We know you didn’t necessarily go into innkeeping to become a Google guru, but successfully promoting your inn online and a digital strategy go hand-in-hand. To help you earn and turn those website views into booked rooms, we’re sharing a few digital marketing tips for hotels.
A Bad Website is Bad for Business
If prospective guests are turned away by the first page of your website, don’t expect them to show up at the front door of your property. “The website serves as the foundation of everything we do when it comes to marketing a property,” says Luke Stafford, Chief of Mondo Mediaworks, a digital marketing agency based in Brattleboro, VT. One of the most important hotel digital marketing tips is to invest in is a user-friendly website that’s responsive across all devices and properly optimized to meet Google’s standards. Make it simple for visitors to navigate and nudge them in the right direction with a clear call to action.
Use Online Travel Agencies to Your Advantage
From a digital marketing perspective, online travel agencies serve as beneficial exposure for your inn. Anyone who’s been on a hotel hunt can attest: most searches start on an OTA. The real issue here is on the traveler’s part, as it’s a common misconception that booking through an OTA will yield a better deal. As innkeepers, we know this isn’t the case. To resolve this while still benefiting from the online exposure, offer an incentive for booking directly with your hotel. Free breakfast, anyone?
Respond to Bad Reviews
Try as we might, it’s impossible to please everyone. Sending an automated email or survey after check-out that asks “how could we have done better” can prompt unhappy guests to air their negative experience directly with you rather than through a review site. If a bad review still ends up online, you have two options. First, carefully read the policies of the site to see if the review violates them in any way. If it doesn’t, your second option is to craft a response that acknowledges and apologizes for any inconveniences. Remember, you aren’t just responding to the review; you’re also addressing potential guests that will read these reviews in the future. “You can’t bury your head in the sand,” says Megan Smith, host of Inside Innkeeping, “You have to respond.”
Create Value-Added Specials and Packages
Don’t judge your specials and packages based on their sales. These popular pages act as a bridge for getting travelers to your website (even if they don’t book one). However, if you’re struggling with creating enticing offers there are two surefire ways to go about it. The first is to find partnership opportunities within your town or region like including a $50 voucher to a restaurant in town. The other route is acknowledging what works well within the industry and following suite. “Romance packages are the most successful,” Luke says, “It can be as simple as offering a bottle of wine, roses, or chocolate covered strawberries for some easy value-added.”
Make Google Happy
Keeping guests happy is what being an innkeeper is all about. The key to succeeding with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to keep Google happy, so think of it like serving an online guest. On the technical SEO side, this circles back to having a good website experience. Once your website is up to Google standards, you can focus on the content side of SEO. This comes into play the most with your blog and creating quality content that directly answers the questions travelers are searching for. “Start by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes,” says Luke, “Think about what they’re typing into Google. Then, write your content accordingly.”
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