Archive for the ‘Nebraska’ Category

Relax, Recharge, Renew

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Relax, Recharge, Renew

An exemplary corporate social responsibility program distinguishes Toronto’s hospitality community.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jeff Heilman

Earlier this year, I enjoyed a comfortable and relaxing stay at the InterContinental Toronto Centre as part of a Tourism Toronto-sponsored familiarization tour for some 25 association meeting planners and media. Upon entering my suite, the first good discovery was the breathtaking view of the adjacent CN Tower. The second was the inspiring, heart-warming note on the desk, saying that in lieu of a welcome gift, $100 was being donated on behalf of each FAM participant to Tourism Toronto’s “Relax, Recharge, Renew” (RRR) program.

As we would learn at a breakfast presentation the following morning, the award-winning program, launched in August 2008, provides area parents of special needs and medically fragile children with all-expenses paid local weekend getaways. In most cases, the children require round-the-clock care; the stories of devoted parents enduring endless sleepless nights and years without a holiday break were moving in the extreme.

“Relax, Recharge, Renew” is confidently, lovingly up to the task, though. With well over 200 local tourism partners participating, including most of Toronto’s hotel community, each weekend sees two families treated to Toronto’s top hotels, restaurants, theatre shows, sporting events and major attractions. The tailored two-night, three-day package includes limo service to and from home; the children are cared for in a high-quality, provincially funded respite care facility.

Along with sustainability and student scholarships, helping families in need is a pillar of Tourism Toronto’s commitment to contributing to the social, environmental and business welfare of the Toronto community. “Most programs help the children, for whom you can never do enough, but here we saw an opportunity to help the parents,” says Andrew Weir, vice president of communications for the association of some 1,200 Toronto-area hospitality and tourism members. “It had to be more meaningful than simply writing a check, though,” he continues. “The answer was to leverage all the assets of our local industry.”

Careful steps were required to get the program started. “For RRR to work, we knew that we needed widespread support from our partners,” explains Weir. “A small cadre would not have been effective—this needed to be a symbolic rallying point for the entire Toronto hospitality community.” Part of the strategy was not “cannibalizing” family help initiatives already in place at many of Toronto’s hotels. “We were sensitive to walking in and taking over,” Weir continues. “It was a matter of putting our stamp on a distinct new program.”

For Tourism Toronto’s part, RRR is a budgeted line item supported by significant staff time; securing partner support was never an issue.

“When Tourism Toronto reached out to us about their RRR Program, we didn’t hesitate to say yes,” says Mark Ive, general manager of the Renaissance Toronto. “Being a Marriott brand and having Marriott’s “Spirit to Serve” culture deeply ingrained in our DNA, we are proud and delighted to help those local families looking for a respite from the situational stress they are under.”

It’s a sentiment shared by Yola Marshall, director of sales & marketing for the InterContinental Toronto Centre. “Hitting home on a personal level with friends who have experienced the huge pressure of caring for special needs children, RRR was a quick draw for us,” Marshall says. “There’s also the bigger picture of a unifying CSR program that the entire local hotel industry could support as a common cause.”

The number and diversity of Toronto-area RRR participants is truly impressive, from hotels and restaurants to retailers, transportation companies, spas and museums. “Even partners that cannot provide a direct service, like audio-visual companies and meeting planners, have helped the program,” Weir says.

Among RRR’s biggest supporters is the Delta Chelsea Hotel. “We were introduced to the program at its outset, and immediately confirmed our participation,” says Tracy Ford, the hotel’s public relations director. “RRR parallels our Chelsea CARES program, which provides free guestrooms to qualified families visiting hospitalized loved ones at Mount Sinai, Hospital for Sick Children and University Health Network hospitals, all located within two blocks of the hotel.”

Sharing Toronto Tourism’s CSR ethos (really, the spirit of the city’s entire tourism family), the Delta has organized an annual charity golf tournament over the past decade that has raised over $600,000 for Special Olympics (2002-2007) and Habitat for Humanity (2008-2012). “It is very important to us to show our appreciation and give back to our community,” Ford says. “The RRR program provides us with another opportunity to do so, and we hope to welcome more families throughout this year.”

The strain on participating families is profoundly affecting. “Although we love our son more than anything in the world, we were so exhausted by having to constantly be on the lookout to ensure his safety and monitor his behavior,” wrote one set of parents.

“There is an old saying that ‘a change is as good as a rest,’ and for those RRR guests staying with us, I like to think the change of surroundings and the associated rest gives them the strength to return to their stressful situation,” says Ive.

In this regard, the program continues to prove vitally beneficial.  Consider this testimonial from another pair of parents after their RRR break: “Wow, what a fantastic weekend! We didn’t think that we would have so much fun and be pampered like we did. We are very appreciative of the fact that Tourism Toronto and Respite Services truly understand the needs of parents who have a special needs child. It is often the parents who sacrifice for their special needs child at their own expense. It is really nice to know that others understand our daily challenges and realize we need a break once a while to recharge and re-focus.”

Recognized by Destination Marketing Association International, IMEX and other industry bodies, RRR, while drawing outside inquiries and interest, remains localized in the Toronto area. “It is part of reinforcing our commitment to the community,” says Weir. “If our efforts inspire others in their own communities, we would consider that one more achievement and an even greater source of pride.”

Searching for overseas guests

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

The Difference between Keywords Translation and Keywords Localization

March 26, 2012Reading time: 4 – 7 minutes

Targeting users in different languages and countries is always challenging for web content strategists and web content authors whenever they create multilingual content for global campaigns. In most  cases, the content is translated from a source language into other languages. It is not as common that content would be created natively in each target language. For multilingual content to have the desired results including:

1) search engines indexing it and,

2) users acting on it

you will always need to consider the find ability and usefulness of the contentin the new language in order for it to be effective.

Keywords-LocalizationGlobal Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of adapting your multilingual content and websites for search engines in different languages and countries to maintain the best rank and visibility in the search results also known as search engine results pages (SERPs).

Keywords have always been and will always be at the core of search engine marketing and optimization.

Keywords are an essential part of online content both for organic SEO and paid SEM campaigns. You will always need to focus on the right keywords used in your web content to avoid attracting a different target audience than you planned, and avoid losing opportunities in the local markets you are trying to reach with a campaign. Choosing the right keywords and researching and localizing correctly for online content in different languages is critical because keyword translation is NOT really just about translating, but researching and localizing for a target locale.

Many online marketers and webmasters stillseem to think that keyword translation and is the same thing. The fact is, it is never the same.

Keywords Translation versus Keywords Localization

Keywords translation is the process of providing your keywords in a different language. Usually this process is completed inherently with a website translation project. It is really for the human readers but without consideration for thesearch engines.  The challenge with just translated keywords is while it may serve its purpose to accurately convey meaning and be friendly to your readers; it may not be serve its purpose to be friendly to search engines.

Some Examples of KeywordLocalization:

Translating keywords only sometimes is problematic because each country and online users group has different set of keywords when they search online even for the same search term they are looking for on search engines. It even happens sometimes with the same language like English-US and English-UK. Let’s provide some examples to explain more about these issues.

  • In USA market online consumer use commonly the term “Auto” when it comes to “Cars” while in UK the word “Car” is used more commonly. Which means if a firm is providing loans in both markets they must use “Auto loan” in the United State website while they must use the keyword “Car loan” in The UK website in order to reach.
  • For real estate businesses the keywords like “Accommodation, Apartments, Housing, Residences” could vary from a country to another, and not just that but also from city to another. Geo-targeting is very important when it comes to selecting PPC keywords or SEO copywriting.
  • In UK market people use the keyword “Hols” when they are searching online for “Holiday” with average 90,500 monthly searches. Which means if you are selling holiday’s packages in UK you need to localize your keywords for this specific market according to the most common keywords for the local users?
  • Another example for Spanish language: “Coche” is commonly used for “car”, while in Latin America (Argentina), the same Spanish word may be more commonly used for “baby-stroller”. So are you looking for people that want to buy a car or a baby stroller?

 

Keywords Localization is translating your online content for a specific locale. A marketing slogan or message in one language might be a total disaster in a different one.  Accurate Keywords localization will guarantee better search engine results because these are the words your potential customer actually use when they perform searches.

To achieve the best SEO localization results itreally requires more a combination of three tasks:

a) language localization

b) keywords localization

c) local keyword research

To accomplish this mission and build your successful multilingual keywords list you will need to address the following:

  • Professional localization of the keyword list.
  • Adapting the keyword list to the locale (combination of language, culture and geography).
  • Researching the target online market for new keyword ideas, the most relevant and competitive (local trends, local events, etc).
  • Testing keywords to make sure they are accurate to local search engines.

Useful keyword tools:

  • Google Adwords Keyword Tool: a tool with advanced options to research keywords by country and language. Enter a keyword term and Google will provide many more keyword suggestions as well as monthly search volumes.
  • Google Insights for Search: a tool to research trends in keyword search demand over time in each of your target countries.
  • Wordtracker Keywords: Wordtracker helps website owners and search engine marketers identify keywords and phrases that are relevant to their or their client’s business and most likely to be used as queries by search engine visitors.
  • Google Trendsdiscover top trends andcompare multiple search terms – one more great product from Google allowing you to research and compare trends.

Further resources on Global SEO and SEM:

GPI’s Global SEO Specialists will conduct your multilingual keyword analysis, ranging from terminology accuracy equivalents to keyword density factor evaluation and competition analysis. GPI also offers  Global Search Engine Marketing Services and many other translation services.

For more information on issues specific to Search engine marketing, you may wish to review our previous blogs:

Contact GPI for more information via e-mail at info@globalizationpartners.com, by phone at (866) 272-5874, or by requesting a free search engine optimization translation quote on your project.

“KNOW NEBRASKA” Tourism Competition for free booth space at the Nebraska State Fair

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

A friendly reminder from the Nebraska State Fair:

 

Indoor booth space is nearly full for the 2012 Nebraska State Fair.  The deadline is fast approaching to enter the KNOW NEBRASKA competition.

 

“KNOW NEBRASKA” Tourism Competition for free booth space at the Nebraska State Fair August 24, through September 3, 2012.

 

Know Nebraska is an opportunity for your community to compete to win one of three prized and complimentary exhibit booth spaces in the 4-H/FFA/Commercial Building at the 2012 Fair. All Nebraska counties/communities/tourism operations are encouraged to compete for a (FREE!) KNOW NEBRASKA booth space at the 2012 State Fair! Three organizations will be awarded free exhibit booth space to use as display and distribution of promotional materials about the tourism attractions in each winning area.

Winning entries will be chosen by Nebraska State Fair Board Members based on how the county proposes to use their space to enhance the Nebraska State Fair Mission Statement.

The mission statement is as follows. The purpose of the Nebraska State Fair is to educate and entertain; recognize individual achievements; celebrate excellence in agriculture, industry, commerce, education, arts, sciences, and technology; and reinforce a sense of community and shared culture for the citizens of Nebraska. –Nebraska State Board of Agriculture, March 15, 2000.

 

To participate in the Know Nebraska competition for one of the three Know Nebraska display booths, please complete and return the attached application form before May 4, 2012. To allow winners ample time to schedule State Fair booth staffing requirements, the chosen counties and/or attractions will be notified the week of Monday, May 21, 2012. All booths are required to be open and staffed from 9:00am-9:00pm August 24-September 2, and from 9:00am-7:00pm on September 3rd.

 

For more information about the Nebraska State Fair, visit www.statefair.org or contact Jaime Parr.

 

Jaime Parr, Facility Director

Nebraska State Fair Park

308-382-1606

jparr@statefair.org

The Secret to Consistent Marketing Results

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

The Secret to Consistent Marketing Results

You don’t need an MBA to be a marketing master. Here is how you can boost your business with an easy to follow plan.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Joy Gendusa

If you have invested in marketing in the past, you probably had the experience many other business owners have had: inconsistency. Maybe one month your marketing is blowing the doors off your hotel, but the next month it’s nothing more than a waste of budget.

You are certainly not alone. As I said, many business owners have experienced the exact same situation and it leaves them wondering whether marketing is really a good investment.

But what if I told you there is a way to get consistent results from your marketing? If you could be sure that your marketing was going to produce profitable sales, would that make it easier to pull the trigger on a larger marketing budget?

I have a simple, 3-step process that can help you see consistent, profitable results from your marketing. It’s no gimmick. It’s just solid marketing theory that works.

Here are the 3 steps to getting consistent marketing results for your hotel…

1. Identify Your Target Market
I said that this is going to be solid marketing theory, and the best way to illustrate this point is by painting a picture. Imagine that you have the top minds in advertising copywriting and design working for you. They come up with the perfect advertisement that hits all the right buttons and drives the prospect to book a room.

Now, imagine that your perfect ad runs in Seventeen magazine. At this point, does it matter how well the ad was written and designed? No, because a seventeen-year-old girl won’t respond to your ads no matter what they say. Seventeen-year-old girls are not your target market.

Your target market is a group of people with similar characteristics who are most likely to respond to your advertising. Once you have identified this group, even a mediocre ad will be effective, because they already have an inherent need or desire from your product.

To identify your target market, go back through your customer list. There are software programs that can help you with this, too. Look for what your customers have in common. Are they mostly businesspeople? Honeymooners? Vacationing families? What are their ages? Estimated income level? The more specific you can get with your target market, the better the response to your advertising will be.

One market you could reach easily is your previous guests. Recently, my husband and I went back to a lovely bed and breakfast that we remembered from five years ago! We always meant to go back, but never seemed to have time. However, if they had contacted us with their marketing, it would have reminded me to book the vacation and we probably would have gone there many more times over the past five years.

2. Promote to Your Target Market
Now that you know who your target market is, you need to find a way to get your ad in front of their eyes. Most marketing mediums have a way to target, though some are more effective than others.

Using pay per click, you can target online searchers. Television lets you target by program and time. Direct mail lets you target by age, income level, number of kids, geographical location, etc. The key is to find the medium that best penetrates your target market.

Then, once you have that. Pump your ads into that target market — consistently. Having the right target market will produce results, but consistent outflow of your marketing is what produces the consistency. If you are not consistent, do not expect your results to be consistent. People respond to what they keep seeing, not what they see. The more you send marketing out, the more reservations you will get in.

3. Follow Up with New Leads
When your marketing goes out (assuming you have targeted the right market, and are promoting consistently), you will get leads in. That’s how it works. The trick is that you’re not done yet. A lead isn’t a sale or reservation — it is a lead. That lead needs to be converted into a paying customer, and you do that with follow-up.

The easiest and cheapest way to follow up is with email. When a lead gets to your website or calls in to your hotel, make sure you have a way to get their contact information, specifically, their email address. There are email marketing programs out there that can help you set up an automatic follow-up system with email “autoresponders”. These are emails that get sent to prospects automatically when they are entered into your email database. You should also send out a monthly email newsletter. This helps you stay in front of prospects and warms them up into a sale.

It is truly a simple process: target, promote, follow-up. The key is perseverance. Don’t give up if there are slight fluctuations in your results, this is normal. Over time, you will see that the results are actually very consistent and profitable. And if you keep tweaking your target market and optimizing your ad designs, your response will only get better and better.

About Joy Gendusa:
Joy Gendusa is the owner and CEO of direct mail marketing firm, PostcardMania. Joy began PostcardMania in 1998, with nothing but a phone and a computer, never taking a dime of investment capital. Joy originally started PostcardMania as a full-service postcard marketing company helping clients create turn-key marketing campaigns with graphic design, printing, mailing list acquisition and mailing services. Since then, PostcardMania has expanded to offer its clients more services including website and landing page design and development, email marketing and full marketing evaluations — all while continuing to educate clients with free marketing advice.

Responsible Travel Report Vol. 11, No. 4/April 2012

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Responsible Travel Report
Vol. 11, No. 4/April 2012

Dear Friends,

I’m always amazed to watch our network of passionate sustainable tourism advocates grow. We’re part of an important global movement, and I’m so thankful for the chance to share our news with you on a monthly basis.

In the coming months we’ll have even more big news to share. STI’s 10th anniversary is fast approaching, and we’ve got a number of exciting things in store to commemorate this important milestone, reflecting on 10 years of impact while preparing for the road ahead. Keep your eyes peeled for news on this front over the coming months. (Hint: a new website with a fresh look and feel is on its way!)

Speaking of expanding networks, we have 2 big announcements in this month’s newsletter.

1) We recently opened up registration for our 2012 Assessor & Consultant Training (with an Early Bird $400 savings opportunity!)

2) We’ve launched a re-tooled Destination Partner Program, a perfect entry point for destination managers looking to enhance their local sustainability efforts. You’ll find that the program includes a number of valuable educational tools and strategies for destinations and their constituents.

Finally, we’re thrilled to be leading an important project for the Global Sustainable Tourism Council focused on developing destination level sustainability criteria, and we’re looking for your feedback! Please contribute to this exciting initiative by providing your valuable input here, or passing this onto others. It only takes a few minutes.

Thanks for all you do. Please reach out if we can help in any way.

Happy Earth Day!

Brian T. Mullis
President and CEO

7 Tips for Pitching a Bylined Article

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

7 Tips for Pitching a Bylined Article

Posted by Karen Ott Mayer on Thu, Apr 19, 2012

pitchingPitching a bylined article is a pretty straightforward affair. Yet, it can produce one of the most powerful PR placements imaginable.

After all, you get to tell your story, your way in a publication that’s important to your key audiences. Even better, you can usually order a reprint and place the article on your own website and, perhaps, email it to customers and prospects.

So, the payoff is big. To be successful, however, you’ve got to get your idea — and article — accepted for publication. Here are some thoughts on how to do just that.

Pitching Your Bylined Article

  1. Think about originality. Is it possible to think of something that has never been thought of before? Not likely. But try. A pitch with an unusual angle or new twist on an old idea has a far greater chance of catching an editor’s attention. At the same time, make sure it’s relevant to the publication.
  2. Try your idea on for size. The best ideas seem great when they’re circling around in your head. The real test comes when you try to explain them to someone else. Share your ideas with colleagues and gauge their reactions. Blank stares will demonstrate the real truth, even if your colleagues are being polite.
  3. Craft a succinct pitch. Length is important. Keep your pitch short and to the point. A telling detail, like a powerful statistic or quote, can add instant credibility and interest, especially if it’s counterintuitive or newsworthy. Your goal is not only to grab the editor’s attention, but to get him or her to want more.
  4. Target the right publications. These publications are likely the same ones you pitch with press announcements. Some byline-specific thoughts, though. Make a realistic list in order of preference and pitch one at a time. Trade and smaller circulation outlets are more likely to take your bylines. Top national publications solicit much of their material, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t get into The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times.
  5. Leverage your relationships. If you know a reporter or editor at a publication you’re targeting, even if it isn’t the person responsible for bylined submissions, ask for his or her help. If this person can place your idea in the right editor’s hands, you’ve got a better shot at being accepted.
  6. Stay within the required length. Typically, when your pitch is accepted the editor is going to give you a word count. Make sure you stay within it. If you turn in a 1,200-word piece for a 500-word space, you’ve just created a lot of trimming work for the editor, if they’re even willing to do it.
  7. Be professional. Turn your article in on time. Make sure you’re proofread it so there are no typos and misspellings. Send it to the editor in an easily editable format, like a Word doc. No PDFs. And if the publication has asked for a photo, make sure it’s the right quality and resolution for publication. Don’t make additional work for the editor.

The keys to successfully pitching a bylined article are coming up with a good idea, targeting the right publications and executing your piece flawlessly. Do this, and you’ll not only place the byline — you may well be asked back for more.

Recipe: Almond-Crusted French Toast

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Recipe: Almond-Crusted French Toast

  • Updated: April 18, 2012 – 3:29 PM

ALMOND-CRUSTED FRENCH TOAST

Serves 4.

Note: Who wouldn’t love to see this crunchy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside version of French toast on the breakfast table? Or better yet, served in bed with a fresh cup of coffee and the morning paper.

• 11/2 c. low-fat milk

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 4 egg whites, lightly beaten

• 2 eggs, lightly beaten

• 1/4 tsp., nutmeg

• 1/4 tsp., cinnamon

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1/2 c. sliced almonds

• 2 c. cornflakes

• 8 slices whole-grain bread

• 2 tsp. butter, divided

• 1 tbsp. powdered sugar

• 1/2 c. maple syrup

Directions

In a shallow dish blend the milk, vanilla, egg whites, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt; stir with a fork to combine.

In another shallow dish, place the sliced almonds and cornflakes. Crush them slightly with your hands.

Place the slices of bread into the egg mixture and turn them over once to moisten both sides. (The bread should absorb some of the liquid, but not be completely saturated.) Press each soaked slice of bread into the almond mixture, turning to coat both sides, pressing so the almond mixture adheres well.

Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a skillet or on a griddle. Add 4 of the almond-crusted bread slices and sauté over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side, until almonds are golden brown. Remove and keep warm. Repeat with remaining slices. Sprinkle bread with powdered sugar. Serve immediately with the maple syrup.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 480 Fat 13 g Sodium 665 mg

Carbohydrates 72 g Saturated fat 4 g Calcium 260 mg

Protein 21 g Cholesterol 105 mg Dietary fiber 6 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1/2 milk, 2 1/2 bread/starch, 2 other carb, 1 1/2 lean meat, 1 1/2 fat.

The Value Of Pinterest to Hotel Sales & Marketing.

Saturday, April 28th, 2012
The Value Of Pinterest to Hotel Sales & Marketing.
By Carol Verret
Thursday, 19th April 2012

Is Pinterest just latest ‘shiny new toy’ or will it have staying power?

In February Pinterest drove more traffic to websites than Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn (LNKD), and YouTube combined. (HotelMarketing.com, 3/26/12).

Couple that statistic with the fact that 93% of its users are females, and you have a powerful tool for the leisure and social market.  It only took 9 months for Pinterest to go from 50,000 users to 17 million – it took Facebook 16 months.  (commsource)

Pinterest formerly told its users to not use the site for self promotion and pin stuff they found on other sites.  This lead to a potential copyright infringement issue as many photos are copyright protected to their photographers.   Pinterest changed its user agreement to encourage  ‘pinners’ to post their own photos and other ‘stuff’ thus opening the flood gates for business use.  (WSJ, 3/26/12)

In an article entitled Is Pinterest the New Facebook (Jessi Hemple, Fortune Magazine, 3/22/12) differentiated the two in the following manner. “People use Facebook and Twitter to talk to each other, not necessarily to discuss things they might want to buy. In contrast, Pinterest users are more often in a shopping mindset when they are using the service. If you’re keeping a pinboard called “Spring handbags I’m considering,” there’s a good chance you’ll click through and make a purchase.”

What you pin on Pinterest should support and enhance your brand.   Pinterest is all about envisioning an experience and that dovetails nicely with the emphasis in hospitality on creating guest experiences rather just ‘selling’ them a room.   It also is purely visual which eliminates the marketers’ adjectives in copy that the customer has long since stopped believing.

Pinterest creates a sense of place and helps visitors to the site visualize experiences they may have at the hotel – they can put themselves in the pictures.

However, like all social media, a strategy for what the property wants to accomplish with the page needs to be in place prior to engaging and not just ‘pinning’ everything from the web site or Facebook.   Pinterest to be used well should also focus on the destination as well as the property.  “When it comes to pinning, the breakdown will be approximately 70% about the city and 30% about the hotel, (Kelli) Crean (ecommerce manager for the Roosevelt Hotel) said.”  (HotelNewsNow, 3/28/12)

Pinterest allows multiple pages and contests.  Use the multiple pages to focus on many different experiences at the property.

As Pinterest is so new it is hard to use the term Best Practices but the following can be a guide to a Pinterest strategy:

Leisure Travel

As Pinterest users are 93% female and it is females who normally gather information and pick destinations for summer travel, it is the perfect medium to stimulate web site traffic this summer.  Make sure that your page has interesting pictures not just pics of a bed in a room unless it is a great bedding package.  Include photos of experiences in your destination and don’t forget the kids — if you have a great kids offering and/or unique kids menu, take a picture and ‘pin’ it!

Weddings

Brides love Pinterest according to USA today “It’s changing the industry” for vendors, planners and magazines, says Anne Fulenwider, editor in chief of Brides. Since she took over the title in November, Pinterest has “exploded and really changed the conversation.” A majority of her readers are pinners. (USA Today,  4/13/12)  Don’t just pin a picture of the ballroom set for 250.  What do you remember about your wedding – wasn’t it the details, the little things?  Pin a picture of a beautiful place setting, a napkin fold, a centerpiece, etc. Do your pin-ing with a sense of style! Build a page where your brides can post pictures of the wedding they had at your property – this counts as a recommendation!

Meetings

Don’t just pin a banquet room set for 120 theatre style.  Pin a detail of a special break.   Pin a photo of a special lunch prepared by chef.   Pin a pic of the banquet menus for special breaks, a team building program you offer, meeting attendees taking off for  a quick 5k before the meeting – the only limit is your  imagination!  Run a contest for meeting planners!

Restaurant and Bar

What can I say but don’t take a pic of the peanuts or bar mix unless it is something really special!  Pinterest loves F&B!  Pin a pic of a special app or drink to promote ‘happy hour’.  Serve a spectacular burger?  Pin it! Take a detail from one of the chandeliers or if you are a historic hotel, pin your claim to fame or a detail from the original building.

Pinterest is perfect for all types of properties but it, like Facebook, levels the playing field between the boutique, lifestyle and independent hotels and the large chains.  If you don’t believe me, log onto Drury Inns’ page – you will find the most appetizing pic of a hot dog I have ever seen!

Real simple Remote Revenue Management can drive your REVPAR this summer but summer is coming soon!    Don’t wait – ask us how we do it!  Click here for details http://tinyurl.com/3fuysft then call us at (303) 618-4065 or email carol@carolverret.com .  We’ll share success stories with you!

Service Is Key to Managing Business Traveler Behavior

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Service Is Key to Managing Business Traveler Behavior

by Fred Gebhart
April 19, 2012

Companies like Amazon and Zappos have built business empires by enticing customers to serve themselves. So why do so many companies fail to entice their own employees to use self-service travel portals?

Because they ignore a few well-honed rules of self-service – rules that online travel agencies, airline and hotel websites and other successful online vendors know well, says Micah Solomon, author of the new book, High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service (Amacom, May 2012).

Solomon’s book highlights strategies to help companies win the service race. Service is more than being nice, he said. Service is a key element in shaping customer – or business traveler – behavior.

Rule #1: Let them choose
Solomon’s first rule for successful self-service? Give customers a choice.

Micah Solomon

It’s no accident that road warriors book direct with vendors. Travel vendors have an enormous stake in luring customers to self-service, said Solomon, a customer service, hospitality and marketing strategist and speaker.

But travel departments try to mandate self-service. Bad idea.

The trouble with mandates
“One major hotel chain is trying hard to force customers into self-service check-in,” Solomon told Travel Market Report. “That rubs me the wrong way. Being checked in by a trained hospitality professional is part of my experience as a guest.

“Now I’m the first to admit that I’m happy that those kiosks are there, because check-in lines are sometimes ridiculously long. But I want to make that choice.

“To the extent that self-service feels like a choice, I’m anxious to do it to save time. To the extent that it feels like I’m being pressured, that’s when I say no.”

Travel Market Report asked Solomon to explain how corporate travel managers can improve traveler compliance by heeding the principles of successful self-service.

What does improving customer service have to do with shaping corporate traveler behavior?
Solomon: Managing travel is all about managing traveler behavior. People resist mandates and find ways around the rules. Managing behavior is about enticing people to do the right thing and making it easier to do the right thing than to go off in another direction.

Give your travelers a choice. Then make it so easy and so attractive that self-service with the preferred supplier is the obvious choice.

If your people are booking outside your preferred channel, you should be asking why. What about those alternative sites is so much more appealing than your booking engine? Employee behavior will change once you make your channel the obvious choice.

Airlines don’t give you much choice when checking in except a kiosk, but most passengers seem to accept self-service. What did airlines do right?
Solomon: Usability is a well-tested science, and the airlines followed almost all of the science.

You can check in online or at the airport. You can identify yourself with your name, your reservation number, your credit card, your passport, your frequently flier card. You can enter your flight information yourself or you can let the computer find it.

The kiosks tell you clearly what the next step is and make it easy to follow the process. They even remind you to take both your boarding pass and your receipt.

Airlines don’t do everything right, but they get the important points.

And they usually have humans on site to help when something doesn’t go right. Self-service should always have an obvious escape to a well-trained human problem solver.

Is there a secret to successful self-service?
Solomon: The secret of great self-service is the same as the secret of great in-person service: Anticipate customer needs and meet them before the customer even thinks about it.

If you want your travelers to use your booking system and not book direct with a hotel, your service has to beat the hotel self-service res system.

Remember the early days of Amazon.com? When they started out, Internet buying was new and customers were a little unsure. They were answering millions of calls just to confirm orders.

Those calls went away when Amazon brought in automated confirmations. Marriott brought that instant automated response to hotel bookings and reset customer expectations.

If your booking engine doesn’t meet that standard, the hotel is winning the race to shape your traveler’s buying behavior.

How do you anticipate customer needs?
Solomon: Think like a top-line hotel. When Apple decided to set up its Apple Store channel, they sent managers to Ritz-Carlton for training. The hotel model came up because when Apple asked its employees about their best customer service experiences, it was always a great hotel, usually Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton.

Ritz-Carlton taught Apple managers to be anticipatory, to greet people properly. It taught them to hire based on personality, because the Apple Store was designed as a person-to-person experience. You can teach technology skills, but personality comes with the person.

How does that play out in business travel?
Solomon: Steve Jobs used to say that the desired customer experience has to come before the technology is developed or chosen. What is the experience you want your customers, your travelers, to have? Once you have the experience, you can select software and platforms that support the experience.

I didn’t realize that until I got a pair of Bose headphones and kept killing the batteries. I finally realized there was an on/off switch.

Ever since the first iPod, Jobs insisted that there not be an on/off button. The device anticipates that you won’t use it all the time, so it pays attention and turns itself off. Bose hasn’t reached that level.

If your travel program can anticipate your travelers’ needs at the Apple level, your road warriors will be happy to do things your way because you’re making their travel lives so much easier.

Inn This Edition:

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Inn This Edition:

  • Fun Festivals? What’s New in Your Town
  • Increase Reservations 10%
  • Increase Reservations Another 10%
  • Maggie’s Fritattas
  • Mother’s Day & More Packages

Fun Festivals Get Press Attention

Do you have a new Summer Festival in your town? Or a most unusual festival that has been around awhile? Travel writers are always interested in regional festivals and this time we are pairing festivals with inns to give travelers an immersion experience in your community.

Email Jamee@iloveinns.com with your town’s festival and we’ll highlight the most enticing.

How to Increase Reservations by 10%

Research shows that guests believe the reviews made by consumers more than by professional critics. We knew this back when we first wrote the Rand McNally series, Best Bed and Breakfasts and our own Official Guide to American Historic Inns. That’s why we included travelers’ comments and that was 20 years ago.

ComScore and Kelsey group found in an Oct. 2011 study that consumers were willing to pay at least 20% more and up to 99% more for a lodging property if it recevied a rating of 5 starts.

If you have great reviews, flout them and keep them coming. If you don’t, find subtle ways to keep reviews coming in. Most innkeepers do this by sending followup thank you emails with links to sites like www.iloveinns.com and tripadvisor.

Every smashingly successful innkeeper has their own way to ask for comments and we have read some beautiful and compelling letters. We’ve even given how tos on this topic. Ultimately, you have to find what works for your inn but it will be worth it in more reservations and in keeping good rates.

How to Increase Reservations by Another 10%

Almost every inn that has redesigned their website has recieved AT LEAST A 10% INCREASE. In fact, I would love to hear from anyone who has not!

10 hotel websites are searched on average before a guest books, YOU’VE GOT TO KEEP YOUR WEBSITE COMPELLING, even gorgeous, with awards and kudos prominently in place.

Try iLoveinns.com for website building – we actually examin a minimum of 200 inn websites every day, so we know what’s ugly, mediocre, good, better and best.

Maggie’s Frittatas
Verde River Rock House is Known for Its Food and Cooking Classes for Two. Check Maggies menu page on the link for inspiration. Here’s an example below. (By the way, when Maggie gives a couples cooking class for frittatas, she gives a fritatta pan to the couple to take home.)

Baked Asiago & Veggie Frittata
A Veggie Wonder! Eight Fluffy Farm Fresh Eggs – Full of tasty Asiago cheese, fresh chopped broccoli, green onions and turkey sausage – served with Rock House red fried potatoes and your choice of sourdough toast or English muffinOR

Honey-Cured Ham & Brie Frittata
Ham, brie, sautéed apples, sage and leeks – served with Rock House fried potatoes and your choice of sourdough toast or English muffin (advance notice required for this one)

Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Frittata  **Newest Addition**
Features Red Bell Peppers, scallions and fresh crumbled Goat Cheese from The Ranch at Fossil Creek (Strawberry,AZ)

Ingredients
•    2 cups liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters)
•    1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
•    1 cup red bell pepper, sliced
•    1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced
•    2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
•    2 cloves garlic, minced
•    1 tsp salt
•    1/4 tsp freshly black pepper
Instructions
1.    Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.
2.    In a medium sized bowl whisk together the egg substitute, garlic, basil, salt and pepper.
3.    Spray a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet with nonfat cooking spray and set over medium heat.
4.    Add in bell pepper and green onions and cook, stirring constantly, until the green onions are just wilted, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
5.    Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cook, lifting the edges of the frittata to allow the uncooked egg to flow underneath, until the bottom is light golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
6.    Dot the top of the frittata with cheese, transfer the pan to the oven and broil until puffy and lightly golden on top, 2 to 3 minutes.
7.    Let rest for about 3 minutes before serving.
Preparation time: 5 minute(s)
Cooking time: 15 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4

Creative Packages Innkeepers Are Offering Now

Mother’s Day Getaway
Adair Country Inn and Restaurant – Bethlehem, NH    The Adair “family” helps you to give to Mom!    $299 includes:  One night Getaway in Mom’s Favorite Room (first come, first serve)  Arrival any day in May or June, 2012  A gourmet breakfast with Adair’s famous popovers  Mom will be welcomed with a festive glass of champagne  Chocolate covered strawberries await her in her room  A table is reserved for a two-course dinner for two  The “Spring Flower Bouquet” in the room is for Mom to travel home with.  Reserve and Pay for Mom’s room or we can mail a nicely wrapped Gift Certificate to your Mom.  Additional nights at published rates.  All rates are subject to tax and gratuities.  Not valid in conjunction with other discounts, specials or gift certificates.
Mother’s Day Brunch
Inn & Spa At Cedar Falls – Logan, OH   May 13  Brunch is a family fun affair! Chef Anthony’s mouth watering menu starts with the Inn’s Pastry Basket, our Innmade Granola and Raspberry Yogurt. Delectable entrees include Grilled Salmon w/Lemon-Dill White Wine Butter Sauce, Inn’s Egg Benedict-English Muffin, Ham, Poached Local Eggs, Crab Meat & Chive-Paprika Hollandaise Sauce or Tomato, Basil & Fresh Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breast w/Brown Butter. Two devine desserts are Mixed Berry Cobbler with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream or Dark Chocolate Cheesecake w/Raspberry Coulis. Seating times begin at 11:30am – reservations are necessary. $21/Adults, $12/Children Under 10
“3rd Night Free” Mother’s Day 2012 Weekend Package
The Captain Lord Mansion – Kennebunkport, MECome for Mother’s Day Weekend and Sunday, Mother’s Day is Free! Bring your favorite lady away to our Southern Maine Coast Inn for this holiday weekend. When you stay and pay for Friday and Saturday, May 11th and 12th, stay Sunday, May 13th as our guest. We’ll add complimentary sparkling wine, roses and chocolates to make you both feel welcome!    We are still in “Serenity Season” rates in May, so weekend rates start at $239 per room, per night, per couple.    This package cannot be combined with any other coupon, discount or special offer.
Tea For Two, A Mountain Tea Party
Creekwalk Inn and Cabins at Whisperwood Farm – Gatlinburg, TN   Why not celebrate Mother’s Day with an escape to the mountains? We have 40 tea pots and custom “Forest Berry Tea”, our own farm blend. For Mom, we will add our 3 custom blends of tea to your room to take home. Relax by the stream and begin your day with Grand Marnier French toast, grilled apples, or our famous Cosby cornbread, a taste of the “wild east”…Reserve one of our hot tub suites with private outdoor garden, a place to build a campfire for roasting marshmallows. $399
Brandywine Country Cooking School Gift Certificate
Hamanassett B&B – Chadds Ford, PA   Looking for something more than the traditional flowers and chocolates for that wonderful mother? Consider a gift certificate to our cooking school. She can choose the date that best fits her schedule. Cooking school includes the room, instruction, welcoming reception, breakast and wonderful lunch and dinner. See the cooking school page on our web site for schedule and prices.
May’s Wine Dinner: Springtime In Italy
A Grand Inn-Sunset Hill House – Sugar Hill, NH    Join us on May the 4th for a spectacular wine dinner celebrating Springtime in Italy. Relax and enjoy a fabulous 4 course dinner designed by chef Casey Graham, accompanied by Italian wines perfect to entertain and relax with this summer. Wine expert and oenophile Missy Nelson will present and teach us all about these fabulous vintages.    Seating at 6pm is limited to the first 25 guests. Only $65pp. And lodging is available for a special rate of $119/couple, any room! Please call right away to book. Cant make this one? The next is July 8th, All Americans!
Bike, Wine And Dine On Broadway
The Inn at Jim Thorpe – Jim Thorpe, PA   Package includes a 2 night stay, professional guide, bike + helmet rental and shuttle service, bottled water, lunch at Molly Maguire’s Pub & Steakhouse and an open afternoon to explore the town.    Available on the following dates only:  June 9; July 7, 15, 28; August 11, 31; September 16, 29; October 7, 20; November 3

Deborah and staff

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”     G.K. Chesterton
iLoveInns.com
American Historic Inns, Inc.
PO Box 669 Dana Point, CA 92669
800-397-INNS (4667)
949-481-6256
Fax 949-481-3796
www.iLoveInns.com 
American Historic Inns has partnered with the following companies to promote bed & breakfasts nationwide: Lipton Tea, Wells Fargo, CitiBank, American Express, MasterCard, Discover, CocaCola, Minute Maid, Land O’Lakes, Tom’s of Maine, Columbia Crest, Glen Ellen, Wamsutta, David’s Bridal, Senseo coffee, Nabisco, Uncle Ben’s, Phillips Norelco, Nivea, Amtrak, Carnation, Advil, and Post cereals.
iLoveInns Web site www.iloveinns.com and parent company American Historic Inns have been recommended by major publications including: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe and many others.


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