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Internet Marketing/Hospitality Industry Best Practices

9 March 2005 11 Comments

If this is your first day joining the travel blog this week, you are in good company.  Even the White House has seen the importance of blogging and this week accepted the first blogger into the White House press room! (See article from CNN)


Today’s topics will be on Internet marketing and what is in store for the travel industry.  Blogging is just one way to enhance the effectiveness of an organization’s website and increase the Return on Investment for Internet Marketing.  Here are some new technologies and techniques that are available to use in your marketing efforts.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

Why do search engines love blogs?  The answer is simple: Content.  Blogs are similar to online journals that are updated on a frequent basis; more popular blogs are updated several times a week.  When a search engine spider visits a blog, it knows it will find the new content that it’s always searching for.  So blogs are visited by the search engine spiders more frequently (blog readership increased 58% in 2004 to 32 million Internet users)


Search Engine Advertising (SEA):

A new emerging program in this area is Pay per Call Ads.  While there is not much data on success rates, it is estimated to be one of the largest growing advertising vehicles through 2010.  The program works as follows: you choose a category to bid on and the ads display a phone number rather than your property’s URL.  Instead of being charged by click, you are charged by phone call.  Generally, the average cost is $2 to $12.50 per call; in the travel category the average is about $4.50 per call.  Front end costs are higher and the call volume is lower, but conversions are higher (about 5 – 20 times more valuable) than PPC.


Regarding standard search engine advertising, or pay per click, consumers should be aware of the following…Competitors are purposely engaging in Click Fraud by clicking on search engine advertising ads in order to increase your spending, therefore lowering your Return on Investment and wasting your budgeted funds.  Google and Overture have their own click fraud teams, but they do not catch everything.  If you track IP’s and notice specific instances, a refund may be granted with valid proof of this occurrence. 


Interactive Media:

Local Search is the latest development; all the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask Jeeves) have local search tools.  Google reported that during the holiday season, their local search tool was visited more than their shopping search engine Froogle.  It is important for your property to be listed on yellow pages and local directories and have the website address available in text and prominent on all pages of the website.


Return on Investment (ROI):

At the end of the day any new techniques or technologies, be it SEOP, SEA, local search or Blogging and RSS need to be leveraged to maximize Return on Investment (ROI).  It is all about bringing more qualified visitors to the website and converting as many of these as possible from “lookers” into “bookers”. 


With today’s emphasis on ROI the underpinnings of any effective Internet Marketing program should always be a clear focus on your website’s Visitor-to-Look ratio (a measure of the qualification of the website visitors) and the Look-to-Book ratio (the measure of the ability to convince the visitor to book).