Most of the businesses that advertise on our websites are business owners who run entire the show. From guiding tours or making breakfast at their B&Bs, to running the books and backend of the business, while managing their marketing efforts - they're spread thin to say the least.
Online marketing is absolutely a primary channel for businesses these days to get customer; but it can be intimidating, costly and confusing without understanding how it works. There are several situations that small business owners are faced with when deciding what ways to spend their precious marketing dollars: 1) Not enough time to understand and examine marketing data available 2) Limited marketing funds 3) Lack of desire to learn yet another skill set 4) Keeping up with Google and Internet trends. And most recently, hotels who advertise and book rooms online have been having to deal with Google competing with Trip Advisor for room bookings and other OTA strategies.
In an environment where booking commissions are getting higher and more frequent for affiliate and discount websites, how do hospitality businesses keep a larger precent of the pie? This is the question we're hearing more often. Read Hotelier’s Action Plan to Win Back Market Share from the OTAs. There's not a lot hotels and tours can do to fight the growing trends that the Big Boys like Google and Trip Advisor set in motion, but there are ways to make direct booking appealing to consumers. We highly recommend implementing some of the strategies discussed in this article if it makes sense for your business.
While trying to provide our advertisers with non-biased marketing insight, in this case, we can't help but mention that high-quality, interested online visitors going directly to your website and booking there is extremely valuable if the price is right. If you can, find online resources that offers direct traffic to your website and promotes booking on your website rather than shopping around on OTA websites. The other thing that is highly recommended is investing in reservation tracking software if it's not already included in what you currently use to book tours and rooms. Knowing where your reservations are coming from is one of the most important elements of running efficient marketing. That's why print, billboards, and other hard to track mediums are starting to loose value. They're hard to track and they rely on potential customers' happenstance on being where you've placed your ads. With the exception of the invasive, old-school method of pop-up advertisements, Internet marketing is inherently incredibly targeted. Online visitors type into a search engine looking specifically for something they want or need and do the research. There are three solid ways in which you can help your business get more customers: 1) Get your website to rank well organically in Google (or other popular search engines) 2) Advertise on the websites that rank on the first page of search results 3) Remarket if you have the budget for it. Of course there are other things you can do as well such as Google Adwords, allowing an OTA to book for you, etc. But we believe those are secondary to getting direct traffic to your business website, if you're confident that your website can make the sale. This stuff can get tedious and daunting, but in the end - a good, efficient and effective marketing plan can make a huge difference.Written By: Chrissy Zubieta