Stronger together: The Hotel Writers Collective

I am a perfectionist. When I have an idea I like to have every detail figured out. I don’t take the first step before thinking it all through till the end. Then I start wondering what is possible and what’s not and often I end up not doing anything because I start having doubts. Or I just don’t feel prepared. Let’s end this. Out of the comfort zone. Start walking. No successful business was built on theory.

I love hotels – passionately. From an early age I was flipping through travel brochures. Started collecting these and hotel brochures, books, magazine and newspaper articles, the Michelin guide… Everywhere I’d go I take the opportunity to tour hotels. Even got some publicity with a newspaper writing about my strange “hobby”. Hotel School it was going to be. Changed my mind as I really wanted to do the sales and marketing so opted for a communications study. Went on in a different direction (housing corporations, yet still places to sleep). The internet changed everything. Being a minimalist threw out all my brochures, books, clippings. The internet too, changed the way I processed all that information available – perfect for the perfectionist I am. The passion always stays, I am still that little boy getting all exited when I see the sign “HOTEL”. The last ten years I worked on my websites www.dnahotels.com and charmhotelsweb (now integrated into DNA Hotels). On the side I have been developing an affiliate marketing platform for small and independent hoteliers and a new, disruptive, direct booking system for hotels.

Though I studied and have a background in marketing communications, I am a strong believer that if you have a passion for your product or service, the story this tells is your greatest asset. Telling this story to the world will have you create fans who like you and support you, and buy that product or service. So I have shied away from the usual marketing techniques.

The basic idea behind The Hotel Writers Collective (THWC) is that combing our efforts we can better serve our market – mostly independent hoteliers or small groups – AND grow our audience. Providing us with a steady income.

Concerning the income I have conflicting ideas. On one hand I think it would be fantastic not to be dependent on commissions, on the other side it is often what hotels prefer. Another idea could be to turn it into a greater platform with a membership fee. A combination of all three would also be a possibility.

stronger together – the collective

I know you love hotels as much as I do. Well, maybe a little less ;-). You write about them, market them, storytelling, influencer. You get the question: Fantastic, what a lovely job. Do you get to stay at those hotels? As much as I would love to do, it is simply not possible. So I came up with the idea that we, hotel lovers, join forces. To share the experience with a wider audience – and beneficial to the hotels we write about.

We could share by linking to each other’s websites, blogs and social media. And/or bundle them up together on a single website. I am just shooting the breeze, you might have different ideas and I would love to hear about them. Let others join in! Do you know of others who are in the field? Let them know of this initiative and share this page and password. I will update this page with your input.

diversity is key

We all have our different ways of writing (or photographing, Instagramming, Pinning, etc). But that is beautiful – diversity is the key, just like the properties we write about.

languages, countries, regions

Speaking of diversity, we all speak different languages and/or come from different countries and regions. I am a native Dutch speaker (so you will notice some mistakes in my English). We could translate and edit each other’s stories into our own language. Google rankings will benefit. My experience is that pages in Dutch rank better for me and vice versa.

income: advertising

My income stems from commissions on bookings and paid memberships. With the COVID-19 crisis these have almost halted. To be less dependent on a single source of income, advertising on my pages would be welcome. Our target audience is very interesting for advertisers, either travel or lifestyle related. A combined audience of our media would be beneficial to attracting those advertisers. It also would make me less dependent on selling, to make a commission out of a click.

Q&A

Would advertising not take away the image of my publication? Not if we do it curated. For example look at magazines like Wallpaper and Monocole (don’t you love these?) – full of targeted advertising.

suppliers

We could have another database of hoteliers who are interested in suppliers. For example photographers who specialize in hotels, tableware companies, travel tech and distribution agencies, etc, etc.

This could also be like a club for like-minded hoteliers, maybe with an annual fee so they can have access to us, suppliers and like-minded hoteliers.

affiliate marketing

Although I would prefer an advertising model, lots of hoteliers favor a commission model or at least an insight in clicks and number of visitors.

An affiliate marketing program can be a solution and if fairly easy to install. These platforms are available “of the shelf” and allow tracking and commission based models. For each member of the Hotel Writers Collective a sub code would be available to exactly see which traffic comes from which site. Advantage of the collective would be that costs of the affiliate marketing platform can be split and tech can be centralized.

direct booking system

A step even further would be a booking system. I have been working some time on www.bookhotels.direct. This combines the strength of an OTA (high volume website) with the tech of metasearch (real-time availability and rates) and the advantages of booking direct. As the technology is quite complex, the initial costs are high. However, this could be something to look into at a later stage.

the money is in the list

A regular, combined newsletter would enlarge our audience. This too, is attractive for advertisers.

database

I have been keeping records of thousands of hotels I like to feature on my websites. I simply don’t have the time to do this, but it could be interesting to share with the group, who like to feature them, get them as a client or simply visit them as they are nearer.

social media channels

Regular, consistent posting is the key. This is a full-time occupation, something I don’t have the time to do it all. For example, I started really late with Instagram, something I didn’t believe in at first resulting in few followers. On the other hand I am a great fan of Pinterest, on which my pages attract around 900,000 views every month. Now that is what regular, consistent posting does. Combined efforts would be of even greater benefit.

umbrella website

A combined website with links going to our media would be a great base for customers looking for inspiration booking hotels. Income from this site (advertising, commissions) could be split among us. The pie is big enough.

So these were just some thoughts. Let’s see if we have a common ground to discuss things further. I am available to Skype, Zoom, Teams, whatever and by (old fashioned?) email, also out of regular office hours. Also, if you are on WordPress leave a comment below.

bon voyage (soon…), Chiel