June 24, 2015
For some of us, churning out the written word makes us want to bang our head against a wall. (At least, that's often me.) But whether you let your own fingers loose on the keyboard, or put the writing skills of one of your eloquent staff to use, blogging has the power to increase a hotel's online traffic and bookings.
Blogs are not just some social media fad or an outlet for wanna-be-writers; rather, blogging offers very real benefits as part of a serious marketing plan.
Blogs showcase the personality of your hotel. Your blog is a great way to help convey the personality and experience - the story - of your property, to engage prospective guests. A blog has the power to establish a human connection with your customers before they even set foot through your door.
Search engines love blogs. An active, relevant blog is great for SEO (search engine optimization) because search engines look for websites with fresh content as part of their ranking criteria. In other words, if you post relevant content frequently, your blog can help your website rank higher in search results, attracting more site visitors.
Blogs provide fuel for social media campaigns. Most hoteliers accept that social media is part and parcel of hotel marketing today, but that doesn't mean it's easy! Effective social media campaigns require time and effort. This is where your blog can help you kill two birds with one stone - by providing great content for your social media channels like Facebook and Twitter too.
What to Blog About
Coming up with a topic to write about can be more daunting than actually writing. But hoteliers are lucky; in the world of hospitality and travel, there's loads of fun stuff to talk about. Here are some ideas:
What's happening in your town or city? Keep your guests and prospective guests informed about local events, new attractions, new restaurants, etc. around town. Be the expert on your neighbourhood.
Compile your own Top 5 lists: local beaches, restaurants, family-friendly hikes...;
Travelers are always looking for good travel tips and, as a local expert, there's no-one better than you to provide them! What should your guests pack for their summer trip? When's the best time to visit a popular attraction in order to avoid the crowds? What local dish do visitors just have to try and where are the best places to try it?
Spill some local secrets for travelers who want to venture off the beaten path.
Share news about your property, like new menu items, hotel events, new or upgraded amenities, and specials and packages.
Write about your team. You could write a series of staff profiles, each one introducing one of your staff members. What is their job at the hotel? Why do they love it? What are their favourite things to do around town?
Write about topics that will appeal to your guests. If you cater to a lot of wedding parties, for example, your customers would probably enjoy such a post as The Top 5 Reasons to Get Married in OurTown. Backpacker hostels might choose topics like Dining Out on a Shoestring.
A hotel blog should complement the travel experience; it should be helpful and fun - if it meets that criteria, it's off to a promising start. Here are some tips to ensure its success in attracting visitors to your website and converting them into guests:
Don't over-promote your hotel. While your blog ultimately plays a part in turning lookers into bookers, it is not the venue for hard selling. If you shamelessly promote your hotel in every post, you will simply (and annoyingly) come across as contrived and pushy. Use your blog to provide prospective guests with helpful information (about both your property and destination) and to tell compelling stories about your local area, and you will find it engages customers and naturally leads to sales.
Include relevant CTAs in every post. No matter how much someone enjoyed your post, if you don't lead them to the next step with a relevant call to action (CTA), you risk losing them in cyberspace. A relevant CTA is aligned with the topic of the specific blog post and should take the reader's likely stage of trip planning into consideration. For example, a Top 5 Summer Activities in OurTown post could finish with a CTA like, "Check out other great attractions around town," that links to your website's Local Attractions page. Unless the post is about a special, limited-time offer, CTAs that beg readers to "book now!" come across as premature. Here's a great article about choosing enticing CTAs.
Include a photo with every post. Humans are visual creatures and images generally attract our attention faster than blocks of text. Including relevant images with your blog posts invites people into the story. And don't forget to caption images appropriately for search engines.
Enable comments. Blogs provide a great opportunity to begin conversations with your customers.
Write new posts regularly. Content should be updated frequently to keep your readers engaged and to optimize search engine ranking. Once a week or fortnight is nice, but anything less than once a month probably won't bring results.
Don't babble. Be conversational but concise. We've found that 300-500 words is the average for hotel blog posts. You could get away with even less text if it's complemented by a great image.
Maintain SEO. Optimize for search engines by using relevant titles, descriptions and keywords for every blog post. WordPress is an easy-to-use blogging and content management system with lots of SEO-friendly features.
Share your blog. In addition to sharing blog posts on social media, promote your blog by linking to it in your newsletter and other email communications with customers. You can even set your blog to automatically send new posts to email subscribers.
Don't get discouraged if your blog doesn't gain followers right away - most new blogs don't. But keep at it and you'll soon reap the rewards of more website traffic and bookings. Who knows, you might even enjoy it! If you'd like to discuss adding a blog to your property's website, drop us a line.