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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Best hotel brand in Europe

April 2, 2007 at 4:43 pm | Posted in Europe, hotels, marketing | Leave a comment

Best brand in hotel industry in Europe for second year belongs to Best Western. Other places in top 6 belongs to Accor brands: Ibis (2nd), Mercure (3rd) and Novotel. Holiday Inn is in 5th place. Hilton is only in 6th place (it shouldn`t be Paris fault….).

[research by MKG Consulting via Eiropa.lv]

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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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Ever thought about making documentary about your hotel?

March 30, 2007 at 10:18 am | Posted in hotels, marketing, project, UK | Leave a comment

Yes? No? It seems to be nice marketing tool for some hotels if you can get it right. The Big Sleep Hotel, UK has done it by making documentary about opening their second hotel.

 So what is it about businesses such as Big Sleep that interests the public? Rachel Lalljee, producer of the documentary, says that as an industry, hospitality is well geared for such programmes. “The service business is interesting, whether you’re setting up a restaurant or a café. There are a variety of definite stages you go through,” she says. “It’s clear and easy for the audience. Everyone knows roughly how a hotel is run and they’re keen to see that in practice.”

Documentary will surely make more buzz around this hotel, but before you call TV channel, read here what owners have to say about the filming process. It`s not all about fame…

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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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New way how to present a hotel

February 23, 2007 at 3:17 pm | Posted in hotels, marketing, video | Leave a comment

There are hotels, that follow up new kinds of media, as well as there are hotels, that still don`t have a homepage or information in booking sites, such as hrs.de, hotels.com or even countries` booking sites, for example, hotels.nl. Those who follow up have made nice homepages with photos, informations,online booking, advertise themselves in other sites, use online competitions, give aways etc.  to drive traffic. Some have put in their sites building and room plans, information about city or district, 360 degrees view of rooms. But that`s not all that can be done. Newest feature is vodcast. It`s used in advertising now: check Exclusive Resorts ad here on the right side. Rhinefield House hotel has even made short video tour. Buxted Park hotel has went further and offer video weddings – good for guests that can`t make to wedding place. Nice idea and there might be followers.

There is also HotelView, where people can see videos of hotels all around the world. Europe hotel videos here.

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Some news roundup

February 15, 2007 at 4:36 pm | Posted in books, hotels, marketing, news | Leave a comment

The Hospitality Sales&Marketing Association International has a baby – online communities for special interest groups, for example, revenue managers.

Bill Gates becomes hotelier? Who knows, but he is one of the investors buying over Four Seasons. People talk about it here and here.

Jens Thraenhart has posted about new book “Profits and Pitfalls of Online Marketing: A Legal Desk Reference for Travel Executives”. Might be usefull for hotel marketers.

Need inspiration for going green? Learn from Bloomfield House, London. They do more than just recicling.

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Law against fake reviews

February 13, 2007 at 9:50 am | Posted in law, marketing, reviews | Leave a comment

UK is going to have law against fake bloggers and reviewers and rest of Europe is thinking of such law as well. Authorities are concerned with untrue hotel and restaurant reviews written by businesses themselves, for example, in TripAdvisor.

Hotels, restaurants and online shops that post glowing reviews about themselves under false identities could face criminal prosecution under new rules that come into force next year.

Businesses which write fake blog entries or create whole wesbites purporting to be from customers will fall foul of a European directive banning them from “falsely representing oneself as a consumer”. 

 Full article here from Sam Coates, Times Online.

I had already heard that customers now trust more in other customer reviews than to official enterprises` homepages. Only thing that I`m not sure about is how they are going to stop those liars?…. 

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