[MUSIC] Welcome back. As we saw in module one, actively managing your distribution is a key issue in today's hyper competitive hotel sector. Given a hotel's high operating leverage even small increases in occupancy and rate can result in significant improvements in profitability. And since hotels also tend to be highly geared financially, substantial returns are needed in order to pay off their debts and insure at least an adequate return for the owners. In Module 2, we discussed how distribution is evolving with an increased share of bookings flowing true digital, be they web or mobile channels. We also saw that perhaps too many of these bookings are flowing on through OTA channels, with big implications for hotels in terms of both distribution cost and their relationship with the customer. Most commentators agree that from the hotel's perspective, it would be much better to drive more of these bookings directly. But doing so, means explicitly having an effective and efficient online and mobile presence. In this module, we will focus on what is typically called the brand.com web site, the hotel or hotel chain's official web presence. As we will see later, in reality this may turn out to be multiple sites, each focusing on a specific market segment or geographical region. But in all cases these sites are controlled by and operated by the hotel with the objective of facilitating direct booking. While today few hotels will actually sit down and develop a website for themselves. During this module we will structure our conversation using what I call the Web development cycle shown here on my left. Examining each of the steps in this process will allow us to discuss all of the different things that a hotel needs to think about when developing its direct websites, irrespective of whether your doing it yourself or working with a dedicated team of professional web developers. Coming back and looking at this cycle will help ensure that none of the essentials steps are overlooked. Before digging deep into each of the individual points on the cycle, let's just look at the entire process from a macro perspective. Each of the points that I am going to make applies equally well whether we are looking at developing a website, a mobile presence, or even an app. However for the sake of simplicity and to avoid repeating myself again and again, during the discussion today I will use the catchall phrase website to represent all forms of direct online presence. First of all, it's important to realize that the cycle is precisely that, a cycle, and that it's meant to be repeated again and again. Developing a web site is not a once off process. As we have seen both technology and user expectations are changing rapidly, and hotels need to revisit and re-adapt what they have done, perhaps much more regularly than they have done in the past. As we will see, in the last step when we start looking at web analytics, we can use these to help us understand what is working and what is not working, and use these insights to help us modify and change our site whenever is necessary, but that is putting the cart before the horse. Let's return to the beginning and examine the cycle step by step. The first step is probably the most important one, deciding what you want your website to actually do. As we will see, being clear here at this stage is vitally important, as all the other steps in the cycle flow from having well-defined and transparent objectives. Once you understand what you want your website to do, the next step is to register an appropriate step of domain names to facilitate consumer access to the website and to help them understand its purpose. The third and perhaps the most important step is to decide on the content that will be included on the site's pages. Content refers to the texts, graphics, multimedia and most importantly the functionality to be included. And as we will see, having the right content is absolutely essential to both help the website to be found and to convince consumers to buy. With hotel websites, four pieces of content are absolutely essential. The first is the bookings engine, secondly rich sales orientated descriptive text to help sell the property. Thirdly, high-quality dramatic images to convert the customer. And lastly, including verified user-generated reviews to help increase the conversion rate and increase direct bookings. The next stage is probably the part that most people think about when they think about website development. That is the actual coding of the pages. Today in practically all cases this will be done by professional developers. But as we will see, different approaches are possible, each with their own advantages and limitations. Once the pages have been developed they will need to be hosted somewhere on the web, so that consumers can access them on their computers or mobile devices. Once again, there are several different possibilities as to how this could be done, with the developer needing to match the objectives and the potential traffic of the site to the options available. Once a hosting solution has been chosen, the sites webpages have to be uploaded and the site made live, allowing the entire world to see your work. Unfortunately, unless you spend considerable time and money marketing your site, no one is likely to even know that it exist. Driving business to your website is probably the step, where you will spend most of your time, and most of your budget. As it is a never-ending process involving search engine optimization, paid search engine marketing, email marketing through your loyalty program, and many other forms of electronic promotion. The last step, using analytics to understand your site's visitors, is absolutely essential. One of the great things about the web is that practically everything is measurable and provided you set up appropriate analytics during the web development process, once your site goes live, you can track and monitor what is working and what is not so as to gain deep insight into how to improve both your site and drive increased bookings based on the actual behavior of your customers. You can then use this insight to reboot the cycle, redefining your site's objectives, re-examining your content and how it's organized and presented, identifying which marketing techniques are working best with your particular target audience, and repeating again, again and again, creating a virtuous circle of continuous improvement. Now having looked at the cycle from a macro perspective, we will now examine each of the components individually. The first of these is being absolutely crystal clear about the objectives of creating your site in the first place.