends.  How your hotel sales manager will
respond to each of these opportunities is quit different.  The only
real common factor is that both the professional and the single event
planner rely on the Internet to help them make their decisions.

Click here to read more.

SEO or PPC

SEO Vs. PPC: The Heavyweight Battle Of Internet Marketing

Posted January 26th, 2007 by Pablo Palatnik

So, you’re asking yourself the question online marketers are asking themselves today. Where should I spend most of my time, money, and efforts — SEO or PPC? The battle has begun.

The conflict begins with too many choices. It’s easy to feel lost when new forms of online advertising are constantly emerging. So, where do you start? You hear about social media networks, pay-per-call, blogs and innumerable others as they develop into bigger markets, but do any of these choices make sense? Here’s the reality – no matter how many other avenues pop up, the engines still maintain the largest market share of all searches online. It is there that you’d be wisest to invest your money.

Round 1 – Time. When considering which form of Internet marketing to choose, your biggest determinants should be time and efficiency. Depending on how time-sensitive your objective is, it is important to know that the quickest way to drive traffic is through PPC (pay-per-click). You build your campaign, and with the click of a button, you’re getting traffic. Changes are immediate, and you have control. SEO (search engine optimization) is quite the opposite, although certainly worth the effort. A couple of things to keep in mind — it is very important to be patient. Due to the dynamic nature of the engines, time projections are difficult to make. You make a change, and it often takes months to see results. Also, you need to keep in mind that optimizing your Web site is an ongoing effort.  As the nature of search engine algorithms, your site might need “adjustments.” But the end result — the possibility of increasing your site’s natural rankings and getting a high volume of free traffic — is well worth the time spent

Round 2 – Money. You often hear people saying that “SEO is so expensive!” But is it really? Let’s compare it to PPC. Granted, SEO often requires a considerable upfront investment, but consider the payoff. An optimization professional recommends (and often makes) changes that are intended to increase a site’s natural rankings — which translates into free traffic. Although you can control your site’s rankings via PPC, you will always have to pay for them, which most often ends up being many times more expensive than the SEO investment. Anyone can start a PPC campaign, but the challenge is getting your site ranked in the first pages of the engines. Having the first spot or even the 5th or 6th in Google for your keywords is like having a huge billboard in the middle of Times Square. The traffic is intense and the exposure is priceless! We can say the same about a great ranking on a PPC campaign, but remember one thing — you will always have to pay for it. Free clicks in sponsored search? Never.

Round 3 – Effort We know SEO takes more time and effort than creating and maintaining a PPC campaign. Yet, it’s important to recognize that a considerable effort is required with both. Optimizing a Web site is like trying to climb to the top of a mountain. Once you start, you can’t stop until you reach the top. You work for hours at a time on optimization, with your goal in sight, and then rest while the engine crawlers find and assess your improvements. You see the results of those changes via movement of your site’s natural rankings, and then start up the mountain, again. The creation of a PPC campaign takes only a few steps — but to make it successful, consistent maintenance is required. Rather than investing hours of work at once with down time in between, PPC requires almost daily attention and maintenance. It may look simple from the outside, but there are so many small things can make a huge difference in the success of a campaign. This is the rivalry of the Internet marketing world and getting more and more intense. Who’s watching? We all are.

Each tactic, whether it is SEO or PPC, has its positives and negatives. Consider the following:

1 – Business Growth. SEO and PPC have opened the doors to small business and fueled fast- growing enterprises. A company can make a name for itself in no time if it pays enough per keyword to be in Google’s top ranked positions or has a better optimized Web site than its competitors.  For e-commerce clients, this has been an incredible way to market and sell their products. Think about how much renting a locale can cost a business per month and how much traffic will actually go into your store. Now, think about the traffic that exists online, in which you can target either by city, state, region, or country, and how much more affordable it can be!

2 – Brand Awareness. When launching an Internet marketing campaign, you’re not only marketing your product or service but acting on a form of public relations. Many PR firms are reaching out to Internet marketing firms to help their client’s efforts. When deciding whether or not PPC is viable, consider both the cost per click, and the number of people who will see your ad (whether or not they clicked). It’s free exposure, and what’s better?

3 – Traffic. Traffic will make or break your online business. If you’re not generating traffic, you’re not generating sales. The engines can deliver the highest volume of traffic if positioned in the top rankings. You already know this! Now, the important factor is driving qualified traffic to your Web site. This all comes down to the SEO and PPC determinants, such as choosing the right keywords, ads and other elements that are driving the traffic you want to ensure your online efforts are successful. One major factor of failing campaigns is insufficient research. Research is crucial to creating a winning campaign to compete in a growing market.

It’s time to start considering which type of marketing will best suit the needs of your business. If you’re still debating whether it’s the right time to get serious about marketing online, consider that your competition is most likely making their presence felt there already.

 

Google to Update Ad Quality Scoring

Google
announced today that it will be updating its ad ranking algorithm for
AdWords, and making that process a bit more transparent for
advertisers.

Before
the end of the month, Google plans to implement an improved
quality-based bidding system, updating the current AdRank algorithm
that first launched in August 2005, and has been updated consistently since then. The last major updates came in December 2005, and again in July 2006.
Enhancements came the in the form of landing page quality scoring
additions that left many advertisers upset with Google’s lack of
information regarding how that quality score was reached.

Click here to read more.


Loyalty Is Key to Online Travel Market

Travel suppliers use loyalty programs to stay competitive online.
Many travelers know the trick to getting the best price online: They
shop at online travel agencies, then book rooms or flights on a
supplier’s site.

Yet online travel agencies are still fierce competitors. Although a
head-to-head matchup favors suppliers, many consumers still say "It
depends" when it comes to their purchase preferences, according to a
survey conducted by market research firm eVOC Insights and RelevantView.

Click here to read more.

[Video] Submitting to Web Directories to Build Your Link Profile

This video is 15 minutes 17 seconds long. Directories are easy sources
of links, but links from lower quality web directories may not get
indexed by some major search engines, may not carry much weight in
Google, and may put your site in a bad community. This video covers
evaluating the quality of a directory as a link source.

Click here to view video.

Orbitz hopes road warrior site will be a hot spot

By Dennis Schaal

With the launch this week of a Web site for road warriors, Orbitz developed a marketing tool to attract incremental bookings from unmanaged business travelers who may have already been using the online agency site.

The new Orbitz site, at http://roadwarrior.orbitz.com, which is integrated into Orbitz.com, displays inventory — particularly hotels — in a business-specific way, and also offers destination-specific displays geared toward business travelers, Orbitz stated.

The hotel search is supposed to emphasize "business" hotels and downplay properties oriented toward theme parks, but there wasn’t much differentiation in the results displayed on searches through Orbitz.com and Roadwarrior.orbitz.com.

However, when a user selects Chicago, they can view and use Business Essential in Chicago, a tool with links to Amtrak and information pointing to Wi-Fi Internet hotspots and fitness centers in the area.

Some of the content, too, is geared toward people who work for small businesses who might not have a managed travel program.

For example, Joe Brancatelli, editor and publisher of a business traveler Web site, offers the new Orbitz site tips for business travelers.

User-generated travel guides are worthless??

The Internet is awash with travel Web sites featuring
"user-generated" comments: People post their
I-stayed-at-such-and-such-a-hotel-and-here’s-what-I-thought-of-it
recollections, and the rest of us are supposed to adjust our vacation
decisions accordingly.

Time was when only a couple of Web sites — like TripAdvisor.com and
Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree (thorntree.lonelyplanet.com) –featured such
homely advice by amateur pundits. Today, a growing array of services —
www.igougo.com, www.tripmates.com, www.gusto.com, www.tripconnect.com, Britain’s wayn.com and many others — consist of nothing but.

Click here to read more…

Active Home Internet Users by Country, December 2006

Active home Internet usage experienced its largest growth in Spain as the year closed out, according to data from Nielsen//NetRatings.

Click here to read more…