When you think of a blog, what comes to mind?
Maybe it’s a fashion or food blog, written by a non-professional enthusiast who’s just pouring his/her passion into words in a small corner of the internet. Sound familiar? If so, it’s time to forget everything you previously thought about blogging. Some blogs have gone on to become wildly successful capturing millions in revenues. Just look at The Points Guy (travel and rewards), the Blonde Salad (fashion blog by Chiara Ferragni), or Mashable (topical content creator).
At a time when powerful OTAs are dominating the internet and taking hefty market shares from your direct booking revenues, driving direct traffic to your website has never been more important. One powerful, sometimes undervalued way to do this is with your hotel’s blog.
In this article, I’ll go over 7 reasons your hotel needs a blog, reference 8 great hotel blogs that I suggest taking inspiration from, and offer 5 tips for starting your own hotel blog.
5 Reasons your hotel needs a blog
In short, your blog represents fresh, new content on your website that is continuously changing – not just for the enjoyment of search engine robots but for humans, too. This fresh new content means a bunch of benefits, like improving your SEO, supporting a social media strategy, building brand awareness, establishing links between keywords and destinations, and targeting a specific audience with property-specific offers and promotions.
1. Improves your organic SEO
It’s no surprise to anyone that a blog improves your organic SEO, search engine optimization. But how? Search engine algorithms are incredibly sophisticated and there are so many factors that contribute to SEO, so I in no way suggest that starting a blog will thrust your hotel to the top of Google results simply because you’re producing quality content. But the bots that scan your website and your blog like to see freshly published content coming from your website and will privilege this content because it’s new. What constitutes quality content?
- the content must be original (no plagiarized or copied content)
- the content must be long enough that it can be sufficiently indexed (generally at least 300 words though a good rule of thumb is between 600 – 800 words)
- Your post should include at least 1 image (with alt field) and 1 link with relevant anchor text
2. Goldmine for social media strategy
The foundation of any comprehensive social media strategy is quality content. So naturally your blog should serve as a goldmine for this kind of content. After writing a post, share it on all social media channels as a way to promote it and drive traffic to your website.
Additionally, your blog posts should have optimized rich snippets for sharing. That means the meta data for your post includes a high quality, enticing photo, adequate title and description of appropriate length. Not sure how to do this? Let us know and we’ll help!
3. Builds brand awareness and engages your community
Your blog, while still curated, is a bit like peaking behind the curtain. Like your social media, your blog is a way to engage with your community and show your brand’s personality, which is the key to survival for all brands in this day and age. So letting down your hair a bit, or so to speak, and letting your guests get to know you better is a brilliant approach for the blog. I love following the antics of the Ace Hotel and gagged over their BTS (behind the scenes) from their Christmas Gifts shoot. So perfectly on-brand and irreverent.
4. Establishes keyword and destination
A part of the definition of quality content from the organic SEO benefits is optimized content. As in, well written text designed to be indexed appropriately for search engines and eye-catching photography or graphics. This is what makes talented online copywriters such an invaluable asset. A quality copywriter is trained at writing quality content based on optimizing (not over-using) keywords and “wordsmithing” articles to provide relevant information for search engines to index. Linking keywords with a destination effectively is a profession and should be invested in accordingly.
5. Targeted audience for offers and promotions
Your devoted blog readers are a special kind of audience. They are likely made up of past guests and future guests, so they’re the perfect audience to announce special offers and promotions. For the Rome Accommodation blog we dedicate posts for the Costaguti Experience, creating a space within Rome Accommodation for news, offers, and promotions related to the Costaguti Experience (a luxury accommodation managed by Rome Accommodation). The built trust and loyalty of Rome Accommodation guests can carry weight in promoting and launching a new product.
6. Responses to FAQs to your guests
Chances are your reservationists are responding to the same handful of questions everyday. Questions about what there is to do or see in the area, recommended restaurants, or getting around outside your property are perfect topics for dedicated blog posts. Not only is this information useful to someone considering staying at your property, it’s also an easy link to share with confirmed guests asking your reservationists.
7. Entice readers to explore less visited areas of your website
If your website has a lot of content, don’t expect your guests to scour the website to its very depths. The average guest isn’t particularly scrupulous in searching for information, inspiration, or ideas, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth having on your website. Posts about some useful or unique areas of your website (e.g. destination guides, spa treatment menu, excursions, bespoke experiences), that aren’t the most commonly visited pages is a great way to highlight them, link back to them, and drive specific interested traffic to them.
Who’s got a great hotel blog
Here are a few of our favorite hotel blogs. These blogs offer past and potential hotel guests more information about the hotel and the destination, spot-on brand personality, offers and promotions, and engage with their respective communities in a way that’s less manicured and more compelling.
Tips for your hotel blog:
The most important thing to understand when launching a hotel blog is that the return will come with time. Lots of time. Even if it takes just a day or two for your posts to be indexed by a search engine, the trust, reliability and relevance of your blog by the search engines will take time.
Below are 5 more tips for writing a hotel blog:
Don’t like the word “Blog”? Change it!
I’m not a huge fan of the word blog myself, but it has become a universally understood term which shouldn’t be ignored. Some brands have changed the name to fit their concept or define better what sort of content they’ll be creating for their blog. What’s On by the Hotel Hassler aligns with the timeless elegance of their brand and relates to specific news and updates regarding the hotel that will be shared there. Meanwhile The Angle by W Hotels is a clever, on-brand zine-like blog that relates more to a gossip magazine than traditional blog. Both The Notebook by Rocco Forte Hotels and Ideas by Belmond Hotels provide an air of the vintage, classy traveler who’s taken by whims and find him/herself in some of the world’s most beautiful places. Whether it’s inspiration or exposition, you can imagine the posts they share will be top-notch and dreamy.
Link your blog with your website
There are different ways to link your blog with your website, but the most important factor to keep in mind is that your blog shouldn’t act as the final destination of your visitor – your website is. Whether you build your blog into your website (like the Hotel Hassler and Citizen M) or you design a standalone blog (like W Hotels), your guests should be able to find themselves on your website in just 1 click.
If you’re new to the “blogosphere”, consider using a user-friendly, open-source platform like WordPress. Even if your website is not WordPress, you can still associate your blog with it using a subdomain (ex. blog.yourdomain.com or yourdomain.com/blog) for effective URL structure.
Blogging effectively means blogging consistently. Your audience and search engines expect to find new articles in a more or less punctual fashion. Keep in mind, posting consistently doesn’t necessarily mean posting frequently. Even posting once a month is effective, as long as this schedule is maintained and the quality of the content is good. Posting once a week or every 2 weeks is more ideal, but there is no single solution for everyone.
User Generated Content is king!
As hotels, you have dozens or hundreds of possible guest authors walking through your doors every day. Some of the best and original content can come from your guests, who can share their experiences on your blog. Reach out to some of your most loyal guests if they would like to be featured, why they choose to stay with you or what they love most about your destination. Your guests are not the only potential authors your staff too can contribute. Veteran staff members who have stayed with the hotel for years are a wealth of knowledge and can share stories of how the property has changed.
Changing the viewpoint of the articles keeps the content dynamic and unique.
Optimize your blog for bookings and conversions
Don’t forget to include CTAs (call to actions) in every blog post. Remember that your blog isn’t really the the ideal final destination for online users. Enticing CTAs increase the possibility for conversions by directing the user to the next step. Examples of effective CTAs include buttons for visiting a relevant link, contact forms for availability requests or more information, or newsletter signups (even if it can be found in the footer, including the signup directly in the content is better).