here’s something that really bothers me about the reluctance shown by our players in the hospitality industry to take the “digital” leap of faith. The hospitality industry I believe is one of the key sectors where digital needs to be at the forefront of their marketing strategies.
Firstly we are now living in the information age which some call the digital age where basically everything is now automated and predominantly mobile centric. In this digital age, we can now search and book flights, check in, pay for accommodation, check in various places and share with friends; all this is inherently associated with the hospitality industry which should harness these developments to their advantage. However, our case in Zimbabwe is particularly depressing, there’s little to nothing online, the marketers are sleeping and potential customers are scavenging for information from offline sources. Cdes, we need to take the digital leap of faith and I want to highlight the basic fundamentals for anyone in the hospitality sector should abide by.
1. Get a SEO optimized website up
First things first, you need a good and responsive website up and running as it is now unforgivable not to have one if you’re in the hospitality industry. A website is your primary source of information about your products services and offerings, if customers are looking for information about your company, a website is the go to source. Your website needs to be optimized for search with all the relevant keywords, meta descriptions and meta keywords in place so that when customers search your site comes up higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). To break it down, most of your customers are searching on Google and your site needs to be appear right at the top in your industry. Below is a sad example of how local players are failing to take advantage of search engine optimization.
One of the trends that we have witnessed over is the last few years is location based services and the hospitality industry essentially is about that. If one is in Borrowdale and they are looking for a nice coffee shop, search engines can crawl sites and pages which are location optimized.
2. Sign up for Google for Business
Google for Business is a tool from Google that connects you directly with customers, whether they’re looking for you on Search, Maps or Google+. Accordingly, Google For Business puts your business info on Search, Maps and Google+ so that customers can find you, no matter what device they’re using and the features allow you to provide the right info at the right time, whether that be driving directions to your business in Maps, hours of operations in Search or a phone number they can click to call you on mobile phones. Google My Business helps you build a loyal fan base. Your customers can show their appreciation with ratings and reviews, use the +1 button to endorse your content, and re-share your Google+ posts across the web.
To fully harness Google For Business, you need a Google + Page for your business and also to get your business address verified. These are all simple and straightforward tools which marketers in the hospitality industry can easily take advantage and create sales leads. Another advantage of Google Plus is that it helps you with SEO, the more content you share on your Google Plus Page the higher the ranking your site eventually gets.
So in conclusion, what are we waiting for Cdes, take the “Digital Leap of Faith”, it is up to us and given the budgetary constraints imposed by our economic environment, it’s high time we become very tactical in our marketing approach. In the next edition, I will share on how you can use social media to generate sales leads for your business.