Martin Fullard asks: are hotels going about promoting their conference and meeting facilities in the right way? [From CN issue November 2017]
In October I was invited to moderate a panel at the Annual Hotel Conference. I was to preside over a panel of experts on the rather prickly matter of digital content, and how its constant state of evolution is important to follow.
While the crux of the matter centred around the hospitality side of the hotel industry – always stealing the limelight – certainly the way such venues showcase themselves online for conferences and meetings is just as important.
Panellist Cara Callaghan, head of digital at Irish booking and content company Avvio, made the point that online content has moved away from blocks of text, and that SEO – while still important to a degree – is no longer the cornerstone of prominent online presence.
Amy Clarke, senior director, digital and distribution at the Wyndham Hotel Group, and another panellist, agreed and backed this up with her organisation’s strategy.
Clarke said that photography across the Wyndham group had been inconsistent, and that the entire portfolio must be brought up to the same standard. The aim was to create a more visual-based website and, you’ll be pleased to know, seemed to work.
According to Clarke, the new picture-heavy approach saw a 17% increase in conversion rates, and people were spending much longer on the website to boot.
This was echoed by Nick Cole, chief marketing officer at creative markering company Teviot.
Changing the subject, I was curious about how hotels deal with online content over which they have no control. You can have the best website and social media campaign in the world, but you cannot control user generated content about you – or your brand.
The idea of leaving reviews online, free from the marketer’s red pen, is enough to leave even the most hardened CEO quaking in their boots. Cole, however, said such content is not be feared and nor should you try to compete with it. Embrace it, he said, work with it to better improve your product.
Essentially, what everything comes down to when it comes to online content is something that is easy to navigate and provides the user with all the information they could possibly need.
If you want to tell everyone about your conference and meetings space, use as few words as possible. The days of blocks of text are over, so with that in mind, see you in December.