Owning a Tourism Business is awesome

27 Dec 2011

Claim Your Free Google Places Listing Video: Tourism Marketing TV

20 Dec 2011

Google+ Tweets | Tourism Currents Twitter

We help tourism professionals make sense of social media. Co-founders Becky McCray (@BeckyMcCray) and Sheila Scarborough (@SheilaS) tweet here.

Google+ Tweets | Tourism Currents Twitter

13 Dec 2011

Visit your Owners’ Center

Visit your Owners’ Center to get a free interactive map, which is customized to your city and business.
This is a great new marketing tool which shows the places TripAdvisor travelers love most. Show customers what your city has to offer:
•  Places you in the center of the map
•  Scales based on your proximity to other properties
•  Does not show your direct competitors

Get your free map here  button

9 Dec 2011

Social Media, how to do it...

Great article about how to mange social media in reality...

It goes without saying these days that a social media presence for your business or service is a must. As with everything there is a right way to do something, and a wrong way. Now I’m not saying that I am any kind of expert or whizz on the matter but I have built up quite a reasonable following, north of 39,000 at the time of writing, since taking on the social media monsters that are facebook and twitter. I follow a few simple rules and have now fallen into a routine that seems to work. My main suggestion is to not be into everything, social networking means that you have to have the time to network, something you can’t do effectively if your online time is spent updating profiles on twenty different platforms! It may seem like a maze at the beginning but familiarity breeds comfort, so get to know the platforms you are dealing with.


Social Media | liquidmocean:

'via Blog this'

21 Nov 2011

What Hotel Marketers Should Consider When Using Google+ Business Pages

You may have read the announcements last week that Google finally launched their highly anticipated Business Platform for Google+. Google Business Pages allow businesses and brands to own a space on Google+ to connect and engage with consumers. While it can be exciting to have a new marketing channel and opportunity tap into, it is important that hoteliers consider the following before jumping right in:

    What Hotel Marketers Should Consider When Using Google+ Business Pages

    8 Nov 2011

    Google+ Pages Now Open For Businesses, Brands, Places & More

    Great article by Danny Sullivan on Google + Pages:
    "Finally, Google is now allowing businesses, brands and any non-human entity to participate in its Google+ social network, through new Google+ Pages that are launching today, promised to be available to everyone within the next two days."

    Google+ Pages Now Open For Businesses, Brands, Places & More

    Differences between Google+ Pages and Google+ Profiles - Google+ Help

    Google+ Pages are extremely similar to Google+ profiles, but they have some key differences:
    • Pages can’t add people to circles until the page is added first or mentioned. Learn more.
    • Pages can be made for a variety of different entities whereas profiles can only be made for people.
    • The default privacy setting for elements on your page profile is public.
    • Pages have the +1 button.
    • Pages can’t +1 other pages, nor can they +1 stuff on the Web.
    • Pages can’t play games.
    • Pages don’t have the option to share to ‘Extended circles’.
    • Pages don’t receive notifications via email, text, or in the Google bar.
    • Pages can’t hangout on a mobile device.
    • Local pages have special fields that help people find the business’ physical location. Learn more about local pages.

    Differences between Google+ Pages and Google+ Profiles

    23 Oct 2011

    Start Now on Google Plus

    Great article by Chris Brogan
    For all that I believe the world has all discovered and become settled into Google+, I’ve heard that lots of people have yet to find their footing in there, and haven’t really set up a home. First off, if you’re still looking for an invite, there are lots and lots and lots of people who have free invites. Just search Twitter for #plusinvites, and you’ll find lots of URLs to pick from. But then what?
    Full article here: Start Now on Google Plus

    21 Oct 2011

    Get Ready for Google Plus Business Pages | Social Media Virtual Assistant - Be Social Worldwide

    Ever since Google launched its much-anticipated social media network, Google+, business owners have been patiently twiddling their thumbs, waiting for the chance to make a profile for their company. While official brand pages are still not up for offer on Google+, business owners can still prepare themselves for them by creating a personal account.

    Google+ is currently the fastest-growing social media site with more than 20 million users. By getting on board in the beginning, you will be able to test drive the site and familiarize yourself with all of the features that Google+ has to offer its users. You’ll get a better understanding of how the site can be integrated into your business’s marketing plan.

    Get Ready for Google Plus Business Pages

    GET READY FOR GOOGLE PLUS BUSINESS PAGES

    Filed Under Social Marketing

    Ever since Google launched its much-anticipated social media network, Google+, business owners have been patiently twiddling their thumbs, waiting for the chance to make a profile for their company. While official brand pages are still not up for offer on Google+, business owners can still prepare themselves for them by creating a personal account.

    Google+ is currently the fastest-growing social media site with more than 20 million users. By getting on board in the beginning, you will be able to test drive the site and familiarize yourself with all of the features that Google+ has to offer its users. You’ll get a better understanding of how the site can be integrated into your business’s marketing plan.

    17 Oct 2011

    The One Thing Most Experts Don't Tell You About Social Media Marketing | Jeffbullas's Blog

    Social media marketing is the hottest trend in the marketing world. Brands have discovered its power to crowd source sharing of their message whether it is via a viral YouTube video campaign or a Facebook competition.The One Thing Most Experts Don’t Tell You About Social Media Marketing

    Some experts will tell you that you should only use Facebook, others will whisper in your ear that online YouTube video marketing is the key and some will inform you that Twitter should not be ignored.

    For some avid social media marketing pundits it is the “only thing” and they have even closed down their blog and moved it to Google+ or Facebook and even forgotten the importance of capturing an email database.

    What Shouldn’t Be Forgotten

    Amongst all this hype and noise, what shouldn’t be forgotten is that social media is just another channel to use to publish and promote your brand.

    Optimized and integrated with traditional marketing it can turbo charge the conversations about your company both locally and globally.

    Full article: The One Thing Most Experts Don't Tell You About Social Media Marketing

    29 Sep 2011

    Google+ Strategy: 5 Tips to Help Marketers Get Ready for Brand Pages - Search Engine Watch (#SEW)

    With 10 million confirmed users of Google+, and comScore reporting there were 20 million visitors to Google’s new social platform during its first 21 weeks of existence, it’s safe to say from a pure numbers perspective that Google+ is off to a hot start. Brands, after seeing the potential on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, are ready to jump into the Google+ pool, but there’s a problem: the lifeguards at Google aren’t ready for them – and neither is the platform.

    Google Plus Ford Test Account

    Despite a slew of stories across the web that reported Google+ business pages would be coming later (though a few hundred brands would be allowed as part of a pilot Google+ program, including Ford), some brands jumped on the platform anyway, and, as promised, Google began shutting down many of these accounts Friday.

    Naturally, this being the Internet, a flood of whining and grandstanding followed. Google is now promising to “roll out rudimentary business accounts by late fall,” according to ClickZ.

    While brand marketers may feel anxious being barred from the network, they can take this time actually strategize about how to best use Google+ once it opens the doors to brands. A one-strategy-fits-all solution for social marketing doesn’t work in a day where users are flocking to different social networks for different experiences.

    Brands need a concrete strategy for Google+. Though it’s early, it’s not too early to start mapping out a Google+ marketing roadmap.

    Read full article here:

    Google+ Strategy: 5 Tips to Help Marketers Get Ready for Brand Pages

    29 Jul 2011

    10 Things CMOs Need To Know About Google+


    First off, if you’re immediately thinking, “The LAST thing I need is to figure out yet another social network,” you’re totally right. This is the last thing you need. However, if you were fortunate enough to be a CMO back in 2007, and you said that about the transition from MySpace to Facebook, then you know what happened to people who didn’t surf the new wave instead of riding the one that petered out.
    I’ve logged over 250 hours (and counting) inside Google+ so that you don’t have to, but I will say this: If people are asking for what the next big thing is for online marketing, mobile marketing, digital communications and social media, this is certainly my pick for 2011. We have to look at it. And to that end, I have 10 things for you to think about:
    1. A social network made by Google impacts search. Google isn’t saying it like that, because they wouldn’t want to cause a panicking stampede, but think about this: Google has all the data from Google+. They can’t get any data from Facebook. Google controls search. Where would you cast your vote for search-improvement activities?
    2. Google+ evolves from Gmail. No matter what the kiddies say, email is still the digital communications backbone of the modern world. SMS might feel like second place, but it’s a distant second. Google+ is very tied to Gmail, with hundreds of millions of users. It feels very natural as an extension in a way that Twitter and Facebook do not.
    3. Business pages are coming. Early reports from users are, “It won’t matter. There’s no support for business pages.” That’s not true. Business pages are being developed now. Imagine the power of Google Places, Google Local, and several other Google products that formerly seemed lame and disjoined now acting inside one unified communications environment. Yeah.
    4. 10 million users in the first two weeks. There’s limited access to Google+ at the time of this writing (Google did this with Gmail back in the day), but Larry Page reported on their earnings call that they’ve already let 10 Million users into the system. Some aren’t active, and you’ll see reports of that, but most are learning a whole new way to connect.
    5. This blends personal and business. Google+ allows users to categorize their contacts into “Circles,” and then allows you to message those circles individually. Thus, your “prospects” circles could get your business information, and your “drinking buddies” circle can hear about that great new Belgian wheat you tried. Both will add value.
    6. Google+ is already indexed and searched by Google, making marketing searches much easier than other platforms. Just drop “site:plus.google.com” before any search in Google, and you’ll see what people are saying about you inside the platform.
    7. Lots of companies block Facebook.com. Yes, you can block plus.google.com without limiting access to Google, but many companies won’t be doing this for a while, so there’s a window of opportunity where marketing behind the firewall (you don’t do that?) will be a potential leverage point.
    8. Don’t think “social network.” Think “communications backbone.” This tool allows for private collaboration (privacy is much easier to understand here, but it does require some learning), and permits a “one stop” kind of area for talking internally and externally without causing problems. And it works with email, not in lieu of email.
    9. Google is committed to this platform. Unlike other attempts in the past, the mandate at the beginning of 2011 was to blow up social networking and mobile, and most of the leadership of Google and their subordinates was given ultimatum-sounding language to that effect. Why should you care? Because that means they’re committed to making this platform amazing for you.
    10. First movers win. Okay, this depends on you, the CMO, and your marketing strategy. Are you a “second to market” kind of marketer? This might not be as useful. But if your leadership is calling for you to be FIRST at something, Google+ is one way to get out there ahead of the competition: At the time of this writing, Ford has a huge presence on Google+. GM and Chrysler (not to mention the other companies)? Not so much.
    I haven’t predicted a “next big thing” for the last few years, because the marketplace didn’t really have an obvious successor to the Twitter/Facebook throne. I don’t care if this is a “killer” or not. I know that it’s become (in the first two weeks of its existence) the No. 1 referrer of traffic to my website, and that’s good enough for me.

    8 Apr 2011

    Expedia to spin off TripAdvisor

    TripAdvisor website
    The board of the world's largest online travel company Expedia has approved a plan to spin off its TripAdvisor brand.

    Expedia said it intended to split into two publicly traded companies by the third quarter of 2011.

    TripAdvisor will be separated, while Expedia will continue to include brands Hotels.com, Hotwire and others.

    TripAdvisor offers travel advice and reviews posted by other travellers and attracts more than 40 million visitors a month across 29 countries.

    The spin-off is subject to conditions.

    The board said it expected the transaction to take "the form of a distribution of stock of TripAdvisor to Expedia shareholders or a reclassification of stock, with the holders of Expedia stock to receive a proportionate amount of TripAdvisor stock".

    In either case it will be a tax free transaction, the board added.

    Shares in Expedia rose 15% to $25.89 in after-hours trading in New York.

    Expedia to spin off TripAdvisor

    24 Jan 2011

    OTA Participation to Partnership

    OTA Participation to Partnership

    Here is how to manage your OTA relationships to drive maximum value.

    Friday, January 14, 2011
    Kristi White








    OTAs have the ability to attract shoppers. Deep advertising pockets place OTAs in front of millions of consumers every day. To benefit from their substantive spend, hoteliers need to strike a balance. With OTAs, the key is to move from a participant to a partnership mindset, leveraging these relationships to drive maximum visibility and value. In other words, full and active participation in building and managing the relationship is critical to its success. To make this transition, you need to understand the success factors for developing a strategically sound partnership with an OTA.

    If your hotel is properly positioned, advertising dollars spent by OTAs can benefit your hotel both directly and indirectly. Let’s start by looking at the real value of that presence.

    Benefiting from the billboard effect: the first-page advantage

    In October 2009, Cornell Hospitality Report published an article titled, “The Billboard Effect: Online Travel Agent Impact on Non-OTA on Non-OTA Reservation Volume.” A well-researched document, it presented the reservations value of hotel placement on an OTA. Four test hotels (three branded properties and one independent property) spent 7–11 days cycling on and off Expedia over a three-month period. In the 7–11 days each hotel was displayed on Expedia, it appeared at the top of the first page. On the off days, the property was not available on the OTA site.

    During these periods, average daily bookings were monitored. The study found that when the hotels appeared on Expedia at the top of the first page, their average daily bookings increased—from a low of 7.5 percent at a branded hotel to a high of 25 percent at the single independent hotel—versus the days where they were not displayed on the site. In total, the billboard effect was estimated at 20 percent. In effect, a hotel that receives 10 percent of its overall contribution from the OTAs also receives another 10 percent in direct web bookings contribution by being promoted on the OTAs. This halo effect of direct bookings would in theory cut the margins paid to the OTAs by half.

    At face value, this study implies that just by being on the OTAs, your hotel gains a 10 percent direct web contribution. However, we need to look more closely at the optimum page placement for the test hotels. How many hotels have the luxury of first-page, top-of-the-fold placement or even first-page placement? In any given market that number is probably no more than 20–30 hotels rotating regularly into those spots. So, if you are one of those hotels, you undoubtedly benefit from the billboard effect. However, if you are not on the first page, the billboard effect is probably not as strong, and the farther you get from the first page, the more diminished the effect becomes.

    At the Cornell Hospitality Research Summit conference in early October, Brian Ferguson from Expedia lifted the veil on customer booking patterns. He told conference attendees that 95 percent of Expedia’s bookings occur on the first page, and 47 percent of those are in the top six spots. This reinforces the Cornell study finding that the maximum billboard effect will occur when you are in the top spots or at the very least, on the first page.

    Being seen from the start: the OTA advantage

    What is the major advantage, then, of participating in the OTAs that might outweigh the associated costs? Simply stated, it increases the likelihood that you will be seen at the onset of consumer research. Studies have found that travel shoppers use OTAs more for research than for booking. The chart below shows where consumers begin the booking process: 31 percent start on one of the OTAs. And many search engine and meta search results also direct consumers to OTA sites. So, by being on the site somewhere, you will potentially be viewed as shoppers begin their research, becoming part of the consumer’s consideration set.


    Source: 2009 National Leisure Travel MONITOR


    This effectively broadens your hotel’s marketing reach, as the average hotel doesn’t have the budget to reach millions of consumers at the point of research. From the perspective of reaching customers you couldn’t reach on your own, the OTAs definitely provide a boon for hotels.


    Choosing the right program: how to make it work

    As you consider developing a more strategic relationship with the OTAs, evaluate the programs in which your hotel participates. Multiple options are available, each providing a different opportunity to market your hotel, depending on your need:

    Standard Merchant Rate – This is the base offer where your hotel signs a contract for a specific margin, and offers a rate that is discounted by this amount from your best available rate (BAR).
    • Advantage – This is the OTAs’ most common offering. Customers have full awareness of the hotel they are purchasing and can use these rates to help with their research process.
    • What to Do – Make sure you offer inventory when you need rooms filled and keep your long-term rates competitive. Also, make sure your hotel gets positive ratings to enhance your page placement. Be consistent in your strategy since most ranking algorithms use history to determine future placement.

    Packages – With this program, your hotel can offer deeper discounts because the rate is suppressed as a part of the total package. Therefore, consumers don’t know what rate they are paying for each portion of the package.
    • ADVANTAGE –Your hotel can offer deeper discounts when you need to move distressed inventory. A segment of travelers prefer packages.
    • What to Do – Offer a limited amount of inventory as needed to build a base of business without damaging yield opportunities. Increase available inventory when projected occupancy is well below target. Make sure you look well out in the future when managing these rates, since dynamic packages have a much longer advance booking window than room-only rates, and longer length of stays.

    Promotions – This option offers a unique merchandising opportunity to create excitement for specific offers such as length-of-stay discounts or value-add offers.
    • ADVANTAGE – This option improves site placement and enables your hotel to uniquely merchandise special offers that the OTAs showcase on their sites.
    • What to Do –Understand your booking window and average length of stay and ensure rates are properly fenced in order to prevent trade-down and rate dilution. Also, offer your promotions to all OTAs as well as your own proprietary booking engine for rate parity.

    Opaque – These programs suppress your hotel’s identity until after the point of purchase.
    • ADVANTAGE – Your hotel can use these programs to move distressed inventory without eroding brand and pricing integrity.
    • What to Do – Actively manage your opaque rates as occupancy increases versus closing them out to maximize your RevPar. Either raise your rates or control discounts through use of length-of-stay controls. Use the pricing data provided by opaque sites to price your rooms to ensure that you capture demand as needed and that the incremental revenue contributes to your bottom line. Also, remember it is never too late to load opaque rates, since the channel has an extremely short booking window. A significant portion of opaque bookings are made on the same day as check-in.
    Leverage your market manager: the key to a strong partnership

    The foundation of a strategically sound partnership with the OTAs is building and maintaining a relationship with your market manager—the OTA employee assigned to helping your hotel use your OTA program more effectively. Manage this relationship the same way your hotel manages key corporate accounts. Developing strong OTA relationships can help your hotel move from being an OTA participant to an OTA partner.

    If you can move from passive participation to active partnership, your relationship with OTAs can be advantageous for your hotel’s occupancy and profitable for your bottom line.


    OTA Participation to Partnership: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

    19 Jan 2011

    Top Free SEO Tools

    Search engine optimization involves various processes and tasks. In fact, website optimizers have to juggle links, anchor text, keywords and crawlers all at the same time. While the optimization process can't be totally automated, there are free SEO tools that can make the work easier.

    The number of SEO tools in the World Wide Web is overwhelming, and many of them are offered absolutely free. To make the right choices, here's a detailed list of the best free SEO tools. These tools vary in the way they are being used.

    These free SEO tools are designed for various purposes, but are nonetheless needed in the entire optimization process.

    1. AddMe.com (No surprises here)

    A search engine submission program, AddMe is one of the many free SEO tools that submit your URL to search engines so that Internet users can find you online.

    It's perfectly fine to be listed by the major search engines only, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. However, if you want a wider online audience, try this search engine submission tool.

    One good thing about AddMe is that it submits websites to 20 different search engines. With such free SEO tools, you don't have to go to each end every search engine to enhance your online presence.

    After the search engine submission tool submits your site's keywords, description and URL, you will begin to receive website traffic. Just note that it may take time for all search engines to include your site in their listings.

    2. Google Analytics/Google Webmaster Console

    One of the most popular free SEO tools, Google Analytics provides comprehensive information and detailed reports about your website. Among these reports are your site's traffic behavior, funnel data and content visitation among others.

    Analytics can also be considered another one of those website promotion tools. It lets you see which parts of your website are generating clicks and leads, as well as the parts to work on to improve website promotion. Tools like the Google Webmaster Console also provide similar information, such as crawling speed, crawling rate and how Google "sees" your backlinks among others.

    3. Firefox with the Web Developer Extension

    Firefox is a very flexible Web browser. It provides a wealth of useful extensions, including free SEO tools. The Web Developer extension lets you easily remove a site's javascript components and cascading styles. It also allows you to look at a webpage's external links. Perhaps the best part about the extension is that you can add your own website promotion tools and other SEO applications to the menu.

    4. KeywordDiscovery

    Another one of the free SEO tools that simplifies keyword research, KeywordDiscovery can generate top 100 keywords that can help improve your site's rankings. You simply type in a seed keyword on the tool's search term suggestion tool, and you get comprehensive keyword data gathered from more than 180 search engines.

    5. SEO for Firefox

    Other free SEO tools out there can't match the amount of information this Firefox tool provides. This program gathers data on a particular page, along with information regarding a search engine.

    Unlike most free SEO tools, SEO for Firefox allows you to directly export information from the SERPs to CSV. Also, the tool gives relevant information, such as page rank, domain age, cache data, backlinks in Yahoo, number of cached pages and number of .edu links among others.

    6. Google PageRank Checker

    Google's PageRank Checker is one of the free SEO tools that are useful for just about anyone who has a site. It ranks a website according to how popular Google thinks it is. The highest score is 10 and the lowest is one. Furthermore, the ranking is based on the value of the links that lead to your site. The higher a link's value, the better your site's page rank.

    A combination of these free SEO and website promotion tools is a great idea, especially if you're serious about your business and search engine optimization efforts. These tools are totally free, so don't hesitate to try them all out.


    Top Free SEO Tools

    6 Jan 2011

    Making sure your URLs are user and SEO friendly - Dot Tourism

    A URL is more than just the the location of your website and doesn’t just provide the navigation around your pages. A well thought out URL structure can bring with it search engine optimisation benefits as well as offering benefits to your users.

    Anatomy of a URL

    Before diving into what makes a good URL it’s important that you understand how they are made up.

    The image above illustrates the different parts of your URL. It is worth spending the time when launching a new site to plan the URL structure as getting it right will have a positive effect on your online presence.

    What makes a good URL

    Keep it clear and descriptive
    Ideally the URL should describe the content of the page. If a user can look at a URL in isolation of it’s page and know accurately what the content might include, you know you have a good URL. Keep your URL descriptive and try to avoid using numbers or generic descriptions such as page1.html. URLs that contain words relevant to your site’s content are far more user friendly.


    Keep it short
    While you can have URLs up to 2000 characters in length, in reality you shouldn’t reach anything near this. A short URL is far more usable and is more likely to be written down and shared. Avoid the use of unnecessary folders when planning your site structure; it’s important to avoid deep nesting of subdirectories. Search engines won’t crawl pages that are buried deep in your site as frequently.

    You also should avoid having too many words in your URL. Aside from making them look like spam to human visitors it is generally recognised that search engines will give less weight to individual words when they are part of a whole string within a URL.


    Use your keywords
    You probably take every advantage to use keywords where you can and in your URL is no exception. The URL to your page is shown in search results and words within the URL will appear in bold if they also appear in the user’s search query. Another benefit is that when users share your URL, for example pasting it into forums, you will gain good incoming links with your keyword in the link text. However avoid over use of keywords - you don’t want your URL to look like spam to potential visitors.


    Separate with hyphens not underscores
    Make sure to separate words with hyphens. Although search engines won’t penalise underscores dashes are preferable as each hyphened word is seen as an individual. Using punctuation also makes the URL a lot easier for your human visitors to read and understand.


    Use lower case
    As URLs are case sensitive don’t ever use uppercase letters in your structure. Users will normally stick to lowercase and adding in capitals can lead to confusion.


    Avoid excessive dynamic parameters
    Ideally you should use static URLs which are preferable for both users and search engines. Dynamic URLs containing multiple parameters can cause a problems for search engines and you may find that your site isn’t fully indexed. Whenever possible trim unnecessary parameters and avoid the use of things such as the use of session IDs in URLs.


    Avoid subdomains
    Subdomains which will often create unnecessarily lengthy and complex URLs which users don’t always trust. You may also find that subdomains have the potential to be treated separately from the primary domain when it comes to passing link value. While this isn’t always the case advice tends to steer on the path of caution and recommend against their use.

    Read More...

    Making sure your URLs are user and SEO friendly - Dot Tourism