Advertising Bookings Websites

Evaluating internet advertising offers for your accommodation

Evaluate and compare advertising offers before signing up

If you’re an accommodation provider, you will no doubt be regularly swamped with offers from websites wanting you to advertise your business with them. You may receive these offers via letters in the post, email (some of those may even contravene the Australian Spam Act of 2003!), phone calls or even people visiting your business personally.

These days, having exposure for your accommodation on the internet is not a luxury, it’s a necessity if you want to attract a significant number of guests. But how do you choose where to advertise?

It’s important to evaluate the website that your accommodation will be advertised on to ensure you’ll get decent exposure and you are dealing with a reputable organisation.

  1. Ask how many visitors come to their website per month. Don’t be mislead by statistics related to the number of “hits”. A “hit” is triggered when a distinct item, be it a page of text or a single image, is downloaded off a website. If one page has a large number of embedded images, then someone viewing only that one page can trigger something like 50 hits instantly. A more meaningful measurement term is the number of “visitors” which provides a guide to the number of real people who browse the site. For example, during October 2011, there were over 162,000 visitors to the Travel Victoria website, which generated about 10.5 million hits – quite a difference in those numbers!
  2. Don’t just take their word for their claimed website visitation statistics. A very rough guide you can use to examine the performance of a website is to enter the website address at Alexa. Alexa records statistics of website visitors through those who use the company’s toolbar in their web browser. The lower a traffic rank, the more visitors it gets. Other statistics are available, including the average number of pages visitors view and how long they stay on the site. Note that the results are more accurate for high-volume sites as more data is collected. Also use it to compare different websites against each other to see which performs best.
  3. Ask the website operator to supply a list of search terms in Google that lead people to their site and thus to your advertisement. If you rent out a holiday house in Venus Bay, then you’d want their website to catch people who would be typically be searching for terms like “Venus Bay”, “Venus Bay accommodation”, “Venus Bay holiday”, “beach accommodation”, etc. If searching for terms like that in Google isn’t giving at least one entry for their site in the top 5 results returned, you’ll want to question them about how people will find your property’s advertisement. Keep in mind that search engines such as Google are the major way people find information on the internet unless you’re advertising with an organisation that is a recognised household name whereby people will go directly to their website instead of searching.
  4. Ask for a complete list of all advertising costs. The advertising rates may appear cheap, but then you may have to pay a set-up fee, a maintenance fee each time you want to make changes to your advertisement, or maybe there’s extra costs for add-ons like displaying extra photos or a link to your own website. Some websites may charge a commission on enquiries or bookings, which can potentially cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.
  5. Check the website owner’s credentials. View details relating to the website owner by doing a lookup on the website address using Whois. If the website is based in Australia, search for the website owner’s Australian Business Number (ABN) or if they are a company, the Australian Company Number (ACN) using the details you found in the “whois” search. Also search for their business details within the business register of the state or territory the website is based in.
  6. Verify there are no consumer warnings or significant negative information regarding the website in question on the internet. A good way of doing this is to use Google to search for the website address or name (put quotes around it) followed by the word “scam”, “warning” or “fraud”, and see what comes up. Click the links that come up and carefully read the content, as some websites (including us at Travel Victoria) publish actual reports of scams and fraud, which doesn’t mean they (or us!) are the actual source of them.
Email Telephones

Treat emails with the same importance as phone calls

Respect emails as you do to phone calls

Imagine telephoning someone, and after they pick up the phone, they utter not one word back to you. You may regard it as the height of rudeness, but in today’s society where emails have replaced many phone conversations, non-responses to your messages can be common.

Of course we’re not talking about email messages such as notifications, announcements or items of general interest – most of those don’t require a response back. But for those emails where you are expecting a direct and timely reply, you may feel like either the recipient is ignoring you or maybe you’ve said or done something to offend them, so they aren’t replying.

If you do receive an email that is time-critical, and you can’t deal with it today, why not spend just a few seconds to send a brief response back letting them know you’ll get onto within the next couple of days? At least then they’ll know you’ve read it and haven’t ignored or forgotten about it.

Email communication is promoted as saving time and cost, but how many times have you resorted to phoning someone up due to a lack of reply and asked them the tired old question “have you read my email?”. Or maybe you’ve sent them a second or third email reminder, with each successive non-reply from them making you even more frustrated?

Treat email messages with the same respect as phone calls. While of course you can’t be expected to drop everything the instant an email arrives and deal fully with it, people these days do expect timely responses. And if you can’t give them that, let them know, rather than ignoring them and leaving them in the dark.

Here at Travel Victoria, one of our hallmark characteristics over the years has been timely responses to emails. If someone has gone to the effort of writing us a message, we feel the sender deserves a timely response, excluding those sending us spam emails or unsolicited advertising offers of course.

Make your business email friendly and reply to those emails!

Web browsers Web design Web hosting Web technology Websites

Are you wrongly assuming all your website visitors use Internet Explorer?

Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer may not be No.1 for too much longer

You’ve got a great website – either created by yourself or by someone else – but can everyone actually see it as they should and use it properly?

Some PC or Windows users may be forgiven for thinking that the only way to visit websites is using Internet Explorer. However, there are in fact more than 50 different web browsers that people could use. While it is impractical to test the operation of your website fully in each one, you should consider how widely used certain web browsers are to ensure compatibility with your site for the vast majority of users.

Over the last year, Internet Explorer has lost almost 10% of the overall market share of desktop web browsers, seeing its penetration drop to 52.6%. Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome browsers now command a combined total of 40.1% of the desktop market share. See Net Market Share for current web browser rankings.

Based on the fact that nearly half of those who visit your website won’t be using Internet Explorer, it is important not to ignore Firefox and Chrome. Test your website in those browsers, both of which are available for use at no cost. Compare font styles and sizes, page layout, interactive menus and the general appearance of your website. If you’ve designed your website to certain standards, there should ideally be no difference between them.

It’s not just web browser software that’s the issue. Almost one in 10 desktop computers accessing the web is not a Windows PC, but a computer running an alternative operating system such as MacOS or Linux. So if your website has features that require a Windows PC to make use of it (such as special plugins only available for Windows), you may be excluding 10% of your visitors.

You’ve gone to a lot of effort to create a great website and get people to visit it. Don’t alienate them by making your website incompatible with browsers other than Internet Explorer.