Sunday, 2 December 2012

Best Book Direct - Your Business Name in Google Search

Improve How Your Customer Views Your Business Name - Part I

Search for your business name and location in Google and note the results. How are you seen, who are your partners or competitors, how is your business name represented, how does your Google Place entry look. This is your continual and ongoing reference point. Once you have your business name sorted and only then should you start moving to being found for more general terms. Start from your business out.

One of the most challenging issues facing accommodation providers in 2013 and beyond is how to reduce the cost of on-line sales by switching your guests from third party websites and on-line travel agents to booking direct.

We will be looking at the shady practice known as Hotel Brand Jacking later in the week at how the accommodation sector - and the industry bodies representing the sector - could and should be taking this practice head on but regardless of the way the big boys act, operators should be doing what they can for themselves in areas of search and "brand" or business name awareness. Let's start with the very basics.

It seems logical to start with your own business name. You may think that it's simple - a potential customer is looking for your business specifically and they'll find you? Maybe but increasingly your name is being hijacked. Bit of an overstatement?

Well if you've seen a drop in bookings over the past two years from your own website you may be blaming your website or your booking engine. The truth is that your DIRECT customer, those looking for your business, are being "seduced" or more accurately "bought" by the online travel agents running Google Adwords for YOUR business name.

Let's look at an example of a smaller independently owned hotel on Loch Lomondside, The Oak Tree Inn at Balmaha. We did a Google search for their name "Oak Tree Inn"

The first thing you'll notice is that you are being shown in a number of ways. Paid advertisers will show always first; The business featured on Google map will be on the right hand side and the organic search listings will be listed below the paid adverts.

Google Search for "Oak Tree Inn" or "Oak Tree Inn Balmaha"
We'll look at how businesses can maximise their content on Google Places on the right later in the week so we'll focus on the paid adverts and the generic search listings for now.

The first thing that your searchers will find are the paid adverts with the big boys buying your business name.

Do your customers know that it's an advert? Do they care? Or are they going to be drawn by the Best Price Guarantee or Book & Save statement?

What would you do? Go for the most likely best price?

Your own website may always appear first in the general listings but what does it say to the customer?

You must ensure that it emphasises that it is Best to Book Direct so while the OTA's may be able to promote Best Rate Guarantees, so should you; and only your site can claim to be the official one so why not use it.

The Oak Tree Inn has done just this and there is little doubt that it helps convince the customer that they are assured of the best rates by booking direct.

The series of Best Book Direct features is intended to focus businesses on the issues and actions that they DO have control over and by creating a course of small changes (some with big gains) there can be a gradual but inexorable movement toward a much more balanced accommodation reservation position.

So acting on a Google search on your own business name may not be high on the Richter Scale but it is a start that states a determination to take more control of your online marketing and sales conversion. Over the next days and weeks some other equally small changes may combine to make the big differences in direct sales that all accommodation businesses need in 2013. 

The next few Days in the Advent Calendar will look further at maximising your Google Search opportunities and protecting your business name.

Things To Do Today

  1. Do a Google Search for your business name
  2. Note what other sites are being found and how your customer sees your name
  3. Amend your Home Page Title to encourage more DIRECT business
  4. Regularly revisit how your business is being found.

Downloads, Links and Reference

(NOTE: The Brandjacking Index study con­cludes that brand­jack­ing re­sults in more than 580 mil­lion vis­its from highly-qual­i­fied travel­ers be­ing si­phoned from ho­tel book­ing sites to the book­ing sites of chan­nel/mar­ket­ing part­ners or com­peti­tors. The study pegs the over­all an­nual cost of lost book­ings and un­nec­es­sary com­mis­sions at $2.2 bil­lion.)


The Best Book Direct Guide is being produced in conjunction with the on-line marketing team at Plan B and the award winning Bookassist Booking Engine
Email or call 01292 521404.
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