For some years, when I have worked at Barcelo Hotels in Spain as Subdirector of eMarketing, I have realized that it is very difficult to prepare and attend all needs from local hoteliers. Google has also realized that as well, and created a number of products and services to help local markets.
To start with, I want to illustrate my optimal Online Marketing Structure. The idea is to be able to keep the high level of “Centre of Excellence” across the organization, as well as the ability to act local in a good time fashion.
This structure also known as “Hub-Spoke” it is very flexible and ideal for aligning with off-line marketing activities and online campaigns, as well as easier to have the buy-in of Local Hotel Managers. At the end, local online marketing managers, would be generalists that would guide the experts in the headquarters with optimal strategy to approach local markets.
Challenges & Solutions
One of the main challenges has always being on how to strive in a very competitive local market. Some Hotel Directors would approach our team and ask “How is it possible the hotel just in front of us, with very low brand recognition, is better positioned on SERP than us?”. There is no easy answer for this question, but I have a few tactics that can help overcome this challenge:
Think Global, Act Local: Easy to say, hard to implement, but having a generalist online marketer within the local team is the first step. The local Online Marketer will be able to better liaison with local suppliers, local events, local shops and markets and this should be an advantage when building the link strategy to improve general SEO.
Google Places: Make sure you claim your location at Google Places. This will list your hotel on Google Maps, but more importantly, you will be able to use many other features of Mobile Solutions such as Click to Call and so forth.
Create Mashups: When looking for a place to relax or just for a business trip, it is always nice to know everything about the place. Mashups will provide extra information for users on Google Maps. For users to find your mashups, include KML files on your sitemap. To learn more about.
Understand Target Audience: Some hotels have a strict clientele, well defined geographically for instance. Hotels like this should have a different Search strategy, for instance having local ccTLD, hotel page in the target audience language etc. All localization techniques should apply in this case.
Content Marketing Strategy: Design a Content Marketing Strategy, that makes sense for your target audience. Create communities and understand what your audience is looking for when going on vacation. Is it your hotel focus on business travelers, walk-in customers, or summer holidays. Every customer type want a different line of communication with the hotel. Chose wisely the communication channel, whether blog, or social media. For instance in US it would be wise to use Google Plus, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc, whereas in Brasil, Facebook and twitter would be just enough.