and Resorts. I was speaking with a Superior Small Lodging partner a few weeks ago by phone inquiring about who, what, where, when and why of Oigidecht Hotels and Resorts. Many clients and partners say “Oigidecht is a hard name to pronounce and then I reply so was Starwood or Marriott 20 years ago but guests can pronounce their names now that that are popular so the plan is the same with our companies name”. They always get a chuckle out of that. Just like it is hard to pronounce the name of my company (“oi”-“gid”-“echt”) it can be just as hard for a guest to find a Superior Small Hotel or Motel on the worldwide web. Just as my company can get over looked by an absentee owner of a Hotel/ Motel or owners looking to retire and are looking for a manager or management contracts so can guests when looking for a Hotel, Motel, B&B or Inn. 95% of our clients and partners ask us “why are my numbers dropping in occupancy or do I
have to lower my rate so my guests will be happy?” They ask do you think it is my product? Do you think it is staff? Do you think my location or area is getting worse? And I reply how do you look to your guests or potential guests on the internet?
One of the biggest misconceptions of Superior Small Lodging owners and managers have is they cannot compete with “large hotels” or “chain hotels” like Best Western, Choice Hotels, Travel Lodge, Marriott Courtyard, Hilton Garden Inn, Hyatt Place and est. when it comes to online presents so they give up and there websites show it. When the fact is Superior Small Lodging can move on the internet faster, market better, and downright compete with the best of them if you know your “online target market” and “who your customer is” and “who your growth customer is”. Most of our clients and partners tell us Steve “my target market is between 55 to 75 years of age and have low expectations for hotel/ motel rooms or are repeat guests with us for years”. I tell them they would be surprise if they really knew there customer was a female possible between the age of 30 to 45 assisting her 55 to 75 years of age family members in finding a hotel close by another family member, are attraction they want to see or wanting to return to the clients and partner Hotel/ Motel. Then a client or partner says to me “well they cannot make a reservation online they have to call my Hotel/ Motel so I know target guest” I reply yes but how about the new guests you were just telling me about how did they find you? They usually rattle off a list of websites they are listed on (Chamber of Commerce, Convention Visitor Bureau, and est.). If I just described you then keep reading this could help you out.
The number one rule when marketing a hotel is not the name you will choose for it or the name that was given to the hotel, it is the location of the hotel, what surrounds it or what is there to do nearby it. If your Hotel/ Motel website is 3 or more years old and the content one the site (Pictures, content, area attractions, and est.) have not been touched or updated you are paying for a boat anchor with no boat. If your site has one big page of information, has 4 different color texts on it, plays music (I hope you have the copy rights to the music), or has a version of flash that no longer exists your site is “out of date” just like the mullet hair cut’s and Members Only jackets from the 80’s are and NO they will not come back in style. Many of our clients and partners look to their website companies who have 100’s of site they manager including there’s and say what do I do? Many of these website companies respond with “well that will cost you $X,XXX.XX dollars for the site and $X,XXX.XX dollars in hours to build it. Many clients and partners have been with these website companies for many years and have relationships with them. Many are worried about the “what if’s” or the website company gives them the hard sales pitch telling them “they will lose all there SEO or worse if they update or move the site to some other company”. Yup, it is time to Stop Drop and Roll, they are unifier. Here is the real deal, many of these website companies hosting your site, they take your money and send you a report once a month that is it. They dazzle you with numbers but your business is not growing. The good companies consult with an owner or manager once a week and have a plans and strategies for the quarter and for the year. They do not just give you a number they are a part of your business and they are invested. When you find a company like that do not leave them in my opinion they would tell you all I am about to share with you and more.
Here are a few tips when updating a website and keeping the content relevant to your guests. If you master these items you will see an increase in guests and an increase in happy guests.
1. Choose a domain name that find your hotel name and then buy all domain names that would coincide
with the domain name. Example; John owns the Yankee Clipper Hotel in Florida. John buys the domain name www.Yankeeclipper.com, John should also by names “like names”; Yankeeclipperhotel.com, Yankeeclipperhotelflorida.com, Yankeeclipperhotelfortlauderdale.com, Yankeeclipperbeachhotel.com and est. Once you own these domains no one can use them against your business and you can use them to enchase you website with backlinks. You can also decide to clone you site or use the domains for future projects. Yes, it might cost you between $10 and $20 a year, per domain but it will cost you thousands of dollars or guest in the future if you do not. Online Travel companies are taking like names of popular Hotel/ Motel names and setting up sites that look like the hotel but are booking sites for these online travel companies. We can across this with Postcard Inn and it was very hard win a lawsuit when owners could have bought the domains and decided not to.
2. Choose a website template that is crisp and clean. Use a font and content that is crisp and clean in one consistent color. Make sure the site can have multiple pages, a blog and can have a booking engine on it or added to if you decide down the road to add it, and do not forget social media it is the Superior Small Lodging best friend (I will write another blog post all about how one day). Many partners and clients we consult with ask us why so crisp/ clean or I want my website to be unique to my Hotel/ Motels personality and that is what makes us different. Yes, it does make you unique but at the same time it is what turns off a guest who is trying to find information about your Hotel/ Motel or maybe these guests to not have the same taste in purple flowers and pink font as you do so they find a website down the road with a competitor that is easy to use and on the eyes. I tell all my clients and partners if you want to be unique or Wow the guest online hire an awesome photographer and show the guest how unique or Wow your Hotel/ Motel is, they say a picture says a thousand words, go ahead and relay it them.
3. As I was saying photo’s are great and you want to show the guest the true hotel / Motel. In the past many of our clients and partners have limited budgets and major professional photographers cost way to much, so we have used wedding or portrait photographers at a flat fee or an amount of pictures for one price. So what do you need, you should have a picture for every “room type” (if you have 12 different kinds of rooms you should have a picture of each) in the hotel in at least two different angles, one bathroom picture in each for your room types, one maybe 2 of the Lobby, with the pool area as many good ones as you want during the day and at sunset, gift shop, workout room, and any another services (breakfast area, bikes, jet skis, and est.) the guest have asked about in the past you need a pictures. Pictures sell guests and the right pictures sell to happy guests. Do not do a “massive touchup job” on the photo’s but if there are things that need to be touched up like firearm cover, mistake of a beer bottle in pool shot or trash can spend the money and make the picture look professional. It will play off in the end. Even if as a owner or manager you think pictures of a certain room are area of the Hotel/ Motel will hurt your business, having pictures that misrepresent your Hotel / Motel or not having any/ limited picks hurts you worse. The todays guests are very weary of no or limited pictures on a site as much as they are of a picture looking too good to be true. If you take the right pictures your guest service scores and
return gusts will increase. For those of you that love video it is a great tool but remember this, the guest wants to picture “themselves at your hotel” NOT meet every guest that has stayed at your Hotel/ Motel. When you put people in pictures or video the guest can date the pictures or video from hair cut style and clothing styles. Our best success story with video was from Postcard Inn Resorts. A General Manager at the St. Pete property met 3 film students from Florida State University at a Tampa Chamber meeting and they ask him if he was looking for a video for the resort. He says “I do not have much money but I can offer you a few free room nights and beer what do you say” and they say yes….this web link is the product they put out for us ; http://vimeo.com/63180977 . I have to say it was fun working with the student and their ideas put the hotel on a whole other level. This video has been seen over a million times on the hotel site and guests have told us how the video convinced them to book with the resort. I strong suggest them and you never know they might work for food and hotels stays for you too, they are a great bunch of guys (http://www.indieatlanticfilms.com )
4. Have stand tabs on the site with relevant Hotel/ Motel headings for the guests to understand. Have tabs like (Hotel Rooms) or (About XXXXXX Hotel). If you are not sure take a look at other competitor sites. You always, always want an
attractions tab because most guests are coming to stay with you believe it or not for those not the color of your bed spread. You want to list your attractions closest to furthers away from your Hotel/ Motel. You also want to hyperlink these area attractions on your site. This does not mean copy and paste the website link next to the attractions name. It mean highlight the name of the attraction and hyperlink it so if a guests waves his cursor over the name it will highlight and if the guest clicks on the name it opens “another webpage” NOT redirects the existing page on your sight. You never want the guest to have to use the back button to get back to your site or leave your website it all together. The more pages with good pictures of the” correct and relevant information” the better. No picture of flowers next to or below a paragraph about how nice your pool or workout room is.
5. I cannot tell you how many time I have found Hotel / Motel website to look pretty or sexy and then find out it is not built to book rooms. I tell my clients and partners all the time your website its built to make you money, so why not have
a booking engine on your website? The usual answer is it is too costly or I do not know how to manage it. I respond with it is too costly not to have a booking engine on your website. Some clients and partners have come to too us and said “I want to move from a pencil and tablet or a spreadsheet to a PMS (property management system) but I am not good with a computer”. If you can operate a cell phone made after 2012 or if you can sign in and have friends on Face Book you
can use a PMS. When investing in a system we suggest adding or getting a package with an online tool connected to the PMS. Once you have it, proudly show it ON THE FRONT PAGE of your website and all other pages. So many clients and partner make the mistake of hiding it in the tab area NO put it in the upper left, right or center of the page. Yes, the more the guest sees it and has access to it the better. Here is the big secret not many know use a BOOK NOW in big bold letters (red and yellow are the two best colors to get attention look at any good billboards you will see what I mean) with a special offer under over above it. Example; –Button- (BOOK NOW) - wording below- Florida Residents Receive 20% Discount When They Book Online. Of course you want to make sure you have a rate program that is 20% off your best available rate for these guests “based on available”. What most clients and partner do not know or even realize is that an online reservation cost from $4.00 to $7.00 per reservation where a phone reservation can cost between $8.00 to $15.00. How you ask, how much do pay your employees answering the phones at you Hotel/ Motel? Did you know most guests call 2 to 3 times before making a reservation? Yup, from what we have found it is true. Not only is the online cheaper but it increases the time your employee sends welcome and answering your guests questions/ needs. Make for a happy guest and helps your labor cost. Also if you contract a PMS system with a 2 way interface your employee will not have to data process from e-mail or fax the reservations will automatically down load in to your systems and subtract the room from that days inventory. An added plus is with the PMS you get access to travel agencies and online travel agencies like (Expedia, Travelocity, Splenda, Orbitz, and other online boutique sites) can now interface with your PMS. Now your website is making you money not eating your profits. We consult with our clients and partners that online travel agencies can be expensive with on average for Superior Small Lodging taking 18% to 25% of the rate offers to the consumer. Example; Johns hotel is offering a $189.00 rate online with Expedia and Susan decides to purchase one of Johns hotel rooms online through Expedia. Susan would pay Expedia the $189.00 but John would receive $151.20 for the room from Expedia. There are seasons at most Hotel/ Motels would use Expedia to their advantage and there are times the hotel would not offer a rate to Expedia. Overall the Hotel/ Motel will be seen by thousands more then if never listed. In another blog post I will speak about the online travel agencies in detail.
These are just some of the consulting items we offer our clients and partners when consulting with them. I hope this helps you build a better Superior Small Lodging.
Oigidecht Hotels and Resorts