Hotel Marketing Coach
Neil L. Salerno, CHME, CHA
Internet Marketing Articles
Building Traffic (SEO)
Website Content Management For Hotels…Boon or Boondoggle?
By: Neil Salerno – Hotel Marketing Coach
Imagine having the ability to change and update the content of your hotel's website on your own; change text, add information, that would be great. At the onset, it sounds terrific. No more waiting for your site developer to make the changes and additions you requested.
You can maintain information on your site, right at the property level. Simply choose someone to type in the changes. No more calls or emails to your site developer to make additions and changes; that would be a boon to your website's production as well as save time and money, right?
Wrong. For most hotels, it's actually chock-full of potential problems and pitfalls; a real boondoggle.
Content management usually features a template website design, which allows the site owner to change selected sections of the site itself. The concept has been used for retail sites which require constant, even daily, inventory and price changes to keep them current.
Now, I am a strong advocate for using new techniques and innovations, but, after working in the hotel business for more than 35 years, I'm afraid that I measure them in terms of hotel operations and marketing. As marketing on the Internet matures, smart people will continue to develop new techniques, but I always view them through the lens of their practicality, and potential benefits, for hotels.
Our industry has some major differences with many other types of businesses on the Internet. The way consumers search for, evaluate, and buy hotel rooms is rather unique. There is no mystery about the elements necessary for a good productive hotel website; the ability of a site to be found through generic search and, once found, the ability to drive visitors to the reservations page.
With competition as keen as it is today, hotels need all the competitive edge they can muster, online and offline. Unless the added content is done using search and sales techniques, the website risks diminished exposure and productivity. Everything on a hotel site should be searchable.
A properly developed hotel site is designed to be found through generic search; every page must be designed to be a potential landing page in search results. The development process includes various search engine optimization techniques such as using keyword-rich text content, a good internal and incoming link strategy, and a functional site navigation format.
The first problem is that few hotel people have the knowledge and technical expertise to maintain these necessary elements as they make changes to the site. A knowledgeable developer knows how to develop the keyword-rich text content, links, and navigation to maintain the search and sales integrity of the site. The significance of this is huge; these functions are necessary for generic search and sales.
Every good site developer uses constant research to update the search keywords on your site. This includes relevant keywords associated with new information, text changes, packages, and even guest commentary. Content management users must be prepared to tackle this as they make changes to their site.
A Matter of Cost
For those considering a content management website to save the cost of site developer changes and additions, perhaps, some deeper reflection is necessary. No matter how much your site developer actually charges for this service, one must also consider the potential cost of diminished search findability and loss of reservations sales, unless it is done properly.
Of course, larger more affluent hotels sometimes have someone on staff who has the capability of maintaining a content management website properly. But, even in these cases, it is often a matter of job function, duties and responsibilities. In these days of multiple job responsibilities, finding the time and focus to keep changes and additions current and meaningful is an important consideration. Many hotel managers have a long list of tasks they must do; for most, managing a website is not among them.
It's amazing that many of the hoteliers, which might consider a content management website, are usually the same people who have a difficult time finding the time and focus to keep their site current through the site's developer. What exactly is the cost of that inactivity? The fact is that content management websites, in the light of the effectiveness they lose, don't save money at all.
Has anyone ever considered why franchises don't allow its franchisees to make their own content changes to their pages on the franchise site? Consistency is an important consideration.
Website Developer/Hotelier Relationships
I think there are few hoteliers who would disagree with the fact that a hotel website is now an essential marketing tool and, often major business contributor, to their hotel. Does it not make sense that the hotelier/website developer relationship is a win-win situation which should be cultivated. A good website developer will often anticipate and make needed changes and additions on their own.
Now, I know that there are a several site design companies that are touting content management system websites to hoteliers, but these are largely people who don't have a depth of hotel operations and marketing knowledge. They simply don't understand that rarely does a hotel have the extra time and technical knowledge to do content management properly.
Just about any site developer can create a content management site, but most of these developers know that it is not yet practical for hotels.