Wednesday 23 September 2015

How often to post on Social Media?

How often should you post on Social Media? It's something that keeps us up at night. Okay maybe it should keep us up at night but it doesn't. 

We leave the sleepless nights to the gurus of social media! However it is something that you need to consider. 

First of all we think you need to get right your content but once you have established what you should be posting you need to consider when and what frequency. You only have to Google "frequency of social media posts" to get some idea of the variation of recommendations which only reinforces the art not a science aspect of content sharing with your audience but it doesn't mean you shouldn't test it out. 

There is no definitive right nor wrong just what ends up working better for you. Have a read of this blog with neat infographic shared below. It's a simple but good read.

Why not use it as a starting point and tweak from there.…/how-often-you-should-post-to-socia…

Monday 14 September 2015

Your TripConnect Bidding Strategy

Bidding Strategies

TripConnect involves bidding for placement in price and availability search results. Your bid, relative to the bids of others, will determine where you appear. Below are some strategies to consider, both for properties who have relationships with online travel agents and those who don’t.

Bidding against others

If you work with online travel agent, there will already be links to these partners in your property’s pricing and availability search results.

In a group-bidding scenario, the top three bidders will receive prime placement for their links. Additional special distinction is given to the top bidder’s link. If you appear in Positions 1 through 3, your link will also include an “Official Site” icon, so travelers know this price is being offered by the property itself. The rest of the bidders that meet minimum bid amounts at the time of the search will appear in text links below the three main links.

Here are some simple strategies to consider:
  • First position, automatically: During set up, TripConnect will automatically populate bids to put you into first place across all TripAdvisor markets. If desired, you can make adjustments from there. The tool will show you how your changes impact your positioning, projected clicks and cost.
  • Returning to first position: You’re only in first position at the point in time when you set up your campaign. While your campaign is running, other partners may increase their bids so they can be in first position, which will push your link lower in the search results. To return your property to first position, click “Edit” next to your Average CPC bid on the TripConnect Campaign Management page. Then click the “Bid to 1st position in all markets” button.
  • Keep an eye on things: When you’re running a campaign, you should regularly check your property page and see where your link appears. This can help you judge if you need to adjust your bids for a better placement. Keep in mind, you may be in first position when you set up your campaign, but that can change over time as other partners adjust their bids.
  • What you’ll pay: If a traveller clicks your link, you’ll be charged your bid amount, no matter what position you’re in on the site.
  • A global approach: You may be tempted to pull back on bids for domains outside your home market. Generally, it’s a good idea to start at first position in each domain, so you can see which ones drive the most traffic. This will need to be monitored daily. Over time, you can make adjustments.
  • Reach travellers everywhere: It’s also a good idea to place desktop and mobile bids. This will help you reach travellers no matter where they’re researching your property. This will need to be monitored daily. Over time, you can make adjustments.

Solo bidding

If your property doesn’t have a relationship with an online travel agent, your link will be the only one listed in your property’s price and availability search results, and it will automatically appear at the top. Your link will also have the “Official Site” icon next to it. In this case, TripConnect will provide the minimum bid you need to place to display your link. This minimum bid is based on market prices.

Because you don’t have any direct competition, your minimum bids will vary based on market prices. You will see these changes when you configure a new campaign, but you won’t see fluctuation while you’re running one (unless you sign up with an online travel agent).

Here are some simple strategies for you to consider:

  • Consistency is key: Because you don’t have an online travel agent, it’s important to keep your TripConnect campaigns running without interruption. This will help ensure that you always present pricing and availability information to travelers who are interested in booking.
  • What you’ll pay: You’ll be charged your bid amount whenever a traveler clicks your link.
  • Global approach: In your case, it’s even more important to place bids across each TripAdvisor market. The ability to show pricing and availability information right on your listing will maximize your opportunity to book travelers outside of your home market.

Tips for managing your campaigns

You can see the most up-to-date metrics for your TripConnect campaigns on the Campaign Management page. This page will show you the amount spent, revenue generated and room nights sold. You can also make adjustments to your current campaigns, and set up new ones, from this page.


There is no minimum spend to participate in TripConnect, but there are minimum bids to have your link appear. You will see these minimums when you set up your campaign. You can set an overall budget for your campaign, to ensure it aligns with the money you’ve allocated for it. You can also set daily spending limits to ensure you’re not using too much money in one day.

When you’re first getting started, try setting up a campaign with a specific budget. Closely watch the Campaign Management section of the tool to see how long your money lasts and how successful the campaign is for your business. As you become more comfortable with traffic patterns, move to monthly campaigns with no budget restrictions. This will help you maximize your opportunity for clicks. Using monthly campaigns will also help you judge the times over the year when your property sees more traffic. This is particularly relevant for accommodations with significant seasonal peaks and flows.

Click forecasts

As you configure your campaign, the TripConnect tool will provide a click forecast for the next 30 days. This forecast includes an estimate of the number of clicks you’ll receive based on your current settings and market position. The expected spend is based on the number of forecasted clicks multiplied by your average cost per click for each market, aggregated globally.

Billing and payments

All invoicing will be handled electronically through the TripConnect Campaign Management tool. You can also track your billing balance on this page. You will be charged your bid price for each click sent to your booking page. No refunds can be issued on traffic that was delivered to your site. Also, no discounts are offered to any partners who participate in bidding.

Your credit card will be charged every time you meet a preset spending threshold (this threshold varies by market) or every 30 days – whichever comes first. You will be billed in the same currency as your Business Listings subscription.

The information above is a summary of TripConnect’s Bidding Strategies and Tips for managing your campaigns

For full information please read the article here:

Plan B recommends careful monitoring of your campaigns in TripConnect. Each campaign should be reviewed regularly (daily) in order to ensure investment and return are optimised. Plan N can provide
management of your TripConnect account if required.

Monday 4 May 2015 "protecting" guest identity

It appears that this message is rolling out across European markets currently and I was wondering if any businesses in the UK had received it yet?

An extra level of security? This from the very company that made a habit of sending out hundreds of thousands of customer details by fax to unmanned machines in hotels across the world with full client details, address, credit card, security number.

Now they don't want you the provider of the customer service to have access to your clients' contact?

Security. Yup. Sure.

Thursday 30 April 2015

Borthwick Castle to Reopen in July

One of the best pieces of news I picked up at Expo in Aberdeen was that the wonderful Borthwick Castle was approaching completion of its refurbishment and will be open again in the summer.

Of all of the refurbs going on in Scotland just now I cannot wait to see how this is going to come out. I have personal and very fond memories of this place as a student at Queen Margaret College when I was employed there over the summer on my first year placement.

And what an education.

I recall the total fear when I approached the castle (my little red Peugeot 104 having suffered a puncture en route as I recall) to be interviewed by the "chatelaine" Helen Bailey.

From the outside the structure was just awesome. A twin keep castle rising to 110 feet with long drive, old church and graveyard to the right and the wall and gatehouse entrance. This was amazing I thought and considerably more impressive than the Stakis Station hotel in Ayr where I'd spent a week chopping turnip for three hundred every night!

Up the stairs to the massive and very solid wooden door. You could not help but be impressed as you entered into the small entrance hallway that lead up to the rooms and halls, down to the dungeons and directly into the Great Hall.

It was one of those things that I learnt to build up to as I welcomed the almost exclusively American guests that summer; I learnt to build the expectation of opening that door. Hold them for a second while welcoming, let them take their breathe from the wonder of the outside, and then, and only then, blow them away by inviting them into the main hall.

The Great Hall was simply breath taking and remember no Internet or TripAdvisor reviews. These guys had NO idea what they were about to discover.

Huge vaulted stone ceiling - and I mean enormous, apparently the highest in Scotland - leaded windows, enormous fireplace (burning with logs cut by yours truly after breakfast that morning), huge dining tables set with silver goblets, crystal and cutlery (polished by yours truly that morning after breakfast and log cutting) and invariably Vivaldi's Four Seasons playing in the background from a Stereogram set in a traditional piece of furniture.

Then the tour of the rooms. Sorry bed chambers. Red Room, Scott, Borthwick, Bothwell and of course Mary Queen of Scots. That was the romantic one and I do recall catching a little kiss in that room from someone rather special some time later!

Wow factor? You bet.

So there was me at 19 witnessing all this for the first time and being interviewed underneath a six foot portrait of herself in the minstrels' gallery by the aforementioned Ms Bailey. Intimidated? Not a bit!

So I got the job. I experienced how to deliver personal customer care like never before, learnt how to recite horror stories and make up history (which really stood me in great stead for my subsequent student political life) and simply fell in love with a building like I had never done before nor ever will again.

For a summer it was my castle.

I look forward to revisiting and oh god, it would be so good to do some work for them again. Who knows.

Good luck Borthwick Castle, it's so good to know you're back.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Open Rooms to Develop Top B&B Group Website

Following on from Expo, the team at Open Rooms can confirm that they have secured the work to build a new content managed and responsive website for Scotland's Best B&Bs.

Scotland's Best B&Bs is a membership organisation made up of small independent bed and breakfasts with a minimum four star rating. The website has been live for a number of years with strong traffic through it and Open Rooms has been employed to build this further and increase the DIRECT sales back to the owners' own business.

The site has benefited from the FreeToBook booking engine and availability search and Open rooms will be working with the FreeToBook team to ensure that increased business levels can be achieved.

The new website will be developed using Claymore, the in house built Content and Destination management System, which will allow the site members to easily update everything from content to images, offers and news directly into the site from their own easy to use management area.

The news of the development comes hard on the heels of the announcement that the Scottish Incoming Golf Tour Operators Association have also chosen the destination management software and design skills of Open Rooms to build their new members site.

Ian McCaig from Open Rooms was delighted.

We've spent a lot of money over the past six months developing new functions for Claymore to ensure it was keeping up with the demands of the sector and we have seen some great results during that time from large destination sites such as Ayrshire Golf Scotland and luxury travel company Executive Golf and Leisure in Stirling. Securing both of these sites in the same week is affirmation of what we're doing and look forward to working on two great and challenging projects.
Open Rooms is the recently re-branded name for the online marketing and web development arm of Claymore projects Scotland offering cost effective and creative solutions to the tourism sector from B&Bs to destination sites.

Find out more at the new Open Rooms website

Monday 20 April 2015

Come and see us at VisitScotland Expo in Aberdeen

We are heading up to Aberdeen for a couple of days to promote our new Open Rooms On-line marketing packages so if you're heading to the Exhibition Centre please come and visit us on Stand H10.

Whether, like many, you are concerned about the visibility of your site following Google's changes to its mobile search strategy or looking for help driving more DIRECT online business or perhaps advice on your booking engine we will be delighted to see you. We also have a range of easy to understand briefings that can help your business for you to take away

We have got some great on-stand offers for new websites and offering all visitors to Expo a six months listing on our Scotland's For Me portal site.

So whatever you are looking for from your on-line marketing campaign in the next twelve months we think we can help.

Thursday 2 April 2015

Is Your Website Mobile Ready?

Good online and digital marketing businesses have been emphasising for several years the need for hospitality business to be mobile ready. Increases in mobile technology, new devices and improvements in booking software have all pointed towards the need for hotels, attractions and hospitality service businesses to be mobile ready. However it has taken a warning from Google to focus attention.

Website and news site around the world have been labelling the changes as "Mobilegeddon" and for many hospitality businesses this description is not far wrong. A random testing of thirty sites this morning found less than 20% ready for the changes and with so many searches on mobile devices for travel it could have major impacts on site traffic.

We have been building responsive websites as the norm for over a year now for tourism businesses and destination groups of all sizes. Most recent to go live over the weekend was an upgrade to a long term client Rosemary Young at Inveran Lodge in Nairn.

From the graphics above you can see just how well the content works on different devices but why is it now so important?

Google Search Changes

Recent announcements by Google seem to have terrified the hospitality sector into acting on their mobile strategies. Changes to be implemented in April 2015 indicate that Google searches done on mobile devices will be affected by whether a site is mobile friendly or not. It appears but is not certain that it is only searches actually undertaken on a mobile advice that will be affected but with estimates indicating search traffic on mobiles being up to 60% in some tourism sectors, non-compliance could have a devastating effect.

Your site must be responsive!

Responsive Web Design

Google are looking for your website to respond to the device it is being viewed on. The way we use the internet on a mobile device is entirely different from a laptop or desktop and intuitive drop down menus and easy to click buttons are essential. All websites built in the past year using our own Claymore Content Management System are already fully responsive and pass this test. Some older sites that have dedicated mobile version sites still pass.

Test your site with Google

However, now is the time to look at ensuring that your website is fully responsive and will work across all platforms and not just for the search engines. The customer is now used to sites that work on mobile and will simply leave one that isn’t – you must continually reduce friction for your site visitor. The easiest and most cost effective way to do this is to upgrade to one of our Open Rooms XV websites all of which have a responsive solution built in.

Send us an email message or call 01294 233713 for more information and a surprisingly affordable mobile ready solution!

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Amazon set to expand its hotel offering?

This article is well worth reading if you happen to be an independent hotelier.

It is being reported that Amazon may be about to supplement the dicounted room offer that they currently offer through Amazon Local to general hotel room availability in an area setting the potential for a head to head with the likes of at some point in the future.

According to the full article on there is some activity in the States that indicates changes in Amazon Local to offer live availability in a selection of hotel properties.

If nothing else the article goes to underline that the dynamism in hotel distribution channels is unlikely to slow down and that hoteliers must maintain a strong relationship building strategy to drive DIRECT bookings wherever possible.

There will always be a secondary market for hotel rooms that must be integrated into strategic thinking but NOT at the cost of abandoning an even more aggressive DIRECT booking campaign.

Read Full Article here

Arnold Palmer Confirmed as course designer for second Castle Stuart Layout in the HIghlands

The legendary Arnold Palmer is to build his first golf course in the Home of Golf in a partnership with the world renowned Castle Stuart Golf Links in the Scottish Highlands.

The Arnold Palmer Group has confirmed it is joining forces with Castle Stuart’s managing partner Mark Parsinen and his team to collaborate on a spectacular new 18-hole links course on the Moray Firth near Inverness.

The new venture will complement the existing course at Castle Stuart, built by Parsinen and Gil Hanse and which has achieved worldwide acclaim since opening in 2009.

Plans for the venue’s second iconic course will be submitted within two months and it is envisaged work will get underway early next year, ahead of the return of the Scottish Open to Castle Stuart for the fourth time in six years. It is planned to have the new links open for use by 2019.

The partnership deal was announced by Arnold Palmer at his Invitational tournament which is being held this week at the golfer’s Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Florida.

Discussions on the project have been ongoing for some time and members of the Palmer team have visited Castle Stuart several times recently.

Arnold, himself, commented: “I have had a strong affection for Scotland since I first went there in 1960 to play in the Open at St. Andrews. I have returned many times since, including a memorable victory in the Open Championship at Troon in 1962.

“The opportunity to build an iconic golf course in Scotland would be the culmination of all these great experiences.  I am looking forward to my visit to Castle Stuart in a few months’ time.”

Mark Parsinen, who also co-designed Kingsbarns Golf Links in Fife, said; “We have been in discussion for more than a year now with the Arnold Palmer Group and we are delighted that it has joined the partnership at Castle Stuart Golf Links.

“We are working with his design team on the routing of the new course with a view to beginning construction this time next year.”

The new course will be similar in length to the existing 7,193-yard links and will feature spectacular views across the Moray Firth as well as the 17th century castle which gives the course its name.

Stuart McColm, Castle Stuart Golf Links’ general manager, added: “This is fantastic news, not just for Inverness, but for the Highlands and for Scotland. We at Castle Stuart have focused on working with other partners to promote the Highlands as a world class golfing destination and this announcement that the Arnold Palmer Group wants to partner with us can only enhance that reputation.

“Having two world class courses in Inverness, together with all the other great courses in the Highlands, will undoubtedly drive more people to this area and have a significant economic impact.”

The development is another major milestone in the short but spectacular history of Castle Stuart Golf Links.
It has achieved global acclaim in its first six years and was placed at No. 56 on Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses in the World in 2013.

It staged the Scottish Open for three successive years from 2011-2013, with the 2013 championship, won by Phil Mickelson, reaching a worldwide television audience of more than 500 million, including weekend live coverage on NBC USA.

The championship, sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management and the Scottish Government, will return to Castle Stuart in July, 2016.

Friday 13 February 2015

Facebook Introduce Call to Action Button

If any hoteliers have logged on to their Facebook Business page today you'll have noticed a new addition on top of the main header image.

Hoteliers  can now add a Book Now Button to their site whilst other retailers can drive traffic directly to their online stores or whatever conversion landing page they wish in fact.

As always it is about Reducing Friction and if that means simplifying the journey from Facebook to your booking page then we would say that's a pretty decent move and it will only takes a few minutes to achieve but do remember not to link back to your homepage - it says Book Now so take the visitor to where they expect to be taken!

We've created one of our Tourism Matters Briefings to guide you through and make sure you link to the right place.

Download Tourism Matters Briefing

Wednesday 11 February 2015

How Much Social Media Do I Need?

For as long as we can remember we have been discussing the merits of increasing distribution of content through as many channels as possible.

Of course every business can control their own channels and what information goes through those channels - websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter, photo sharing sites, video channels and even online travel agents - but what is unclear is where that information then goes. The whole reason for uploading content into the cloud is to try to get it shared as widely as possible. Put it up and let it go.

This requires a distribution strategy and a positive content creation strategy and it is clear that individual businesses can never reach all distribution channels with a single message nor hit all niche markets with a standard line of promotion. 

A successful content distribution strategy therefore requires others to start talking about you. The more chatter there is out there the more chance you have of being found by the customer you had never even thought existed. Keep your distribution to normal channels and you by definition narrow your target market and will keep fishing in the same pool with an ever diminishing number of fish to catch.

It is therefore our belief that nurturing partnerships who wish to talk about your product positively is the best PR possible, of course you don't control the message but if that partner is a trusted one then the benefits are always likely to outweigh the benefits.

If that is accepted then you can never have enough positive distribution channels across multiple media. Your product may be doing well but it requires new markets to replace old in an ever changing marketplace and not looking beyond the present distribution may be seen as being very ricky. Make sure therefore that you develop these third party relationships, that you provide the resource that they need and encourage their positive PR whenever and wherever possible. It is the lowest cost of marketing available and third party non aligned recommendations are often the most effective in terms of return on investment.

Share Press Releases. Make images copyright free and accessible online. Share video. Offer incentives. They all will help build third party content distribution and increase your exposure.

Set up costs for social media may be small but the investment you need to make to ensure its effectiveness is time. And time is expensive. If someone else is doing this for you and indeed with you, that reduces risk and increases potentials reach. Win win scenario.

Search is a moveable feast and changes in logarithms has the potential to wipe out some of your best and most effective channels overnight. By increasing the routes to market you again by default reduce the risk of exposure to negative change. 

So in short, can you ever have too many social media and content distribution channels? 


Tuesday 20 January 2015

Good Practice is... well simply good practice!

"The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself." (Oscar Wilde)

Sometimes you find great articles by external writers that give you hope! This was one of those. Why?

Well as much as you think that you are pointing the customer in the right direction the very nature of online marketing strategies for hospitality clients leads you sometimes towards the sense of despair that the omnipresent reach of the massive multinationals cannot be loosened. We are always telling our clients that there is a Plan B but sometimes you can't help but feel as though the advice is taken with a large pinch of salted scepticism.

It is always therefore quite nice to read something that just hits the button, that communicates and reinforces your own beliefs and that helps break bad habits.

The article below (by Sara O’Brien, Senior Manager for Marketing at HeBS Digital, one of the hospitality industry’s leading digital marketing firms) is one of those and speaks a language we understand. Please read and then by all means give us a call on 01294 233713.

In early January, in this year’s Top 10 Digital Marketing Resolutions, presented by HeBS Digital for the 15th consecutive year, we provided an action plan to follow during 2015. Created to help alleviate the complexity of our industry’s most recent innovations, this action plan was designed to help you concentrate on what’s most important: engaging your key customer segments and increasing direct online conversions and revenues! 

We went a step further and last week we presented an interactive webinar “Action Plan 2015: The Smart Hotelier’s Top 10 Digital Marketing Resolutions”, attended by hundreds of hoteliers. We received some great feedback and questions while we covered how to increase your online revenues/ROIs, gain market share, and stay ahead of the competition and OTAs in the coming year.

Here is a quick summary of the Smart Hotelier’s Action Plan 2015 Webinar and some practical action steps to monetize your digital marketing resolutions:

1. Budget for digital: be where your customers are.

Hoteliers should be spending a minimum of 4% of their total room revenue on advertising/marketing efforts, of which 75% should be spent on digital marketing. In 2015, over 50% of hotel rooms will be booked online! It only makes sense to put more money where your consumer is.

2. Focus on business needs: don’t be too quick to follow fads.

Make sure to focus on technology and marketing initiatives that achieve one single goal of driving direct online bookings and leads. This includes: website re-design and optimization, SEO and SEM/paid search, email marketing, customer segment marketing, direct-response banner advertising, as well as newer initiatives such as dynamic rate marketing, meta search, dynamic content personalization, multichannel campaigns, interactive applications and highly-focused display targeting and retargeting.

3. Invest in your property website. Optimize your presence on the three screens.

If your property website is two or more years old, does not offer responsive or adaptive design, does not support dynamic content personalization or dynamic rate marketing, or does not have state-of-the- art merchandising and reservation abandonment prevention capabilities, then it is time to make the upgrade.

4. Invest in a Content Management System with revenue-driving technology.

Choose a CMS technology that empowers you to seamlessly manage your website presence on the three screens via a single dashboard, engage users and maximize revenues from the direct online channel. Choose a CMS that enables your website to offer dynamic content personalization to fit the interests and preferences of website visitors and provides one-to-one marketing capabilities to drastically increase conversion rates and revenues. Your CMS should also feature a deep integration with the CRM and CRS to improve guest recognition and merchandising.

5. Personalize website content for the visitor.

Dynamic Content Personalization delivers unique and relevant textual, visual and promotional content to site visitors based on their demographics, location, website pathing behavior, past booking history, guest preferences, reward program affiliation or affiliation to a particular customer segment (transient corporate travel, leisure travel, family travel planner, corporate meeting planner, SMERF group planner, wedding planner, social event planner, etc.).

Dynamic content personalization based on geo-targeting is the logical first step and will benefit the property in the form of higher conversions and incremental revenues from those key feeder markets.

6. Reach guests throughout their travel planning journey with multi-channel marketing campaigns.

According to Google, the average site visits before the purchase is 21.6. Keeping the consumer engaged and reaching them multiple times throughout their journey requires using multiple channels. Begin by determining the business needs of your property. Then make sure to analyze results in the campaign entirety to see how the initiatives worked together.

7. Integrate real-time rates in your marketing campaigns.

Dynamic Rate Marketing (DRM), a next-generation direct-response marketing category, allows real-time hotel inventory availability and pricing to be inserted in various marketing initiatives including meta search, banner advertising via the top travel ad networks, retargeting, Google Adwords and email marketing.

A quick and easy way to start Dynamic Rate Marketing is to launch meta search marketing campaigns on TripAdvisor and Google Hotel Finder. Retargeting via the Google Display Network (GDN) is the logical next step. Taking this a step further and utilizing dynamic rate banners with concrete hotel rates and promotions on the GDN dramatically increases conversions and generates excellent ROIs.

8. Do not underestimate revenues from the search engines.

The reliable good old search engines generate over half of website revenue on hotel websites which is often forgotten when it comes to SEM/paid search and SEO budget planning. Create an ongoing SEO strategy to keep up with the new standards imposed by search engines. Make sure to budget sufficiently for SEM / Paid Search with at least 20-25% of the annual digital marketing budget.

9. Choose your digital marketing partner wisely.

A property’s digital marketing partner should become an extension of the hotel company’s team, work towards common goals and objectives, and provide solutions to business needs. This partner should also continuously bring forth new ideas, the latest best practices, and technology developments.

10. Do not be intimidated by the OTAs!

While it is true that OTAs have deep pockets and spend billions on digital marketing efforts, any property should realize they can outsmart and outspend any OTA on their property alone. Launching a comprehensive CRM program, including a simple Reward Program targeting and rewarding repeat guests, as well as budgeting for a robust direct online channel strategy, can shift the pendulum away from the OTAs. Develop a digital marketing strategy to “own” your destination and your destiny as a whole.

Question and Answer Session

The article also listed a number of questions raised in the seminare. It is a list of questions that arise time and time again and the answers when given honestly and without an agenda are so obvious.

Question: What advertising advice would you have for a highly seasonal market like Palm Springs, which seem to barely survive with flash sales?

Answer: First, we would recommend stopping flash sales. With all the latest targeting options, such asDynamic Rate Marketing (DRM), you can target people that are known to be traveling to your destination. Palm Springs is also big drive-in market and the Top Travel Ad Networks we mentioned not only have a lot of fly-in data but also a lot of drive-in data, such as information from car rental agencies. You can serve banners to people known to be driving in to that market, displaying rates for the dates they are known to be traveling. You should also be sure to utilize Retargeting. If you get someone to your website, you need to be able to reach them again after they have left. They will likely be going to 21.6 touchpoints (Google) throughout their travel planning journey, including the OTAs, so you want to be working at getting them back.

Question: Should we create a phone number for target segmentation?

Answer: Call tracking is extremely important, especially with so many people coming to your website through your mobile channel. Seven out of 10 bookings that start on the mobile device will end up happening on the phone. So it’s important get the full picture on how much revenue you drive by tracking phone calls.

Question: Displaying Real time rates and availability on your website and in campaigns: Are they only for tonight? What if our lead times are consistently much longer?

Answer: We showed real time rates on the mobile website because so many mobile bookings are last minute. However, the technology is available for you to choose any dates you have a need for. For desktop, we show real time rates for the upcoming weekends. You can have a rate for whenever you choose in your messaging.

Question: Do you recommend hotels do TripConnect or TripAdvisor Instant Booking? What are you doing on your end to get the best ROI?

Answer: At HeBS Digital we have meta search marketing platform called the DRMGateway. We can manage the budget on a regular basis and display the real time rates in real time. The problem with some of the platforms such as TripAdvisor TripConnect is that they don’t have that active management in place to optimize your bids and maximize return on investment.

TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking can be an OTA in a sense in that you are paying a really high commission. We would recommend that you first put all your marketing dollars towards a meta search campaign that is going directly to your website booking engine. To get the best ROI we are constantly looking at the competitiveness of the marketplace, what we are paying for clicks, if you have a low ADR and are in a really competitive marketplace that might be a case where you are not in the top 3. Every property and destination is a bit unique in terms of what needs to be done to get the best ROI.

Question: What if our budget is pretty set for the year. What types of things can we do within a limited framework?

Answer: In the short term, maximize the efforts that you HAVE budgeted for. For example, make sure that your SEO provider is implementing a robust local content generation plan and that you own results on the search engines from paid and organic. If you have an online media budget, see if you can fit in dynamic content banners into the mix. Or see if you can fit your planned initiatives into a multi-channel campaign, focused on a particular business need. For the long term, start thinking about 2016 already – it always comes fast. If it’s time to invest in a new property website and backend technology, start the conversation now about how you can fit it into the 2016 budget (or sooner if possible).

Question: What is the best way to source local content?

Answer: Nobody knows the destination better than the property, so make sure you work very closely with your digital marketing partner to ensure you have the best and most appropriate destination content featured on your website. A blog is extremely important and, along with your digital marketing partner, you should be consistently blogging about things to do in the area. Another item to add is an interactive map that highlights things to do nearby. If you do work with a vendor to outsource local content, make sure that the content is ON your website so you can reap the benefits of SEO.

Question: Do I need to invest in a new CMS to be able to personalize content on my website?

Answer: There are vendors that offer this service on some levels. They do not specialize in hospitality, and you rarely will have control over the entire process or comprehensive strategy that is really aligned with your website content. If the feature is built into your CMS then you don’t have to log in somewhere else, you can easily integrate personalization with all your marketing specials and promotions, and you can even integrate dynamic content personalization into your booking engine widget, PMS and CRS.

Question: My property has thought about creating a loyalty program but it doesn’t seem worth it. There are expensive set up and maintenance fees.

Answer: It doesn’t have to be a full blown loyalty program. You can have a sign up form on a landing page, collect the sign ups through a database offered by your CMS, log in functionality and even add a layer of Dynamic Content Personalization. Something like that does not have to be expensive – under $200/month.

Question: How should I choose adaptive or full responsive design?

Answer: Choose full responsive for websites under 25 pages. For websites with deep content and rich imagery, choose adaptive as the content may be compromised on mobile and tablet.

Question: Having recently purchased a Bed and Breakfast, how can I tell if our website is optimized for today’s environment / requirements?

Answer: One thing you can ask yourself is, “how old is the website?” Technology moves so fast these days. If the website is over 2 years old, it is pretty much a guarantee that you are due for an upgrade. Do you have a smart content management system that will allow you to do the items that we covered in today’s webinar (Dynamic Content Personalization, Reservation Recovery, etc.)? When was the website optimized for the search engines? Do you have promotions that are highly visible on your website? When you are reading industry articles, keep it specific to the hospitality industry. When you are reading about SEO, or design, there are specific rules for our industry.

Question: What is a mini website?

Answer: When we discussed having a mini website, we were talking about having an application that people can go to when you are marketing multichannel campaigns. The application is dedicated to getting people to book the specific promotion that you are offering. The great thing about the application we showed for the Cyber Monday campaign is that we are able to get people to really focus on the promotion at hand, but also have functionalities like a countdown clock, email opt-in, and social sharing.