Tips for a Successful Hotel Website Redesign – Part 1

You might ask why it is necessary to do a hotel website redesign. After all, redesigning a hotel website takes time and money.  While this is true, you might want to reconsider a few critical reasons for needing to make the changes.

In four installments, we will share some tips to help you through the process of updating your website so that you don’t lose traffic or bookings and avoid cost over-runs and lost time.

In life, change is inevitable. In business, change is vital. – Warren G. Bennis

hotel website redesign

Why Change your Hotel Website Design?

Technology changes quickly as do hotel website design styles.

  • There could be a shift in your hotel’s business focus
  • A need to incorporate re-branding
  • New marketing message you wish to advertise.
  • Need to add a new website functionality.
  • Search engine algorithms or marketing trends.

Any one or all of these things will lead you to need a redesign of your hotel website.

What was the latest and greatest yesterday may become out-of-date today.  Your hotel website redesign can incorporate the latest technology and trends to give users the experience they come to expect from websites. It reflects your hotel’s quality of service and shows your guests and potential guests that you care about their wants and needs.

You will need to keep up with the changes to stay current and not lose any available revenue opportunities. The whole point is to increase conversions and attract new customers through your hotel website. When your hotel is working on a website redesign strategy, you want to make sure you go through the transition process with as little hiccups as possible.

Where to start your Hotel Website Redesign Project Plan

To move forward, you should start your hotel website redesign project plan by:

  • Creating backups of your current website & URLs used
  • Forming a baseline of your analytics including current loading speed, conversion rates, bounce rates & high traffic pages
  • Tracking current search engine rankings; in-bound links & current backlinks.

These will all be useful to keep track of your improvements.  In the event of a major issue with your new site, you can always put your old site back up while you work out kinks.

The back-ups may take some time, but it will prove to be an important first step to getting the redesign going and uploaded quickly all the while protecting traffic, rankings and minimizing costs.

In our next installment we will be discussing the website redesign transition. Stay tuned!

Phantom update in Google?

On February 7, 2017, something significant happened with search engine results across our sites. SEO Roundtable is reporting this to be a Phantom update from Google. Phantom updates mean Google does not “officially” report an algorithm update, but you can see large changes in your search engine results.

Diving into our sites, we saw the largest increases in Page 2 keywords and higher.

Examples of Phantom Update

Our keyword rankings on Page 2 jumped significantly with numbers like 12, 11, & 8.
Google Phantom Update

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While our clients’ Page 2 keywords also increased dramatically:

Google Phantom Update Client Example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEO Content

This Phantom Update is believed to be more like Panda (content driven) than Penguin (backlink driven).   If that’s true, it explains why our sites jumped significantly in search engine rankings.  We work hard to ensure our hotel website content is fresh and unique.  In addition, we take our time choosing appropriate topics for our client, as well as making sure they are of importance to our site visitors.  We know this takes time in addition to the proper keyword research in order to make the climb to the first page of Google.

Older Phantom Updates

There have been older Phantom Updates including this one:

The Quality Update — May 3, 2015

After multiple reports of ranking changes, originally dubbed “Phantom 2”, Google acknowledged a core algorithm change which impacted “quality signals”.  This update seems to have had a broad impact, but Google didn’t share any specifics about the signals which changed in this update.

“Phantom” — May 9, 2013

Around May 9th, there were multiple reports of an algorithm update (also unverified by Google).  Many sites reported significant traffic loss, but no signals or mention of the update from anyone over at Google.

Conclusion

Take a look at your own search engine rankings and see if there have been any dramatic increases on February 7th.  We’d love to hear from you.

The Best Hotel Marketing Strategy should include Chat Messaging

Chat messaging has become a useful tool in marketing strategies of the hospitality industry to meet growing consumer demand. The Economist reported 2.5 billion people worldwide had installed at least one messaging app and that number was expected to grow to 3.6 billion within a few years. A recent OpenMarket study this January found that 57% of mobile device users worldwide found the best way to communicate with hotels is via messaging.

Chat Messaging Makes Efficient Use of Hotel Resources

Where there is demand, hotel marketing professionals need to respond. Hoteliers are discovering the value of chat messaging apps with time and labor saving strategies of the hotel’s front desk staff as well as helping guests or potential guests make purchasing decisions.

But using chat messaging is not only making more efficient use of your hotel staff’s time. It also gives your hotel the means to ensure great customer service and increase both conversion rates and RFP submissions. Of course let’s not forget that chat messaging provides engagement opportunities. When you have engagement, you create loyalty and with loyalty come the opportunities to close business.

Human Powered Live Chat Messaging vs. Automated Chat Bots

As consumers we want instant gratification – getting answers to our questions/inquiries right away – and so it would be with people who contact your hotel. But who wants programmed answers from a chatbot? People prefer the human contact – it is more personal, warm and welcoming than an automated, cold bot!

The argument is that an automated chat bot could have algorithms set up so that basic questions – information about amenities, pricing etc. – are answered but what happens when the person contacting your hotel has specific needs or questions that an automated bot is not programmed to give? Would you want your answer to be “Sorry, I can’t understand. Please call the hotel at …..”?

The person might end up calling but now they use up the very resources the hotel was trying to get to work more efficiently. So using an automated bot defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Then not-to-mention there is the person’s building frustration when your the front desk clerk can’t provide a quick response either as they’re attending to other hotel guests.  “Hold please” is not an answer anyone wants to hear. Now your hotel has the potential of having this person just drop contacting your hotel altogether and move on to other choices.

The best solution for your hotel is the combination of both the technology and the human element. But regardless of whether you will have automated or human powered chat messaging, your hotel can expect chat messaging to grow more popular and that its presence will be around in the years ahead. Are you ready?

Guest Expectations: Hotel Customer Relations Challenge

In this digital age, use of social networks has become the new word-of-mouth communication channels amongst peers. Spreading the news about your hotel’s handling of customer relations may have a new delivery method but it can still make or break your hotel’s reputation – only now it is in cyber space and much more far reaching!

Whether your guests are Millennials, GenX or baby boomers, each group has different expectations from their hotel stay and want to be reached through different social channels.  This presents a challenge for hotels to provide exceptional customer service to the different demographics of each group.

 

Hotel Customer Relations

The string that binds hotels with these different groups is delivering high-quality customer service. What hotel wants to turn away bookings or future bookings? The answer is right in your hands! If guests perceive your hotel in a bad light, the ramifications of poor customer service will inevitably lead to a bad reputation and loss in sales. But you can turn this around by ensuring you listen to your guests needs, handle the issues – big or small – with speed, respect and graciousness.

eMarketer chart of people who have stopped doing business with companies due to poor customer relations

 

Going above and beyond to help make your guest’s experience a memorable one shows your hotel provides value to your guests so that they make the original booking and keep coming back again and again.  It all comes down to hotel customer relations with your guests. No matter the age, how well you treat your guest means great reviews, attracting potential guests and positively affecting your bottom line.

To be heard, one must first learn to listen

Listening to each group’s needs and wants is the key to providing great customer service. Who doesn’t want to feel special? Whether it’s the millennial looking for the next happening eatery or the baby boomer looking for a fun activity to share with their family, carefully listening to the expectations and feed back of each group is the best way to successfully manage them.

Provide the unique guest experience

When choosing a hotel, today’s guests want that special experience and the human-touch that makes them feel connected. If your hotel embraces the neighborhood, taking in every bit of the area and extending the uniqueness of your community out to guests, it would provide a personalized experience your guest will not forget.

Accommodate guest lifestyle preferences and expectations

There is a definite shift in preferences and expectations of today’s hotel guest. There is a service-oriented lifestyle together with the need to be engaged and entertained.  There is a desire for the human-to-human factor that makes a guest hotel stay comforting and welcoming. The saying goes home is where the heart is. Make your guests love their hotel stay by showing them your hotel is not traditional and stagnant but is warm and inviting. It is the relationship you build with your guests that will make your hotel be the “it” place to be.

In the end, the best way to handle guest expectations, no matter the demographics, is ensure you provide the best quality customer service. Your hotel will become the destination point that provides the personal, authentic experience today’s hotel guest expects and craves. Hotel marketers need to be mindful of this and adapt hotel marketing strategies to meet the challenge.

#AskDJV Episode 53: Hotel Pay Per Click Budgets

In Episode 53 of the #AskDJV show, DJ Vallauri discusses hotel pay per click budgets. Watch this week’s episode to learn how you can avoid the common pitfalls of other hoteliers.

Video Transcript:

Hotel Pay Per Click Budgets

Hello Everybody and Welcome to the #AskDJV Show, I’m DJ Vallauri this is Episode 53 of the #AskDJV show.

On this week’s episode, I’d like to talk about hoteliers spreading their PPC budget way too thin.

Let me explain:

PPC Cost per Click’s (CPC’s) have increased over the last ten-fifteen years dramatically, yet hotel budgets kind of stay the same for PPC budgets. It’s important that your hotel keeps up with the rising costs of cost per clicks. I remember the day when you could buy a travel related keyword or hotel related keyword for 75 cents. Those days are long gone. That same keyword will now cost you as a hotelier $5, $10, or $15, $20 per click, yet your budget is still operating as if that keyword was 75 cents. So, it’s important when you do your annual budgeting that you increase your PPC marketing allocation to be able to keep up with the trends and the market costs.

Google Pay Per Click

Now, in addition to this, unfortunately, Google, about a year ago, removed the right rail of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). What that means for you, as a hotelier is that there are fewer opportunities for your hotel to actually appear on the PPC results page. Bigger brands, OTA’s, other travel sites are bidding for the same terms you are and now have larger budgets (because they’ve increased accordingly and you haven’t). So, it’s important that you keep up your budgeting. Now hoteliers often come to us and say, “We want to focus not only on our transient campaigns, but we also want to focus on weddings and group business.” Because that’s big in 2017, but the down side is the hotel operators never have enough funds or additional funds to run those wedding and meeting campaigns. So, the result is you’re thinning out your PPC budget even further, you’re watering it down, you’re spreading yourself too thin, as they say, from a marketing perspective you don’t have enough marketing dollars.

Pay Per Click Advertising

So, you need to focus on what you’re going after from a PPC strategy and make sure that you have the right budget allocated for that and your agency can help you determine what that right budget is.

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the #AskDJV show, be sure to Subscribe down below (the red YouTube button), so that you can stay in touch when new episodes come out on a weekly basis. Thanks for joining us and we’ll see you next week. Take care.

Include Video in Your Hotel’s 2017 Social Media Marketing Plans

Visual content social media marketing speaks volumes and video is the most powerful storytelling tool your hotel can include in your 2017 social media marketing plans arsenal. Through video, hotel digital marketers have a great opportunity to build guest loyalty, raise brand awareness, increase engagements and leverage your hotel’s place in this medium.

Video Marketing for Hotels

Trends are continuing to show that video marketing for hotels should have a significant role in your hotel marketing strategy and budget. Some recent Cisco predictions state that advertising spend is expected to grow by 31% in 2017 and, by the year 2020, 80% of internet traffic will be video.

  • 500 million people are watching Facebook videos every day.
  • 82% of Twitter users regularly watch video content on Twitter.
  • 33% of tablet owners watch about an hour of video on their devices
  • 28% of smartphone users watch a video on their devices at least once a day.

Hotel video message clear and relevant

Don’t forget to keep your hotel video message clear and relevant to your target audience. Videos can be incredibly engaging, helping you to build a bond between your hotel and your guest as well as be shared with people within your guest’s networks. But video is not just YouTube anymore. The best place to share videos and gain exposure for your hotel is through social media channels like Facebook Live, Instagram stories, Twitter and Snapchat stories. Telling a story about your hotel, local attractions and/or staff through video will provide guests with good experiences that can make an impactful impression.

The new marketing is all about personalization and building relationships by offering a great guest experience. Hotels that focus on considerate and compassionate visual content marketing will touch guests’ hearts and minds every time. There is great potential for guests to make purchasing decisions based on the emotional connection they make with your hotel.

There is no special script. Stay one step ahead of the competition and use video to bring your message home to your guests and future guests.  There is power in adding video to your social media marketing plans.

Customer Service is the NEW MARKETING

PARSIPPANY, NJ – February 1, 2017 Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, published a new article on Hotel Business Review explaining how customer service has become the NEW marketing.  “The hotel business, frankly like any other business, is about creating relationships, human-to-human and it’s your job as a hotel operator to humanize your hotel and your brand in order to gain the highest level of customer service as perceived by your guest”, says DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive.

Hotel Business Review Lodging Interactive

 

Hotel Customer Service

The article highlights hotel customer service marketing — how people and their experiences are what capture guest interest in your hotel. Reaching out to the guest in all steps of their journey to and from your hotel maintains your hotel’s reputation and provides revenue opportunities. How you create your customer service experience provides more detail to initial hotel website visitors than you imagine. It goes on to give some insights to understanding where the guest journey actually begins, how live chat provides real-time, human-to-human engagement with guests or potential guests and why monitoring social media channels for guest comments before and after their stay provides a customer service marketing advantage.

There is also mention of many new artificial intelligence technologies that have sprung up to provide replies to consumers via a messaging app or chat application but that these are technologies chasing problems to resolve. “I am a firm believer that technology ultimately improves customer engagement for hotels but we should never look for problems to solve with technology but rather we should use technologies to solve problems”, says DJ Vallauri.