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An investigation into ways search engine optimization

  • 15 Pages
  • Published On: 18-12-2023

Introduction

Hospitality industry has, over the past decade, seen a drastic changes ranging from changing consumer preferences, demands, increased competition, rise of alternative tourism destination and industry, and currently devastating impact of coronavirus pandemic. The industry supporting sectors such accommodation, tourism, travelling and transportation, and recreation play an integral part in performance in hoteling industry (ReportLinker, 2021). However, the competition in the hospitality industry particularly business entities operating at the international level and offering luxury services has forced adoption innovative approach (EHL Insights, 2021). Before the pandemic, the hospitality industry was forecasted to grow to $ 4.13 trillion in 2021 from $3.49 trillion in early 2020 a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.5% (Business Wire, 2021). However, the pandemic have had an excess uncertainty in the industry to the level of threatening survival of the businesses such as hotels, airlines, travel and tourism, lodging, and event organizations. This came at the time when the business entities in the industry were already facing pressure from dynamicity in the larger industry. Over the last decade, the industry has adopted technological advancement with integration such trends as contactless, technology-assisted operations, automation, outsources, AI-powered chatbots, and virtual reality collectively designed to garner competitive advantage in the industry. However, social media has been the biggest influencer in the industry. In term of marketing, social media has grown to be a major entity in shaping the public perception on the businesses, connecting and engaging consumers, and constantly going with the trends in the market.

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The dynamism brought by the shift of the consumers’ demands and needs such as environmental sustainability, perception of experience, and rise of new tourism destination saw entities innovative to meet the shift. As pointed by Dogru et al. (2021), the rise and success of substitute in hospitality accommodation and hotelier such as Airbnb exerted more pressure to increasingly fragile industry.

Premier Inn, a subsidiary of Whitbread Plc, is a British hotel chain and among the biggest hotelier brand in the UK. In 2004, Whitbread bought Premier Lodge and merged with Travel Inn becoming it biggest earnings in revenue. Currently, Premier Inn has more than 700 hotels across the UK and globally. As reported by Ball (2020), following restrictions in movement, travelling, and lockdown brought by the pandemic, the company saw 80% fall in revenues in 2020. The lockdown cutting travelling and tourisms has seem the industry revenue and performance reduces significantly despite even reopening more than 98% of it hotels in Britain (Ackerman, 2020). It international presence and brand recognition has had a significant role in its performance during the pandemic period and changes experienced in the larger hospitality industry.

Social marketing has been regarded as reprieve to the hospitality industry. As pointed by RFE, social media marketing approach built around nurturing guest and consumer relationships, strengthen the hotels reputation, branding, and creating and sharing content, while at the same time recognising and getting trends in the market. Nevertheless, the key aspects in the digital marketing is engaging and interacting directly with the consumers through coordinated and targeted campaigns. In an industry marred with competition and characterised by dynamism, brand supported with recognition and awareness can be a lifeline in a business survival. As such, this research study aims to investigate ways in which Premier Inn hotel can employ search engine optimisation as part of digital marketing towards enhancing it brand awareness.

The aim will be supported by the following specific objectives

To critically review theories, concepts, and findings from previous studies on digital marketing, search engine optimisation, and branding

To critically investigate the branding and brand awareness in hospitality industry

To examine ways search engine optimisation aids in promoting brand awareness in hospitality industry

To investigate ways Premier Inn hotel can leverage search engine optimisation to increase its branding and brand awareness

Literature review

Branding

As described by Edelman (2010) branding entails creating a strong, positive consumers’ perception on a product or a company. In building this positive and recognisable image, it requires a combination of various elements that include logo, design, colour, mission, consistency, and belief that consumers can remember and associate with. Scholars have come up with number of ideological framework used in association with brand and branding (Bastos, and Levy, 2012; Zenker, and Martin, 2011; Davis, 2017). One key element is brand recognition, that incorporate the association and attitude towards a particular product or a company. According to Davis (2017), other approaches towards brand development is creating a reputation and repositioning a product in a manner in which a consumer perceives it. For instance, a product may be synonymous with quality, performance, authenticity, or luxury.

Fundamentally, branding is driven by the developing a memorable impression on consumers, and hence differentiating oneself from a pool of many same products and organisations. The act of distinguishing oneself from the competitors through offering a something different in term quality, authenticity, or consumer’s relation (Hampf, and Lindberg-Repo, 2011). As illustrated by Dev and Dev (2012) branding as a concept encompasses developing an identity resonating with name, culture, image, emotion, and personality with a product and company. In shaping stakeholders’ perception that include consumers view and association with a product or a company based on such factors as rational, functionality, emotional aspects, and intangible elements.

As highlighted by Matanda and Ewing (2012), brand development strategies involves such approaches as product line extension, brand extension, and new brand collective modelled towards differentiating, relevance, and perceived distinctiveness of a product in a market. In contemporary hospitality market, characterised by heighten competition and drastic changes, the need for business entities in the sector prompts innovating and developing an approach to distinguish themselves (Cheung et al., 2014; Moro, and Rita, 2018). The findings by Sürücü et al. (2019) indicated that one approach is building a brand through fostering consumer loyalty, brand recognition, and developing emotional connection with the consumers.

A study by Foroudi (2019) on influence of brand on hotel performance, found that branding not only develop an imagery recognition through design, colour, and authentic features but uphold reputation resonating with consumers’ ideals, culture, beliefs, and values. According to Hultman et al. (2021), a strong brand informed by market differentiating and identifying values enables a company to structure a premium pricing, market segmentation, and engage with consumers through targeted and coordinated communication. As noted by Berthon et al. (2017) and Balaji (2011), a brand in hospitality industry where business grounds their business models on intangible ‘product’ on quality of services, consumer perception on the name and image, perceived experience, and developed relationship with consumers is fundamental to business success. Largely, business entities in the sector offer nearly similar products and services with only differentiating factor being the experiences and brand name identifying a company. A survey conducted by Zhang et al. (2018) and O’Neill & Carlbäck (2011) on branding in hospitality industry promising gaining a competitive edge requires connectedness, building trust, and enhancing memorable experiences enabling differentiation and positioning of a company and brand.

Digital marketing

In the age of internet and social media, digital marketing has grown to become a bedrock of business operations and performance. Key aspect is engaging and connecting with consumers. Tiago and Veríssimo (2014) described digital marketing as internet driven was of reaching out to consumers. It encompasses the use of email, content marketing, search platforms, and social media. The prominence of these marketing approaches is largely due such advantage offered as cost and time efficiency, targeted marketing, measure effectiveness of campaigns, large potential consumer reach at low cost, and brand development. An investigation into the role of digital marketing in brand development, Bala and Verma (2018) argued that the approach through huge content and constant communication as well as timely and in person engagement with consumer greatly boost the consumer-brand relations. According to Kavaratzis et al. (2014), marketing campaigns such as search engine optimisation (SEO), pay per click, content marketing, and display marketing increasing the awareness of a product as well as engagement with consumers. In doing so, it creates opportunities for markets to not only tailor consumers specific content but also monitor the engagement rate and hence insight of influencing factors driving consumers on a particular product. A study by Confos and Davis (2016) on consumer-brand relationship using digital marketing, found that the approach has a huge opportunity of building a relationship and connectedness with consumers through interaction, directly, effectively, and importantly efficiently through tailored content. Hanna and Rowley (2015) argued that travellers and tourist as well as hotel users constantly use internet to search for information, destination, and hotels (accommodation, and food outlets). However, as argued by Agarwal et al. (2019), a tailored content and keywords significantly puts a brand in a better position of reaching and engaging with potential customer.

Research methods

In investigative study, according to REF, demand having a systematic procedure in order to address research aim and answer research outlined problem. This structure approach is provided by methodological factors such as ideological framework informing perception towards the topic and aim, methods and strategy, data collection approach, and subsequent analysis. It also encompass the ethical consideration observed during data collection, analysis, and reporting of gathered data.

Silverman (2020) described research method as an approach in which a researcher uses towards collecting, organising, and analysing data and subsequent information to answer given problem. Three methods approach are common in research namely; qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method. In qualitative, as described by Hennink et al. (2020), a study is designed delve deeper in attempt to have an insight into the problems. The driving factor is not what but rather why a phenomena is happening the way it is. Core to this, is collection of data to understand concepts, opinions, and experiences of participants. On the other hand, quantitative research incorporate the outline the factors affecting a phenomena descriptively.

According to Apuke (2017), a subject under investigation is examined then quantified using mathematical and statistical approaches. In the scope of investigating digital marketing in relation to advancing brand awareness, key element is expressing adoption rate, consumer engagement, and business perception while also working towards understanding relationship among core variables liking search engine optimisation and a brand. As such, this study will adopt both approaches that are qualitative and quantitative, under a mixed method approach.

Data collection incorporate ways of gathering data used is to address the aim of a study. Similarly, the method take should be a structured and systematic to ensure not only accuracy but also relevance and reliability of collected data and subsequent information. Data source can be primary or secondary. This study will use primary sources collected through online questionnaire. The sample population will be 150 drawn from individuals with prior knowledge of SEO marketing approach, branding, and Primer Inn hotel marketing team. The questionnaire questions will be semi-structured. Before being involved in the data collection, all the potential research will be informed through a consent letter the scope and use of this study as well as privacy and confidentiality of the collected data. Following evaluation to determine reliability and relevance of the data, the collected data will be analysed using thematic analysis tool.

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Conclusion

In hospitality industry faced with heighten competition, changing consumer demands, shifting perception of travelling experiences and destination, compounded by dynamism drawn from larger business environment (technology, regulation, and environmental consciousness) has forced business entities in the sector to seek innovative approach for their survival. Key to this is integration of technology and remodelling business approach. However, in marketing perspective, digital marketing that include social media, SEO, analytics, and pay per view has been viewed as fundamental to this shift and development and enhancement of a brand in particular. In this study, the aim is to investigate ways in which Premier Inn hotel can employ search engine optimisation as part of digital marketing towards enhancing it brand awareness. Building from the concepts and finding from literature, a mixed research method will be used. Online questionnaire will be sent to 150 participants made of individuals with prior knowledge of marketing, advertising, hospitality industry, and worked for Premier Inn hotel. The collected data will be analysed using thematic analytic tool. Before participating in the data collection, all potential participant will be require to sign informed consent letter, and will be assured of their privacy and confidentiality.

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References

Ackerman, N., 2020. Whitbread revenues down as hotel giant warns of harsh winter to come. [online] Standard.co.uk. Available at: [Accessed 13 May 2021].

Agarwal, H., Birajdar, A. and Bolia, M., 2019. Search Engine Marketing Using Search Engine Optimisation. Asian Journal For Convergence In Technology (AJCT).

Apuke, O.D., 2017. Quantitative research methods: A synopsis approach. Kuwait Chapter of Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review, 33(5471), pp.1-8.

Bala, M. and Verma, D., 2018. A critical review of digital marketing. M. Bala, D. Verma (2018). A Critical Review of Digital Marketing. International Journal of Management, IT & Engineering, 8(10), pp.321-339.

Balaji, M.S., 2011. Building Strong Service Brands: The Hierarchical Relationship Between Brand Equity Dimensions. IUP Journal of Brand Management, 8(3).

Ball, T., 2020. Premier Inn owner reports 80% fall in revenues. [online] Thetimes.co.uk. Available at: [Accessed 13 May 2021].

Bastos, W. and Levy, S.J., 2012. A history of the concept of branding: practice and theory. Journal of Historical Research in Marketing.

Berthon, P., Holbrook, M.B., Hulbert, J.M. and Pitt, L., 2007. Viewing brands in multiple dimensions. MIT Sloan Management Review, 48(2), p.37.

Business Wire, 2021. Global Hotel and Other Travel Accommodation Market Report 2021: COVID-19 Impact and Recovery to 2030 - ResearchAndMarkets.com. [online] Businesswire.com. Available at: [Accessed 13 May 2021].

Cheung, C., Kong, H. and Song, H., 2014. How to influence hospitality employee perceptions on hotel brand performance?. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.

Confos, N. and Davis, T., 2016. Young consumer-brand relationship building potential using digital marketing. European Journal of Marketing.

Davis, M., 2017. The fundamentals of branding. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Dev, C. and Dev, C.S., 2012. Hospitality branding. Cornell University Press.

Dogru, T., Mody, M., Suess, C., McGinley, S. and Line, N.D., 2020. The Airbnb paradox: Positive employment effects in the hospitality industry. Tourism Management, 77, p.104001.

Edelman, D.C., 2010. Branding in the digital age. Harvard business review, 88(12), pp.62-69.

EHL Insights, 2021. 2021 Top Hospitality Industry Trends. [online] Hospitalityinsights.ehl.edu. Available at: [Accessed 13 May 2021].

Foroudi, P., 2019. Influence of brand signature, brand awareness, brand attitude, brand reputation on hotel industry’s brand performance. International journal of hospitality management, 76, pp.271-285.

Hampf, A. and Lindberg-Repo, K., 2011. Branding: The past, present, and future: A study of the evolution and future of branding. Hanken School of Economics.

Hanna, S.A. and Rowley, J., 2015. Rethinking strategic place branding in the digital age. In Rethinking Place Branding (pp. 85-100). Springer, Cham.

Hennink, M., Hutter, I. and Bailey, A., 2020. Qualitative research methods. Sage.

Hultman, M., Papadopoulou, C., Oghazi, P. and Opoku, R., 2021. Branding the hotel industry: The effect of step-up versus step-down brand extensions. Journal of Business Research, 124, pp.560-570.

Kavaratzis, M., Warnaby, G. and Ashworth, G.J. eds., 2014. Rethinking place branding: Comprehensive brand development for cities and regions. Springer.

Matanda, T. and Ewing, M.T., 2012. The process of global brand strategy development and regional implementation. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 29(1), pp.5-12.

Moro, S. and Rita, P., 2018. Brand strategies in social media in hospitality and tourism. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.

O’Neill, J.W. and Carlbäck, M., 2011. Do brands matter? A comparison of branded and independent hotels’ performance during a full economic cycle. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 30(3), pp.515-521.

ReportLinker, 2021. Hospitality Global Market Report 2021: COVID 19 Impact and Recovery to 2030. [online] GlobeNewswire News Room. Available at: [Accessed 13 May 2021].

Silverman, D. ed., 2020. Qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited.

Sürücü, Ö., Öztürk, Y., Okumus, F. and Bilgihan, A., 2019. Brand awareness, image, physical quality and employee behavior as building blocks of customer-based brand equity: Consequences in the hotel context. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 40, pp.114-124.

Tiago, M.T.P.M.B. and Veríssimo, J.M.C., 2014. Digital marketing and social media: Why bother?. Business horizons, 57(6), pp.703-708.

Zenker, S. and Martin, N., 2011. Measuring success in place marketing and branding. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 7(1), pp.32-41.

Zhang, T., Bilgihan, A., Kandampully, J. and Lu, C., 2018. Building stronger hospitality brands through online communities. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology.

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