Mr. Aurand

Website / Online Mechandising / SEO

The Top 10 Places to Advertise Your Virtual Tour

By Douglas Aurand, President, Douglas Aurand & Associates

I was having lunch by myself in Santa Fe, NM. When I eat alone I like to have something to read, so I was thumbing through the Official Santa Fe Visitors Guide.

The expensive full, half and quarter page hotel ads all had a website listed. Just listed. No reason to visit the site, just the address for the homepage. The websites in the ads were all the same.

I knew that at least 3 of the hotels had Virtual Tours because I produced 2 of them. Those 3 hotels listed the website just like telephone numbers or street addresses. They were there, but there was no incentive or encouragement to use it. The hotels weren't telling potential vacationers they could take a tour of the property if they visited the website.

Simply changing the text from "www.OurHotelWebsite.com" to "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com" would make those 3 hotel ads stand out from the 50 other hotel ads in the Visitors Guide. "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com" would give the potential Guests one more reason to visit those 3 hotel websites that none of the other luxury hotels in Santa Fe were giving; the potential Guests could see the hotel in 360^0 images.

And it doesn't cost a penny more than the ad did in the first place!

Hotel managers and sales directors seem to forget that while they see their beautiful hotel or resort everyday, the rest of the world doesn't. The idea eludes them that before vacationers make reservations at an expensive resort, they want to see the property. And there's a "disconnect" between the website and their other advertising and marketing tools.

Its always puzzled me why hotels keep their Virtual Tour a "secret." Some don't put a link to the tour on their website main navigation menu and don't guide callers to the tour over the phone.

Using other advertising and marketing media to drive traffic to your website (hotel or franchise) just makes sense. A potential guest can't make a room reservation from newspaper or magazine ads, radio or television commercials or a brochure or banquet menu. They can from your website! With a Virtual Tour mentioned in the ads there's one more reason to visit the website. Even if you don't have a website specifically for your hotel, a Virtual Tour on your franchise site can be used as an lure too.

By giving potential Guests a reason to visit your website or franchise site before they visit the Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), like Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz, you may do better than the 80% net rates you get from them. It just makes "bottom line" sense to lure them to your website.

More places to use "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com"

Four-color 3 fold brochures

Hotels spend thousands of dollars on these most basic of hotel advertising tools with little return on the investment. Using them to drive potential Guests to the hotel or franchise website where they can make a reservation, see a layout of the meeting rooms or download a dinner menu, makes them pay for themselves

Business cards

They get handed out and mailed to everyone. Why not turn them into an invitation to an Online Property Tour by replacing "www.OurHotelWebsite.com" to "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com"

Print ads in newspapers

Using a "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com" tagline in Thanksgiving, Easter and Mothers Day buffet ads lets your restaurant customers see where they're taking the family to that special holiday dinner

Radio ads

If you're advertising a holiday dinner buffet, wedding receptions, getaway weekends, week-long vacations, etc., make the last line of the commercial "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com." This moves the potential Guest from an "audio only media" to the "visual media" of the Internet where they can see your newly renovated hotel.

Television ads

Not the most used media in hospitality advertising, but in the month before the grand re-opening, the Inn of the Mountain Gods was all over New Mexico television. As each commercial ended I kept thinking how powerful "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com" would be after talking about all the new features at the rebuilt hotel

Billboards

In-town billboards are seen by more than direction-seeking Guests. Promoting your fine dining restaurant, ballroom, spa, etc., and including "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com" will encourage the locals on their morning drive to take a look at your hotel online sometime

News Releases

Announcing your recent renovation has real impact when the press release tells the reader where on the Web they can go to see how the thousands or millions of dollars were spent by saying "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com"

Banquet Menus

Adding a Virtual Tour icon where the camera was in the meeting and banquet room layouts and the line "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com" at the bottom of the page will let the bride-to-be know she can come back and visit the ballroom she want hold her reception anytime she wants to. Something she probably can't do with the other hotel she's considering

Signature line in e-mails

Why not add "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com" to the auto-signature of everyone's e-mail from the hotel? It gives the recipient much more reason to visit your website than just the plain website URL.

Online hotel indexes

In the numerous Online Hotel Indexes you may not be able to use the tagline where websites are listed for technical reasons, but if there is a place for a short description, use "Take a Virtual Tour at www.OurHotelWebsite.com" or something that tells the reader there's a Virtual Tour to be seen

A Virtual Tour Flyer

One concept is to make up a special flyer with a layout of the hotel marked with Virtual Tour icons showing what locations have a 360^0 Image. Half letter-size of 8.5x11 works great. Then use it in banquet menus, confirmations, correspondence, etc.

In the full page ad from the Official Santa Fe Visitors Guide, I suggested Heritage Hotels and Resorts change the website URL to the tagline use "Take a Virtual Tour of each of our hotels at www.HHandR.com"

Douglas Aurand has owned his multimedia business for 10 years. He produces virtual tours in real estate and hospitality. Mr. Aurand has imaged thousands of homes for sale and created many real estate virtual tours, posting them to Realtor.com and ColdwellBanker.com, among others. His website, VirtualAlbuquerque.com is a multimedia tour and a demonstration of how to use Virtual Tours as a showcase for his virtual golf course and ski tours. Mr. Aurand has produced media for Sheraton, Hilton, Marriott, Radisson, Wyndham, Residence Inn and several independent hotels and various B&Bs. Mr. Aurand can be contacted at (505) 857-2265 or DAurandAssoc@aol.com Extended Bio...

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