Newspaper vs Adwords for a hotel... who's the winner?!

21 replies
Hey guys,

So, I'm running Adwords for a hotel I work at, just got started, have yet to see a reservation come through, but we're only $50 into the ad spend, so still in testing phase.

However, the manager just ran an ad in a newspaper that is delivered to 27,000 homes for around $150.

The ad was an image ad; it consisted of a shot of the hotel, the name of the promo we're running and the rate - very basic.

It has produced 8 reservations and $552 in gross revenue in just one week.

The great thing about marketing for hotels as a client is that they track their reservation sources through the computer.

Every hotel computer system I've used has "Walk-In, Direct Call, Regular Guest" etc. and the majority of systems can very easily have a new code installed. So, say you're going to run a campaign for them, and if they could enter "HotelsrUs" as a tracking code into their computer. If not, if the front desk staff could just keep track of it on a piece of paper at the front desk.

I also wonder if this ad hasn't generated more reservations and the front desk staff hasn't cared enough to track it. As I account for taking 5 out of those 8 reservations, and I'm interested in the results for obvious reasons (I love marketing!)

So, there ya go, use this as a case study to get a new hotel client. Call around to a bunch of newspapers within a few hours of the town you're looking to lock down a hotel client in, find out the prices. Go to the hotel and say for $150 (or whatever number) I'm going to bring you at least $300 in gross revenue...

That's peanuts for a hotel in terms of marketing costs and it will blow them away with what you could do with such little money.

I know I rant and I'm not very clear at times so if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask and I'll pretend to know the answer...
#adwords #hotel #newspaper #winner
  • Profile picture of the author Steve Solem
    I'm a little puzzled that a local ad would produce much in the way of reservations for a local hotel, but not knowing what kind of services you offer or how you presented your advertisement I suppose that's certainly possible.

    I would think visitors passing through or looking to visit from out of town would make up the majority of most hotels guests, and with many folks searching on their mobile phones for places to stay, I would think mobile ads would provide a pretty nice return for you.

    But...marketing approaches work differently in different industries and the only real way to know for sure what works and what doesn't is to test and measure your results like you're doing, so kudos for trying different things and figuring out what works best for you.
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    • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
      Walk-in traffic does generate the majority of revenue for hotels in our city. It wasn't always like this, but since the economy took a little tumble it's changed.

      The reason marketing Adwords isn't quite as successful is because 3rd party companies like Expedia and Booking.com have driven the CPC way up, since they essentially offer every hotel in the city at what is perceived to be the lowest rate, alot of them can afford to pay that extra dollar or two per click, not to mention that Google probably gives them a top quality score allowing them to rank higher at a cheaper bid.

      I'd say our hotel gets around 5-6 expedia reservations everyday, and then you think that there's about 60 competing hotels in our area, there's no reason to assume we get more reservations then others as we really offer nothing more then our competitors. So, you're looking at expedia taking a massive chunk of the online searches.

      That isn't including other reservation companies that offer the same services, it's pretty hard to market your own hotel directly online with such fierce competition.

      Hotels are essentially taking a lead loss when using vendors like Expedia, and should more or less focus on customer retention methods to make those repeat customers that book directly with the hotel from thereon out.
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    • Profile picture of the author philipdwyer
      Originally Posted by Steve Solem View Post

      I'm a little puzzled that a local ad would produce much in the way of reservations for a local hotel, but not knowing what kind of services you offer or how you presented your advertisement I suppose that's certainly possible.

      I would think visitors passing through or looking to visit from out of town would make up the majority of most hotels guests, and with many folks searching on their mobile phones for places to stay, I would think mobile ads would provide a pretty nice return for you.
      I agree. When I am traveling, I don't pick up a local paper and look to see what is best place to stay at. I go to google or google places to find out prices, reviews, locations and amenities.

      Also, maybe your manager is better marketer than you and that is why he had a better response rate.
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      • Profile picture of the author kat57
        I have to a agree as well.
        Just look at the shift in people looking for info from newspapersto the internet in just the last 2 years.
        the changes will be exponential in the next 2 years...
        newspapers are dead unless you are in a retirement community in FL.
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        • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
          Originally Posted by rugman View Post

          What type of resort town is it? How far away was the newspaper based? Is this a weekend geataway type of town or a vacation for a week type of town?
          Here is my thinking - I live in an area where people like to go to Foxwoods casino. It is a little bit of a drive but very popular. So - I ma sitting reading my paper and I see this great deal from Foxwoods and I say "hey honey - look at this deal - lets get outa here for the weekend!". I wasn't searching for Foxwoods - they found me! In this case I never would have even seen the adwords ad.
          Hopefully they have a list of customers and market special deals to them also!
          Yeah, the town is a summer resort town, but the reservations generated from the ad are based entirely in April, and this is in Canada, so April is hardly a desireable time weather wise no matter where you are!

          The newspaper ad hit towns about 3-4 hours away.

          And you're exactly right, that's how it works, the person is browsing the newspaper, sees the ad and thinks, "wow, that's cheap, let's go there this weekend!"

          We're discussing ideas in how to capture e-mails to market to now.

          Originally Posted by redcell1 View Post

          Your going to need to give us more stats/info.

          What does your ad say, what does your lp look like? Are you offering a special on your LP?

          How are your hotel reviews? are you on GP? if your on GP are you in the top box ?
          Our hotel reviews are pretty good, we're rated 8.1 out of 10 on TripAdvisor.

          I've tested various ad copy, "$10 off" "Rates Starting at $69.00" "Book Now for $69.00!"

          I've even used the exact coupon on the LP, to no avail.

          You guys need to read the entire post, this is based purely on what delivered the fastest results, Adwords vs Newspaper.

          The GP isn't ranked, and you're right, I'm sure it would outperform the newspaper ad, but in this market, you're looking at a few months before you break onto the front page.

          What do you think would give you more credibility taking on a hotel client? Them waiting 3 months for you to rank their Google Places, or you running a newspaper ad that delivers them results within days of it being put in the paper?

          If you were to start a campaign from day 1, the hotel has zero optimization but does have a website, after reading this thread, would you still think that the Adwords would deliver results faster then the newspaper ad? No matter how good of an online marketer you are, all Adwords has a testing phase, the newspaper ad delivered results instantly because you're marketing in a very low competition area (the newspaper).

          Originally Posted by whodeeni View Post

          I agree with Redcell. Wilder are you doing to give us more details as to the
          campaign you ran, and possibly the newspaper ad? The more (info) the merrier!:p
          I mentioned the newspaper ad in the original post.

          It's about 4 inches by 4 inches, it has a picture of the hotel, and then on the front it says Special $69.00 with our 1-800 number.

          The current ad that I'm running is

          "Affordable <city name> Hotel"
          Close to shopping & Restaurants
          Book Now for $10 Off Your Next Stay

          I've tested various ads, but loosely based on the one above.

          Including starting at $69.00

          Book now for $69.00

          Book now for 10% off

          It generates clicks.

          I've had mini slide shows of our rooms with the room description with a big yellow button saying Book Now... $89.00 crossed out with $69.00 as the "special" rate

          I've put the actual newspaper ad on the landing page, targeted the same region the newspaper ad was sent.


          Originally Posted by philipdwyer View Post

          I agree. When I am traveling, I don't pick up a local paper and look to see what is best place to stay at. I go to google or google places to find out prices, reviews, locations and amenities.

          Also, maybe your manager is better marketer than you and that is why he had a better response rate.
          The idea of the newspaper is to target a different audience, it's not to get in front of people that are actively searching to stay in a hotel in my city. It's to spark the idea as somebody is flipping through the paper, sees the ad and thinks hey, "Let's go stay there on Friday night!"

          Also, you say you check out Google places and look at reviews. If you're looking for reviews you're going to go to the major hotels booking engines (expedia, booking.com etc.) that harbour the most amount of reviews... guess what else you can do at those booking engines?? Book hotels, so right there, the hotel has lost the reservation to a 3rd party company who takes a hefty commission off the top.

          I don't doubt my manager is a better marketer then me, he's been marketing for 40 years and I've been marketing for 2 years. But, you can't really say his marketing prowess trumped my methods when you're comparing a very simple news paper ad to Adwords..

          Originally Posted by kat57 View Post

          I have to a agree as well.
          Just look at the shift in people looking for info from newspapersto the internet in just the last 2 years.
          the changes will be exponential in the next 2 years...
          newspapers are dead unless you are in a retirement community in FL.
          Obviously from this example they're far from dead.

          I think you guys are missing the point of this thread, I'm not actually requesting your opinion, I'm telling you exactly what happened and how the newspaper trumped the Adwords ad, so you can take this and apply to your business when taking on a hotel client.

          If you read through the entire thread, especially where me and Eddie were going back and forth you'll see exactly why the newspaper has outperformed Adwords at this point.

          The ad has produced just over $1100 off of $150. That's around $8 for every reservation made, that means, with the Adwords hotel market in my city you'd have to convert just under 1 in 3 clicks at $3 CPC. I know some pretty amazing online marketers and they're coming nowhere close to those type of conversions.
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  • Profile picture of the author Eddie Spangler
    Do you have more details on the adwords. Seems like if the ad was written well then your would have some conversions. How much is the cpc running?

    Is the newspaper in the same city or a close by city?

    Tell us a little more, this seems interesting.
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    • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
      Originally Posted by Eddie Spangler View Post

      Do you have more details on the adwords. Seems like if the ad was written well then your would have some conversions. How much is the cpc running?

      Is the newspaper in the same city or a close by city?

      Tell us a little more, this seems interesting.
      The CPC seems to be around $3.00 to get good placement on the page.

      My top quality score is 7/10, and it's getting spot 2-3 for some good keywords.

      I'm getting clicks, and the bounce rate is around 60%, no reservations generate though.

      The newspaper targeted cities around 3-4 hours away. They're smaller towns and would use our city as a shopping destination, we do cater this market well as we're across from the largest shopping mall in town.
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  • Profile picture of the author FormerWageSlave
    What's the landing page like... have you tested various landing pages?
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    grrr...

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    • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
      Originally Posted by FormerWageSlave View Post

      What's the landing page like... have you tested various landing pages?
      Haha nice sig.

      Yeah, I'm currently testing different landing pages.

      There's no doubt it's POSSIBLE for the online marketing to outperform Newspaper and such in the long run.

      But, I'm speaking in terms of getting the client results NOW. I mean, I'm essentially working with the fastest medium in online for providing results, Adwords, and a basic newspaper ad crushed it.

      At first I hated hearing things like this (there's no way a stupid newspaper could do anything in comparison to my online methods!) but, now it's getting exciting because really it's so damn simple. Atleast to get things rolling.

      Also, you're essentially competing against Expedia, who is charging on a pay-per-performance basis, so if the hotel is getting ANY profit from a hotel stay generated by Expedias marketing, it's a fair trade because they can turn that customer into a repeat guest, so like I said before, it's almost like a lead loss for hotels.

      I'll keep you guys posted, we're bringing in a pretty big time marketing consultant who works with a major hotel chain down in Vancouver, so I'm going to pick her brain whenever I get the chance.
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  • Profile picture of the author Eddie Spangler
    Given what you said it kinda makes sense as to why the paper ad could be pulling so well, maybe the paper still carries a lot of weight in smaller towns where people have less media options, especially if other hotels are not being aggressive in that medium.


    Although 8 reservations for $150 a little less than $20 per, is that good?

    How much does expedia charge?

    The travel industry intrigues me, seems like a fun , yet very competitive niche to promote
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  • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
    Yeah, that's really the success is that it's a quiet place to advertise your hotel in comparison to the highly competitive internet space.

    Expedia charges the hotel 20% or $20, whichever is higher. Other companies are similar.

    I can't really say what this method generates until the end of the April because the ad is going to be printed in that paper once a week for the entire month, for that $150.

    So, 1 ad hits 27,000 homes once a week for 4 weeks...

    Definitely a fair ROI I'd say, also going back to Adwords, at $3.00 per click, you'd have to convert just over 6 clicks into a reservation to get that same ROI.

    I should also mention, since I have analytics rigged up on the site, this newspaper isn't even targeting the main source of our customers. The locales we're targeting make up around 3% of all website traffic we get.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mobile Tactics
    I think you should try to market to their database with postcards. You could either give them a discounted rate, or try to work out a deal with a neighboring steakhouse where you offer them advertising in the rooms or on the postcards in exchange for free or deeply discounted vouchers that you could then give away free to the people who book a stay through your postcard promotion. The postcard would just say something like Remember Cityname? Remember xyz tourist attraction list? Us at Hotelname would like to invite you back, and here is our irresistible offer
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    • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
      Originally Posted by Mobile Tactics View Post

      I think you should try to market to their database with postcards. You could either give them a discounted rate, or try to work out a deal with a neighboring steakhouse where you offer them advertising in the rooms or on the postcards in exchange for free or deeply discounted vouchers that you could then give away free to the people who book a stay through your postcard promotion. The postcard would just say something like Remember Cityname? Remember xyz tourist attraction list? Us at Hotelname would like to invite you back, and here is our irresistible offer
      That's definitely a thought.

      I'm currently contacting all the people who have left positive reviews on tripadvisor through our hotels facebook account offering to put them in a draw for a free stay if they leave the review on the Places listing aswell...

      As for the negative reviews (there are a few) I'm going to bring to the attention of the manager to see what he is prepared to do to rectify their complaints and maybe even have them leave a positive one in the future.

      I'll let you guys know.
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  • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
    Update: the ad has now produced over $1,000 in revenue.
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  • Profile picture of the author rugman
    What type of resort town is it? How far away was the newspaper based? Is this a weekend geataway type of town or a vacation for a week type of town?
    Here is my thinking - I live in an area where people like to go to Foxwoods casino. It is a little bit of a drive but very popular. So - I ma sitting reading my paper and I see this great deal from Foxwoods and I say "hey honey - look at this deal - lets get outa here for the weekend!". I wasn't searching for Foxwoods - they found me! In this case I never would have even seen the adwords ad.
    Hopefully they have a list of customers and market special deals to them also!
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  • Profile picture of the author redcell1
    Your going to need to give us more stats/info.

    What does your ad say, what does your lp look like? Are you offering a special on your LP?

    How are your hotel reviews? are you on GP? if your on GP are you in the top box ?
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    • Profile picture of the author Excel Fields
      Originally Posted by redcell1 View Post

      Your going to need to give us more stats/info.

      What does your ad say, what does your lp look like? Are you offering a special on your LP?

      How are your hotel reviews? are you on GP? if your on GP are you in the top box ?
      I agree with Redcell. Wilder are you doing to give us more details as to the
      campaign you ran, and possibly the newspaper ad? The more (info) the merrier!:p
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  • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
    The newspaper ad has generated over $1,000 on a $150 ad so far and it was just sent out a little over a week ago.

    I've personally never set up an Adwords and have it convert that quickly.

    I think if you were to land a hotel client, you'd be much better off starting with a newspaper ad for them to show them results, then lead into Adwords.

    The online hotel market is just far too saturated with the big dogs driving up the price of clicks and truly offering variety that a single hotel just can't match.

    At this point, my question is more or less rhetorical, haha.

    However, if you could rank a GP on the front page (which is more long-term, I'm illustrating the marketing method for how fast it delivered results) I definitely think it would outperform the newspaper ad.
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  • Profile picture of the author thetrafficguy
    Congrats!

    I'm keeping an eye on this thread
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  • Profile picture of the author Ronald Nzimora
    Your observation was good wilder1047,

    I have a current client, not a hotel though. They're a pleasure boating company and provides party services to rich folks.

    I came in promising to help them increase customer numbers.

    I ran an adwords campaign, spending $50 per day for 2 weeks, no dice. $700 gone!

    Because I guaranteed my results I had to refund them the spend.

    Then I tried something wacky.

    I did a full lenght salesletter, and disguised it like it had come cut off from a popular newspaper here.

    On one side was the salescopy and behind it was some interesting stories and articles i excerpted from popular news blogs read in the country.

    I printed them up, closely mimicking the newspaper's look, and feel.

    Then I went to the biggest hotels around and approached every person who I saw driving an SUV (give away status symbol here in Nigeria).

    After the initial pleasantries, I said something to this effect:

    Good Afternoon,

    "If you're happen to be planning a fabulous birthday for yourself, your partner or your kid, i have a deal you'll never regret listening to."

    Then I proceeded to give them the 'newspaper' page.

    Next I begged to take my leave, asking them to call the number in the article, ask for Zil (the manager of the Boat cruise company) and they'd be well taken care of.

    I distributed about 150 of these letters as it was a holiday/festive period (the last valentine period to be exact) in one day.

    In one week, they had booked 7 clients. Now 7 may look like a small sum but the price for their least service package was =N= 1,600,000 ($10,000) for a party of 15 guests.

    They pay me $4,000 a month now to handle their marketing.

    On Tuesday, I'll be posting a scan of their last cheque issued to me in my article which I posted earlier. You can find it here:

    http://www.warriorforum.com/offline-...-part-1-a.html

    Now I told this story above because, from experience I have come to understand that Adwords does not work for some products/services, no matter how hard you try.

    I have also understood that print well done works with most people. While I'd consider Adwords, i;d try print first via 2-step advertising, then follow up on leads.

    Plus, I may test with Adwords, $50a day for one week, if it aian't converting, I'd pull the plug.

    Hope this helps.

    Ron

    Originally Posted by wilder1047 View Post

    Hey guys,

    So, I'm running Adwords for a hotel I work at, just got started, have yet to see a reservation come through, but we're only $50 into the ad spend, so still in testing phase.

    However, the manager just ran an ad in a newspaper that is delivered to 27,000 homes for around $150.

    The ad was an image ad; it consisted of a shot of the hotel, the name of the promo we're running and the rate - very basic.

    It has produced 8 reservations and $552 in gross revenue in just one week.

    The great thing about marketing for hotels as a client is that they track their reservation sources through the computer.

    Every hotel computer system I've used has "Walk-In, Direct Call, Regular Guest" etc. and the majority of systems can very easily have a new code installed. So, say you're going to run a campaign for them, and if they could enter "HotelsrUs" as a tracking code into their computer. If not, if the front desk staff could just keep track of it on a piece of paper at the front desk.

    I also wonder if this ad hasn't generated more reservations and the front desk staff hasn't cared enough to track it. As I account for taking 5 out of those 8 reservations, and I'm interested in the results for obvious reasons (I love marketing!)

    So, there ya go, use this as a case study to get a new hotel client. Call around to a bunch of newspapers within a few hours of the town you're looking to lock down a hotel client in, find out the prices. Go to the hotel and say for $150 (or whatever number) I'm going to bring you at least $300 in gross revenue...

    That's peanuts for a hotel in terms of marketing costs and it will blow them away with what you could do with such little money.

    I know I rant and I'm not very clear at times so if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask and I'll pretend to know the answer...
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  • Profile picture of the author cuttingedge
    I applaud you for "Thinking outside of the box," tracking your ad and showing they were sucessful, and for letting the warrior forum members know.

    Most industries I look at have the same type of ads and advertise in the same media as their competitors, with no justification as to why I would purchase from them vs a competitor.

    As you stated in your post, you have little or no competition for your ad in the newspaper which brought you customers you would never have had. This by itself differentiates you from other hotels in the area.

    Now try keeping in touch with your new customers with a postcard. Say something like

    Book now for our memorial day special and and get your room for $___. Bring 2 friends with you and we'll give you another $10 off and your friends will get their rooms for $____.

    Call _____
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