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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Two more travel blogs

April 17, 2007 at 9:56 am | Posted in blogs, travel | 7 Comments

Today, checking Family Travel blog I found two more/new travel blogs: The Perceptive Travel blog and Practical Travel Gear. Last one is written by travel writer Tim Leffel and the first one is written by Tim and few other contributors. The Perceptive Travel is hardly two months old, but Practical Travel Gear is written from 2005 (not very frequently).

Closer comes the day when I`ll make T-list: part 2….

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Women vs. Men in Hospitality

April 17, 2007 at 9:01 am | Posted in employees, hotels, Latvia, management, trend | Leave a comment

Bert van Waldbeek has wrote interesting article for eHotelier.com about female general managers. He argues that there are less women than men GMs in hospitality, but glass ceiling is breaking slowly. Main reasons for that: there are more women bachelors in hospitality and there is increasing importance on empathy in Human Resources and luxury (that asks more attention to details) in hotel industry.

There is also interesting thought by one female GM:

” But the primary barrier to women’s success,” a female General Manager once said, ” is our own belief “. 

She then added : ” We’re often the ones responsible for holding ourselves back. I think it’s more convenient to blame men generally or a system or a structure than it is to take personal responsibility.” 

Mr. Waldbeek says that it`s going to change, future females will have less fear, as well as there will be change in owners` attitude towards main positions: gender won`t matter if person will be willing to make effort.

If there is almost zero female GM in Asia, then in Latvia I have got the feeling, that almost all hotel GMs and other top positions are held by women. Exceptions are Radisson SAS, Reval Hotels and maybe few other big hotels. In my opinion, reason for women dominance in Latvia`s hotel industry is myth that tourism isn`t masculine, it`s not a serious business. If we count that there were and are more female students in universities, then it`s even more obvious.

I`m interested to get your opinion about this subject and situation in other countries so, please, have your say and leave a comment.

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Vienna as congress & conference city?

April 16, 2007 at 12:04 pm | Posted in Austria, hotels, statistics, travel, trend | 2 Comments

What comes to your mind first when thinking about Vienna, capital of Austria? Mozart, opera, coffee, Sacher cake, sausages, architecture, commissar Rex? Whatever… 

Soon name of Vienna will be associated with congresses & conferences and it`s good news for Vienna hotels. According to Tma-online, there were 327 000 congress & conference tourists in Vienna in 2006: more than 1 million bed places, 12% of all Vienna hotel guest nights. It is planned to reach 15% by 2010.

It`s always profitable for city/hotels to attract congresses and conferences, because their participants usually stay 2 nights or more and spend more money. If average traveler spends 240 euros per day in Vienna, then congress participants spends 360 euros per day. What`s also important for hotels, is that congresses and conferences often take place from autumn till spring when there is usually a drop in hotel occupancy levels.

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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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Museum of tourism

April 12, 2007 at 12:47 pm | Posted in Czech Republic, news, travel | Leave a comment

Czech tourist club has opened tourism museum in Bechyne, Czech Republic. Museum is located in ex- synagogue, and tells and shows Europe`s tourism history. In the centre of museum is interactive map of Czech Republic. In future visitors will be able to choose location on this map and see wide panorama of chosen place on big plasma TV screen.

[via Travel.ru, photos from Klubturistu.cz]

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News gathering

April 11, 2007 at 1:28 pm | Posted in Europe, hotels, news, travel | Leave a comment

Some short, some long, but there they are:

Candid traveler photo from Tripadvisor

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Hyatt Regency Riga-Tango Square

April 10, 2007 at 1:43 pm | Posted in hotels, Latvia, news, project | 1 Comment

I got new information about first Hyatt hotel in Baltics. I already wrote that Hyatt is coming to Riga and 5 star Hyatt hotel will be opened in 2009. Building process of Tango project has already started.

Hyatt Regency Riga-Tango Square is supposed to open in autumn 2009. It will be 14 170 square metres big. Standard rooms will be 36,5 square metres, but president suite 146 square metres big. On the first floor more than 550 square metres are supposed to locate conference and banquet facilities.  Everyone will be able to enjoy hotel`s restaurant with summer terrace, lounge bar and coffee-bar. There will also be spa centre, health and fitness centre, fully equipped business centre and underground car park.

 Tango project

[via Eiropa.lv]

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More and more luxury hotels in Europe

April 10, 2007 at 12:08 pm | Posted in Europe, hotels, reviews, unusual hotels | Leave a comment

 

Tablet Hotels RSS feature has gone little bit mad and sent me lots of posts as new ones which actually aren`t, but I`m not angry, `cause I discovered many new luxury Europe hotels:

I have already wrote about unique and luxurious Europe hotels in post “Few unique Europe hotels”. If it`s not enough here are Soho Hotel and Rome Cavalieri Hilton in Art Hotels. Have stayed at all of them. Then wait for Schloss Velden, Austria open in June, 2007, or book a room in Milan`s Town House Galleria, Italy, which is the world`s first hotel to have applied for ultra-luxury seven-star classification. Where is my chaffeur-driven Bentley, hah?…

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5 star Hyatt in Riga

April 5, 2007 at 7:41 am | Posted in hotels, Latvia, news, project | 4 Comments

Today, 5th April in Riga, Latvia contract will be signed between Hyatt International Corporation senior CEO Gebhard Rainer (I hope I got him right) and Tango project owner Janis Loze with assistance of Riga`s major Janis Birks.

5 star Hyatt with 160 rooms is planned to open in 2009 at city centre. Investment: more than 60 million lats (85 million euros).

[via Eiropa.lv]

Nothing more known for now. Hyatt hasn`t even put this hotel in their future hotel list yet.

UPDATE! Hotel will be named Hyatt Regency Riga-Tango Square. It will be part of building complex Tango: two 7 floor living houses, 7 floor Hyatt, 5 floor office building. Interior design is in hands of G.A.Design International from London.

By the way, one more international hotel chain – Wyndham Hotel Group – is supposed to come to Baltics.

[via BNS]

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