Hotel Brand Management Online

Most hotels today have active digital marketing campaigns with SEO, PPC, Ezines, Social Media and channel management for OTA’s featuring within your daily online marketing activities and amongst all this activity the core value of your own hotel brand online can get lost.

There is a need for much stricter brand guidelines to OTA’s, affiliates and online partners or channels to protect your hotel brand and reduce misuse. A study by MarkMonitor estimated that the hotel industry in the United States is losing around $1.9 billion each year in online bookings. Also according to DIRECT magazine one in seven searches on branded items take the user to websites other than the brand’s own website.

There is growing awareness of the pitfalls in online marketing associated with “hotel brandjacking”, where the hotel brand is to all intents and purposes hijacked by OTA’s, many of whom claim that they are only implementing PPC on your brand name to bring in incremental business. If that was the case surely they would only need to implement campaigns on destination searches and more general terms instead. Any OTA or industry partner that is claiming to bring your hotel extra business through implementing PPC on your own hotel brand is actually taking direct bookings away; increasing costs and competitiveness on your brand name. Running PPC campaigns on your hotel brand name allows other companies to leverage on the consumer recognition of your brand. Taking away business that could have been generated as a result of word-of-mouth recommendations, offline advertising that your are running, repeat business etc and diverting them to a third party website and then charging you a higher commission level for  business that should have come to you directly.

The Pitfalls of Failing to Protect your Brand Online:

  • Negative impact on revenue
  • Impact on yield with increased distribution costs
  • Loss of direct customer relationship
  • Damage to your brand with customers landing on websites that claim to represent your brand, resulting in customer dissatisfaction.
  • Reduced ROI for your online marketing campaigns
How to Protect Your Brand Online
There is no “one approach fits all” action that can be taken to protect your brand online. In many instances promotion of your brand by third parties can be beneficial, for example with one-off joint marketing campaigns. Listed below are some good practice suggestions:
  • Be vigilant and know who is actively promoting on your brand name at any time
  • Categorise the different types of threats to your brand and devise an appropriate approach for each-
      • actively aiming to damage your brand – i.e. negative SEO, brand defamation to promote a competitor
      • utilising your brand name and goodwill to divert online revenue to a third party
  • Be pro-active in defending your brand which may discourage companies taking advantage of a lack of vigilance – contacting each company with clear definition of brand guidelines
  • Protect your domains – ensure that you maintain ownership of any domain that belongs to your company
  • Effective channel management – third party channels and OTA’s drive significant business to hotels, however, there is a need to know exactly how your product is being sold in each channel and to understand how they are promoting your brand. Provide each channel with clear guidelines on the use and promotion of your brand and highlight how abuse of these guidelines will result in immediate actions – such as closing of all allocations to channels that do not respect your brand online.

As outlined above, each case requires an appropriate response but effectively managing your brand online will yield rewards such as growth in direct bookings, customer loyalty and respect.

Talk to us today about how you can grow direct bookings by managing your brand online.