HotelsMag has come up with 10 Internet Marketing Resolutions for 2010 including social media ones. Interesting to juxtapose them against the reality of our booking with Discover Australia and staying at the York Fairmont in the Blue Mountains.

Aaah Holidays. Who’d ‘ave ’em eh?Ā  Just had a rather crappy experience with Discover Australia – they advertised “Free Internet -Exclusive” for the hotel we wanted to stay in, then after we booked (we sent a confirmation email with a question on the internet) said “Oh it’s just a FREE 1/2 HOUR”.

Discover Australia note free internet access claim

I reported them to the ACCC – remember “free”mobile phone fiasco and resultant fines? – but I bet nothing will come of it. Next time I will book direct with the hotel and check FIRST that what they advertise “free internet” doesn’t come with such ridiculous marketing spin.

HotelsMag Top 2010 Marketing Resolutions

3. I will remember that the Direct Online Channel must always be at the centerpiece of my Internet strategy. I know that travel consumers booking via my hotel website i.e. direct customers are more loyal, bring more revenue and tend to travel more often.

Situation: Across the industry, in 2010, Direct Online Channel sales will exceed 62% of total online hotel bookings. In 2009, even the top 30 major hotel brands t increased their dependence on the Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)-from 25.4% a year ago to 30% of CRS bookings in Q3 2009 (eTRAK). Emboldened by hoteliers’ desperation, some OTAs engaged in controversial and unhealthy practices, as described in HeBS’ recent article “The Prisoner’s Dilemma, the Stockholm Syndrome, or a Case of Both?”

Action Steps: What should hoteliers do to improve their direct vs. indirect online channel ratio? Firmly establish the direct online channel as the centerpiece of your marketing strategy. This provides your hotel with immediate results in a very difficult economic environment as well as long-term competitive advantages. Maintain strict rate parity across all marketing channels and maintain a best rate guarantee. At the same time, create unique product offerings and providing unique value proposition via the hotel website. Engage your customers directly via social media and mobile initiatives, and Web 2.0 features and functionality on the hotel website.

in reality a very 70’s look and feel

By the way, if you are planning on staying at the York Fairmont in The Blue Mountains (used to be called Peppers or something?) … don’t. We’ve moved rooms, had the airconditioning break, and a fridge and a TV and plugs die on us. The lifts smelt – we played a game of holding our breath for the ride. Lots of fun for the whole family….

Gary played the theme from The Shining and stuff from zombie movies on the resort piano in a deserted lounge – they took the piano stool away. It wasn’t that bad. šŸ˜›

But the staff were very nice and gave us free internet anyway. So maybe, do stay there, but don’t pay 4/5 star prices. A good idea is to check the Thomas Cook offer codes for the hotel you are staying at for discounts and free upgrades.

6. I will take full advantage of Social Marketing and enhance the social media strategy for my hotel in 2010. I understand that social marketing and targeted social media initiatives, if done according to best practices, generate buzz around the hotel, engage customers, provide a receptive audience, and ultimately stimulate hotel website visits, interactions and bookings.

Situation: Internet users now spend 17% of their surfing time on social network and blogging sites, nearly triple the percentage of time spent on such sites a year ago, according to Nielsen. Over 44% of Internet users are active in social media. In addition, over one-third of social network users and 44% of Twitter users have engaged with a brand through discount promotions (Mashable).

No wonder that according to the recent Business.com’s 2009 Business Social Media Benchmarking Study, 83% of U.S. companies use Facebook and 45% Twitter. All major hotel brands, airlines and other travel suppliers, as well as all OTAs are now present on the social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc. At the same time, the social networks are cluttered with “dead” Facebook Fan Pages and Twitter accounts, abandoned by hoteliers and travel marketers who did not realize the amount of time, expertise and resources maintaining social media presence requires.

Action Steps: Do not get tempted to create a Facebook Fan Page or a Twitter account if you are not ready to devote a significant amount of time and resources to managing your hotel’s social network presence and if you do not have access to best practices and expert advice on the subject. If you do not have the internal bandwidth or resources to manage social marketing, outsource to a hospitality social media expert company.

Launch interactive contests & promotions using social media and find unique ways for people to interact with your hotel outside of the hotel website. An example could be an interactive scavenger hunt using Facebook and Twitter, or a Twitter-only contest asking your followers what their dream hotel package would be (the prize would be the most imaginative-yet doable-package). Here at HeBS, we have found that these types of promotions drive significant traffic to the hotel website, are beneficial for SEO, are often referred to friends, and consistently result in multiple hotel bookings. And always measure ROI from your social marketing-number of engagements, referrals, leads, initiated bookings, conversions.

We paid $30+ (double pass) for “The Edge” movie -an Imax “experience” shot in the Blue Mountains (when in Rome etc). It was over 15 years old and poorly shot and edited – film students could do better. As a film it was not as interesting as a Discovery Channel program and as marketing it failed miserably to tell the Blue Mountains story. The lingering shots of the girl swimmer in the canyon had us in stitches. Very Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Perhaps the message is to listen to what the consumer thinks is interesting and marketable about a destination and not what some film maker wants to play with. It’s not like the helicopters were partiularly good at the swoopy-Imax film style anyway…

The Edge cinema (presumably they funded the IMAX movie of the same name) showed Avatar on the big screen but in the normal film format (not the big print). Still, we were a couple of hours out of Sydney and a nice cool change on days that were very hot in a hotel with broken aircon. There’s such a lot I could do with a cinema and social media. Anyone got one they want to give me?

The surroundings were astounding – we had really hot days and really wet misty days . I liked the latter bestest. Gary took some amazing photographs – the Blue Mountains photo set is here on Flickr

Blue Mountains waterfall Wentworth Falls

Valley of the falls, wentworth falls blue mountains

How was your January? Did you have a break? Nice experience ? Kill any family members? Ah well its back to nose to the grindstones, m’loves, nose to the grindstone.