I usually write about internet marketing but today I want to share my experience as a potential client doing a search. The search engines are better than they used to be but they are still far from perfect. Most of us can save time by learning how to search more efficiently.
I recently was informed by my travel agent that there were two conferences taking place in Barcelona and therefore no hotel rooms available for us. Good luck, he said. Since I was due to leave for the airport in 15 hours I started to see images of me and my wife sleeping on airport chairs.
The first thing I did was to do what most people do—do a search for Barcelona hotel rooms on the internet and click on the first few links. These links were portals which most certainly received fees from the hotels they signed up. This search got me nowhere as all the rooms in the area we wanted were booked. That is when I started to think.
One of my clients is a hotel owner, so I know about hotel internet marketing strategies. Smart hotel owners try to eliminate the middleman and market directly to their clients. Since I am looking for a place that other people missed, why not try looking on the second page of the search engine results for a small family hotel? I know that this type of hotel doesn’t have the budget or need to be on the first page. I refined my search, went directly to the second page, and saw a sponsored link that looked just like the kind of place we were looking for.
The website confirmed that this was for us and the location was better than I dreamed of. I quickly checked to see if any rooms were available and saw that the hotel was completely booked. Since I work on internet sites I knew that — especially with a family run hotel–they may not have time to update the site on a timely basis. I took a chance and called the hotel. Sure enough, they had one last vacancy and our vacation was saved.
- In some cases, it is best to start with the second page of search engine results
- Websites are not always updated in a timely manner. This is probably truer for small businesses that don’t have someone whose job it is to update the site. With today’s low phone costs there is no reason not to call site owners for more information