As a person deeply involved in helping hotels, tourism operators and destinations build lasting brands and sustainable direct business since 1995, and before that as a hotel manager way back in the sixties, I have been around to see all that has happened. It started well with search engines long before Google. All search engines were listing local hotels, destination authority sites and tourism operators in their search results. That’s what was happening when we started the Barbados Tourism Encyclopedia as the official site of the Barbados Tourism Authority.
Our clients of hoteliers and TO’s got direct requests daily in emails from people who first found them on search, where our destination portal was usually on the first page. They contacted the hotels, restaurants and activities etc. that were listed on our directory. Later we added a direct booking engine and direct-bookings were flowing in to our partners. Our site, Barbados.org, had 4 million unique visitors a year, not a lot by OTA standards, but a lot for a small island of just a couple of hundred hotels and a few thousand rooms. It’s a top destination in the Caribbean and it does have some of the best hotels in the world, for example Sandy Lane and The Crane to name just two.
First Page Listings on Search Results were Key to Direct Bookings
Getting into the first page of search results was great for sustainable business that added to the bottom line and built brand awareness even for the smallest of companies. Well it has all changed. Aaron Harris in the video below on the current state of SEO, shows how Google organic (non advertising) results are seen on only 7% of the results screens. A far cry from the early days of Search Engine Marketing.
Search Shifts will Cause Many Small TOs to Fail
The shift caused many companies to fold as their source of business, based almost entirely on SEO, failed. Aaron’s company Tutorspree bit the dust and as he says it was all to do with the shifting sands of search. “In examining our SEO dependence, I was surprised at how deeply it influenced so many different pieces of the company and aspects of our strategy. It powered a huge piece of our success, and ultimately triggered our failure. There’s a symmetry there that I can’t help but appreciate, even though I wish to hell it had been otherwise.”
Survive by Adapting
But companies have survived by adapting and expanding their role. It’s not enough to be on search and today there are many, many more ways to influence and engage clients. As Mike Keonigs of Traffic Geyser likes to say, it’s now about “You Everywhere”. But that is another story and I will share all with you in upcoming blogs. For now, let’s understand the principle of how Google has changed and what Google Travel means to all of us in the hospitality and tourism marketing business.
What You Can do in the Face of Losing Search Position
Start to build your authority today; it’s what all hospitality and travel professionals now need to do to get their websites ranked and seen by searchers. Most importantly, start to build alternative traffic strategies with no search engines as we teach in SocialIndexEngine.com >>>See MHAT blog on Search, and take advantage of our free case studies and tutorials at TourismMarketingMachines.com (link on top menu). And as video is very hot on mobile right now, be sure your website is mobile ready – see our MobileChecklistwebinars.com – all free tips, resources and strategies to build a better multi-screen, multi-channel presence. Last but not least, be aware that the future of travel is visual and check out our links on visual travel marketing and the new Visual Booking Engines.
Tourism marketing is changing faster than you can think. Keep tuned to this site for the latest tips, news and strategies for success.
The video below tells the story of search evolving into a new media of a totally unprecedented and different flavor from anything we have known. For those who want to know the history of search before this stage, see the blog on search evolution at TravelWatchNews.
See press Release about this blog on newswire.net
More – see what you can do about thisHow to get back in the game when you fall to get on page 1 of of search results.