Digital marketing for hotels is complex. In an ideal world, every hotel would welcome all online bookings directly through its website, mobile website or Facebook page. Unless the hotel is the only one in town, though, the reality is decidedly different, so most hotels use third-party distributors like OTAs (online travel agency) or GDS (global distribution system) networks to complement their direct sales efforts. The trick is to establish a good balance between them.
Finding and optimizing this balance is what the new digital HealthCheck service from Hotel Link Solutions is all about. After 18 months of development and testing, the HealthCheck tool analyses every step in the accommodation buying cycle, including how a hotel gets discovered, conversions from visits to sales, and even the social dimension from experiencing to sharing. During the testing and validation work, approximately 4,000 accommodations were assessed, ranging in size from small bed-and-breakfasts to large five-star resorts. A range of destinations was also in the mix, from very competitive environments to small rural centers with just a handful of operators.
The HealthCheck was initially developed by Hotel Link Solutions so that its sales consultants could assess the digital marketing needs of potential clients. However, the service proved valuable enough to offer it more widely as a first-of-its kind online performance evaluation tool for the hotel industry. Best of all, it’s free.
“The feedback from our sales consultants about the HealthCheck was that accommodations really appreciated the analysis we were doing,” explained Andre Franchini, CEO of Hotel Link Solutions. “It made very clear what they were doing well and, more importantly, where they needed to focus efforts to optimize online sales.”
HealthCheck analyses 55 data points measured around the accommodation buying cycle, each measurement then weighted according to the impact Hotel Link Solutions has determined after examining the information from the pilot work. Overlaying this are other factors are details such as the level of competition in the destination where the hotel is located, the size of the accommodation and its online reputation such as traveler feedback rankings.
As traveler habits are eternally in flux, Hotel Link Solutions continuously monitors and adjusts the weightings in the HealthCheck, like ongoing growth in the importance of mobile devices for booking accommodation, changes in SEO practices and even the evolving practices of major OTAs with loyalty programs and conversion optimization techniques amongst other things.
Hotel Link Solutions offers these benchmarked HealthCheck service so accommodations can see how they stack up against competitors, whether in the destination, nationally or even globally. This is especially useful to small operators, most of which do not have professional in-house digital-marketing resources and therefore have not understood how best to spend their money. The HealthCheck solves this problem by showing them exactly where they are doing well and where they need to take action. The HealthCheck reports are time-stamped and can be run every couple of months for clients in order to track changes.
“We really are delighted to launch our free digital HealthCheck service for small- and medium-sized accommodations,” concluded Franchini. “Our mission is all about using the Internet to help level the playing field for the little guys who, when funds are tight, should not have to spend money on unnecessary things. This tool has been a great help.”
About Hotel Link Solutions
Hotel Link Solutions is focused on the small- and medium-sized accommodation providers market, with a comprehensive suite of marketing, booking and management modules. The company was started by the WHL Group with a long history in working with thousands of accommodations around the world. It was joined by Tourism Holdings/ResOnline, one of Australia’s largest travel technology groups and a leader in booking and channel management systems. Hotel Link Solutions has a singular focus on providing cost-effective marketing solutions for the accommodation industry in more than 30 countries around the world.
HealthCheck is a new initiative and is part of the Hotel Link Solutions suite of services designed to assist small- and medium-scale accommodations with their online competitiveness. The HealthCheck service is free and provides a scored report for the accommodation across all key areas: website, mobile capability, booking capability, online marketing and distribution. In total 55 separate measurements are made with results weighted to take account of the size of the accommodation, level of local competition etc.