Online marketing is a hugely important facet of running a hotel, but how can a new property establish its online profile? Matthias Knobloch of 1and1 Internet explains.
As a new business, having a strong online presence is integral and this applies no less to the hotel industry than it does to any other business. Hospitality is a notoriously demanding industry – demanding of both your time and of your mental agility – and it’s perfectly understandable to think you have no time to spare for building a social media audience or driving traffic to your website. Crucially, you don’t need to sacrifice the dedication you put into your customer service to find time for digital marketing. Building an online presence will be easier than you think, so here’s a few pointers on how to get started:
Find the right domain and email address
A professional online presence starts with a suitable website domain name. Keep it short, unique and therefore memorable. Most importantly, use a name that is obviously relevant to your business and brand: do so with caution however. Always keep in mind trade mark law when choosing your domain name. Conflict with another brand over trademarking can be disastrous – particularly for new businesses – so always check the existing trademark rights in the UK. Your professional profile on the internet will be completed with a personal email address that matches your domain name. This makes your business communication more professional and reputable. Also, you can set up additional inboxes for yourself or other people that all end with the same domain.
Get found online by your customers from day one
Having an online presence doesn’t mean that you’re immediately more visible to your customers by default. To enhance its visibility, register your company so it appears in different online business directories and on social media platforms. For new businesses or established businesses making updates to their websites, online business directories are easy to sign up to. Furthermore, tools such as basic website builders enable your audience to navigate to your domain without them seeing the dreaded “Website under construction” page. In its place an “online business card” with a company logo, contact information and social media links can be displayed so your customers know who you are from day one.
Create a professional website
A professional website is characterised by a user-friendly structure with categories that are simple to navigate through. Website content should always address the needs of your businesses’ target group and topics – this will mean constant updates to keep up with your audiences’ evolving demands and needs.
Thankfully, modern, easy-to-use website builders allow users with no prior knowledge to customise their mobile-optimised company homepage at their convenience. Website builders not only provide professional templates tailored to the needs of a broad range of industries, but also feature ready-made website structures, textual elements and image databases. A well-structured website will always rank better among search results.
Safety first: make your website secure
Given the myriad of threats faced by internet users, providing a secure website is vital. If you collect any information from your customers online – i.e. booking details, email addresses and contact numbers – make sure that their sensitive data is solely transmitted via an encrypted connection. Direct debit systems in particular are vulnerable to data theft and phishing attacks. Encrypted connections to your website will be valued by visitors as well as Google ranking algorithms – such connections are identifiable by the padlock icon in their browsers.
Performance: keep potential customers on your website
Users today expect fast-loading websites when they are browsing for offers and services. If a website suffers from slow loading content or – even worse – downtime, they will look somewhere else. To avoid this, make sure that your website’s performance is sufficient, especially when you are running special offers or campaigns and expect an increase of traffic. Also, keep in mind that the more your homepage combines visual, textual and video content, the higher its requirements are in terms of performance.
More time for your core business: tools that make your life easier
For most small business owners, accounting is one of the most time-consuming activities that they have to conduct, with many having a limited amount of knowledge in this area. However, today’s cutting-edge online accounting tools based on artificial intelligence can help you to easily and efficiently organise and track revenue, expenses, financial status and customer management from a single online platform or mobile app. As a result, you have more time to concentrate on what you love – your hotel.
Don’t forget online marketing!
Establishing a website and being online is just the first step. The best products and services are worthless if your customers can’t find them when they are searching for particular keywords or topics. Online marketing activities are an excellent solution for boosting your website’s ranking within the search results. To further optimise your ranking, search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques such as backlinks and entries in online directories and search engine advertising (SEA) are a huge help. Plus, a fast-loading, SSL-encrypted and responsive website has an even more positive effect on its search engine ranking.
Spoil your customers and turn them into fans
Existing customers have an important role in supporting your brand. This is why you should regularly catch their attention with newsletters and actively encourage them to leave reviews. A Facebook page can make your business even more noticeable – and transforms customers into fans. Here, business owners can grant a look behind the scenes, get feedback and generate publicity for new products. Your company website can also be connected directly to Facebook – share and like buttons can be integrated into its surface. With this, customers can recommend products to their friends and family – and at the same time increase your customer base. In addition, business directory solutions provide the option to keep track of your social media, online directories and your customer’s comments in order for you to directly engage with them and take control of your reputation management.