Hotel Industry Blog

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Importance of Translation when Building Online Relationships & Revenues

"Research shows that online, people are 3 times more likely to buy if the website is in their own language", writes Mark Rodgers of Cipherion Translations.

The Celtic Tiger has brought Irish hotels into the 21st century. Most hotels have a strong online presence in the form of a professionally developed website which is seamlessly connected to a booking engine. However, with the current uncertainty in a number of our main markets, the industry is now at a watershed – how to keep the online momentum going while still focusing on revenues and profitability.

Building online relationships with your customers is essential at any time, but vital in today's uncertainty. The Internet allows you to be a global player, in control of how your hotel is marketed online. However, sometimes you have ten seconds to build that initial relationship so how do you differentiate yourself from your competition?

I'd recommend translating your website. Research shows that online, people are 3 times more likely to buy if the website is in their own language.

At the recent Bookassist industry seminar, I was delighted to be invited by Bookassist to present hotels with a multi-lingual strategy. It was fascinating to hear Roshan mention that a recent survey of Bookassist’s main hotel clients in Ireland showed on average over 55% of their entire revenue is now generated online.

Wouldn’t it be great to start getting an even greater portion of that revenue directly from your own website?

Here’s how we, at Cipherion Translations approach it. Think of Christophe and Sophie for a moment. They are sitting at home in Lyon, at their white oak kitchen table, drinking a nice Bordeaux while getting excited about their upcoming holiday to Ireland. They know that they'll visit Dublin, then Waterford and straight over to Galway. They just need to decide where to stay….

However, most of our hotel websites are currently in English. So while most European tourists like Christophe and Sophie have fluent English, think of their delight when they come upon your site in their own language. You're delighting the customer and exceeding their expectations even before they arrive at your hotel. You're building that initial relationship.

So how have the overseas visitors been able to find us in the past? This is where the third party operators, Expedia, Travelocity and the like have had a head start. They have been marketing your hotel in multiple languages for years… and likely getting a significant chunk of the online business from the European visitors.

Essentially, they are building that initial relationship, in French or in German. They have had a significant advantage since your website was previously only available in English.

FACT: Online, people are 3 times more likely to buy if the website is in their own language.

We'd love to help you build that initial relationship with your customers. We work closely with Bookassist, who already has a multi-lingual booking engine. We’ll help you translate your website to delight the customers when they come to your website. Bookassist has already done the rest for you by allowing your customers to book in their own language.

Cipherion Translations have teams of marketing specialists in over 40 languages. Because you only need to “hire” our marketing team for a day or two, the costs are not significant… and in conjunction with the multi-lingual booking engine from Bookassist you can start to grab a larger share of the business that used to come to you through third party websites.

So whether you only wish to market based on a translated home page, or feel that you want to tell the visitor more about your hotel, our team can quickly provide you with translations that will engage and hold your visitors attention. We ensure that during those initial 10 seconds the online visitor will get maximum value from the website.

The Internet and Web 2.0 now allows you to easily attract customers from all over Europe. So it’s vital that you market to this audience in their own language – to build that initial relationship with them.

Remember the fact: people are 3 times more likely to buy online if the website is in their own language. Cipherion Translations can provide you with the marketing experts in each language to guarantee that a visitor’s initial 10 seconds are meaningful and thus increase the chances of the customer wanting to book directly from your website. Bookassist, with their multi-lingual booking engine will take care of the rest.

In summary, thinking global means taking action. Translation is a cost-effective way to build your revenues and build relationships with your customers. Now is the time to think about differentiating yourself on the Internet.

Mark Rodgers is Managing Director at Cipherion Translations.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Travel 2.0 and what it means for Hotels

"With Travel 2.0 it is also possible to highlight the hotel experiences in addition to the price – and some hotels do not capitilase on this opportunity", writes Roshan McPartland.

For those of you old enough to remember booking a hotel in Ireland in the late 80’s early 90’s - it was relatively straight forward in that you either booked the hotel over the phone or perhaps by fax. In most cases you knew about the hotel, had stayed there before or a friend may have recommended it to you. However booking a hotel abroad during this time was slightly more complex, especially if you knew nothing about it. There was definitely and element of walking into the unknown and the only comfort you had was knowing that the hotel you booked had a 4 star rating from the national tourist board, and if you were lucky enough there was one picture of the hotel in the brochure.

Thanks to Travel 2.0, booking a hotel is now different. Travel 2.0 means that we as consumers have more information about hotels readily available at our fingertips. We can now go directly to travel portal sites or even better, go direct to the hotels own website to look for the information that we require. However, Travel 2.0 is not just about getting this information, but rather about getting impartial information from others. When it comes to booking a holiday or hotel online, we as bookers prefer to hear about other people’s stories and experiences. Consumers are now making decisions about where to stay based on other people’s recommendations. In fact when it comes to the hotel industry, perhaps more so than any other industry - word of mouth online is king.

In a recent Yahoo Travel survey (2007), the results revealed ’that 61% of those questioned now go online for vacation recommendations. Travellers are no longer just searching for a hotel based on price, they are now mainly looking for user reviews, user ratings and photos.’

Price remains a primary and vital factor when choosing a hotel, but with Travel 2.0 it is also possible to highlight the hotel experiences in addition to the price – and some hotels do not capitilase on this opportunity. Consumers are not interested in the corporate blurb that you sometimes find on hotel websites, they simply don’t care if ‘each guest room contains beautiful antique furnishings and exquisite fabrics which will indulge your senses’. Consumers of today want to hear real accounts from real people that have stayed there as well as reading something that was written by a real person.

Travel 2.0 Revolution

In simple terms, this is what the Travel 2.0 revolution is all about. Its about you, your friends, your neighbours, your colleagues and other people who love to travel and their conversations online about the places they have stayed and their personal opinions of them. It’s about these people sharing their photos, videos, stories, memories and reviews online through social networking, video and reviews sites such as Tripadvisor, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.com.

So now that we know what these modern day consumers are doing, shouldn’t we join in with them? For hotels, the answer is yes. If these consumers are spending more time online then hotels must find ways to reach out to them by joining in on their conversations whether its through responding to positive and negative reviews posted on Tripadvisor, creating a corporate facebook site or perhaps adding a video hotel tour on Youtube.com or even adding images of the hotel on Flickr.com.

Before joining in on this online conversation, you must first begin by listening to them and as this is more important than talking. There are a few online tools you can use to monitor what people are saying about your property online, such as google blog search, google alerts and technorati alerts. Once you know what they’re saying about you, then you can start talking to them.

Tips to join in on the online conversation

1) Create a blog page and link it to your website. Invite people to leave reviews and share their stories and experiences with other potential bookers.
2) Post your corporate video on Youtube.com in addition to adding the video to your own website.
3) Add images of your property to Flickr.com (a site for sharing photos online)
4) Respond to both positive and negative reviews on Tripadvisor.
5) Create a corporate Facebook.com site.
6) Add podcasts to your site. With podcasts hotels can then provide information about the hotel, the location or events taking place in the location. They can even be created for different segments or age profiles of your guests. (A Podcast is a digital media file which can be downloaded to your guests' iPod or MP3 Player)


Role of a Traditonal Sales & Marketing Manager is changing

This online revolution requires adapation from the traditional role of Hotel Sales & Marketing manager as they must be equipped to deal with the challenges and opportunities of travel 2.0 and integrate social media into their marketing efforts not only to reach out to new travellers but also to create stronger relationships with their existing customers. It’s about creating your own corporate personality online and connecting with your guests as well as the your future guests of tomorrow.

Bookassist has been at the forefront of research into modern internet technologies and Web2.0/Travel2.0 developments and now brings these key technologies into a new product offering for client hotel websites.
Hotels can now avail of not just the most advanced direct booking engine technology in the marketplace, with live secure banking transacting, multiple languages and multiple currencies, multiple room booking capability, add-ons and much more, but they can also now
- Show customer generated reviews, automatically requested by the Bookassist system of customers who have actually booked with and stayed in the hotel.
- Display their location on their website using Google maps as a background with citywide information nearby for their customers' benefit, information which is continually added to by Bookassist.
- Additionally, hotel groups can enable group and individual website with these features to tie the group functionality together and increase business transfer between members of a group.

So once you’ve mastered how you create your own corporate facebook site, hotel blog, or podcast, you can sit back, put your feet up and wait for travel 3.0. We're already working on it.

Roshan McPartland, BookassistRoshan McPartland is Operations Manager for Ireland at Bookassist's Dublin Office

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Rapping Search?

Search marketing can be intricate and remembering to cover everything can sometimes be a chore. Here's an online guru who uses Rap Music to create detailed checklists to implement search marketing tasks. A nice easy way to remember!

Thanks to Foncho in Bookassist's Madrid office for this one.
See m0serious

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Your online rates and perception of value

Kieran Fives came across this interesting article by Neil Salerno on perceived "value" on the internet, which underlines much of what Bookassist has been advising its clients on for some time now. The idea that you can easily become commoditised in a simple hotel listing based on cost is a real threat to one's brand online, which is why direct sales is such an important channel to be driving.

From the article:
"In a public forum, such as the Internet, your rates will either validate the quality of your hotel or diminish it. Most travelers are looking for the best value, not, necessarily, lowest rates. Value management is the process of positioning perceived benefits to meet or exceed posted rates. Your rates contribute to raising or lowering consumer perception of your property."

See hospitality net

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Managing negative online reviews

With Travel2.0 and the rise of customer generated media and content, Bookassist has been providing the option of showing genuine reviews as part of the Booking engine services, by genuine I mean reviews from people who have actually booked online and stayed at the hotel. We highlighted the growing need for this sort of "openness" online in the Bookassist Seminar on April 9th in Dublin in particular.

Hotels though are justifiably worried about putting reviews online, especially anything with negativity. This is understandable, but as we have pointed out in many different forums, these reviews are going online anyway whether you like it or not, so it is better to row in behind it and actually put them on your own website also so you can manage them appropriately.

Here's a brief article from Marketing Pilgrim about managing negativity online that gives some pointers. See Marketing Pilgrim

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Examiner article talks about Travel2.0 necessity

The Irish Examiner's supplement on travel in Ireland wednesday featured an article by John Hearne, including an interview with Bookassist's Des O'Mahony, on Travel2.0 issues.

See Examiner20080415.pdf
This article is copyright Irish Examiner.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Yahoo! to test Google Adsense with search results

Yahoo! has announced that it will start a limited test of Google AdSense for its search service. This will see relevant Google ads being displayed alongside Yahoo!'s own search results. The press release says that the test will apply only to traffic from yahoo.com in the U.S. and will not include Yahoo!'s extended network of affiliate or premium publisher partners. But its an interesting development to see these two working together. A taste of things to come perhaps?

See Yahoo press release

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Briefing on Travel 2.0

Over on Highland Business Research blog there's a good review article on Travel 2.0 and Web 2.0 and what it all basically means. A good intro if you're not up to speed yet.

See Highland Business Research

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