For many hotels and other online businesses it is crystal clear that search marketing is every bit as important as online advertising, e-mail marketing, banner ads, link sponsorships, and a hotel’s own web site when it comes to achieving success online. With media allocation priorities coming into focus, it’s time for hotels to think more critically about search in the context of integration within all of their marketing activities.
While the tools and technology available to search marketers have grown in depth and sophistication, too many hotels still seem to believe that an effective campaign can be boiled down to bids and clicks. The reality is that the key principles of advertising –relevance, clarity, and cross-media consistency–apply to search just as much as they do to any other online format. Any hotel can submit its site to search engines and directories. Any business can launch and manage its own basic paid search campaign. And, getting the coveted click is easier than you might think; it’s incorporating search into your overall marketing strategy that takes some far greater doing.
Start with a simple concept such as cross-channel message consistency. In many cases, search campaigns are planned in a vacuum, with little regard for associated messaging in online advertising programs, 3rd party sales channel activities, link sponsorships, or even properly integrated into the Hotel Web Site.
This segregated approach to search invites a host of problems. First and foremost, it compromises the uniformity of a campaign, and the integrity of the message that’s being delivered. How can you maintain a consistent brand experience when your ad placements are all being planned, created, and managed separately? This especially true when hotels find themselves actually price competing with their own 3rd party intermediary sales channels and these sales channels actually do a far better job at search marketing than the hotel that does not make this a priority item. The end result is that these hotels are actually training their guests to look anywhere but at the hotel’s website when they are ready to book their room reservation???? A second opportunity exists at the intersection of search marketing and Web site optimization. Hotels that miss this vital connection will never produce the kind of fully successful campaign that true integration allows. Qualified site visitors can be hard to attract in general, but producing a quality hotel site visit is even harder.
From search engine placement to copy, site landing pages, reservation booking process, and even how easy it is for potential guests to find hotel information on your site all become critical factors to hotel online booking success. There are just too many critical factors that invalidate a fragmented approach to hotel search marketing.
Analytics is another often missed integration point. But integrating your search marketing program into a comprehensive analytical framework such as the on the Hotel Traffic Builders client hotel dashboard can greatly increase your chances of going beyond the coveted click to secure the most valuable consumer action-room bookings! While many hotels equate traffic with sales, there are, in fact, countless other measures of search campaign quality: post-click e-mail campaign registrations, brochure requests or downloads, photo content interactions, and hotel locator searches, to name just a few. By applying integrated tools and analytical techniques, hotel search marketers can track and assess the quality of visitors’ behavior from the very moment they click–on the search engine, on your site, and beyond.
Interactive marketing integration is a simple concept that isn’t nearly as prevalent as it should be. Cross-channel message consistency, Web site optimization, unified analytics and reporting, and a single vantage point from which to assess the impact of individual campaign elements relative to one another, are all ways to start practicing campaign integration. It’s a progressive approach to online marketing, but one that is far more achievable–and necessary–than you may think.
Hotel Traffic Builders provides and manages all of these solutions for progressive hotels in a completely turn key environment.