Hoteliers Need to Own Their Property Website

HotelSiteXPRESSOwning, not renting, a modern, innovative and affordable hotel website is possible.

The hospitality industry has seen a number of agencies offering hoteliers a low-cost, low-budget website that they can rent. It has been widely noted that these agencies, which promise all of the bells and whistles associated with investing thousands of dollars and development resources, often leave hoteliers in the lurch after the deal is done.

Why? A number of reasons, but perhaps the most important is that agencies that rent hotel websites do not provide hoteliers with true ownership of their content which becomes problematic as explained below.

It should come as no surprise that a hotel’s digital assets should be owned by the property, however, the subject of digital ownership seems to be overlooked by hoteliers doing business with rental agencies. Hoteliers’ ownership should reach past the physical ownership of their property to include their digital content and here is why:

Ownership Means Freedom

Not only do hoteliers have the flexibility of controlling their content, but they have the flexibility of taking an owned website and choosing which vendor or agency works with their property. An owned website that is not built using a proprietary Content Management System (CMS) gives hotel owners total freedom to take their website and work with any number of vendors. A hotel will not be confined to stick with the agreement strictly on the grounds that their website will cease to function if they opt to take their business elsewhere. Unlike websites that hotel owners own, properties cannot take their rental websites with them.

A CMS totally exclusive to any digital  agency is only useful when the relationship with the vendor is strong. Outside of the relationship, if a hotel wishes to move to a different agency, they would be forced to start from scratch or pay a hefty amount of money to convert their site into one which can be moved to another digital agency. That is an exceptional amount of blind trust and control being placed in the hands of the digital agency, with hoteliers having little to no recourse if they are displeased with the service or product they receive.

Ownership Means A True Investment

While low cost and minimal fees are an appealing draw, rental websites are a classic example of a scenario in which one gets what one pays for, but in this case, possibly even less since the ownership of the site and what hoteliers are putting funds toward is not theirs at the end of the day. This doesn’t even take into account the additional shortcomings seen from rented hotel websites such as no search engine optimization, little service or support following the initial set-up, a limited number of site pages, photos or content and so on.

Website Ownership Can Be Affordable

At Lodging Interactive, our award-winning website development team does not believe in holding hotel websites hostage. To offer the industry an alternative solution to renting a property website, we’ve created HotelSiteXPRESS. HotelSiteXPRESS is a website design solution, beginning at just $425 per month, that offers hoteliers high-quality, responsive sites built using WordPress Content Management System that they 100% own. These sites can be up and running in less than 10 days and are the property of the hotel owners who can manage them independently of our service, if they choose.

“Investing in the creation and management of a hotel website should be an investment, the extent of which is to be determined by each property owner individually. However, this investment, no matter how large or small, should result in owning the digital assets of that property. Don’t give away the rights just to save a few dollars when there is a fair, affordable month-to-month solution that allows hoteliers to own their websites completely,” said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President.

To learn more, visit the HotelSiteXPRESS website or contact us for additional details on why hoteliers should steer clear of renting a website for their properties.

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#AskDJV – Episode 28: How Will Live Streaming Affect My Hotel?

It’s time for episode 28 of the #AskDJV Show. This week, I’m talking about a hotel marketing “game changer” – live streaming. With apps like Periscope and Meerkat more popular than ever, it is important to understand how live streaming can affect your hotel. Watch this week’s video to find out.

Want more #AskDJV? Visit our website to view all of the episodes we’ve posted.

Check back here every Friday for the latest episode and follow me on Periscope (@DJVallauri) and Meerkat.

Do you have a question for me?

Tweet me @DJVallauri using the hashtag #AskDJV, and your question could be featured on the show!

Until next week!

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Lodging Interactive Launches HotelSiteXPRESS

We are pleased to announce HotelSiteXPRESS – our affordable, month-to-month website solutions.

Lodging Interactive - HotelSiteXPRESSToday Lodging Interactive announced the launch of HotelSiteXPRESS, an affordable website design solution for hotels. HotelSiteXPRESS provides hotels with a unique website ownership opportunity versus lengthy rental programs offered by competitors.

This is the latest endeavor for our New Jersey based firm, which saw a need for an affordable website solution upon hearing of the difficulties many hoteliers faced after signing up for lost-cost rental websites.

“HotelSiteXPRESS addresses a marketplace need for smaller properties that want to upgrade their website presence but don’t have large budgets to do so. The service also enables the properties to own their websites, versus having to be stuck in long term website rental agreement,” said DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive.

“Each HotelSiteXPRESS website includes a responsive design built on a WordPress Content Management System (CMS) providing hoteliers with complete control of their websites,” added Vallauri.

While other vendors lock hoteliers into multi-year agreements, HotelSiteXPRESS offers month-to-month agreements, starting at just $425 per month. A streamlined onboarding process provides for quick implementations within 10 days. HotelSiteXPRESS is also booking engine independent, which enables hoteliers to select their preferred booking engine without being forced into expensive booking engine solutions.

Features of HotelSiteXPRESS include:

  • Modern Hotel Themed Designs - Hotels select from large, visually appealing site designs.
  • Mobile-Friendly - Sites are responsive and render properly on all devices.
  • Low, Monthly Fee – Fraction of traditional site design, starting at just $425.
  • Easy CMS – Includes WordPress CMS, intuitive system for site management.
  • Fast Setup – Websites can be up and running in less than 10 days.
  • Owned by Property – No renting of the website. Hoteliers own it outright.
  • Search Engine Optimized – Sites are optimized for Google, Bing & Yahoo.
  • No Hidden Hosting Costs - Hosting costs are built in, so there’s no added fee.
  • Google Analytics Included – View real-time site data from the website dashboard.
  • Booking Engine Integration - Integrate any booking engine.

Hoteliers have the option of choosing from nine website designs (with more coming soon), created specifically for the hospitality industry and built with the WordPress Content Management System. This allows hotels the flexibility of modifying their content while not being held captive by a proprietary content management system that is exclusive to the agency the hotelier is working with.

“We set out to provide modern, responsive websites that look great across all screens at a price point smaller properties can afford,” says Vallauri. “HotelSiteXPRESS also provides hotels ownership and should they elect to, the flexibility to host the website themselves without the need of an agency.”

In addition to creating a new website for their hotel, hoteliers can also add a number of premium, al a carte services that include Search Engine Marketing, Display Advertising, Social Media Marketing, 24/7 Social Customer Care, Email Marketing, Video Production, and Reputation Management, all provided by Lodging Interactive’s award-winning team.

For a live demo and to learn more, please visit the HotelSiteXPRESS website.

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#AskDJV – Episode 27: How to Avoid Negative Hotel Reviews

It’s time for episode 27 of the #AskDJV Show. In this week’s episode, DJ Vallauri discusses how hoteliers can avoid negative hotel reviews for their properties. Take a look:

Want more #AskDJV? Visit our website to view all of the episodes we’ve posted.

Check back here every Friday for the latest episode and follow me on Periscope (@DJVallauri) and Meerkat.

Do you have a question for me?

Tweet me @DJVallauri using the hashtag #AskDJV, and your question could be featured on the show!

Until next week!

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How to Improve Your Hotel’s TripAdvisor Ranking

There are many ways hotels can increase their ranking on TripAdvisor

With multiple social media channels, online forums, and review sites too many to list, consumers are driving change in the hotel industry and part of that is their willingness to trust online reviews.  Whether or not you are managing your business listing on TripAdvisor’s review site, people are telling their stories, sharing their impressions, and rating your business on that site every day.  Couple that with 76% of surveyed travelers are willing to pay more for more highly rated hotels and you may be interested in what you can do to improve your hotel’s TripAdvisor ranking.

How does TripAdvisor determine your ranking?  Although their algorithm is super secret, TripAdvisor does share that there are 3 components that are weighted and considered most important.  The quality of your reviews, the quantity of reviews you have, and the age of your reviews. With many variables coming into play, an algorithm is needed to help sort through all the noise. Having a rank that captures positive reviews that are recent and numerous, gives the consumer a place to start in their search for accommodations.

Quantity

The quantity of reviews can be increased in several ways.  TripAdvisor offers free tools like widgets for your website or social channels, e-mail templates, and flyers to help encourage your guests to share their experience. These tools are available in their Management Center, but you have to claim your business listing if you want all the fun stuff.

Just ask!  Upon departure, ask how their stay was and if they would consider submitting a review.  Offering incentives is not allowed, so play by the rules as set by their guidelines, or you may be penalized.

Quality

The quality of your reviews really comes down to service, hospitality, and listening to your guests.  Use your guest’s feedback to track what you’re doing well and where you may need more work. There is a lot of data in those reviews and they can be quite useful to help you prioritize what impacts their experience the most.

Age

Over time, your older reviews will have less value.  What someone said 5 years ago may no longer be relevant, so fresher reviews are important.

What else can you do? Here are a couple of extra tips…

  • Respond to each review.  Now that you have claimed your listing, take advantage of the ability to respond to your guests which can also improve your ranking.  A strong reputation management strategy will not only benefit your position on TripAdvisor, but most importantly show your future and past guests that you value what they say – that you are listening.
  • Manage those negative reviews.  Not all reviews are relevant or even appropriate and can be quite damaging to your reputation.  If they clearly breach any of the review site’s guidelines, you may flag them and request removal.
  • Recent Renovations?  If you’ve made significant changes, but you still have a large quantity of negative reviews, you can essentially start over.  You’ll have to submit some documents to prove what changes have been made, but if accepted you get to start at zero and re-build your rank.  Keep in mind that you’ll lose all reviews, including the positive ones so weigh this move carefully.

It all still comes down to the guest experience.  To have any of these steps impact your ranking in a positive way, attention to service and hospitality will always be fundamental.  Be responsive and engage with your guests to continue the relationship long after they leave your property and all your efforts should pay off.

For more reputation management best practices, visit our website or contact Lodging Interactive today.

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#AskDJV – Episode 26: How Does Hotel Information Architecture Affect Your Website Design?

Hello everyone! Thanks for watching this week’s episode of the #AskDJV Show! In Episode 26, I’m talking about how your hotel information architecture can affect your website design.

Want more #AskDJV? Visit our website to view all of the episodes we’ve posted.

Check back here every Friday for the latest episode and follow me on Periscope (@DJVallauri) and Meerkat.

Do you have a question for me?

Tweet me @DJVallauri using the hashtag #AskDJV, and your question could be featured on the show!

Until next week!

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Google Now Displays Tweets in Mobile Search Results

The Twitter-Google partnership means a presence on Twitter is now an SEO requirement for hotels.

Image Credit/Source: Twitter
Image Credit/Source: Twitter

Yesterday, Google and Twitter both announced that Tweets will be displayed in mobile search results on mobile browsers as well as on the Google App for iOS and Android. Eventually, Google and Twitter plan to expand this to desktop search and other languages.

Can you say “game changer”?

We’ve always said a presence on social media is important for your hotel and that hoteliers cannot ignore the increase in mobile usage, if not simply for the advantages of better Google search rankings. With the two coming together to display Tweets prominently at the top of mobile search results, hoteliers must pay attention. There is no avoiding Twitter any longer.

Let’s use an example:

Say your property has a Memorial Day Weekend package or last-minute travel deal. You diligently put it on your website, you may even post it on your blog. Those are great ways to gain traction in search and to provide fresh, relevant content to your site visitors, but it can take some time to really gain SEO footing that way — sometimes weeks. So unless you have the time and energy to plan and post that content a month or more ahead of the holiday or event you’re talking about, it may not serve you well in the short term.

Now, what if you took that blog and tweeted about it? Maybe your tweet includes the city your hotel is in as well as a few relevant hashtags. With Google including Tweets in mobile search results, if you have a last-minute traveler or millennial that wants to book a stay this weekend, they’ll now see your tweet as a real-time result to their search. This gives your property visibility and searchers the opportunity to click thru to your blog and then hopefully your site.

Like we said, game changer.

Learn more about how you can utilize Twitter to harness the power of mobile search and reach new audiences by contacting us today. Being active on Twitter is no longer optional. Google adding tweets to search results now makes Twitter an SEO requirement for hotels.

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#AskDJV Show – Special Episode – Are Vanity Hotel Websites Doorway Pages?

In March, Google announced that they are taking the initiative to shut down “doorway pages”. While this is great news in the world of search results, it is causing confusion among hoteliers, specifically franchisees of branded properties.

Many brands are taking Google’s recent focus on “doorway pages” and confusing property owners by saying that their vanity websites fall into this category. We’ve produced a special episode of the #AskDJV Show to let property owners and franchisees know that this is absolutely not the case. Your vanity website is not, by Google’s own definition, a “doorway page”.

Doorway pages are sites that are set up to game the system. Doorway pages provide no real value to users and utilize unethical practices like “keyword stuffing” in order to achieve search engine rankings and take visitors to another website. Google says “[t]hey are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination.”

A property’s own proprietary vanity site offers a wealth of information to site visitors — from hotel policies to nearby attractions and everything in between. Watch the special edition of the #AskDJV Show for more information as well as how you as property owners can respond if your brand tell you that you are required to shut down your vanity site because it is a “doorway site”.

What hoteliers need to know about “doorway pages”:

– They are spam pages that have zero content or value for users and acts as a gateway to another page.
– They are landing pages that act as a funnel, offering little to no new web content for site visitors.
– They use “spam” techniques to gain high search rankings like keyword stuffing and black hat SEO.
– Vanity sites offer relevant content that site visitors find useful, thus they are not considered “doorway pages”.

Push back against your brand’s attempt to classify your vanity site as a “doorway page”. Explain that you are spending your own money, outside of the franchise fees, to promote your property and drive more business to the brand website. After vanity site visitors select your property, they are taking to the brand website to book their reservation, not some other OTA.

Continue to evolve and market your property against your competitive set. You need to differentiate your hotel from not only other brands, but sister brands under your own brand’s umbrella. Property owners, you should still utilize vanity sites to differentiate yourself and share what is unique about your guest experience. This is particularly important given that your property’s page on your brand’s site is built from database driven content and looks exactly the same as every other branded property listed there.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions. I’m happy to help any branded property better understand the truth about “doorway pages” as well as why your propriety vanity site is essential to your business and the furthest thing from one.

– DJ Vallauri
Founder & President, Lodging Interactive

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Lodging Interactive Wins Communicator Award for Hotel Website Design

Lodging Interactive, the digital marketing and social media engagement firm exclusively serving the hospitality industry, has a new distinction that we are proud to add to our multiple website design award wins in 2015.

Our New Jersey based agency, which has provided customized website design, reputation management and social media marketing services to over 750 properties in 45 countries, was selected as a 2015 Communicator Award of Excellence winner in the Websites – Hotel and Lodging category for our design of the Marriott Pleasanton website.

Lodging Interactive - Communicator AwardJudged by the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts (AIVA), the Communicator Award received over 6000 entries in 2015 and gives out two distinctions with the Award of Excellence being the highest honor. According to a press release, the 21st Annual Communicator Awards “is the largest and most competitive awards program honoring the creative excellence for communications professionals.”

The Marriott Pleasanton website, features a responsive design, dynamic content and strong visual appeal. The site adds the 2015 Communicator Award to their other recent honors including a 2014 Horizon Interactive Awards – Silver Award and 2015 Interactive Media Outstanding Achievement Award.

“We are thrilled once again to receive recognition from The Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts, and proudly add this award to the recent industry acknowledgements Lodging Interactive websites have earned,” said DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive. “We are grateful to AIVA for recognizing Marriott Pleasanton’s website as one of the ‘best’ in the industry and share these honors with our team of highly skilled web experts.”

To learn more about the recent design achievements of the Lodging Interactive web development team or for additional information on our robust, customizable website design solutions tailored to the hospitality industry, visit our website.

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