I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have heard hoteliers mention in our revenue management seminars that they need to get more direct business, preferably through their own hotel website. Of course this is something we all want for our hotels. We all well know that direct-sales brings a higher margin to the bottom line, than reservations through commissionable third party distributors like OTA or low net rate wholesalers and tour operators. But then why are so many hotel websites still static?
Hoteliers invest in a website and think that is it for the next 3, 4 or even 5 years. They still view the internet as a business of online brochures apparently. Their website's content is completely static or stagnant.
It is a known fact that search engines put a high value on dynamic and fresh content. They are looking for websites that are constantly adding new information relevant to their field or related to their theme. This should actually be fairly easy for a hotel. Tourism and travel is an amazing dynamic industry, especially when looking at what is happening in your destination and property itself.
Websites are a continued effort. The content of your hotel website needs to be dynamic. This is where a blog comes into play. It should be part of your communication strategy to your guests as well as potential bookers. Moreover it is also a tool to build a network of connections engaging with your local community.
Unfortunately it seems though there is some sort of industry disease, or apathy towards social media. Any creative effort of direct marketing in hotels is approached with distrust, fear and skepticism. However reality is that you might spend a lot of money on your hotel website, but if you don’t have a blog it never changes. Your hotel website is dead.
Hoteliers, please wake up, and start blogging now!
But what to write? How to blog? If you don’t know, try it out … Make a blog using Wordpress or Blogger …It’s as simple as writing an email …
In terms of topics, there should be no shortage of what you could write about. There surely are interesting events, festivals or trade-shows in your destination that your guests visit or attend. And how about some restaurant and bar tips? Find out which shops your guests like and make some more related recommendations.
Aha, that should be easy, right? Really it is, I am doing it right now. I am typing as I am thinking ... It is as easy as writing an email or recommending guests staying at your hotel on what they can do in town. In short, become the online concierge of your hotel.
Make sure that you create original content though, and are not simply punching out lists and articles for the sake of blogging. Make the blog an extended arm of your hotels atmosphere and style. Give it a unique spin. Instead of focusing only on main attractions and points of interest, highlight personal recommendations, unknown gems and hidden secrets of your destination. Bars, restaurants and shops within walking distance of the hotel are always well appreciated.
I mentioned style before. Make it personal. Not just a simple tourist guide approach. Introduce some humor and fun, I am sure as a hotelier you have an outgoing character, and are used to being on stage. Do the same on your blog. Don't be afraid of what people think. The mission is to set a tone and get noticed.
Take me for example. My ideas, style and sense of humor surely is not for everyone, but if I have gotten you to read this far, it is most likely because I am writing in a simple and straightforward style. Articles on our blog attract a lot of attention in the hotel and travel industry, and we continue to grow our reach. The angle we choose, accompanied by captivating titles, catches the interest of hoteliers. Come on, admit it this title 'If you don't have a blog, your hotel website is dead!' surely got you to click and read some more.
We do the same for our hotels, and manage to get a lot of likes and comments on our blog articles (see the Blog of Hotel de Londres in San Sebastian for instance, many many FB Likes). Our objectives with integrating blogs into hotel websites are many. One is to ensure the dynamics in content creation for the hotel website, and for search engines continue to value the authority of our website in relation to our location. Two we provide valuable tourist and destination information to our guests. Three it provides us with original content to share on social media websites. Four it allows us to engage with local business and attractions on social media websites. We write about them, and they love getting the exposure on our hotel blog, Facebook page and twitter.
We don't only write about tourist information of course. Updates on what is going on in the property is also newsworthy. But these articles should not be in the style of a boring press release. It should be an authentic personal piece. Write it the way you would explain it to a friend. Really treating your guests less like a technical marketing object and more like a 'guest' works amazingly well.
Put your staff members in the spotlight. Have them explain what they like about working at the hotel, and what their favorite places in town are. Add a fun picture so guests can recognize them during their stay (please no boring head-shots! ). And how about the launch of a new seasonal menu in the restaurant?
Blogging is a matter of practice. As you write more you get better at it. Find some other blogs and follow them. Search for inspiration online. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. But make sure you add your personal touch to it.
As time evolves you will also gain more technical experience and integrate modules and widgets into your blog pages. It will become even more engaging over time, and has the potential to become a sort of social hang-out or engagement section of your hotel website.
Blogging is really easy. And as we know it will help your website to grow its authority on search engines, and eventually direct sales. So why aren't you blogging?
Look forward to see some more blogs in hotel website soon!
Patrick Landman @ Xotels