The following is an excerpt from Max Starkov’s latest contribution to the “Successful eMarketing” blog on HOTELS magazine’s website.
The Vanity Website – the Franchisee’s Only Incremental Revenue Driver
Today’s hotel website has become the main revenue driver that carries the burden and responsibility of generating the bulk of bookings for the property. The property website is the backbone of the hotel multi-channel marketing mix and the main “engagement tool” with today’s hyper-interactive travel consumer.
Even in these unfavorable economic conditions, the online channel has been the only growth channel in hospitality. Outside of the Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and bookings via the brand.com website, the property vanity website provides the franchisees with the only viable opportunity to generate incremental revenues today.
With the indirect online channel (OTAs) draining the industry by as much as $5.4 billion in the form of abnormally high merchant commissions, the Direct Online Channel (i.e. the property vanity website) is the only growth channel available to any franchisee. A recent analysis by HeBS showed that in average the cost per booking via the OTAs is in average 10 times higher than via the property own vanity website.
This is the reason why many hotel brands allow and even encourage their franchisees to launch property vanity websites.
What are the vanity website’s main objectives?
A vanity website’s main objective is to provide incremental revenues to what the brand.com website can provide. The vanity website does this by:
- Creating deep and relevant content – at least 35-50 pages of fully optimized local content that can successfully compete against the OTAs.
- Focusing on long-tail keyword terms to capture incremental traffic and bookings.
- Focusing on key market segments via deep relevant content and SEO: meeting planners, group planners, SMERF, weddings, social and special events.
- Becoming the “main face” of the property on the Web with the best and most accurate product/services descriptions, visual and rich media content, customer engagement tools via Web 2.0 functionality, and more.
In addition, the vanity website becomes a great professional development and educational tool that teaches sales and marketing staff on the insights of hotel Internet marketing, social media and mobile marketing.
Click here to read the entire blog post on HOTELSMag.com, which includes a case study and recommendations on what franchised hoteliers should keep in mind if they decide to go with a vanity website.