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For some businesses, using the internet to promote and market their services makes perfect sense. Any business that serves a large geographic area can use internet marketing to reach large areas for a lower budget than traditional media channels. E-commerce retailers can only sell to people when they’re online, so online advertising is sort of a no-brainer. But there are many small businesses that only sell locally and don’t have any e-commerce components. Even if it’s not readily obvious, internet marketing has just as much to offer these offline small businesses as it does to internet giants. The greatest advantage of internet marketing is that it provides small business owners with a low-cost and effective way to get their name out to the public. Establishing a business and gaining initial customers is often the biggest challenge for small business owners.
Relying on old small business tactics like placing flyers on cars or employing people to hand out coupons or twirl signs can work; but these methods aren’t cost efficient, have limited range, and for what it’s worth environmentally unfriendly (think of how many flyers go directly in the trash). Internet marketing tactics can be used to accomplish the same outcome but with better results. For example, instead of flyers, using that budget to promote the content that was advertised in the flyer would have a greater reach, more targeted so that the right people get the message, and dollar for dollar, far more cost effective. For small business owners trying to get the word out about a new business, $50 spent on social media marketing (promoted posts, advertisements, contests) would be far more effective than $50 spent on flyers. So without a penny being made directly from the internet itself, a brick and mortar store could see a large bump in their sales from online marketing. Another thing that small business owners need to consider is how the internet has changed the way that people search for information, including business information. Long gone are the days that people turned to the phone book when looking for a plumber or mechanic.
Not only is the same information usually easier to find online, there’s usually better information than what can be obtained through printed phone books. To illustrate, a Google search of “auto mechanic” plus a zip code would give the searcher a list of mechanics, their contact information, ratings, maps, websites, etc. According to a study quoted by a group that is opposed to the continued production of print phone books (for financial and environmental reasons), 70 percent of consumers never touch the print version and that 60 percent of people look up contact information online. Even when taken with a grain of salt given bias of the source, the point remains clear that small businesses that are relying on the people to find their business by searching in the phone book are missing out on many, if not the majority, of people who would be searching for their services.
So again, even without selling anything online, online marketing affects the bottom line. Small business owners should at least have a presence on Google. This means that they will have a Google+ profile, a Google Maps listing, and a Google+ Business Page if they choose set one up. And there’s no cost to setup this up with Google which makes it far more affordable than any package offered by a telephone directory for decent exposure in a print phonebook. In fact, this seems to be trend, 70 percent of businesses have some presence on Google+. All small businesses should also have a website. In this day and age, a website is as important to a brand’s image as its name and logo. A website is a business property online and the shape of this virtual property matters just as much as the facade of the physical business. Consumers make judgements about a company based on their website or lack there of. A website that looks amateurish, is error-ridden, contains out-of-date information, or doesn’t function properly hurts the professionalism of a business. Worse still, a business without a website hardly seems legitimate in the 21st Century, it’s would almost seem to some that they had something to hide.
However, unlike social media and Google+, which can be handled relatively easily with just some time and effort, proper web design isn’t something that small business owners should do without proper help. For a small business trying to establish itself and its credibility, it is not the time to learn web design through trial and error. The comparison of a business’s virtual property to their physical property is appropriate. Business owners wouldn’t try to build their own store by hand unless they had experience building stores before. Business owners should use the same logic when deciding on who should build their website. Cookie cutter approaches to website content aren’t helpful. According to one report, 61 percent of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content. For the modern business, there are tremendous benefits to marketing online even if the business itself is not. Social media, Google services, and websites are essential parts of any comprehensive marketing plan for small businesses. Not only are the tools effective, but they provide better results for the money spent.
Source : bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/marketing/2013/12/how-to-use-online-marketing-to-promote.html?page=all
The sea of online travel reviews is daunting. So many, many choices, so many (wildly divergent) opinions. Review giant TripAdvisor has weeded through millions of traveler reviews to identify its users’ favorite hotels. On Wednesday, the site announced its 2014 Travelers’ Choice Awards. More than 7,000 properties received awards, which were divided into categories including top hotels, bargains, B&Bs and inns, family, luxury, romance and small hotels. The country with the most award winners? Italy, with 152 hotels. TripAdvisor uses an algorithm that measures the quality and quantity of the ratings from traveler reviews and opinions to identify the Travelers’ Choice properties. Check out the gallery above for the top 10 winners worldwide in the “Top Hotels” category. The average nightly rate among the category’s award-winners is $366.
Here are the top 10 hotels in the United States:
1. The Grand Del Mar, San Diego
2. French Quarter Inn, Charleston, South Carolina
3. Bardessono, Yountville, California
4. Allison Inn & Spa, Newberg, Oregon
5. Five Pine Lodge & Spa, Sisters, Oregon
6. 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville, Bentonville, Arkansas
7. Tivoli Lodge, Vail, Colorado
8. The Sherry-Netherland Hotel, New York City
9. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
10. The Oxford Hotel, Bend, Oregon
Among the highest rated Travelers’ Choice hotels in other categories for 2014:
- World’s top luxury hotel — Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guesthouse, Franschhoek, South Africa
- World’s best bargain hotel — Castlewood House, Dingle, Ireland
- World’s best family hotel — Cavallino Bianco Family Spa Grand Hotel, Ortisei, Italy
- World’s most romantic hotel — The Place Luxury Boutique Villas, Koh Tao, Thailand
Source : edition.cnn.com/2014/01/22/travel/tripadvisor-worlds-top-hotels/
How often do you get emails from companies promising to get your hotel website ranked first on Google searches? These emails come out of the blue and share very little or no information about how exactly your site will get to the top. Google strongly advises against making use of SEO services and make it clear that the claims made in these emails are false:
“No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.” – Google
SEO services are not only expensive and often ineffective – they have also caused many small businesses a lot of trouble by bringing about the exact opposite of what they promise…lower long-term search rankings. A far better approach is to follow Google’s guidelines on what you could do on your own site to show that your hotel website is worth visiting. You or your web designer can make a big difference to your search engine performance without using SEO companies, and do so without breaking the bank. In this post we’ll share two practical ways to improve your hotel website’s search engine optimisation by following best practices: Optimize page titles and create shareable content. We included a short checklist that you can use to get your website up to scratch.
1. Make sure your page titles are unique, short and relevant
What is a “Page Title” and how do I change it? – A page title or title tag is a short phrase that serves as the official name of any page on the internet. It is not clearly visible on a page, but defined in the HTML of your pages. Note that it often differs from the heading of your page. At this point you might be thinking: “HTML-what?! How am I supposed to see, let alone change, HTML?” The simple answer is: you don’t have to! Most content management systems (the software used to build your website) make it easy to edit page titles. If you edit your own website, you should be able to find a section in any page’s settings to change the page title. The setting is often found under a “SEO Settings” section and labeled as “Meta title”, “Title tag” or “Page title”. If you can’t find the SEO section or your CMS does not allow custom page titles, a quick email to your web designer should be enough to get your page titles updated.
Why page titles are so important for SEO
Search engines, such as Google, use the page title tag to identify what a page is about. Search engine users often see the page title in search results, where the title serves as a link to your page: Choose unique, descriptive page titles -Google’s webmaster guidelines make it clear that every page on your website should have a unique title, different from all the other pages on your site. Search engines and users need to have a quick way to distinguish pages.
Page title examples
Let’s imagine a boutique hotel, Beach Manor in Knysna, with two different room types: Double rooms and Suites. The hotel has a unique page for each room type, describing the rooms, amenities and rates independently. If the page title for both room types were simply “Accommodation” or “Rooms”, search engines and users who find your hotel in search results will have a hard time knowing what the page is about before actually reading the content. In the example above, good page titles for the two different room types would be: “Affordable Double Room Accommodation, Beach Manor Hotel, Knysna” and “Luxurious Suites, Beach Manor Hotel, Knysna”. These titles give the user a short, unique insight into what the pages are about, while showing the products in a flattering light, using keywords travelers might use to search for accommodation. Note the differentiation of product features in the titles.
Page titles should be shorter than 70 characters
Google does not display more than about 70 characters of a page title in search results. Make sure to get the most important and descriptive words in the first 70 letters, or your users will never see what you think is important.
Relevant page titles
Simply choosing keyword-rich page titles to try and fool search engines will not help your search ranking. In fact, if Google thinks you are using page titles to cram in as many keywords as you can without offering value to users, they might penalize you with lower search rankings.Make sure the page titles you choose contain only a few important keywords, focusing on the main content of that particular page.
- What you can do right now:
- Make sure page titles are unique for every page, throughout your website.
- Check that page titles describe the page’s content in an enticing manner, so that users will want to click on search results.
- Keep your page titles short (under 70 characters), or at least get the important parts in the very beginning.
- Don’t stuff page titles with irrelevant keywords in the hopes to fool Google.
- Save our Hotel Website SEO Checklist and assess your website’s page titles.
2. Create quality content worth sharing or linking to – When we talk about web content, we refer to the text, images and videos that make up your web pages. We’ll discuss three different types of pages with different content goals: Product description pages (e.g. room types or the hotel restaurant), location or amenity pages (e.g. activities near the hotel), and blog posts or news articles:
Quality content on hotel product pages
Product pages should inform prospective guests about exactly what they can expect at your hotel. Make it clear how the hotel looks, what they will get and how much they will pay to enjoy your services. All of this is extremely important, but only once a user is actually viewing your page, but how do we ensure they find and visit your product pages? An obvious way to get more eyes on your pages, is to use stunning visuals that users would want to share and link to. Professional photography is extremely important on hotel websites.
With regards to text, describe your product in a way that highlights the unique experiences that they offer. For example, instead of describing a room as having “Sea Views”, you could describe what is unique about your hotel’s sea views. Flowery adjectives do not make your content more unique, any seaside hotel can claim to have “spectacular sea views” or “the best sea views”. Try describing what a visitor will be seeing and what she could experience, e.g. “180 degree views of the Knysna Heads meeting the Indian Ocean, perfect for a scenic sundowner”. Make your products sound unique and desirable without using flowery language, and website visitors will want to share your content with others. Special offers and packages are also often shared by visitors. If you have a special rate for popular dates or events, make sure to make it clear how great the deal is or what makes your package a unique experience worth linking to.
Location and Attraction pages
Location is just as important to your hotel online as it is offline. You are surrounded by great content! Travelers searching for accommodation or planning a holiday often search for keywords that are not directly related to your product. For example, a traveler might search for “golf holidays in knysna”. Make sure you have pages that are tangentially related to your hotel. A page about the golf courses near your hotel in Knysna might have caught the traveler in the previous example’s eye. If your content about the surrounds is thorough and truthful, others may even see your hotel website as a valuable source of information for your location and link to you. – Bonus tip: If you are fortunate enough to have a concierge, use them as a valuable source of content for your website.
Shareable blog posts and news articles
When creating timely content on your blog, make sure to highlight current events or recent positive news in your area. Even if you only have the time and resources to write an article a week, a blog post every now and then can vastly improve your reach on search engines. Once again, focus on content that users will want to share. Something funny, romantic or unique happened at your hotel? Write a three paragraph blog post about it and throw in a photo if you have one! A blog is all about being social and sharing content. Blog posts don’t have to be focused on your hotel, though. You can write about events and happenings in your surroundings if you have the capacity – website visitors will thank you for it and once again see you as an authoritative source of timely information about your location.
Helping users share your content
Now we have covered the basics of content that website visitors might want to link to, make sure you enable them to share your content as easily as possible. We have a great post about social sharing on hotel websites with tips on how to include sharing buttons on your pages. You can also kick start sharing by using your personal or business social accounts (Twitter or Facebook Pages) to share content with your followers.
Source : springnest.com/blog/hotel-website-seo/
Expedia shares fell more than 4% Tuesday on concern the online travel company may have lost traffic to its website after being caught trying to artificially boost the traffic it gets through Google’s search engine. Expedia’s website lost 25% of its visibility in Google search between Jan. 12 and 19, according to data from third-party search analytics firm Searchmetrics. That happened while other travel sites such as Priceline, TripAdvisor and Kayak were stable or gained visibility through Google searches, Marcus Tober, founder of Searchmetrics, told USA TODAY. Searchmetrics is analyzing more data on websites that link to Expedia.com, but initial results from this effort suggest that Expedia was paying for some of these links, Tober added in an interview. More links from other sites is one factor that can boost a website’s ranking in Google searches.
Google likely penalized Expedia for such activity by removing credit for many, or all, of these links from its search engine, Tober explained. Expedia shares were down 3.9% at $67.22 in afternoon trading on Tuesday. “While we cannot verify the accuracy of the Searchmetrics report, we have seen Google penalize other companies for trying to do the same,” Brian Nowak, an analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group, wrote in a note to investors. Start-up Rap Genius suffered similar treatment by Google in late 2013. The firm was reinstated after ending an affiliate program that encouraged bloggers to insert links to its website into their posts.
A Google spokesman declined to comment when asked about Expedia on Tuesday. Dave McNamee, a public relations representative for Expedia, said the company will not be commenting. Matt Cutts, head of the company’s Webspam team, warned this week that creating guest blogs to generate more links for a website “has become a more and more spammy practice.” For years, companies have paid so-called search engine optimization firms to help them boost search rankings for their websites. One technique involves setting up other websites that have links to the main site. However, Google requires these extra sites to be marked “no follow” so that its search engine does not give the links credit in results. When that does not happen, Google sometimes takes action and asks the companies involved to mark these extra websites properly. If Google gets the right response, it often re-instates the companies’ main sites.
SOurce : usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/01/21/expedia-google-search-traffic/4719917/
It took Google $3.2 billion in cash last week to snatch up digital thermostat company Nest. And it took a small startup about 24 hours to hack together a working equivalent of Nest’s signature product a few days later. That would be terrible news for Google – if the search giant’s chief interest in Nest was hardware. But as is the case with its purchase of robotics heavyweight Boston Dynamics, or even its dabbling in self-driving cars, Google’s acquisition of Nest isn’t just about creating new revenue opportunities – it’s about expanding the nodes and sensors it uses to collect data on our world. After the blockbuster sale, Spark in Minneapolis, a Nest competitor that makes kits so folks can build their own smart devices, managed to put together a similar Internet-connected thermostat that senses when you’re in the room. Of course, Spark’s hack isn’t as slick as an actual Nest product. CEO Zach Supalla laughs when asked where his company’s quick replication comes up short: “Lots of places.” He lauds Nest’s user interface and stylish design, but says that with more than a day’s work, many designers could get close to Nest’s aesthetic.Undoubtedly, that’s not lost on Google. There are only so many clever ways to manage the heat, and there’s lots of interest in mimicking a successful product. Numbers on Nest’s market penetration are tough to pin down, and the company doesn’t say much. In December, Nest CEO Tony Fadell told Forbes that 1 percent of American homes had Nest devices – a number worth taking with a very large grain of salt. Much of Nest’s value is in its production chain, installed customer base and the talented engineers who built the product. But from the perspective of a company like Google, Nest’s value goes much farther than that.That’s because Nest has built a following thanks to “smart” devices, which memorize users’ habits to predict what they want. “The machine learning aspect is really powerful,” Supalla said. “It observes your presence. It kind of figures you out, and makes your home more comfortable.”
But to do this?
“Sure, you need algorithms, but you really need data,” he said.
Google has been educating machines since Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed PageRank, the algorithm that basically organized today’s Internet. Google’s special sauce has always been the way it responds and adapts to human behaviors and environments as we search and surf the Internet. Becoming a company that pays the bills with advertising was simply a side effect, the best way to make money from its artificial intelligence.
Information the goal
Michael Mace, founder of informatics outfit Zekira, noted on Monday in a blog post that “Google’s mission statement to ‘organize the world’s information’ is no longer a meaningful guide to its actions. To me, the company looks less and less like a unified product company and more and more like a postmodern conglomerate.” But information is the unified product. And laying claim to the pipes, whether smart thermostats or Google Fiber, to route it all back to Mountain View is its game.Google says it will be hands-off with Nest’s brand and strategy; the company of 200 already knows its business. As always, Google will stay out of producing the hardware. Remember, this is a company that gives away its Android operating system to smartphone makers and outsources construction of Google-branded Nexus and Chromebook products.
Google doesn’t want to make machines, it just wants the ones and zeros that come out of them.
But let’s not assume that knowing whether your toes are toasty is the limit. Power consumption habits say a lot. In 2011, a group of University of Washington researchers showed they could figure out what programs you were watching on television by the patterns of energy coming into the home. Such data would be invaluable for anyone in the information business, whether it comes through a Nest device or a homemade one. “That’s the kind of thing you can’t build in a day,” Supalla said.
Source : sfgate.com/technology/article/Google-buys-Nest-to-feather-its-data-trackers-5160286.php
Two years after they paid $42 million for the Rittenhouse Hotel and its adjoining apartments and parking and began spending $10 million on upgrades, Philadelphia-based brothers Jay and Neil Shah are offering some of the most expensive hotel rooms in the city. For $1,100 to $1,700 – enough to rent an apartment for a month in many city neighborhoods – you can spend the night in one of the Rittenhouse’s five new Park suites. For $3,000, you can stay in the Presidential or Chairman suites. (Other rooms list as low as $299 a night.) In recent years, Hersha has sold dozens of suburban hotels and acquired midmarket and pricier ones in New York, Miami, Boston, Washington, and Southern California. It’s a step up for the Shahs’ publicly traded hotel company, Hersha Hospitality Trust, which operates 50 hotels with 8,000 rooms for Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, and other chains across the United States. Hersha was launched by their father, immigrant engineer Hasu P. Shah, who moved to Pennsylvania for a job in state government, bought his first motel in Harrisburg in 1984, named the company for his wife, and still chairs the board.
The 116-room Rittenhouse – sometime Philly home of visiting entertainment personalities (Bruce Willis, Mick Jagger, Oprah Winfrey) under past operator David Marshall – is “our first luxury hotel,” and a model for more, said Jay Shah, the Cornell and Temple Law/M.B.A. grad who serves as Hersha’s CEO. “Philadelphia is a challenging hotel market,” said his brother Neil, a University of Pennsylvania and Harvard graduate who is Hersha’s chief operating officer. “It hasn’t had the corporate demand that produces the high rates and revenues you need to justify major investments, and it hasn’t had nearly the growth you see in New York, Boston, L.A., or Miami.”
Investing in the Rittenhouse, the brothers are betting on their expertise, the hotel’s modest size, its location in the prime residential-retail-restaurant Rittenhouse Square neighborhood close to offices and tourist sites, and their cultivation of their neighbors in the local business elite.
How’s that working?
“They are now the primary hotel we use for visiting clients,” William Sasso, chairman of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young L.P., a 200-lawyer corporate firm based in Philadelphia, said of Rittenhouse’s Park rooms. “If a partner with a big new client wants to showcase Philadelphia, I don’t have any hesitancy saying, ‘Be on Rittenhouse Square, in this world-class hotel.'” “When we have people coming to town, where do they stay? It’s a two-horse race: the Rittenhouse and the Four Seasons,” said banker Richard Green, chief executive of Whitemarsh-based Firstrust Bank, the biggest bank based in suburban Philadelphia. “At the Four Seasons, the restaurant is spectacular,” with its Fountain Room views of the Parkway museums, “but they know the hotel could use a little freshening,” Green said. “Lately, the Rittenhouse is where everybody wants to stay. I think this will prompt the Four Seasons to respond.” Indeed, the Four Seasons said Wednesday that it planned to move out of its 357-room space into a 200-room home atop Comcast Corp.’s proposed tower, the highest in town, scheduled for 2017. That “hotel in the sky” will cost an estimated $500,000 to $600,000 per room to build, implying room rates above $500 a night, said commercial real estate broker Robert Fahey, executive vice president at CBRE Inc.’s Philadelphia office. That’s more like Manhattan than Center City. “The lobby is going to be perched on the top floor. It will take Philadelphia hotels to a new level,” said Ann Armstrong, Four Seasons’ marketing director. Record room rates, too? “We haven’t gotten into pricing,” she said. “There’s going to be a lot of studies.”
The Rittenhouse site “has always been superior to the Four Seasons’ location on Logan Square,” said Joseph Pasquarella, senior managing director at Integra Realty Resources, which advises institutional investors and banks on Philadelphia property values. He says he expects the Rittenhouse “will continue to gain market share” with the Shahs’ company in charge. But the Four Seasons’ planned move to the $1.5 billion Comcast tower means that hotel, part of a Toronto-based international chain, “will likely lead the market,” charging the city’s highest room rates “for years to come,” Pasquarella added.
Is there room for both – and other recent and planned high-end hotels?
“I don’t view Philadelphia as having nearly as rich an offering of hotels as most cities I go to,” said Richard Vague, a former bank and energy-marketing firm CEO-turned-venture capitalist who lives near Rittenhouse Square. “You have the Four Seasons, and a lot of times the function rooms are booked. And you have the Rittenhouse, which was in need of attention, and which Jay and Neal Shah are really taking up a couple of steps,” with its “intimate” Library bar, in-house restaurants, and pending renovations to its spa and other amenities, Vague said. “The Rittenhouse has started putting together the best rooms in Philadelphia,” said developer Mark Nicoletti of Gladwyne, who said the Shahs had advised his Philadelphia Suburban Development Corp. in its own hotel venture. “Philadelphia loves the Four Seasons. We’re there all the time for weddings, we meet important people for breakfast there, the location is perfect, the execution flawless,” but it has become “predictable” and “less energetic,” Nicoletti maintains. The new Hotel Monaco draws both “high-level CEOs and young, cool people; it is like being on vacation.” The Ritz “has a nice lobby.” All are part of high-service multinational chains.
But Hersha “is onto something special” with the Rittenhouse, Nicoletti added. He cataloged the extra touches: Its new bathrooms are oversized, like in today’s high-end new residences. The furniture seems individual; the room art feels distinctive. “It’s like the Shahs are sharing their living room, establishing an example,” Nicoletti said. There’s also a bit of hometown pride at work, he concluded: “I don’t know the people who own the Four Seasons. I don’t know who owns the Ritz. I know who owns the Rittenhouse. They’re based in Philadelphia.”
Source : philly.com/philly/business/20140119_Rittenhouse_Hotel_moves_up_under_its_new_owners.html
Among the countries in the region, Russia reported the largest number of rooms under construction (11,372 rooms). Following are: United Kingdom (10,285 rooms); Turkey (7,806 rooms); Germany (6,465 rooms); and the Netherlands (2,795 rooms). The Europe hotel development pipeline comprises 864 hotels totalling 142,953 rooms, according to the December 2013 STR Global Construction Pipeline Report. The total active pipeline data includes projects in the In Construction, Final Planning and Planning stages but does not include projects in the Pre-Planning stage.
Among the countries in the region, Russia reported the largest number of rooms under construction (11,372 rooms). Following are: United Kingdom (10,285 rooms); Turkey (7,806 rooms); Germany (6,465 rooms); and the Netherlands (2,795 rooms).
About STR Global
STR Global provides clients—including hotel operators, developers, financiers, analysts and suppliers to the hotel industry—access to hotel research with regular and custom reports covering Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and South America. STR Global provides a single source of global hotel data covering daily and monthly performance data, forecasts, annual profitability, pipeline and census information. STR Global is part of the STR family of companies and is proudly associated with STR, RRC Associates, STR Analytics, and Hotel News
Source : hotelnewsresource.com/article75889.html