Hotel Web Design|”Hotel & Resort Digital Marketing Budgets”

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By                 :  William Bellis III
Category    :  Hotel Web Design

Hotel Web Design
Hotel Web Design

Senior Corporate Marketing Manager at Vizergy, with contributions from Joe Hyman, President & CEO, and Paul Fraser, Director of Product Management. Part one of this series helped you get confidently set up for your 2014 digital marketing budget planning. It shed light on key issues that you must consider. Part two now delves into hot topics (aka online channels/tools) that you should heavily focus on, while part three will recommend dollar percentage allocations for said channels/tools and give you a plan of action. Altogether, this series will provide your property’s team a valuable roadmap for planning an exceptional budget.Now that you’ve read part one (if you missed that article, you should read it first), where we discussed various issues you must take into consideration when budgeting, let’s get more channel and tool specific. Where should you invest to gain online visibility? Where are business and leisure travel shoppers booking? How do you maximize ROI? Time to find out which channels and tools you should focus on to boost return, shift revenue share from online travel agencies (OTAs).

Whether you’re a branded or independent property, it should be refreshed every 2-3 years. Design and functionality best practices, along with user behavior, evolve fairly quickly, and your ability to keep up can make or break your success. We’re not supposed to “judge a book by its cover,” but most travel shoppers judge a hotel by its website. And even if a traveler has decided on your hotel, your website must be engaging and user-friendly, to the point where the traveler feels compelled to book on it, versus an OTA. And as far as the “website(s)” detail… how is your mobile or tablet presence? Do you have a separate mobile website that delivers seamless shopping and booking experiences for travelers on the go? Is your traditional site responsive? The dominant days of PCs and laptops are long gone, and it’s to your property’s competitive advantage to have just as strong of a presence across all screens.

On to your CMS – how robust is it? Can you manage your traditional site and mobile site on the platform? Is it easy to train staff members to update content? Your CMS should receive regular updates, to ensure you have all the features you need. And it should require little technical knowledge and no HTML skills to implement most changes.But it’s not as simple as that. Search engines, namely Google, are constantly evolving and making changes that can positively or negatively affect your property’s website. For example, Google has rolled out algorithmic updates like Penguin 2.0, and is always tweaking the first search engine results page (SERP) with features like the Knowledge Graph Carousel, Google+ Local and Google Hotel Finder. Regarding PPC, Google just revamped AdWords with Enhanced Campaigns. These changes are intended to make it easier, although potentially more convoluted, for consumers to shop for lodging, and present opportunities for hotel marketers to better target, engage and convert them. Point is, search engine marketing is constantly evolving, complex, time consuming, and requires expertise. How is your property navigating these changes; are you sinking or swimming? Maybe it’s time to allocate more of your budget to SEO and PPC efforts.

Display remarketing is by no means a brand new channel for hotels and resorts, but one that was not often included in last year’s digital marketing budgets. It’s a pretty amazing tool when you think about it. When an interested travel shopper visits your site, takes a variety of click paths, and leaves without booking, you can then drop a cookie that follows them around a select network of websites (such as the Google Display Network) with custom ad messaging and offers relevant to the content of their specific page views. This not only reinforces your brand and keeps your hotel top of mind for future travels, but also facilitates post-impression (view-through) conversion on other digital marketing channels.Another tool that may not have been in your previous year’s budget but has recently gained steam is meta search. Meta search is a travel specific search aggregator functionality that sites like TripAdvisor, Kayak, Google Hotel Finder and Trivago offer. Consumers input their location and dates of stay, and the sites display results – results with names, images, rates, links to various OTAs like Expedia and Travelocity, and sometimes links to direct websites. This offers convenience for travel shoppers to be able to research, compare rates, and book in one spot, while offering independent hotels and resorts another way to compete with financially backed branded properties.In short, quite a bit –email marketing, reputation monitoring and review responses, video, brand protection in PPC and OTA agreements/commissionsand more… which are all components of an integrated, multichannel digital marketing plan. Don’t get the sense that these are leftover channels and strategies; they’re not at all. However, based on data, some of these items could be considered secondary in 2014. For many properties, they’ll still be included in digital marketing budgets and demand your attention, but might not be at the forefront of a holistic digital marketing plan.

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