Like professionals in any other industry, hoteliers have to invest in marketing for their survival. In the dynamic world of the hotel industry, it becomes crucial that hoteliers have sound and successful marketing strategies.
Given that most of us plan our vacations and travel online, we look for accommodation deals online and often book hotel rooms online as well. The result is that most of the clients for hoteliers are online shoppers. Thus, hotel owners have to do everything possible to ensure that they use the Internet optimally for their marketing. Through the Internet they must reach out to their potential customers.
One way of doing this is by having a consumer generated media (CGM) strategy, which, as pointed out in an article by Max Starkov and Jason Price titled ''What Hot Internet Marketing Topics Are on the Minds of Hoteliers,'' can be a very efficient way of marketing. So what falls under CGM? Blogs, review sites, and discussions on social networking sites are a few examples.
Hoteliers must closely watch CGM sources on the web as these can contribute to their overall marketing. Often we read someone’s blog or an ongoing discussion on a discussion board about a certain hotel and decide to check it out. CGM sources can have both positive and negative effects on a hotel’s marketing, but that should not be considered a deterrent. Either way, they can be constructive. If there is something negative, it can be treated as feedback, and the concerned company can take measures to address it. After it has been addressed, the hotel should attempt to spread the message that the issue has been resolved.
A hotel’s website is of the utmost importance when it comes to Internet marketing. It has to be visually appealing to attract Internet users, but it should not be overly flashy. The design of the website should work well with its content, and the site should be 100% user friendly. A prospective customer should be able to find all the information he or she needs without having to spend hours and hours looking.
A good and accessible website will encourage customers to return to it. From time to time hoteliers may wish to update their sites’ appearance, but they should make sure that the new look does not compromise the user-friendly aspects of the site.
Another strategy that can help with Internet marketing is email marketing, where existing customers are sent regular emails about the hotel’s latest deals. Then there are rewards, which are the easiest and quickest way to reach out to the customer. Regular customers should be made to feel appreciated and thus should be given incentives through loyalty programs.
Last but not least, hoteliers should revise their business strategies on an annual basis to ensure that their sales continually increase. A recent example would be Carlson Hotels Worldwide, which reviewed its strategies to expand its franchise systems, among other things.
The 2nd Benchmark Survey on Hotel Internet Marketing Budget Planning and Best Practices reports an increase in website bookings, with direct website bookings comprising 23.5% of the total number of bookings and indirect website bookings accounting for 20.4%. Internet marketing is the name of the game for hoteliers if they intend to stay in the market for long. The statistics clearly indicate that hoteliers have to take Internet marketing seriously and ensure that they budget for it when they are planning their overall marketing strategies.