Are You Losing Customers Because Of Your Website?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 by Lauren Showen
If you were to ask travelers who didn't book with you why they chose a different resort, what would you guess their response would be? Price? Location? Would you believe that over 36% of travelers said that they didn't choose a resort because of an issue on the website? It's true! Here are some common problems and solutions to website issues:
 
 
Problem: Technical issue - Your website has dead links, images that won't load, doesn't run in certain browsers, etc.
 
Solution: Make sure that your website is well tested. Every link, every button, every browser: it all should be checked regularly. An easy way to avoid issues like these from the get go is to have a reputable team build your site and internal programs and do a vigorous QA before launch, but if you already have your site up and running, consider consulting with experts on how to solve and avoid issues in the future.

Problem: Couldn't find what they were looking for on your Belize hotel site.
 
Solution: Make sure your website has a clear navigation with calls to action that make sense to the customer. Read more about what you resort site must have here.  
 
Problem: Hotel booking issue - Credit cards weren't excepted, error messages appeared, couldn't tell if the room was available.
 
Solution: Similar to the technical issues bit, make sure that your reservation system is well tested and easy to understand. For best results, accept all major credit cards. Click here for more tips and tricks on how to land more Belize hotel reservations.
 

What Guests Want: Must Haves For Your Belize Resort Website

Sunday, October 20, 2013 by Lauren Showen

Your website isn't just important to your Belize web marketing, it is the single most important thing in your business besides your Belize resort itself. You have an average of seven seconds to capture the Belize Hotel Reservation Websiteattention of the guest before they decide whether or not to pursue your resort for their next vacation. There are a few simple rules to ensuring that you capture their attention in that small window.

Guests want a clear understanding of how your resort is different.

What is it that sets your Belize resort apart from competition? Is it your unique location? Your luxurious rooms? Your special staff and personal service? Whatever your key selling point is for your resort, make sure that it is front and center for your guests to see visually and read simply.

Make it easy to use.

Guests want to be able to access all of your Belize resort information quickly and in an intuitive way. Make your website easy to navigate, and make your reservation system even easier (read more about why it is crucial to have a great reservation system here). Having an attractive, easy to use website also means that they'll be more likely to book directly through you instead of going through a dreaded third party site meaning increased profits for your resort.

Make it secure.

Make sure that your site is secure. If guests feel uncomfortable giving you personal information, they're not going to give it to you. Makes sense, right? Proudly display your security credentials. And if you don't have a secure online system for hotel booking, to collect deposits and guest payments, get one now. American travel shoppers expect to do business with you online - whether you are ready for that reality or not.

Keep it up to date!

Keep your site up to date with all of the latest information about your resort. Having a blog that hasn't been updated in two years or an out of date promotion on your homepage makes your resort look like a ghost town. Keep your site current with all of the fun activities that are happening at your Belize resort.

What must have items belong on every Belize Website? Share your ideas below!

If you need help navigating the confusing array of internet marketing issues for Belize hoteliers, contact Guest Caye at dan@guestcaye.com for a personal consultation.

Why Your Booking Site is Crucial To Your Belize Marketing Plan

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 by Lauren Showen

Your greatest asset outside of your resort property is your online presence. After your customers find you online through your strong SEO presence and great website, they're ready to visit your hotel booking site. Direct booking with your resort earns you 15 - 35% more profit than if your guests book through a third party booking site such as Expedia or Travelocity. Click here to read more about the pit falls of online travel agents. Having an easy to find, streamlined booking system is a win-win: you can ensure that you're getting the most profit from the booking process, and your customers feel more connected to your resort.

American customers have expectations of what online reservation systems should and should not have. First, the process should be streamlined. No confusing navigating or pop ups. Next, your booking site must accept all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express). Finally, and perhaps most importantly, customers want to feel like their information is secure on your site. If your site is protected by a third party security program, wear their logo like a badge of honor. 

It is vital that your booking site be in completely bug free. When customers who failed to book were polled, it was found that 36% did not complete the booking process because of some sort of website issue, with 18% of those customers having issues with the booking process specifically. The investment of hiring a professional programming team to build your resort page and booking system will save you many a headache and many a lost customer.

Have any insider tips on building a better booking site? Great resort marketing advice? Share below!

6 Steps of Online Travel Shopping for Belize Resort Hotels

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 by Dan Heimbrock

Millions of American and Canadian travelers decide where they will go on vacation by using the Internet to search for hotel websites, read online travel reviews, browse articles about exciting tropical vacation destinations and study what their friends are saying about travel on social media sites like TripAdvisor, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and increasingly, YouTube.Belize Travel Planning Search Engines Social Media to Plan Vacation

Belize Resort Marketing can greatly benefit by recognizing how very important your website is in not only attracting visitors to look, but in the art of engaging online travel shoppers to engage so your hotel will make the "short list" of hotels that the traveler will select from to make their Belize Hotel Reservation.

Consumers go through a very specific multi-step process to decide where they want to go and where they will stay once they get to their vacation destination.

At a recent Online Marketing Seminar for Belize Hotel Association members and invited guests, Guest Caye CEO Dan Heimbrock, introduced the idea of an online travel shopper journey which is almost completely focused on how consumer behave as they dream, plan, and ultimately book their dream vacation.

Consider that Internet Marketing Belize websites have been around for 15+ years, and still many hotel websites fail miserably at engaging and converting travel shopper visits into true engagement, captured leads and direct bookings. Dan explained the 6 steps online travel consumers work through to decide what hotel or resort to place their vacation reservation.

Belize Travel Shoppers Take An Online Journey to Discover Belize Resorts  Shoppers first start DREAMING about where they want to take their vacation. They will talk to friends and family, look at travel magazines or destination websites or increasingly watch videos on YouTube about Belize Travel, Belize Vacations, or other Belize Trip topics.

Once the travel shoppers knows where they want to go, they spend time online searching Google, Yahoo, Bing or other search engines to find hotel websites that match their dream vacation wants and needs. These savvy consumers SEEK a great hotel experience for a great value in their eyes. According to the research done by Google Think Travel, the average shopper will visit 18 hotel websites along with some non-hotel sites related to their vacation destination.

The SEEK behavior is closely followed by SELECT phase, where the travel shoppers sort through their choices to arrive at a "short list" of hotels that get more serious consideration. Each traveler has their own criteria for making their choices, but we know that well-built, complete and easy to navigate websites give certain resort or hotels a real advantage in making the choice cut. TripAdvisor can make a big difference at this phase since shoppers trust other travelers much more than they trust hotel websites alone.

The all-important BOOK phase is one where many Belize Hotels and Resorts fail badly in helping the online travel shopper to feel comfortable making a direct reservation with the hotel. Not only do many hotels in Belize not offer online booking, but those that do mostly use outdated software solutions that make American online shoppers uneasy. In this case, uneasy may mean your hotel loses the sale because it failed to meet the online booking expectations of modern plugged in consumers.

The visitor EXPERIENCE is where so many Caribbean resorts and Belize hotels get very high marks. Nearly all resorts at every level in Belize offer visitors an absolutely fabulous experience - though some do a much better job than others. Delighting your guests from the moment they book your resort is all about communications, and email marketing is the preferred method for North American travel consumers. In fact, 77% say that email is their most preferred communication method to get information from hotels they have booked.

Once the trip is coming to an end, the ability for your guests to SHARE their experience with friends, family and their online digital network begins. Asking every happy guest to write a review on TripAdvisor is obvious, so remember to do it everytime. At Guest Caye, we help resort clients to send automatic Thank You Emails and Social Media Sharing Emails that make it super easy for guests to tell their story both online (via easy links) and offline to their closest friends.  Making online friends and gaining email permission from every single guest increases your chances of gaining referral bookings from happy guests.

Guest Caye Resort Marketing provides an all-in-one social marketing belize solution that includes a built-in booking engine, automatic email marketing Belize and Belize Hotel Reservation system to help you take advantage of the Consumer Online Travel Buying Journey. Call Dan Heimbrock at 513.328.5617 for more information and a free demonstration of the new software.

Trip Advisor Launches New Email Feature

Monday, May 6, 2013 by Lauren Showen

Trip Advisor is working hard to make their resort marketing site more user friendly for both the guest and the Belize resort owner. 

Recent updates to their system make it even easier for your guests to redeem special offers that you have posted on your TripAdvisor page. Now customers will be able to email you directly from the website; a feature never available before. 

For online travel shoppers, this means convenience. It means not having to search or call for any additional information. For you, the resort owner, this means another opportunity to engage and convert them to guests and the potential for additional email marketing (Click here to read more about successful email marketing).

Using this new TripAdvisor tool is easy:
1) Go into your "Management Center" of your Business Account.
2) Under the Business Listings status window, click the link next to Special Offer.
3) Select “Create a Special Offer” and fill in the details in Step 1.
4) In Step 2, select the email redemption option and provide an email address.
5) Set the dates for the offer then preview and post it.

An example of what your direct email option could look like.

It's that simple! You've now set up an email offer for your potential guests. Here are some additional suggestions from Trip Advisor to make the most out of email redemption and special offers:

-   Make booking easy: Provide your travelers with as many redemption options as possible, including email.

-   Provide a unique email address: To see how successful your offer is, use a dedicated address for each offer, then track the emails you receive to each one.

-   Respond promptly: Travelers consider an average of seven Belize hotels before booking. To rise above the competition, respond as quickly as possibly to the traveler’s email. Also, include the original inquiry with your response.

Got more ideas on how to use this new tool to land more Belize hotel reservations or tips on resort marketing? Leave a comment below to share your expertise!

 

 

Ambergris Caye in Belize Named Top Island Destination in the World!

Thursday, March 28, 2013 by Jennifer Hannah

Great News for all of our friends and clients in San Pedro Belize on Ambergris Caye!

TripAdvisor has just posted the winners of the Inaugural Traveler's Choice Islands Award, and Ambergris Caye in Belize was top on the list of the Top 10 Islands in the World!  The TripAdvisor Awards are based on the quality and quantity of the highly rated hotels, restaurants and attractions as determined by the traveler's Belize-Hotel-Marketing-Ambergris-Caye-Island-Destinationopinions and reviews.  What this says to the world is that the wonderful folks on Ambergris Caye take service and hospitality to a new level in delighting their guests.  But we already knew that, as I've experienced first hand the joys of visiting Ambergris!  Well done!

This honor will open the doors to thousands of new online travel shoppers taking a look at Ambergris Caye and its many Belize hotels and resorts. Be sure that your Belize resort marketing plan is in place to take full advantage of this honor. Consider working with Guest Caye Resort Marketing to ensure your Belize web site and hotel reservation system is ready to meet the expectation of American and Canadian online travel shoppers. Need help? Give us a call.

 

 

 

Seth Godin on Music Marketing; Travel Lessons Too

Thursday, March 15, 2012 by Dan Heimbrock

Seth Godin, author of many fantastic marketing books, recently spoke with our friend at CyberPR - Ariel Hyatt about the music industry and how artists can make money in the new model which is vastly different than the major label dominated past.

Lessons for travel marketers abound in this interview:

  1. Standing up for what you love and believe in (as a resort hotel owner) helps you deliver the amazing experiences that your guests crave.
  2. Bravery in marketing means standing for something special (something weird, as Seth says) and attracting people that love that special thing.
  3. Marketing today is complicated, but if you are genuine and can "touch" people that experience your property, they will tell "people like themselves."
  4. Creating a "tribe" of people that truly love what you do or what you have created is powerful. You can attract a list of people that will not only buy from you again, but actually SELL you to their friends and family, if you make it easy for them to do so.
  5. If you want to be great, you have to be willing to fail. You can't appeal to everybody, so appeal to 'your fans' -- the people that love you and talk about you.

There is a lot that independent resort hotel owners in Belize can learn from the new way that music is marketed online and through word of mouth from fans. Paying very close attention to your most enthusiastic guests and empowering them to tell your story when they get back home can earn you a lot of future business. So help people KNOW YOUR STORY and encourage them to share it with everyone. Look closely at your internet marketing program, your online reservation system and how you are using the free tools available on social media. Find ways of doing things better, or call Guest Caye Resort Marketing for help.

 

Caribbean Web Marketing Problem is an Opportunity for Small Hotels and Resorts

Saturday, October 15, 2011 by Dan Heimbrock
According to Forrester Research on Travel Trends, over 60% of travel shoppers use a general search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo when planning travel. Globally, organic search is the most influential marketing channel for online resort marketing followed by paid search, then good old email marketing, social media, meta search and lastly mobile marketing. So what’s a resort or small hotel owner to do?
Internet Marketing Belize can use top search engines to drive web traffic with SEO
The Internet was used by approximately 90 million American adults to plan travel during the past year with 76 percent of online travelers planning leisure trips online. Most online travel planners are somewhat or extremely satisfied with their experiences in using the Internet to plan their trips. Importantly, most see the Internet as a very useful or essential tool for planning most aspects of a trip including where to stay overnight, planning travel routes, potential places to visit, attractions to visit, as well as learning about what to do.

Is your hotel software reservation system set up to handle incoming search traffic to maximize booking conversions?

The primary tools online travel shoppers use for travel planning are online travel agency websites (like Expedia and Hotels.com), search engines, hotel websites and destination area websites. Airline tickets, overnight lodging accommodations and car rentals are the dominant travel products and services purchased online by travel planners. (Source: Travelers’ Use of the Internet, 2009)

Google recently reported that 64% of leisure travellers and 65% of business travellers use search engines to begin their travel planning, exemplifying just how key search marketing is. (tnooz - talking travel tech, September 2010)

To be found on the Internet, every independent belize hotel and small resort must define the precise keywords that identify it to the search engines, then make sure your website and inbound links use these keywords, sometimes called “metatags.” Search Engine Optimization has become a billion dollar business, but the core ideas for effective search engine marketing are simple and easy to implement. Don’t fall into the trap of paying thousands of dollars for SEO services that promise top search ranks and can rarely deliver the hype.

Instead, know who you are and what keywords people will use to find YOU.
To discover the right keywords for your business, you must begin by thinking like your guest and what they care about most. What words or phrases would they enter into a search engine to find “exactly your hotel?” How would you start a web search to find a similar property to yours located on a different continent?

Need help driving more guests to your website and converting them into newly registered guests? Contact Guest Caye for a free initial consultation at dan@guestcaye.com.

Reservation Systems for Belize Hotels Should Serve The Traveler First

Friday, October 7, 2011 by Dan Heimbrock
What does a tourist interested in coming to Belize expect to find online? Success or Failure depends on internet marketing Belize

To begin, online tourists expect to find informative websites with lots of great pictures, plenty of detailed information, rooms and rates, and most of all, the ability to make a reservation. Recent research revealed that over 66% of US leisure travellers now use the internet to plan some aspect of their travel (versus 35% in 2000), while 56% now report making reservations online, according to a study by Ypartnership entitled National Travel MONITOR.

Unfortunately, many online consumers are disappointed by what they find at hotel and resort websites which generally look good but many fall short in providing the modern travel shopper what she expects most: a secure online booking engine with real-time pricing and availability.

Hotel booking for website reservations starts witih the book now buttonGuest Caye experts surfed dozens of Belize hotel websites to better understand the various reservation systems and online sales approaches used by hotel owners to win business directly from travel shoppers. We found a wide variety ranging from "Send Us An Email" to "Book and Pay Widgets."  While hiding the names to protect the innocent, here are several examples of how hotel booking is handled on Belize hotel websites.

The Good
Resort owners that understand what online travel shoppers want have added online technology and email communications to their website. This allows motivated site visitors to book directly with their credit card, recieve an instant and detailed reservation confirmation, and enable the choice of extras and add-on services such as transportation and tours. There are several good systems being used in Belize, though some have weaknesses that may cause some consumers to think twice before completing their online booking.
Easy online booking widget is best for most Belize websites

While many Belize hotels have online reservation systems, there is a lot of room for improvement in the way that online booking is presented to consumers. For example, one Online reservation system email marketing confirmation messagesite had only one button on their site that takes a visitor to the reservation widget.  Why not place "Book Now" buttons on the rates page and near content about making a reservation.

Once your website visitor actually books a reservation, what happens next? Sending an auto-generated email that is not customized to your business is a mistake. Nearly every online booker will anticipate, open and read your booking confirmation email. Have you taken the time to write an email that reflects your resort's personality? What opportunities for upselling tours or other services are you missing with this all-important guest email?


The Bad

Far too many resort marketing programs fail at the most important stage of the purchase Long Form Reservation Request - People Hate These Formscycle: actual booking of the reservation. Thousands of dollars are spent trying to bring potential guests to a website, but then when the customer is most ready to buy, they find they must fill out a long form or place an international call to a reservation service.

In one case, we called the reservation number only to hear "We are sorry but the number you are trying to reach has been disconnected." Ouch! Even if the reservation service had answered and taken my booking, how much commission do they get for doing something most consumers would rather do directly with you. Don't give your profit margin away to third parties if you don't have to.

We saw many sites displaying large BOOK NOW buttons on their home pages. This is good, but what happens after you click is button is bad in most cases. Instead of seeing the rooms a visitor might book or a calendar to select dates, instead its a big ugly form to fill out. Yuck! These visitors must be thinking, "I wanted to book now like the button said and now I have to do work. I am out of here!" Guide your web visitors to a booking process that includes NO PAIN, NO HASSLE, NO WAITING and NO CONFUSING DEADENDS.

The Ugly
Some resorts seem to think that the World Wide Web is just a fad. They must have decided that the 114,000,000 Americans that go online to plan travel each year are not good prospects. These resort owners have failed to keep their website current which may cause visitors to click to see empty pages or worse, incorrect information. To be competitive, every resort website must have all of the basics covered with a good looking and complete presentation of the property, rooms and prices.

We hear from many hotel owners that it takes a personal touch by phone or email to convince travel shoppers to book at their resort. "People want to ask questions and negotiate for a better deal," one owner told us. That may be true for some guests. However, giving people the tools and information they need to put your resort on the short list should NOT involve needing to contact you by phone or through your contact form. Here is a clip from one unfortunate website....this literally drives online buyers away.

Phone reservations required is no way to serve Belize tourists wishing to book online
Resorts that take reservations by phone or email only are missing a huge segment of the travel market that prefers the convenience and flexibility of shopping online.

Guest Caye is an innovative online marketing and booking platform that enables small independent resorts, hotels and lodges to gain increased bookings and higher income per guest through web reservations, automated email marketing and superior guest communications.


Interactive Marketing Success is About Knowing What's Working and What is Not Working for Your Hotel or Resort

Sunday, October 2, 2011 by Dan Heimbrock
Interactive marketing technology has come a very long way in the last few years bringing it within reach for small businesses, including Belize hotels, resorts and other Caribbean destinations wanting to improve business results using the Internet.

This video presented by ExactTarget.com, the world's leading email marketing platform, features Guest Caye founder, Dan Heimbrock discussing how ExactTarget technology enables clients to grow sales, attract more new customers, and stay in contact with people to boost word of mouth referrals.




Key points to take away and apply to your resort marketing program.
  1. Smart businesses can craft a one-to-one relationship with their customers.
  2. It can be difficult for business owners to grasp what is working and not working in thier interactive marketing campaigns. You need to see and understand your data in real time.
  3. The best thing you can do to improve email and social media results is to know your winners and losers and adjust accordingly.
  4. Everything about online marketing can be improved, if you know what is working.
  5. Hotels and resorts can create game changing results by applying knowledge and online marketing tools based on ExactTarget technology.
Caribbean web marketing including social media, email marketing, hotel reservation systems and website booking engines are just a few of the important online marketing tools you need to be a successful Belize hotel or resort.

Guest Caye is an innovative online marketing and booking platform that enables small independent resorts, hotels and lodges to gain increased bookings and higher income per guest through web reservations, automated email marketing and superior guest communications.