Back to Basics: Hotel Search Engine Marketing – Part 2

Lodging Interactive’s Senior Analytics & PPC Manager, Gouri Karode, is sharing the essential best practices for hotel search engine marketing in our Back to Basics three-part series.

Read Part 1: Optimizing Your Site.

Part 2: Optimizing Your Adwords Strategy.

As with any campaign, it is key to establish benchmarks and create goals in order to stay focused and to continue to refine your strategies.

As you are reading this, you are probably asking yourself, what is my end goal? What do I want to accomplish by running this campaign? Is it for branding purposes? Last minute vacancies? What are my property’s PPC strategies for converting website visitors to guests?

Once you answer these questions you can begin to define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as CTR, impressions, click thrus to booking engine and booked revenue so you are ready to monitor, measure and test your results.

Creating a plan and setting goals is only the beginning of a paid search campaign. Once you’ve established clearly defined objectives you can get started by utilizing our tips for optimizing your adwords strategy.

Top Tips for Optimizing Your Adwords Strategy

  1. Target Right Audience: Opportunity to share your hotel packages and/or services with the right travelers when they are search for services like yours is the key for a successful PPC campaign.
  2. Budget Optimization: Allocate the bulk of your budget in response to the conversions you receive. Limited budget? No problem. Just spend the money you’re investing into PPC wisely by continuously refining the campaigns and customizing the account.
  3. Seasonality: Plan your hotel PPC budget accordingly based on peak demand months and slower months.  During your slow months or seasons you can promote business by creating special offers and promotions which are then promoted through your ads.
  4. Deliver the Right PPC Ads: Have a strong call-to-action within your ad copy. If you are running a special or offering a discount make sure it is mentioned in the ad copy. Give people a reason to book at your hotel with the message of urgency like “Buy Now”, “Book Today”!
  5. Device Targeting & Bid Adjustments: Bid adjustments are used to increase or decrease bids for mobile devices, however, there is no way to increase or decrease bids for tablets. All ads running on all devices enhances your ads and is necessary with the rise in mobile use.
  6. Track Everything & Monitor Results: Measure your ROI in real time by defining and monitoring metrics that include, Cost per Click (CPC), Conversion Ratios (CTR), Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), Cost per Action (CPA), Key Performance Indicators (KPI), etc…

Lodging Interactive provides hoteliers with complete Search Engine Marketing solutions. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you achieve your SEM goals.

Don’t miss the final installment of Gouri’s series –  Part 3: Stay Agile!

Responsive Web Design for Hotels

Ever since Google announced that it recommends responsive web designs, hoteliers have been looking to update their sites. The need is obvious – reach many people with one website, instead of building separate websites for desktop and mobile users. As we move into 2015, more site visitors are going to be checking in and out of hotels with their mobile phones in addition to booking their hotel rooms. With the onset of Social Media, more people will be leaving reviews and asking questions – you guessed it – from their mobile devices.

What every hotel should know about responsive web designs

Now is a great time to revamp your website.  If you have been putting off redesigning your website, this should now become a top priority for you. Industry-wide occupancy levels are expected to reach 64.8 percent in 2015, the highest since 1995. (Source: PwC)

Will your hotel website be ready to grow with the changes? Do you have social media marketing solutions in place to handle the new volume of reviews? How are you positioned in your current marketplace?

These are all questions you should consider. In addition, you should consider the following:

  1. Budget – You should consider this a primary investment in your company. It is your “brand ambassador” to the world.  Do not skimp on this because everything else you do online will focus around your website.
  2. Usability – Make sure your new website is user friendly. Can visitors book a room, get directions, and subscribe to your newsletter easily? Do they have access to your blog, social media and other areas of your hotel’s branding?
  3. Blog – Blogs are a great way to increase your branding awareness, while sharing upcoming events & area information. Make sure your visitors can find your blog and that you update it regularly – giving them a reason to come back, even if their hotel stay has ended.
  4. SEO – Make sure your new website will have proper SEO in the code. This will help you get indexed and ranked properly by the Search Engines.  After all, you not only want to have an amazing website, you want people to find it, too.

If you implement the above suggestions into your new responsive website, then you will be able to reach more people at the exact time they need and want your services. Don’t lose bookings because you are cautious about updating your website. Do it now, so you can capture the larger audience expected in 2015.

Lodging Interactive Wins Multiple Industry Awards

Lodging Interactive website designs garner multiple awards
from
Travel Weekly and the Web Marketing Association

Lodging Interactive, a digital marketing firm offering a suite of tailored solutions exclusively to the hospitality industry, has received multiple awards this week for outstanding website design from two organizations — Travel Weekly and the Web Marketing Association.

LodgingInteractiveMultipleAwardsLodging Interactive, which has provided personalized website design, reputation management and social media marketing services to over 700 properties in 40 countries, was selected as a 2014 Travel Weekly Magellan Award Silver Winner in the Hospitality, Midscale Hotel/Resort category for their design of The Manhattan Club’s website.

According to a Travel Weekly press release, “With entries from across the U.S. and around the world, the Magellan Award winners represent the best in the travel industry and salute the outstanding travel professionals behind it all.”

The Manhattan Club website, along with the website for Fitzpatrick Hotel Group, also took home 2014 WebAwards which were recently announced by the Web Marketing Association. Lodging Interactive was awarded the following:

Manhattan ClubStandard of Excellence – Hotel and Lodging Category
Fitzpatrick Hotel GroupOutstanding Website – Hotel and Lodging Category

“Now in its 17th year, the WebAwards are recognized as the premier industry based Website Award program in the world,” notes the Web Marketing Association’s site.

“It is an honor to have received multiple awards for two websites that we worked hard to make the best they could possibly be,” said Lodging Interactive Founder and President, DJ Vallauri. “We’re thrilled to be recognized and share the honor with our entire web design team as well as our amazing clients who put their trust in us to build them a quality site for their properties.”

Visit the Lodging Interactive website for more on their web design services available exclusively to the hospitality industry.

Lodging Interactive’s DJ Vallauri Talks Social Customer Service on Social Media Unscrambled

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DJ in the studio

Last week Lodging Interactive Founder and President DJ Vallauri was invited to be a guest on Social Media Unscrambled, a weekly interactive radio show and podcast hosted by Chris Curran and David Deutsch. DJ discussed the importance of social customer care as well as Social Voices and CoMMingle Social Media services available to hotels from Lodging Interactive’s suite of digital marketing solutions.

Check out the segment: Social Media Unscrambled Ep. 61 with DJ Vallauri

During DJ’s Social Media Unscrambled appearance, the Social Voices Listening Agents took over DJ’s Twitter account and live tweeted the event using the hashtag #unscrambled.

Follow DJ on Twitter.
Visit the Social Voices website.

Thank you to Chris Curran, David Deutsch and the entire #unscrambled team!

How to Approach a Website Design or Redesign

Alicia PavignanoOnce you have made the decision to design a new website or redesign your current website, there are a number of things you need to consider.  Perhaps,  the very first question you should ask is, why are you designing or redesigning your website? Is it because your goals are not being met?  Does your  current site look outdated or are you just entering the digital media arena?  Whatever the reason, you have taken the first step in the process and it’s  time to put together a strategy for your website design or redesign.  With a new website on the horizon, you need to determine what you hope it will help  you accomplish.  You should have  a clear outline of your goals and most importantly, these goals should be measurable.  In addition to having clearly defined goals, you’ll want to decide who your target audience is.  Are you looking to gain more leisure travelers, business travelers or do you want to go after group business and reach meeting and event planners?  When you understand who your audience is, it will help in the planning stage when you are working on the site map and content for the site.  When designing your website you will always want to take a look at your top competitors and what they are doing to attract customers.  You’ll also want to determine what sets you apart from your competition and capitalize on that feature.  What is it that you offer that they can’t or don’t.  Make that a focal point of your website.  If your competitors have websites, take a look at them.  You may find aspects of their designs that you’ll want to incorporate in your design.  Of course, you’ll probably find features that you don’t like as well.  It always helps to see what others in your marketplace are doing.

When you have answered these important questions and developed a strategy, you’ll want to begin the planning stage and then execute your plan in the design stage.  The first and most important piece of the planning puzzle is your budget.  Once you know what you have to spend, all of the other pieces fall into place.  If you currently have a website that you are redesigning then you’ll want to take a good look at it to determine what you like and dislike about the site.  There may be certain aspects that you want to keep, while eliminating others.  Perhaps you are missing certain features on your site, like a booking widget on all pages or certain content about your property.  For example, you may have certified wedding planners on-site, however you have not promoted that on your website.  When looking at your website, you’ll not only want to examine the visual appeal, but also any previous reports that show which of your web pages is receiving the most traffic.  Based on your traffic and revenue reports, you’ll also be able to see if your current site is meeting your goals.  At the planning stage it is important to answer these questions before deciding  the make up of your new site, which is your site map.  The site map includes what pages are going to make up the main navigation of the site, as well as the secondary navigation items.   Your navigation headings should be catchy, but also written with search engine optimization in mind.  You want them to convey the content of the page, but also be phrases that customers are most likely to search.  When choosing the navigation and sub navigation you can decide if there is certain content that needs to be added or removed from the current site that can be removed.  For a brand new site, you’re working with a clean slate, so you will need to determine what is important for your business and what message you want to convey to your customers.  Be sure your content is fresh, descriptive, concise and has an appealing format.  You don’t want to bore your customers.

Once your plan is in place, the design phase begins.  If there are designs you have seen that appeal to you then pull some ideas from them.  You can pull from different websites to create your own unique design.  Some key factors to look at are the navigation, the photography, the layout of the text and the placement of a booking widget.  In addition, you will have to decide on your color scheme and have logos and good photography available.  If your photography is not the best, and you are able to have new photos taken, it is highly recommended.  Many of today’s websites, focus on large visuals as a key element in the appeal of the site and that’s really what the customer wants to see.

It is very exciting to see your strategy and plans come to life when your new website goes live.  However, the work doesn’t stop once you go live.  If you want your site to have a positive impact on your business, then you must keep the site up to date with new content, monitor its performance and make changes and updates when necessary.