Electronic channels have changed hotel sales and marketing forever. Internet website marketing, social media, the Global Distribution System, and third-party aggregators have all presented new marketing opportunities to hotels around the world. In effect, the Internet has created the first affordable global marketplace for large and small hotels everywhere.

For a while, it appeared that the Internet would be a simple answer to everyone’s occupancy problems; an inexpensive and effective way to sell rooms. All one needed was a website. However, as Internet marketing matured and search engine technology evolved, design requirements for websites have also matured; even simple websites must follow search engine rules. After all, a website needs traffic to be effective.

A dedicated proprietary website will produce incremental room business with an incredible return on a modest investment, but not without some effort. Tags, links, and properly written text are the key components of a producing website, yet many web masters cannot produce these on their own. Knowledge of hotel marketing techniques is a big plus. A website is not an online brochure; it should be an interactive online sales tool. Knowledge of how and why consumers select accommodations is essential to the site’s design.

In the past couple of years, many hoteliers worldwide have contacted me citing their disappointment with their professionally designed website. Many of these sites lack basic hotel marketing expertise, while others are dysfunctional because of zealous designers who are more interested in creating a masterpiece than creating a site, which markets their hotel. Content is king; yet much of their site’s text lack a focused search and hotel sales theme.

Many hotel websites, unfortunately, are the result of “committee” input, which usually result in over-complicated, difficult to navigate, confusing, and ineffective websites. Knowledge of how search engines find and rank web sites is essential. There is much more to website design than that which one sees online. This internal construction has much to do with the eventual popularity of the site. Increased popularity relates to increased reservations.

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