The Top 10 Places to Advertise Your Virtual Tour

By Douglas Aurand President, Douglas Aurand & Associates | January 27, 2012

I was having lunch by myself in Santa Fe, NM. When I eat alone I like to have something to read, so I was thumbing through the Official Santa Fe Visitors Guide.

The expensive full, half and quarter page hotel ads all had a website listed. Just listed. No reason to visit the site, just the address for the homepage. The websites in the ads were all the same.

I knew that at least 3 of the hotels had Virtual Tours because I produced 2 of them. Those 3 hotels listed the website just like telephone numbers or street addresses. They were there, but there was no incentive or encouragement to use it. The hotels weren't telling potential vacationers they could take a tour of the property if they visited the website.

Simply changing the text from "www.OurHotelWebsite.com" to "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com" would make those 3 hotel ads stand out from the 50 other hotel ads in the Visitors Guide. "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com" would give the potential Guests one more reason to visit those 3 hotel websites that none of the other luxury hotels in Santa Fe were giving; the potential Guests could see the hotel in 360^0 images.

And it doesn't cost a penny more than the ad did in the first place!

Hotel managers and sales directors seem to forget that while they see their beautiful hotel or resort everyday, the rest of the world doesn't. The idea eludes them that before vacationers make reservations at an expensive resort, they want to see the property. And there's a "disconnect" between the website and their other advertising and marketing tools.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.