Avoiding negative SEO in order to Improve your Hotels visibility online

Avoiding negative SEO in order to Improve your Hotels visibility online

SEO, or search engine optimization, has become a necessary part of business, especially for hotels & resorts. It’s what helps companies get their websites in the top results from search engines like Google or Bing. Most hotels understand that it is now an essential item to include in their online marketing plans. They consistently use SEO best practices to drive traffic to their websites. But one of the most important things right now for marketing plans is to study up on negative SEO.

seo3Google has been more open about discussing this topic recently, even including a support page about link schemes in their Webmaster Tools. Some businesses have gone so far as to pay other companies to attach their links to less reputable sites just to generate more clicks. This might not sound like a bad idea on its surface, but when your links end up on sites that are associated with spam or shady practices, it can actually hurt your business by affecting rankings and traffic on your website. This is called negative SEO. In fact, there are now companies that offer services to businesses and individuals who are looking to use “black hat” tactics to sabotage their competition. The big problem is that these tactics violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Here are a few ways to identify if you’re a victim of negative SEO.

Create Relevant Content
The best way to drive traffic to your site and keep things fresh is to create relevant content that is valuable to others and can gain popularity among Internet users. If your content is something people feel that they or others can benefit from, they are more likely to share your content with friends and colleagues, which can drive traffic to your site. Those who use negative SEO tactics have been known to scrape, or copy, content from successful sites. This is a definite black hat tactic, as it’s basically plagiarism at its worst. Some people are just lazy and don’t want to take the time to create their own valuable content, so they use programs that go through sites to find content and publish it to their pages. (When Google comes across 2 pages that are exactly the same, Google will often times devalue both pages in their search rankings.) There are tools that can help you find out whether you’ve been a victim of content scraping, such as Copyscape.

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Find irrelevant keywords.
Google has several tools that are extremely helpful when it comes to SEO. Google Analytics, for example, can help you find out which keywords drive the most traffic to your site. It’s important to know which keywords generate the most traffic so you can use them in your shareable content. If you spot irrelevant keywords, do some research to figure out why those keywords have referred users to your site. (For example, if you see from Google Analytics you’re getting traffic for the keyword “pay day loans”) It could be that negative SEO is having an effect. When irrelevant keywords drive traffic to a site that has nothing to do with the search terms, that site automatically loses credibility with Internet users.

Associate your links with other quality websites.

Most negative SEO is done offline, on sites other than the one that is being attacked. Backlinking is the most common way to generate negative SEO for a site. This is where Google’s page about link schemes comes into play. According to Google’s Webmaster Tools Help, “Any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google’s search results may be considered part of a link scheme.” Educate yourself about link spammers and other black hat strategists and then take action to stop and prevent it from happening further. There are programs and tools that can help you figure out where and when backlinking to your site has taken place. A graph will show spikes and dips. If there is an odd spike in the results, it is highly possible that spam links have been created for your site. Make sure to research where exactly these links have been posted. (A good backlink checking tool is www.opensiteexplorer.org. You will be able to see what sites are linking to you with the exact anchor text.) A fairly new tool that will help you avoid negative SEO through link schemes is Google’s advanced Disavow Links tool. If you have tried to get rid of spam links but your page rank is still low, then you can disavow certain links, and Google will not take them into account when it assesses your site. This tool should only be used if you have done all you can to try to remove spam and low-quality links.

Google yourself.
Google Alerts allows you to monitor web content based on specified search terms. Set one up with your personal or company name or other relevant terms that might cause your website to pop up. Knowing where your site has been mentioned each day will help you keep tabs on where traffic comes from and what sites have posted legitimate links to your website.

It is important to stay vigilant and be aware of what links are directing traffic to your website. Generating negative SEO will lower your rank in Google search results, practically invalidating your search engine optimization efforts. Don’t fall for shady schemes that promise more hits and higher search results rankings. Black hat strategies like the ones those companies might use will only hurt you in the long run.

If you need help with your SEO strategy, the contact us info@hotelient.net for further information

Will Goliath crush David?  Distressed inventory upstart, Roombid.eu calls out Hotel Tonight with an auction style model.

Will Goliath crush David? Distressed inventory upstart, Roombid.eu calls out Hotel Tonight with an auction style model.

There is a lot to take in for Sales Directors of Hotels & Resorts  as the hotel market has been constantly evolving over the last decade. Gone are the days when you had your wholesalers, GDS, companies and direct bookings.  Then came internet with the OTA´s like booking.com who took over from the wholesalers and became the dominant business segment in a lot of independent hotels to a point where some hotels still totally depend on them, just like years ago with GTA.

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Now we are in the midst of the mobile revolution, with independent Hotels & Resorts slowly adapting to the new reality.  There are now a number of new sites offering from last minute discount deals like Hotel Tonight (hoteltonight.com) to auction room sites like Roombid (roombid.eu) straight to your mobile.  All great ideas in theory, but are they here to stay?

Lets take the last minute discount deal apps first.  Having worked in the London market, I know what it is like when your Sunday becomes your distress day, you need to react.  Contracting with an app like Hotel Tonight makes sense, as it can help you maintain your price points with you competitor set on your online pricing while effectively promoting on a app that at the moment is not monitored on any price comparisons tools or websites.  Also at present there is not a lot of other options available apart from your normal online price discounts and promotions you would promote online, so in essence a great route to place promotions without the need to change your pricing strategy.

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Then there are auction room night websites.  I am yet to be convinced that they can offer a significant revenue stream for hotels purely on the basis that if you know that your Hotel or Resort has a typical distress season like any Spanish coastal resort can attest in January.  There are so many more options available to you.  Firstly, your pricing is set accordingly to anticipate this period, Secondly Flash sales agencies like Voyage Prive and Secret Escapes can provide visibility to a market place that is looking for that great deal of week.  They have a strong market base to sell too and are easy to purchase from your smartphone.  If the idea of auction sites is to offer last minute deals,  I cannot yet see why a guest would go to an auction when the same deal can be purchased on other sites quicker.  What is in it´s favor though is that like Hotel Tonight, it effectively offers you a way to discount your hotel without affecting your online pricing strategy.

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There is sure to be many more ideas coming to the market as companies are exploring innovative ways on how to connect with the smartphone user, however these mobile apps or websites have to also understand that the role of a Hotel Sales or Revenue Director is maximize revenue when you have demand and when in your distressed days or periods, work with agencies both online and offline to guarantee visibility and bedroom sales.  Hotel Tonight fulfills this requirement, I have my doubts though that companies like Roombid do at present.

Smart Hotels are becoming their own “OTA”s with more traffic than booking.com, without paying commissions

Smart Hotels are becoming their own “OTA”s with more traffic than booking.com, without paying commissions

Google Hotel Finder has been around for a number of years mainly as an experiment, but over the last few months Google has started displaying Google Hotel results aggressively in SERPs (search engine result pages) in mainland Europe, making it important that your hotel is listed.

Google Hotel Finder is designed to be a one-stop-shop for accommodation planning. It is designed to display relevant information from many hotels that fit your search criteria, and then give you reservation options. I’ll get into further details after I explain how to get your hotel listed.

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How to List Your Hotel with Hotel Finder

Similar to how Google scans other websites to find information to display, Google Hotel Finder gathers hotel information from a variety of places. Here is what you need to do to get listed.

Step One – Create a Google Local Page
I am sure most of you have one already, but just in case you do not, Google gets a hotel’s marketing content, including descriptions, photos, videos and more, from your property’s Google Local listing. Thus, before you get listed, you need to create a Google Local profile. It is very easy to do, and you can get a basic one set up in just a few minutes.

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Step Two – Connect Your Booking Engine or channel manager to Google HPA
Google populates Google Hotel Finder with up-to-date information about your hotel’s inventory availability by tapping into OTA´s, your booking engine or channel manager. If your current supplier cannot provide you with connectivity to Google, then their are others that can. Contact us to help you achieve this.  We advise that you engage with an expert agency to help manage your setup and google campaigns as it is important that you a maximizing your ROI in the right areas with the best campaigns.  You can though get members of your team trained with some of the many courses currently available to enable you to manage this in-house.  Bear in mind, that if you are not connected and a future guest is looking to reserve a room in the area where your hotel or resort is located, Google HPA will show pricing for your hotel via a OTA that sells you, so it will be a missed opportunity to sell directly and save on commission payments!

Step Three – Update Your Content and incentivize customer reviews
Now that you have your Google Local listing set up and you’re connected to Google, you need to keep your hotel’s information updated.  Google Hotel Finder will keep your listing’s availability and rates up-to-date automatically.  To edit your listing’s marketing content, such as hotel descriptions, photos, addresses and so on, log-in to your Google Local page and make any changes you wish. These changes will be reflected on Google Hotel Finder eventually. It is also important to increase the reviews you receive from guests on google as this will help with provide your Hotel or Resort with increased visibility that will help you stand out from the crowd!

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Why Should You Bother?
Over the last few months, Google incorporated Hotel Finder listings into standard search queries. Google ‘madrid hotels’ and you find a Hotel Finder search box at the top of the list. This is valuable real estate in the SERP Google could be using to place more AdWords ads. It is clear that guests are starting to adopt Hotel Finder, so by having a prominent listing with many guest reviews will be important to stand out among the crowd for local queries.

If you need help in getting your hotel or Resort connected to Google, get in touch with us info@hotelient.net and we will get you up and running.

5 Shockingly simple ideas for creating engaging content that works for any hotel, without having to think

5 Shockingly simple ideas for creating engaging content that works for any hotel, without having to think

The majority of hotels have a Facebook page, twitter account, and google+ page. That is great but it is always a real struggle to post interesting content apart from the obligatory sharing of offers and upcoming events right? Well here is 5 proven ways to get you posting exciting content that helps generate online bookings without breaking into sweat!

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  1. Video Reviews –Ask your Reception or public relations team to suggest to your clients, who have mentioned that they had a fantastic stay at your hotel, whether your team can record a 30 second video review. You do not need any fancy video cameras, just a smartphone recording a client what they think about their experience at your hotel or resort. Great content within a minute!
  2. Upload & Share – Get these reviews into your youtube channel and share it across your social media channels. Prospective clients love to see other clients talking about their stay. We all know the power of Tripadvisor, creating your own video reviews is taking it to the next level.
  3. Share your written testimonials – Most hotels have some form of online or written questionnaires, well don´t just keep them for the weekly internal meetings, start posting them on your social media. you can also promote the great comments you receive on Tripadvisor or booking.com.
  4. Feature Videos – Got a great pool, wonderful lobby or a stunning suite? Well don´t just post photos, create your own 20-30 second videos describing how great they are and what your clients can find when you are there. Again no hi-tec equipment required, just invest in a tripod fit for a smartphone and you are ready. Just make sure you upload them to your Youtube channel and post across all your social media pages.
  5. Local Reviews – Your reception team recommend to your guests great places to go, best bars & restaurants, best beaches, etc all the time. Well why don´t your staff write a review about how great these places are and post online. All of you are local experts and can really provide your guests useful and informative information to explore your local area. If some of your staff like being in front of the camera, well get them to make a video about their experiences. Now you are motoring!

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So, five great and easy ways to get engaging content for your social media pages that will provoke discussions and comments that drives more fans and more interactions. Do not use your social media just to post offers and photos of your hotel, engage in a whole new way, and have fun while you are doing it! Need help in guest marketing? Hotelient can help you get ahead online, for more information email us info@hotelient.net

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5 Shockingly simple ideas for creating engaging content that works for any hotel, without having to think

5 Shockingly simple ideas for creating engaging content that works for any hotel, without having to think

The majority of hotels have a Facebook page, twitter account, and google+ page.  That is great but it is always a real struggle to post interesting content apart from the obligatory sharing of offers and upcoming events right?  Well here is 5 proven ways to get you posting exciting content that helps generate online bookings without breaking into sweat! Content

  1. Video Reviews -Ask your Reception or public relations team to suggest to your clients, who have mentioned that they had a fantastic stay at your hotel, whether your team can record a 30 second video review.  You do not need any fancy video cameras, just a smartphone recording a client what they think about their experience at your hotel or resort.  Great content within a minute!
  2. Upload & Share – Get these reviews into your youtube channel and share it across your social media channels.  Prospective clients love to see other clients talking about their stay.  We all know the power of Tripadvisor, creating your own video reviews is taking it to the next level.
  3. Share your written testimonials – Most hotels have some form of online or written questionnaires, well don´t just keep them for the weekly internal meetings, start posting them on your social media.  you can also promote the great comments you receive on Tripadvisor or booking.com.
  4. Feature Videos – Got a great pool, wonderful lobby or a stunning suite? Well don´t just post photos, create your own 20-30 second videos describing how great they are and what your clients can find when you are there.  Again no hi-tec equipment required, just invest in a tripod fit for a smartphone and you are ready.  Just make sure you upload them to your Youtube channel and post across all your social media pages.
  5. Local Reviews – Your reception team recommend to your guests great places to go, best bars & restaurants, best beaches, etc all the time.  Well why don´t your staff write a review about how great these places are and post online.   All of you are local experts and can really provide your guests useful and informative information to explore your local area.  If some of your staff like being in front of the camera, well get them to make a video about their experiences. Now you are motoring!

quattrojaws_500_01 So, five great and easy ways to get engaging content for your social media pages that will provoke discussions and comments that drives more fans and more interactions.  Do not use your social media just to post offers and photos of your hotel, engage in a whole new way, and have fun while you are doing it! Need help in guest marketing? Hotelient can help you get ahead online, for more information email us info@hotelient.net bnr_content-marketing

Is Your Hotel Website Mobile-Friendly? Google’s Next Algorithm Update is coming this month

Is Your Hotel Website Mobile-Friendly? Google’s Next Algorithm Update is coming this month

Do you remember the last time you landed on a site that wasn’t optimized for mobiles?  Frustrating isn´t it.  From zooming in to view content to trying to click on tiny links.  Most likely you just clicked off this website and carried on searching.

Well Google realized how frustrating this whole experience is and decided to change their algorithm accordingly, so when someone’s searching on a mobile device, Google will position first sites that are easy to read, make navigations and links easy to tap, have images appropriately sized for the device, and more generally, make information easy to find.

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At the moment, Google advises you which sites are mobile-friendly in their mobile search results however, from the 21st April, they’ll be actually rewarding and penalizing websites for their mobile experience.

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So how can you check that your website is not going to penalized from the 21st April?

Enter your website’s URL into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and it will tell you if you’ve got a mobile-friendly page or not. If the website you entered passes Google’s test, you will see a green banner indicating the website is mobile-friendly. If the website does not pass, Google will let you know the page is not mobile-friendly and give some reasons why.

Many of the common reasons why a website isn’t mobile-friendly is because:

  • The content is wider than the screen: This requires users to scroll side-to-side to read the page.
  • The text too small: This means the user must zoom to read text on the page.
  • The links too close together: On a smartphone, links should be easy to tap with your fingers — this means that the links should be big enough and in natural location to tap. Most smartphone users hold their phone in their right hand and tap links with their thumb.
  • The mobile viewport isn’t set: This is a little more on the technical side of things, but the mobile viewport controls the width of the page for the device. If your website displays a desktop landscape when smartphone visitors land on your page, then the viewport is not set for mobile on that page. This is an extra special case where responsive design comes in handy — responsive design will automatically adjust the viewport based on the device.

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If your website is not optimized, no worries.  Hotelient can provide your hotel or resort with a number of options to get you up and running quickly.

Email us at info@hotelient.net for more information.

 

Do hotels get measurable revenue from social media?

Do hotels get measurable revenue from social media?

Over the last few years, hotels have been rapidly contracting Community Managers to manage their social media sites, upload content and generally manage there presence on the brand website as well as maintaining content on other online sites that promote or review the hotel. They ensure that all promotions are uploaded and marketed online and in some hotels create adword campaigns and provide SEO. Hotels who have contracted a Community Manager feel they are relating better with their clients and General Managers are always happy when they see an increase in Facebook, Google+ and Twitter Fans. More Fans = More Business and better client interaction right?

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I have a few questions that might make you question this strategy and maybe get you to have a rethink a) Is the Content that you are uploading onto your social media sites interesting to your clients? b) How much business can you directly attribute to the work of the Community Manager? c)Who owns all your content, communities and Data?

Lets take the first question. To me this sums up content marketing so that almost anyone can understand it.

“Your audience don’t care about you, your products, or your services. They care about themselves, their wants, and their problems. Content Marketing is about creating interesting information your audience is passionate about, so they seek you out and actually pay attention to what you have to say.”

By having a community Manager that is just uploading promotions or talking about what is going on in your hotel does not fulfill their job description. They have to be publishing content that generates reactions and debate which may or may not be related to the hotel they are working for, which leads me onto question b. I asked 4 Hotel General Managers. 2 from City Centers and 2 from Resorts, how many reservations have they received as a direct result of the work of the Community Manager and I was amazed with their answers. Not one of them could provide me with a figure, all of them boasted how many fans they had and also the regular content they were publishing with only one of the GMs saying that they used the Community Manager to increase their marketing database. At leasts theirs one, I thought! Finally a Community Manager producing a quantifiable result for their hotel.

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The work of any Community Manager should be focused in increasing your marketing database & your online conversions, uploading content that gets fans engagement on the various social media sites and managing your hotels or resorts reputation.

There is though one final bit missing which leads me on to question c. Do you own all your content that you publish on social media sites, do you own your fans and data? The answer is NO, THEY DO!! So how can we change this and gain control? By creating your own social website! A relatively new concept coming from the states but one sure to take off, which is to create website where you place all your social conversations, promotions, content & Reviews. Where the fans you build are YOUR FANS, Where the content you share is YOUR CONTENT and where the data you gain from your hard efforts is YOUR DATA that can be used to market your hotel or resort in more traditional means like email camaigns. So the work of your Community Manager with a Social Website can now actually be about increasing your social fan base which will always stay with you and in your control. You still have to publish content with the other social media sites but the generation of content is done and controlled on your social website and shared across the other channels,

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Hotelient can help your hotel get ahead. We can work with your community manager in the configuration and setup of your social website so your investment in social media is now producing tangible results. Email us at info@hotelient.net for more information.

How Apps can delight guests, reduce costs and increase your revenue!

How Apps can delight guests, reduce costs and increase your revenue!

Over the last few years, Smartphones have become a must have for everyone. Recent studies have shown that the first thing that people look at after they wake up is there phone. From watching the evolution of hotel mobile optimized pages and seeing first hand the increase every year in visitors to the mobile website. It is clear that any hotel wishing to connect with their clients has to base any marketing strategy around the smartphone.

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When devising your mobile marketing strategy, apps have to be a big part of it. Still a relatively new concept with hotels who are still feeling their way through in seeing what the client wants. The most popular is a concierge type app, providing usual information for guests, places to go and visit nearby, things to do, etc, but could hotels get better value with their apps? The answer basically is yes, Apps can be a very powerful tool for any hotel. Yes they should provide usual information for clients to have available at their finger tips but also they can be used to increase your sales! Lets take this example. How great would it be if a client entering into your spa receives a notification that between the hours of 2pm-4pm there is a special discount on massages, sent directly to their phone via push through notification. App push through notifications have 95% readability rates which is extremely high and a great way to connect. It also allows you to reduce your costs and save printing flyers or posters to promote your promotions. What about multi purchase coupons for resorts. Buy 3 bottles of wine during your stay, get the 4th Free. These are both great ways to improve your sales once a client gets to your hotel but what about before they get there?

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A client that is coming to stay at your hotel, is more likely to download your app, so that they can become aware of all the great things you can offer, if your are a resort for example, maybe on Friday nights, you have live music in your restaurant or bar, by providing this information beforehand can become a great way for clients to plan their stay with you. You can also include within your app the ability to connect to some of your providers like car rental or taxis to offer them a one stop shop without searching around the web. Little details like receiving a welcome message on arrival to your hotel, navigation tool to direct them directly to your door as well as unique discounts for repeat visits exclusive to app users, allows your app to start to give you a direct return on your investment.

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The majority of hotels are very good a providing information online which is of interest for their clients. However, by combining the ability the provide useful information as well as sell online will set you apart from your competitors. Hotelient understands that a hotel online strategy is about targeting, capturing and selling online. From standalone apps to ones fully integrated with your PMS, we can provide your hotel or resort with the tools and knowledge to convert more clients booking directly with you as well as develop your online brand. Call us for more information or visit www.hotelient.net or email info@hotelient.net

Why do my repeat clients always book with booking.com?

Why do my repeat clients always book with booking.com?

This is a question that I hear often from Hotel & Sales Directors especially ones that are investing in targeting new clients via OTA´s and online SEO as well as other means. Once the client has booked into the hotel, enjoyed a great experience and has left with the feeling that would like to come back, why do they go back to booking.com for their next stay with you?

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The answer is a simple one………..booking.com makes it easy for the client. They save your credit card details, they provide free cancellation, have an app for your smartphone and they are the same price as your hotel owned website. Booking.com also target your brand keywords so your client, that you worked so hard to get, both in providing great service and in investment via commissions and adwords etc, when searching for your website encounters booking.com. The client also checks and compares between your site and booking´s. Most hotel web booking engines in the industry today are complicated to navigate and clients find it difficult to reserve exactly what they want. Again booking.com wins, but for how long?

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As most of you who are reading this blog are aware, price guarantee has been quietly dropped by booking.com due to the various cases that are open in some european countries. This will allow hotels for the 1st time to incentivize on price, but is that enough? No, the major secret of booking.com´s strength is that they have a very visual and easy to use booking engine. However, this can also be overcome by choosing and implementing a booking engine that mirrors what booking.com does. Not only that, it can allow you to actively incentivize your web visitors whilst on your site. Now that is progress, but still only part of the story.

Hotels have always been lax about building databases, there is a heavy reliance on your PMS as well as your reservation and reception team to capture emails in order for you to send newsletters and promotions. If you checked your database now, I would hazard a guess that it is not as good as you believe, incorrect email addresses, duplicates, etc. However why not let technology give you a helping hand? How about that instead of giving your clients a code to connect to your free WIFI, you ask them to connect to via their Facebook, twitter or just sending you their email address? Now if there is 2 occupants in a room, you now get both their details. Clever! Airports have been successfully implementing this technology as well as shopping centers over the last couple of years, so why not hotels? It is a relatively cheap solution and another way for your clients to interact with you, but still not the complete solution.

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As all hotel directors are aware, phones like the iphone and samsung galaxy have changed the way your clients view your hotel and app´s have become a key part of that evolution. 95% of smartphone users read the notifications they receive from the apps, so again, a hotel that wants to maintain a connection with their client they have worked hard to win, apps seem like a logical step forward. But how do we get our clients to download our app? Simple, internal promotions whilst at the hotel exclusive to the app, useful information (online concierge) and for all new and returning clients maybe a promotional code that is within the app? Another great way to incentivize your client to book directly with you.

So in summary, you get yourself a proactive booking engine that makes it easier for clients to book you and you incentivize customers that are just searching for prices on your web using promotions with very short time limits. You play with your price advantage and you start to build your client database using technology via WIFI, Social media and apps. Is this the magic potion to ensure that your repeat clients book directly with you? Some clients will always book with what is most confortable for them however you are achieving 2 things, 1)Connecting with your clients in a way to make it really easy to book with you using the technology they are using TODAY and 2)Building a comprehensive database of your clients which makes it easier and cheaper for you to interact with them in the future whilst providing you with a massive advantage over your competition that will continue to be dependent on reservations from booking.com.

Booking.com will not be around for ever (In future posts I will discuss what is happening in the market place and what booking.com is doing to vary their business model.) Make sure you give your hotel every opportunity of being around for a long time to come

Email us at info@hotelient.net if you would like me to help your hotel maximize your online marketing opportunities.