Digital Marketing

How Hotels Can Be Less Dependent on OTAs in 2014

In 2013, hoteliers regained control over their reviews, rates and reputations by partnering with award-winning digital marketing agency Lodging Interactive

Lodging Interactive Year after year, Lodging Interactive has worked diligently to develop breakthrough services with robust business models to help hotels take power away from the Online Travel Agencies and place it back in the hands of owners, operators and marketers. In 2013, three proprietary programs emerged as leaders in this effort: Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System, HotelFAQs.com, and HotelWebPages.com.
 
An image showing various years with 2014 in front"Hotels that have partnered with Lodging Interactive this past year are seeing their digital marketing efforts flourish, and they project to surpass their competition in 2014 by leveraging these three innovative programs," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive founder and president. "As a full-service digital marketing and social media engagement agency, we continually hear concerns about OTA's intruding on the guest-communication process. Our Guest Review System was designed to empower properties to collect their own guest reviews, moderate them and post them on their own websites which results in keeping guests on their website.”
 
In 2013, adoption of Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System grew exponentially. Vallauri said he attributes this growth to hoteliers finally accepting guest reviews as a vital part of their online marketing strategies. Hotels with limited staff and financial resources to manage the feedback process found that they could afford the Guest Review System and take a huge burden off their shoulders at the same time.
 
GRS Removing Stress, OTA Encroachment
Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System is a web-based tool that is successfully helping hotels collect guest reviews and to display reviews to their website visitors. By allowing management to respond to guest reviews in real time, hotels are improving two-way hotel-to-guest communications and boosting guest retention and loyalty. More importantly, directing guests to the hotel's website to post reviews keeps them from being redirected to an OTA where they may never come back to book direct. Removing OTA's from the equation keeps more revenue in owners' pockets. Additionally, hotels that don't have the staffing resources to respond to the submitted guest reviews can count on Lodging Interactive to manage the replies on their behalf. 
 
"By encouraging guests to leave a review on the hotel's website -- not on the OTA -- hotels are maintaining control over the guest experience, the guest relationship and the hotel's reputation," Vallauri said. "In addition, private replies to the guest are sometimes warranted. Lodging Interactive's GRS dashboard provides hotel managers with the reviewer’s email address, facilitating direct-to-guest communication. You can't do that on OTA sites. Capturing this critical data goes a long way in establishing and maintaining loyalty and supporting future marketing efforts. Finally, a review posted to the hotel's proprietary website gives management the ability to validate that the guest is real before the review is posted publically. Again, that can't be done on OTA sites. For years hotels have turned over control of their inventory to third parties. They shouldn't be at the mercy of OTA's for guest reviews too. This program, and other Lodging Interactive initiatives, are helping hoteliers to win back control of their guest reviews."
 
HotelFAQs Provides Answers OTA's Can't
Lodging Interactive developed a new service in mid-2013 to oversee a hotel's online FAQs listing, including developing questions people typically ask, sourcing the answers from the hotel, and allowing new questions to be asked by consumers online to help hotels increase conversion rates, maximize organic search and boost SEO rankings.  Only a small snippet of code is installed on the hotel website to enable the HotelFAQs service.  Hoteliers can decide on a ‘D-I-Y’ self-service FAQs model or a fully managed FAQs service operated by Lodging Interactive’s social media division, CoMMingle.
 
"When a traveler clicks on a category, he or she is navigated to the FAQs page that provides details about each topic," Vallauri said. "No OTA has access to this level of detailed information. Better yet, HotelFAQs.com easily integrates into any hotel’s Facebook page and blog. Fully mobile compatible, HotelFAQs.com also enables smartphone users to also benefit from vital FAQs content, thereby supporting and increasing mobile booking conversion rates."
 
HotelWebPages Offers Fresh Content that OTAs Can't
The newest program added to Lodging Interactive's arsenal of digital marketing services in 2013 was HotelWebPages.com. The service leverages Lodging Interactive's team of professional copywriters to develop fresh optimized content for hotel websites.
 
When Google changed its algorithm ("Hummingbird") in November to interpret the "inferred meaning" of a search, rather than providing listings that contain exact keywords used in the query, SEO changed forever. Today, hotel websites need to provide content that is content-centric, rather than key-word search specific.
 
"HotelWebPages.com adds considerable value to visitors and traction to search engines by delivering fresh content that answers searchers specific questions. We actually develop professionally written, unique content for our customers' websites in order to improve the site's visibility and viability, and actually capture bookings” Vallauri said.
 
Lodging Interactive has developed three structured pricing plans for HotelWebPages.com to enable even the smallest of properties to optimize their website to take advantage of Google’s Hummingbird algorithmic changes.
 
"Hoteliers have nothing to lose and everything to gain by partnering with Lodging Interactive today," Vallauri said. "2013 was a year of true success for our customers, and we anticipate even more accomplishments for the coming year. Those hoteliers looking for ways to outpace the competition should call Lodging Interactive today."
 
For more information, please visit www.LodgingInteractive.com.
 
 
About Lodging Interactive
Lodging Interactive, headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, is a full-service digital marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry for more than a decade. The company provides a portfolio of effective hotel Internet marketing services to hundreds of hotels, resorts, ownership properties, spas and restaurants. Clients include branded hotels from nearly every major brand as well as prestigious, landmark independent hotels. 
 
Through its CoMMingle Social Media Marketing Agency operating division, the company offers hospitality focused and fully managed outsourced hotel social media marketing customized solutions. Lodging Interactive has been recognized as a leader by the International Academy of Visual Arts, Interactive Media Awards, Web Marketing Association and Travel Weekly’s Magellan Awards. It is a proud supporter of the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and is a Preferred Vendor for Best Western International. For more information please contact us at sales@lodginginteractive.com or at 877-291-4411 ext 701. The company’s website is located at www.LodgingInteractive.com.



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