We received an interesting phone call a few weeks ago from a motel in Lakes Entrance, in Victoria’s beautiful Gippsland Lakes area.
This motel had been advertising on our website for the last 5 years. In fact, when their annual renewal was due last year, they paid their subscription and sent us an email thanking us, including this comment:
“Travel Victoria is excellent value”
It’s always nice to receive positive feedback from clients, particularly when they feel the return on their small investment with us is good. After all, how many times do you hear people instead complaining that fees are too high!
Anyway, the caller from that motel announced that he had recently taken over ownership of the property. He said that he was unhappy with how the former owners were paying for all this advertising with multiple websites on the internet, and that he was going to change all that. While he said our $70 annual fee was not large, he said all these small internet advertising expenses do add up. Therefore we were told that our services, along with a number of others, were no longer required.
Today we did a search for that motel on Google, and found that the new owner had pulled it off virtually every single website that the motel used to have paid advertising on. Some of the search results Google currently shows are to websites the motel has been removed from, but those those pages are now non-existent, so Google will eventually stop showing those listings. So all that is really left is the motel’s own dedicated website, a range of free listings on low quality directory websites, and of course it can be found on TripAdvisor.
If potential guests wanted to do further investigation on the internet about that motel, they could be easily forgiven for thinking it had closed down. The last review on TripAdvisor was 6 months ago, and so the only thing of any significance left for that motel on the internet is its own website, which people may assume hasn’t been updated for a long time.
One possible theory we have is that the new owner is someone that has little faith in the usefulness of the internet. Perhaps one of those old school of motel owners who always placed advertising within magazines or in brochures that you see at a local visitor information centre, and still believes that’s the only useful way to promote accommodation. The world has changed, and these days people of all ages, from all over the world, use the internet as their preferred method of planning travel and browsing accommodation to stay in. Sure, there is a place for advertising in print media, but accommodation owners are living in the past if they think the internet can simply be ignored as a fad or purely an entertainment medium.
Another theory we have is that the new owner may have knowledge and appreciation of the internet, but not about internet marketing. So they may simply assume is all they need for their motel is a website to cater for those people using the internet. The problem with this way of thinking is that unless someone does a specific search for this motel by its exact name, its website will not be found. People will tend to do more general Google searches, like Lakes Entrance accommodation or motels in Lakes Entrance, and thus it is extremely unlikely the motel’s small website is going to feature anywhere near the top of the search results returned. In fact, the Google results for those search terms will be dominated by some of websites which this motel has specifically withdrawn from advertising on!
Another point to consider is that more and more accommodation providers are offering potential guests the convenience of instant, real-time online booking facilities, either via their own website or through a third party agent. A motel owner, such as our former client from Lakes Entrance, who is actively reducing their internet presence, is bucking the trend of consumer demand for online information and booking facilities.
When it comes to promoting an accommodation business, the internet should be embraced, not dismissed. We live in a changing world, and businesses need to keep up with the times.