Recently, there has been some discussion in the SEO community regarding traditional link-building methods in the face of the new updates from Google.  With link building coming into full-focus again, it is important to refresh your link-building strategy and realign it with the overall goals of your online marketing campaign.  We have already given you a link-building 101 refresh with ideas on how to earn links with partners in other industries, so I'm here to tell you another non-traditional way to get quality links and positive publicity.

Hotels can take advantage of link building with business relationships that are already established through your sales, catering, and events teams. While these teams play an integral role in hotel business, they are often overlooked because of the "heads in beds" focus in the industry.  However, the business brought in by the sales, events and catering team offers low hanging fruits of link building opportunities that are ripe for the picking! I'm here to give you a few non-traditional link building tips that can easily help you leverage your efforts by strengthening existing business relationships.

Every time you host an event at your hotel, you could be missing out on a number of link building opportunities.  It doesn't matter whether you are a small boutique hotel or a convention property, or whether you are hosting an annual convention, company retreat, sales presentation, theme party or formal affair.  Regardless, these tips will help make sure you are getting the most online marketing value from your existing business relationships and the events that you host on property.

  1. Websites for groups and events - During the sales and event planning process, make sure that your sales managers inquire about the online status of events or groups that will be coming in-house.  Ask if the group has a webpage and if they have a separate landing page for the event that you are hosting at the hotel.  If they do, ensure that your hotel name, address, phone number and website address are listed on the event/group webpage.  You can also provide a link to the custom group webpage on your hotel's website or a booking widget for that group, which allows attendees looking to easily make a reservation.
  2. Social media channels for groups and events - In the same conversation about the status of the group's website, ask if the group is active on social media.  If they are, make sure to give them permission and encourage them to link to your social media channels.  In promoting the event on Facebook, encourage the client to link to the hotel's profile page, post on the hotel's wall, and tag any pictures of the event with the hotel's location.  In promoting the event on Twitter, encourage the client to use the hotel's handle (@username), create a hashtag (#sample) for the event that both the client and you as the hotel can follow, and tell the event attendees to do the same. Now, when we talk about link building strategies we usually talk about inbound links (links on other channels pointing to our website) more so than outbound links (links from the hotel pointing to other websites).  Social media is one platform that can benefit from using outbound links.  In order to gain more social media exposure, a good practice is to promote events, groups, meetings, and weddings through our social media channels, with the permission of the client.  Outbound links to the client's social media profiles allow you to promote the event to attendees, engage with them while they are on property and ask for feedback or offer assistance during the event. This is just another avenue to get the word out about your social media presence and extend your online presence.  With sales and event managers often preoccupied with managing the group on property, it is easy to forget that the attendees are engaging with the hotel in online areas while they are on property.  By working together with the event planners to create a hashtag for the event and promoting that for attendee use, you can easily track what the attendees are saying about the event and their experience at the hotel.  Monitor your hotel's Foursquare account to see who is "checking-in" at the event and engage with those guests to ensure they are having a good time and offer assistance if needed.
  3. Vendors associated with the in-house group - In getting to know a client--whether it be a couple that is hosting their wedding ceremony and reception at your hotel, a family hosting a bar or bat mitzvah, or charity hosting a banquet or silent auction--most hotels allow outside vendors to contribute to the production of an event.  These vendors include florists, photographers, bakeries, dance lesson companies, or caterers who most likely have web pages and are active on social media.  By learning about the different vendors with which you will be working and co-coordinating, you can easily cross-promote services, build links, and increase engagement.  Another important factor in linking with vendors is the ability to share and link firsthand imagery and photography on both your social media outlets and on your webpage.  Get permission from the event hosts to take pictures of the event and post them on your website and social media channels. You can also ask them to tag their own photos at your hotel along with the other vendors that they have used.

These outreach tips are much easier to implement than other traditional linking methods and are a great way to cross-promote groups, meetings, and events at your property. All of these interactions provide valuable publicity and strength in your online marketing campaign, particularly within a given in-house group. There's also a good chance that your competitors aren't doing this type of link building, so it's an excellent way to set yourself apart from the crowd.

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