Online Hotel Marketing Strategy Clinic

By Blake Suggs Account Director & Integration Specialist, Range Online Media | January 27, 2012

Maybe it's because Tax Season just ended that I have audits on the brain, but I believe that every campaign can use a good strategy audit every now and again. There are so many different programs and ways to manage a digital marketing strategy these days that it's difficult to know whether or not one is capitalizing on everything that's available. So with this article, I endeavor to take a major hospitality brand and outline where they are strong and where they are weak in order to outline key strategies for keeping and growing business in a period of economic challenges. There is one caveat I would like to highlight up front: this article is not meant to be a comprehensive review of the subject's online strategy, and I did not find huge problems with every channel I researched for this particular brand. In fact, most of the strategy was solid. There are tweaks and opportunities. However, that can benefit any brand; what's great, these are mostly simple fixes that can expand your presence and revenue even when times are tough.

For the purposes of this article, our subject will be an actual top name hotelier, which I will refer to as Brand XX to protect their confidentiality. Brand XX is a top tier hotelier with 300+ properties around the globe. Their property suite displays a heavy domestic U.S. presence as well as resorts in multiple countries and regions. From an online budget perspective, let's assume that Brand XX has $5M+ to spend, in addition to a steady offline (TV-heavy) presence.

First, let's look at the strengths and weaknesses of Brand XX's search strategy. Without getting into too much detail, here are the major strategies Brand XX is employing within their search campaigns that bode well for their online position within the marketplace.

1) Localized Results - region-specific branded queries for Brand XX yield geo-modified ads with specific body text that addresses a particular area's properties and/or its specials. Obviously this is ideal for breaking through the clutter (including many of the OTAs) thrown up by blanket broad match bidders with larger budgets.

2) Frequent Use of Promotions AND Brand-Centric Ad Text - given the market position of Brand XX, their comprehensive use of promotional ad text along with brand-centric ad text is certainly a strong play. By utilizing this mix Brand XX is able to capture both bargain shoppers and brand-loyal customers who might be cross-channel shopping for the best nightly rate. In addition the brand-centric ad text speaks to those price-agnostic searchers that would most likely focus on property/brand attributes when deciding on where to stay.

3) Strong Non-Brand Presence - Rather than blanket general non-brand terms such as "hotels," Brand XX appears to have a strong presence on longer tail non-brand terms. This allows for much more flexibility in regards to specific messaging, but the primary advantage is increased conversion rate at lower CPCs. The latter is accomplished due to the fact that Quality Score is such a huge factor in determining relative traffic cost, especially given the trend of including factors outside of Max Bid and CTR in its calculation.

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Coming up in March 2018...

Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.