Industry Update
Opinion Article 9 January 2018

5 Questions for Your Hotel Digital Marketing Consultant

By Jase Rodley, Principal

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Over the years I've found a huge divide between hotel owners, directors and managers pushing the boundaries of their hotel's digital marketing and plenty on the other side of the fence – understanding they have a need to sell on the internet, but not really knowing where or how to begin.

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Though it might be hard to accept, deep down we all know we can't be an expert in everything – it's entirely understandable that you don't have a deep knowledge of Google ranking factors when you know which recruitment sites are the best fit for your ideal hospitality employees.

The digital marketing industry used to be comprised of many looking to make a quick buck, with little regard for the long term benefits to the businesses they were working with. While much has been done to weed out the industry, it can still be hard to gauge who to trust.

Let's look at 5 key questions you can ask your internet marketing consultant to make sure they actually know what they are doing and can be trusted.

1. What aren't we doing well?

It takes confidence and honesty for an internet marketing consultant to note that "your hotel's website is painfully slow". But it's the feedback you need.

Maybe your Facebook page has 25,000 likes but when you share unboosted content, you're lucky to get one of them to engage.

It's possible you should completely abandon your Twitter account in favor of spending that time and effort on content marketing.

Maybe your Google Adwords PPC campaigns leave loads of room for improvement, bleeding cash into high cost, low conversion keywords that aren't getting results.

Whatever the weakness in your hotel's digital marketing efforts, your consultant should be able to tell you these hard, but honest truths.

2. How do you measure success?

Any marketing consultant interested in making their clients happy should be asking you this question before making their sales pitch. Over the years, I've found some clients have a simple success metric: "I want to see an increase in revenue."

For others it can be deeper, though not always easier to measure:

A quality consultant will take these wants and translate them into their own set of success metrics.

Taking this example, your hotel's consultant might recommend a focus on a combination of blogging on your hotel's website and Facebook remarketing. These success metrics may include:

  • Percentage change in number of users entering your website via new blog content
  • Time spent on site after entering via blog content
  • Amount of revenue generated by this blog content
  • Average Google ranking of each blog post for its topic/keyword
  • Conversation rate of Facebook remarketing ads
  • Amount of revenue generated by Facebook remarketing ads

Obviously, this above list is purely hypothetical. The intention is to give you some insight into the type of metrics your consultant could be using to define success for your hotel's digital marketing campaigns.

3. Do you outsource any of the work?

Internet marketing requires a huge amount of trust, as anyone touching your website, social media accounts or ad campaigns can do long term good – or bad – to your brand.

Outsourcing is not always bad but in some cases it can mean a loss of control. You may want to follow up with asking questions along the lines of:

  • Who has access to the hotel's account logins and passwords?
  • Do you oversee the work your contractors do?
  • How do you maintain quality control?
  • Will I be communicating with these people? Or does all communication run through you?
  • Will any ad, blog, social media or website copy be written by a fluent English writer?

When you're in the realm of improving your hotel's SEO using the wide range of methods available, quality is paramount. It's not a volume game, and if your consultant's contractor's contractor plays with your hotel's website it can genuinely hurt your bottom line.

This is an opportunity for your consultant to be up front about who is doing the work and confirm with you that the ultimate accountability lies with them. There's no reason why outsourcing needs to be a negative so long as your marketing consultant has your best interests at heart.

4. Do the campaigns all work together or can I do one at a time?

If your consultant comes back to you with a proposal for $25k per month for a myriad of services and campaigns, but you had $2500 in mind – where do you begin?

Does it make sense to remarket to people who visited your hotel's website when the site attracts barely any traffic in the first place?

A quality internet marketer should be able to break down their proposed initiatives into a longer term plan.

Often after having the budget discussion, we'll come back to our clients with a list of "low hanging fruit". We say, "Let's focus on these as they provide great upside for minimal cost." Once we can prove a return on investment, there's more budget to spend on the more advanced methods.

5. How long will it take to get results?

If your internet marketing consultant tells you about the conversions you'll get next month from blogging, ask them "how?"

Some methods such as paid search are near instant, but get much better with time and ongoing optimization.

Other methods, such as organic social media and blogging, can have a long lead time before seeing traction. It's not uncommon for content marketing to take 12 months before seeing the light of day.

Like building a successful business, internet marketing isn't always best done quickly. Most businesses we work with enjoy a blend of short vs long term marketing methods – generating revenue today, with a plan to see a much better return on investment in future.

If you're not experienced with internet marketing terminology, a useful exercise may be to run through the different methods your consultant brings to your attention, and ask them how long each one typically takes to show a financial return (if ever!)

Finding the Right Hotel Internet Marketing Consultant

Internet marketing consultants aren't all made the same – what may seem to be a specific field is actually incredibly diverse - a big reason why many hotels favor agencies instead.

Consultants may have expertise in traditional marketing, copywriting, search engine optimization, search engine marketing and paid search, branding, social media, video production, press releases, link building, website development, web and business analytics, graphic design and more.

Higher education studies in fields such as marketing, while relevant, may not be as important as finding an individual or team of people that have their finger on the pulse and are aware of the latest internet marketing methods that can give your hotel an advantage online.

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Jase Rodley

Jase is Principal at Otium Boutique, a frequent traveler, digital marketer and mountain biker. His combined experience in IT systems, digital marketing and tourism has allowed him to help hospitality companies improve their branding online, see more direct bookings and increase profits.

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