Summer Cleaning: Chores to Help Keep Your Hotel Content Sparkling Clean.
Summer Cleaning Chores
As I sit here sipping an adult beverage and dreading getting up on my hot roof to hook up my cooler, I know that the summer season is fully upon us. For those of us in the hotel business this typically means a huge uptick in guests and all the tasks needed to send them home happy; this often results in other initiatives being put on hold. Despite the increased volume and work that the summer brings and in many ways because of it, performing some technology housekeeping will make for the best summer possible. For the first round of Summer Cleaning I recommend a content audit. (yay fun - right??) You can also use this handy checklist to help!
It is often said that a picture is worth 1000 words and first impressions count most. I can think of few situations where these adages are more apt than when a property is first appearing to guests through an Internet search. It is important that hotels do a content audit to inspect the images and amenities attributed to them, as well as the descriptive content representing them online.
Images - Pictures tell potential guests what your property looks like. Many websites have changed the ways in which image content is displayed and are now optimized for HD format, and people use a variety of devices to access this content. Images need to be recent, accurate, abundant, crisp and clean looking, not stretched grainy or distorted, and viewable in their full glory from desktop mobile and tablet devices.
Put yourself in the role of the guest and imagine a stay at your hotel based solely on the pictures you have distributed online. If what you imagine is a positive experience and is accurate based on your intimate knowledge of the hotel then you can check this item off.
Amenities - Amenities not only inform guests what features your hotel has available for them to use, they also paint a broader picture of your property in their minds. While studies have shown that free Wifi and breakfast are the most desirable offerings, there are many features a potential guest could base their choice on. Verifying the amenities listed in your hotel's profile on OTAs and Meta sites are complete will ensure the most number of guests with specific requirements will consider your hotel.
Additionally, many OTA sites have begun detailing a subset of a hotel's amenities in the initial area search return listing. For these sites it is also important to work with your market manager to ensure the most effective offerings are shown in this area. It's also important that your amenities are clearly shown on your own website (so that guests researching a stay with you don't need to go to another site to find needed information, book there and decrease your revenue), and updated in your GDS profiles. (In truth the GDS has been showcasing hotel's amenities and allowing travel agents to search based on them for much longer than travel websites and allow for many more specific offerings to be listed).
Equally important is the accuracy of your amenities. Having an amenity listed in your profiles online that you don't actually have on property is asking for unhappy guests and bad reviews. If a guest researching your hotel gets a consistent and accurate list of your amenities from OTA sites and your hotel's website, and the more important ones are showcased, check this off.
Descriptive Content - For the purpose of this chore list, descriptive content refers to verbiage within a hotel's profile on the OTA sites, GDS, and its own website (information that the hotel or its channel partners have posted about it), and not guest reviews. Reviews are important and deserve their own discussion, but for now we are focused on items a hotel has direct control over.
This is one area that will require some work. Over the last several years some OTA sites have switched from using descriptions pulled from the GDS or written into the OTA's CMS by the hotels themselves to information they author about the property. To further complicate this task, channels have different descriptive sections (for things like dining options, location, and rooms) and Some OTA's have done away with description entries altogether, instead focusing solely on bulleted lists to inform the guest. The result of this diversity is there are many descriptions of any given hotel floating around on the web, and some are probably inaccurate and out of date.
The first step is to review what is written and check it for accuracy, document anything that's wrong or misleading. Next determine what your ideal property description is. This should be in paragraph format and best describes your hotel (location, area attractions, restaurant, etc.) accurately and in a positive, sales-oriented manner. For this ideal description more is better; paint a picture with your words. On the channels that will allow your full-blown descriptions (your own website and GDS) shoppers will appreciate the detail and you can pare down or extract bits for channels that don't allow everything you write. Finally, you need to reach out to your contacts at the channels asking them to correct any errors you found and for advice on getting the descriptions they have for your property as close to the ideal one you wrote as possible.
Once the descriptions on all channels are accurate and as consistent with your ideal descriptions as allowed you can check this task off as well.
Recommendations - To perform the above audit I recommend that you check a few major OTA sites (Expedia, booking.com, Orbitz, Agoda, Etc.), your property's own website, Meta sites (Trivago, Kayak, Trip Advisor, Etc.), and your GDS HOD for the amenities and descriptive content tasks.
Also, don't forget to re-audit channels to ensure content additions, corrections, or changes you have made end up reflected on the channels before checking the items off; depending on the channel this can take up to a few weeks.
Please let us hear your thoughts on this summer cleaning chore list! Do you have other recommendations, did I leave anything out? Start the conversation by letting us hear your comments!
Contact your Account Manager with any questions.
Acronyms used in this post
GDS - Global Distribution System
OTA - Online Travel Agent
CMS - Content Management System
CRS - Central Reservation System
HOD - Hotel Online Display