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Features Week: 2010 is the year of Direct Sales and Independent Hotels
Yes our guests are making huge efforts to market our hotels to their friends and other travelers. They use websites like TripAdvisor, TravelPost, and IGoYouGo to spread our story. And this word is so important, ‘story'. For your guests to write about their experience at your hotel and post images and video online on hotel review websites, travel communities and social network you have to be remarkable. As Seth Godin simply puts it remarkable means:
‘worth making a remark about'
The hotels who have the highest scores on review websites and get mentioned often on VirtualTourist.com and TRavBuddy.com are the ones that are different. But different in what way?
It doesn't matter, as long as you give your guests a unique experience that they would want to share with their friends and the rest of the world. You need to offer them something special.
So when we are talking about independent hotels or small and local hotel groups, we are not talking about just any product. It needs to be good quality and value for money you offer (please note quality does not equal luxury).
But why do independent hotels get more traction online that similar quality product offered by the big chains? First of all consumers like to be treated as individuals and for their specific needs recognized. This is easier of course for a ‘boutique' hotel than a design hotel belonging to a chain counting over 1000 properties. It's simply another world. This is by the way confirmed by the latest move of Marriot. They have just launched a brand called ‘.....' which is to exist of flagship properties.
Secondly independent hotels or small groups tend to be more flexible and creative when it comes to marketing. This is born from a need being the ‘underdog'. And with some of the technology and solutions that have been rolled out by search engines like Google and Yahoo, review websites like TripAdvisor, travel communities like IGoYouGo, and Social Networks like FaceBook and micro blogging sites like Twitter there are more tools at hand for guerilla marketing and creative strategies.
This is why the independent hotel will excel in 2010. They will not be hold back by corporate rules and management approval layers. The independent hotelier can and will do whatever is necessary to fill his hotel.
Having read success stories online over the last year from fellow bloggers and from our own experience in designing hotel websites and implement hotel internet marketing strategies this is exactly what is happening. Independent hotels have been quite successful in driving direct sales to their own website and reservations center.
What interesting developments have we seen this year or what tips do we have for hotels? Here is our 2010 punch list;
And now the most important point we would like to make. Budget appropriately for online or internet marketing. Your hotel website should generate 40% of your sales. So why not allocate the same percentage of your total marketing budget to it.
Reduce the spending on traditional sales and branding items like brochures, letterhead, etc. Hospitality starts online and so should your marketing.
You can increase direct sales easily by investing strategically and by using the latest innovations in your hotel website design and internet marketing.
2010 will be the year of Direct Sales and Independent Hotels!
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