Amplify Your Brand With a Powerful Website Strategy
Bonus examples for Book 1 in the series
Website Strategy Process Implementation is one of the many complimentary reports available as a Bonus to buyers of the book WEBSITE or any of the books in the Marketing Hotels & Tourism series. To get all Bonuses, check out the website above or click the image on the left. This bonus is an extension of the chapters on perfecting your presence and navigation structure. All are related to Messaging and Hot Button Psychology.
Implementing the Website Strategy Process
If you ask a web designer, an internet marketer and a branding professional what Hotel Website Strategy is, you will get 3 different answers!
- A Web Designer will tell you that website strategy is about colour, photography, graphics and layout.
- An Internet Marketer will say it is about keywords and SEO.
- A Branding Consultant will tell it is about quality images and consistency.
The Website Strategic Process is All About Messaging!
Getting the message right starts with a detailed analysis of your business, mission, competition and guests. You need to have a deep understanding of guests and be able to answer all the objections they may have in selecting your product. In Hospitality, small hotels are often at a disadvantage compared with the large Online Travel Agents (OTAs). They are well known, trusted and can outperform on many service points.
OTAs outperform small independent hotels by offering loyalty points, great alternatives (your competition) and guarantees. With the contract they have with hotels, they also call for RATE Parity which means that you can’t compete with them and they can offer a Best Rate Guarantee. That’s a powerful incentive. We will discuss Rate Parity later; it’s a sort of lie and you can get around it, as we shall see. To overcome the perceived OTA benefits, small hotels need to build authority, trust and incentivise guests to book direct.
Few hotels offer comparison shopping but that is one of the main reasons why travellers go to OTAs. Your guests will check out your rates and compare them with others. Why not help them by doing it for them? That is a messaging strategy that could work for you. But it is a lot of work and, as rates constantly change all over the net, most hotels skip this. But you can create a page about alternatives. Show other places and point out how you compare in value, space, size, comfort, design and all the intangible things that travellers care about. That’s excellent messaging.
An example of this is Poinsettia Villas. They started as Poinsettia Apartments, which just was dead wrong for what they were offering. A change of brand and URL was executed with care. The new name helped avoid the confusion of being compared to high rise apartments. TripAdvisor had them showing up with hotel rooms. The Villa brand made it clear that it was more that a hotel room or an apartment building. Now the question was: how did they compare to other villas? For that, a new page was created. It showed Villas in different classes with costs for each. See https://poinsettiavillas.com/st-lucia-villas/
Rates Compare – A Path to Trust
Technology can also help you keep on top of rates. TripTease will check OTAs’ rates and show your advantage. It builds trust to show what else is available and give practical examples of your own advantage. Metasearch is also a rates compare channel that can work for hotels’ direct bookings.
To build trust, you need excellent and consistent reviews as well as a strategy to get and use them efficiently. There are solutions and strategies that will influence your score and tactics to share and market them effectively. We have our own solutions that animate reviews with video and distribute the video to clients’ sites and social networks. They can be syndicated to the internet.
Other solutions, such as TrustYou guest reviews, assist in the process of getting reviews from guests. There are systems that will capture reviews on your site and automatically forward the guest to your preferred review site only if the reviews are 4 or 5 star.
Book Direct Strategy
To get guests to book direct, you have to offer what they get at OTAs (price, service and value) and more. You are the owner and you know your property and its benefits better that anyone. You also know your destination better that any OTA and letting your guests and prospects see you as a destination expert will go a long way to convincing them to book with you.
Tip – add these sentences to your booking engine: “We live in this wonderful place and would love to help you create an unforgettable vacation. We look forward to helping you discover its many secrets.”
Strategic Thinking vs. Platitude
The strategy that comes from this sort of thinking can be profoundly different from what you will get with a web designer, internet marketer and brand consultant. Look at what hotels around you are saying about themselves. It’s all pretty much the same: they are great for families, ideal for couples and fantastic for everyone in some form or other. These, sad to say, are platitudes and they don’t help you one bit. Avoiding platitudes and replacing them with real differentiators is one of the key points in the Website Strategies checklist.
Building a Website Strategy
Building a strategy requires deep understanding of all of these variables. With skillful analysis, the messaging system for your website will create a distinct personal advantage and a strategic message that will permeate throughout the website and offsite into your advertising and content marketing. It requires understanding your clients’ needs and your competition’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as knowing your strengths and your reason why.
The ‘why’ you are doing what you do is your mission and your passion. Most of us who are in hospitality are passionate about it and, for the most part, it has far more to do with caring for and excelling at making guests feel wonderful than it is about making piles of money. Having a good return on your investment is essential for every business, of course, but in many cases it can be the only rational. That is hardly ever the case with hospitality; it is a very personal and passion-driven calling.
Hospitality is a cultural experience. To most vacationers, it is very personal and who you are, who they are and where they are going to stay are often as important as the beach, view, amenities and location. These are commodities and, like all commodities, they tend to be very similar from one place to the next. What is always unique is personality.
Steps to Implementation
The Power Marketing Consultant Program (PMC) has developed a structure for research, development and implementation of the process. It starts with an in-depth interview with marketing professionals and top management. The questions require a serious evaluation of goals and objectives.
The first series of questions will help pinpoint what you want your prospects to do on entering the website. That may seem trivial but understanding who your customers are can require a lot of soul searching. Are your website visitors ready to buy or are they looking for information and is that what you want? Here you come to grips with what exactly you want them to do and if this is reasonable. Possible actions are calling, leaving contact information, watching a video, reading an article, asking a question, downloading a brochure or researching papers or booking a vacation. It’s not always that easy but the exercise will bring clarity.
The second series of question will focus on what you want prospects to learn about your offer. Here you may focus on some objections, such as people not understanding your uniqueness. In this case, you will need to explain it in a way that resonates.
In the process for one of the hotels we worked with, this meant changing the name, brand and internet address, as well as creating content that addressed and corrected the objections. The solution may be bold and out of the box. If you want to be unique you must act differently.
Diego Rodriguez, CEO of the Power Marketing Consultant Network (PMCN,) tells a story of a agricultural product company that had developed a product to enhance crops. Framers just did not believe them, saying: “It’s all Snake Oil; everyone says that.” The solution was an ad campaign and a trade show strategy that shouted out: “NOT SNAKE OIL!” It was a resounding success.
Question three focuses on the reasons why prospects visit your site. What information are they seeking or what is it that they want to find on your website? You can see how these questions build on each other and demand clarity. If the answer is that most visit because of your ads, then you will need specific landing pages for those ads. The strategy will be very different if they are coming from social media, search or referrals.
Each of these question look for information about the brand and the destination. The website navigation must be designed to accommodate and direct people accordingly.
The next task it to put your answer in order of importance.
The order of the answers to Question 1 will be based on what action you want prospects to take.
Answers to Question 2 will be put in order according to what you want them to learn.
Answers to Question 3 will be in order according to what you think they want and the reason why they visit your site.
The next task is to be clear on how you will satisfy these needs. From this your team will become clear on the motivators and you messaging. Question 1 can give you an insight to Hot Button 1. Similarly, questions two and three are good subjects for Hot Buttons 2 and 3. Your answers are good assets for the ‘Benefits’, ‘Objection’ and ‘Comparisons’ Hot Buttons. They are the three things that your prospects most care about. You may consider using them in a video that tells your story and your value proposition.
The Website Strategy Process is part of the larger Discovery Process where we come to terms with larger questions like, “Why should someone buy from you instead of your competitor?” The typical answer is often: “Because our service is better.” This needs to be explored in order to find out specifically how and why is it better in terms of real value. The discovery process is intense. It will gather specifics on current marketing, target marketing, objection, benefits and comparison.
The final step is to gather 5-star reviews that will validate the benefits and comparisons, as well as invalidate the objections. All this is merged with the information above to develop a strategy for content, navigation and design.
Psychology plays a huge part in how people shop and travel is no exception. Hoteliers are beginning to understand just how important this is. These systems try to match guests with holiday experiences that fit their personality and mood. Personality Branding is the new way that brands are looking to differentiate themselves. The leading personality branding expert is Sally Hogshead, an award-winning Brand Marketer and author who has founded a company based on building fascinating personality brands. This is now taking root with leading travel brands who are beginning to use Personality to differentiate their brands and fascinate travellers by aligning them with brand experiences based on who they are. You may want to take several actions. Write them down and later arrange them in order of priority, taking into account how feasible each might be.
Travel is personal and travellers like to know who their host is. Marriott and AccorHotels have recently started using personality assessment in their accommodation search. This idea was pioneered by our own RealHolidays matchmaker technology and is now in use at PersonaHolidays in Barbados.
Fascinating Travellers With Personality Branding
I believe that Personality Matching is going to be a huge disrupter in Travel. I see it augmenting and replacing conventional search by amenities. Amenities don’t match moods or personality and you cannot define a unique holiday experience with amenities and hotel features. Today’s travellers what something more.
Personality Matching is the new frontier in Travel Search and Trip Planning. Travellers want experiences so personality matching is key. You can start by doing the Personality Test by Sally Hogshead. Our team has entered into a partnership with her company, HowtoFasciate, to bring branding and travel planning capability to travel and to bring personality branding to tourism. Find out more at info.PersonaHolidays.com.
Hot Buttons Navigation
Personality-driven messaging is a very strategic imperative in Travel. Every piece of content on your website should be geared towards inspiring and engaging with your ideal guests. Once you have gone through the exercise of defining your hotel personality brand and understand who your ideal guests are, you can craft messages that will grab attention and inspire.
In going through that process, you will develop your hot buttons, which are described in the first book, WEBSITE. You can think of them as buttons that shout out what visitors what to hear and see and where you want them to go next. They are you message activators. Another way to look at this is by qualifying Benefits, Objections and Competition:
Hot Button 1—BENEFITS
This represents all the reasons why somebody would want to buy whatever it is that you sell. In other words, what are the benefits to the end user of your products or services. Remember that it’s the benefits to the end user and not the benefits to the business owner. You can refer to the Discovery Process for the questions to ask.
Hot Button 2—OBJECTIONS
This represents all the internal objections somebody would have to buying your product or service. You must determine all the reasons why someone would object to buying. Then, simply invalidate those objections. Refer again to the Discovery Process.
Hot Button 3—COMPETITION
This represents all the reasons why someone would buy from a competitor instead of you. Refer again to the Discovery Process to get this information.
Source: Power Marketing Consultants – http://powermarketing.axses.net
Messaging takes the form of banners, headers, images, video and content using hot buttons and a call to action. Your main message can be crafted into enticing hot buttons that acknowledge objections, show the emotional, physical and psychological benefits and some comparisons. These are the 3 most important criteria for the majority of vacationers.
Objections, Benefits and Comparisons should be hot buttons on every page driving people to action – to get more information, save it for later, get a quote and book now.
In “WEBSITE”, the example hotel’s Hot Buttons are:
- A Caribbean Holiday Away from Crowds (takes care of the ideal guest who objects to crowds)
- The Benefit: Your Own Spacious, Private (3 hot words) Resort Villa (hits another objection for those who don’t want to be remotely tucked away)
- Comparisons and Guarantees (one of the most popular pages). All of these are echoing the message in the video above. The video is short and its message is: “Your Own Unforgettable Caribbean Resort Villa Holiday”.
Your Own Unforgettable Caribbean Resort Villa Holiday
Away from Crowds with all the Comforts of Home
Affordable, Private, Safe, Spacious Resort Living
Strategic messaging embraces and builds on core concepts. The front banner video is echoed in the 3 buttons. Each button is then linked to a page that echoes the button’s message. The page header also echoes and enhances the message. If there are hot buttons on this page, they will follow the same strategy. This is strategic messaging.
On the ‘Compare’ hot button page, we don’t actually compare to other hotels but that page leads to holiday accommodation pages that do make comparisons. This is helpful to those in the early stage of shopping who need advice on what’s available in the destination. For example, there is a St. Lucia Villa Holidays page that reviews the pros and cons of different types of villa accommodation and shows examples of the alternatives. It also says what Poinsettia Villa is not. Stating ‘what we are not’ is a good way to avoid disappointing guests and build trust.
Every page can have a strategic message and hot buttons that lead to more strategic pages with hot buttons. That way you start to build content that is geared towards specific messages and attracts and inspires the right traveller.
Journey to Discover
Understanding all of this leads us to create very specific messages and strategies to influence. It’s all possible and it’s a journey well worth taking. My book and its bonuses are a first step. Technology is changing everything and it’s an exciting time to be in hospitality. My book and these bonuses are the start of a great discovery that will open doors and change the way you see things. As we move through these three books, you will gain access to all sorts of resources to help you. Be sure to join in at http://marketinghotelstourismonline.com
Get Ready to Change
The other thing we need to know about strategy is that it is not the same as it was before. The internet has ushered in the digital age of exponential innovation and technology. It has only just begun. We are on the threshold of technology that does more that we ever imagined. Things change and the pace of change is accelerating. In the not too distant future, online and offline will all be digital, innovative and dynamic. To win one must be able to integrate old and new to create sustainable, competitive advantages, personalisation and the values that go with it.
More on marketing Hotels & Tourism and Website Strategy Process Implementation >> http://MarketingHotelsTourismOnline.com
A condensed version of this report is available in print on MagCloud.