Three Steps to An Internet Plan

Step One – Analyze your website or research creating a one if you don’t have one. In the hotel industry, the big question facing the brand hotels, who comprise 70% of all hotels in North America, is whether or not to invest in a Vanity Website. The brand website is supposed to solve their Internet marketing issues and deliver a positive ROI.

The problem with this thinking is that the majority of shoppers search for a hotel or resort based on location and price, not the brand name. To find a hotel based on anything other than brand name requires the shopper go to a 3rd party vendor like Expedia.com or to a search engine. The more shoppers you can attract through the search engines the better your yield per guest. Your website is your point of sale. It is the lobby of your hotel and your Internet booking link or engine is your front desk. Keep the lobby clean and the front desk open.

Step Two – Figure out who is really your market; business, leisure, group, meetings, seniors/AARP, AAA, government per diem, transient. Know how that market books; via travel agents, corporate travel system; what Internet channels or by phone.

Now, what is your value proposition for your major markets? I think you can assume, since the Internet affects more than half of all hotel bookings, that an Internet plan will affect your success. So what is your value proposition and how do you target your top three market segments online? What Internet tools and services enable you to target your guest segments? Don’t worry about the cost of these services yet, that is a budget issue. What is the benefit or value of your hotel or resort? If your audience is upscale you want to be linked to or advertising on upscale sites; golf, tennis, weddings or local events. If your hotel or resort’s value is location that is what you advertise and especially optimize on the search engines. And, make sure your optimization is about your location in as many ways as possible.

Step Three – Now that you have your Internet marketing wish list with monthly and annual costs you need to calculate what percentage these costs represent of last year’s REVPAR. What percentage of your room sales comes from the Internet? With no increase over last year what percentage of your revenue will go for marketing, then what percent of that will go for Internet marketing. If your average occupancy is 70% and your total marketing budget is $200,000 and 25% of your occupancy currently comes from Internet channels and you goal for the year is to grow your overall occupancy while increasing the share of Internet sales at a higher ROI per room night, you need to take these three steps. As you create develop your budget for advertising channels, link affiliation, search optimization, new website features, web pages directing shoppers to your brand pages and online affiliations, you make sure each of these costs are accountable and measured each month. That is why it is a budget, it will change and you need to change quickly. Raising it when a marketing method works and shifting funds when something is not working. If the service requires a one year contract make damn sure you are getting reports to show its success and if you are not sure try phasing the service in with a low end service to see how it will work for you.

Once you have taken your steps; your lobby is beautiful, your front desk and cash register are operating and you know what expenses and income to expect sit back and hope the economy and world situation stays the same at least for the next year.

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