See how the Eliot Hotel got $270,541 in 6 months
“No pain, no gain.”
Not so fast. That slogan may work in athletics, but it’s not always valid elsewhere.
Like in online advertising.
In that area, we at Booking Boost beg to differ. And we can prove it. Just look at our work with the Eliot Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. The hotel had absolutely no risk in working with us. No potential pain, in other words. Yet they had plenty to gain.
To understand the gain without the pain, here’s the inside story of Booking Boost and the Eliot Hotel.
It was so obvious.
So obvious we didn’t do it.
Not at first.
Somehow, in the early days of Booking Boost, we never considered hotels in our hometown of Boston. We’d had success helping another property thousands of miles away. So in the spirit of that success, we looked out of state. Never thinking that we could also help hotels in our own backyard.
Eventually, though, we woke up. Turns out Boston had hotels. (Who would have thought?) And not just a few hotels either. Try several hundred.
Seeing all these hotels, we suspected that many of them were probably doing ineffective online advertising.
By “ineffective”, we’re referring to the practice of using online travel agents (OTAs). OTAs, or booking engines, advertise on a hotel’s behalf and allow prospective guests to make a booking.
At least that’s how it’s supposed to work in theory. The reality is far different. In actuality, hotels that use OTAs often get far fewer bookings than they should.
The shortage comes, in part, from the fact that OTAs use generic ads to promote each hotel. These ads make no mention of a hotel’s own unique features or promotions. In addition, once someone clicks on an OTA’s ad, they are taken to a page with other hotels. Meaning that the hotel from the ad is now competing against other hotels. And as the competition intensifies, it’s only a matter of time before the person who clicked on the ad begins to compare prices not hotels…
But we digress.
Our point was that we suspected many hotels in Boston were doing ineffective online advertising using OTAs. Reaching out to several hotels, we came at last to work with the Eliot.
Here’s where the whole “pain-gain” slogan enters the picture.
As we approached the Eliot Hotel, we offered them a unique arrangement. We’d cover all the expenses of running ads. This meant that the Eliot’s owners would pay nothing up front in order to try non-OTA online advertising.
If the online ads that we ran somehow didn’t perform, the hotel was no worse off. The Eliot’s owners wouldn’t have invested any money in the project. Only Booking Boost would take a loss.
If, however, the ads did perform; then everyone would benefit.
The Eliot Hotel would benefit immensely by getting direct bookings. With direct bookings, the hotel would no longer have to pay exorbitant fees to an OTA. Plus, by pointing ads directly to their own website; the Eliot would no longer be at risk of losing bookings. People who clicked on their ad wouldn’t be taken to a page that also showed other hotels. No, the Eliot would be the only hotel that people saw after clicking the hotel’s own ads. (As it should be!)
In exchange for helping the Eliot Hotel, Booking Boost would be rewarded. Our specific reward was a fair percentage from each booking. This percentage was fair, in the sense of being less than the exorbitant fees OTAs charge. So while our services did require compensation, the hotel was still saving money.
Recognizing that our plan was truly “no pain, all gain”, the owners of the Eliot Hotel agreed to try it. Riding the “T” (Boston’s subway) back from the meeting, we were all smiles. This seemed, like they say in the movie Casablanca, to be the start of a beautiful friendship.
As we got to work, our first step was to create a list of the hotel’s most popular features. We wanted things that would convince someone to pick the Eliot Hotel without hesitation over its competitors.
Once we’d identified the best features, we built online ads around them. This meant logging into Google AdWords and writing ads that succinctly summarized the features. It also entailed doing a deep dive into the best keywords for the Eliot Hotel’s ads.
For those who aren’t familiar with AdWords, keywords matter because they are what determines whether an AdWords ad even shows up. Choose the wrong keywords and your ad won’t appear in searches by the people most likely to make a booking. We only wanted the Eliot’s ads to show up to relevant people, so we made sure to be thorough in our keyword research.
Thorough, but not slow.
In no time, we were ready to launch our AdWords ad campaigns. Prior to the launch, we checked with the Eliot House to make sure that they had no objections to the copy in the ads. The hotel’s owners were fine with the copy we’d created. They did want to know, though, how we’d know when someone “converted” (i.e. made a booking) as a result of seeing our ads.
In response, we explained that AdWords allows you to track both clicks and conversions. Clicks are tracked whenever someone clicks on the ad itself. Conversions can then be tracked using back-end internal tracking codes from AdWords. In addition, the hotel’s owners would also have their own booking numbers to report – supplied from their website. So when we saw that AdWords reported a booking at a given time, we could check this booking against what was recorded by the hotel’s own site. This ability to cross-check booking data made it easy to verify that our AdWords data was indeed correct.
Confident in the campaign, the Eliot Hotel gave us the green light to proceed. We launched the campaign and waited to see what the results would be.
Writing this now, from the space of six months, we’re pleased to say that the results have been nothing short of spectacular. Over the span of these six months, our ads have generated a total of 355 new bookings for the Eliot Hotel. These bookings caused the hotel to earn approximately $270,541. All while the hotel’s owners did little additional work. In fact it probably wouldn’t even be right to call it “work”. The owners just sent us information as we needed it, and then met occasionally to review monthly progress reports. Not exactly a huge time commitment.
For plenty of gain.
And absolutely no pain.