|What exactly is Internet Marketing? We prefer the following definition articulated by Chaffey:
"The use of the Internet and related digital technologies to achieve marketing objectives and support the modern marketing concept"
Whilst this is a concise description of what Internet Marketing is, the question remains how is it applied by hotels and guesthouses and why?
Many hotels have made the mistake of digitising their traditional print brochure and placing it online in the shape of their website. This may bring some benefit but does not fully embrace the notion that the Internet is a new media which can truly bring the brochure to life and offer so much more potential for the hotel. So what are the advantages of using the Internet as a marketing media?
- Cost - The Internet offers the opportunity to reach thousands of potential guests without the need to print a physical brochure for each.
- Richness - The Internet allows hotels to include richness and depth of information about their hotels. Some small hotels may have a page for each of their bedrooms. Others may include seasonal menus. And it is possible to include information and links to places of interest in the vicinity of the destination. Finally, video, graphics and 360° tours may also help to bring to life the hotels ambiance and facilities.
- Speed of Delivery - A potential guest will request your hotel website via an Internet browser (eg. Internet Explorer) and it will be delivered in seconds. Compare this to waiting for the post - the guest's interest and desire in your hotel or the destination may have cooled by the time they are in possession of the physical brochure. Or they may even have booked online with a competitor hotel.
- Updates - With a website, changes such as special offers, seasonal menus, and price increases can be quickly incorporated at a minimal cost. Compare this to re-printing your brochure which is not generally an option on a regular basis.
- Conversion to Bookings - The key advantage to the Internet as a marketing tool is the ability to turn an enquiry immediately into a booking. This is a crucial advantage which is not shared by other media. By adding an online booking engine to your website it becomes feasible to accept bookings whilst your guest is in a positive frame of mind about your hotel or guesthouse.
Each of these elements should be considered and incorporated into your online strategy with the aim of the strategy being to drive as much traffic to your website as possible. It is generally recognised that visitors to hotel and guesthouse websites convert to bookings at a rate of about 1% (some may go as high as about 4-5%), making it essential that you attract as many visitors as possible. Potentially, every 100 people who visits your site will bring you a booking, you do the maths!
The Elements of Internet Marketing
There are a number of tactics which may be adopted within your online strategy. These are detailed over the next few pages but include:
* Search Engine Optimisation
* Link building
* Pay-per-click Advertising
The hotel website must also ensure that offline marketing methods are not overlooked. Make sure you promote your website at every opportunity: On business cards, company stationery, on telephone answering machine messages, and every other opportunity available.
Contact us at Hotel-Pro if you wish to discuss any aspect of your Internet Marketing strategy - we will be delighted to hear from you.