Posts

April 21, 2015: Google Mobile Ranking Affects Hotels

Google Mobile Ranking Algorithm takes effect today.

You have heard it called “Mobilegeddon” and the “Mobile Ranking Showdown” and even “SEO-Pocalypse”.

Everywhere, the sky is falling as the “Chicken Little of SEO” appears in Google’s latest Mobile Ranking update.

What does it mean for your hotel website?

Why will this affect your hotel search engine rankings?

It should come as no surprise (to anyone with a website) that Google would eventually penalize website owners who are not up to date with the latest technologies, and here’s why:

  • Google’s mantra “Do No Evil” means they are looking out for the site visitor’s best interest. Is it in your best interest to find a website that you cannot see with your Mobile device? Of course not!
  • If you do not have a mobile website or are not in the process of designing one, you are missing out on more than one fourth of the global population (2 Billion Consumers Worldwide) according to eMarketer:

emarketer_MJBlog

  • If you look at the Global Digital Snapshot, there’s more to mobile rankings than just your website. Social media plays a huge part in driving site traffic. If your website is not responsive or designed for mobile, you are losing your chances to increase direct bookings, keep your current market base as well as gain overall market share.

was_MJBlog

What should you do if your hotel website is not mobile?

  • Create a responsive or mobile website. While there is no guarantee that it will help your Search Engine Rankings, you have to update your website to include the larger audience or you will be left in the dust.  This is no longer an option, but a MUST HAVE in the digital world of today.
  • Include social media marketing in your current strategy. Gone are the days when Social Media was an option.  Your guests want to hear from you and they want to be able to get instant responses (or as close to it as possible).
  • Remember that SEO is paramount. After all, you don’t forget how you found this article. SEO is essential to the implementation of your new mobile website design and higher search engine rankings.

While no one can guarantee you high search engine rankings, you will be guaranteeing that your competitors with mobile-friendly website will have the upper hand in at least one way. Don’t fall behind the standard when it can be prevented. Follow the above steps and contact us today. Lodging Interactive will help you stay in touch with your current guests and help you garner new ones as the digital marketing landscape changes.

How Responsive Web Design Affects the Hotel Industry

As more people use their mobile devices to book hotel stays it becomes even more important that you choose the right type of web design to ensure your content is delivered seamlessly across the platforms your audience is using to access your site.

Responsive Web Designs are an excellent choice for Hotel Websites

Not all websites are created equal. There is real value in creating a responsive website that serves all of your content to your site visitors on all their devices (Mobile, Desktop, Tablet, etc.):

  • Lowers Overall Maintenance and Operational Costs – Make one change and see it across three platforms seamlessly.
  • Is Better for SEO – Google says the following regarding responsive web design:
    “Responsive design: serves the same HTML for one URL and uses CSS media queries to determine how the content is rendered on the client side. This removes the possible glitches of user-agent detection and frees users from redirects. This is Google’s recommended configuration.”
  • Measuring Results – Google Analytics has adapted to responsive designs, so analyzing the data and measuring results are already incorporated.
  • Improved Travel Experience – When visitors come to your website and see that you are prepared for them no matter what device they are using, they are more inclined to book a stay with you.
  • According to MCD’s 2014 Survey, the quality of your website impacts 70% of travelers.

MCD's 2014 Survey Graphic

Use of Smartphones Increasing

According to eMarketer, by 2017 Smartphones will be used by 69.4% of the population.

Mobile Phone Users Worldwide - eMarketer

Your website has to be designed to serve these customers more efficiently and effectively without putting a tremendous strain on your current budget. More travelers will begin to book their stays, see what amenities you offer, check in and out, interact with your maps & events, order room service, & utilize your concierge through their mobile devices.

Are you prepared today to serve this group of end users? If the answer is “NO” we can help. Visit our website – Lodging Interactive on your desktop, tablet or mobile device. We an award-winning responsive website design company — recently winning multiple 2014 IMA Outstanding Achievement Awards for excellence in hotel and resort website design.

Let us help you create a responsive website design for your hotel guests today. Contact us at 877-291-4411, or complete our Responsive Website Design form.

Image 1 Credit: MCD 2014 Survey / Image 2 Credit: eMarketer

Budgeting for 2014? Remember Reputation Management Plus Social Media / Web / Mobile Marketing

If there is one thing hoteliers can't forget to budget for in 2014, it is digital marketing. Keeping website and mobile web content fresh, scrutinizing the property's reputation via the web and social media channels, plus responding to guest reviews is critical for operational success and true customer-relationship management. The good news is that hoteliers can count on the fully managed digital marketing programs and expertise offered by Lodging Interactive and it’s social media marketing agency, CoMMingle.

"'It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.' Hoteliers need to heed this advise [offered by one of the world's most savvy and successful businessmen, Warren Buffett], especially in today's digital marketing age," said DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive, an award winning full-service digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. "Many hoteliers are already finding it hard to keep up with managing content on Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube. Throw in rapidly growing channels Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and others, and marketers are realizing they’re going to need help in order to be effective. The same is true for responding to online guest reviews and managing a hotel’s online reputation. If any of these digital marketing touch points are not being properly orchestrated, the hotel's reputation and revenues will be negatively effected.

"The most cost-effective and productive way to manage and maintain a robust digital marketing program is to work in partnership with an experienced digital marketing agency, and one that is exclusively serving the hospitality industry," Vallauri said. "Budgeting for digital marketing today — including inflation for pay-per-click programs costs — will ensure success in 2014 and beyond."

Lodging Interactive has identified six must-haves that hoteliers need to build into their budgets for 2014 for an effective digital marketing campaign:

1. Staffing to set-up and maintain a Google+ page. Not only do marketers need staff to support a G+ page, but they need to budget sufficient time for staff to engage with the hotel's target audience and support ongoing conversations. Today, two-way communication via Facebook and Twitter pages is not enough. The name of the game in 2014 is aggressive participation on Google’s social network, Google+.

2. Staffing resources to reply to all guest reviews on top travel review sites and social networks. Whether a review is positive or negative, it requires a response. For many properties this can be a full time job. Think of the service as a way to reach the next potential guest who is reading your reply.

3. Guest Review Widget deployment on the hotel’s website, or vanity website if the hotel is branded.  Marketers need to provide guests with a place to leave reviews on their hotel's website, and not online travel agent (OTA’s) sites. By implementing such a tool, hotels are removing OTA's from the equation and taking ownership of the guest-communication process and reducing their contribution of lower rated net rate business.

4. Streamlined mobile website exclusive for smartphone users. Forget about a 75-page responsive design . . . placing too much content on a mobile website can be more of a traveler deterrent rather than an incentive to book or buy. Hotels must have a dedicated mobile website that delivers a dynamic and streamlined user experience regardless of mobile device.  Remember, mobile is about speed and efficiency. 

5. Website redesign. Last year's website is obsolete. Ensure your website has been re-designed to leverage large photography – consumers have larger PC screens than ever and expect to see stunning visuals on your website.  Every hotelier should budget for new photography and re-designing of their existing website.

6. Inflated Pay-per-click Advertising. If your hotel has not increased its pay-per-click advertising budget in the last year of so, you had better do so for 2014. Year over year, travel related PPC costs have increased and there is now more competition than there used to be. The end result, the cost per clicks are increasing and hoteliers need to keep up.

"Hotel owners and marketers must consider adding each of these six line items to their 2014 budgets in order to be competitive, Vallauri said. “Lodging Interactive can provide hoteliers with guidance and support in all the areas mentioned and ensure properties remain competitive and maximize their online revenues in 2014.”

Fully Managed Social Media Marketing
Like Lodging Interactive, CoMMingle can also provide services above and beyond what hotels can provide themselves, especially in the area of social media monitoring and reputation management.

"Hoteliers typically can't afford to have internal, full-time social media watch dogs on staff, so CoMMingle will provide due diligence on their behalf," said Rosella Virdo, Director of CoMMingle Social Media Marketing. "CoMMingle will cost-effectively monitor conversations and post replies on the hotel's behalf. In addition, we can set up a Google+ page if needed and maintain weekly postings on the page; create a Pinterest hotel account, relevant pin boards, and then pin images weekly to the boards; establish and manage a customized blog focused on promoting local demand drivers and, create additional apps for the property — above and beyond what is presently being managed by the hotel. CoMMingle will even go a step further and assist hotels that don't have the time to post content consistently to Facebook and Twitter by posting content weekly on the hotel’s behalf. "

As hotels of all sizes begin the arduous 2014 budgeting process, it's imperative that digital marketing and its many nuances don't get overlooked. If they do, the hotel's or brand's online reputation can suffer. Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle have the human resources and expertise on hand to cost-effectively maximize exposure and credibility to both loyal and prospective customers.

Lodging Interactive Offering FREE CMS & Mobile Website

With all the ongoing changes in search engine algorithms and social media sites seeking fresh and relevant content to index, it is increasingly important for hotels to stay on top of their website content in order to remain relevant. Lodging Interactive makes it easy for hotels to stay relevant through the use of its premium hotel Content Management System (CMS). For a limited time, new customers that sign up for full digital marketing services will receive a free Content Management System and a free mobile website; Offer  ends October 31.

"These days hoteliers need to take a real-time, hands-on approach to managing website content, guest reviews, and their overall reputations," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "The best way to do this is to partner with a digital agency that can offer the content management tools to empower the hotel to be involved with their website content. Our award winning agency is uniquely positioned within the hospitality industry and offers the latest website management tools to maximize results for our clients.”

The Lodging Interactive Content Management System will enable hoteliers to:

• Manage website text content
• Add, delete and modify pages
• Manage header/footer navigation items
• Manage website images and photo gallery images
• Manage the entire site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
• Instantly create updated XML site maps

"With this tool, all website updates are performed in real time," Vallauri said. "The CMS is browser-based, with no software to download and no technical skills required to operate it. The Lodging Interactive CMS gives hotels total control over web content and it enables them to continually find new ways to redirect travelers from third-party sites to their proprietary websites."

In addition, and for a limited time only, new clients will also receive a mobile website at no additional cost. Lodging Interactive will develop and host up to 10 mobile pages which can include details of the property, including description of rooms, amenities, premise, packages, restaurants, spas, recreation facilities, loyalty programs and online reservations. Additional features may include mapping and directions, click-to-call functionality, photo gallery, embedded video capability, convention and/or meeting listings, social media links, guest reviews and more.

"Any hotel that partners with Lodging Interactive for website design and development, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and online reputation management — September 15 through October 31 — will receive our easy-to-use and extremely comprehensive CMS at absolutely no cost and we will even include a free mobile website," Vallauri said.

Lodging Interactive’s Top 5 Budget Items for 2013

As the dreaded budget season draws near, hoteliers need to place a more strategic focus on digital marketing for 2013, especially when it comes to their social, local and mobile marketing efforts. Lodging Interactive and its subsidiary CoMMingle have identified five digital marketing must-haves to add to the budget in order to remain competitive in 2013, especially today's price-conscious mid-size and independent properties.

Lodging Interactive is an award-winning, interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive is an outsourced social media marketing agency that develops customized solutions for hospitality entities. Together, the companies have identified the following top five ways for hoteliers to interact with their guests and prospects and better grow and manage their use of online marketing and social media channels for 2013 and beyond:

1. Keep Your Hotel’s Website "Fresh":  Just because a hotel updates or makes corrections to its webpage doesn't automatically make it "fresh." Hotels need to continually add new photos to make the website more visually appealing. New content also needs to continually be added, such as press releases and blogs that also can be linked to the various social media channels to ensure more chatter and visibility. Finally, there needs to be accountability to ensure that the web page is meeting goals and reaching its attended audience.

All these things can be accomplished easily and affordably in 2013 via Lodging Interactive's Hotel Website Solutions program. By adopting Hotel Website Solutions, hoteliers can refresh their web site every two years, at no additional cost. Included in the package is:

• RFPLink group lead capture and reporting
• Online analytical reporting
• Homepage call-to-action tile images
• Website Hosting and Server Management
• Robust Content Management, and
• Guest Review System at no additional cost.

2. Take Control Of Your Hotel’s Guest Reviews: It's a known fact that hotels are dependent on reviews and that travelers will seek online reviews just prior to making their online reservations. Knowing if a review is legitimate is confusing for travelers, but knowing how to best manage guest reviews is even more perplexing for managers. Lodging Interactive has designed a way to simplify the guest review process. The company's Guest Review System offers a turn-key system that enables a hotel's proprietary website with the ability for travelers to post reviews and score their hotel experiences based on service attributes. Hotel managers receive real-time alerts advising when pending guest reviews pop up, eliminating delays in addressing concerns and turning potential problems into new opportunities.

In addition, Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System keeps guests on the hotel's website and turns lookers into bookers at higher hotel rates when compared to the OTA’s. Hotels risk losing website visitors if those potential bookers are forced to leave the website in search of guest reviews on third party websites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia or Hotels.com that sell rooms purchased from hotels on a net rate model. Once gone, they may never come back.

All that is required for a hotel to get up-and-running is a snippet of code inserted on the hotel's Website. Once initiated, managers can immediately begin collecting real-time reviews on their own websites and respond to customer concerns in real time. This empowers hoteliers to interact personally with their most valued direct customers. When guests take the time to post their experiences, their time, effort and patronage should be recognized and rewarded with an immediate reply. The Guest Review System alerts management in real time when reviews are posted. This ensures that there are no delays in communication, and the appropriate staff can immediately fix any pending problems before the customer leaves the property.

3. Mobile Marketing: Industry analysts predict that the mobile web will be more far reaching than desktop Internet use by 2015. Therefore there's no time like the present to jump on the mobile bandwagon and start reaching mobile savvy travelers via the channels and devices they depend on daily. With a mobile website, hotels can offer mobile users a dynamic and streamlined user experience regardless of mobile device.

Lodging Interactive provides FREE Mobile Website Development to all new customers contracting full agency services. Any hotel company partnering with Lodging Interactive for website design and development, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and online reputation management will receive a complimentary mobile webiste. Mobile pages can detail the property, including description of rooms, amenities, premise, packages, restaurants, spas, recreation facilities, loyalty programs and online reservations. Additional features may include mapping and directions, click-to-call functionality, photo gallery, embedded video capability, convention and/or meeting listings, social media links, guest reviews and more. Mobile website management and hosting also is provided by Lodging Interactive.

4. Social Media Monitoring & Management: Today hoteliers are getting comfortable with social media giants Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and You Tube. But new sites are emerging, such as Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Wikipedia to name just a few that are making an equally big online marketing impact. It's critical that hotels are covered across all social media channels in order to be effective. The problem is finding the internal resources to manage social networks and establishing effective social media marketing campaigns. CoMMingle will assist hotels in engaging online with social media strategic planning, growing and managing social media channels, word-of-mouth marketing and experiential marketing, reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization.

Hotels that can't afford to have an internal, full-time social media watch dog can now cost-effectively budget the services of Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle in 2013 to become the eyes and ears of the hotel, monitoring conversations and posting replies if desired. CoMMingle will work with hotels to initially establish, then manage on an ongoing basis, the following social networks & engagement channels:

• Google+ Business Page – CoMMingle will set up the page if needed and maintain weekly postings on the page. 
• Pinterest – CoMMingle will create a Pinterest hotel account, relevant pin boards, and then pin images weekly to the boards. CoMMingle will also monitor and engage with consumers as needed.
• Facebook – CoMMingle will create additional apps for the property, above and beyond what is presently being managed by the hotel.
• Ongoing Facebook & Twitter postings – CoMMingle will go a step further and assist hotels that don't have the time to post content consistently to Facebook and Twitter by posting content weekly on the hotel’s behalf.
• Wikipedia – CoMMingle will set up a Wikipedia listing if one does not exist and create social links. CoMMingle will also monitor the Wikipedia listing quarterly and check content for accuracy.

5. Reputation Management: Hotels of all sizes have begun to add social media technologies that monitor a hotel's or brand's online reputation, but unless those tools are being maximized, reputations and business practices can still suffer. Lodging Interactive believes that it takes people, in addition to technologies, to make reputation management effective. That's why Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle have teamed up with leading hospitality reputation-management companies to supplement their technology applications whereby CoMMingle provides the human resources necessary to answer guest reviews and manage guest responses on behalf of the hotel.

Hotels using solutions from companies such as Revinate can outsource the social media monitoring and guest review response portion to Lodging Interactive. Logging in as the hotel, the CoMMingle team will reply to guest reviews accordingly, always keeping the hotel apprised of comments and alerting it to concerns.

2013 Bonus Tips:
In addition to Lodging Interactive's top 5 budget recommendations, here are other items every hotelier should plan for in 2013:

1. Quarterly landing pages to promote seasonal activities through the website.  When properly keyword optimized landing pages provide fresh, relevant content for search engines and website visitors.
2. Facebook applications development to leverage a hotel’s website promotions on the largest social media engagement channel.
3. Create independent videos for the promotion of hotel meeting space and packages, weddings and other social events.  Once created, optimize them and host them on YouTube.
4. Consistent email marketing programs targeting travel agents and meeting planners.  Email marketing remains very effective and every hotel website should maintain it’s own email capture widget.

 

Lodging Interactive Becomes Best Western Preferred Vendor

As a Best Western Preferred Vendor, Lodging Interactive, an interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, will introduce new pricing plans, financial service models, mobile website offerings and content management toolkits exclusive to members of THE WORLD’S BIGGEST HOTEL FAMILY® during the 2012 Best Western Supply Products Showcase, to be held October 11 to 13 at The Venetian in Las Vegas. 

"Maintaining an up-to-date website and monitoring the various social channels for visibility and engagement is critical to brand success today," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Industry reports show direct bookings via the hotel's proprietary website are on the rise, and unprecedented numbers of travelers are being drawn to new and established social media sites — from Facebook, Twitter and You Tube to Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Wikipedia — to name just a few. Lodging Interactive not only has the team in place to design prized hotel websites for Best Western properties, but our proficiency in managing those sites, along with establishing brand presence on all social media marketing and engagement channels, is unsurpassed."

Through Lodging Interactive's preferred vendor status, Best Western members will receive fresh and enhanced website content, effective social media marketing campaigns, reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, social search engine optimization, and assistance with online engagement of social media strategic planning via its social media marketing agency, CoMMingle. In addition, Best Western hotels will have the direct benefit of featuring Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System directly on their Websites, giving travelers a place to post comments and score their hotel experiences based on service attributes. In turn, hotel managers will receive real-time alerts advising when pending guest reviews pop up, eliminating delays in addressing concerns and turning potential problems into new opportunities.

Lodging Interactive is comprised of a team of more than 50 highly skilled web experts. Since 2001, the company has provided more than 650 hotels, resorts, spas and restaurants in over 35 countries with proven ROI-driven online marketing services. In May, Lodging Interactive was recognized by the Interactive Media Council Inc., winning three Interactive Media Awards™ for Outstanding Achievement in the Hotels/Resorts category for its website design services. This is the third consecutive year that the interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry has been recognized by the IMC for its aptitude in designing, developing, managing, supporting and promoting hotel websites. 

"We are honored to be part of Best Western's preferred vendor program and look forward to meeting with members in October," Vallauri said. "Our unique online marketing techniques, combined with our social media marketing services, wins online business for hotels and resorts. Whether Best Western members need to supplement their current Internet marketing programs or establish new social media engagement programs, Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle will deliver proven services that are measured by clear definitive results."

Lodging Interactive Offering Free Mobile Website to NEW Customers Signing Full Agency Services

Lodging Interactive, an interactive and social media marketing agency
exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, is offering FREE Mobile
Website Development
to all new customers contracting full agency
services. Any hotel company partnering with Lodging Interactive for website
design and development, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and
online reputation management beginning May 2 with the Asian American Hotel Owners Assn. (AAHOA) Convention through the Hotel Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC) June 25-28 in Baltimore are eligible.

With a mobile website, hotels can offer mobile users a dynamic and streamlined user
experience regardless of mobile device. Up to 10 static pages will be provided
as part of the package, with an option to purchase more. Pages can detail the
property, including description of rooms, amenities, premise, packages,
restaurants, spas, recreation facilities, loyalty programs and online
reservations. Additional features may include mapping and directions,
click-to-call functionality, photo gallery, embedded video capability, convention
and/or meeting listings, social media links, guest reviews and more. Mobile
website management and hosting also is provided by Lodging Interactive.

"We understand just how important it is for hotels to have a mobile web strategy today," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Industry analysts predict that
the mobile web will be bigger than desktop Internet use by 2015. Therefore
there's no time like the present to jump on the mobile bandwagon and start
reaching mobile savvy travelers via the channels and devices they depend on
daily."

Hotels interested in launching a new mobile website can visit Lodging Interactive at both the 2012 AAHOA Annual Convention & Trade Show in Atlanta May 2 to 5 at the Omni Hotel and the
Georgia World Congress Center in Booth No. 124 or they can call 877-291-4411
ext. 701 to get started. Deadline for the FREE service is June 28, 2012.