Concerned about travelling with the recent outbreak of swine flu? Here are some quick sources of information to help you discern what to prepare for:
For those who have a demanding job and find it difficult to take more than a few days off, a short break to a European city can be just the ticket. Barcelona, Venice, Rome, Budapest and Istanbul are just some of the exciting destinations you can choose from. Regular flights and short flight times mean they are handy and inexpensive for travelers and tourists, and with the convenience of online hotel booking you can save time and energy for your holiday.
One of the most fashionable destinations in Europe for a city break is Barcelona, although only a few days exploring this historical city overflowing with art and culture is probably not enough. It has a distinctively different feel to other traditional Spanish cities due to its location in the Cataluña region where they speak a separate language. With its Mediterranean coastline and architectural wonders it is no surprise thousands of tourists arrive here every week. The Gothic Quarter, home to Barcelona Cathedral, dates back to the 13th century and is a busy area with cafes, art galleries and boutiques jostling side by side for space. Walking through the area you will see a selection of street performers and various entertainers each with their own unique act competing for your attention.
Barcelona was the residence of Picasso for a number of years and there is a museum dedicated to him with a collection of his early works on show. If you have never seen any of Gaudi’s creations before then you will be enthralled by his exceptionally distinctive architectural style incorporating mosaic tiles, twisted sculptures and curved stones.
Las Rambas is an avenue of street entertainers and artists, pavement cafes and restaurants. Leading down to the newly designed waterfront you’ll find more restaurants, a beach and a movie theatre. Evening time presents plenty of opportunities too, head to a nightclub at the waterfront or visit the Montjuich Castle where you can view the spectacular Magic Fountains with a fantastic display of light, water and music. It is possible to book Spain hotels online, a service that is quick and convenient for those with little time to spare.
Another popular destination for a short break is Italy. Milan, Venice and Florence are all beautiful cities to visit and each has its own diverse character. Rome has managed to maintain its renaissance and baroque architecture in a modern and stylish atmosphere. The city centre has lots of interesting squares where the locals and tourists congregate for lunch, to socialize, and watch the various events held here. The Basilica Cathedral is a medieval masterpiece, The Colosseum, was the site of gladiatorial and animal combats and The Pantheon is the best preserved Roman building in the world, ensure you don’t miss The Forum for the ultimate exploration of Rome’s ancient past.
Many people of course come to Italy for the shopping, all the designer names can be found here from Armani and Prada to Dolce and Gabbana. For some serious shopping however you need to book a trip to Milan. Well-known for its fashion houses the city screams glamour and style. The main attractions here are The Duomo Cathedral, the world-famous opera house La Scala and Santa Maria delle Grazie Church where Leonardo da Vinci’s mural of the Last Supper can be viewed.
Paris is a hit with people of all ages. The international capital of art, fashion and style can be a romantic destination, fun for families with kids, or perfect for a group of friends seeking entertainment. There are a number of beautiful gardens and parks in the city centre that during the autumn months are full of color and flowers and in the summer months buzz with festivals, fetes, events and shows. You can’t visit Paris without paying a visit to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Notre Dame Cathedral.
It is very easy to book hotels in Spain, France, Italy, Brazil, or any other worldwide destination, just look online for a company that deals in online hotel reservations. It couldn’t be any easier and you can have your reservation confirmed in just a few minutes, by far the most convenient way to make an online hotel booking.
Instant World Booking wants to introduce a major enhancement in service to our hotel, hostel, and B&B partners worldwide. Now, when you list your property with us, we translate the information you submit into 14 different languages. We then publish your property on 14 individual multi-lingual webpages, each featuring only your property.
This is a major level of service that only Instant World Booking provides for free to hotel and hostel partners. In fact, it’s a must-have service for any lodging who wishes to gain serious exposure on the internet. As always, Instant World Booking’s services are free for lodgings to use.
Consider that your hotel, hostel, or bed and breakfast can quickly and easily have 14 new pages, dedicated only to their property, in the most used languages on the web. Each of these pages is uniquely search engine-optimized to rank high for multi-lingual searches.
If you haven’t listed yet with Instant World Booking, this new level of service is yet another reason why no competing service offers more to hotels around the globe.
New also is the ability for you to submit your listing information in the language of your choice. If English is not your first language, no matter. You can submit your property information in any language you wish, whether it’s Spanish, Italian, Greek, Arabic, etc., Instant World Booking will then take the information you wrote, and translate it into 14 of the most widely used languages on the internet.
To increase bookings, you need to increase your exposure. Get 14 translated listing pages for your property up and running on the web now. List with Instant World Booking today.
For more information, and to list your property, please see:
Want to increase your exposure online? Visit these 10 free places to list your hostel online and get additional exposure on the Internet:
- Yelp.com (USA)
- Google Local
- Yahoo Local
- Yahoo Travel — either find your hostel in the listings and look for an edit link or go to the home page and look for the suggest a hotel link at the bottom of the page.
Doing business in the 21st century will eventually require every hotel or bed and breakfast to have a website in one form or another. Whether your site is interactive or simply informational, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re on the right track to creating a successful web presence.
1. Perform a Business Analysis
What is a business analysis? Simply put, review your business requirements and your objectives. What do you want to accomplish? How does your website fit into your overall business plan?
2. Perform some research.
Research your competition and other hotel websites. See what kind of competition is out there. What kind of marketing does your competition engage in? Take a look at how the current market works; develop a list of pros and cons about your competition and then make your web presence work better.
3. Develop a concept and a design.
Finally time for the creative stuff! This involves the selection of specific content, the layout of the site structure and navigation and the overall “look and feel” of your website. Remember to pay special attention to your navigational structure. If visitors can’t navigate your website or feel lost when doing so, your “pretty” site will have been a waste of time; don’t go there, keep the navigation simple and for SEO purposes, make sure your navigation is text based. Many hotel websites today feature Flash-driven introductions. Don’t use these unless you fell it’s absolutely necessary. These flash introductions usually take some time to load in browsers. Guests will quickly become bored with this, and simply bypass your site.
4. Develop your website.
When considering which technology to develop your website, think cutting edge technology, not bleeding edge. Make sure the technology you use, such as ASP, PHP, HTML, CSS, will be useful for the next three to five years. An SEO friendly CMS will utilize real URLs, not strange looking query strings with lots of strange characters and question marks. Search engines despise query strings and rank these site accordingly.
5. Choose a host provider and implement your website.
When deciding on a host provider, make sure the host is not only reputable, but has been in business long enough that you can be sure they will be in business next year. Also, ask about site uptime. If your site is down for any reason, this will not only affect your potential and current customers, but the search engines as well. If the search engines decide on a given day to spider your site and it is unavailable, it could cost you your rank.
6. Promote and market your website.
Register your site with the major search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Initiate other marketing activities such as an email blasts to prospective customers. Consider “Pay per Click” advertising with the major search engines and don’t forget about a long term SEO campaign to drive targeted traffic to your site.
7. Finally, maintain your website.
Probably the most important long term step is continuing to provide current and relevant information on your website. Keep your site content current to encourage return visitors and give them something to return for! Related to SEO, search engines just LOVE sites which provide new content on a regular basis and rank such websites accordingly.
Overall, remember, your website is not just a marketing tool, it’s a business tool, and it should be generating a constant flow of reservations from guests, and therefore a revenue stream for your business.
Instant World Booking is working hard to continue to innovate and lead online booking technology around the globe. Our latest innovation is a simple one, but unmatched elsewhere for online reservation services.
Hotels and hostels who advertise on our network can now upload an unlimited number of photos to their listing. You heard right — Unlimited! This feature is free, and as always, maintaining a listing with the Instant World Booking is free.
So what does this mean exactly. We have a again pushed above the service level of competing booking services. Look at typical hotel pages on most services. You’ll see maybe 6 or 7 of a property’s best photos, in a small image barely larger than a thumbnail. This does very little to sell your rooms and beds.
If you’ve been advertising your hotel, hostel, or bed and breakfast on the web for a while, you know that photos sell rooms! And, the more photos you have the better. Don’t include just photos of your guestrooms, but of all areas of your property. Give a real sense of what it’s like to stay in your hotel. And what about your environment? Include photos of the surrounding neighborhood and views from your property. This really sells rooms.
To add your photos, simply sign in to your listing at Instant World Booking, and proceed to the MANAGE PHOTOS page. You can upload an unlimited number of images. And, you can submit images as large as 8MB! No more re-sizing and touching up your photos. Our enhanced system will handle that for you. As a bonus, don’t worry about the format of your pictures, you can now submit JPEG/JPG, PNG, and GIF images.
So get online today, and add your photos. Remember, good photos increase reservations. If it’s been awhile since you’ve refreshed your pics, get your camera out, and start taking new photos.
As always, Instant World Booking looks forward to seeing you on the web. To get listed with our network, simply go to:
1) Ensure your listing is up to date and accurate. Include as much information as possible, not only about your property, but also about local attractions, restaurants, etc.
2) Make sure to spell-check your listing. Incorrect spelling signals to guests that the property is not professionally maintained.
3) Add photos. Listings with photos gain at least 4x more traffic than those without photos. Make sure your photos are large and complement your property and location.
4) Add a complete calendar of availability. Your calendar is important, since guests prefer instant booking over online requests. Make sure you have complete availability online, and at least 6-9 months of availability.
5) Include an accurate street address on your listing, as well as local directions. Guests will not book properties that they can’t easily find.
6) Use Instant World Booking’s low-cost options for accepting reservations on YOUR OWN website.
Remember, it can take several weeks to several months for Google and other leading search engines to effectively index your page on our network of sites. Instant World Booking has proven to be very successful in gaining top search engine rankings for its listed lodging partners. One last reason it is very important to use the instant booking method is that we use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to market your property on Google and other sites. Effectively use of a PPC campaign can cost you hundreds of US dollars. However, for our partners who use instant booking, we advertise your property in PPC campaigns for free.
One last note, persistence and patience is the key to success. Online marketing is “collective”. This means it is more effective to advertise your property on 2 services than 1. Persistent online presence is necessary to achieve online name (brand) recognition, and to gain higher search rankings for pages containing your property’s name. Advertising with Instant World Booking is an extremely valuable, and free, method of increasing your online presence.
At Instant World Booking, our goal is to enhance the business and profitability of our hotel and hostel lodging partners. There’s no question a hotel’s website is at the core of any marketing strategy in tourism.
As a small hotel or hostel owner, SEO, or search engine optimization, is the most important element in building a successful online presence. Most people online have heard the term SEO, but it remains a mysterious process to many. One of the reasons SEO is so mysterious is that it can be a complicated process and search engines are constantly changing the way they rank websites.
If you have limited time and resources to devote to marketing your website, you should at minimum concentrate on Google. Google has set the standard for technology in search engine algorithms that can track the relevancy of a website to its content and SEO efforts.
For beginners to SEO, many think the only SEO tool they need is keyword density. While keywords are important, they are not the only means to an end. Back linking is another important component. While back linking remains one of the most successful ways to get your site to rank high on the search engines, it also has evolved. The type of link is important, so that search engines do not penalize a site for bad incoming links.
The term “back link” refers to an external link on another site that points to yours. In the past any link from another site would have a positive impact on your site by the search engines. Because there were so many gimmicks developed in the last few years to aggregate large numbers of back links, such as link farms, and irrelevant reciprocal linking, Google began to develop a way to weed out links that were purchased, or had little meaning or relevancy.
Even though back linking is used to manipulate search engine popularity there are many very legitimate reasons for using the system of back linking. Finding web sites that have a common interest to your own who are willing to place your link on their site can get you extra exposure. So, look for websites of local tour operators, transportation companies, restaurants, tourist attractions, etc., and see if they will place a link to your website on their own. When their visitors come to their site they will see your link and likely visit your site as well. Search engines work in somewhat the same manner.
Google works so hard to be sure that back links are really quality links, and not manufactured links. Your hotel or hostel website will get higher ranking on a search engine for a number of truly appropriate back linking partnerships. However, if the sites linking to you do not share any common information services Google will penalize you for the link. Google may even devalue your website if the site that links to you is considered of bad quality. Bottom line, it is important who you choose to link to, and also who links to you.
Probably the best way to obtain a back link to your site is through anchor text. That is when you have another website with content that is relevant to your own including your site in the actual content of their site with a hyperlink inside the text. These back links are valued much higher than a simple banner link as long as they appear in the text in a way that has a meaningful association with the content of the article. There are several ways to get such back links.
Providing articles about your location, city, or area tourist attractions to content sites with your link built into the article is one method. Also, if you write compelling content on your website, there is a good chance someone else with a similar site may wish to point it out on their own. They may put a link on their site back to yours. You may not even realize they are doing it unless they tell you about it. This is one of the main reasons it is important to keep an eye on who is back linking to you. While the majority of those types of links are wonderful and you should thank the site owner for their inclusion, if you feel the site that is linking to you does not meet your standards, have similar information, or the content is not relevant to your site you should definitely ask them to remove your link.
Back linking is an extremely important aspect of SEO development, which in turn is very important to marketing your hotel or hostel on the internet. It is therefore something you need to understand well in order to implement properly. There are many secrets and mysteries in the SEO world that diligent study can clear up. Keeping your hotel website in a good position with the search engines will ensure a vital and profitable future for your hotel’s online business.
The scammer’s goal is to get the hotel owner to send money to the scammer. Scammers will make a reservation, and request to overpay it with either a credit card or forged check. They’ll claim that the check was already made out by a vendor or partner of theirs, and they don’t wish to cancel it. The scammer will request the balance sent somewhere, usually by Western Union. Scammers are very creative and there can be many variations to this scam.
How does it work?
The scammer will book a room and claim to have no credit card. They will ask to send a bank draft, certified check, or money order to pay for the room in advance. When the check arrives it will be for an amount greater than the value of the stay. The scammer will then request the balance sent to a third party (i.e. a car rental agency) or returned to the scammer.
Since the funds are drawn on a foreign bank it may take up to three months to learn that it is fraudulent. The B&B or hotel owner is now short the amount of the check or wire they sent to the scammer. They probably also lost bookings since they held a room for a guest that was never to arrive. If the scammer paid by a credit card it is surely to be disputed by the actual card owner.
Signs of a Scammer
Overseas/International: Typically the scammer will be overseas or out of country. They know authorities rarely pursue this kind of international crime.
Urgent: Often the scammer will be acting in an urgent manner and making bookings with short notice.
Long stays or lots of rooms: They will also want long stays and a lot of rooms, in order to make the booking charge very high. The scammer will also be very vague about the actual number of guest.
No rate resistance: Scammers will not care about the rate offered.
No interest in location: They don’t care about your location, they will express little or no interest in area attractions, etc. In fact, it may often be questionable why a traveler from their origin or country will want to travel to a location like yours.
Will not address your property by name in the first e-mail: The first e-mail you receive will likely not address you specifically. This is because it will be a general email sent in mass to many properties including yours.
Strange grammar, spelling, and choice of words: The scammer’s grammar, spelling and use of punctuation will be unusual. Often the scammer will present themselves as a doctor. Another frequent ploy is that they indicate they are from a religious organization, are holding meetings in your country, and make specific reference to their “delegates” or “delegation” coming to your country.
Free e-mail account: Often the e-mail will come from a free email service like Yahoo or Hotmail. Legitimate travel agents or businesses rarely use free email accounts.
Send money: They want you to send them cash, usually by wire, and quick.
If you get one of these emails or letters, remember that if it is too good to be true, it probably is. If you feel the booking is legitimate, insist on a deposit by bank transfer or credit card and insist that the balance be paid in person. Whatever happens, do not send them any funds, regardless of what form.
Everyone knows how online booking works these days. A small deposit is collected from the guest at the time of confirmation. If you use one of the services that requires you to manually confirm bookings, contact your guests, and get deposit monies yourself, then your booking method is still in the stone ages. And believe me, there are still quite a few of this type of reservation service that claims “instant booking”, but cannot deliver. Furthermore, if your online booking method involves a Paypal interface, know that this method still does not work for guests in many regions around the world. You might also have heard that a Paypal payment interface instantly signals to many that your website is amateur and unprofessional. This is not exactly the reputation you want to develop for your website.
First, let me tell you that you absolutely need a professional third party service that is able to collect more than just Visa and Mastercard. You need a service that is able to collect at least 4 major global card types. If you feature online booking on your own website, know that almost all booking services are able to collect 5-10% deposit for your bookings. But is this enough? No. You should be collecting from 30% to 75% deposit for every booking taken on your website. This is for 2 reasons. One, guests who have found your website, and are interested in booking with you are serious about staying with you. They know that if they’re paying on your website, they’re going to have some personal interaction with you, and their reputation is on the line. Fraud transactions on a hotel’s own website is low. Second, since you know the guest is serious, you want to collect a reasonably high deposit to secure their booking, and eliminate any possibility of problems in the event of a cancellation or no-show. Instant World Booking recommends collecting either 35% or 50% as the optimal deposit for most hotels, hostels, and bed & breakfasts.
Instant World Booking is one of the only services that enables you to collect more than 10% deposit at time of booking. In fact, they can enable collection of up to 100% of your bookings at reservation time, effectively enabling you to collect credit cards right online from your own website. Instant World Booking takes this service one step further, offering full no-show and cancellation protection. With this service, Instant World Booking guarantees you receive your deposits, even in the event that a guest cancels late or does not show up.
We’ve been giving the latest on some controversial topics about marketing your hotel or hostel online. We uncover the world of online booking and marketing in a way that hasn’t been done before. Check out more advice at our blog. We’ll lead you to the most effective and low-cost solutions for marketing your property.