Publication Date: 2011-01-17
My views on the Internet are making me become somewhat of a grumpy guy. I am sceptical of social media - especially for the accommodations industry - for two key reasons.
- Most of the hospitality sites I deal with in Canada are still struggling with the basics.
- I am wondering who has time to interact with Facebook or any other social networking site. For example, I am in a Starbucks right now and when I log into their network, I could use their Facebook page to discuss stuff. My only contribution this past year was that Starbucks changed the recipe for the Cranberry Bliss Bar, and my wife didn't like it, so I went to the Starbucks site itself and whined accordingly. That was a very specific product complaint. I just don't see me babbling on a Facebook page about how I feel about the boring coffee I order.
So, worry about your Facebook/Myspace/Twitter presence after you've mastered the basics. In other words, why send someone to your web site when it has problems?
In an email to my client base, for New Year's 2011, I sent out these five essential items for a web site.
- Learn what a TITLE tag is and what it means for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Just this week I had a client launch a new web site without TITLE tags. All their pages at the top said "undefined content". In the Google Search Results, the link to a website is usually displayed in conjunction with the TITLE tag. The Google machine won't even know what your business is about and you will disappear.
- Learn what a Google Place Page is and why it's important.
(Quokka Boost Program)
In the last year Google has been pushing the so-called natural search results down the list in favour of its own map related pages. In the accommodations business this matters a lot because your location is a key factor in a booking decision. The more accurate your location information is with Google, the better off you are.
- Write content in exchange for links on a site like www.TravelInBC.com.
I know this will work for any business writing on Quokka Systems' travel sites (see list below). This is because a relevant article for travellers is good for the travel sites and it's good for the travellers themselves. Why not impress your potential guests with your local knowledge? This will increase their comfort level and want to stay with you. Plus you get another link to your website, which is good for you.
If you do any writing for any website, make sure to ask how they are linking to you. Failing to link to you in some way lessens the value of doing the writing.
- Understand what Social Networks are and why they might be important for business.
In this one, I'm saying that, at this stage, you should understand what all this blather is. (For goodness sake, a film called The Social Network just won best picture at the Golden Globes.) Once your website is working well, then take the plunge into what is being called the Social Web.
- Do not fear online hotel reviews.
I have made jokes to my friends and associates that all my accommodations clients would love for TripAdvisor to be dropped off a cliff and pretend reviews on the web never have existed. Well, that horse has long since left the barn, gone to Hollywood and started a career as a movie producer. The best approach is to tackle online reviews head on. If you are looking for services to help you, my company offers Reputation Management, which is the term most folks are using to try to keep on top of what people are saying about you online.
Many people have wondered how to make the Internet work for them and asked: "where do I start?" I can only help you by quoting Lewis Carroll: "'Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'"
Travel Sites where you can post an article
British Columbia Accommodations
New Brunswick Accommodations
Nova Scotia Accommodations
Prince Edward Island Accommodations
Northwest Territories Accommodations
Robert Ford is a business owner and IT consultant based in Vancouver. Quokka Systems owns and operates a British Columbia Accommodations site and other Canadian Travel sites. Robert@quokkasystems.com