Search Engine Marketing:
Utilizing Community Events to Enhance Your Online Marketing

A web site is a constant work in progress. To get the most out of it you must be willing to put more into it. A web site just stuck up there on the Internet and never updated will soon begin to look stagnant and untimely. This may not exactly be the impression you want to give to new visitors.

For the small to medium hotel or lodging operation staying current is a very important aspect of your online marketing. I’ve seen some hotel sites which offer seasonal specials well past the due date: such as: “10% off all rooms in September 2004”.

Small to medium lodging operators who haven’t bothered to update their web pages, are practically inviting potential customers to stay elsewhere. What kind of impression does it make when someone finds your site outdated? First of all it makes you and your property look lazy. This psychological factor in a consumer’s eye leads to all kinds of unanswered questions within their own minds. i.e. If the web site is out of date, what else is wrong with the place?

For the savvy property owner, keeping a web site current is well worth the effort and helps your site continue to attract new leads.

Here are a few marketing ideas on where to find new content to add to your pages. Most communities have a variety of cultural and arts events throughout the year to attract tourists to the region. Do you have them listed on your web site? Why not? People will be planning their vacations and trips around these events. By mentioning them on your site you become part of the event, give visitors an option to stay with you, and most important from a marketing perspective, the titles of the events can truly enhance your web site’s ability to be found in the search engines.

Let us assume your town hosts a large baseball tournament every summer. Over 400 teams attend each year. A few lines about the history of this tournament and a few paragraphs of text mentioning how close you are to the main event is great marketing fodder. Once the search engines pick up the new page, anyone planning on attending the tournament and seeking information about it on the Internet may just find a link to your property within those listings.

Don’t stop there. Ask your local arts or recreation committee for a schedule of the years events. Your local tourism bureau or economic development center will also have this information. You can even pick and choose which events to associate your business with, it’s entirely your decision. Baseball players may not be the clientele you are looking for, then maybe the local chili cook-off or the classical music festival may be more to your liking. The point is, there are plenty of events to choose from, but the people attending those events will not put you and your property together with the event unless you suggest it to them and can provide some additional information.

The larger hotel and motel chains have utilized this technique for years. They know well in advance who is coming to the convention centers and aggressively go after that market. You may not have the same amount of rooms as a mega-property, but guess what? The reality is, not everyone can afford to stay in a four star hotel.

There is another advantage to marketing yourself as a local event destination. The people in your own community who organize these events are your neighbors. Tell them you are helping to promote the event. They may give you some free advertising or a thank you in the event program. This is great free publicity and you are doing a good service for your community.

As an Internet marketing consultant I am rarely bothered more when planning a trip (yes we have lives too), than finding an out of date web site with no information about the community I am planning to visit, nor any information about the event I am planning to attend.

Being current is good. Planning for future events is even better. It allows the search engines time to absorb the content and dates on your pages and generally allows you and your site more time to prepare for the event. Should you feel unable to update your web site on a continual basis, put in a call to your local high school. There are plenty of teenagers out there willing to help you out for a few dollars.

Most accommodation property owners I know already reap the benefits of having these events in their community. They simply sit back and let someone else do all the work and wait for their rooms to be booked. This approach is extremely nearsighted. As soon as the event is over, it’s a pretty sure bet their vacancy rates will be on the rise. I have however also known property owners who proactively market events throughout the shoulder and slower seasons. Their properties are near capacity year round.

Relying upon some one else to fill your rooms makes no logical sense, especially when we have the greatest marketing tool ever invented right in front of our noses: the Internet. It’s your business. Get active with your web site. This simple yet effective online marketing technique for your accommodation property is yours for the taking. It’s up to you to put it into action and reap the rewards. So… What’s happening in your neck of the woods next week?