I remain surprised by how many Innkeepers, GMs and Hoteliers are still out there that haven’t “bought into” pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. It is probably safe to say that the vast majority of hotels, inns, and vacation rental managers don’t use this advertising source. Probably even half of our travel industry customers don’t use these services. Why is this?
There seem to be two prevailing justifications for not embarking on a PPC campaign:
1) The “I Want It For Free” mentality is the most common. This person wants to get “organic” results rather than pay for them. What this person rarely realizes is that Organic does not equal Free. Earning a top place in SERP and and keeping it typically requires an ongoing and consistent (and expensive) effort. It is far from guaranteed! I am not saying that getting Organic SERP is not worth doing, only that it is a competitive market out there and it will require effort and investment. Organic SERP, in my opionion, is only part of the online marketing puzzle.
2) The “It Is Too Expensive” mentality is the second most common reason to beg out of PPC marketing. This person simply hasn’t made room in their budget to purchase traffic directly from Search Engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN via their PPC services. The problem with this mentality is that PPC advertising is properly seen as an investment, not an expense. A well-run campaign typically produces a healthy return for our customers. In fact, the returns are usually so compelling, it is difficult to understand why innkeepers and hoteliers with empty rooms don’t double, triple or quadruple their budgets!
One of the most compelling natures of PPC advertising is its upward and downward scalability. Generally speaking, a hotel’s PPC results scale with its budget. Want twice as much business? Double your budget! Likewise, if your inn has periods of high occupancy, lower your budget during those periods.
As I was getting ready to write this article, I took a look at a sample of 5 PPC accounts for 5 different types of lodging properties:
- A Condo Vacation Rental outfit in Arizona
- An Inn in Florida
- A B&B in North Carolina
- A small oceanfront resort in Florida
- A Days Inn in Georgia
Here is what I found by looking at a 30 day slice of traffic in March:
- Average $ budget in PPC for the month: $153 (Median $135)
- Average # Unique Visitors to site: 274 (Median 270)
- Average # Unique Visitors who entered availability or booking engine: 69 (Median 46)
- Average # of phone calls: 25 (Median 13)
- Average # of Emails Generated: 1 (Median 0)
In full recognition that a set of five properties for one month of traffic is nothing close to a Statistically Reliable Average, spending $135 for 270 unique website visitors/13 phone calls/46 booking engine visits is pretty darn compelling. If those numbers were for my hotel, I would call my web-marketing company and yell in the phone “Add A Zero To My Budget.”
Trent Blizzard – Blizzard Internet Marketing, Inc.