Hotels of the World tasks Didit with the SEM for its brand

Leading Interactive Reservations LLC has chosen Didit to manage search engine marketing for its brand, Leading Hotels of the World.

After talking to “several agencies” and a successful pilot period, the company “felt that Didit had the right combina­tion of skills,” according to Tim Peter, managing director of Leading Interactive Reservations LLC.

Before hiring Didit, the luxury hospital­ity organization that represents more than 430 hotels worldwide had managed its search marketing in-house. But as a small company with limited manpower, knowl­edge and tools, trying to manage 150,000 keywords just didn’t work, Peter said.

According to the organization’s Web site, hotels must apply for inclusion in the organization. “It’s a tougher sell and you have to be very clear in how you message that in your advertising,” he said. “Many of our hotels sell for $600 to $700 a night or more. You really want to sell experience rather than price.”

In fact, a recent Search Engine Market­ing Professional Organization (SEMPO) State of the Market survey for 2007 found that branding leads direct sales only slightly as the top objective for search spend for marketers.

According to the survey, 58% of adver­tisers reported that their primary objective for SEM spending was direct sales, while 61% said it was brand awareness.

“We’re very gratified to see its flexibility and to understand it as a medium that has equal value as both a branding and busi­ness acquisition mechanism,” said Dana Todd, chairperson of SEMPO.

Because hotel spending is also a highly seasonal business, Leading Hotels also relies on search for a more direct sales application to capture demand when it exists as well as to find demand during leaner lower-demand periods, Peter said.

Leading Hotels’ overall goal for its search marketing campaigns is to gener­ate more reservations, said Gerry Bavaro, Didit’s VP of client services. Right now Didit is at a stage of deeper analytics and tests on the account, he added: “We want to break out and target the campaign bet­ter and find pockets where performance will increase.”

While managing search in-house, Lead­ing Hotels was spending about $200,000 in paid search per month, Tim Peter con­firmed. “As long as we can meet that ROI — it’s like a pure direct marketer who’s willing to spend more,” Bavaro said.

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