Wouldn’t it be nice if business was thriving year-round? Unfortunately, with seasonality and market conditions, most businesses witness an inevitable slow period. For hotels, the dreaded slow period is evident when there are many more room vacancies than occupancies. Although the slow period will differ from hotel to hotel and reasons may vary, nearly every hotel is affected by it at some point. If you review your hotel’s forecast for the year and identify times that occupancy is consistently low, you can carve out strategies to boost revenue and increase occupancy throughout that time of the year. In this blog, I will provide several targeted strategies for increasing occupancy during your hotel’s recurring need dates.

Create Targeted Hotel Need Date Strategies in Advance

The first step to success is advanced planning. When you anticipate need dates in advance, there is more time to develop effective strategies to drive room bookings during your need date periods. Whether you have been at the hotel for several years and are familiar with the hotel’s ebbs and flows of occupancy, or you have analyzed your hotel’s annual forecasting reports, you should be familiar with which weeks, weekends or even months your hotel tends to be slow each year. Now, look at some of the obvious need periods that are at least 60-90+ days out and bring your marketing team into the conversation to begin some market research! Below are some questions to consider as you begin researching the local area and market:

  • Are there any local events happening during this need date period? Look on your local CVB’s website for an annual event calendar and search on Google for upcoming music festivals, state fairs, restaurant weeks, and parades. Compile a list of key events that cater to your hotel’s target demographic and determine which of those events fall within your need date period. How can your hotel leverage these events? Perhaps the hotel can offer a special deal specific to event-goers, such as a discounted rate. Simply have guests show their ticket stub or receipt from your chosen local event to receive the discounted rate. Since your guests most likely booked online in advance prior to attending the event, you can offer them a credit on the room upon checkout. Chances are your guests are visiting your city to explore local events, so encourage them to choose your hotel by offering an amazing deal. A local event partnership will not only encourage visitors to choose your hotel over your competitors, but it will also fill need date vacancies.
  • Are there any popular attractions celebrating anniversaries or offering special exhibitions during this need date period? As you are compiling the above list of local events, note any special occasions or happenings that may offer unique marketing opportunities. For example, is the zoo is celebrating their 50th anniversary or is the museum bringing in a special Egyptian exhibit? If so, you can reach out to the attraction and inquire about becoming the “official hotel” of the attraction’s celebration. You will most likely have to pay for this type of sponsorship, but partnering with a popular attraction during a big celebration will get you a link on the attraction’s website as their “preferred hotel” or “official hotel”. As the “official hotel” of the special event, your hotel will also receive additional advertising exposure through collateral used to promote the celebration. While the website link and advertising exposure will be valuable, it is important to take it one step further and create something that will really drive potential guests to your hotel. For example, your hotel could offer free roundtrip transportation to the attraction or discounted tickets available for purchase at the hotel. Be sure to get ahead of the game and research these key anniversaries in advance, before competitors swoop in and grab the “official hotel” title.
  • Do you have a lot of repeat or loyal guests? If so, create a “Refer a Friend” special offer during this need date period. Whether it is due to the excellent customer service and amenities at your hotel or your hotel’s proximity to a local attraction, your guests who visit multiple times are coming back for a reason. Develop a promotion that will encourage guests and their friends to want to stay with your hotel during a specific time period. Create a “Refer a Friend” promotion where previous guests can refer a new guest and receive a discounted rate on their next visit for doing so. The new guest will also receive a discounted rate during the specified period. Make sure to specify that blackout dates may apply, giving your hotel the flexibility to only offer the discounted rate during need periods. Creating a “Refer a Friend” need date strategy will encourage repeat guests and word-of-mouth referrals, which will ultimately fill rooms during your need date period. 

Through first-hand experience, established connections within the area, and market research, your hotel will be able to maximize revenue by taking advantage of special local events, new exhibits, or important anniversaries and celebrations. Keep in mind that it is essential to plan ahead and give your entire team enough time to develop targeted strategies specific to the market and local area.

Effectively Market Your Hotel’s Need Date Strategies

Now that you’ve developed a targeted need date strategy to drive business during your slow period, it’s time to effectively market your hotel’s strategy to your intended audience. It’s important to utilize multiple online marketing channels, including: your hotel’s vanity website, PPC, social media, and email marketing to get as much visibility as possible.

  • Use the real estate on your hotel’s vanity site. While brand sites have the same standard pages for all hotels within that brand family (dining, rooms & suites, amenities, etc.), vanity sites provide more flexibility for hotels to create landing pages with unique content. A landing page offers more opportunity for your hotel to target a niche audience by focusing on a certain topic specific to your hotel or local area. For example, if your hotel is pet-friendly and you receive a lot of questions on the topic, you may find it valuable to create a pet-friendly landing page on your vanity site that hosts all of the pertinent information, including: size restriction, fees, available amenities, and nearby parks. This pet-friendly landing page would ideally target a niche community - guests that bring their pets on vacation and actively search for pet-friendly accommodations. When a guest lands on the niche page that highlights the hotel as a pet-friendly property and serves as a one-stop shop for pet lovers, it will likely have a high-conversion rate. This same logic can be applied to your need date strategy. Create a unique landing page to market the hotel’s attractive offering, whether it’s the official hotel partnership or your new “Refer a Friend” program. Be sure to promote your new landing page on your website with a compelling banner on the homepage to increase visibility and reach more potential guests. The screenshot below shows a hotel using their vanity site’s prime real estate to maximize exposure for the unique gas card promotion. The large banner ad on the homepage points to a page containing more information, drawing the user further into the vanity site.

Need Date Strategy

  • Invest in a targeted pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, which will drive quality traffic to your new landing page, and will ultimately lead to bookings. A PPC campaign allows you to get in front of online shoppers that are searching relevant queries and direct them to any destination on your website. You select the relevant keywords to target, and you can also narrow down the ad’s reach by factors, such as type of device (mobile, tablet, PC) or location (zip code, state, country). Since you only pay for the ads people click on, PPC is a very cost-effective yet targeted way to reach the right audience. It can take time for Google to index your new landing page and rank it high in the SERPs organically, but PPC ads will allow your new landing page to appear in top placement in Google’s results right away. Therefore, it’s highly beneficial to launch a targeted PPC campaign solely focused on the hotel’s new special deal for a need date period to drive quality traffic to the landing page immediately!
  • Promote your need date strategy to your loyal following on social media. By posting on your hotel’s Facebook and Twitter pages you will be able to quickly reach your hotel’s followers, with the potential to reach many more people through likes, comments, and shares. The social media posts can announce your new local partnership or “Refer a Friend” program, or share important information on the specific need date strategy. The screenshot below displays a hotel utilizing social media to market a special package in order to direct interested followers to the hotel’s website to book their stay. Without spending any money to boost the post’s reach, this post organically reached 785 people that may not have known about the package otherwise.
  • Social Media Strategy

If your hotel is looking to reach a larger audience, consider putting money towards boosting a specific post or creating Facebook ads. Facebook ads provide incredible targeting capabilities, allowing you to stretch your hotel’s budget and only reach your hotel’s desired audience. Through Facebook ads you are able to target people who live in a certain area or who have certain interests. So, if your hotel was a sponsor for the city’s Gay Pride festival, you could create Facebook ads proclaiming your hotel’s Pride partnership and target the ad to reach the LGBT community within 25 miles of your hotel. By utilizing Facebook posts, boosted posts, and advertising you will be able to market your need date strategy to a targeted audience that is more likely to convert.

  • Increase exposure within a targeted audience through email marketing campaigns. For example, if your hotel is looking to promote your new “Refer a Friend” program you could create a visually captivating design with thorough copy describing the “Refer a Friend” incentive. Since the point of this need date strategy is to have returning guests refer their friends to stay at your hotel, consider using hotel pictures and guest testimonials to enhance your campagn. After you have created a visually appealing and informational email campaign, send it to your hotel’s email list. Since they have opted-in to your hotel’s emails, they should be eager to learn about deals and discounts. Make sure your email has a clear call-to-action, such as a “book this weekday rate by May 5” or “enter promo code X for 20% discount” so that recipients understand what you want them to do upon reading it. Email campaigns are the perfect way to get your new need date package directly in front of your loyal guests.
  • We know that slow periods are exhausting and often inevitable, but it’s important to look at your new need date period as an opportunity to get creative and explore new possibilities, local partnerships, and marketing strategies. If you are able to provide your hotel’s sales, marketing, and revenue teams with enough advanced notice about looming need periods, you will be able to research, develop, and implement effective and targeted strategies to increase occupancy during slow periods.

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At Blue Magnet Interactive, we're only as good as our moms claim that we are. Luckily for us, our moms all seem to think we're pretty great… but do they have any clue what we actually do at work? When they brag to their friends about their very own "SEO expert" , do they think their kid is optimizing sites for search engines or officiating social experiences? On this Mother's Day, we decided to put our lovely moms and grandmas to the test. See how well the moms and grandmas behind Blue Magnet Interactive understand the ins-and-outs of online marketing. 

Inspired by Moz's blog How My Mom Thinks Search Engines Work, we ventured out to see if our moms knew what SEO, PPC, and hashtags are.


If you need a reference before partnering with Blue Magnet Interactive, just call one of our moms. We promise they'll give an unbiased review of how amazing we are at SEO, PPC, and social media. Thank you, Mom! Happy Mother's Day!

See Also: Meet Kelsey's MomMeet Tim's MomMeet Jourdan's Nana

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At Blue Magnet Interactive, we're only as good as our moms claim that we are. Luckily for us, our moms all seem to think we're pretty great… but do they have any clue what we actually do at work? When they brag to their friends about their very own "SEO expert" , do they think their kid is optimizing sites for search engines or officiating social experiences? On this Mother's Day, we decided to put our lovely moms and grandmas to the test. See how well the moms and grandmas behind Blue Magnet Interactive understand the ins-and-outs of online marketing. 

*Questions adapted from Moz's blog: "How My Mom Thinks Search Engines Work"

Jourdan Mothers Day Photo

1. What do you think I do at work all day?

Jourdan's Nana: I really don't know.

2. What does SEO stand for?

Jourdan's Nana: I don't know but I think it has to do with key words.

3. What does PPC stand for?

Jourdan's Nana: I don't know.

4. What is a Hashtag?

Jourdan's Nana: I don't know but in my day we called it pound sign.

5. If you were looking for a mechanic close to you, what would you do?

Jourdan's Nana: Search internet for mechanics in my city where I live or closest to me.

6. If you were looking for advice on how to train a dog to stop barking, what would you search for?

Jourdan's NanaA dog trainer of behavior modification?

7. How far down the page on the search results will you look?

Jourdan's Nana: First or second page.

8. If you don't like the results for those searches, what would you do differently in your second search?

Jourdan's Nana: Be more specific in what type of services I was looking for.

9. How do search engines like Google decide who to put at the top of a search result?

Jourdan's Nana: I don't know for sure, maybe the customer pays to be on top?

10. How do search engines make money?

Jourdan's Nana: I don't know.

11. If you owned a small flower shop, how would you try and get to the front page of Google for when people searched "fresh flowers"?

Jourdan's Nana: Be specific or write a lot about my fresh flowers in the business?

 


If you need a reference before partnering with Blue Magnet Interactive, just call one of our moms. We promise they'll give an unbiased review of how amazing we are at SEO, PPC, and social media. Thank you, Mom! Happy Mother's Day!

See Also: A Mother's Day Tribute (VIDEO)Meet Kelsey's MomMeet Tim's Mom

 

Digg!Reddit!Facebook!StumbleUpon! Twitter

At Blue Magnet Interactive, we're only as good as our moms claim that we are. Luckily for us, our moms all seem to think we're pretty great… but do they have any clue what we actually do at work? When they brag to their friends about their very own "SEO expert" , do they think their kid is optimizing sites for search engines or officiating social experiences? On this Mother's Day, we decided to put our moms to the test. See how well the moms behind Blue Magnet Interactive understand the ins-and-outs of online marketing. 

*Questions adapted from Moz's blog: "How My Mom Thinks Search Engines Work"

Tims Mothers Day Photo

 

1. What do you think I do at work all day?

Tim's Mom: Well, I think you work at your computer! How am I doing so far? Is it something about social media marketing for the hotel industry? That's what I always tell my friends.

2. What does SEO stand for?

Tim's Mom: A stab in the dark: SEO=social executive officer (party planner).

3. What does PPC stand for?

Tim's Mom: PPC= professional personal computer (work computer)

4. How do search engines like Google decide who to put at the top of a search result?

Tim's Mom: Show me the money!

5. How do search engines make money?

Tim's Mom:Counting the number of clicks on their listings?

6. If you owned a small flower shop, how would you try and get to the front page of Google for when people searched "fresh flowers"?

Tim's Mom: Pay someone big bucks !$!$!

 


If you need a reference before partnering with Blue Magnet Interactive, just call one of our moms. We promise they'll give an unbiased review of how amazing we are at SEOPPC, and social media. Thank you, Mom! Happy Mother's Day!

See Also: A Mother's Day Tribute (VIDEO)Meet Kelsey's MomMeet Jourdan's Nana

 

Digg!Reddit!Facebook!StumbleUpon! Twitter

At Blue Magnet Interactive, we're only as good as our moms claim that we are. Luckily for us, our moms all seem to think we're pretty great… but do they have any clue what we actually do at work? When they brag to their friends about their very own "SEO expert", do they think their kid is optimizing sites for search engines or officiating social experiences? On this Mother's Day, we decided to put our moms to the test. See how well the moms behind Blue Magnet Interactive understand the ins-and-outs of online marketing. 

*Questions adapted from Moz's blog: "How My Mom Thinks Search Engines Work"

KelseysMothersDayPhoto

 

1. What do you think I do at work all day?

Kelsey's Mom: I think you do many things at work - I suspect you approach what you do using some of the knowledge and experiences which you have learned in college, some from life, some from your family and a lot because you are an incredibly intuitive, gifted and creative person. I expect you work with great passion and focus…hopefully not too intensely, as you can be a bit intense at times when you are passionate about something - also you're kind of a big deal.

What you actually DO? Well, I think it is in marketing, account management and relatively technical. You work supporting clients who are hoteliers or their management groups in the hospitality industry. You provide advice on having an internet presence, implementation and ongoing use of their websites, you may even design a portion of them and then report back on the analytics received by the website.

I think a big portion of your account management role is in relationship management - specifically when working with the clients to not only understand their business and their needs, but communicating with them regularly and keeping them updated on what's happening in your space and how it can apply to their success - it's all about REVPAR. Yeah, I know that term HA!

2. What does SEO stand for?

Kelsey's Mom: Service Excellence Office - anyway that is what it is where I work. Otherwise, I have no idea.

3. What does PPC stand for?

Kelsey's Mom: I can think of two things - Presales Price Calculator - which I use to price services at work or Project Plan Coordinator - which is also a role of someone at work who oversees status of projects and their documentation. Bet that is not what you are looking for.

4. What is a Hashtag?

Kelsey's Mom: When I was growing up it was something left in the bottom of a bowl you smoked…of course I never did that ;) but that's what I heard. Today is it an overused phrase for the number sign, #, which can be overly annoying when talking to people under 21.

5. If you were looking for a mechanic close to you, what would you do?

Kelsey's Mom: Talk to my close friends on who they use for a mechanic - depending, of course, on how well their cars run. I have one friend whose car is trashed - they LOVE their mechanic - I would never go there.

6. If you were looking for advice on how to train a dog to stop barking, what would you search for?

Kelsey's Mom: My slipper or a rolled newspaper.

7. How far down the page on the search results will you look?

Kelsey's Mom: I read the first three sentences - if you don't have my interest by then you won't.

8. If you don't like the results for those searches, what would you do differently in your second search?

Kelsey's Mom: Flip the words around - so instead of "Mothers Day" I would rerun it as "Day Mothers" - always interesting to see what happens.

9. How do search engines like Google decide who to put at the top of a search result?

Kelsey's Mom: I'm certain it has to do with a combination of who pays for what advertising and analytics on hits for pages that are more popular than others.

10. How do search engines make money?

Kelsey's Mom: I suspect selling space on their pages….or their souls like the rest of corporate America.

11. If you owned a small flower shop, how would you try and get to the front page of Google for when people searched "fresh flowers"?

Kelsey's Mom: Well I would ask Google how much does it cost to get to the front page and then decide if it fit my budget or just take my chances.


If you need a reference before partnering with Blue Magnet Interactive, just call one of our moms. We promise they'll give an unbiased review of how amazing we are at SEOPPC, and social media. Thank you, Mom! Happy Mother's Day!

See Also: A Mother's Day Tribute (VIDEO), Meet Tim's Mom, Meet Jourdan's Nana

 

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If we can learn anything from Facebook, it is that change is inevitable. While it can be overwhelming to log in and notice that nothing looks the way it did five minutes ago, often times these changes are for the best! Facebook's latest round of updates should be influential in your admin's content strategy, will improve your organization within the Ads Manager, and can result in more efficient and cost-effective campaigns. Check out what is new on Facebook in the last couple of months and why this matters to your hotel!

Facebook Update #1: Facebook's Pages to Watch provides more information

What's new: Facebook has finally made the Pages to Watch Section on the admin panel more robust. Previously, this section only showed a high-level glimpse of your page's growth compared to up to five other pages of your choosing. Now located within Facebook Insights, you can compare more metrics to gauge the performance of your hotel’s page and your posts.

FB Changes - Pages to Watch

Pages to Watch can be found under See Insights, at the bottom of the Overview section.

 

Why your hotel should care: You can measure the frequency and engagement of your hotel’s Facebook posts against your competitors'. If your competitors are continually gaining more page likes than your page and have higher engagement (more shares, likes, and comments), is it because they are posting more times each week? Keep this in mind as you create your upcoming content calendar so you can continue to improve your hotel’s Facebook engagement as well. If one of your competitors is consistently outperforming the other hotels in your comp set, take a look at their Facebook timeline to get a feel for what type of content they are sharing and what their strategy is. Is the hotel using better images in their posts? Is their content more relevant to their target audience? Are they constantly running promotions or giveaways? Make note of what works well for other hotels and adjust your hotel's posting strategy accordingly!

Facebook Update #2: Facebook Campaigns changes the ad structure

What's new: Previously, Facebook’s campaign structure within the Ads Manager consisted of two levels: campaigns and ads. The new campaign structure consists of three levels: campaigns, ad sets, and ads. Each ad set has its own budget and schedule, and target audience.

FB Changes - Ads Before  After

Why your hotel should care: The new campaign structure is especially helpful for promoting different events, targeting different groups of people based on interests, tailoring ad copy to each audience, and allocating your budget accordingly.

For example, imagine you are a Chicago hotel and your Facebook Ad budget for April is $50. Your hotel’s overarching advertising objective for the month is to build awareness about your property and gain quality Facebook fans that are likely to travel to Chicago within the next year. You decide to target two upcoming Chicago events that will likely capture your target audience: Chicago Half Marathon and Chicago Bears home games (since the Bears schedule is set to be released mid-April, fans of the Bears' opponents are likely to start planning which games they are attending at Soldier Field). Under Facebook’s new campaign structure, your hotel’s April campaign would consist of two ad sets: (1) Chicago Half Marathon and (2) NFL fans. Each ad set would consist of its own target audience and budget. The Chicago Half Marathon Ad Set targets Facebook users who live in the United States, are interested in running, and like pages similar to "Nike". Your hotel is dedicating $30 of your total Facebook ad budget to Half Marathon ad set. The NFL fans ad set targets people who like the NFL, ESPN, are fans of teams that the Chicago Bears are playing at home this season, and live in Green Bay, WI and Minneapolis, MN. Your hotel is dedicating $20 of total ad spend to the NFL ad set. The new Facebook campaign structure then allows you to create multiple ads within the ad set so your hotel can target by users’ interests, relationship status, location, etc. You can tailor each ad with unique copy to ensure it resonates with the intended audience and control the amount of money you want to spend on each ad.

Overall, this means a more organized process for hotel's that are running multiple ads and the ability to target niche communities more effectively.

Facebook Update #3: Facebook Ads provides more effective targeting options

What's new: Facebook has simplified their ad targeting options based on four main categories: location, demographics, interests, and behavior. Location targeting is more accommodating; Advertisers can now create a campaign including or excluding any combination of zip codes, counties, cities, or states. You will also notice that Facebook has said goodbye to hashtag and keyword targeting and is now concentrating on targeting the overall interests users have vocalized. This means you can choose to target one subject such as "hockey" and Facebook will show your ad to users who have liked or expressed interest in topics related to hockey.

In even more exciting news, Facebook's Partner Categories is now being integrated into the Ads Create Tool under Audience > Behaviors. Partner Categories allows marketers to target people based on their activity outside of Facebook, such as recent purchase behavior, the types of products or services they buy (home goods, cars, etc.), and the device they use to purchase. Before this Facebook ad update, advertisers had to go into Facebook's Power Editor to utilize this awesome feature, now it is integrated into ads to create a more efficient targeting process. You can read more specifics, and see what Facebook has to say about these updates via Facebook for Business News.

FB Changes - Behaviors

Partner Categories can be found in Behaviors within the Audience section.

 

Why your hotel should care: Some of the highlights to the Facebook ad updates include more values for relationship statuses (i.e. civil unions) and enhanced targeting capabilities, so you can now narrow down your audience to be as specific as "people engaged within the last 3 months." Demographics now include information such as workplace and job title - watch out LinkedIn...

This new, streamlined Facebook ad targeting will ultimately result in more efficient, cost-effective campaigns and, in turn, your hotel can get directly in front of the types of people that are likely to book rooms.

Facebook Update #4: Facebook redesigns page layout

What's new: Your hotel’s Facebook page will soon have a similar layout to that of your personal Facebook profile. Your hotel’s timeline (which consists of the page's posts) will appear on the right column of your hotel’s page and the left column will include all of your hotel’s business information (map, hours, website, likes, page tabs, etc.). Currently, all of the business information is at the very top of your page's timeline.

In true Facebook fashion, certain page administrators have been invited to join the waitlist for the new layout, but Facebook has not released an official timeline stating when this change will roll out to everyone.

Why your hotel should care: With this new page layout, Facebook is (seemingly) giving less prominence to page tabs. Page tabs will still be included on the business page, but tabs will no longer have thumbnail images, so they won’t stand out as much on the new layout. At Blue Magnet, we typically optimize hotels’ Facebook page tabs with calls-to-actions, like a Book Now app, Plan a Meeting app,  TripAdvisor review app, or custom-built iFrame for giveaways and promotions. So, if your hotel is hosting a social media giveaway or has a booking widget app integrated on its Facebook page, it will be a good idea to highlight this information within your hotel’s Facebook posts as well to increase its visibility.

FB Changes - Old Page

Example of old Facebook page layout. Note the prominent page tabs and the size of the property's rating.

 

 

 

FB Changes - New Page

Example of new Facebook page layout. The page tabs no longer have images supporting them at the top of the page (there will be images for these page tabs further down your timeline in the left-hand column). In the new layout, the star rating is larger and more prominent.

Check out Facebook’s example of the new page layout here.

Facebook Update #5: Facebook's Newsfeed clean up

What's new: Facebook is making an effort to get rid of posts and stories in the newsfeed that come across as spammy to users. Facebook has broken down the types of posts and content that will be penalized as a part of this process:

  1. Like Baiting: A post that asks people to do any given action, such as liking or sharing in effort to increase the post's reach (i.e. "What is your favorite city to visit? 'Like' for Chicago, 'Share' for Los Angeles, or 'Comment' for New York!).
  2. Frequently Circulated Content: Content, photos, or videos that are shared again and again and again. This doesn't mean you should stop sharing posts from other page's and interesting content, but this is a good reminder to not just share a popular story for the sake of sharing it because "everyone else is doing it”. Make sure the content you share has relevancy to your brand and its mission.
  3. Spammy Links: Stories in the News feed that don't accurately describe where they are linking out to are considered spammy links. Don't try to trick someone into visiting your hotel’s website, an ad, or a special offer. When sharing a link on your hotel’s Facebook page, make it clear where users are going when they click.

Why your hotel should care: If your hotel has a good Facebook content strategy in place, you won't be affected by these clean up initiatives. However, it is always important to keep best practices in mind when creating your Facebook content calendars and brainstorming social media promotions. Smaller scale giveaways asking fans to "like" or "share" a picture where one randomly selected person will win a one-night stay at your hotel will no longer be an efficient way to boost page engagement. Also, be sure to keep your hotel’s content refreshing. If you have a special offer that you are trying to promote, don't keep sharing the same image over and over again alongside the offer details. Instead, try using different visuals and mix up the copy every time you post about the offer.

Additionally, don't feel obligated to link out to your hotel website in each and every status update. Only post links that are relevant to the content your hotel is publishing. When you are posting a link, make the link destination clear so users know where they are going to end up when they click on it. After all, this will ensure you are receiving quality traffic to your hotel’s website, which will result in a higher conversion rate. If you think you are being sly by getting Facebook fans to unknowingly click a link to your website, you will likely see a high bounce rate, meaning the user didn’t want to end up there.

We’d love to hear your opinion! What do you think of Facebook's page redesign? Are you finding it easier to organize your hotel's Campaigns with the new layout in Ads Manager? Tweet us @blue_magnet with your comments or questions!

 

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In case you missed our hotel mobile strategy workshop at the Online Revealed Canada Conference this year, we're sharing our deck so you can ensure your hotel is properly optimized on mobile!

ORC2014 Mobile Strategy Session Description:

With so many people using their smartphones and tablets on-the-go, it’s vital for hoteliers to be targeting a mobile audience in each stage of travel – from planning to booking to experiencing. Does your hotel have a mobile-friendly website and is it providing an optimal user-experience? Is your hotel effectively capturing nearby searchers looking for a last minute room? Is your hotel team proactively encouraging your guests to share their positive experiences on Facebook? If your hotel does not have a mobile-strategy in place, than you may be losing potential guests to your mobile-savvy competitors. In this session, Blue Magnet Interactive will walk you through the necessary mobile channels that your hotel needs to be optimizing to increase bookings and drive more revenue in 2014!

 

 

Want to Get Started?

Be sure to download Blue Magnet Intearctive's Mobile Strategy Checklist to kickstart your hotel's mobile strategy!

If you have any questions (and can ask it in 140 characters or less), tweet us at @Blue_Magnet. For those of you that struggle with the art of brevity, you can contact us here.

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Are you visiting Chicago for an industry conference or tradeshow? Stopping by the Windy City to meet with clients? If you're looking for the best place in Chicago to eat brunch or a happening bar downtown to grab a cocktail with colleagues, Blue Magnet has you covered. In order to help you work your way through Chicago's fine dining & drinking scene, the Blue Magnet team compiled some of our favorite places to eat or drink and some hidden (and some not so hidden) gems to explore. We promise there is no shortage of exciting things to do in Chicago!

brunch-iconbrunch


Longman & Eagle

  • Incredible food, great drinks, and awesome atmosphere. Right across the street from the Blue Line. - Patrick McCarthy
  • OH MY GOSH - THE QUICHE! - Kelsey Nupnau

Anne Sathers

  • Gooey, yummy cinnamon rolls and awesome Swedish hospitality. - Michelle Laing

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba

  • Great food and a make your own bloody mary bar! - Karie Miller

Rockit Bar & Grill

  • The River North location has have excellent live music (same guy plays during brunch every weekend and you can request just about any song in the world), amazing cheese fries with melted brie, and a fantastic bloody mary bar! - Andrea Mann

Francesca's Forno

  • Excellent eggs benedict with thick slices of ham, hot coffee cake skillet and intersection location that's great for summer people watching in Wicker Park. - Matt Bitzer

 

More Blue Magnet Brunch Recommendations:

  • Southport Grocery and Cafe
  • Bite Cafe
  • Oak Tree Restaurant
  • Pump Room
  • Jam & Honey
  • Kingsbury Street Cafe

happyhour happyhour-label


Empty Bottle's Honky Tonk Happy Hour

  • Every Friday from 5:30 - 7:30pm, the Empty Bottle turns into a honky tonk paradise. Free to get in, the Hoyle Brothers are the official Honky Tonk band and the crowd are the official best dancers in Chicago. They've got cheap beers, great music and if you're lucky, the tamale guy will stop in towards the end. - Abby Heft

Townhouse Restaurant & Wine Bar

  • Great place to go and relax after a long day at work! In the summer they have outdoor seating which is always a plus! On Friday's they have $5 Chicago Brews and great appetizer deals! You can't beat that! - Maddy Fuller

DryHop

  • They don't have a dedicated happy hour special, but DryHop is brewing the best beer in Chicago and selling it cheaper than any other breweries in the city. It's a great place to grab a drink. - Chris Dean

The Bar at Siena Tavern

  • This newer restaurant is a great place to grab a drink and enjoy gourmet pizza or pasta after work. They have a pretty large bar area, but it gets crowded fast, so get there early to stake out a seat (or table if you're lucky)! - Andrea Mann

 

More Blue Magnet Happy Hour Recommendations:

  • Cantina Laredo
  • Three Dots and a Dash
  • Violet Hour
  • Revolution Brewing
  • Dusek's
  • Cedar Hotel

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Lou Mitchell's

  • Cheap breakfast, historic spot. - Kelsey Nupnau

Triple Crown or Lao Hunan (Chinatown)

  • Unique, delicious food in an under-visited part of Chicago. - Patrick McCarthy

Portillo’s

  • Can't come to Chicago without getting a Chicago dog or some great Portillo's Italian beef. - Karie Miller

Cheesie's Pub & Grub

  • The BEST grilled cheese sandwiches you'll ever have.- Jourdan Dunn

Nha Hang Viet-Nam

  • I am a huge fan of Vietnamese food, and Chicago is home to some fantastic, inexpensive Vietnamese restaurants. Adventurous eaters should head to Nha Hang Viet-Nam in Irving Park for an authentic and delicious Vietnamese meal. They've got some of the best Pho and Bahn Mi in town for a great price! - Amanda Diamond

Belly Shack

  • Korean bbq and Puerto Rican fusion. What's not to like? - Katharyn Vera

 

More Blue Magnet Cheap Eats Recommendations:

  • Litos Empanadas
  • Noodles in the Pot
  • Sultan's Market
  • Andy's Thai Kitchen
  • Morgan's on Maxwell
  • Picante Taqueria

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Sunda

  • It's delicious, quite an experience, and there is usually a celeb there. - Kelsey Nupnau
  • Delicious cocktails & sushi in convenient River North location. - Brittany Aller

Girl & The Goat

  • Fun cocktails, lots of different options for meat eaters and vegetarians alike, relaxed atmosphere. - Maggie Meyers
  • Great food in a fun atmosphere where you can try sharable plates of some creative cuisine. Get the Magic Beans--green beans like you've never tasted before. I used to hate green beans, but I was soon shown the error of my ways by the Girl and the Goat. Also, make sure you order the Pig Face--it's delicious. It's exactly what it sounds like, even if doesn't look that way on the plate; Some people (including me, the first time) are scared away by the name, but you don't have to worry about your food staring back at you while you eat it. - Matt Bitzer

The Publican

  • Simply one of the most enjoyable restaurants in Chicago. Incredible food, oysters, beer list, and ambiance. - Patrick McCarthy

Frontera Grill

  • Rick Bayless is one of the premiere chefs in the nation for a reason - his food is awesome. Gourmet Mexican fare and great drinks to match. - Chris Dean

 

More Blue Magnet Wine & Dine Recommendations:

  • The Gage on Michigan Ave
  • Longman and Eagle
  • Bavette's Bar & Boeuf
  • Joes
  • RPM
  • Takashi
  • Gilt Bar
  • Kai Zan Sushi

 

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Lou Malnati's

  • The crust is the BEST and they honestly have the best deep dish in Chicago. - Kelsey Nupnau
  • I love their thin crust & deep dish...my favorite in the city for both options. I never grew up with deep dish, but after trying others, this is my favorite of that kind. - Brittany Aller

Piece Brewery & Pizzeria

  • New Haven style pizza (super thin crust, which is a nice change from Chicago's typical gut bomb deep dish stuff) - that reminds me of home. - Michelle Laing
  • This is the #1 spot that Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame goes to eat when he's in town. So, you have possible celebrity sightings, an insane beer list (they brew their own beers!) and delicious pizza. It's also in trendy Wicker Park, with a lot to see and do before or after your meal. - Abby Heft
  • Excellent topping selections and combinations, monthly pizza specials featuring unique toppings and flavors, great brewery atmosphere, award-winning beers, live band karaoke on some nights. - Matt Bitzer

Giordano's

  • This is a really cliche answer, but if you're in Chicago, make sure to try Giordano's (and order deep dish). - Stephanie Hilger

Pequod's Pizza

  • The deep dish with crumbled meatballs and onions is unreal! Always packed on weekends. - Maggie Meyers
  • Skip the line at Lou Malnati's and head straight to Pequod's in Lincoln Park! Their deep dish pizza boasts a caramelized crust that cannot be beat. - Amanda Diamond

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co.

  • It's not technically pizza, but their pizza pot pie is incredible. They mix melted cheese, sausage, and mushrooms with the best pizza sauce I've ever had and bake it all inside a house-made dough. - Chris Dean

 

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Second City

  • If you can get to a Second City show, do it - great comedy and there are some really good restaurants nearby. - Kelsey Nupnau
  • Another must-do in Chicago - attend a show at Second City. This is one of my favorite places to take out of town guests. Always hilarious and who knows - the folks you see perform might just end up on Saturday Night Live tomorrow! It's great to be able to say, "I knew them before they were famous." - Abby Heft

Sporting Events

  • Sporting events! Chicago is home to great teams with rich history! Check out the Bears at Soldier Field, but make sure you arrive early to get in on the tailgating action! Head over to the United Center to catch the Bulls or Blackhawks or to Wrigleyfield to watch a Cubs game! - Stephanie Hilger
  • I like to take visitors to a sports game whether its a Cubs/Blackhawks/Bears game. The fans in Chicago are so intense and it creates such a fun atmosphere! - Jourdan Dunn

Architecture River Boat Tour

  • Take a river architecture tour. It's touristy, sure, but I've gone several times and it never gets boring. An enjoyable, different perspective of the city during nice weather. - Brittany Aller
  • Do the Wendella River and Lake tour, which is longer and cheaper than the others, and takes you out to the lake for great skyline views. Great, passive way to see the city. - Katharyn Vera

Chicago Parks

  • Chicago is simply the best place to visit any time of year (except winter!) and one of my favorite pastimes is going to one of the many Chicago parks. Whether just lounging and reading a book, soaking in the sun while it lasts, or playing Frisbee you can't go wrong! Enjoy the beautiful Chicago weather on your next visit! - Maddy Fuller
  • If it's in the summer, I always take out-of-town friends to the Lincoln Park Zoo and for a walk along the lake front. Seeing that side of Chicago always surprises them. - Maggie Meyers
  • It's cliche, but everyone should still see the Bean. It's unique. - Caroline Scanlon
  • Check out the concerts in Millennium Park and the Lincoln Park Zoo - Tim Dale

 

More Blue Magnet Things to See & Do Recommendations:

  • Music Box Theatre
  • Rosa's Lounge
  • Eataly
  • Chicago's Lakefront
  • The Signature Lounge on the top Hancock Building
  • Attend a taping of the NPR news show, "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!".

A few more Chicago recommendations that didn't necessarily fit into any of the above categories, but we felt were still worth mentioning:

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Hopleaf

  • It's hard to choose a beer off their list because there are so many worth trying. And it's definitely worth staying for their food. - Caroline Scanlon

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Molly's Cupcakes

  • Delicious and unique flavors of cupcakes that you can eat while swinging on swings in the bakery. So cool! - Michelle Laing

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The Doughnut Vault

  • The gingerbread stack is always a safe, delicious bet, but their seasonal flavors are typically spot on. Make sure you follow them on Twitter though. Once the Donut Vault is sold out, they are closed for the day, but they update their count per flavors throughout the day on Twitter! - Katharyn Vera

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Bub City

  • If you love wearing your favorite flannel shirt, rocking cowboy boots, sipping quality whiskey, all while jamming out to country top hits, then Bub City is for you. Live music on some nights starting around 10pm. Extensive whiskey bar and speciality cocktail list.  I recommend trying the Riverboat Gambler! - Andrea Mann

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North Avenue Beach

  • Favorite Beach?! Chicago has beaches?! Yes, you read that right. Believe it or not, Chicago is home to a number of great beaches. If you're visiting during the summer, I suggest stopping by North Aveune. It's a great spot to watch (or take part) in a sand volleyball game. I also love going to Castaway's (a big boat, 'docked' permanently on the beach - you can't miss it). They have plenty of options for food and drinks and feature live music on the weekends! - Stephanie Hilger

 

Are we missing one of your coveted Chicago spots? Tweet us at @blue_magnet and tell us why it's a Chicago favorite in 140 characters or less!

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You have been hearing about the benefits of a vanity site for your branded hotel for years, and this year you have finally allocated some of your hotel’s marketing budget to this important initiative! Now that your new hotel vanity site is live, you are excited and anxiously anticipating improved results and online revenue increases. But what type of results should you be expecting in the first year? This is a question that clients from branded hotels often ask us at Blue Magnet when we are launching a new hotel website, and although it may be easier said than done, we always encourage hoteliers to set realistic expectations and measurable goals for all online marketing initiatives on day one!

Why Should Your Hotel Invest in a Vanity Website?

The benefits of a vanity website are undeniable. While you need to budget appropriately for a new website (and may have sticker shock at first), it is important to remember that a vanity website is a long term investment for your hotel. Blue Magnet often recommends new vanity websites to our clients for reasons including:

  • Ability to differentiate your hotel from the brand by showcasing its unique personality
  • Better visuals and opportunity to display hotel photography and video
  • More flexibility for content development
  • Ability to target niche keywords and expand presence in search engines
  • Improved user experience designed for improved conversion rate
  • Social media integration
  • Efficient website updates with quick turnaround time
  • Enhanced reporting

As the screenshots below depict, a Crowne Plaza hotel found it challenging to accurately portray the unique charm of their property on the brand site (left). So, Blue Magnet designed and developed a custom vanity site for the hotel to highlight its features and set it apart from the standard Crowne Plaza hotel (right). The hotel took advantage of all benefits listed above in designing and launching the vanity website that clearly captures visitors visually with strong photography and better user experience.

Crowne Plaza Brand SiteVS   Crowne Plaza Vanity Site

Defining Expectations for Vanity Website Performance

Assuming your hotel already has a vanity site, then many, if not ALL of the reasons listed above, must have convinced you to take your hotel’s online marketing to the next level. From Blue Magnet’s extensive experience and expertise in vanity site management, we have proven that all of these benefits work together to produce impressive results. While each hotel website has its own rate of improvement and unique goals, there are common trends with each site that can be used to best set your expectations for the performance in the first year of the site going live. It is also important to note several different factors that can influence each hotel’s online performance, including:

  • Property – the size of hotel, service level, target market (business, leisure, group), and other property-specific assets all play a role in varying results.
  • Market – where the property is located, from a leisure destination to a large city center or small suburb influences results.
  • Photographystrong photography can have a positive impact on website performance, and likewise, poor photography can hinder user experience and negatively impact conversions.
  • Seasonality – annual hotel forecast and local or on-property events can affect results.

In the first year that your hotel’s site is live, you should expect an upward trend in visits and revenue referred from the vanity site when managed effectively. At Blue Magnet, we have seen a wide range in positive ROI for all vanity websites. In most cases, it is important to note that year one’s ROI takes into account the up-front cost of development of the site. Moving forward, in year two, year three, and so forth, as the site establishes its credibility in search engines and without the one-time cost of the site build, ROIs trend upward YOY. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Before we can calculate ROI, we need to ensure your hotel’s new vanity site gains visibility in search engines.

Ranking in Search Engine Results Pages

What to Expect?

Comprehensive SEO strategies take timeWhen will my site start to appear in the search engines? When will it rank #1 on Google? When can we expect it to rank organically at the top of the SERPs for a specific keyword, like San Diego hotel? Will it show up on Google’s carousel immediately? These are the types of questions we frequently get from clients with new vanity websites. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: a comprehensive and effective SEO strategy takes time. While some vanity sites immediately appear in search engines, others take a couple months’ time to get indexed and begin ranking high for competitive search terms, and it will take even more time to improve rankings for ALL websites. At Blue Magnet, we never promise exact placement in search engines, and we will not promise it now. Never trust an online marketing company that promises you first page or first place ranking on Google. There are no guarantees in SEO. But if your hotel invests in SEO before the site even goes live (and ensures the hotel’s SEO strategy is following all best practices), then your hotel’s site has a better chance for ranking high in the SERPs for relevant key themes quickly.

What Needs to Be Done?
Your hotel’s marketing manager’s first task for the new site will be conducting keyword research to optimize all meta content and on-page copy. It is also very important to submit your sitemap to Google so the search engine can efficiently crawl and index the pages on your site. After you have completed all on-page optimizations, it is just as important to optimize off-site elements. Consistent local listings and third party citations play a critical role in helping your site rank better in SERPs. Previously, your listings most likely all connected and pointed to the brand site, or a variation of the brand URL, or did not list a URL at all. A thorough audit and update of 100+ local listing sites is in order to ensure these are factually correct and pointing to the vanity site URL. You will also need to place an emphasis on link building for your hotel’s new site. You do not want just any old link to point to your new site though, so your SEO specialist will create an aggressive link building strategy to obtain links from relevant websites with respectable domain authorities. All of these organic SEO initiatives are imperative in order for Google and Bing to recognize your hotel’s new site and begin placing it on search engine results pages. And all of these efforts are on-going; some might say SEO is like mowing the lawn, in that it requires continual maintenance to be effective. So can you realistically expect your hotel’s website to rank #1 for your desired keyword immediately? No, but with proper SEO strategies in place (and patience), the chances will greatly improve.

Visitor Traffic

What to Expect?
How many people will visit my site each month? Is 5,000 visits a good amount of traffic for a new site? Is 77% unique visitors in line with what other hotels see? We often hear these types of questions from our clients immediately following a site launch. There is no single answer to satisfy each hotelier’s curiosity – so I have to refer back to the qualifications mentioned earlier and reiterate that every hotel and market is different. What I can say is: Blue Magnet implements Google Analytics tracking on all of our hotel’s vanity sites to ensure that we are constantly monitoring site traffic and striving to improve the numbers over time. You should expect an upward trend in traffic month over month in the first year, with exceptions due to seasonality or special promotions that may skew MOM reports. For example, if your hotel aggressively promotes its New Year’s Eve “Take the Elevator Home” party and room package, you should not be disheartened to see a dip in MOM site traffic towards the end of the month in February’s reporting.

Reporting from Google Analytics can provide excellent insights to the website’s performance. In the screenshot below, you can see at a glance the site’s performance in growing traffic after first launching the site and improving MOM with occasional drops that may be due to seasonality.  Again, it's important to note, that although there are occasional dips in traffic, the overall trend is positive over the life of the campaign.
New vanity site traffic growth

What Needs to Be Done?
The same SEO tactics that we reviewed in the previous section, which are necessary to implement for your site to rank well in search engines, will directly impact your hotel’s growth in site visits. Your marketing manager will also focus on growing your referral traffic by acquiring new links to point to the new vanity website. Using the former URL (probably brand site URL), you can pull a link profile to identify sites already referring traffic to your hotel. From this list you can reach out to sites to update the link to direct traffic to the vanity website. This not only impacts the new site’s link juice to rank better in SERPs, it also directs traffic to the new site that has been better optimized for a great user experience and higher conversion rate. Your marketing manager should be continuously analyzing the data in Google Analytics to determine quality visitors – visitors who are most likely to convert. Keep in mind that quality is not the same thing as quantity. It is more important to have a quality visitor that is interested in your hotel’s content than a lot of visits from irrelevant or low-quality users. How can you determine a high-quality visitor? By implementing goal tracking in your Google Analytics, you will be able to segment your traffic and clearly benchmark behavior – look for visitors that click through to multiple pages, submit RFPs, fill out the contact us form, click for more information on your packages, or check availability using your hotel’s booking widget. Your online strategies should be focused on driving relevant high-quality traffic to the site, so that these visitors are more likely to convert to a guest at your hotel.

Site Revenue and ROI

What to Expect?
I know, your ultimate question is: how much revenue is the hotel’s vanity site going to produce in a month, a quarter, a year? Is this incremental revenue that the hotel would not have booked if it did not have a vanity site? As I have consistently explained with previous answers; there is a wide range of revenue we have seen sites produce in the first year. Each property and market will have different factors contributing to differences in expected and actual revenue. The trend is certainly upward MOM in the first year with Vanity site revenue growth YOYvariances due to seasonality and availability. As the site performs better in the search engines and drives considerable high-quality traffic, you can expect revenue to grow as well.


An interesting finding we have identified is that average daily rate is often higher when booked through the vanity site than on other online channels. On the vanity site, you are able to attract more leisure travelers who book without brand loyalty discounts and are more interested in value-add packages which help drive room rate. Your marketing manager should continually optimize the website with fresh content and offers to improve conversions and drive revenue through the site. As for ROI expectations in year one, expect a positive return; we have seen ranges vary between 16:1 to 60:1 in the first year, and continue to grow in year two and beyond. As seen in the graph, with time, strategy, and continued site improvement, revenue grows dramatically year over year resulting in brag-worthy ROIs.

What Needs to Be Done?
Your eMarketing strategy is never complete. There are always opportunities to improve the site by refreshing SEO or updating your content marketing strategy based on findings in Analytics. As it is difficult to track conversions for hotels that must funnel reservations through brand sites, it is a best practice to set up a ‘Thank You’ page to track visitors that click an offer or use the booking widget to check availability. This page is only visible after a user checks availability to make a reservation. If your site is performing well, meaning it does a good job of prompting curious visitors to check rate, the ‘Thank You’ page should be among your pages with the highest page views. As this is the main goal of the site, we read into Analytics to determine pages that need updating and what rooms, packages, or events your guests seem to be most interested in. We ask questions such as: Are visitors finding what they are looking for? Are they bouncing off certain pages? Are they staying on the site long enough? Are they clicking through to other pages? Which room types are people most interested in? What special offer garners the most attention and clicks for more information? By finding answers to these questions we can identify which pages need copy refresh for better user experience and what primary selling points should be more visible on the site to improve the conversion rate.

Beyond the Numbers

With any vanity site, hoteliers should always look for more marketing opportunities with the site. Although it’s difficult, I advise you to not to get too caught up in the numbers when your site launches; rather, think about the core components of the site that can ultimately help your hotel achieve new traffic and revenue records. With your vanity website you now have a new marketing channel with enhanced capabilities apart from the brand site, and listed below are important site elements that you should utilize to help your hotel reach its goals!

  • Landing Pages – expand the site’s content with unique landing pages geared towards topics with search volume and that contain valuable information for your site guests.
  • Hotel Marketing – get creative with opportunities on your website to market special offers, events, amenities, and more with updated masthead images, banner ads, announcements, and prime placement of calls-to-action.
  • Analytics – dig into Google Analytics to identify more ways to improve your site; from updating pages with high bounce rates to switching out banner ads to produce more clicks, there’s always more opportunity to produce better results.
  • Mobile Optimization – Is the site mobile friendly? Is it responsive? To convert last minute searchers into guests at your hotel, ensure mobile users are able to quickly and easily find the information they are looking for.

Best of luck with your new vanity website! Set your expectations before the launch of the new vanity site and outline a multi-faceted marketing strategy to help you achieve your hotel’s goals. By understanding the critical areas to optimize your vanity website, you can expect to see all performance metrics rise throughout the year and continue to improve year over year. While vanity sites should be designed to provide the best user experience from the get-go and SEO’d before launch, active site management and strategizing are necessary for the site to continuously perform up to or better than your expectations.

Related Articles:

  • Hotel Website FAQ# 1: Should our hotel website be built on a proprietary CMS or an open source CMS?
  • Hotel Website FAQ# 3: What is the Difference Between Responsively Designed Websites and Separate Mobile Sites?
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As a hotelier, you may realize the importance of understanding your audience when creating effective marketing strategies, but do you know you how much easier it just became to really get to know your audience? Thanks to a new addition to Google Analytics, you can now snoop a little deeper into the behaviors and lifestyles of the people that visit your hotel's website. Google Analytics recently added Demographics and Interests tabs to its reporting, providing hoteliers with a unique insight into the age, gender, and lifestyle traits of their websites' visitors. This added knowledge allows hoteliers to create a better user experience on their hotels' websites and refine their marketing strategies to target potential high-value guests.

Before getting the opportunity to dive into Google Analytics' new data, you must enable the new reporting function. For detailed instructions, please visit Google Analytics Support. Once the reporting has been enabled, you will be able to see your website data broken out into two categories - Demographics and Interests. It's also important to note that for both Interests and Demographics, the information is based on a percentage of your total site visitors and should be viewed as estimation. Therefore, the data in both of these tabs may not be a completely accurate representation of your site's visitors, but it can definitely show you valuable trends.

How is this Information Obtained?

Information provided in the Demographics and Interests tabs in Google Analytics is derived from the implementation of the DoubleClick cookie. Cookies are small files, each with their unique identifier, that are saved in a visitor's browser and allow servers to differentiate one browser from the next. The DoubleClick cookie uses this same premise to keep track of which ad has been shown to which browser and is therefore able to track conversions. For example, when a user views your website where you have enabled the DoubleClick cookie and then later uses the same browser to visit your site again and converts.

To protect the rights of minors, Google does not include data on visitors below the age of 18. If you are going to utilize the new Demographics and Interest tabs in Analytics by enabling the DoubleClick cookie, it is best practice to update your site's Privacy Policy to ensure visitors are aware of the new cookie that will be stored in their browser. If users are uncomfortable with the new cookie, they have the option to opt out of DoubleClick cookie ID.

What Does the Demographics Tab Show?

The Demographics tab segments Google Analytics data into three sub-sections: overview, age, and gender.

  • Overview - The Overview displays a high-level glance at your visitors' ages and genders based on the key metric that you select, such as visits, bounce rate, or average visit duration. In the image below, the Overview data shows the visitor age and gender breakdown based on 40.43% of total visits to the site.Visits Overview
  • Age - The Age tab provides a much closer look at how each age group behaved on the site by using metrics such as bounce rate, pages/visit, and transactions or goal completions. Displayed in a table that can be sorted by each metric, this information can show you which age group visited your site the most and which had the highest conversion rate during a given time period. By looking at this data you are able to determine which groups convert well but don't necessarily visit in sufficient numbers. For instance, in the below example we see that 25-34 year olds visit this site the most often, but convert at one of the lowest rates. On the other hand, 55-64 year olds convert at a much higher rate, but don't visit in large numbers.
  • Demographics Age

By noticing these trends, a hotel can uncover high-value guests that it may not have considered marketing to before and can tailor site content based on these potential visitors. Why do 55-64 year old guests select this hotel instead of its competitors? Do they like that this hotel offers free breakfast and valet parking? Do they love that the rooms are extremely spacious? That this hotel has a free airport shuttle and 24/7 concierge? As a hotelier, make it your mission to determine what elements are important to this target age group - even if that means asking some guests within this age range next time they check-out or reading through months of TripAdvisor reviews! Highlight these areas of the hotel on its website callout boxes and hotel special offers to continue to increase conversions within the 55-64 year old age group.

  • Gender - Similar to the data that is displayed in the Age tab, the Gender tab shows the breakdown of users into male and female based on the same site usage and goal completion metrics mentioned above. This information can give you insight into how different genders interact with your site. For instance, based on the information below, we can gather that women tend to have a higher conversion rate for this particular hotel, suggesting that this hotel should be tailoring its marketing strategies to female guests. This hotel should consider what amenities women feel are most important when booking a hotel and devise a plan to highlight those pivotal items on the website. Do women book at the hotel because it has a top-rated spa next door? If so, the hotel should create a banner ad on its homepage to highlight the hotel's close proximity to the spa or the spa's discounted rate for hotel guests!Demographics Gender

What Does the Interests Tab Show?

The Interests tabs provide insights into your visitors' lifestyle interests such as food, travel, sports, and news. The Interest tab is segmented into four areas: Overview, Affinity Categories, In-Market Categories, and Other Categories.

  • Overview - This section provides us with a sweeping view of the three interest categories based on a key metric, Visits in the image below. As noted above, the information is based on a percentage of your total site visitors and should be viewed as estimation.Interests Overview
  • Affinity Categories - Affinity Categories are broad classifications of user lifestyles. These are people that are just starting their purchasing process. Hoteliers can use an analysis of Affinity Categories to reach potential new guests by understanding their interests. As you can see in the table below, Affinity Categories range from TV lovers to travel buffs and everything in between. This is an excellent opportunity to consider new hotel specials that match the interests of your site visitors. In the example below, visitors that are interested in sports convert at a lower rate than those that are interested in family television shows. In an effort to increase conversions of sports fans, the hotel might consider creating a package that includes tickets to a sporting event with a complimentary shuttle or a free appetizer with a bucket of beers in the bar.Affinity Categories
  • In-Market Categories - In this section you will find a breakdown of users who are in the market for a specific product and are more likely to convert. You will find a smaller amount of site visits categorized as In-Market compared to the two other segments. This is simply because it is harder for Google to pinpoint which users are in the market to make a purchase for that specific industry. However, over time Google Analytics will be adding to the list of In-Market Categories.

In-Market CategoriesThe data provided by the In-Market segment can help target your PPC ads. By analyzing the data in the new Google Analytics tabs, you are not only able to determine which age groups and genders are most likely to convert, but this information will also help you when selecting the target audience for your ads. Similarly, you can easily refine your marketing lists by eliminating any ad spend that you are currently using on low-value customers and increasing spend on customers with a high conversion rate.

By taking reports like In-Market segments into consideration before creating your next PPC ad, you can create specific ads to focus on each category, which should result in a higher conversion rate. Take the In-Market data above - if your hotel is located next to botanical gardens or a local greenhouse and you are trying to reach the group of visitors that are interested in home and garden, you should highlight that information in your ad by including your close proximity to the venue in the ad copy and link the ad to a landing page dedicated to the local attraction.

  • Other Categories - Providing a more detailed view of your audience's interests, Other Categories classifies users by the content they absorb and how often they do so. Users are going to be interested in learning more about the specific categories that they already engage with and therefore will be more likely to convert if the site's content matches their interests. With the new information that the Interests tab provides you, you will be able to explore different opportunities within your website to create a better user-experience. You will be able to tailor your content based on your audience's interests, demographics, and lifestyle traits. For example, in the screenshot below, we can see that people who are interested in Food & Drink/Cooking & Recipes are visiting the hotel's site in large quantities and are viewing more pages per visit and spending more time on the site than visitors with other interests.Other Categories This indicates that this segment of visitors are more likely to spend additional time on the site exploring content than the other segments, so if the hotel added content that would be of interest to food enthusiasts, they may be more inclined to make a reservation at the hotel, whether at the hotel restaurant or by booking a room night. After analyzing this information, this particular hotel decided to build more dining content by including a "Meet The Chef" page. Blue Magnet now updates the hotel's website each month with one of the Chef's favorite recipes to provide the visitors with relevant content that would be of interest to their food audience. Additionally, we update the page with seasonal menu items or chef specials to maintain fresh content and encourage visitors to return.

Key Takeaways

Understanding the lifestyles and demographics of people who visit your site will allow you to discover new opportunities, tailor your hotel's online marketing strategy and provide a better user experience during the guests' planning and booking stages. Enabling the Demographics and Interests tabs in Google Analytics is beneficial for a hotel and can provide openings to expand content on your site, better target your ads, and add new amenities or packages that cater to high-value audiences.

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