[Social media for hotels, does it work? does it convert? is it a waste of time? and is there any ROI? Should one have a Facebook page? â€Ś The questions go on. Still, you may feel like you don't understand ecommerce at all. What is all the propaganda about? Why the huge valuations? And most importantly, is there a way for you to participate? How to properly implement it? and what budget you should allocate for it?]
Ecommerce Budget 2014
1- Website features: A website feature is usually used to make your website more interactive and enrich it. Below a list of chargeable features you may add to your website. -
Company Log In: There is a one-time setup fee of € 250. You will be able to offer negotiated rates to organisations you have contract with using a username and password protection. They will be able to easily book their negotiated rates (if available), the Book & Stay and the Prepay & Save rates.
Photo Gallery: There is a one-time setup fee of € 50. This feature is added by default to any new hotel website. This will allow you to develop and enrich the quality and relevancy of content on your website and make it more interactive.
Additional Languages: There is a one-time setup fee of € 250.00 per language for any new website. For the time being the Arabic language is not available and the head office in Paris is still working on improving the platform.
Weather News: Annual fee of 100 Euros. This will allow you to enhance the quality and relevancy of content on your website and make it more interactive.
Virtual Tour/ Video/Photo Shooting: A virtual tour will make a potential client fall in love with the property even before the actual tour begins. Globalization and the rapid changes are a part of modern lifestyles and nowadays we are definitely experiencing a change in the behavior of customers. The global cost may vary between 2500$ and 5000$. I do recommend hotels in the same country to work together as this might definitely reduce the fees and you will be able to get discounted rates.
2- Facebook: Advertising on FB Ad Campaign: This depends on how many days we will launch the campaign. (A minimum of 100 $ per week) This will help the hotel: a- Get people to like their FB Page and help target the audience based on location, demographics and interests. b- Promote the posts with ads to engage with our customers and their friends. I do highly recommend each property to run a Facebook Ad campaign on a monthly basis.
To go more into details: Now, Internet users are spending more time on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter than ever before. If you as a marketer or an advertiser are unable or unwilling to appreciate the importance of Facebook ads then you will be missing the huge opportunity to connect with millions of online visitors to your business. It is then important to run an advertising campaign on Facebook BUT you need to create THE perfect ad campaign for getting maximum exposure.
Try to pay attention to the below details: Who is Your Audience (choose the location of the people you want the Ad to reach, their age, their interests…) according to the ad campaign you are running; The Image in Your Ad: As you know the saying a picture is worth a 1000 words. Therefore, choose a high quality image that suits the ad campaign you are running; the timing of the schedule of your campaign, the cost, the length…
3- Advertise on Twitter It is an ideal way to: Grow your presence on Twitter, Target existing and potential customers by location and interests and amplify your messages and promotions.
First, choose a location: advertise locally, nationally or globally. Then target the audience you want to reach Tell more about the interest of the people you want to reach so you can easily connect to them. Promote your Tweets: to put your message in front of a new audience. Pay only for what works: Twitter lets you set a daily spending limit. You pay only when users follow your Promoted Account or when they retweet, favorite, reply or click on a link in your Promoted Tweet.
4- SEM: Search Engine Marketing- Advertise on Google: Google Ad words You want to grow your business and Put your message in front of potential customer’s right when they're searching for what you have to offer? Google Ad is the thing you should go for in order to increase and boost your visibility. Why is it important? Because: -
Tourists use search engines to look for the best touristic destinations People trust higher results You will be found when people look for you Integration with offline advertising (if someone types your name or best hotels deals, you will be found)
How? A specialized online-media company Budget: between 1000$ to 2000$ a month depending on the country, the companyâ€Ś 5- SEO: Search Engine Optimization SEO programme would need to be run in English only due to constraints with the Content Management System. Arabic could be added at a later stage. SEO = CONTENT= Attractive + Entertaining + Updated Regularly on Social medias tools and on the Website Why SEO is important? SEO helps create competitive advantage for your property, by making your website work harder. It helps: -
Deliver a positive return on investment through reduced distribution costs and higher Occupancy
Develop online marketing strategies for search engines, travel portals and social media channels
Improve the conversion from an existing website
Reduce the dependency on Online Travel Agencies which should be all your AIM
Reach new markets
The online market is growing in the Middle East The SEO programme will assist shift business from OTAâ€™s direct to your website
It is also important because: -
People and tourists use search engines to look for the best hotels to spend their holidays at. People trust higher results Long term site benefit and name awareness (your site will be on the first page of search engines for related queries)
SEO can be done in different languages depending on the audience you will need to target and a specific budget will be allocated per language. How it will be done? By a specialized online media company Budget: 1500$ per month It could be as well interesting if the hotels in the same region agree on going for the SEO in order to get a better discounted price. 6- Improvements of your social media tools Why? -
To have it more creative Interactive To add tabs
Because: Everyone’s on Facebook and YOU need to improve faster than the competition Young people, decision makers, business men and women at households (30 years old and above) are also increasingly using social media and Facebook People are engaged by viral marketing (let everyone talk about the brand via social networks) People respond to ads and messages if they are targeted and relevant
How? Specialized online media company. Cost: 1000$- 1500$ 7- Review Pro Nowadays guest reviews are being an important decision factor which helps the reviewer just picks up your property. So Review Pro is an important tool that can help each property improves with online guest satisfaction through feedback and better management of online reviews. It helps stealing market share from competitors through semantic analysis concepts and increasing revenue through publishing reviews to your website and leads on social media. Budget: €69/month/property for 12 month contract €57.60/month/property for 24 month contract One time set up fees WAIVED (standard cost is €109 per property) 8- Run advertising banners in dedicated websites (skyscraper, leaderboard, MPU) Why is it important? -
To increase your visibility and your presence
Cost: Between 12$ and 15$ CPM (Cost per Mille)
9- TripAdvisor Check Rates Some online digital companies I have met entered into a partnership with TripAdvisor to offer to their clients the opportunity to take part in the Check Rates Programme and this has proved to be successful for the majority of clients who have tried it. TripAdvisor has since upgraded its’ website and the Check Rates Programme now incorporates availability checks as well as real time rate displays.
But first what is the Meta Search Check Rates Programme? TripAdvisor currently generates the majority of itsâ€™ income from OTAs who pay for hotel availability / price checks and advertising on their website. If a visitor selects a check-in and check-out date, the screenshot shows all partners with availability as well as their BARs (Best Available Rates). If a visitor clicks on any of the prices listed below, the partner will pay for that click and the visitor will be directed to the booking engine. Previously, only the major hotel chains could participate in the programme but since 2012, some online companies have actively been managing this programme for their clients, in a similar way to PPC (Pay per click) campaigns. Why it is important? How -
To help hotels increase their direct exposure and most important part is to reduce Online Travel Agents (OTAs) commission. High ROI does it work? A user will click a rate and arrive directly into your booking engine. We will set up the link between Trip Advisor and your booking engine with a tracking code which works with Google Analytics. If you maintain rate parity, it is likely that a user will book direct with you.
Other projects to come and to take into consideration:
QR Code on all collaterals: it is the trend of the moment. We need to show everyone we are turning digital. (printing cost)
Developing Mobile Apps (GT MENAâ€Ś): 3000$: Mobile is an important booking channel. It is imperative to develop online advertising Programmes especially for mobile search. Smart phone penetration is very high in the Middle East and it can definitely generate good returns.
Ecommerce and digital items: E-Standby: implementation of an upgrade system for your booker in the CRS (central reservation system): a certain commission is taken out of the upgrade. Part of city guide websites: certain commission taken or discounts offered (between 20 to 35% discounts on Rooms, F&Bâ€Ś) Online deals (commission between 20% to 50%) Contests/Competitions (Prizes for the winner: Dinner, lunch, free stayâ€Ś) Digital tablet screen available at the reception (1000-1500$)
Conclusion: While many hoteliers and marketers still look at social media as an advertising tool, it should also be looked at primarily as a communication platform to engage with guests and potential guests. Hotels that are built with social elements in their DNA will receive many new guests through social media) but that is a positive side-effect that one should consider as a bonus and not the main goal. So please bear in mind not only to advertise but also engage with your guests! Share with them a story, the Golden Tulip STORY! Thank you