MARKETING AND E-COMMERCE
All print, direct sales, electronic, and social marketing initiatives, backed by a deep understanding of consumer behavior, combine to assure that marketing activities have a measurable, positive return on investment.
This includes marketing, online rate management, website design and promotion as well as channel distribution. The following is a list of action items with regard to e-commerce:
- Website –The site will feature a sales and marketing approach as opposed to one that simply resembles a brochure. To maximize the effectiveness of the website, the conception will include specific organic listing text, effective description and meta tags, user friendliness, a new real time reservation system (that will lower transaction costs), group reservation and inquiry forms, local information, etc. Enhancements will continue to be added as it is our goal to encourage as many guests to the website to make reservations due to the extremely low transaction cost.
- Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click Strategy – Charlestowne Hotels will perform a detailed audit of current strategies to ensure optimum search engine placement. Recent market studies show that 85% of internet users rely on search engines to locate relevant information on the Internet. Among the many areas of focus to guarantee a hotel’s premium search engine placement include domain name and sub-domain name registration. This includes making sure that the property is seen by the 1500 search engines worldwide. Also vital to a hotel’s success in search engine visibility is an aggressive pay per click strategy.
- 3rd party Booking Channels – Charlestowne Hotels has relationships with the 10 largest 3rd party Internet sites. This provides the property with immediate credibility with these vendors due to the fact that they historically base the site’s search ranking system on rate parity and relationships.
- Online Marketing – Regional and local portal sites, corporate travel sites, hotel directory listings, etc. need to be used as a way to consistently be in front of the customer (at a relatively low price point). Charlestowne Hotels will create a monthly email newsletter to keep potential and previous guests aware of local events, special deals and property announcements.
- GDS driven websites – Understanding how the Global Distribution System funnels inventory and rates to thousands of websites throughout the world is vital to a hotel’s ability to be sold to new clientele. These websites represent the property and are often seen as a reflection of the quality of the property. A detailed audit will be performed and resources will be provided to revise these sites with new and updated information. This is an essential task that can ensure that the property is being sold and marketed in the way in which is desired. Some of this information includes rate parity and sequencing, detailed descriptions of the inn and amenities, rich pictures, location points, etc.
Branding, Top-Level Marketing, and Public Relations
The hotel experience for most guests begins prior to arrival. It begins with an advertisement, brochure, or visit to the website, and these should be an extension of the property itself. The following is a list of ways to bring the hotel experience to the guest:
- Hotel branding – Creating and maintaining a marketable brand is the cornerstone on which all property marketing is built. Charlestowne Hotels uses creative design experience to improve the effectiveness of a property’s existing logo and brand design or offer complete rebranding or brand creation solutions.
- Advertising and marketing design services – Hand in hand with property branding, effective design services maintain that brand through advertising initiatives and marketing collateral including brochures, advertisements, postcards, and more.
- Advertising planning – Even the best advertisements are ineffective if they are not implemented correctly. Experience is key to creating an effective advertising campaign that results in a strong return on investment, as well as finding unique opportunities that are easily overlooked.
- Public relations – Finding creative ways to draw attention to a hotel can be one of the most effective revenue drivers due to the lack of upfront cost. Garnering attention from national publications, however, requires experience and a proven track record, something that Charlestowne Hotels has developed over two plus decades in the hospitality industry.
Onsite marketing and sales strategies serve as critical aspects to the property’s success. The following is a list of onsite marketing tools:
- Website push – All staff will be instructed to direct people to the website for information on the property as well as to make future reservations there. The URL will be added to all guest folios as well as key packets, and possibly tasteful signs and in-room place cards.
- Email collection – It is extremely important for the front desk to acquire email addresses to help build an electronic database. Effective collection of these addresses through incoming reservations and at check in will be an important part of the property’s marketing efforts moving forward. However, a simple task such as this is often difficult to get buy in from staff members – this will be the responsibility of the management team.
- Guest frequency program –It is in the best interest of the property to ensure that guests continue to return, and book through the least costly channels. The property staff will be versed in explaining the details of the program as well as the way in which to take advantage of the loyalty reward benefits.
- Visitor’s Center Rates (including State welcome centers) – Visitor’s centers, which see heavy drive traffic as well as significant AAA & AARP business, are a great way for a property to receive leads. The building of this relationship is the first step to being recommended. The suggestion here is not to necessarily recreate the relationship, but to reintroduce the property.
- Overflow capabilities – The property will need to enhance current relationships with other hotels in the area. The effort put forth will hopefully create situations that will keep us on top of other’s lists in the event that they cannot take a group or if they run into an oversold situation.
- Walk in rates – The management’s ability to convert guests at the desk is an indicator of the property’s long-term success. Charlestowne Hotels will work closely with the property to assist in these strategies. The pulse of the walk in traffic is certainly something that cannot be determined from a distance, but instead must be measured by the staff as it occurs.