Friday, 26 June 2009

Some of the webinar questions from the Audience

After the Webinar in May, we had several very good questions from the audience. We have picked out some of them and posted our answers below. If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

"How I could get the best from SEO?"

SEO is a long-term commitment. It takes between 3 to 6 months to get marked results, sometimes longer.

In order to benefit from SEO, you need to implement SEO as an ongoing activity. Starting from your website titles, keywords and content, adding meta tags, keywords and descriptions to the coded html pages, implementing a linking strategy, creating new content frequently, implementing and managing a blog, online PR and social media activities and much more.

You need to be careful when starting SEO implementation as some of the tactics you may get or hear from others might not be acceptable by the search engines. This kind of unethical SEO implementation is called "Black Hat SEO". Search engines' algorithms change very often and they get smarter every year. Part of their utility, is that your website activities are easily noticed by the search engines, but that also means any unethical practices you do will also get recorded. Such activities can damage your ranking and in some bases the search engines may block your site from their lists, or list your website as spam. As such, you are advised to follow search engine recommendations and keep your website updated accordingly.

"How I can register with Google for Local Business directory to appear on their front page with the map?"

In order to register to Google's Local Business Listing you need to have a Gmail account. You can follow the link to start:

During the sign up process, you will also be asked to give your phone number for verification purposes. Please note that at the end of the registration process you will be given a code which Google will ask you when they call to verify your details. You can opt to activate your listing "now" or later. If you select now, you will receive a phone call asking for the code. Once you have verified this code, your business listing will be activated. Please note however, that it may take a few weeks to be displayed on the Google maps.

"How to register for Google Analytics?"

In order to register to use Google Analytics you need to go to Google Analytics, create a profile and add your website. Once you have activated your analytics account, Google will provide you with a string of code. You will need to copy this code and paste it to all pages within your website. It will take a couple of minutes to be activated and then you will be able to receive data and monitor your website traffic.

I will include a session about Google Analytics in our upcoming webinar. During this webinar you will learn how to set a Google Analytics account, how to get the data, what kind of metrics you need to monitor, conversion etc.

"What kind of message hotels can send by Twitter?"

Twitter is a micro-blogging site, which allows you to share messages with your network of friends and followers 140 characters at a time. It is a new way of communication and is gaining in popularity. It is generally used for personal communication purposes, however some businesses have seen a commercial benefit in using it to communicate and engage with customers and would-be customer groups.

Anyone, can follow you and receive a notification when you have posted a new message on Twitter. Many brands such Virgin has millions of followers, who all receive notifications whenever Virgin posts a message, new deals, and other information about Virgin. Although twitter is very popular, commercialising or turning Twitter into a revenue generating channel has even the Twitter management team wondering. At the moment registration is free and everyday more and more companies join this site. The caveat to making Twitter work for you will be to create interest, add value, and encourage those who follow your brand to recommend you to their friends. To do that, requires time and effort from all staff.

Here is as an example we applied for one of our customers:

I hope this example will give you some ideas about the messages and the informal tone of this channel.

"What software do you recommend to do SEO"

I am not sure what exactly you mean by SEO software as there is no tool that actually does the SEO for you, to my knowledge. Related to SEO are keyword search tools, content management systems that allow non-technical users to access a websites code, analytics software and directory submission software. Perhaps you could clarify this so that I can better understand what you are looking for: email me at

What I think you might mean is a search engine and directory submission software, and these do exist. However, I would recommend manual submission as the number of submission required in order to increase your ranking and PageRank (website popularity) is somewhere between 50-100 popular directories and search engines.

"I didn't get all the meeting can you send me the ppt by email"
We added the webinar with audio to our website as it is too large to e-mail directly. To view the whole presentation, please visit our website: and request the link or if you attended, please see the email sent 24/06/09 for more information.

"Is there any study on the credibility of social media marketing as perceived by potential guests? Any metrics on how much business (as % of total revenue) is actually generated through social media marketing?"

According to PhoCusWright's Consumer Technology Survey , 2008 - 84% of travellers reported that they have read a travel review online before booking.

In the same survey; 91% of respondents said they read reviews about hotels, while, 70% of respondents are likely to post review on hotels.

This survey, from a credible source, tells us something about the impact that social media have on travellers' booking decisions. And it is not only telling about online bookings, but these social media review sites affect bookings made offline as well.

However, this data does not give us enough grounds to assume anything about revenues, but a customer of ours, went from number 3 to number 1 on TripAdvisor and saw definite increase in their bookings and revenues as a result. This will of course not be so easy to measure in every hotel as there are many factors that influence bookings. It is however, safe to say that the social media play a role, an important one at that in swaying a guest to book with property A versus property B, if property B consistently gets negative reviews, and property A consistently gets positive review.

Another important aspect that is also not easily measurable, is the positive effect the social media have on brand awareness. From the hotels we work we can see that social media (and not only review sites, but other types of social media sites as well) helps their online reputation by giving the hotels a forum for interacting with their guest post their stay, build relationships and loyalty. Also, it is a great way to boost website rankings particularly if the hotel has a blog, posts photos, has a Facebook profile and the likes.

To conclude, it is inherently difficult to quantify how much revenue social media generate directly or indirectly. Part of the reason for this is that people's booking patterns are not linear. There are other factors that influence this as well. However, whether we can quantify the exact contribution of revenue or not, it suffices to say that this is a channel that has an influence on people's perceptions of your offering, whether a hotelier is actively managing this channel or not. So, our advice would be to anyone wondering whether they should start looking into social media as a marketing channel, you're customers and guests are already talking about you, so why not join in the conversation?

If you or anyone else comes across studies, surveys or data that can help further our understanding of the social media channels, please send them to

"Organic & paid search results are crowded with many similar competing products. For non-branded hotels/chains, credibility level could be low in comparison to their big brand counterparts. They will need services of an e-intermediary like Travelocity, Priceline etc. Does internet really provide for disintermediation?"

In SEO and PPC ranking the ranking does not depend on the popularity and credibility of the hotel chains. Rankings depends your website's search engine friendliness and your webmaster following SEO guidelines and best practices when building and maintaining the website. The same applies to PPC search results though in a somewhat different way. E.g. your ranking will depend on CPC (cost-per-click), keyword relevancy, quality score, landing page and more. Fortunately, for smaller hotels, these elements have nothing to do with how big a hotel chain is or how much credibility it has elsewhere in the marketplace.

Because the internet offers the opportunity to small and medium non-branded groups or chains and even to independent hotels to compete with the big brands (both on the supplier side and the intermediary side), it does in a way provide for intermediation. Of course, that's not to say that it is not a competitive marketplace and that usually larger chains have more money to spend online, but our experience shows that even a completely new hotel - read more about one of our clients, an independent property who with the right strategy, won the online game even without the use of any intermediary.

On the topic of credibility, branding is very important as it may open the door for new customers, but considering that approximately 60% of European hotels are independents there is a lot of room for growth and plenty opportunities that exits today evening out the playing field. One such channel, as we have mentioned earlier, are review sites. With over 91% of people reading reviews before making a booking, there is a strong case for hotels and resorts of all shapes and sizes, brand-affiliated or not, to make sure that their brand is maintained, invested in, and looked after online, as well as offline.

If you have any other questions that you would like answered or would like us to review during our next webinar, please let me know by filling in the contact form here.

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