I have spent the past few weeks traveling and speaking in various conferences related to the hospitality industry. One of these events was the World Hotels yearly conference held in Monte Carlo in January 2009. At this conference, 500 hotel managers and World Hotels corporate management gathered together with industry speakers to talk about challenges the hospitality industry is facing during this time of financial crisis and the ways the hospitality industry can combat this financial crunch with new initiatives and ideas such as engaging your customers online through new, relevant content, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and branching into numerous markets through Multilingual SEO.
The second conference I attended was the EHTEC conference (European Hospitality Technology Educational Conference) held in Amsterdam last week by The Hospitality Financial and Technology Professional Association. Again, the effects of the current financial crisis and initiatives to control these effects were the main source of conversation.
The hospitality Industry must be willing to face the challenges ahead with energetic action and new innovations. It is key for hoteliers to enforce and strengthen their direct distribution and their interaction with customers online. As airlines have done in the past few years, hoteliers have to balance working with their traditional retailer network (online travel agencies, tour operators, corporate agencies, etc.) while strengthening their direct sales channels especially through their B2C websites.
Today the most cost effective way to gain traffic is by properly doing the SEO on your website as well as enriching it with well-written, fresh content. Of course there are other factors that can benefit your site, such as PPC and link-building, but the benefits of SEO—good SEO—coupled with well-written custom content rise to the top of the priority list, especially with businesses that only have small budgets. SEO will drive traffic from numerous search engines and gain returns (the ROI is significant compared to the minimal costs of SEO). Studies show that organic SEO is more effective than a paid listing.
The benefits of SEO and well-written custom content are also that you will raise user interest in what you have to say or even what you are selling. Hotels chains, management, and individual hoteliers must embrace our changing world and see that gaining new customers through their website will cut the cost of sales by securing better margins from online sales than through traditional networks.
Multilingual sites and quality SEO on property sites, offering interesting, information-rich content, enable online shoppers to have a better shopping experience and is therefore one of the key tools for the hospitality industry to strengthen their margins and revenue and fight the economic downturn that is badly hitting the hospitality industry. One example of a hotel chain that has become less dependent on corporate agencies and has rapidly grown their online distribution to combat the economic crisis is Citizen Hotels. There was a great study on this innovative chain during the ETEC Conference.