Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate how small‐ and medium‐sized hotels use search engine marketing (SEM) to make their hotels (services and products) more visible and easier to find for existing and potential customers. Design/methodology/approach – A qualitative, exploratory approach is taken and eight case studies of small, independent hotels are conducted via in‐depth, semi‐structured interviews. Findings – These interviews reveal that though all hotels have a web site they do not exploit SEM, which may be attributable to poor marketing planning and lack of control of their web site through outsourcing key web development and optimisation activities. Practical implications – The practical implications are that small hotels risk being marginalized, losing contact with their customers and fail to maximise their return on investment on their web site. Originality/value – This research highlights the critical issues and explores the potential to re‐orient the small operator towards the opportunities of successful SEM and fully utilise their web site as a tactical and strategic marketing tool.
International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 8, 2008
Keywords: Search engines; Marketing; Small to medium‐sized enterprises; Hotels
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