The light at the end of the tunnel for independent hotels
Independent hotels will prosper during the financial crisis if they invest wisely in digital marketing strategies, predicts the Big Agency (http://www.big-agency.com/), the recently launched digital agency from Great Hotels Organisation. As the economic slowdown takes hold, independent hotels in particular need to understand the power of digital marketing.
As Lilou Mace, managing director of the Big Agency, says, “In this difficult economic climate, digital marketing continues to record impressive growth. Independent hoteliers need to focus on upgrading their website design, back-end systems, booking engines and implementing online strategies in order to survive the financial crisis and increase sales.”
Digital marketing is the practice of promoting products and services using digital distribution channels to reach consumers in a timely, relevant, personal and cost-effective manner. Over the past few years, digital marketing has become a mainstream marketing channel and is considered to be one of the most important distribution and marketing channels in the hospitality industry.
However, many hoteliers have not yet introduced this new strategy into their marketing mix. These days a website alone is not enough – it is important to place investment in integrated comprehensive marketing strategies such as Pay Per Click (PPC), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and user-generated content (UGC) – all of which are key to being tactical in the run-up to a recession.
“The added benefit of most digital marketing tools is that they are measurable,” says Mace. “You can measure your return on investment (ROI) easily and accurately and the return for online marketing spending is faster than almost any other method of marketing”.
The internet has emerged as the leading platform for travel and hotel sales, and is now the most important distribution and marketing channel in the industry. By the end of 2010, over 45% of all hotel bookings will be completed online. All major hotel brands already generate in excess of 40% of the bookings via their brand website. Therefore, it makes sense for independent hoteliers to invest in this fast-growing sector and accentuate their online strategies to survive in a struggling economy.
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Note to editors:
The Big Agency
The Big Agency is a digital marketing agency offering e-commerce solutions to the global hotel industry. The Big Agency is part of Big Worldwide, a global, privately owned travel, technology and media company headquartered in London. The Big Agency’s original focus was in the publishing sector, producing magazines and hotel directories, managing online content and providing promotional services across all media for Great Hotels Organisation, a marketing alliance for the independent hotel sector. This work has led to a logical evolution for the Big Agency to now offer complete digital solutions to the same market it has served since 1996, by drawing on the experience garnered from its publishing, online and promotional activities. The Big Agency’s expertise covers design, IT, e-marketing and a strong understanding of the needs of the hotel industry.
Great Hotels Organisation
Great Hotels Organisation’s family of brands include Great Hotels of the World (http://www.ghotw.com) and Special Hotels of the World (http://www.shotw.com/). By acknowledging that each hotel has a different set of marketing requirements, Great Hotels Organisation allows its member hotels to choose from a comprehensive collection of sales and marketing initiatives in order to build their own ‘à la carte’ membership programme tailored to meet their individual objectives. By doing this, members are able to choose and purchase only the services they require, thus ensuring that membership fees are kept to a minimum and are focused on their specific requirements. Sales and marketing initiatives that members are able to take advantage of include: trade shows, e-marketing, business travel consortia sales, public relations, a private label GDS chain code and sales blitzes. Membership of Great Hotels Organisation is by invitation only and hotels must meet strict criteria before being accepted. Great Hotels Organisation manages the “GW” private label GDS chain code and toll-free voice reservation numbers operate globally. Further information on Great Hotels Organisation can be found at http://www.ghorg.com/.