Planning for 2013 – Digital Marketing and Distribution

The 2013 HSMAI Revenue Academy UK training dates are now available on the Revenue by Design web site, so with planning for 2013 in mind here are some thoughts to help you – first off integrating your 2013 digital marketing and distribution into your revenue strategy…. Total Revenue Management is the next item to review

To date, 2012 has turned out to be an unpredictable year for hotels, so what plans do you need to make for 2013, to prepare for all eventualities? Budgets are likely to be as tightly managed as 2012, but some room for growth will no doubt still be expected. With this in mind there’s likely to be little room for nice to have’s, so now is the time to start looking at what your business wants, what it needs and possibly slimming that down to absolute Must Have’s.

If you’ve spent the last few years really holding back from investment in your web site, then I’d urge you to review the key elements you need this year. So much new web functionality is now available that older web sites are in danger of looking really tired.

Budgeting for 2013

The number of tools available to support revenue management, distribution and digital marketing in 2012 has expanded dramatically – an ever increasing number of flash sales sites, last minute mobile booking platforms, the emergence of tablet as a discrete distribution channel, and yet another stage in the evolution of social media – the passion for communicating visually through images, as demonstrated by the huge success of Pinterest, the growth in video and short-form blogging platform Tumblr.

It’s also a year in which business frameworks have changed. Google algothrithms, Panda and Penguin have demonstrated a new way of measuring web site success, based on social authority and fresh original content. And the ethics of rate parity – a primary business framework for many years are being slowly unpicked by the Office of Fair Trading in the UK and a class action being filed against websites in the US.

London hotels in particular have much to think about for 2013, no Olympics, no Farnborough (although I have yet to hear about 2012’s show having a huge impact), and the requirement to present rates as VAT inclusive.

So with all these tools how do you make sense of planning for 2013?

Focus on developing direct bookings:

Social platforms make it easier to create communities and develop strategies that encourage direct bookings. Everything created on social sites should lead back to your web site, so a primary requirement is to make sure that your web site works to meet the requirements of the latest in digital marketing developments.

Booking engine – the growth in booking engine technology coupled with improvements in analytics means its now possible to understand how to optimize revenues throughout each stage of the booking transaction. Work with your digital agency or booking engine provider to analyse every step of the customer journey through your site. Improvements in Google Analytics mean that you can now track and monitor all activity throughout your site. It’s a powerful tool and great to help with usability and site optimisation.

Look and feel – web sites need continuous investment, take a good look – does the site perform as it should? Is it easy to use? Are the pictures up to date and reflective of the product offering? If not then now is the time to put money aside and plan for a refurb.

Optimising for multiple platforms

Guests and potential bookers are going to access your content using their device of choice. To drive direct bookings your web strategy needs to include sites optimized for touch screen devices including a mobile web site, and tablet optimized site options.

Optimising for Search

Search Engine marketing plays a core role in driving qualified leads to a web site. Google remains the search engine of choice for the majority so whilst this continues, sites need to be optimised to support changes in Google search algorithms; these changes are driven by the use of fresh, unique and relevant content.

Search Engine Marketing Plans need to accommodate all platforms – mobile tablet and web, and investment needs to be put aside to refresh and update content regularly.

Keep focused with Pay Per Click

Given the vast investments by OTAs in PPC many hotels that we talk to feel that it is money wasted, and that its practically impossible to compete with OTAs. However PPC campaigns done well remain one of the best ways to gain qualified leads. Whilst OTAs will bid on your name, you also need to be there. Campaigns need to focus on protecting your brand name, if you’re limited on budget don’t be tempted to bid on keywords outside of your own name unless you’re sure of the long tail benefit, and work with OTAs to create agreements where they can’t outbid you on your own hotel name.

Social

Concentrate on what you know and make that great. Facebook, Twitter, a Blog (not just a list of recent newsletters) Pinterest and Video are all social platforms that are well established, and manageable. Choose one or two and really work at creating your social space. Take the stress out of content development by creating a content plan. Plot out known events across the year, and use this as a framework for your social content strategy, pop in tactical events and news as and when they happen to add variety and freshness. Minimise workloads by re-purposing content for each platform, and get into the habit of taking all the tools you need to create visual content wherever you go – equipping the team if necessary with camera and video ready smartphones. And remember your ABCs – All Batteries Charged!

Good luck with your planning for 2013, if improving revenue management, distribution or your digital marketing strategy features in your plans then please take a look at our revenue management training dates, or our online marketing services .

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