Ms. Dietrich

Social Media & Relationship Marketing

Use Blogging to Position Your Hotel as a Travel Resource

Stand Out From the Pack

By Gini Dietrich, Founder & CEO, Arment Dietrich Inc.

Why You Should Take the Blogging Plunge

When you consistently provide high-quality blog content that showcases local attractions, shopping, dining, and activities your ideal customer is likely to be coming to your city to pursue, you get to be part of their consideration set before they're even consciously making their hotel short list.

Demonstrating your insider view of what's cool and interesting in your city sets you apart from the competition, and changes the conversation with your potential guests. Your hotel rooms go from being a commodity to a sought-after component of experiencing the city through your unique lens.

Blog Content Elevates Your Social Media Channels

Far too many hotel social media channels have been relegated to customer service triage and the occasional self-promotional offer or sharing of recent media coverage or awards. While this may be the easiest content for your team to share, it's also the least effective. In fact, a recent survey from Buzzsumo and Fractl found that 45 percent of respondents said they will unfollow a brand on social media because of too much self-promotion.

When you are regularly blogging, you have an ever-replenishing well of content to share on social media. You can easily create a dozen pieces of social content that take a different perspective on or excerpt from any given blog post. You also gain the added benefit of being able to tag any mentioned businesses and harness the power of popular relevant hashtags.

How New Content Increases Your Website's Discoverability

If you haven't touched your website's content since it went live years ago, other than to update your rates, it's unlikely you'll turn up on the first page of Google results for your city without an expensive AdWords purchase.

Google chooses which pages to feature at the top of their list based on a proprietary algorithm we're not privy to. But one thing we do know is it values-and elevates-content from high domain authority websites that regularly publish content. Timely, local-focused blog content is much more likely to rise to the top of Google search results.

Similarly, it's important to have links to your content from high domain authority websites. If you are publishing interesting feature content, such as an interview with a hot local chef or a profile of a local designer, you will often end up with incoming links from popular websites such as Thrillist and Eater, who often build stories on top of other local content which they link to as their source.

Compelling Blog Content Turns Your Entire Staff Into the Concierge Team

How long will your typical guest wait in line at the concierge desk to obtain a recommendation? Probably as long as it takes them to use their phone to get an answer to their question. But what if they didn't have to wait for a specific employee to let them know what activities of interest were happening during their stay?

Your hotel blog can be highlighted in kiosks or screens throughout your property and can be used by your entire staff as a quick way to stay updated on tips to share with your guests. This both improves your guest's experience and can increase your staff's engagement on the job. It feels great to be able to quickly and efficiently meet a guest's need, instead of asking them to wait to have someone else handle their request.

Turn Guests Into Loyal Repeat Visitor with Subscription-Based Content

Most of the hotel loyalty emails I receive in my inbox go straight into my trash file. Why? They typically are focused on discounts on hotel stays for a random upcoming holiday weekend. That's not a compelling reason to open them.

Highlighting interesting and relevant blog content in your loyalty program emails is central to creating high-performance email drip campaigns that bring your guests back for subsequent visits. It also gives local residents-who are a frequently queried source of hotel recommendations-a reason to join your email list.

How Blogging Fits Into Your Marketing Plan

In 2014, we developed the PESO model as a way to highlight the evolution of the work PR practitioners do, and show the interconnection and dependence of the communications activity it takes for a successful digital communications program.

Although it was initially developed as a tool for public relations pros, in our current world of content-centered digital marketing, it's equally useful and applicable to creating a successful content marketing strategy, with a blog at its core.

The PESO model takes the four media types-paid, earned, shared and owned-and shows how they interact and support each other.

  • Paid Media in this case, is social media advertising, sponsored content, and email marketing.
  • Earned Media, also known as publicity or media relations is getting your name in print.
  • Shared Media is also known as social media.
  • Owned Media is otherwise known as content. It is something you own, and it lives on your website or blog. You control the messaging and tell the story in a way you want it told.

All four of these elements have to work together for an organization to not only create its message but to distribute it and earn third-party endorsement. Central to this model's success is the integration of earned media with your overall editorial content plan.

By using the PESO approach to creating an integrated content plan, you ensure you will not be creating your blog content in a vacuum. Instead, you'll be making sure you have a well-rounded approach to reinforcing your message-and meeting your business goals-across all the channels you touch. Getting Started: Plan Blog Content that Gets Read

The freedom of publishing your own blog is you can cover anything you want, whenever you want. But this freedom is also what causes many blogs not to live up to their potential. Ongoing readership and subscribers are a result of a well-planned blog that provides content on a consistent set of topics, delivered on a regular schedule, and in a consistent manner.

This means deciding how important photography is to your posts, how often you can commit to publishing new content, and the overarching content categories.

The best way to do this is to approach your content planning from a mind mapping perspective. You start with the main topic for your blog, such as, "Things to do and see in Chicago for foodie Millennials" with dozens of related subtopics branching off it.

Your main topic should be closely tied to the primary interests or reasons for staying at your hotel for your ideal customer. This may be discovered through understanding the keywords in searches that bring visitors to your website, or through guest surveying or request logging.

Regardless of how you identify your primary topic, it's important to make sure it's a unique and specific topic that lends itself to an ongoing series of content.

The Standard's blog is a great example of a hotel blog that provides a very consistent content stream that's on brand and appealing to its ideal guest. Unlike many of its competitors, The Standard focuses on striking photography and profiling the hippest local personalities and providing a behind-the-scenes look at iconic events such as New York's Fashion Week.

To create your own content map, start by drawing one large circle in the middle of the page. In this circle, write your main topic. Branching off of that main topic, draw six additional circles.

Using our example, "Things to do and see in Chicago for foodie Millennials", you might fill in those circles with shops, classes, food festivals, chefs, restaurants, and food trends. Then, branching off these circles, you'll add another set of circles where you get more specific. This is where you'd identify individual pieces of content on each topic. For chefs, this could be names of individual chefs.

Once your circles are filled, you can transfer your ideas into an editorial calendar, spreading out different pieces of content over time, making sure to reflect the timing of relevant local events or recurring holidays. By taking the time to plan out this content in advance, you are able to keep from scrambling for a topic at the last minute-or worse yet, not publishing anything.

Building a Blog That Gets Your Hotel Noticed

Putting together your list of topics and story ideas and even putting them into an editorial calendar is the easy part. The hard part is sticking to your publication schedule and actually getting the content published.

If you have marketing budget to spare, it can be helpful to work with a freelance writer to bring your ideas to life. They can interview your subject matter experts and turn their insights into original content for your blog. Having a professional writer for your blog ensures the content is professional and presents your brand in the best light.

Influencer Relationships Create Earned and Shared Media Opportunities

Creating your own content in-house is a good start, but when you are using content as part of an integrated PESO communications strategy, working with local influencers to co-create content is important.

With an estimated 59.3 million blog posts published on the web each month, partnering with a blogger who has an engaged audience is a good way to help your content be discovered and shared. But this sort of collaboration will only happen after you've built a solid relationship with the influencer over time.

The next time you host a special event at the hotel and are inviting media, additionally extend an invitation to a few key bloggers. Giving them access to information that gives them a good story for their blog goes a long way in building a good relationship.

Another way to build relationships, and identify new bloggers you may not be aware of, is to host a local blogging meetup at the hotel. Meetups are always looking for a location to host their events, and a promise of free refreshments is often a good draw for attendees. This gives you an easy, low-cost way to make a good first impression on people who may not be familiar with your property but who are likely to be frequently giving out recommendations for where to stay in your city.

If you have a significant domain authority or a budget to pay them, consider asking local bloggers to contribute to your blog under their byline. You gain the public seal of approval of having the blogger on your site, and the increased distribution of them sharing the content through their social networks.

Blogging is a significant investment of time and resources, but it is one of the best, measurable ways for you to raise your hotel's profile and become a fixture in features about your city.

Gini Dietrich is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Arment Dietrich, Inc. Arment Dietrich, Inc. is a Chicago-based, integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of the book, “Spin Sucks”, and co-author of the book, “Marketing in the Round”. She is also co-host of Inside PR, and founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Ms. Dietrich’s blog, Spin Sucks, is the number one PR blog in the world. Actively engaged in social media and blogging since 2006, Ms. Dietrich has advised many clients on how to incorporate digital media into a larger, and more integrated, marketing program. She can be found on Spin Sucks, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram. Ms. Dietrich can be contacted at 312-787-7249 or gini.dietrich@armentdietrich.com Extended Bio...

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