HotelCritic.org – Building A Brand

Building a brand takes time – this blog did not grow to what it has become overnight and I don’t expect the same to happen with HotelCritic.org. Now that I’m focusing on just one development project at a time I can really enjoy building-up the brand and business from scratch. I’ve learned a lot of my brand-building techniques from Chef Patrick so couldn’t write this post without first giving credit where credit is due – Patrick is a master at brand-building so if you need a good consultant he’s the guy to talk to!

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Part of building a brand is differentiating yourself and making your business unique. There are three ways that I plan to make HotelCritic.org different from anything else out there:

  1. HotelCritic.org will feature video walkthroughs of hotel rooms
  2. Reviewers will be manually selected to ensure quality
  3. After twenty reviews, a reviewer will receive business cards and a HotelCritic.org email address

These are the three characteristics I’ll be using to explain to people what differentiates HotelCritic.org from the major players in the market like TripAdvisor and Hotels.com.

To build the brand I’ll be reaching-out to travel bloggers and other hotel-related sites along with leveraging my own competitors like TripAdvisor to promote this site (more on this technique to come). At the end of the day I want to get as many travel blogs, forums and sites linking to and discussing my site as possible.

Along with reaching-out to other related sites I’ll also be of course contacting hotels and making them aware of the site and discussing ways we can work together. Of course the site will remain unbiased so I’ll have to make it very clear to any sponsors that bad reviews could still be written about one of their properties. I’m going to be paying particular attention to hotels that are opening new locations and finding ways to get the site involved with the launch.

My designer is working on “Recommended by HotelCritic.org” banners so smaller hotels can place these on their site and link to our review of their hotel. While I don’t expect any of the major players to put this on their site, smaller boutique hotels would probably appreciate this and its a great way to build the brand.

As with any brand you need an advertising budget to get the word-out and I will be paying for ads on targeted sites to help build the brand and attract more reviewers. As the site grows I will be reaching-out to travel magazines and regular newspapers to see what kind of coverage I might be able to get.

As you can see there is a LOT of work to be done building this brand…but I’m already loving every minute of it! This is another reason why it’s hard to do more than one development project at once – you can’t properly build ten brands at once – there’s just not enough time! I’ve already started collecting my list of initial blogs, forums, and travel sites I’ll be reaching-out to in the coming weeks.

I’ll continue to share my progress each step of the way. Right now I’m only sharing a slice of what’s to come and look forward to sharing more as things progress. Of course if any of your are frequently travelers and would like to write reviews feel free to apply – after your first twenty reviews you’ll have your own cards and email address so you can be an official Hotel Critic!

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Niv November 26, 2009, 1:36 am

    Well done on hotelcritic.org it will be a big success.
    I’ll be shooting Queensland hotel reviews for your site next week.
    -Niv

    Reply
    • Morgan November 26, 2009, 10:49 am

      Thanks @Niv! Looking forward to some more hotel reviews from Oz!!

      Reply
  • TeenDomainer November 26, 2009, 6:13 am

    Morgan I really like this brand and I can see it growing and hotels displaying stickers like rated 5 stars on HotelCritic.org

    Great job and keep us updated on it

    Reply
    • Morgan November 26, 2009, 10:55 am

      Thanks @Brian!

      Reply
  • Kevin Jackson November 26, 2009, 8:25 am

    This post demonstrates clearly that you have got the concept of branding Morgan!

    What you have detailed here should be valuable information for everyone wanting to start a successful eBusiness. Branding is not just about putting up a site. A domain name is not a brand. It is what you develop on the domain name, and then what you subsequently do after you launch the website that creates a brand.

    Great tips here! Wish you every success!

    Reply
    • Morgan November 26, 2009, 10:54 am

      Thanks @Kevin – I appreciate the kind words!

      Reply
  • MikeZ November 26, 2009, 8:27 am

    Great work Morgan. Your plan for the banners is a good one. It really gets the name of the site out in front of people, and builds respect for an authority site like this.

    Keep us posted on your progress.

    MikeZ

    Reply
    • Morgan November 26, 2009, 10:49 am

      Thanks @MikeZ I think this will make a big difference. Looking forward to sharing the adventure with you!

      Reply
  • PPC Ian November 26, 2009, 3:24 pm

    Morgan,
    Thank you for sharing your plans, this is a very motivating post. What really stands out to me the most is that you’re sharing your game plan openly from the beginning. This takes a lot of courage in the sense that you’re putting yourself on the line. In my opinion, this is a great approach and I cannot see anything but success for your new endeavor. Looking forward to seeing HotelCritic.org become a tremendous success!
    All the best,
    Ian

    Reply

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