Blizzard University Vlog

When it comes to digital marketing and the vacation rental industries they are one and the same in regard to endless change! Right now both industries are constantly adapting to an ever-changing marketplace and it can be hard to keep up, that’s where Blizzard comes in.

Here on the new Blizzard University Vlog you’ll find useful video clips, how-to content and articles to bridge the gap and distill the most important information down to you and your business.

Email Newsletter Tips

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Email Newsletter Tips

Email newsletters have become a fantastic marketing tool. For innkeepers, email newsletters are a relatively simple and inexpensive way to announce Inn news, events, specials, and last minute specials. Ultimately, the goal of a good newsletter is to book rooms!  Whether you are currently sending out email newsletters, or are considering starting an e-mail newsletter campaign, it is important to map out a plan to get the best results from each newsletter. The best results are generated from newsletters that combine several elements: catchy titles, concise content, hyperlinks to your website, and good timing.

A Catchy Subject Title
It is important that your email newsletter is opened - not deleted! To entice subscribers to open your newsletter, create a catchy title for the subject line. Include the name of your inn and a specific event or special. Remember, subscribers are more likely to open an email if they think they will get a deal. Here are some good subject titles used by Blizzard customers. 

New Events Calendar Feature

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New Events Calendar Feature

Innkeepers who use event calendars on their website appreciate the many benefits that they produce, but they are also required to deal with the technical hurdles associated with them.

Event calendars have many benefits to innkeepers and website visitors alike. Innkeepers are able to add events for the inn and the local area, as well as specials, menu information and other noteworthy items. Adding events and specials can entice visitors to stay longer or book events that they previously did not know about. 

Potential guests will visit a website more often if the content changes frequently. A website with “fresh” content will keep visitors coming back. An event calendar will add value to your website design, because your website will become more like a “portal”. Portal websites are packed with local area information that visitors appreciate.

Employee Spotlight - Anna Kramp

Employee Spotlight - Anna Kramp -Promotion Account Manager

I spent the first 21 years of my life in Tontogany, Ohio, a little town south of Toledo. My parents and three younger sisters still live in that area (fortunately, I get to see them about twice a year.) I attended Bowling Green State University for the first three years of college before transferring to Mesa State College in Colorado, where I graduated last spring with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration.

    Since moving to Colorado in 2001, I have taken up whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, and hunting. I was recently the proud winner of a shotgun at the Annual Wild Turkey Federation dinner and raffle. I also enjoy spending time with my fiance, Travis, and our yellow labs, Drake and Elle.

Yahoo Drops Google

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Yahoo Drops Google

In a much anticipated move, on February 18, 2004, Yahoo unveiled a brand new search algorithm, dropping the formerly Google-powered results that had dominated the search engine for the last year. Yahoo is now using its own index and ranking system. 

This is a move that the industry has been expecting ever since Yahoo went on its buying spree last year.  At that time, Yahoo acquired Inktomi and Overture, who had recently purchased All the Web and Alta Vista. The biggest surprise of the move is that Yahoo did not merely replace Google results with results from Inktomi, as was expected.  Instead Yahoo used the technology acquired through last year's various acquisitions to create a completely new proprietary search mechanism.

TripAdvisor.com

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TripAdvisor.com

This month, we are featuring www.tripadvisor.com. Tripadvisor has turned into an important resource due to its excellent search engine rankings in Google.

Tripadvisor is a website that lists lodging properties and ranks them based upon reviews they receive. The more favorable reviews a property receives, the higher it ranks. Their pitch to consumers: "Find a great hotel based on web-wide popularity and coverage. Listen to the democracy of the web!"

Example: If you search for "Mendocino hotel" in Google, this page comes up # 2. When you click into that page you see that it lists 20 individual properties on the first page, ranked by the number of reviews. If you investigate, you see that Stanford Inn by the Sea comes up at the top of the list because TripAdvisor is aware of 2 guidebooks, 6 articles, 2 user reviews and 2 web comments about this property.

Google Search Results - Update

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Google Search Results - Update

The Google changes that began with the "Florida algorithm" back in November have still been spreading through the Google index affecting more search terms. We have also seen some instances where clients have been moving back up in the listings, but it is still too early to tell how "permanent" these restorations might be. We are still keeping a close eye on things, but for now, the advice stays the same.  Work to increase your link popularity by submitting to local, regional and lodging directories.

Other news from Google is more of a financial footnote. Google was expected to introduce an IPO sometime this spring and become a publicly traded company. They announced in January, however, that the IPO was postponed indefinitely. The official word from Google for the postponement of the IPO was that the current market wasn't suitable for the offering. Reading between the lines, it seems Google felt they weren't going to see the full value of the offering if they did it now, so they are waiting, possibly for the fall of this year.

Ken's Corner

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Question:
I want to add a calendar of events to my website. What are my options (and costs)?

Answer:
  There are a number of ways to add calendar of event information to your website. Costs vary widely in initial setup and maintenance depending upon options selected. It is important to weigh the value of the data against the expense to create and maintain it.

Here are a few of the options I would suggest:

You can link directly to your Chamber of Commerce website (where available). Most communities have a Chamber of Commerce website with an extensive amount of events for the area. A quick way to provide this data to your clients is to simply link to the Chamber
Calendar of Events page. Your prospective clients will appreciate your willingness to work with the chamber and you will not incur the cost of maintaining the data.

Monthly Q & A

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Monthly Q&A

Question: I hear from people that they have sent me an email, but I have never received it. I checked my AOL spam filter, but the message was not there either. What is happening?

Answer: AOL (like other providers) is blocking a lot of email, either because of technical difficulties or because it perceives them as SPAM.

Question: On Fox News I saw a report about the  'MyDoom' virus, should I be concerned about this?

Answer: During January and February, The MyDoom virus quickly spread through the internet at an alarming pace. Effective virus and SPAM filtering reduced the impact for those that use it - our virus and SPAM filtering service stopped on average nearly 400 messages per user in the first 2 weeks of the infection!

What's New with Lodging Directories and Search Engines

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What's New with Lodging Directories and Search Engines

Directory News

As we reported in the last installment of the Blizzard Newsletter, the importance of local, regional and lodging directories has increased with the search engine changes of the last few months- specifically Google. We have long touted the importance of getting your website submitted to as many lodging directories as possible. We now feel that it is going to be equally important to get your website listed on as many local and regional directories as possible. While we are still sorting through the Google changes, we have reached the conclusion that the more local websites from which you have a link to your website, the more importance that your site is going to enjoy for that area. In the coming year these local and regional directories are going to be a much bigger part of our promotion efforts than they were in the past. If you are searching for ways to help your website, some local networking with other business owners in your area willing to exchange links could be a very worthwhile pursuit.

Research of Interest