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Neil L. Salerno, CHME, CHA

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"What the Heck is Hotel Revenue Management, Anyway?"

 

Five Ways to Promote Your Hotel Web Site

By: Neil Salerno                   

Having a web site, and not promoting it, is like buying a flashy new car and leaving it in your garage; great web site, but few people will ever see it. Some people still think that simply having a web site is enough to drive new business; wrong. The biggest problem with this thinking is that a web site needs to be “found” in order to be used by its visitors; and it needs to be structured to “sell” your hotel to get reservations.

A hotel web site’s visibility is largely dependent upon its generic search capabilities; its ability to be found by search engines. BUT FIRST, a web site needs to be compatible with search engine guidelines. Senseless flash elements, poor navigation schemes, lack of properly researched search tags, and poorly constructed text all contribute to poor search results.

Web Site Optimization

To be certain that your site is search and sales ready, get a comprehensive web site analysis. A web site analysis consists of a page-by-page review of your site to evaluate its sales design and search ability. Your site will be analyzed for compatibility to search engine requirements, its navigation elements, sales text structure, and many other necessary web components.

Most competent site designers can provide you with an analysis of your current web site. This analysis should provide you with both a subjective and objective review of the overall design, compatibility with search engines, and the effectiveness of the imbedded code or technical areas of your site. It should provide you with an easy-to-follow blueprint of suggested changes to make your site “search friendly” and “sales-ready”.  A site analysis, often less than $500, could be the most effective small investment you can make to improve your Internet results.

Search Engine Submissions

Ok, so you’ve optimized your site and you’re ready to begin promoting it. Whether your site is new or recently optimized, a site launch plan, which includes search engine and directory listings, could increase its popularity and reservations production. Search engine and directory submission is a tedious process and should be left to those skilled in working with search engines.

The launch plan will, of course, include continued submission of your site to search engines and directories; setting a timetable for periodic submissions to improve visibility. There are literally hundreds of search engines and directories depending upon the sales reach of your hotel.

By attaching a data engine to your site, your web master can review the progress and results from search engines. Data-collection, from companies like Web CEO or Web Trends, takes the guess-work out of continually assessing the effectiveness of your site. Their reports can identify the most productive search referrals, popular pages on your site and other necessary marketing information, so you can be pro-active to make changes to improve your site’s production.

Pay-per-click Advertising

Although there is a lot of controversy surrounding pay-per-click, it is a great way to stimulate popularity results for your site. Your site’s popularity is a major factor in search engine rankings; pay-per-click can provide your site with temporary increased popularity until your site obtains good generic search ranking.

A well-researched and well-managed pay-per-click advertising program almost always provides a great return-on-investment. You can establish a monthly budget to limit your financial exposure; even very low budgets produce results. It’s a great way to dominate your competition on the web. You can make your hotel dominant against the competition.

Link Structure and Strategy

Links to and from your site can provide explosive growth to the search properties of your site. In effect, a carefully developed link strategy can improve your site’s visibility in ways difficult to achieve otherwise. A travel resources page can be developed to help you “borrow” popularity from the entertainment and business sites in your area.

NEVER place outgoing links on your home page; inviting visitors to leave your site too soon can be costly; links should be imbedded deeply within your site.

Create a Searchable Photo Gallery

It amazes me how many hotel web site photo galleries still contain miscellaneous images with no text definition; these photo galleries are invisible to search engines. Remember, search engines read text and ignore images when scrolling a search.

A photo gallery, complete with descriptive text, becomes a searchable page.

These are some very basic ways to promote your web site; they may sound all too simple to some, but, we see way too few sites which use even these simple promotional methods. It all starts with an unprejudiced review of your site; promoting a poorly designed site, no matter how beautiful it may look, is foolish.

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