Whoever came up with the idiomatic expression “The devil’s in the details,” must have made a lousy hotel choice or two in their lives. Since retiring from the travel public relations and marketing game, I notice an uptick in sloppy marketing efforts that are almost entirely reliant on Google ads, OTAs, and the big tour operators. For hoteliers here in Greece, the lost opportunity costs of such reliance will eventually tell. It is with this eventuality in mind that I present the following report on the state of Crete hospitality.
The report you are about to read will be scathing, and it will seem almost cruel to the hotel owners on the wrong end of the criticism. But I am sure there will be a few who will thank me later on down the hospitality road. My experience in representing hotels and travel technology companies these last twenty years has been marked with a level of frustration over the industry’s general failure to adopt sound digital practices. The following selection of Crete hotels was chosen by Google search/maps suggestion to me on searching “top Crete resorts.” So, as I type this, I have no concrete idea what I will find right or wrong with these hotels’ online efforts. I can guess, however, but let’s look at what each has put forth to potential customers first.
The image below reveals my initial query results. As you can see Delena Mountain Resort is on top, followed by Aquila Atlantis Hotel, Galaxie Hotel Iraklio, and Dessole Dolphin Bay Resort. Also, take note, Google has presented this group based on guest reviews/popularity.
As I already suggested, before visiting the various online assets of these hotels, I had no idea what I would find by way of marketing and advertising effort.
Delena Mountain Resort
Straight out of the gate I could tell the marketing and sales people of this property rely heavily on Google Ads, the OTAs, and probably agents. While it’s customary to search a hotel and to find four successive ads before the listing of their website, it’s also disheartening as well. Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Trivago ads turning up like this betrays a mediocre SEO and broad marketing effort. I’ll explain in a minute.
Two seconds into the landing page of the resort’s website and I found “the devil” of poor content translation I’ll admit I expected to find. In English, the word “Cretan” is spelled with a capital “C” – but Delena’s content team belittles their own island brothers and sisters with – “where “cretan hospitality” is reflected.” The texts of the site are horrid if you are an English speaker looking for a nice stay in the mountains of Crete. Take a look:
“Delina Mountain Resort consist of 13 elegantly decorated rooms, that offer a delightful stay to the visitor. All rooms have fireplace, Jacuzzi, shower or bathtub, veranda with view of the snowy peaks of “Psiloritis” mountain, which is the highest mountain and also a land mark of Crete. Also, the hotel offers two rooms for people with physical disabilities as well as two non-smoking rooms.”
Okay, the resort is in tune with Crete hospitality’s digital norm, they are cheap and see no need to cater to the few guests who will book from America or the UK on their native site. Got it. Correct grammar and expert writing are useless for Crete hotel marketers. The resort used Marinet International for their initial website design and SEO, and judging from their company texts and engagement, it’s easy to see why Delena might lose some thousands in revenue from Londoners turned off by the bad lingo. I’ll cover Marinet and other Greek “experts” in a later report. Let’s move on to social media.
The resort has what I would classify as an “adequate” Facebook presence with something over 10,000 followers and a decent posting rate and style. Running the profile through Likealyzer my assessment proved out. The analytics there showed all the right strategies, but with a lot of room from improvement in engagement. What this means is there’s no heart in the social presence, it’s a needed afterthought. It should also be noted the posts are usually in Greek, which is a common mistake Cretan hoteliers make. There’s an Instagram account too, but it’s also an afterthought, another sign of under commitment.
Finally, analyzing the Delina Mountain Resort using Google’s PageSpeed Insights showed one of the worst
Aquila Atlantis Hotel
It’s a funny thing, I live in Heraklion and have written 5,000 articles about Crete, and I’ve never heard of this hotel. I am not sure how this is possible, but it cannot be because of digital agency
Aquila Atlantis’ mobile website hit the Google speedometer at a blazing “4” – two whole turtle points higher than Delina Mountain Resort. Combined with the fact the hotel didn’t even bother to introduce itself properly to searching guests, the slowness makes me wonder why the owners bothered with a website at all. In Social, Atlantis Hospitality shows a full contingent of profiles, but Likealyzer shows their engagement and activity are almost nonexistent. Then again, the Hilton Athens is just a “meh” engagement too, so. The hotel group’s Instagram is much better than some, but it appears the group paid the photographer and model who did a recent photo shoot more than they do their marketing people. Sorry, I hate seeing misspent resources and mediocrity when there is no reason for it.
Aquila hotels are only in Greek media too, which makes me want to ask them if
Galaxy Hotel Iraklio
I know this hotel is going to beat out the previous two even before I stop typing here to investigate what they’re up to. The reason I know this is because I see them on Instagram and Facebook, in ads, and because I walk past the hotel almost every day. Not blessed with the best location in town, Galaxy is a classy affair ideally located for exploring the prefecture of Heraklion, even if the views are not of Koules Fortress.
And behold, if you google Galaxy Hotel, guess what pops up in the first position on Google That’s right the hotel’s ad, and their website – positions one and two. TripAdvisor and the rest are way down the list of results, which tells me somebody is working hard in the hotel’s marketing and sales departments. Furthermore, their Facebook profile ranks higher than Hotels.com, which shows somebody is tweaking their social presence like crazy. But let’s continue as with the others.
Let me see, how is this for an introductory text.
“The 5* experience of staying at the Galaxy has been awarded time and time again. Our guests’ satisfaction is the culmination of our commitment to excellence. This is not only reflected in the range of facilities and amenities offered for our guests to enjoy. It is rooted in our dedication to hospitality with a personal touch. The quality of our services is a result of this, as is our attentive and vigilant business-as-usual attitude. Our high standards are constantly increasing, as we take our role as your hosts quite seriously.”
Now, this is interesting. Someone spent some money and some effort to hire a wordsmith of sorts here. Let’s pretend I’m a well educated British or American businessman who knows nothing about Heraklion. Ah, but you already know what I am about to say. I am 20,000 times more likely to book Galaxy, especially given the hotel’s stunning website imagery. Galaxy’s management chose Nelios for creating their presence, and it’s clear the hotel owner listened to what the marketing and design firm told them.
Even though the Google PageSpeed index on the mobile site is only 22 (still low), it looks like the non-visible image and a cache problem account for most of this loss of speed. Other than this, the website contingent of Galaxy Hotel is one of the best I’ve seen.
As I suspected from the Google SERPs indicator on social, Galaxy Hotel is prolific compared to most Crete hotels. Although the Likealyzer score shows signs there could be an improvement in responsiveness and engagement, the 12,000 plus followers on Facebook and the almost 1,400 Instagram followers of the hotel
Lastly, Galaxie Hotel Iraklio also fails the public relations and communications test where media outreach is concerned. Like almost every other Crete hospitality business, this property seems to be totally dense where earned, owned, or even paid for media is concerned. They do have a Telegraph UK piece from last year still visible in news, and there’s a mention from Argophilia about a chess tournament, but the rest is
Dessole Dolphin Bay Resort
Expedia, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Booking.com, and then I find out for the first time since living on Crete what and where the Dessole Dolphin Bay Resort is. Okay, it must be me, or maybe there are just too many resorts in Malia! No, the owners of this property clearly hate the digital world and are determined to never play ball with the rest of world hospitality players. Let’s forget for a moment the hotel group’s website ranks lower than the lame Hotel-Crete.net contingent, the Dessole Resorts & Hotels site is barely even functional. Trying to read all the pages in English instead of Turkish proves impossible since only the landing seems to be for us Anglo Saxons. Even the two or three lines of English text visible are not formed into actual sentences, but who am I to complain as a potential beachgoer next summer?
Wow, activities are limited to “unlimited joy” in Turkish. Let’s move on.
The site scores a 39, just below average, probably owing to the fact there are no texts and only sparse imagery to be indexed. The site gets mostly Russian traffic, and not much of this demographic if an Alexa of 5 plus million says anything. I am cringing just going through the paces here, to be honest. It looks like PGS Hotels had the site made from scratch, but I cannot be certain. What is clear is that whoever translated the site cannot spell Aegean (see screenshot).
PGS Hotels is a group, so having a Facebook profile with only 6,000 followers is not exactly world class engagement in my book. Likealyzer puts this Facebook entity as totally disengaged and scores it the lowest of the ones you see here. The group also has an Instagram and a YouTube channel featuring some hot chicks twerking like Spring Break is forever at Xone Club. I particularly like the imagery of the overweight guy jumping into the pool with the 20-somethings, it conveys the essence of PGS Hotels I guess. I could not resist, here is one of their stylish videos.
Mediocre digital PR and marketing are costing Crete hoteliers millions of euros per season. What’s more, lazy and complacent thinking will end up not only ruining a great many hotel businesses but the Crete value proposition as a whole. Hoteliers here fall into basically three categories. The most desperate ones are just horrified by the idea of pushing back at big-budget operators like TUI and Thomas Cook, for fear their properties will fall from favor. The second category is made up of complacent owners satisfied with the status quo of filling to capacity and
The problem for all of these operators is easy to show if only the lot of hoteliers here on Crete could imagine a loyal customer lost forever over a fly in the soup, a missing mint on that pillow, or words on a website that show a lack of tact and caring. These hotel owners will probably never realize the “next” level of success because of their attitude toward their present situation. For these hoteliers, I can offer a stunning revelation from the experts at the SWEOR agency in the U.S.: almost 40% of the people who visit your website will turn away if the design or content is a turn-off. I’ll leave you to do the math concerning hundreds of people NOT from TUI leaving and never coming back. Sorry to upset your brunch, but 100,000 euro you missed and never knew you missed is a nightmare, now isn’t it? By the way, the studies show 88% of website visitors who leave on account of your mistakes never return. These are the premium customers that went to your competitors.
Stay tuned for more allstars of Crete, Greece, and Europe hotel promotions.