A substantial number of hotel rooms are sold by third party intermediaries with costs that may run from 10% to 25% in paid commissions. In fact, these abnormal online distribution costs aggravate an already challenging profit picture for hotel owners worldwide. According to the Distribution Channel Analysis Report by AHLA and STR Global, by 2015 online distribution costs through third party intermediaries will reach a staggering 50% of total room revenues. Considering the fact that the adoption of the Internet and mobile devices by travel shoppers will continue growing; hoteliers are urged to develop plans and strategies to leverage the opportunities presented. Online marketing, mobile marketing, social media, online reputation management, and loyalty programs must be the core foundations for effectively managing online distribution and building brand loyalty in the short and long-term.
Internet users in 2011 reached 2,267,233,742 and this number is set to double by 2015. In 2011, there were 835 million Smartphone users worldwide, with 5.6 billion mobile devices. Apple and Android represent more than 75% of the Smartphone market (Source Business Insider). Indeed, the online sphere is a standalone distribution channel and hoteliers really need to embrace this untapped market. Still, in today's fast changing digital landscape, some hoteliers don't get the mechanisms and cost-effectiveness of the direct online channel.
I have carefully compiled a list of 25 great ways to market any hospitality property online. In fact, these are not a bunch of online marketing ideas randomly selected. Actually, if properly managed their use could lead not only to more control over the distribution channel being used, but also to minimizing distribution costs.
There are so many cost-effective great ways to market a hospitality property online!
1 - Professional Website
Hoteliers should know that their brand's website is in a sense their ‘'online front office''. Hotel owners place a great deal of importance to the reception area. The hotel front office is the most important area because it is the first place that travelers will see. In fact, a well-designed and organized front office will give great first impressions to visitors. It makes perfect sense then to also develop a well-designed website that gives great first impressions, captures the highest number of travel shoppers traffic possible and converts that traffic to concrete bookings. Furthermore, the key aspects to consider for a successful hotel website are first, speed. In fact, recent studies by Google and Microsoft indicate that just 250 millisecond slower than a competitor can reduce conversion rates. The second important component to consider is the booking engine. Actually, most hotels place a simple and unique link in their web pages to the booking engine page. As a blogger, to increase conversion I place my important content on my home page as well as all my other pages. Hoteliers should do the same! Placing the booking engine on all the web pages will result in a higher conversion as well as a faster and easier booking process for travel shoppers.
The importance of web design
In online marketing, visual is king! Hoteliers must make sure to use up-to-date professional design technologies when building their websites. In fact, you don't want to spend marketing dollars to drive a lot of traffic to a website that isn't good looking and professional.
Taoufik Haraketi is a room reservations manager and blogger heavily involved in hotel revenue management and hotel online marketing. He holds a BBA Hotel & International Tourism Management from the American University of London. He is currently employed as a reservation manager at Caribbean World Mahdia in Tunisia.