Thanks to all those who attended our webinar on Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2014 that affect the hospitality industry – we had a great turnout, and some fantastic questions in the Q & A session. Below you will find the slides from the presentation, a recording of the presentation, and your questions along with our answers.
If you have additional questions, please feel free to put them in the comments below!
Note: there was an issue with the sound on the recording in the beginning. Full sound resumes at 2:52.
Questions & Answers on Trends Affecting the Hospitality Industry
- Tools/links referenced during the webinar
- Can you describe hummingbird? Is this a new tool?
- The short answer is this: Whenever Google makes changes to how they index websites (their algorithm), they come up with a name for that programming change. This most recent change has the name “hummingbird.” For more details, you can check out our Hummingbird blog post and video.
- Explain Google Analytics, and how can we use this to make hotel Internet marketing decisions?
- Google Analytics is a free analysis platform that Google provides and allows you to integrate into any website. With this, you can see all of the major metrics related to the traffic to your website. This allows you to track which marketing activities are effective (at least with regard to web traffic). Some of the major KPIs to look at are: traffic, number of visitors, bounce rate, sources driving traffic to your website (organic, paid, social, etc), and conversions (revenue). Click here to read Google’s overview of this service.
- How do we convert guests from using OTAs to booking direct?
- There are a few different ways: providing direct booking incentives, providing the best rate on your site, engaging proactively with users on social channels, paid media driving to your site. The overall concept is to build a robust online presence so that when people are looking for hotels, they find you rather than the OTAs. Or, if they find you on the OTA first then search for you directly to get more information, the experience they have with you on your website or social channels is so compelling that they want to continue the direct relationship.
- What exactly are duplicate listings, and how do they happen?
- Duplicate listings happen when you have a property, but the name, URL or address is listed incorrectly. This can lead to multiple listings of your property with each of these differences. For example, one listing might have your address as 123 Hotel Street, where the other listing would be 123 Hotel St. By making sure the major directories (and your website and social channels) all have consistent data, it reduces the chance of other directory listings being created with incorrect information.
- How do you book with Google Mobile Ads?
- The two major ways to get conversions from your mobile ads are: 1) The user clicks on the phone number displayed in the ad, and 2) the user clicks on the ad and is directed to your mobile friendly booking engine.
- Who do we go to for mobile ads for our hotels?
- You can run mobile ad campaigns yourself or with third party vendors. Of course we would love to help you out. Our dedicated PPC team is Google Adwords qualified, a Yahoo! Search Marketing Ambassador and Microsoft Advertising Accredited. Click here to view our services.
- In your opinion who are the top players in Meta Search besides Google, Kayak?
- In order of priority (high to low): Google Hotel Finder, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Kayak
- If the brand (i.e. Best Western) is paying for the metasearch presence, how can the hotel get involved without duplicating costs and effort the brand is doing?
- One of the key features of metasearch is that it integrates directly with the booking engine, and pulls rates from the booking engine. If the brand is already doing metasearch and pulling booking data from the brand booking engine, then it does not make sense for the property to also do it, as it would just be showing the same rates.
- How do you get your hotel featured on Google Hotel Finder? Is there a cost?
- You need to work with a partner, like Milestone, that has access into the Google Hotel Finder interface. There is a cost. It works on a cost-per-click model, so that any time a user clicks on the ad, it would go against the budget you have in place for the campaign.
- What is a good indexing number as it relates to schema?
- You can’t really define an indexing number. Instead think about how many schemas you should deploy on your website, and where? You should definitely have schemas on your things to do page, packages & specials, images, videos, maps, accommodations, and more. All together, around 20-30 should be a bare minimum for your site.
- I heard that meta-keywords are no longer being included in search ranking. Is that true?
- Search engines do look at meta keywords, but they are not the only thing search engines look at any more. Just because you have certain meta keywords in your title tags, it does not mean you will rank for them. These should work in conjunction with all of the other items search engines look for. Schemas, unique content, freshness signals, engagement and more.
- How does having a keyword in the domain name impact SEO and presence on search results?
- Having keywords in your domain will not make or break you in terms of ranking. They are one factor that the search engines look at, but only if the keywords make sense to your business and business location. It is more important to optimize the other areas of the site that search engines are looking at than worrying about whether or not your domain has keywords.
- If page load speed is so important, should I not be uploading high-quality photos? What size image is optimal? What number of images is optimal?
- Page load speed is very important. You can upload high quality images, but they need to be optimized for search. You definitely don’t need to use images with photo-quality resolution. Most digital cameras take photos in much higher quality than you would ever need to have on your website, so you will want to reduce the size before putting them on your site. If you do want to make high-resolution images available online to your guests, social media platforms are great for that. Flickr is great for this, as they give every user a free terabyte of space. Google+ and Facebook are also excellent places to display and share your really high quality images.
- Is it worth it to pay extra to hire a photographer who is Google certified? (i.e. are street view pictures worth investing in?)
- Using Google certified photographers may give you simpler access into the back-end database to add images into certain areas of Google, but it will not get your photos anywhere that you can’t already access. What’s more important is looking at whether or not you like the quality of the photographer. Use a photographer that you feel can best represent your property.
- Will Online Reputation Management software like eBuzz Connect be booming in 2014?
- Absolutely. Online reputation management (ORM) should be considered a critical part of your 2014 digital marketing strategy. Google and the other search engines take into account what is being said about you, so you need to know and be able to adapt and react to issues or accolades. Tools that give you the ability to monitor many review websites at once, as well as reply to the reviews, makes your job of reputation management much simpler. Definitely respond to negative reviews to make sure you solve problems and let other potential guests know that you care about your stay, but treat positive reviews with care as well. Showing a high level of interaction with all guests is a great way to stand out from your competition, and increase reputation and overall bookings.
- What pages should social media buttons (Like, +1) be added to? What are my criteria to add them?
- How does having the same bio on all social networks affect SEO?
- While you can have similar information about your company on all of your social channels, it should be unique. Having the same content will be viewed by the search engines as duplicate content, so your various profiles will not rank as highly as they can when the information is unique.
- How do we get our hotel to show up on Google Carousel?
- In a nutshell, the best way to get onto the carousel is to create and optimize your Google+ Local page, upload high quality images and give them keyword-rich descriptions, and do what you can to encourage reviews on Google+. This is not the only determining factor in Google Carousel, but it seems to be the biggest. For more details on the carousel, check out this article on Search Engine Watch.
- What are tools to check for duplicate listings?
- Our favorite (developed by Milestone) is Naptune.
Find out more about hotel marketing trends that we implement for our clients.
Benu Aggarwal, Founder and President
Kchitiz Regmi, VP – Operations and Technology
Mike Supple, Director of Social Media