12 days. 288 hours. 17,280 minutes.
Like many of my peers at the University of Oregon, I’m impatiently awaiting spring break 2014. This year, I’m spending my break in three of Europe’s most beautiful cities: London, Barcelona and Paris.
As much as I enjoy researching and planning what I’ll do during a trip, I loathe booking hotels. Sifting through pop up ads and snake oil salesmen to find the right hotel in the right location at the right price is stressful.
(Side note: If you feel the same way I do about booking hotels, use tripadvisor.com. You can sort by price, rating and neighborhood to find the right hotel for you. More importantly, the site has TONS of user reviews and organizes user ratings in an easy-to-understand way.)
Thankfully, I survived, and with the stress of booking hotels behind me, I took a step back to examine what influenced me most as I was making my selections. What I came up with is what I’d consider a best practices guide for hotels hoping to fill their rooms through online marketing:
– Pictures, pictures, pictures.
- Beautiful photos are the quickest way to a hotel booker’s wallet. Hiring a top-notch photographer to highlight the size, cleanliness, and modernity of the room is a no-brainer investment for hotel owners. Quality counts!
– Engage with reviewers
- The world is full of whiners, so scathing reviews are inevitable for any hotel. But, customer engagement makes the difference. It’s crucial to engage both the happy and unhappy customers politely and quickly. Acknowledgment goes a long way for both the delighted and disappointed.
– Highlight outstanding location
- During my search, I spent much of my time copy and pasting hotel addresses into Google maps to figure out how long it’d take me to get from the hotel to places I plan to visit. Hotel owners: do the work for your customers. Create a guide with your hotel’s proximity to the city’s most popular destinations.
– Sharing is caring
- A 2012 study revealed personal recommendations are the number one driver of consumer purchase decisions. In today’s world, these recommendations largely take place online. Once a customer has booked a room, encourage them to share their booking on social media by making it easy. Include a link to share on Facebook or Twitter on the confirmation page. You’ll get more customer applause if you make it easy for your fans to tell their friends about their experience.