Cruise Control SEO Is Over: How Hoteliers Take Charge and Increase Bookings 37-100%

By Jennifer Dunphy Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Vayu Media | July 14, 2013

If you are like many hoteliers, you are constantly on the lookout for the next silver bullet marketing strategy that will not only fill your rooms year round, but will have all of your property's amenities booked to capacity as well. With the convoluted online landscape and the way guests research and book their travel accommodations constantly changing, it can be a daunting task for hoteliers to find the proper channels to reach their targeted audience, let alone entice them to make reservations and engage them once they arrive. While there may not be a silver bullet solution that will keep you booked throughout the seasons, there certainly are strategies that can be implemented that will generate more bookings and increase your profits.

Good ol' SEO still does it. With the rapidly changing quality guidelines and search engine ranking algorithms, your business stands to benefit from your competitor's cruise control approach. Just make sure you take a more proactive stance. Leaving your SEO strategy in cruise control will ensure you miss out on the opportunity. Many hoteliers focus on the low hanging fruit or what they understand as "SEO" and then move on. A modern SEO strategy requires a comprehensive web strategy.

Bookings start with search

With numbers as high as 50%-70% of all hotel website visitors and website bookings originating as leads from the major search engines, driving bookings directly to the hotel website needs to top every hotelier's priority list.

Implementing a comprehensive SEO strategy will allow hotels of all sizes, even boutique hotels and B&Bs, to compete with the likes of Trip Advisor, Hotels.com, Expedia, etc. Although having a positive reputation on TripAdvisor and other OTAs is a part of having a successful SEO strategy for hotels, the fact remains that all of these reviews point to the OTA sites and directly compete with your own website for favorable rankings in the organic search results. By implementing a SEO strategy for your hotel you can and should keep your presence on the OTA's and drive direct, more profitable traffic, to your own website.

Increase opportunities 37-100%

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.