Just read this quite interesting and comprehensive article about hotel internet marketing...A Hotelier's Guide to Budget Planning in '08 (Max Starkov and Jason Price). It's aimed at getting you to think about shifting more resources to your own website and directly engaging with your audience as opposed to print, third party deals, etc.
My brief thoughts on what to do with your website...call it Hospitality 2.0:
- Experience Harmony- Just as the initial impression with your PBX or reservations agent is so important, your website must be aligned with the other aspects of the guest visit. I've seen too many four-star hotels with a two or three-star web experience.
- Easy- The right audience should be able to easily find your site as well as the information they are looking for. If you can't begin the reservation process, find a menu or a read a guest comment within one click, the site needs work. Also, don't get stuck with the idea that everyone should come to the "home" page. This is one of the biggest mis-steps I see. Try using multiple landing pages for different audiences looking to do different things.
- Trust- Everything on the site should have a common objective...to move the guest relationship forward...to close the sale. And, building relationships is based on trust. So, remove anything that erodes trust (opt-out e-mail campaigns, advertising-like text that attempts to convince someone to buy, anything that risks over promising and under delivery, etc.), and add things that make you more transparent (guest commentary, employee blogs, etc.).