6 years ago

What happens when you apply semantic search technology to hotel websites?

NB: This is a guest article by Larry Smith, a partner at US-based Thematix.

A hotel is dynamic — a veritable revolving door of people and activities. Yet most hotel websites are dynamic only in the booking process.

It’s a rare hotel that understands that you are checking in for a reason, and that that reason is probably something happening in the hotel or nearby, like a conference, meeting, sightseeing attraction, wedding or a family reunion.

Using your hotel website to share information about local news, conferences, tradeshows, concerts, theater, attractions and the like will not only yield greater guest satisfaction and convenience; it can yield very substantial marketing and social presence.

If your hotel relies at all on search engine traffic for top-line revenue, here is an interesting way to trying to get more for less.

Over the past several months, Thematix — in association with Hyperdisk Marketing — has undertaken a variety of pilot programs to determine the value of semantically marking up certain types of web pages using Schema.org tags.

This markup consists of invisible code – in the webpage itself – that tells search engines about people, organizations, offers, locations, events and a myriad other things. The search engines use the markup to help determine the relevance of your content to the users’ search queries.

We worked with two hotels located in mid-size markets on the east and west coasts, both of which were local properties belonging to a top five national brand in the US, each of which had its own “vanity” site providing basic hotel information and a booking engine.

In one case, we used Schema.org markup to expose only the existing website content to search engines. So, things like on-premises restaurants, location information, guest capacity and amenities were described in meta-data that search engines can understand.

In the other case, we created a new web page, sharing the main site’s look and feel, which contained time-based events, including concerts, theatre performances, and season special activities within a ten-mile radius of the hotel.

This idea was to become a trusted source of unique “news and activity” information on the events in the community and to intercept search engine users when searching for information related to the purpose of their journey.

In both cases there was an immediate value to the Schema.org mark-up with both sites being re-indexed almost immediately. The mark-up informed Google, Bing, and Yahoo that the hotels were more than hotels – they were activity venues with substantially more value and relevance to people.

More importantly, the addition of unique content and descriptive language to the second site broadened the footprint to “long tail” searches that are relevant but not a typical subset of the sales and booking messages; further discussion and examples of these benefits are discussed in this Tnooz article by Rob Kost from Thematix.

Dozens of new keywords are indexed and linked to the hotel at a rate substantially ahead of nearby competition.

The SEO benefits are obvious in the redacted Google Analytics reports below. The number of Google SERP impressions doubled, and the site advanced considerably in results position – within a day or two of the new page going live.

In one hotel case, using best practice valuation, we gained over $7,000 of monthly SEO traffic value.

Further, among the top ten keywords, we achieve a one-to-five ranking for all but one word at Google, Bing and Yahoo; that one word came in eighth at Google, and was typical since it is a common misspelling that is best practice to include.

NB: This is a guest article by Larry Smith, a partner at US-based Thematix.

NB2: Search planning diagram via Shutterstock.

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A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries.



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  1. Samuel

    Thanks Robert and Larry. Interesting stuff.

    Any way to stay on top of the extensions (like Room, Amenity ) you’re fleshing out?

  2. Juan

    Since then, the semantic web are the future of SEO

  3. Thematix Releases Draft Extensions to Schema.org THEMATIX

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    […] post by Thematix Partner Larry Smith originally appeared in Tnooz on February 28, […]

  5. Making Hotel Websites Semantic « Microformats & the semanantic web

    […] Smith of Thematix recently discussed the potential value of adding semantic technology to hotel websites. He writes, “A hotel is dynamic — a veritable revolving door of people and activities. Yet […]

  6. Ricard Menor

    Early 2010 I knew from GoodRelations father they were preparing a Hotel industry specialised vocab, and we all had the chance to read about the great succes of Bestbuy and other companies by using GR within their code. Does anybody know of well documented bizcases?

  7. Making Hotel Websites Semantic - semanticweb.com

    […] Smith of Thematix recently discussed the potential value of adding semantic technology to hotel websites. He writes, “A hotel is dynamic — a veritable revolving door of people and activities. Yet […]

  8. Larry Smith

    @Geert-Jan Brits

    schema.org established a framework and structure with the understanding there are unique properties that will be necessary to add according to practical needs and requirements in describing domain specific items. In our case we were confronted with trying to extend the structure around a thing (hotel), physical location, proximity to events, etc. that did not directly fit into the structure.

    Some specific technical detains are here: http://schema.org/docs/extension.html

    What is really interesting however is this statement: “Extensions that gain significant adoption on the web may be moved into the core schema.org vocabulary, so that search engines can provide more functionality based on better understanding of the structured data.”

    That’s why Thematix is working with the Open Travel Alliance to establish Ontologies for the travel industry, starting with car rentals.

  9. Steven Herron

    One important point to mention is that Thematix is expanding on the Schema.org definitions for more granular traction on the long-tail search phrases that deliver the most qualified traffic. Thanks for writing this informative article and I look forward to developing additional data to produce the needed case studies.

    • Geert-Jan Brits

      “Thematix is expanding on the Schema.org definitions “. Could you elaborate on that? Are these expansions part of proposals communicated to schema.org with the intent of being accepted (and used) by google, etc. in the near future? Any link where I could follow these expansions / proposals?


      • Robert Kost

        Hi Geert-Jan,

        Schema.org is designed to be extensible — one can add new classes and properties by either simply declaring them in the context of the schema (e.g., “http://schema.org/TnoozArticleComment”) or by referring to an external, third party schema (e.g., Good Relations).

        In doing its markup, Thematix created some new entities that are specific (and we think, necessary) to describe hotels; things like Room, Amenity and the like.

        Whether Google, Bing or anyone else ultimately takes these up and begins to use them depends very much on whether and how the industry gets behind them and uses them. Google, et al, will honor industry-related extensions if they’re well thought out and widely adopted — it is in their interest to do so. We only provided a start.

        Hope this helps,


  10. Christopher Regan

    Indeed, here’s a case of the “invisible” semantic code delivering quite visible SEO results for these travel destinations. I’d like to see more SEO case-studies for the travel industry and more hotel SEO schema effects/infographics.


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