When your global presence depends on your local network
I’ve had this post in the pipeline for a few days now. I posted the Italian version but then got caught up in writing notes for upcoming courses and posting went on hold … until this morning when I read Getting Real Estate Agents to Adopt Blogging for Enhanced SEO on Search Engine Journal.
Amazing how thoughts converge across the globe 🙂
Patrick Kitano addresses problems many small businesses face with new web marketing strategies and increasing budgets. There are many similarities with hotel online presence, especially smaller hotels, family owned businesses, people who are far far away from this world.
As search evolves, web marketing efforts increase and demand more and more from hotels. Competition on SERPs for big cities are literally off bounds for smaller outfits in most cases (a mom and pop hotel is nowhere to be found on the 1st page of any search engine if your query is "hotels in rome")
Yet there is a great resistance amongst small businesses to increase investment online, as they are anchored to an old concept of "fix my site to rank" – as if we were mechanics.
In recent meetings with hotels in Tuscany I have been hammering them with changes that need to be implemented, new activities that are urgently required.
When you look at it from a small business point of view the costs involved are considerable, and many times exceed by far budget allocations.
Interactive web 2.0 technology triggers online conversations, but hotels don’t have the right people to do the talking from the inside.
Let’s consider the case of hotels located in a popular area, attracting tourists. each hotel should:
- run a blog and keep it updated
- have a flick profile
- use facebook
- create videos and upload them to YouTube
- research and identify relevant feeds to follow
- interact with local authorities to increase hotel reach and go beyond selling hotel rooms (avoid becoming a commodity)
- develop new business by integrating with the local community of businesses
- tap into the growing community of Twitter or Pownce
That’s a lot of work – too much for a single hotel with 20 or 30 rooms.
A business model that I am promoting (in Tuscany) is the aggregation of hotels and local business into networks. It’s the only feasible way to promote small businesses.
Many hands make light work, the integration of small businesses can stand up to competition and can win the battle.
The idea is to centralize web marketing efforts like this:
Hotels and businesses with an affinity and interests in the travel industry aggregate into a consortium and hire a (young) local person with:
- an interest in tourism and travel
- passion for the web
- good writing skills
A local is your best bet being less likely to leave (if the pay is decent) . Training will be necessary along with time invested in learning about the business of all the businesses involved.
A new centralized portal should be created where information and news are constantly uploaded.
Social networking and all web 2.0 related activities will bring new visitors and provide thrust for top organic placement.
The portal will generate quality traffic and in turn send it off to "local" web sites leveling the playing field amongst direct competitors – the presence of other businesses presents will present an organized territory, an enticing reality which encourages tourists to book their stay.
The problem with this model in Italy is a closed mentality where each hotel owner builds barriers as protection from other hotels not knowing how important it is to their own business.
Networking amongst small business has always been an issue, I think it’s becoming strategic for hotels.
This model has a lot of potential for great results at a reasonable cost per hotel – easier said than done …