Travolution Awards: best hotel website

April 25, 2007 at 3:14 pm | Posted in award, hotels, internet, marketing, UK | Leave a comment

Month ago I wrote about Travolution Awards and checked hotel website nominees. Now we have got the winner. So the Travolution Award for best hotel website goes to Paramount-Hotels.co.uk.

Hip-hip-hurrah! Check them out and learn from them.

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Just a short note: website design

April 19, 2007 at 7:46 am | Posted in hotels, internet, marketing, tips | 8 Comments

Last week I discussed hotel website optimization. Today I want to note another article at eHotelier.com. This time it`s about website design, written by Keith Paulin (leading online marketer in the hotel industry). Keith gives simple and in depth advice on creating good hotel website design. Read Keith`s article here, but I`ll give just key thoughts:

However, once you have prepared a brief, it is important to let your designers…well…design. Don’t restrict their creativity because that is really what you are paying for. You should expect at least two and maybe three alternatives to review, refining these through a series of iterations until you have a design that is both visually appealing as well as Search Engine-friendly. 

And as a final hint, use your common sense…you hotel website must be easy to build, easy to maintain or add to and compelling to visitors.

Nowadays, they should be providing you with a website based on a Content Management System which will allow you to edit or add pages in-house quickly and easily…this will also reduce your ongoing costs. Finally, your website should indeed look smart and stylish…simple, fresh and not too busy…enough to capture visitors imagination without trying to do too much. 

I can completely agree with those advices.

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Easy to say, but hard to do…

April 13, 2007 at 10:07 am | Posted in hotels, internet, marketing, tips | 4 Comments

At least seems so, because there are lots of publications on Internet and in printed press about hotel website development and marketing, even courses and seminars, but there are still thousands of poor hotel sites. Latest article Five ways to promote your hotel website repeats once more how important it is to optimise and make the site search engine friendly:

  1. 1. Get website analysis to know what`s good and what`s bad about your site from the point of design and search ability. Better if its done by competent website designer, not by yourself. Most trickiest part is to get competent designer, because there are lots of designers that just tell that they are good….And then you have to believe him and do what he says. I think it`s hard for hotelier to get through this step without knowledge about Internet marketing and website design do`s and don`ts. I have learned about this subject on my MA studies, have gone to several seminars and read information in Internet, so at least I can ask web designer about this or that and know what he is talking about. One of the biggest mistakes that hoteliers do is tell “I have seen some hotel sites and I like site X, so make my site look like X” or make design project themselves and don`t listen to designer. Second biggest mistake is to hire IT student to do the job, because it doesn`t cost so much….I`m not telling that student can`t do it, maybe he really knows a lot and is talented, but after some months or year he may be gone and hotelier is left without website support.
  2. 2. Make a plan of search engine and directory continued submission and add data engine to your site. Better leave this job to person skilled in working with search engines. I advice to think first what kind and how detailed information you want to know about your site performance and then choose carefully most appropriate data engine. For example, if it`s important for you to know from which countries you got visitors, look for engine that supports gathering of such information.
  3. 3. Pay-per-click can stimulate popularity results for your site. I won`t suggest using this advertising method unless you can manage those clicks to buy your services. I had a talk with some tourism and IT professionals and they said that some hotels in Riga have choosen pay-per-click advertising, but after a month or two closed the campaign, because they got loads of clicks (you have to pay for every single click you know), but only few of them turned out in real reservations. So they paid a lot of money for this advertising but gained almost nothing. It`s more useful to put hotel on hotel directories or booking sites (they use pay-per-click too).
  4. 4. Link to and from your site, but don`t put outgoing links on your home page. I don`t know how exactly it works, but search engines are supposed to like linking. For example, make page with local travel information, add links to tourism objects, city site etc. and you`ll make your site more useful to your clients as well. Besides, you may link to a business that might be useful to your clients and ask that business to link to you on its site.
  5. 5. If your site contains photo gallery (and it should), don`t be lazy and add text definition to your photos. Search engines don`t see photos unless you add text to them. There are lots of people who use Image search in search engines instead of usual search.

I can suggest three other simple things to make your site also more sales-ready:

  1. 1. Make it reader-friendly: normal size fonts, no harsh colours and easy to navigate, don`t write too long, use more photos.
  2. 2. Keep it simple and remember about 3-step rule. Simple means quick loading page, easy to find information. 3-step rule means that visitor must be able to find everything he needs or make booking in three clicks.
  3. 3. Don`t hide away reservation page. It must be visible: either straight away on home page (many hotel chains do so) or one click away (“Reservation” button on home page).

That`s my opinion and things I have learned. Your suggestions and advices are welcomed.

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Hotels with videos may go wild now

April 2, 2007 at 12:40 pm | Posted in hotels, internet, marketing, trend, video | Leave a comment

Not literary, of course, but now there is another possibility for hotels to use videos as new marketing tool.

Meet Trivop.com– self acclaimed the first video guide for hotels. So far there are 2 videos from London and 148 videos from Paris. It`s Beta as You can see.

Trivop allow hotels to add their videos or photos for free. Filmmakers and travellers can join communities and share their creations.

Trivop is media company that wants to change the way how people choose hotels. If this project goes big, we can definitely say, that new era in hotel viral marketing has born.

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Best online hotel sites – updated

March 26, 2007 at 10:23 am | Posted in award, Europe, hotels, internet, marketing, travel, UK | 4 Comments

 Update! Kevin, editor of Travolution, has sent me a comment explaining more about Travolution Awards:

Just a few things to note:

* The hotels you have mentioned only make up a shortlist – they are by no means winners of any awards.

* The senior staff at Travolution will not be judging any of the hotel categories. This will be done by a collection of senior figures from across the online travel industry.

* The award will be announced on 24 April in London.

 I`m quite confused, but thankful to Kevin. From news it could be understood, that judging process had already happened…. OK, let`s wait 24 April for best of the best 🙂

UK based online travel industry news site Travolution has announced its first Travolution Awards (nominees). Full list here.

Best Hotel Website

• Paramount-Hotels.co.uk
• Jumeirah.com
• BestWestern.co.uk
• Hyatt.com
• Sheraton.com
• VonEssenHotels.co.uk

How they were choosed?

Best Hotel Website

This award will be given to a hotel chain or individual hotelier that has achieved the greatest impact in its market during 2006. This can be based on an increase in traffic, bookings or partnerships, or the introduction of innovative tools and functionality.

Account will be taken of:

  • Originality of design and features
  • Level of innovation against wider web community
  • Success of the website within the market.

Anyone could send in their entrees, but judging process will be up to Travolution senior team and other senior people from online travel industry. I have some doubts that people who sent in those entrees where mostly from UK.

I took a look at those best hotel web sites. First four look quite the same. The same sleek and posh look, quality flash photos, online booking module, the same offers. Looks good but don`t surprise. I can`t judge about innovations and success within the market….But when I look at Sheraton…Sheraton`s Earth (taking over Google Earth)? Interesting. Von Essen Hotels is something completely different from all previous ones. At first I even got confused where to start – so much information with so little letters. In my opinion there should be better hotel site than this one out in Internetsphere. What You think about these websites?

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Easy check-in?

March 22, 2007 at 9:12 am | Posted in guests, hotels, internet, Ireland | Leave a comment

One of The Snug co-authors complains about check-in/check-out in a hotel in Dublin where he is frequent guest.

I logged on tot he hotel’s website and began the registration process. Now, as a guest who has stayed here many times before, I was given no opportunity to log in and retrieve my personal details to save me wasting a few valuable minutes completing all the fields, instead I had to plod through each field, line by line to complete my reservation. Credit card details were entered and authorised and I duly received my confirmation email.

I was presented with a BLANK registration card to fill in all my contact details, home address etc….(bear in mind I had done this a few nights previously online..). As I handed back the completed card with difficulty, I was then asked for my credit card to authorise my stay.

All this might have been overlooked had it not been for the need on checkout to AGAIN produce credit card details from my wallet to pay the final bill, again laden down with bags, this was a visible effort and the staff made no attempt to assist with bags or manually type in the credit card details on file..after all, they had been given them twice already…

Sounds familiar? Hope not. It might be possible, that it`s not secure to keep reservation data in hotel homepage, but guest could be given some sort of client number which he could use on next reservation without a need to fill in all information again. It might ask for more work from hotel side, but guest would be more satisfied. OK, even if my idea is impossible, there is no excuse why to ask the guest to fill in contact details once again upon arrival and ask for credit card 3 times…It`s supposed to be a good practice for hotels NOT to ask contact details from returning guests, isn`t it?

Of, course it`s not possible for receptionist to remember all frequent guests by name or face, but that`s why we have those lovely reservation or client management systems or box with registration cards, where receptionist can look up if the guest has been here already. That`s what we do and it doesn`t take much time.

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Ehotel`s T-List

March 15, 2007 at 10:07 am | Posted in blogs, internet, list, travel | 9 Comments

I have seen T-List in many blogs so far. Today I checked Travel in Blogs (mentioned by HappyHotelier) and there was T-List again and again… Travel in Blogs is a new project and seems like Digg for travel. [Update! For more about this site, check Happy Hoteliers post update. Thank`s for mentioning it in comments.]

Through Travel in Blogs I found Blog on Travel (kind of word play game, hah!) from which I took this T-List:

Radaron
Les Explorers
Chrispitality Media Blog
A Luxury Travel Blog
Travel Rants
Travolution Blog
BootBlog
Erin Julian
My Travel Backpack
Happy Hotelier
The Travel PR Blog
DotTourism
The Tourism and Hospitality Diaries
Tourism Internet Marketing
Web2.0 Travel
The Informed Traveler – Luxury Hotels
Hotelblogs
Blog de viajes
ADV Italia
El blog de Albert Barra
Blog de Viajes
 ADR Italia
Tourisme et Internet

I add HotelChatter, Back of House in DXB (hotel stories from Dubai), At Home in Rome (life and travel in Rome), Family travel, Opus Hotel blog (alias General Manager`s Blog), Vagablogging, Holiday Pad 2.0, My Marakesh (life and travel in Morocco), The Front Desk, Tim Leffel`s Cheapest Destinations. That`s all for now. Maybe I should call this list T&H-List, `cause there are quite many hospitality blogs.

If You still don`t know the rules….

Here are the instructions:

– Write a post.
– Copy/paste the link list from the post you’ve discovered the T-List into it.
– Make sure the links are active and correct.
– If your blog is on the list, remove it’s not a self-promotion post.
Add your favorite tourism and travel blogs on it.
– Add the url of the blog where you’ve discovered the T-List as well.
– Publish the post.
– People will notice the T-List and continue it.

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I want to go to Croatia…

March 13, 2007 at 9:17 am | Posted in Croatia, Europe, hotels, internet, photo, travel | 1 Comment

As seems many more people want the same. Croatia is definitely new hot spot in Europe as I already wrote here. At the same time I mentioned Pucic Palace as the most expensive hotel in Dubrovnik according to TripAdvisor. Today Pucic Palace and Croatia is mentioned in HotelChatter as dream place for some hotel maven.

The Pucic Palace is small: a boutique hotel with just nineteen rooms(that’s okay, I only need one)–it won an award last year as the best boutique hotel in Croatia.

Let`s check hotel`s home page….Nice, as elegant as web site can be. I shall say that it`s not very easy to navigate around, one has to get fast Internet connection and quickly working computer because of flash and pop-up windows. I was taught to use as little of those two features on hotel`s home page as possible…. But pictures are worth some seconds waiting.

Croatia

Historic Dubrovnik.

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Seems that Pucic Palace has gorgeous inner yard or terrace.

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Simple elegance in rooms.

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It`s said in hotel`s home page: “A living art the pleasure of fine dining is one of the most outstanding activities in The Pucic Palace.”

Anyone else wants to go to Croatia? Or anyone else wishes he/she would be working/living there?

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Travelistic, Experience Rewards and other “strangers” or some usefull stuff

February 26, 2007 at 12:10 pm | Posted in Europe, hotels, internet, news, video | Leave a comment

Going through different web pages and RSS feeds I gathered some interesting and usefull stuff both for hoteliers and travelers. So here we go:

  • Travelistic.com – as they claim themselves “videos for travelers”. Site contains both professional (like BBC) and amateur videos of places, events and hotels.
  • Subway Maps – now this may be very usefull place. Site contains subway maps of cities all over the world. Maps are printable as PDF or Word documents.
  • HotelClub has anounced survey (competition or award if you wish) for Best Great Britain and Ireland`s hotels. Tell them about your favourite hotel and You may get one of the prizes. Nominations are open till March 31. You can vote for three hotels, like 1st choice, 2nd choice and 3rd choise, rating rooms, cleanliness, location, staff and other features.
  • TripAdvisor has nominated Westin Excelsior, Florence (from Starwood Hotels group) to be Best Service -Europe hotel. Of only we could fully trust TripAdvisor`s reviews…By the way, TA has it`s own blog now.
  • 2006 Travelers' Choice - www.tripadvisor.comVivatour 2007, travel trade exibition in Lithuania happens 2nd – 4th March in Vilnius.
  • Online travel giants such as Expedia.com, Priceline.com and Travelocity.com says, that their sales are growing in Europe market for 20 and more percents. Such growth has several reasons. One is that Europeans were slower at using internet for online travel purchases, but now they are catching up. Second, Europeans travel more than Americans and Europe is huge market itself. Third, Europe`s travel market is fragmented with many small lodging and travel companies. These companies have found out the power of e-comerce.  

“Small hotel chains that don’t have the wherewithal to reach intended customers have finally discovered the power of the Web,” said Scott Kessler, an equity analyst for Standard & Poor’s.

Merchant hotel dealings — buying rooms in bulk from hotels and selling them at discounts to consumers on Web sites — is also picking up in Europe. This is helping online travel agencies, which have seen this practice wither in the U.S. as large hotel chains balk at offering deeply discounted rooms.

More at Investors.com here

  • Hilton Hotels has launched new rewards category, Experience Rewards. It`s new level in hotel loyalty programmes. Hilton Honours members with those rewards can use points for different experiences, from sky diving to private yoga lessons, for example. Seems, that for now it`s only for USA market.
  • Two new web pages for Europe hoteliers considering online booking possibilities. Check out Kayak.com and Lonely Planet. Kayak has launched Kayak.co.uk and signed cooperation with Amadeus to provide cheaper airline deals for Europe. Lonely Planet has launched Lonely Planet Haystack. It`s LP author reviewed and recomended online accommodation booking service. They got more than 1000 properties in more than 58 countries and list is growing. As they say

We launched Haystack because we believe that travellers want to find and book accommodation that is unique and that they can trust. We also want to offer travellers the opportunity to book accommodation at places that you won’t find anywhere else on the internet.

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