Not sure where to start with hotel marketing? Start with the Google Knowledge Panel.

When you google your hotel, you should see a box on the right-hand side of your screen, with a small map, a few images and some basic information including website, phone number and opening hours.

This is called the Google Knowledge Panel. And you should have control of it.

What most hoteliers will see on their Google Knowledge Panel is a collection of old, or unfavourable images.

For many customers, this will be their first impression of your hotel and it is crucial to have that knowledge panel looking its best.

Here’s how you edit your Knowledge Panel:

Scroll down and check to see if you or someone within the hotel has access to the account. If you see, ‘Own this business?’ then the account has no owner, and you’ll want to click on this link and follow the necessary steps.

If you just see the link ‘Suggest an edit’ then someone has claimed this business. No problem if it’s not you, you can still request access to the account and Google will send you a postcard with a unique code on – wait a few days and pop this into your account to verify.

Now when it comes to editing: changing imagery, adding details etc, you can do this at business.google.com after the account has been verified.

One other very important aspect of the Google Knowledge Panel are reviews.

Too often we overlook Google reviews in favour of TripAdvisor and Booking dot com, but as described above – the Google Knowledge Panel is often the first thing customers will see of your hotel, so encouraging customers to leave positive reviews on Google for you is not without significance.

At DHM we often use Review Filter to push 4* and 5* reviews at Google on a regular basis.

Lastly – the description of the hotel. Be sure to edit this to your preference, getting across all the core info. Otherwise, Google does it for you, and that’s certainly not always a good thing!

Want your Google Knowledge Panel tidied up? We’ll do it for FREE! Just email me directly at adam@directhotelmarketing.co.uk

Let’s beat those OTAs together.

Hotel marketing should always start with good telephone tracking

Without the use of telephone tracking, you’re probably unaware just how many potential bookings you are missing, especially if your hotels typically serves a clientele of a more mature disposition!

When we work with a new client, the first thing we do is to set up telephone tracking. We do this to find out two things

  1. How many calls (and sales) are being missed?
  2. What is making the phone ring?

The first point is pretty obvious – miss too many calls, you need to fix that.

The second point, however, provides the real insight, especially when you’re running marketing campaigns and you’d like to know how effective it has been.

Well, telephone tracking costs £1 per month and helps you to answer both of those questions.

It’s best used when you have a different, local number across all your marketing channels. Namely:

Your website

Emails

Google Knowledge Panel

Social Media

Etc

Now the point is all these numbers are redirecting to the same, central number, often sat on reception, or to a reservations team. But they’re all different numbers so you can clearly see which is making the phone ring most!

More often than not, your website will be performing best, but let’s say you decide to have a go some local press advertising, or local radio advertising. In order to be able to identify whether these forms of advertising were worth the money, you really ought to know whether they made the phone ring!

Now, of course, telephone tracking shouldn’t be used as the only metric for success, but it will give you a helpful idea as to whether it’s worth your investment again.

Not only that, you’ll want to know how many of those calls were missed as the lines were engaged or everyone was too busy to answer the phone. Telephone tracking gives you real-time reports of who called, and why they couldn’t get through.

For all you know, that was a wedding enquiry worth over £10,000 to the hotel!

The company we use for our telephone tracking is Invoco – local UK numbers cost £1 per month to rent and the setup is instantaneous.

More details here: https://www.invoco.net/

Let’s beat those OTAs together

Adam

 

(Still) the most underused and cheapest form of advertising for hotels

Google remarketing has been around for well over a decade. We see it every day when we browse the internet.

When booking dot com ads seem to ‘follow’ you around the internet, this is Google Remarketing.

For most independent hotels, monthly advertising costs should never need to exceed £25 per month and for that investment, you’d be likely to see approx. 30,000 impressions.

Those impressions, by the way, are ONLY potential customers who’ve been on your website in the last few weeks or month so they are super targeted.

Simply put, Google Remarketing is a MUST for every independent hotel because it is the most targeted, cheapest, biggest bang-for-your-buck marketing you can. Bar none.

Perhaps though, the most important aspect of it is the fact that your hotel will almost never be the only option. Your prospective customers are looking at your competitors nearby and perhaps even similar hotels on the other side of the country.

Getting people to your website and into their consideration is just the start. You’ve got to ensure your hotel stays front of mind so that when that customer is ready to press the ‘book now’ button, they’re pressing it on your website, and not a competitor’s website.

And with less than 1% of all hotels in the country utilising this cost-effective form of advertising, getting Google Remarketing up and running for your hotel will give you a distinct advantage.

Aside from your competition, there’s the indisputable fact that all the OTAs use this form of advertising – and let’s face it, booking dot com are the experts at selling hotel rooms – if they’re doing, so should you.

Remember of course, that most customers will tend to visit your website first before making their booking. Google Remarketing gives you the ability to communicate the all-important message you want to convey to every customer: BOOK DIRECT!

If in 2018 you wish to maximise direct bookings, your absolute first port of call must be to have Google Remarketing set up, without it, you’re fighting a losing battle.

Want a free competitor checker? We’ll tell you if your competitors are running Remarketing ads – just email me direct at adam@directhotelmarketing.co.uk

Why most hotels waste money on Google AdWords

If you use a marketing company to manage your pay-per-click campaigns, ask them this important question:

“Can you send me the list of negative keywords from my account?”

If they can’t, or give you some babble about not being able to – they are wasting your money.

Negative keywords, in short, are terms you have actively chosen not to bid on, deeming those terms or words irrelevant to your product.

An example: a luxury hotel in Surrey may be looking to target people looking for wedding venues in their local area. They would be bidding on terms such as ‘wedding venue Surrey’ and all manner of suitable equivalents.

Being at the luxury end of the market, however, they would probably seek to not bid on the word ‘cheap’ before any of their desired keywords.

Put simply, they would want their ad to appear when ‘wedding venue Surrey’ is typed into Google, but would not want their ad to appear when ‘cheap wedding venue Surrey’ is typed into Google.

Alas, ‘Cheap’ is a negative keyword.

The oversimplified example above seems obvious, but it’s astounding how many hotels are using Google AdWords to grow their businesses without even knowing about Negative Keywords, thus keeping their wastage at an all-time high.

Back in November 2017, when our team was awarded Google’s Global Award for Growing Businesses Online, our use of negative keyword management was a small but significant reason for that award going to us.

When we set a Google AdWords campaign live for a hotel, that’s when the work really starts. Our job is to analyse which terms are being clicked on that we need to prune out of the campaign to minimise any wasted clicks.

If you’re not doing this, or worse, the company you pay to manage your campaigns aren’t doing this, the campaigns will keep wasting your money and won’t improve a great deal.

At DHM, we offer a free PPC assessment to all hotels so if you think there could be room for improvement from your campaign, email us direct – adam@directhotelmarketing.co.uk – we’ll be happy to look into it for you.

Our Little Hotel Marketing Agency – A Google Global Award Winner

As a hotel marketing agency, driving more direct bookings has become near-cliché in recent times in the hotel industry.

Naturally, every hotel wants to drive more bookings direct, and every supplier seems to claim they have the “secret sauce” or the “winning formula” to do it.

Here’s the snag though – those OTAs, clever chaps they are, they’ve figured out it’s not about selling the hotel room…

Oh no, it’s about selling convenience – that is, make it super easy for the customer. Two clicks; booked.

GLOBAL AWARD WINNERS

You see, we figured this out too a while back, and built a marketing strategy with a real focus on making it easier for the customer to book.

Turns out the nice people at Google liked what we’d managed to achieve for our clients as a hotel marketing agency…

So as a company we went to the Google GLOBAL Awards in New York…

There were 1,100 marketing agencies from 58 countries…

1 Winner.

(if it’s not clear by now) WE WON!!!!!!!!

So, how did we win it?

(and why do we GUARANTEE results?)

Well there’s lots of aspects to it – beating the OTAs is no mean feat. But suffice to say, the principles are fairly simple.

FACT ONE: If you want to double bookings through your website – you can do it by either:

A) Doubling the traffic to your website

or

B) Doubling your conversion rate

Let’s say you therefore have 5,000 unique users to your website each month and a conversion rate percentage of 1%: so that’s 50 bookings per month.

To double that number of bookings (get an extra 50 bookings) through your own website, you would need to either:

A) Get another 5,000 unique visitors to your website each month

or

B) Convince just another 50 out of the 4,950 who didn’t book

FACT TWO: Convincing another 50 people out of 4950 visitors to book will be considerably cheaper than acquiring another 5000 visitors.

The big question will inevitably remain: How!?

Well, like most complex problems, there’s seldom a single silver bullet that will get you those extra 50 bookings. Rather, it’s lots of things working together.

What we’re taking about here though is Conversion Rate Optimisation or CRO, and it’s the process of watching people interact with your website, spotting where the “holes” are (i.e. where people are leaving your website) then testing solutions to block those holes so fewer people leave the site, and more people book.

We do that by split-testing home pages so that 50% see one version, 50% see a slightly different version. After 2 weeks, which converted better?

There’s obviously more technical aspects involved in the process here, but this results-driven approach won us Google’s Global Award for growing businesses online.

If you have a hotel and are interested in understanding more about our hotel marketing agency ‘More Direct Bookings Guarantee’ – email me at adam@directhotelmarketing.co.uk

Let’s beat those OTAs together.

SEO for Hotels. Ignore the waffle, do this ONE thing…

SEO for hotels, or search engine optimisation is often a term synonymous with aspiring to be on the front page of Google when a would-be customer googles ‘hotels in [your location]’

Well, I’ll be frank here – the content of this post won’t reveal the hidden secrets to leap-frogging booking dot com to the top-spot for those most lucrative keyword searches – no, that would be like attempting to explain the science behind how we got a man on the moon in one sentence.

Instead, this post will offer you something of exceptional value; something that 99% of hotels do not know even exists.

I’m referring to a Robots.txt file.

It’s a horribly jargonish and techy term – but suffice to say that if your website doesn’t have it, Google (and other less significant search engines) are actively penalising your website, serving you less traffic than you would otherwise receive.

If your website does not have a robots.txt file, it’s a bit like sticking a big wall around your website and as Google’s little crawlers attempt to rummage through your website so they know where to rank you; they have to work really hard to get over that wall. Now because you made it difficult for them, they pop you down a little lower than they would if you made it a little easier for those little crawlers.

Yes, naturally this is a super-simplified way of explaining it, but the principle stands true: no robots.txt file = less organic traffic making its way to your website.

Now, how to check you have one.

Pop yourself over to this website: https://www.lipperhey.com/en/ – it’s the most comprehensive free SEO report.

Naturally, robots.txt files is one of the first things it looks for.

If your website’s got one – great.

If not, you can create one very easily using this link: http://bit.ly/2y7xDGA

Adding it to the site is a 15 minute job for someone who knows what they’re doing – tell your webmaster to add this file to the highest level director of your site, or the root of your domain (don’t worry if those last few words meant nothing to you – they will).

Don’t have a webmaster? Head over to this website: http://bit.ly/2y0pSkR – It’s a search within fiverr.com showing a list of people online who will happily create a robots.txt file and add it to your website for as little as $5.

To surmise…

The difference between having a robots.txt file and not having one, is a bit like opening a restaurant on the high street, or opening one three streets back from the high street. Give yourself the best chance of being found online: it’s a small job, but will make a big difference to your business.