5 creative steps hotels are taking to beat the recession
06/18/2009|9:05:18 AM|ehotelier

The recession has stimulated many hoteliers to use some creative ways to drive sales. Their focal point is to create ways to capture sales in the most cost-effective means possible, with the quickest results possible. Let´s face it, few hotels are flush with money right now. 

I think we can all agree that a well-designed website is the most cost-effective hotel marketing tool, ever conceived. Hotels that don´t take full advantage of this marketing tool are way behind the curve. Every hotel, motor Inn, lodge, bed ´n breakfast, resort, or Inn; franchised or independent, benefits from having a presence on the world-wide web; every lodging facility needs a functioning website, but that´s only the first step.

Many hoteliers have learned to use their proprietary, individually-owned, websites as a promotional tool and not just an online brochure. Because of this, they will continue to out-pace and dominate their competition. Not just because they care enough to have a good functional site, but because they understand that the information on a hotel website needs to be continually managed, promoted, and enhanced to get the most out of it.

With the potential of having a few thousand monthly site visitors, smart hoteliers are using that opportunity to, not only display their hotel features, but also to give visitors reasons to stay in their market area and thus, their hotel.

You May Need To Change Your Website Paradigm

If you are not already a believer, you may have to change the way you view your hotel´s website. Too many hoteliers consider mission accomplished when their site is published, but this should only be the beginning of your Internet marketing effort. A website that just sits there, without a consistently strong promotional effort, will continue to underperform.

The real winners in Internet marketing understand that a well-designed hotel site is only the palette on which to build their promotional efforts. You´ve done everything necessary to get visitors to visit your site, but what is your site´s sales message? Why do travelers visit your hotel´s location? Do you really think that all you need do is to tell visitors about your facilities, amenities, and service? Not in this competitive marketplace.

Years ago, a very wise general manager once told me that "everyone wants a deal" and that sure holds true today. The location of your hotel as compared to where visitors want or need to be is one´s first value-based decision. Your website provides an opportunity to promote packages and "special offers" to people visiting your site.

Promote Reasons To Visit Your Destination

Travelers visit a destination and stay in a hotel; not the opposite. Connect your hotel to the reasons why people visit your area. Some hotels have found this formula and are benefitting in

two ways; first, from increased traffic to their site through search and second, from increased online reservations by providing promotions and packages as a value-added solution.

There are some good examples of this on the Internet. One example, a major brand hotel in the Northwest, is among those leading the way. They have a search and content optimized website on which they are promoting room packages, banquets, weddings, and restaurant promotions.

Everyone, including the general manager, food and beverage director, sales, revenue manager, and even the property controller contributes ideas to optimize website sales content. They collaborate with their website developer on a regular and consistent basis to keep their hotel in a dominant position in their market.

Another example of hotel creativity is a small limited-service hotel in Belize. This hotel uses local attractions and social events to package their rooms and location into a powerful sales message.

Collaboration - Two Minds Are Better Than One

Create a collaborative relationship with your hotel website developer. Any website designer, worth his/her fee, should be eager to help you develop your website into a productive site which optimizes search, maximizes links, promotes packages, and generates reservations.

Just about any site designer can create an attractive website; the true measure of their work is how well they support your promotional efforts with timely updates and additions to your site. Collaborate with your site developer for ideas and to add some additional insight into what is happening in an ever-changing marketplace. A good site developer knows what people are searching for so you can take advantage of those searches.

Using Revenue Management Techniques To Keep Your Site Current

Be aware of what is going on in your marketplace. Any hotel which is using revenue management techniques knows that the key to managing rates and inventory is to know what´s happening in your market, now and into the future Revenue managers routinely look for opportunities; your website is the perfect vehicle to reflect market changes in the form of packages and promotions.

Revenue management "best practices" includes the collection and analysis of market data and allows hotels to anticipate fluctuations in the market; your website should reflect these opportunities.

Take the "Mystery" Out of Internet Marketing

Consider the Internet as a living, breathing advertising medium, not too unlike that full page ad in the New York Times that you´ve always dreamed of affording. A prime difference is that, if your site is properly developed, your site will have a much bigger relevant audience with a much lower cost per capture. Internet marketing is much more than simply posting a website.

These are some of the simple, but essential, steps to maximize the results from your online promotional efforts..