Henry Ford said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
So then why continue to manage online marketing the “old fashioned way” when there are options to bring it into modern times? It’s entirely feasible to reduce the amount of time and effort spent on executing digital strategies with the net benefit of cutting costs and improving performance.
Over the years, technology advancements have altered our world in profound and not so profound ways. Medical imaging procedures can be conducted on one continent and read by a technician on another within minutes. People have access to personalized entertainment 24/7. Consumers can buy pretty much whatever they want on demand. Switch gears to hospitality – how has technology impacted the world of a hotel marketer?
It’s actually not about technology per se, but rather the problems it solves
I used to think that SEO was brain surgery, quantum physics or DNA sequencing, above what the average Jane could understand. But I now know that simply put, all that is really necessary is to answer the questions hotel shoppers are asking and that it’s very much a team effort. Super smart technologists have to architect and build a well performing website that provides a comprehensive platform taking advantage of 21st century computing. Then it’s up to the marketers to do what marketers do best. Use the technology solutions to drive traffic, merchandise the product and make the right offer to the right person to close the deal. The business problem that hotel marketers need to solve can be distilled down to a single statement.
How can I drive the most bookings for the least amount of money, time and effort possible?
1.Decrease online marketing costs
First of all, understand that all software is licensed whether it’s SaaS (Software as a Service) also referenced by some as “in the cloud” or accessed via applications that must be installed on your computer or servers. However, the SaaS approach gives tech companies the ability to develop software that is less expensive, is scalable and cheaper to support, and as a result you become the beneficiary of its existence to decrease online marketing costs.
2. Improve digital marketing performance
Consider that a “purpose driven” website design based on purchase intent insights and analysis will help achieve this goal. A website will outperform its competition provided there is easy access for search engine bots to crawl it, which in turn improves SERP (search engine results page) rankings. Additionally, creating content that exposes stories of rooms, features and offers actually addresses the queries that consumers are typing in the search bar. When the search engine discovers the property that is the best “match” for the shopper, its reward is a prominent place on the results page. Now that rankings have been improved organically, the option to spend less on other advertising line items in the budget like AdWords and PPC programs is possible. And the very big win in this approach is an increase in those hugely valuable direct bookings.
3. Take the agony out of managing the process
Repeatedly, I’m told by property GMs, DOSMs and DORMs that the process and bureaucracy around managing online marketing initiatives either on their own or via a 3rd party agency is painful. Choosing a platform that automates repetitive tasks and functions will make the processes less arduous & minimize effort. Tasks like keeping up with search algorithm changes (e.g. Google’s 500 – 600 annual updates), formatting images to match the distribution channels’ specs, and social media updates to name a few.
The Modern Hotel Marketer
SaaS has revolutionized software adoption. It simplifies, commoditizes, democratizes and accelerates the use of technology. Think Oracle | Micros for property management, Gmail, accessed from any computer or browser anywhere in the world where internet service is available, Linkedin.com to keep in touch professionally, or Netflix to stream more movies and TV episodes than we could ever possibly watch. Yep, it’s time. But as a very smart hotel marketer told me recently, “it’s not that most of us don’t know what to do, it’s committing to change and taking action that is our biggest dilemma”.
Here’s a checklist to use as a guide when contemplating the right digital marketing solutions that solve the top problems:
Anatomy of a Best Practice Hospitality Digital Marketing System
- Hosted and maintained by technology experts who’ve developed the user interface using best practices in website design including leading the shopper through the booking path
- Access to dedicated customer success coaches to help achieve success
- Website is visually driven with edge to edge viewing
- Easy to create stories of rooms, features & offers
- Single platform to manage digital content in one place
- Ability to update content in real time from a single platform across channels (e.g. Facebook, yourhotelwebsite.com, TripAdvisor, etc.)
- Include analytics and/or access to third part analytics like Google, etc.
- Integration with an Internet Booking Engine of choice
- Back end architecture that makes it easy for search engine bots to find, scan and index your website (indexing = ranking on the page)
- Mobile-optimized, choice of adaptive and/or responsive websites are included in package
- Social media integration is possible without an additional charge
- Modern platforms should be intuitive to use and not require hours and hours of training, and of course, accessible from anywhere
- Supports unlimited web pages
- Licensing agreement that offers to lock in pricing
Remember: boosting your digital marketing doesn’t require a huge investment of your time or money. Download our new eBook, 5 Strategies to Slash Marketing Spend and Ramp Up Revenue to learn cost-effective ways to regain market share with good stories and killer content.