Most people planning a vacation start with a Google search. That’s why you work so hard to optimize your search results placement with SEO strategies. And you should. But it’s not all you can be doing to make the platform work for you. Managing your Google My Business listing is an important step for staying competitive on the powerful search engine.
What it is
Google My Business is a free, online tool that allows you to control how your business appears across Google. A listing for your property, curated by you, appears on Google Maps and in the Knowledge Graph (the info-box on the righthand side) of search results. It’s like an online storefront. Users can see your property, and relevant information about it, before clicking onto your website—making your business more visible and more accessible to potential guests.
Where to start
The first step is to search for any existing listings for your business. While you may not have created one yourself, an unclaimed listing may exist—in which case you’ll need to claim it. Otherwise, visit the Google My Business page and click ‘Start Now.’ From there you’ll need to create an account, verify your business, and then begin managing your listing.
Managing your listing
Categories >> You’ll need to choose a primary category that represents what type of business you are. This helps Google list your business appropriately and gives you access to category-specific features. Hotel listings, for example, can add class-ratings and amenities to their entries. In addition to one primary category, you can choose up to nine others if appropriate for your business.
Business information >> This is obvious, but you’ll want to ensure all your business information is accurate and up-to-date. That includes things like your contact info and website URL as well as a description of your business. If you choose to upload a description (you should), it must be less than 750 characters and adhere to Google’s description guidelines.
Photo and video content >> Listings with photos experience 35% more clicks through to their website. So, don’t skip this step. Upload as many professionally shot photos that you need to tell your property’s story and inspire prospective guests. Within the bunch, you can identify a profile photo and cover photo so Google knows which ones you’d like to display first. Click here for Google’s full photo and video guidelines.
Reviews >> Google is always encouraging customers to leave reviews after visiting a business. It has turned the online juggernaut into the #1 review site in the world, and those reviews are included in your Google My Business listing. That’s a good thing because user feedback is significantly more trusted than traditional marketing. So make sure you are responding to these reviews as part of your reputation management strategy.
Updates >> Make listing updates a regular part of your management strategy. In addition to ensuring the accuracy of all information, and responding to reviews, you can post special offers and promotions directly on your listing. Keeping your Google My Business page fresh will help it stand out to potential guests.
Optimization >> Google My Business includes an analytics feature (called Insights) that allows you to understand how people are interacting with your listing. You can use it, for example, to determine how people are finding your listing, how many times they view it, and how often people ask for directions to your property.
Google My Business is a powerful marketing tool. Make sure you’re claiming and managing your listing to maximize its potential. And consider downloading the platform’s app to make the job as easy as possible.
This year marks WebRezPro’s 15th year streamlining daily operations for lodging providers as an automated, cloud-based property management solution. As we look back on WebRezPro’s pioneering beginnings and ahead toward ongoing innovation, this milestone is an achievement that both fills our team with pride and encourages us to never stop striving for the best for our customers.
How It All Began
Way back in the mid ‘90s our company, World Web Technologies Inc. (WWT), was running an online travel agency. The internet was pretty novel back then, but our company president, Frank Verhagen, knew it wasn’t a passing fad. In the late ‘90s, WWT released an online room reservation system for independent hotels and inns. Today it would be considered pretty basic, but back then it was exciting, cutting-edge technology that opened up a whole new marketplace for our hotel clients. As people became more comfortable with making reservations online, hoteliers quickly began to see the potential of web-based technology.
Soon our clients began to ask us about the possibility of integrating front- and back-office functionality into their online reservation system, so that they could use the software to check guests in and out, and keep track of inventory and invoicing.
Working closely with our customers, we built the features they needed into the system, until it was no longer just a reservation system. And so, in 2003, WebRezPro was born, and it continues to evolve in the same way; guided and inspired by our clients—real lodging operators.
The Potential of the Cloud
When WebRezPro was launched in 2003, web-based (cloud) software was still a fledgling concept within the hotel industry, but it was hard for our clients to ignore the benefits of an online system.
The ability to accept reservations online boosted hotel revenue for no extra effort, and the automation of previously manual administrative tasks (such as tracking reservations and inventory and issuing invoices) saved hotel staff a lot of time that they could instead focus on guests.
System setup was a breeze (no software installation needed) and typically didn’t require any extra hardware beyond what our customers already had. Plus, we took care of system maintenance, upgrades and data security remotely, taking a huge weight off our clients’ minds. Basically, we offered lodging operators an automated system that greatly increased daily operational efficiency, kept data safe, didn’t demand technical know-how from hoteliers, and was affordable to even the smallest properties.
Even so, not all lodging operators were convinced. As always, there was some resistance to change; the idea of making reservations online made some hoteliers nervous. Is the internet safe? Wouldn’t guests rather talk to someone on the phone? Isn’t software expensive and hard to learn? (I’m doing fine with my big reservations book and a calculator!)…
But as the years passed, word got around. WebRezPro was improving the bottom line at our customers’ properties, and it was bringing advantages legacy systems couldn’t offer, beyond affordability. As a web-based system, WebRezPro allowed hotels to securely access their property management system from any computer with an internet connection—on or off property. Even before the world went mobile, this was recognized as a huge convenience, eliminating the need to install and pay for software on multiple workstations.
Unlike with their legacy systems, our clients had free access to software upgrades, and they could hand over system maintenance and data security to us. As more years passed, software vendors began to realize the increasing technical ease and benefits of integration partnerships, afforded by advances in cloud technology. Integrating their hotel systems allowed lodging operators to further streamline their workflow by automating cross-system processes, for example, applying long-distance call charges and ancillary sales to guest folios, and processing credit card payments.
Those early years were an exciting time for cloud hotel technology and the innovation hasn’t stopped. We love helping our customers’ properties reach their full potential with the latest real-world technological solutions.
The Secret to Our Success
Fifteen years in, WebRezPro is enjoying exponential growth, now used at over 1,200 properties in 40 countries. That’s great news not only for our company but for the hospitality industry as a whole. It’s proof that lodging operators are embracing cloud technology to optimize operations and the guest experience.
We think WebRezPro’s success stems from an unwavering commitment to our clients’ success. No matter how big or small the property, the needs of each and every one of our clients are important to us. Our dedicated Support Team know WebRezPro inside out, are fluent in the hospitality industry, and are consistently praised for quick, personalized customer care (just take a look at some of our reviews).
As part of our mission to see our clients succeed, WebRezPro offers a high level of flexibility. This is evident within core functionality (from flexible inventory and rate/package management to customizable reports), through optional modules tailored to different lodging types (for example, our Owner Payout Module for vacation rental operators and Centralized Administration Module for property groups), through integrations with numerous other hotel systems, and through software customizations.
Every property is unique. We believe that hotel technology should be adaptable to a property’s needs and facilitate their unique vision, not limit businesses with rigid functionality.
WebRezPro is a comprehensive PMS that is always improving. Software updates are driven by industry technology innovation and lodging operators’ needs, and are often a result of direct requests from our clients. Our clients are not just customers, they are our partners, and this relationship is a big part of WebRezPro’s success.
Our mission to support lodging operators with practical technological solutions that improve efficiency, the guest experience and revenue, in step with the latest hospitality trends and innovations is an eternal one. Technology is always evolving, and so must we all with it!
Vendor partnerships that contribute to the centralization and optimization of data through system integration are key to unlocking greater efficiency and innovation at every property. WebRezPro currently has partnerships with over 90 hospitality technology vendors, including channel managers and OTAs, payment gateways, POS systems, guest experience platforms, mobile keys and more. We are always forging relationships with vendors that help enhance our solution, and will continue to do so.
Solutions that optimize and mobilize data for greater personalization of the guest experience—such as guest messaging, mobile check-in and mobile key apps—are particularly exciting. Continuing advances in mobile technology within WebRezPro’s own feature set, along with third-party integrations, will ensure our customers stay ahead of the game.
“Our team is proud to reach this milestone with such a strong outlook. We believe in this product and the value it offers our clients, and are proud to be a trusted technology partner for all types of properties.” —Frank Verhagen, President at World Web Technologies, Inc.
The summer is ending here in the Northern Hemisphere. We hope it was a good (and profitable) one. But there isn’t any rest for a hotelier, so it’s time to turn your attention to the fall. With the busy season slowing down you should start thinking about new ways to boost occupancy and generate buzz for your property. And there’s a holiday around the corner that could help you do just that: Halloween! Just like Valentine’s Day and Easter, with a little imagination, this occasion can be a great marketing (and revenue-generating) opportunity for your business. Read on for ideas on how your lodging operation can make the most of this spooky holiday.
Throw a party
This one’s a no-brainer. Everyone loves a good Halloween party. And you can go as big (or as small) as makes sense for your property. Looking for a little bit of inspiration? The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver hosts a 6-ballroom party at their historic property. In the past, they’ve had haunted mazes, amusement park rides, illusions, and even a comedic conjuring of the hotel’s famous ghost—The Lady in Red. Ace Hotels Los Angeles has included Tarot card readings, aura photography and costume contests at their past events. And Hotel del Coronado in San Diego hosts an annual “Hallo-wine and Spirits” party. It’s a fun holiday with unlimited potential, so be creative!
Host a murder mystery
If you’d like to plan an event that’s a little smaller in scale, why not host a murder mystery dinner? The Stanley Hotel in Colorado (known for its role in the movie The Shining) did just that in 2017. Guests dressed up to compliment the 1920’s mafia theme of the event and partook in a 4-course dinner and murder mystery activity. It’s a great way to celebrate the spooky occasion. And if it’s a hit, you can always turn it into a weekend-long affair like these hotels.
Screen a spooky film
If you’re looking for another way to deliver a festive fright, consider screening a scary movie at your property. It’s an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family. And depending on your space and location, you could set up the screen indoors or out. But whatever you choose, don’t forget the spooky decorations or Halloween-themed treats.
Pumpkin carving is an activity you can offer to your guests (and community members) that’s appealing to all ages. And you can make it as extravagant as you want. A few years ago W New York offered guests the chance to have their selfie carved into a pumpkin by the famous pumpkin-artist Hugh McManon. But if that seems like too much, you could also create a pumpkin carving competition on social media. Participants can submit photos of their best creations, and the winners can receive a free night stay at your hotel. It won’t provide the revenue of hosting an actual event, but it’ll create some good online buzz for your property.
Offer a themed package
If you are going to offer Halloween-related activities and amenities, be sure to create a themed package for the occasion. In addition to a night (or two) stay, you can include tickets to the events, meals, complimentary candy—anything that makes sense for your property. The Hay Adams in Washington DC offers a stay in their “Transylvania Suite” which comes decked out in cobwebs, skeletons and other creepy decorations. The package also includes a selection of horror movies to choose from and 3-course meal.
Halloween is an exciting holiday with a lot of potential. It’s the perfect opportunity to get your creative juices flowing, so take advantage of it! You’ll be rewarded with new revenue streams and great promotional material for your website and social media channels. Have fun!
A recent study conducted by Expedia and The Center for Generational Kinetics, found that 74% of Americans value experiences over things. That’s great news for the hospitality industry as most of those people are planning to travel in pursuit of those experiences.
So how can you capitalize on the emerging “experience economy”? For these travelers, the memory is the product. You need to adapt your marketing material to reflect that. It’s not enough to simply advertise a luxurious bed or first-rate amenities. You need to showcase the unique travel experiences that guests will have at your property. Here’s how:
Create video content
Video has become a powerful marketing medium across all industries. It improves SEO and boosts conversions—one study even suggests that including video content in a landing page can increase conversions by 80%. It’s also an ideal tool for showcasing experiences. If used correctly, the dynamic medium can inspire viewers and help them imagine what a stay at your property would be like.
Create videos that portray people experiencing everything your property has to offer (with #travelinspo footage of events and other highlights) and post them across your digital channels. Once viewers start picturing themselves laughing with friends over a drink on the patio, or kayaking peacefully on the lake out front, for example, they won’t want to book anywhere else.
Promote your destination
For most travelers, the destination is the draw. They’re looking to explore and experience the local culture. So, you should promote your locality as well as your property. Sharing helpful information about things to do and see in your area shows a commitment to experiential travel that guests will appreciate. And demonstrating your local expertise will earn their trust. Guests want to stay somewhere connected to the community with insider tips for getting the most out of their holiday.
User-generated content (UGC) is a big deal in today’s marketing landscape. And for good reason. Consumers are much more trusting of their peer’s reviews than traditional marketing material. And, as it’s the real-life experience of your guests, UGC is particularly well-suited for marketing in the experience economy. So, when a guest posts about their stay at your property, use it. It’s the most authentic promotional material you could hope for.
Considering the value of UGC, you should do what you can to encourage guests to post online. This can be done by creating a strong social media presence, hosting contests, and including calls-to-action on other marketing collateral.
Partner with influencers
For high-impact UGC, consider partnering with social media influencers. These are people with a significant number of followers whose content generates considerable engagement. Unlike traditional UGC, these posts will cost you (either in fees or free stays at your property). But if you choose the right influencer, it’ll likely be well worth the investment. 81% of marketers that have tried influencer marketing considered it effective.
Be authentic online
Part of selling the experience at your property is showing off your unique personality. Travelers today aren’t interested in generic accommodation. And if your digital content is uninspired and formulaic, they’ll assume your property is the same way. So make sure you’re being authentic on your website and social media channels. Avoid an overly formal tone and steer clear of canned responses to guest posts.
Today’s travelers are seeking exciting experiences they’ll remember forever (and can share on their social media pages). Make sure you’re creating effective marketing material so you can capture their imaginations and ultimately win their bookings.