Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Social Marketing in Travel and Hospitality: Consistent Engagement and Accessibility are Essential

SEO for the travel industry

"Social marketing is a very engaging process that requires skills and consistent engagement with the travel consumer."

This very important point was stressed in a blog piece by Max Starkov, Chief eBusiness Strategist at Hospitality eBusiness Strategies, Inc., the hospitality industry's leading full-service hotel internet marketing and direct online strategy firm. He continues, "If your hotel cannot allocate bandwidth and resources or cannot afford to hire an external social marketing firm, do not start with social media initiatives such as Facebook fan page or Twitter profile. The social media battleground is full of "corpses" of abandoned hotel fan pages and profiles that do more harm than good to their owners."

I think this is true across the business spectrum, not just for hospitality and travel. To initiate a social media presence is to engage with the larger on-line world. To utilize a social media site,  i.e., a Facebook Fan Page, is to make a commitment to a community of "fans" that you intend to engage them and interact with them, not leave them high and dry with unfulfilled expectations which can produce undesirable results.

Mobile sites

Starkov, speaking to a travel and hospitality audience (but the application can be used elsewhere), suggests a mobile-friendly site. 

"An excellent first step is to create a mobile site, which by default is the "gravitational" center for all future marketing efforts: from text messaging and Google mobile ads, to mobile sweepstakes and applications. Budget limitations are no longer an excuse for not launching a mobile-ready hotel site. 

Between 1% - 1.5% of visitors to hotel websites are from travel consumers accessing your property site via mobile devices.

"Imagine the user experience of trying to squeeze your wide-screen hotel website, designed to fit screen resolutions at 1280x1024 pixels and above, onto the tiny screen of a mobile device. Our analysis shows that more than 90% of mobile users access the hotel website via mobile devices with screen sizes of 320 x 480 pixels. Accessing a "conventional" website via a mobile device, even the latest iPhone, often results in an undesirable user experience: the inability to find information needed, and a predictable outcome of abandoned websites and reservations."

This is so important when it comes to making information accessible.  We know that smart-phones usage is only going to increase, so having a web presence that is basically useless for these devices is strategically disadvantageous.

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