Finding hotels is easy. Finding the right hotel is significantly more difficult. I’ve now discovered the majority of hotels operate in the Dark Ages when it comes to promoting their properties and amenities on the Web.
Hotels look identical if they’re presented the same way on a Web site. Very few sites differentiate the style and quality of one hotel or hotel brand versus another. Conversely, the look and feel of the same hotel can be different depending on the Web site. It’s all about the information available to you and how it’s presented.
Online shoppers must be convinced your hotel is right for them, and the best way to do that is visually. There’s definitely truth in the old adage “every picture tells a story.” Make it easy for travelers to understand your “story” and choose your hotel for the features that speak to them - “Oh, that spa sure looks inviting,” or “Hey, they have free shuttle service to and from the airport.”
Unfortunately, reviewing the content loaded into Pegasus’ industry standard Online Distribution Database (ODD) today suggests many hoteliers believe loading hotel information into the ODD and adding a few pictures is enough. Then they sit back and wait for the reservations. It’s a step in the right direction, but by stopping there, hoteliers are missing other opportunities to grow their business.
Today it is more important than ever for online hoteliers to make their properties stand out from the competition. They need to communicate with consumers in ways they expect. And they need to reach out to as many potential guests as possible. This may sound like a tall order, but solutions exist that allow hoteliers to do all this - simply and effectively.
Stand out…with rich visual content
First, look at the types of content you’re using to market your hotel. Text and pictures are fine for printed brochures, but you’ve got to do more to stand out on the Internet. Consumers are clamoring for richer, broader visual information - animated images in a video-style presentation, full videos and virtual tours. Unlike still pictures, which are displayed as thumbnails, these richer presentations allow shoppers to immerse themselves in the experience of your hotel and feel more confident in their buying decision.
A 360¼ view of a room or a moving image can be more effective than a static photo by allowing the consumer to virtually see around the room and experience it. A Web gallery with multiple-language voice-overs will provide the shopper with a complete perspective of the property and its facilities.
Communicate…in the language of your customer
The Web has opened up business on a global scale, thus necessitating communication with customers in their native language. For example, if you’re only loading English text into the database, you’re shutting out the nearly 70 percent of Internet users today who don’t speak English.
What if you’d like to provide multilingual content, but are limited by your CRS capabilities? Look for a partner that can take your English content out of the ODD, translate it into the languages you specify, get your approval, and load it back into the ODD, without any additional effort on your part.
Reach further…with maximized distribution
Once you’ve got rich, translated content for your hotels, you need to ensure it gets the visibility to grow your bottom line. Make the investment in developing your content to work for you by distributing beyond your own Web site.
A plethora of consumers search thousands of travel-related Web sites on the Internet, but your site most likely isn’t one of them. The broader the distribution of your content, the more likely those consumers will be to find your hotel. And don’t forget your content could also be reaching more than 350,000 travel agents on Amadeus, Galileo, Sabre and Worldspan as well. That’s a lot of “looks,” so it’s worth your time to make the content exceptional.
Keep it simple…by partnering intelligently
Dynamic content is certainly one of your keys to success in the ever-changing online world. Look for a partner that can offer a content management system that integrates extensive multilingual text with images and rich media, and delivers it all to consumers and travel agencies via a growing network of distributors, including the GDSs. You’ll want a partner that can provide you greater control and efficiencies in managing all of your content.
Watch your revenues rise
You’ve made your hotel more appealing with a blend of descriptive text, images and rich media. You’ve given it more global appeal by providing content in multiple languages. You’ve given it greater visibility with extended distribution reach. And with only one or two bookings per month, your investment has paid for itself. Now you can sit back and wait for the reservations to roll in.
By Dee Thomas, Pegasus Solutions