Your Hotel Website: How to Rise Above the Crowd

By Tema Frank CEO, Frank Reactions | January 27, 2012

I plan to be in Crete for a conference this spring. My husband and I love Greece, so we are thinking of bringing our children along, and stopping in Athens for a couple of days on our way to Crete. Not knowing where to stay, I started with a Google search for "hotels Athens". Google returned 1,510,000 results. Gee, that narrows it down. So what will make me decide which results to click on?

Obviously, results on the first page, or first couple of pages, are the most likely to get looked at, so search engine optimization of your site and/or search engine advertising are crucial. But let's assume for a moment that you've done that successfully, and landed on the first page of results. Now what? The listings all relate to hotels in Athens, Greece. None of the headings particularly stands out over the others. All but one heeded Rule #1 of search engine advertising: make sure the search terms (in this case, "hotels" and "Athens") appear in the title, because they'll be highlighted when the results appear.

The next thing people will naturally look at is the description below the header. For most major cities, the first few results of a city hotel search will be comparison or ratings websites. Apart from paid content on those sites, you've got little control over how you appear within those sites.

But in smaller centeres, and sometimes even in major cities, people will search using terms that give your hotel a chance to pop up on the first page. For example, if I were going to give a talk at Stanford University in California, I might type in "hotels Stanford University". Two of the top three natural listings are for specific hotels. This is when page description tags become crucial. The description tags are words that you can instruct your website designer to enter on each page to provide a description of what the page is about. It is your way of enticing viewers to open the door a little further, and come check out your website.

It is in writing those page descriptions that you must find a way to differentiate yourself. You've only got a few words in which to do so, so make every word count.

Think about what makes your hotel special. Why would people choose it over a competitor? What are the key pieces of information they will want to know? It may be price. It may be luxury. Maybe location, history, views, amenities, pet-friendliness, .... whatever. Just make sure you know what it is, and use it to make your description stand out.

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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.