hotel checkout
704 days ago
 

If you do not have a blog, your hotel website is dead

I can’t even begin to remember the number of times I have heard hoteliers talk about the need to get more direct business, preferably through their own hotel websites.

Of course, this is something we want for all our hotels. We know that direct-sales brings a higher margin to the bottom line, rather than via reservations (with commission) to third party distributors like OTA or low net rate wholesalers and tour operators.

But then why are so many hotel websites still, well, static when it comes to content, especially many of the independently-owned properties.

Hoteliers invest in a website and think that is it for the next three, four or even five years. They still view the internet as a business of online brochures apparently. Their website’s content is completely static or stagnant.

Why?

It is a well-known fact that search engines put a high value on dynamic and fresh content. They are looking for websites that are constantly adding new information relevant to their field or related to their brand.

This should actually be fairly easy for a hotel. Tourism and travel is an amazingly dynamic industry, especially when looking at what is happening in a destination or the property itself.

Websites, lest we forget, are a continual effort. The content of your hotel website needs to be dynamic. This is where a corporate blog comes into play.

It should be part of your communication strategy to your guests, as well as potential bookers. Moreover it is also a tool to build a network of connections engaging with your local community.

Unfortunately it seems though there is some sort of industry disease, or apathy towards social media. Any creative effort of direct marketing in hotels is approached with distrust, fear and skepticism.

However, the reality is that you might spend a lot of money on your hotel website, but if you don’t have a blog much of it never changes. Your hotel website is dead.

Hoteliers, please wake up, and start blogging now! Or else.

Ideas

But what to write? How to blog? If you don’t know, try it out. Make a blog using WordPress or Blogger, and integrate it. It’s as simple as writing an email. Honestly.

In terms of topics, there should be no shortage of what you could write about. There surely are interesting events, festivals or trade-shows in your destination that your guests visit or attend.

And how about some restaurant and bar tips? Find out which shops your guests like and make some more related recommendations.

Oh, yeah, lists work really well for blogs. Top Five, Top Ten and Top 20 lists get plenty of retweets – at least it appears so.

Ah-ha, that should be easy, right? Really it is, I am even doing it right now. I am typing as I am thinking… It is as easy as writing an email or recommending guests staying at your hotel on what they can do in town. In short, become the online concierge of your hotel.

Make sure that you create original content, though, and are not simply punching out lists and articles for the sake of blogging. Make the blog an extended arm of your hotels atmosphere and style. Give it a unique spin.

Instead of focusing only on main attractions and points of interest, highlight personal recommendations, unknown gems and hidden secrets of your destination. Bars, restaurants and shops within walking distance of the hotel are always well appreciated.

Craft

I mentioned style before. Make it personal. Not just a simple tourist guide approach. Introduce some humor and fun, I am sure as a hotelier you have an outgoing character, and are used to being on stage. Do the same on your blog. Don’t be afraid of what people think. The mission is to set a tone and get noticed.

The angle you choose, accompanied by captivating headline, catches the interest of guests. Come on, admit it this title “If you don’t have a blog, your hotel website is dead!” surely got you to click and read some more.

The objectives with integrating blogs into hotel websites are many. One is to ensure the dynamics in content creation for the hotel website, and for search engines continue to value the authority of our website in relation to our location.

Also it provides valuable tourist and destination information to our guests. Blogs provides hotels with original content to share on social media websites and allow properties to engage with local business and attractions on social media websites.

Remember, do not write solely about destination-related information. Updates on what is going on in the property is also newsworthy. But these articles should not be in the style of a boring press release. It should be an authentic personal piece. Write it the way you would explain it to a friend.

Treat your guests less like a technical marketing object and more like a guest works amazingly well.

Furthermore, put your staff in the spotlight. Have them explain what they like about working at the hotel, and what their favorite places in town are. Add a fun picture so guests can recognize them during their stay (please, no boring head-shots! ). And how about the launch of a new seasonal menu in the restaurant?

Slow-burn

Blogging is a matter of practice – as you write more you get better at it. Find some other blogs and follow them. Search for inspiration online. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. But make sure you add your personal touch to it.

As time evolves you will also gain more technical experience and integrate modules and widgets into your blog pages. It will become even more engaging over time, and has the potential to become a sort of social hang-out or engagement section of your hotel website.

Blogging is really easy. And as we know it will help your website to grow its authority on search engines, and eventually direct sales. So why aren’t you blogging?

We look forward to seeing some more blogs integrated into hotel websites soon!

NB: Hotel check-out image via Shutterstock.

NB2: More from Xotels.

 
 
Patrick Landman

About the Writer :: Patrick Landman

Patrick Landman is a contributing Node to Tnooz and founder and CEO of Xotels. This hotel management group assists independent hotels with revenue management, online marketing and internet distribution strategies.

They offer outsourcing services, coaching, consulting and training. In his blog, Patrick challenges hoteliers to think out of the box and not to accept the established order.

Through a passionate drive for growth and improvement he brings creative tips, ideas and best practices to the table that can help hotels drive up their bottom line.

In previous roles he has helped to develop businesses like RateTiger and Hotels.com into industry leaders. 

 

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  1. Daniel Bryan

    It is simply about staying long.. Be innovative, adapt to the change and stay fresh.. As search engines (google) have evolved, its time we the hoteliers sud increase about our online presence more than ever..

     
  2. liveinn bangalore

    Good post .Thanks and i agree without a blog hotel website is dead we have planned to add a blog to our website.

     
  3. Spencer

    For me it is a fairly simple equation. Social media is here to stay, so hoteliers can either choose to embrace it and build a marketing strategy around it or they can choose to ignore it and plod along without its advantages. If done well social media can provide you essentially with a free sales force. After all if someone likes a hotel or even a written blog piece by someone in the industry they are going to share it with their friends.

     
  4. Brittany Trev

    Yes, well, up to a point….. But what so many small hotels fail to understand is that they can have the most brilliant website imaginable, all hi-tech flash with a sophisticated look and great copy and top-notch photos; but unless their site is easy to find on the Internet, and unless the site provides the information potential customers are looking for, in a clear and simple and easy-to-find manner, then their great website is a waste of time. the only people who benefit from it are the web-site designers who built the site and set it up, and probably charged the hotel an arm and a leg for doing so.
    Far more important than having a great sophisticated website is to have a website that people can find, and on which, once they find it, they can find the info they want. Blogging is one – probably overrated – way to make your hotel website visible; but far more effective is to get listed with directories and listings sites that will both send you visitors and give you the links that let your site show up directly or indirectly on the Internet. There are plenty of sites out there such as Gralon net, or Independent-hotels.info (two for France) that list hotels and link to them, helping to boost their online visibility.

     
  5. Johanes

    we manage a independent properties
    blog is the number one for us

     
  6. Brandon Dennis

    Thanks for writing this article Patrick. It was thought provoking and caused me to chew on what really makes a blog so special anyway. I explored those thoughts here on Tnooz: http://www.tnooz.com/2013/01/29/news/are-blogs-really-that-important-to-hotels/

     
  7. Isabella Bosler

    @Nikki: Not crazy at all. That’s what some businesses already do. Just not very realistic for small, family-run hotels. First because they normally need to reduce costs as much as possible and second because a professionally written blog might create such a perfect image which isn’t given on site. So for these small hotels (I’m not talking of boutique hotels) a dilettantly written blog might be better.
    Also, to have a writer at hand on site will be a rare opportunity. It’s much easier to find someone online, like a VA, but to brief this person takes the time and energy which the staff could use for posting and blogging on their own if they had this capacity.
    For the big players, who also have special social media teams, I’m totally with you. But these anyhow usually haven’t to be convinced of the advantages of a blog ;)

     
  8. Nikki Bayley

    Crazy idea, but bear with me… Get hotels to hire writers to write engaging, original content. Have a writer-in-residence on your blog. Get someone with the skills to talk to staff, find out what’s happening and write all about it.
    Sure – most people can write – but the rather crucial and seemingly-skated over part is is this: can they write something that anyone wants to read? Maybe not. Probably why they’re in the hotel business, not the writing business. Which brings me back to my original madcap point: hire writers to write.

    Oh, yeah. Full disclosure and all. I’m a writer :)

     
    • Patrick Landman

      Patrick Landman

      most important is to get a blog (dynamic content going). having 1 or multiple staff writing would work … in general hoteliers are creative and outgoing people, so they should be able to generate a niece piece themselves ,,,

      insourced, outsourced is not the focus, the key is generating a social personable steady flow of articles …

      whichever way, you need to consistently deliver …

      I really like the idea of having various people from the staff write (checked before publication of course) to really communicate the atmosphere at the hotel …

       
  9. Isabella Bosler

    Great article and comments. Fresh and interesting content for humans and search engines! …can’t be repeated often enough ;)

    I fully agree with Robert: the fundamental question is, if the hotel really cares about its guests, and whether it creates an atmosphere that makes guests loyal in return. This already separates the wheat from the chaff.
    Hotels whose self-image is that of a doss house surely can spare themselves the effort of blog writing.

    On the other hand there are small, charming hotels with staff that bends over backwards to fulfill all the needs of their guests and which in fact have a cult following, but no capacities for blog writing. These are often family-run, old-style hotels, of which the owners first have to understand that online engagement is almost as important as the engagement on site, and which then have to focus on how to reorganise themselves for having the required capacity. Having solved this question, the benefit such hotels can derive from a blog can’t be overrated.

     
  10. Raj Chudasama

    We use blogs for all our managed hotels. It is a piece of the puzzle for us. I’ve come across many owners/managers that decide to blog or use social media themselves and it either gets ignored after the initial excitement or done haphazardly. Finding someone to write the blog in a grammatically correct and cohesive manner is another challenge (harder than I thought it would be). We have been able to drive growth from our property websites to brand.com which is our most profitable channel.

    I agree that not every hotel can and will blog, but it’s more for the hotels that are looking to engage their customers online through social media, blogging, email, etc. Once we create a blog entry it is then pushed out to all our social media channels. It also helps in the search engines when we blog about an upcoming event and optimized for keywords such as “hotels near [event]“. It has helped us outperform in revpar when we go back and analyze our STAR reports.

     
  11. eric schafer

    This headline has to be the zenith of blogsession.

    Where is the evidence for this statement, apart from “search engines like fresh content”? A blog may be a great tool to communicate: whether it attracts users and generates revenue is a whole other topic.

    Do users really want a “relationship” with a hotel they might visit from time to time? How about their coffee shop, their supermarket, their dentist?

    Hotel websites should focus on the usability and content of their core user journeys before devoting what could be very low ROI labour to a time consuming and often fruitless activity.

     
    • Patrick Landman

      Patrick - Xotels

      @ eric

      Of course hotels need to get the basics right on their website. no one is denying that.

      Users do indeed would like to know more about the product or service they would like to pruchase. A Blog is a perfect tool to communicate about what is going on in your hotel. We are not talking about an ongoing relationship, that would be far-fetched indeed. But with a blog you can extend your message very effectively.

      It is also a great online concierge option to inform guests about some unique places they should try for a drink or dinner, etc.

      Once the basics of usability and content your a hotelwebsite are optimized, blog is the logical next step.

       
    • Drew Meyers

      The people that want a personal relationship (like me) are using AirBnB and not hotels…

       
  12. RobertKCole

    I normally add a few filters to the process of deciding if an organization needs a blog or not.

    Most importantly, there are lots of types of potential hotel blogs – B2B, B2C, leisure, business or meetings oriented. Some can focus on the destination, others the staff, even the guests. It must be understood what community will be served by the blog.

    Having a blog is a method to accomplish another goal – not the end goal itself.

    Aside from some site freshness and SEO benefits, the key to a hotel blog is guest engagement – they work best if a conversation can be developed.

    So, here is my list of questions to ask

    1) Does the hotel really care about its guests or vice versa?
    2) Is there someone literate available who can actually string together 250 to 750 words of cohesive thought?
    3) Are there legitimate topics of common interest between the hotel and its guests?
    4) Is the blog content of sufficient quality that a guest would be willing to share it with others?
    5) Is there sufficient breadth of content to sustain the blog indefinitely with a regular posting calendar?

    A no to any of these should make one reconsider launching a blog. Its chances of survival are limited.

    I would argue that most limited service airport or roadside hotels might not get the greatest benefit from a blog unless it is about something tangentially related to the property itself.

    That said, I believe blogs are a great idea for a wide variety of hotels to help make themselves more relevant to guests and encourage engagement. Just not for everybody. I don’t think we need to worry about having 400,000…

     
    • Patrick Landman

      Patrick - Xotels

      great points Robert!

      and you are right, the more generic airport and roadside hotels really need to stick to topics related to the property …

      400.000 is a beautiful number though, not sure if Tnooz carries us that far ;-)

       
  13. James Kemp

    Good article. Especially relevant for independent properties to level the search playing field against deep pocketed chains.

     
  14. Patrick Landman

    Patrick Landman@ Xotels

    Hi Alex,

    It is about time hoteliers get over their social media fears, and use the tools out their to prospective buyers. The have to share what is going on in their property, and immediate surroundings. The industry needs to move beyond the old fashioned press release mindset and become more natural in their PR. A blog is a great tool to communicate.

    And no, it should not be written by interns, but by the staff, and managers. They are already communicating with guests offline, so why couldn’t or shouldn’t they do so online.

    Wouldn’t it be great if you get to know the property and its team beyond the standard website content. Experience them on a more personal level, taking a look behind the scenes, before you make your reservation?

    No worries we wont tie you to your desk chair and make you read a year of articles of all 400.000 new hotel blogs. We are not about to start the ninth industry battle :-) .

    But hoteliers have to understand the underutilized potential of their hotel website, and take full advantage of this medium and the internet.

    Patrick

    Ps I think this falls i to your problem solving category

     
  15. Alex Bainbridge

    What? Do you really want 400,000 hotel blogs on the web? What a terrifying prospect!

     
 
 

Newsletter Subscription

Please subscribe now to Tnooz’s FREE daily newsletter.

This lively package of news and information from Tnooz’s web site provides a convenient digest of what’s happening in technology that drives the global travel, tourism and hospitality market.

  • Cancel