Merchandising Central makes it easy for you to create merchandising and marketing material for your website. The idea is that you can use it to build a campaign for your specific target market. Once you know your way around Merchandising Central you can create a campaign in under 10 minutes, although your first campaign may take a bit longer as you familiarize yourself with the tool.
So here is a step by step guide for creating a feed for New York hotels looking like this:
Step 1: Login to Merchandising Central.
Go to http://www.expediaaffiliate.com/. Login to Affiliate Center and choose Merchandising Central from the merchandising tab at the top of the page.
Step 2: Select output type as feeds
Using the menu bar on the left, select feeds.
At this stage
you have to choose between hotel feeds and destination feeds. Hotel feeds will provide a list of hotel names (e.g. Hudson Hotel) and destination feeds will provide a list of destinations (E.g. New York). For our example choose Hotel Feeds. Depending on the CMS you use the price will display if you hover your mouse over the hotel or destination name.
Step 3: Give your campaign a unique name and choose the type of feed
Each campaign you
create needs a unique name. This name will appear in the Manage Your Campaign section, and you can come back to revise the feed in the Manage Your Campaign section.
Once you provided a unique name, select RSS feeds.
Step 4: Selecting campaign details
In order to populate content for your feed, you will need to choose criteria to meet your target market. Click “Hotels by Theme, Type or Activity”.
Here you can specify your specific criteria for your campaign using various filters. For this article we will focus on the destination filter. However, depending on where you plan to use your feed, you can select other filters to help you show relevant hotels to your customers.
This Destination filter has predictive text to help you search for destinations or landmarks. You can search by City (e.g. New York), Neighborhood (e.g. Manhattan) or Landmark (e.g. Times Square).
The more criteria you add to your campaigns the more specific your feed becomes, and thus fewer hotels will be available to meet your criteria. Use the ‘Check Now’ button to see how many hotels match the criteria you selected. Please note that this does not guarantee availability, and only shows the number of hotels matching your criteria.
Step 5: Campaign Settings
Next you will want to choose the language and currency for your page, and select your default travel dates.
The ‘Specify Dates’ radio button gives you the opportunity to select very specific dates using a calendar. The ‘Ongoing’ radio button makes use of rolling dates, and is a good option if for minimal feed maintenance. For example, if your customers typically book 4 weeks before travelling then use 4 weeks option in the dropdown list. If you are unsure of the booking window for your shoppers, use 2 weeks, which is currently the most popular option.
The next step is very important: the option to include or exclude taxes and fees from the advertised price. While the United States is excluded, most countries now require by law that you advertise prices with taxes and fees included. If you have any doubt about this field and your country’s tax policy, we recommend you select the ‘Inclusive Pricing’ option.
Remember to add your Google Analytics code so that you can track the progress of your campaign.
Step 6: Last steps
The last step is to choose your sort order. The default option is Deals and Promotions, which will show deals and promotions first and then display other hotels in a price ascending manner. You can also select the radio button to ensure that you only show deals and promotions, but please note that if you choose this option your feed will not have any inventory if there are no deals available.
Finally, choose how many hotels you want in your feed, accept the Terms and Conditions (read them first if you haven’t done so yet), and click the publish button.
Step 7: Implement the feed on your site.
Once published, you will receive a link to your RSS feed on the next page. You can copy this feed to your clipboard and use it to populate widgets, implement merchandising on your site, or even create TwitterFeeds for your Twitter and Facebook accounts.