Hotel Industry Blog

Top Trends Hotels Should Watch Out For in 2019

By Editor | On Mon, December 03, 2018

As the year draws to a close, the hotel industry is setting its sights on the future in an effort to align marketing plans with new and emerging trends. So what are the hot new trends? Before we dive in, it’s worth noting that while hoteliers are always keen to know what’s coming next, some get over-excited about new trends but have not properly adopted the more universal current trends. The benefits for hotels who choose to ride the online wave of innovation will be realised in more direct, higher-margin bookings. But make sure to get your fundamentals right and optimise today’s opportunities before embarking on shiny new directions.

Millennials and Gen Z

Buying power in the market is now dominated by Millennials and Gen Z who by 2020 will make up nearly 60% of the world’s global workforce.

Millennials are much more interested in discovering something unique and personal, spending 70% more on experiences than purchasing physical items. Gen Z, known as the convenience generation, has never known a world without the internet. Always connected and always on, they are used to instant results and feedback. With short attention spans, they demand quick and pain-free user experiences.

The message is clear. Experience is king. Luckily, hoteliers have a huge influence over generating customer experience. Hotels need to remember that they alone own their hotel rooms, they alone own the in-stay experience, and they alone choose whether or not to own the customer relationship at the time of booking. This is the hotels’ unique advantage over online sales brands.

Mobile is set to explode. Again.

With download speeds 10 to 20 times faster than currently available, 5G will have a massive impact on mobile user behaviour and expectations. Video and augmented or virtual reality will become readily accessible. This will lead to huge changes in pre-booking research, with users able to visualise themselves in a room rather than just looking through photos or a 360 degree tour.

A mobile-first strategy must replace the “also available on mobile” approach. Google’s mobile-first indexing will reward hotels who invest in a mobile-first strategy and heavily penalise those that are not mobile friendly. No hotel can afford to ignore mobile as again online travel agents (OTAs) will be waiting in the wings for the easy pickings served to them by hotels that fail to prioritise a mobile-first strategy.

Bookassist statistics show up to 60% of hotel website traffic coming from mobile (UK & IE). Transactions too have seen a jump for hotels who are mobile optimised. While revenue is still very much desktop-heavy, mobile revenue is rapidly rising. It’s also important to consider that the customer journey doesn’t always start on desktop and has multiple touch points. Ignore mobile optimisation at your peril.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will be further enabled by 5G network rollout. While VR replaces the real-world environment with a virtual one and requires wearable technology such as a VR headset, AR adds to the real-world environment by introducing digital components into reality which users can access with a smartphone. This makes AR a more realistic goal for hoteliers.

Some hotels are already using AR to enhance their brochures which, when scanned by mobile, can jump to life. AR-enabled wall maps allow guests to explore local points of interest before venturing out. AR can even be used to augment the hotel environment itself to make it a more enjoyable experience. There is huge opportunity here for hotels to enhance both the pre-stay and in-stay experience for their guests.

Video Will Dominate

Millennials and Gen Z access more content by video than any other form. Information transfer from video is also significantly higher, since people today are more likely to watch than read, especially on mobile. It’s worth remembering that in terms of search volume, YouTube is now the world’s second largest search engine. And it’s not just YouTube - Facebook generates 8 billion video views on average per day and certainly can’t be ignored. The advent of 5G access will just make this an even more important medium.

Hotels need to future-proof their businesses now by investing in relevant, informational and entertaining video content and video advertising. Google estimates that video will account for 80% of all media consumed online by 2021. While video, and video advertising, may be more expensive to generate, the cost of not investing in video will become plain very soon.

Chatbots and Artificial Intelligence

The most widely implemented form of artificial intelligence (AI) in travel is in the form of chatbots. Many hotels already have a live chat on their websites but chatbots have automation at their core and can deliver rapid response times to common problems or queries, freeing hotel staff to focus on more personalised service.

An intelligent chatbot is further able to improve itself through machine learning based on its interactions with customers over time. At the moment most chatbots are text based, although this will change as voice queries increase.

Some of the key things to look for in choosing a chatbot service are:
Chatbots can integrate with booking engine APIs so that rates and availability can be provided to customers, and Bookassist has already completed such integrations (for example with Colossal Factory’s chatbot Zoé).

  • The ability to ‘teach’ your chatbot by adding personalised questions and answers
  • Multilingual options
  • Self-learning through machine learning so that the chatbot can improve itself
  • Availability on all devices
  • Option to connect with live chat when necessary
  • Option to arrange a follow up or call back when an answer is not available
  • Most importantly, the facility to provide information that can facilitate a booking.

Digital Voice Assistants

There has been a surge in digital voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana, and the hotel industry is increasingly adopting these assistants to enhance the in-stay experience.

In-room voice assistants and the Internet of Things is being used to enhance the guest experience. We can now simply speak to easily adjust room features to suit personal needs such as controlling lights, heating etc. Voice commands can also be used to schedule a wake-up call, play a favourite playlist, order room service, request towels, and report faults. The implications for hyper personalisation and customer service are significant.

AI-enabled robots equipped with speech recognition technology are already being used by some hotels such as Yotel to greet guests, answer basic queries and deliver room service. It’s still very early days, but expect to see lot more robots in your travels in future years.

Voice Search

Statistics around voice search are dramatic. According to Comscore, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. And about 30% of searches will be done without a screen by 2020 according to Mediapos. There is no doubt that there is a solid trend away from traditional text-based search.

The shift to voice search has implications for digital marketers who need to tailor their SEO and content strategy to match with voice search. To be optimised for voice search, you first need to assess the intent of likely queries. Is the user likely to ask general questions indicating that they are not very far into the purchase path, or questions that indicate they are almost ready to book? Next, you need to see how your content might answer the various questions you anticipate. Is your content conversational and likely to provide a good and clear answer?

A well-written FAQ page is a good way to address voice search. Other areas to look at include adding schema markup to your content to help it appear in featured snippets on Google results, optimising your Google My Business page, and ensuring your site is mobile friendly and fast to load.

Visual Search

Visual Search has been around for quite a while, but it is starting to gain more traction, particularly since the launch of tools such as Pinterest Lens and Google Lens which allow users to point a smartphone at an object and access information about it. It is also possible to search by image on Google on desktop, by clicking in the camera icon in the search box.

To prepare for the shift towards visual search, hotels need to examine their visual content strategy. High quality and engaging imagery, preferably quite unique, consistency across all platforms and presence on key visual platform such and Instagram and Pinterest are basic requirements.

Consider your role both as a content creator and a curator of images. If you come across great images of your property on Instagram or Pinterest you should repost on your hotel’s account and also approach the owners and ask for permission to use them on your website.

Opportunities to appear in visual search present themselves across the entire customer journey, so don’t limit yourself to images in and around your property. A good quality image of a local attraction added to a blog post about things to do in your area could potentially appear for a user who is researching their next trip.

Exploring new markets - China

The number of Chinese tourists to Europe surged by 65% in the first half of 2017 year on year. The growth in the number of visas being issued for Chinese travel to Europe further underlines this growth with almost 2.5M visas issued in 2017, compared to 1.2M just 5 years earlier.

Before deciding to target the Chinese market, consider that Independent travellers from China are rare as it is more typical for Chinese visitors to have visas and travel arranged by a tour operator.

In targeting the Chinese market, look for options that don’t require a huge initial investment. An example would be a meta search platform such as Wego, which has strong visibility in China and which can be accessed for you by Bookassist Meta Search services. If you start to see good results, then it may be worthwhile investigating other platforms and making a firmer commitment to advertising on them and localising content.

Recognition Technology

Recognition technology has hit the hotel space and is increasingly being used in a bid to enhance personalisation and significantly improve customer service. Recognition technology includes biometric identifiers such as facial recognition, fingerprint recognition and retina scanning.

Some hotels are already adopting this technology to create a more frictionless guest experience for example room access via fingerprint, or seamless check in via facial recognition. In a time-poor world, friction reduction is something that guests will increasingly appreciate. The hotel of the future will adopt this technology to personalise the experience to an extent never seen before.

Blockchain

Blockchain is a highly secure digital approach to recording data changes and transactions. Think of it as a ledger but each digital block of a record is encrypted, and each subsequent block has a link to the previous block in that ledger, along with a timestamp and information on the transaction or change. These blocks of data cannot be overwritten, leaving a permanent immutable record and making the data extremely difficult to compromise.

Blockchain technology is still in its infancy in terms of mass market adoption, but there are already foreseeable uses in the hotel industry. For example, the travel industry relies upon client information being passed between multiple different companies. Blockchain technology can make accessing and storing this client information much more secure, reliable and seamless, improving the travel experience and making customers feel more secure with their bookings and sharing their personal data

The issue remains market adoption. Blockchain is not free, and it certainly is not fast to use in terms of transaction speeds. The technology is getting there, but it has to be widely utilised to start disrupting industries, including hospitality.

Out With The Old For Measuring Success

The traditional method of looking at return on investment (ROI) per medium in isolation is no longer relevant. it only measures the impact of one channel but ignores the overall contribution to success. We need to look at total revenue uplift and different attribution models to measure overall contribution of all paid platforms combined.

There are many different attribution models available, but understanding how attribution works is essential before deciding on a multi-channel model. A simple analogy to help explain it is this: If a player scores a goal, should they get 100% of the credit for that goal, or should the defender who passed to midfield who then passed it across to the eventual scorer also receive credit for assisting? In this analogy, if you decide the goal scorer should get 100% of the credit, then you have no need for the other players. Clearly this doesn’t happen, so in an advertising scenario, it equally doesn’t make sense to remove all the platforms that assisted in your final conversion and rely simply on the campaign that got the last click.

Measuring the value of each channel is not easy, but tools such as Google Analytics have improved how they report on assisted conversions and attribution, so this should be your first step.

Bottom Line

There has never been so much new technology coming down the line. Each year brings more and more opportunities for the future. But it is critical to optimise the opportunities you already have right now. Today, there is no stronger direction to take than to focus on mobile. Most of the future technologies will rely heavily on the mobile channel, so ensuring you already have an optimised presence there will allow you to build in the newer technologies as they arrive and not be playing catch-up in the future.

Bookassist (www.bookassist.com) is the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide. Bookassist is The Direct Booking Expert™ and is a Google Premium Partner.


What smart hoteliers need to know about “Book on Google”

By Jacopo Rita | On Wed, November 28, 2018

After several months of testing and following a preliminary launch in the US to websites directly (outside of OTAs) earlier this year, Google has now rolled-out its Book on Google functionality in Europe.

Like every move the online giant makes, it’s creating a lot of noise in the industry which only leads to a risk of misunderstanding and panic: so some clarification on this new feature and its potential impact on hotels is necessary.

What is Book on Google?

Book on Google is a new feature that enriches the user experience within Hotel Search on Google. While travellers have been able to search hotels and compare prices for a long time, the new feature Book on Google enables travellers to complete their booking on the Google website.

The Book on Google booking flow


There is no longer any need to leave the Google website to pass to third-party booking websites and the reservation can be fully completed within Google.

Why Book on Google?

Google has done some great work over the last few years to provide users with a seamless and smooth hotel search process, with small but ongoing and consistent tweaks to its hotel search results page. There’s no doubt that hotel search experience is pretty straightforward today.

But Google still sees a number of obstacles and frictions on its road to ensure the best hotel search experience ever, as the customer progresses down the booking funnel to the booking phase. With so many unoptimised websites and tech-poor booking platforms still around, how can Google be sure it’s suggesting the right hotel, if its final bookability is harmed?

This is where Book on Google comes in: to facilitate bookings and to ensure that the overall hotel search experience stays smooth and frictionless, not only in the earlier discovery and search phase but also when it comes to the actual booking process

Because the booking is now being completed on Google, there’s no risk that poor websites that are not mobile-ready will affect user experience: Google will now take care of it!

Is Google becoming an OTA?

While the question makes a lot of sense given Google’s growing interest in the travel sector, and the recent roll-out of Book on Google, the search giant is still very clear about it: there’s no plan for Google to become an Online Travel Agency in the immediate term.

All Google’s efforts and innovations in the travel space are focused on the same objective. From Destinations to Trips, from its totally reinvented Hotel and Flight search experience up to the latest Book on Google feature, they are all focused on being relevant to users search.

Google certainly wants to be more relevant in the travel space, but not by acting in a OTA-style. There is no Google extranet you can log in to and load your hotel inventory, prices and availability for example. And while the Book-on-Google booking is made within Google, the hotel is still the owner of the booking information. And, last but not least, there is no cost for hotels: Google doesn’t charge any commission on top of the reservation (quite different to OTAs).

Should your hotel participate on Book on Google with your Official Website?

While, in principle Book on Google is a great feature for users, with Google providing them with the best possible search experience, this is clearly not a game-changer for those hotels that are already optimised. The problem Google wants to solve (friction in the booking process) is not necessarily a problem for hotels that have a well-optimized website, state-of-the-art booking engine and a mobile-first experience.

If this is the case for your hotel then there’s no need to participate on Book on Google.

Bookassist’s hotel clients can count on all of this: award-winning technology combined with state-of-the-art website design which results in a top-performing booking engine. And with the recent launch of a totally brand new mobile-first booking engine we also tackle all the potential obstacles and frictions on the crucial mobile funnel.

With all this in place, there’s no reason why your hotel booking engine shouldn’t be able to capture bookings through Google; the Book on Google facilitation is welcome, but it’s not actually needed. And Bookassist results speak for themselves:

  • Great Conversion Rates from Google campaigns, with an average of 7% Conversion Rate from Google Metasearch campaigns for Bookassist optimised hotels (with many achieving >10% CVR%)
  • Great ROI€ with an average of x15 ROI, resulting in a cost of acquisition for bookings of <7%

Why is owning the booking process on your official website is still better than leaving it to someone else?

But it’s not only about ensuring that your hotel bookings performances are not affected by a bad booking experience. It’s much more than that.

Every action you put in place has a specific goal: capturing more direct bookings. If so, then the endgame must be that this should happen in the most important channel that you own: your official website.

There’s also a number of additional things that you might be doing on your booking page that can’t be left to someone else:
These additional aims are actually not only about facilitating bookings, but are helping to increase your direct business over time.

  • Strengthening your hotel brand identity;
  • Owning the relationship with your potential customer, that you nurture through content personalisation, popups, prices comparison widgets, addons, instant messages and chatbots;
  • Doing lead generation through newsletter subscription, contact forms, special offers;
  • Acquiring valuable data about your potential customers that are so important for further strategies of remarketing, upselling and conversion rate optimisation.

These additional aims are actually not only about facilitating bookings, but are helping to increase your direct business over time. Smart hoteliers need to look at the long term implications, not just apparent short-term gains.

—-

Jacopo Rita is Product Manager for Metasearch at Bookassist, the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide.

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Mobile Revenue Continues to Grow in Q3 2018 - Are You Prepared?

By Des O'Mahony | On Fri, November 02, 2018

​Mobile is very much the present, no longer the future

We’ve shown on these pages before how mobile traffic and revenue grew in the first half of 2018 and we now update that for the first three quarters of 2018. The continuing change has created immediate opportunities for hotels. Or we can put it another way - it creates immediate and real problems for hotel sales if hotels are not prepared for the mobile mindset.

The figures below show the mobile phone, tablet and desktop traffic share (unique sessions) recorded for hundreds of Bookassist hotel client websites across Europe in the first 9 months of 2018. Notable are that for the Ireland/UK and the Spain/Portugal regions, desktop is now 50% or less of hotel website traffic. For other regions, desktop has been stable or marginally declining year on year. Mobile phone growth is mostly at the expense of tablet traffic this last quarter.

The figures, and the change year or year, indicate that we may be reaching a stable balance between mobile device traffic and desktop traffic in most regions. Desktop cannot of course continue to decline forever, at least while companies and workplaces continue to use desktop and laptop machines despite the ever-increasing shift in personal use to mobile devices.

Mobile traffic and its annual change year to end September 2018
Mobile traffic and its annual change year to end September

This relative balance achieved in traffic this year is not however reflected in revenue generation. Here we see double-digit growth in revenue generation on mobile, and decline in desktop revenue generation across all markets. The data shows that there is a clear increase in confidence in mobile users when it comes to transacting on mobile devices and this trend is continuing upward to narrow the gap with desktop. Revenue generation on mobile still has a long way to go to reach relative desktop levels, but it’s clearly getting there sooner rather than later.

Mobile-generated revenue and its annual change year to end September 2018
Mobile-generated revenue and its annual change year to end September

Responsive is no longer good enough

Taken together, the data here show that having an optimised and fully functional mobile website and mobile ecommerce platform is critical for hotels who want to tap into higher-margin direct business. The mobile experience is clearly different from the desktop experience, and therefore needs to be treated differently and quite specifically.

Having the same experience on desktop as on mobile, a typical “responsive” approach, is simply not good enough anymore. Each platform, whether desktop or mobile, needs to be optimised for its users and for its user experience capabilities and user expectations. This is exactly why Bookassist has developed and launched the V10 Mobile booking engine experience, a uniquely app-like approach to mobile booking that is proving extremely effective at building hotel revenues on mobile.

It’s time hotels stepped up to the mobile challenge - and the opportunity it brings.


The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success. Part 4 - Email Marketing

By Editor | On Wed, September 12, 2018

In this, the last of a four part series The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success, we’ll take a look at pillar 4, Email Marketing. Read about pillar 1 SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), pillar 2 Paid Advertising, and pillar 3 Social Media.

Pillar 4 | Email

In 2017, there were 3.7 billion recorded global email users. This number is predicted to grow to up to 4.1 billion users by 2021[1]. It’s been 40 years since Ray Tomlinson sent the first email and it continues to be one of the most effective digital media channels, surpassing social media marketing according to research conducted by SmartInsights[2].

In a head to head comparison with Facebook and Twitter, email is still the preferred platform for receiving promotional messages[3].

While customers may be more proactive on search engines or social media, they are more likely to be reached and willing to interact with a brand through email. This is why email is still the preferred method of communication between brands and their audience, and a key pillar of digital strategy. If social media is your platform for personalised customer engagement, then email is what you can use to solidify that relationship. It simply engages recipients in a way that other platforms cannot. Customers are able to read messages in their own time and respond at their convenience. It keeps better record of conversations and access to email content is not restricted to a particular device or region. Email can also be easily forwarded and used to reach groups of people simultaneously.

Email continues to have a wider reach than social media. Only two percent of people may see a post on their social media feed, but ninety percent of emails reach their intended inbox[4]. And in a post-GDPR setting, where many marketers have seen their email lists significantly reduced, it is important to remember that customers voluntarily sign up to a brand’s email list, allowing email marketing to reach those who have already expressed brand consideration and purchase intent.

With an average return on investment (ROI) of $38 for every $1 spent[5], email maintains its relevance as an accessible and affordable digital marketing channel and lead nurturing tool.

Make Your Emails Matter

Post-GDPR, it’s critical to consider the type of email communication that can make the most impact. Transactional emails or emails that are a result of an action on the customer’s part such as downloading a brochure, completing a booking, or filling a form, have become significantly more important[6]. Not only do they give you a valid (and GDPR compliant) reason to reach out to your customer, they also prompt you to communicate with your customer just as they’ve recently interacted with your business, while your hotel brand is still fresh in their minds.

Why Make Email Part of Your Marketing Mix?

First, email tells you a lot about your target market. The way that your recipient list responds to your business gives you indispensable market data. Email allows you to gauge user interaction and segment this data to create detailed buyer personas[7]. These personas can, in turn, be used to flesh out the rest of your marketing mix, e.g. to optimise PPC campaigns, to generate social media material and website content, resulting in higher quality leads.

Second, email works well with mobile. Mobile internet traffic is continuously poised to overtake desktop and, as of April 2018, already accounts for 51.2% of webpage views worldwide[8]. Emails can be easily adapted for multiple mobile devices thanks to its minimal formatting options, making it easier for you to reach your target audience on their preferred device.

Third, email is easily personalised. Because email can provide you with a lot of information about your target market, it also makes it easy to create a personalised experience for them. Automated behavioural trigger emails can be used to keep your readers engaged with your business[9], while landing pages on your website customised according to your buyer personas can more successfully prompt users in your email lists to engage with specific aspects of your brand. These activities help strengthen your site’s online presence through customer engagement and retention, resulting in a more authoritative website.


Samantha Salazar, Digital Marketing Specialist at Bookassist (www.bookassist.com), the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide.

Bookassist is The Direct Booking Expert™ and is a Google Premium Partner.


[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/255080/number-of-e-mail-users-worldwide/

[2] https://www.smartinsights.com/email-marketing/state-email-marketing-infographic/

[3] https://optinmonster.com/email-marketing-vs-social-media-performance-2016-2019-statistics/

[4] https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/2016/01/70-email-marketing-stats-you-need-to-know/

[5] https://www.salesforce.com/products/marketing-cloud/best-practices/ecommerce-marketing/

[6] https://marketing.toolbox.com/blogs/peterkowalke/5-ways-gdpr-changes-marketing-071318

[7] https://sleeknote.com/blog/buyer-personas

[8] https://www.statista.com/statistics/306528/share-of-mobile-internet-traffic-in-global-regions/

[9] https://www.smartinsights.com/email-marketing/behavioural-email-marketing/triggered-email-campaigns-infographic/



The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success. Part 3 - Social Media

By Editor | On Wed, September 05, 2018

In this, the third of a four part series The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success we take a look at pillar 3, Social Media. Read about pillar 1 on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), and pillar 2 on Paid Advertising.

Pillar 3 | Social Media

By Sara Santos García

About 30% of all time spent on the internet is spent on social media, an average of 2 hours each day per person[1]. As of July 2017, Facebook was the most popular social networking site with an impressive 2 billion active daily users[2]. The potential to tap into this number of active online customers and to seed influence cannot be ignored, and social media channels should be a key pillar of any hotelier’s marketing strategy.

Figure 1: Average Daily spent on Social. Image credit: MediaKix

The use of social media builds social authority for your business. It does not directly impact your organic ranking on Google or other search engines, but it can give a boost to your online presence.

Social media can be a powerful channel for hoteliers if utilised correctly. It should work alongside your SEO and paid advertising strategies in order to create awareness, increase interactions with your brand, engage, delight, and therefore help increase bookings for your hotel. Hoteliers need to understand that using social media in conjunction with all of your other online strategies in a coordinated fashion is what makes it so powerful[3].

Social media works best in an “assistive” capacity, a perfect tool for the top of the sales funnel. But it can also provide prospective customers with insights about where to stay and gives hotels a great opportunity to put their best foot forward in terms of their public image online. It is also about you being present during the buyer’s journey to purchase, reinforcing their decisions, influencing the user throughout the different touch points and ensuring their experience with your brand throughout the buyer decision journey is as easy and simple as it can possibly be.

Paid Social Advertising

Organic social media is a cost-effective and long-term solution for your business. But don’t forget that paid social media advertising can additionally offer immediate results that are worth paying for. Facebook has ramped up their advertising capabilities in recent years and features very strong segmentation that can suit the hospitality business very well. Facebook-owned Instagram also has progressed its advertising platform and can also be quite effective depending on the message you want to push. Creating a strategy for organic and paid social media marketing is something that every hotelier should explore[4].

Why include Social Media as part of your Digital Strategy?

Social media is (of course) highly personal. It helps you communicate who YOU are through your photos, videos and direct customer engagement. It helps to create realistic expectations of what to expect when a guest stays at your hotel and can therefore be used to reduce negative feedback due to false expectations. Most importantly, it builds relationships and connects with your audience and gives your business a personal identity and voice. Having a dedicated Social Media team will also ensure a strong framework for your overall online reputation management.

You may not see the real impact that social media is having in your business at first, but over time, and with a commitment to creating regular content, responding to customer queries, and engaging with your target audience, there can be great implicit and explicit returns. Be sure to dig deeper into Google Analytics to see how social media is playing an assisted role in your online conversions.

Sara Santos Gracia, Digital Marketing Specialist at Bookassist (www.bookassist.com), the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide.

Bookassist is The Direct Booking Expert™ and is a Google Premium Partner.

[1] https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic

[2] https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/27/facebook-2-billion-users/

[3] https://www.e-marketingassociates.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-why-social-media-is-important-for-hotels-pt2

[4] https://medium.com/@the_manifest/how-to-create-strategies-for-organic-vs-paid-social-media-marketing-ce4e754606f7


The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success. Part 2 - Paid Advertising

By Jason Kelly | On Tue, August 28, 2018

In this, the second of a four part series The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success we take a look at pillar 2, Paid Advertising.

Pillar 2 | Paid Advertising

By Jason Kelly

It’s easy to be cynical about paid advertising on search engines, which today is almost like a visibility tax that you have no option but to pay. We’ve already seen how Google is monetising the SERP more and more, but the bottom line is that paid advertising still works.Aggregated data from Bookassist indicates that traffic from paid sources accounts for 35% of hotels’ website revenue. What’s more is that when used together with SEO, paid advertising can actually help SEO[1].

Paid Advertising and SEO - The best of friends

There is a common misconception that paid advertising, particularly on brand search terms, can cannibalise organic traffic. Bing published a study for the travel sector in 2015 on the value of running search ads on brand name terms[2]. The key findings from this study were:

  • An increase of 27% in overall clicks (paid and organic combined) when a brand ad was present.
  • Competitors received almost 40% of clicks when no brand ad was present.
  • Competitors received just 12% of clicks when a brand was present.

Clearly, you need to be present for brand paid advertising.

Paid advertising, particularly search campaigns, also works as an excellent keyword research tool for SEO. The data you receive from search campaigns is invaluable for your SEO strategy. We can get a very clear idea of what phrases people are using to search for hotels, the size of the market for particular niche search terms and more importantly, what search phrases are leading to conversions. This data can then be used to optimise content on your website for terms with high conversion potential, i.e. focus your content on answering the questions people tend to be actually asking.

First things first. Where to start with Paid Advertising?

With an ever increasing number of paid channels, it may be difficult to know where to spend your digital marketing budget. At its most basic level, paid advertising should be used to convert users who have shown strong intent to book a room at your hotel; for example they have searched for your hotel’s name on Google or viewed your listing on Trivago or TripAdvisor. This is where you need to start – your brand name.

Running paid campaigns on your brand name should be the cornerstone of your paid advertising strategy. OTAs, used correctly, can be used to create awareness but if you do not have a presence in the final stages of the customer’s journey, you will lose out on direct bookings, no question.

Expanding your reach. Creating awareness of your brand and acquiring new users
Paid channels should not merely be considered as a tool for converting people who have already made their decision about where they want to stay. Campaigns on search engines and metasearch platforms allow hotels to be present in any and all stages of the customer journey and can, over time, help to reduce hotels’ dependence on OTAs for creating awareness.

The amount of money you invest in each stage of the customer journey is dependent on your goals and the extent to which you have mastered the basic essential elements of a direct booking strategy - an attractive, responsive and fast website, optimisation for desktop and mobile, pricing and channel distribution. There’s little point in investing in brand awareness through display campaigns for example if you have severe rate parity issues. But if you have mastered these essential steps, paid advertising, particularly at the stage where there is commercial intent, can bring a new audience to your website that may have only discovered you on an OTA website.

Jason Kelly, Digital Marketing Specialist at Bookassist (www.bookassist.com), the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide.

Bookassist is The Direct Booking Expert™ and is a Google Premium Partner.

[1] on search engines and on metasearch platforms

[2] https://www.slideshare.net/bingads/brand-term-bidding-an-offensive-defensive-strategy-travel-edition


The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success. Part 1 - SEO

By Editor | On Mon, August 20, 2018

Pillar 1 | Search Engine Optimisation

By Rumenigo Fernandes

In this the first of a series of four articles on The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success we take a look at the critical area of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is one of the main foundations for website success as it drives bookings at the lowest CPA[1] (Cost Per Acquisition) and therefore helps maintain profitability.

Over time, we have seen how Google has made changes to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) with the intent to monetise it as much as possible. Increased number of ads placed above organic search results, greater integration of Google Hotel Ads within the SERP, and demotion of organic search results show that pay per click (PPC) is their priority. However don’t think SEO is dead – it remains equally relevant, if not more so. A study conducted in 2018 found that 70% of link clicks from search still go to organic listings[2] (see figure 1a)

Our own figures in Bookassist support this research finding. Based on data from our partner hotels, organic drives 38% of overall website traffic and accounts for approximately 45% of all bookings and revenue we handle for our clients (see figure 1b). SEO is most definitely alive and thriving.

Figure 1: (a) Data on SEO adapted from http://www.searchenginejournal.com/24-eye-popping-se-statistics/42665/ , (b) data from Bookassist partner hotels.

Getting SEO Right – The SEO Pyramid For a hotel website to gain a high volume of SEO traffic, the site needs to be listed on page one of the search engine results page (SERP), as most users don’t look beyond first page results (especially on mobile). Unlike PPC where you can pay to be seen on page one, with SEO search engines will only list organic website links if the website is seen as an authoritative site. To be regarded as an authoritative site takes considerable time and effort.

Understanding the SEO Pyramid[3] is the key to building an authoritative site (see figure 2). Good SEO begins with a website that is designed so that it can be easily read by both potential customers and search engines. It’s important to keep both these audiences in mind as the ease with which they reach and navigate your site, combined with the frequency and length of their interactions, are what define an authoritative website.

Figure 2: The SEO Pyramid (adapted from https://seocustomer.com/how-to-use-the-seo-pyramid-strategy/)

Second, you need to focus on keyword research and on-page optimisation. Keywords for a hotel can be broken into two main categories: brand and non-brand terms. Non-brand terms can be further broken down into key hotel selling points such facilities, local attractions etc. These segmented terms should form the basis of page content that can be further optimised to ensure that your site ranks organically on search engines.

Third is link building, which involves getting a backlink from another relevant website with a key term or phrase related to your brand, e.g. “hotels near Dublin airport”. Every backlink you get is like a vote for your site on that specific term. The more backlinks you have, the more votes you have, the more recognition your site gets for that term. The more backlinks your site has, the higher a search engine will rank your site[4].

Google does not rank every backlink in the same way. You will be penalised if you get a backlink from a site with low quality content, a site that is not relevant to your users, or for buying links. So build relevant links from high authority websites and target those that add value to your customers.

Fourth and finally, the use of social media builds social authority. Social media does not directly impact your organic ranking on Google or other search engines but it does give a boost to your ranking[5].

Follow the principles of the SEO Pyramid for a structured and long-term SEO strategy. With 70% of clicks still coming via organic channels, a focus on SEO will lower your direct CPA significantly. It’s a no-brainer for digital marketeers.

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Rumenigo Fernandes, Digital Marketing Specialist at Bookassist (www.bookassist.com), the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide.

Bookassist is The Direct Booking Expert™ and is a Google Premium Partner.

[1] https://www.searchenginejournal.com/why-seo-is-important-for-business/248101/
[2] https://neilpatel.com/blog/seo-dead/
[3] https://seocustomer.com/how-to-use-the-seo-pyramid-strategy/
[4] https://searchengineland.com/how-to-use-the-marketing-funnel-for-seo-inbound-marketing-173663
[5] https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-seo-experiment/


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