Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Small Business Week: June 17- June 21

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

June 17th- June 21st is the nationwide Small Business Week!

Constant Contact is offering great online educational tools, including Marketing Minute articles, weekly Webinars, and Seminars near you.  Check out their great tips on managing your small business’ Facebook page, Using YouTube and Video marketing, and learn how to register for great conferences near you!  These marketing tips and other resources are perfect for Bed and Breakfast owners and innkeepers.

Marketing Minute Below: 

 

Webinars Every Week:

This Week’s WebinarRev Up Your Results with YouYube or Video Marketing

-June 6th

-Free

-Time: 9am-10am

Register Today & View Details

you must register to view webinar

Evening WebinarGetting Started with Constant Contact Email Marketing

– June 11th

-Free

-Time: EVENING 8:00pm- 9:00 pm

Register Today & View Details

you must register to view webinar

 

 

Upcoming WebinarGetting Started with Constant Contact Email Marketing

– June 20th

-Free

-Time: 9:00am- 10:00 am

Register Today & View Details

you must register to view webinar

 

Seminars in Nebraska

OmahaDon’t Miss Out on:

2013 MarkeTech Conference
in Omaha.  The conference is focused on Connecting Marketing and Technology.

Speakers Fat Brain Toys, Yahoo, Constant Contact, and More!  

June 12th

Time: 8am-4pm

Cost: $50 per person Select the Constant Contact Price Option.

See Agenda and Register Today! 

 

Papillion

10 Tips to Creating a Successful Email Campaign That Will Get You Results

June13th

Cost: 1 Business Card

Learn More & Register Today

Bellevue

10 Tips to Go and Grow Your Social Media Marketing

June14th-Limited Seating 

Cost: 1 Business Card

Learn More & Register Today

 

Lincoln 

See How to Create an Email Campaign That Will Drive Results

June 11th

Cost: 1 Business Card

Learn More & Register Today 

  

 

 

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!

top 5 trends, factors, and events that will shape your business in 2012

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

In my column last week I started looking at the top 10 trends, factors, and events that will shape your business in 2012. This week we are down to the Top 5.

Ask an Expert

By Steve Strauss

No. 5. Internet video takes center stage. Consider these statistics:

• According to Cisco, online video now makes up 50% of all consumer Internet traffic
• Last year, almost 200 million Americans watched online videos every month, and on any given day, 100 million people will watch videos online

What does this mean for your business? Plenty. People love video, and it turns out that video increases sales. Onlineshoes.com says that its conversion rate is up to 45% higher with video and Zappos.com says it sells up to 30% more when videos are used to display a shoe.

The upshot is that you need to strongly consider adding video to the mix, be it an online video brochure, a tour of your store, video newsletters, or just some instructional videos.

No. 4. Social media is becoming the land of the have and have nots: There seem to be two distinct camps when it comes to social media vis-à-vis small business: Those who get it and use it effectively and those that don’t give a whit about it (oh, and camp three — those that get it but dabble ineffectively in it).

According to the 2011 Impact of Social Business in Small and Medium Business Study, about 50% of small businesses use social media. Those that do, do so for the following reasons:

• 80% of online visitors use social media daily
• More than 50% of all social media users follow a brand
• Social media is growing exponentially — Facebook added over 200 million users in 2011

So for the small business that has figured out that social media must be a key element to their business model going forward, I say way to go. To the other 50% I say — what are you waiting for?

No. 3: The death of 9 to 5: Does anyone really work at a desk five days a week from 9 to 5 anymore? Of course I am being facetious . . . or am I? A myriad of things have combined to make it so that we can work anywhere, anytime (whether we want to or not): The Internet, laptops, tablets, smartphones, apps and software are the main culprits.

I say culprits because some of this work anywhere, anytime stuff is great (checking emails while waiting at the airport) and some of it stinks (checking emails while on the beach in Hawaii.)

As my sweet grandfather used to say: Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

No. 2. Are happy days here again?

First a caveat: I am not an economic prognosticator and no one here is saying that the economy is peachy because it is not. But that said, there are signs that the economic doldrums we have been in for too long may be lifting a bit:

• Consumer confidence continues to rise
• Unemployment claims continue to fall
• Fourth-quarter GDP growth is looking to be in the 3% to 4% range

And while lowered expectations seem to be the new normal, it is nice to be able to report something other than dour economic news for a change. If this trend continues, it will surely shape your business significantly in 2012, and happily for the better.

And the Top Trend for 2012 is:

No. 1: Mobile mania! With iPads flying off the shelf and laptops outselling desktops, with smartphones all the rage and more than a million apps in the App store, with more than 20% of all searches being done on a mobile device now, it is clear that the era of mobile work is at hand.

For the small business, this sea-change will have all sorts of ripples:

• Employees will increasingly expect to work when and where they want (see No. 3, above)
• Customers will want to be able to interact with your business via their mobile device
• Sooner rather than later, you will be using apps to run your business
• Geo-targeting mobile marketing offers is a good idea
• Your website needs to be mobile friendly
• Mobile ad campaigns should probably become part of your marketing mix

It’s Time to ‘Discover America,’ Organization Says

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

November 7, 2011, 1:00 am

It’s Time to ‘Discover America,’ Organization Says

By STUART ELLIOTT

An organization formed by Congress to produce the first worldwide campaign to market the United States to international travelers is moving ahead under a new name.

The organization was called the Corporation for Travel Promotion when it was established last year. It will now do business under the name Brand USA and operate a consumer Web site, discoveramerica.com.

A logo has been adopted, featuring the letters “USA” composed of multicolored dots and the Web address “DiscoverAmerica.com” underneath.

Executives of Brand USA are scheduled to outline their strategy and positioning plans at events on Monday in London. Their efforts are to culminate with the organization’s first advertising campaign, with a target date of March.

The budget for the campaign is being estimated at up to $200 million, to come from sources other than taxpayer dollars like private industry.

Several agencies owned by WPP are working for Brand USA, among them JWT, for advertising; MediaCom, for media services; Brand Union, for brand identity; and Hill & Knowlton, for public relations.

The goal of Brand USA is to eliminate “barriers keeping people from coming here,” Chris Perkins, chief marketing officer, said in an interview last week in Midtown Manhattan at which he discussed the organization’s coming efforts.

“It’s a competitive marketplace” for tourism, Mr. Perkins said, citing the large marketing budgets and “concise, clear messaging” of countries like Australia and Mexico.

The United States will stake its claim to visitors by presenting itself as a country of “boundless possibilities,” he added, and one-of-a-kind experiences.

A shorthand phrase that Brand USA is using to describe the message of future ads is that “the United States of awesome possibilities welcomes everyone,” Mr. Perkins said.

The campaign will be focused on four types of experiences that await tourists, he added: “the great outdoors, urban excitement, culture and indulgence.”

Brand USA will enlist the help of “brand ambassadors” and “brand champions,” Mr. Perkins said, referring to people who live abroad and “have a soft spot in their hearts for us.”

They can “encourage friends and family” to take American trips, he added.

The intent, said Beth Waxman-Arteta, chief marketing officer at JWT, who joined Mr. Perkins for the interview, is to “empower those people who have a predisposition to tell our story for us.”

The campaign will use new elements like social media and mobile media, she added, in addition to advertising, promotions and public relations.

Businesses looking for information about Brand USA will have a separate Web site to visit, thebrandusa.com.

“We all have a sense of urgency” to get the campaign under way, Ms. Waxman-Arteta said, partly because of research showing that wooing visitors to the United States will create more jobs in the United States.

Mr. Perkins said the research shows that it takes only 35 new tourists from overseas to create one American job. It also shows that the average visitor spends $4,000 in this country on his or her trip, he added.

Check out www.nebraskabb.com

Establishing the USP of a hotel for online marketing

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Establishing the USP of a hotel for online marketing

November 7, 2011 By

NB: This is a guest article by Martin Soler, marketing director of World Independent Hotels Promotion (WIHP).

Every hotel needs to discover what is unique about its brand and then promote heavily in its marketing efforts on the web – that statement is simple.

This is true for independent hotels, for hotel chains, individual hotels within a chain and all the way to an inn or bed and breakfast.

But establishing the unique selling point (USP), however, appears to be more difficult than many property owners think.

Before taking on a hotel as a client, we do a thorough study of the property to determine it’s unique selling point(s). Several factors are used for this, but often to the amazement of many of our customers we’re often looking first outside of the actual hotel.

Typically one thinks of USPs by comparing against the competition or hotels in the immediate vicinity.

If there is a modern decoration, a hotelier will tend to think of that as the USP. If the interior design was created done by a famous designer, many a hotelier will choose that as the USP.

But there is something which is often omitted when working out a USP: customer perception.

What is it?

What do you want your guests to see and feel when they experience a hotel – this is ultimately what a property needs to take into account when working out the online marketing USP.

Walking around the hotel and actually looking is far better than work it all out from behind a desk. Equally, working out a successful USP also means talking to guests and finding out how they felt about their experience at the hotel.

A USP needs to be something that will personally affect the life of the end user. Not esoterically, not in some far-fetched manner, but at the moment they touch the brand for the first time.

Common mistakes

The biggest mistake we’ve seen in working out the USP is to forget that it has to be something that the guest will benefit from.

Some examples:

  • Using a historical fact as a USP. That Oscar Wilde lived in a hotel is not much of a USP because it doesn’t show much benefit to the individual.
  • Focusing on interior design elements. Mentioning LED lighting or other fancy technology features as a USP doesn’t help understand the comfort.
  • Using the decoration theme as USP. That the hotel is decorated based on Marylin Monre or after the theme of cars is nice but the guest isn’t staying there to watch the theme.

Key elements of a USP

There are three factors that determine a hotel’s USP and only three.

  • Location
  • Comfort
  • Value

A good USP integrates all three elements to form a clear concept of the hotel. If a hotel is unique (and positively so) on all three points, the USP will be perfect.

But that’s rare, a property will often find one of these points is totally unique and the other two are passable.

It can often happens that only one is great and the other two are not good at all, so better for a hotel to put all its focus on the positive element, as in could actually be enough to drive people to a property.

More about location, comfort and value

Here are some examples:

  • Location – if there is there’s a direct subway to the city center or other point of interest from a property, then use it to your advantage in the messaging around the USP
  • Comfort – tell a guest how they will personally benefit from it the design and asthetics associated with the property. Essentially, a hotel needs to tell the guest how a stay will make their life better.
  • Value – how will a hotel save a guest money? This does not necessarily mean a property is cheap, but a focus on value, rather than cost. Just like the classic ad campaign by Avis “We’re only number two but we try harder.” A hotel can use it’s negative position as an advantage.

Every property needs a USP, regardless of its size, status, cost, brand – simply because guests aren’t interested in staying somewhere that will not meet their expectations.

But don’t just sit and think! Go out and look, talk to people and read their comments, monitor what they say in social media and collect feedback. Lots of it.

Once a hotel has established its USP – it is still incredible now many do not have an understanding of what it actually is – then the rest of the web marketing campaign will be a lot easier to execute.

NB: This is a guest article by Martin Soler, marketing director of World Independent Hotels Promotion (WIHP)

Check out www.nebraskabb.com

What’s it REALLY like to be an innkeeper?

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

What’s it REALLY like to be an innkeeper?
By Sharon Danks, Vice President, WORDS of 100/Tweed-Weber, Inc.

“I wish someone understood my world.” Have you ever said that to yourself? No matter the profession, connecting with others who genuinely understand your world can be very empowering. It can boost your confidence when you’re feeling hesitant about the direction you should be setting, and it can offer you much needed support when you need it most. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel like you weren’t alone in your thinking…your excitement…your challenges…your ideas…your vision…and especially your decisions?

We have just released an e-book entitled, In the WORDS of 100, a unique glimpse into the real world of 100 Bed & Breakfast Owners/Innkeepers. We surveyed 100 Bed & Breakfast Owners/Innkeepers from around the country and asked for their opinions on a variety of topics that relate specifically to the world of innkeeping. Our sample of 100 was quite a vocal group, and they had a ton of things to say! What a great group of people they are. The responses we received were so genuine and clearly showed the commitment and passion it takes to operate a Bed & Breakfast today. When asked what they like most about running their business, one respondent stated, “On my worst day, when I do not want to open my door to another person, I am reminded that I work for myself and not some other person that I don’t like, or some corporation that can fire me at any time. It can be extremely difficult and it can be extremely rewarding, and often on the same day. We love and enjoy our guests, and that is our greatest satisfaction.” Another stated, “The best compliment we ever received was from a well-known minister who said that he thought we did more good for couples than he did. That’s why we enjoy being innkeepers.”

There was a nice mix of veteran innkeepers and newbies highlighted below that participated in the survey, and their collective voices offered some great advice for aspiring B&B Owners/Innkeepers.

  • More than 20 years – 9.6%
  • 16 to 20 years – 7.9%
  • 11 to 15 years – 18.4%
  • 6 to 10 years – 31.6%
  • 3 to 5 years – 20.2%
  • 2 years or less – 12.3%

Top 10 pieces of advice…

  • You MUST be a people person/friendly/outgoing
  • Be prepared to work hard…more than you think
  • Do your research before getting into it
  • Be prepared financially/don’t expect to make tons of money
  • Have good business sense
  • Take care of yourself so you can care for others/make time for you
  • Proactively learn from other B&B Owners/Innkeepers
  • Understand it’s a lifestyle, not just a job
  • Understand that your free time will be limited/sacrifices will be made
  • Join national and state associations/attend conferences/workshops

One issue that is certainly a hot button for current B&B Owners/Innkeepers is the whole area of marketing, especially in the world of social media and networking. One participant stated, “Standard marketing is hard enough, but now add to that the need to understand how to do all of the fancy Internet marketing stuff. It’s exhausting! We’re working with the local college to have a marketing intern work with us for a semester. I’m hoping he will teach me to become more comfortable in knowing how to reach the online audience. I’m excited to have a young person show me the tricks, since he lives and breathes the Internet world. Besides that, his generation will be my future guests, so I’d better dig into it.” Another stated, “Luring in the generation X and Y people with the amenities they want, like free Internet and iPod docks, and appealing to them using more modern methods like Internet advertising, social media and blogging, is a positive trend that innkeepers should not ignore.” Having an exceptional website that clearly highlights the amenities was mentioned as being extremely important, and the need for beautiful photos that really show what you’re trying to say on your website is essential. As one participant shared, “I saw the need for a completely new website in a year that was the worst year we’ve had, and where bad news was coming daily, but I spent the money anyway and saw a real difference in our reservations.”

This WORDS of 100 book is separated into three main sections of Insights, Ideas and Inspiration, and whether you are a current or aspiring innkeeper, you will no doubt feel what the group expressed in their own words. When asked what motivates them to excel as a B&B Owner/Innkeeper, one participant simply stated, “I have a tree with a swing nestled in the back part of our property. Every time I see a guest taking a moment out of their life to enjoy such a simple grace, I remember what motivates me.”

An overwhelming majority, 68 percent, said that PAII is the resource most often used to find information about the Bed & Breakfast Industry and/or profession with one participant saying, “Most use PAII at some point in time. They are especially helpful when first starting out. After a while, you learn the ropes, but PAII really helped me to not spend time reinventing the wheel. I learned a lot about how to do things right and be successful as a B&B owner.” Interaction with colleagues was also rated as being very important with personal networking and/or informal discussions with colleagues being the kind of interaction valued most.

Participants that took part in our WORDS of 100 survey certainly speak for themselves, and the whole purpose of this research process was to just let them without getting too technical on you. You will probably see yourself in the words of the participants as they share their stories and opinions about a variety of timely B&B topics that impact you today. Overall, our main goal was to connect with 100 Bed & Breakfast Owners/Innkeepers to better understand their world.

This 105-page (PDF format) WORDS of 100 e-book is available for purchase at www.wordsof100.com for just $24.95, and it downloads immediately from the website. We chose the e-book format to keep the cost extremely friendly in an effort to respect your budget in today’s economy, and we genuinely believe you will be pleased with the value for the price. This article only scratches the surface of what was shared by your colleagues in the industry. We hope you enjoy reading the book as much as we enjoyed writing it.

Tweed-Weber, Inc., a research firm located in Reading, Pennsylvania, has developed a series of reports entitled, WORDS OF 100. This report series is focused on targeted occupations, and in-depth interviews are conducted with 100 individuals currently working in those occupations. At the most basic level, Tweed-Weber finds out what people are thinking about, and develops e-books that clearly communicate trends, issues, concerns and opportunities in a way that offers an unrivaled connection with others in the same industry/position, and in a way that is easy and enjoyable to read about.

Hotel Social Media Engagement Perspective | By Richard Walsh

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Hotel Social Media Engagement Perspective | By Richard Walsh

Hotel Social Media Engagement Perspective | By Richard Walsh

If you own or manage a hotel or resort and you have not accepted the importance of social media marketing as an integral part of your marketing strategy, it’s time you do. Social media marketing is not tomorrow, it is now and it affects all aspects of your business. Not to get ahead of myself, but your time is money and it is important.

Whether you try to manage social media in-house or it is outsourced, effective social marketing will require time, resources and professional skills. My following statements and recommendations are a result of years of working with all categories of hotels and resorts. This includes my personal analysis of industry surveys, daily activities and keeping up with never ending changes in the social websites and networks. The goal is to develop effective social touch marketing plans and initiatives with measured results.

Social touch is all about your written messages and engagement with consumers and past hotel guests online. Talking to consumers is not new, but the popularity of websites like Facebook, Twitter and dozens of others just makes it easier and the value is not so much what is said between you and the individual, but more the fact that hundreds of other people can view your comments and the sentiment you express online relevant to your hotel!

It’s all about when, where and how you touch a past guest, prospective guest, meeting planner, wedding planner or group organizer. Chances are the majority of your guests have looked at guest reviews, Googled your location, searched on local demand drivers and used their mobile phone’s GPS application to find hotels in your area. Just think about the time and money spent trying to get guests to fill out a comment card, to tell a friend about their experience at your hotel or to visit your booth at a trade show. Now it’s a whole lot easier, but there are some serious do and don’ts when answering a question, expressing yourself regarding a guest comment or asking your followers for their opinion or even for their business.

The time has passed for just dabbling in social media, although it still looks like that is where a lot of hotels are. Effective social touch is a lot more than just posting to your Facebook wall about a two for one special at the bar, tonight’s menu or the usual weekend package. Your social media marketing is an integral, intertwined and interdependent part of all aspects of your marketing from your printed material to your website to your search marketing.

Social marketing success demands planning, time, persistence and control on how you touch the right prospects with the right message at the right time. To maximize your return on your time and expense, you need a clear plan that connects all of your marketing initiatives. It is also important that everyone in your hotel from the housekeeper to the owner knows how your online reputation is perceived, who your partners are for collaborative promotions, and how you touch consumers everyday through your social engagement initiatives.

Social media is about your hotel’s online reputation or how your hotel is perceived and how you want it to be perceived when you touch the consumer. It’s not about what your franchise brand can do for you. The brands will set policies and standards to protect the brand and some will provide advice. But to reap the benefits it is a social relationship between your hotel management and the consumer.

That one consumer may be the one who wrote a review about your hotel, checks in or “Likes” your hotel on Facebook, tracks your hotel on FourSquare, viewed your video on YouTube or posted pictures on Flickr. These and other social channels are all real time touch opportunities that will produce productive results in many ways. To measure and maximize the return on your social marketing investment you need to put a value on your time and your staff’s time that is spent creating, managing and engaging with consumers online.

If you don’t have the time, resources and skills that are needed, there are, of course, marketing agencies that provide these services. But, remember when you outsource, make sure it is a service that knows the hospitality industry and has hospitality experience combined with social media marketing. There are also tools and services that can be used in house, such as sentiment search for tracking guest reviews; unfortunately, these have generally proven to be less than effective. Even when using a tool or online service, you will still have to commit the time and resources. Plus you need a plan for how you will apply this information or it is useless. For example, an overall trend scoring is nice, but of little value, scoring the service attribute in the review is more beneficial.

The return on your investment in social touch marketing can be significant, but it will not be quick sales revenue or even group sales leads. These will come in time with the right initiatives, but it will take some time to grow your follower networks. Also, you need to keep in mind that success comes from how you intertwine all of your marketing with your social media touch.

Show your social presence on print materials, links on your website to your blog and social sites. Connect your social sites to each other. Keep your Google places current and informative. Provide a mobile website that is easy to read. Track visitors from social websites that come to your website and blog, measure their points of interest and grow your viral networks.

Most important! Do not start a social touch initiative and become impatient and stop your effort, leaving the channel stagnant or full of outdated information. If a prospect visits your Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, FourSquare or any social channel and your information or comments are not recent they will not return.

What do you expect to gain from your social media initiatives? Your expectations have to be realistic and measured. You cannot expect quick results because this is about knowing your followers and delivering the right social messages. It won’t always work! Your messages need to be sensitive, humorous in some situations, always more of a personal nature. A personal nature is about making it sound like it is special for your followers or a response to one person that will relate to thousands.

Sales is certainly your main objective, your first step in a good plan is to build your follower networks. To be successful you need a comprehensive plan for promoting your social presence and one that enables easy access to your pages from multiple points of consumer contact. This is accomplished through in-house printed materials inviting guests to visit your social pages, certainly significant presence on your website(s), active blogging to create a search presence for your blog and direct suggestions to consumers when talking to them. There are also significant search engine ranking position benefits. The more active you are socially the more your social marketing will affect your organic search rankings.

To add followers, you need to engage effectively. Twitter or Facebook social touch has to be more than an occasional wall post or an occasional response or tabs that don’t attract interest and engagement. Ask for the business! Your touch should target your local market demand drivers with collaborative promotions with local attractions and events.

Your social touch should focus on your follower’s profile information, where possible, so you can develop a demographic and a psychographic profile of your typical follower. Then adapt your responses, posts, promotions and timing around your follower profiles. Facebook special pages, Tweet and blog posts need to be frequent, but not annoying and repetitious. The value is based on the content. You need a controlled YouTube channel with your videos that will differentiate your hotel from your compset. Your Flickr pics should show activity and people, not just a building or a room. Develop alliances with local entertainment, sports events, attractions, recreation and other local demand drivers and feature these in your wall posts, tweets and specials. The results can be amazing.

In the end, you do what you have always done to promote your hotel, you engage with consumers, but in a written format in a social manner and always considering the fact that millions of consumers can see what you have to say and how you say it. So think about your objective before you blog, post or tweet.
Rest assured effective social touch marketing will continue to increase in value in the weeks and months ahead. Consumers will evaluate your hotel’s services, location, rates and specials based on your social presence and engagement. When you engage with a consumer the goal is to make your social touch a two way communication that is sincere and relevant. When you do, you will see the results you want.

It’s All About Delivering the Experience!

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

It’s All About Delivering the Experience!

Customers want what they want when they want it. The idea is to bundle it all together and get them to pay for access to experiences they’d never have otherwise without your help.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Marko Greisen
Marko Greisen

Marko Greisen knows what we here at Hotel Interactive have been preaching: It’s all about experiences. As co-founder and CEO of the recently created Galavantier, Marko is bringing more than 20 years of experience in the Las Vegas hospitality industry to take advantage of the trends out there in the market.
That is, figuring out ways to get customers to pay more money for experiences. And he’s doing it by giving people what they want; to feel like a VIP and give them access to things otherwise difficult to experience. It’s a winning formula for hoteliers like you to learn from. Here’s how Marko is leveraging the trends.

Explain the premise of Galavantier and where the idea to start this new travel site came from?

The premise of Galavantier is to act as a modern day travel agent utilizing technology to offer Travel Experiences without sacrificing quality over quantity. We felt that online travel sites started looking more like travel Walmarts, basically selling anything they could get their hands on, regardless of if it was a quality product or not.  Yes you can find some of the lowest rates out there on these Walmart style travel websites as long as you don’t care if it’s a murder room e.g, next to the elevator shaft. The idea really started when we realized travelers were overwhelmed with so many options, sifting through countless unreliable reviews, and ultimately end up being frustrated when travel planning is suppose to be fun. We believe most travelers know what they want, it just doesn’t have to be so confusing like it’s grown to be in this space.

Do consumers really only care about the cheapest hotel room they can get?

I would say no unless you’re on a quick business trip. Matter of fact, I think it’s the complete opposite. We believe the leisure consumer is looking for value not cheap.  If a traveler saw for a few extra dollars they could have a larger room, a better sightseeing tour, or get great seats to a show or concert for close to the same price of the smaller room, basic tour and show tickets, it would be foolish not to in our opinion. Now I know we can’t win them all but that’s not what we are trying to do. Plenty of travel sites have been in that race for many more years, however consumers are realizing that their tripping over dollars to get to products worth pennies.

What are customers looking for these days in a vacation getaway?

I would say customers are looking for products that match their personal interest or the occasion; getaways that are memorable and hassle free while being price conscious.

What trends are you seeing with travelers booking experiences through Galavantier and any specific requests?

With us being still relatively new, it’s still hard to measure any definite trends; however we are seeing that travelers like the fact they don’t have to open a new window and search for that particular hotel or vendor they found on our site. As you know, most travel websites make it relatively difficult to get to the hotels or vendors website. We offer direct links to each of our travel partners and encourage you visit their site as well. Just because the package may no longer be available or you see something you would like to book separately, doesn’t mean it should be so difficult to book direct. Transparency is key and that’s how you build trust with consumers. When that customer is really to book a package, guess who they’re coming back to see? I can tell you, the same site that helped them book their last travel hotel or tour.  We are definitely seeing a good amount of special requests, from “can I request a certain view or table location?”, “can I have a bottle of champagne placed in the limousine prior to being picked up?” and “can Galavantier help curate something special for my husband’s 40th surprise birthday?”  We are also seeing that Galavantiers love that fact they really don’t have to pull out cash or pay bills for items within their package after the fact. One example would be, we included all taxes, gratuity and resort fees into the total package cost.

Are people more likely to buy into a trip if everything is planned in advance for them?

I would say there is a portion of people who would prefer the hassle free travel package but there are also some people know what they want and just need help getting it done.

How critical is giving customers “access” to activities and events they couldn’t do otherwise?

Well that all depends on that person’s lifestyle. For some it’s very critical and others not so much. The good thing about Galavantier is we do everything in our power to make each experience within a package unique. Say for example, a well known restaurant that doesn’t typically offer a prix-fixe menu but has personally created one for our Galavantiers that includes a personal table side visit by the actual Chef. Now some would say that’s just something not everyone has access to. We say everyone should have access to that. One happy customer means 10 more potential customers. I have yet to meet anyone that feels they have too much business, especially in this economy.

How do you make sure customers get enough value in an experience so they are not so price sensitive?

Value comes in many degrees and not just in price. We take the approach of acting on behalf of the traveler, doing everything in our power to secure the best rates possible without devaluing the travel package. Our motto is quality for less and it’s to the advantage of the travel partner to help us get there. Generally someone who wants something cheap is traveling on a budget and is unlikely to spend more on additional hotel amenities. The heads in beds concept may work great for the swinging door travel product but we are a big believer in creating evangelists who are the best and loyal customers that keep coming back.

How do you get customers to use social media to share great experiences you provide?

That’s easy. Who doesn’t want to share something that was unique or was a once and a life time experience? Several years ago prior to Facebook and Twitter, if you did something that was amazing, you shared it with your friends and co-workers through word of mouth. Today all it takes is uploading a photo or a simple tweet and status update which gets shared to all your friends, near and close.

How can hoteliers profit from creating unique packages and experience?

Well I think some hoteliers are limited to what they can do when creating a unique package or experiences. However if they get creative, I believe they can offer something to travelers beyond filling rooms and drive more revenue while developing a loyal customer to their brand. You can look at it two ways, if a consumer is looking for a cheap room rate, either they are on a tight budget or are trying to save money to spend on other things or not at all. Either way, they’re likely looking to do more for less. If a hotel created packages beyond the usually in-room F&B credits or access to the fitness center, I believe they would see more consumers staying and spending on property.

Right now the focus is on Las Vegas but how are you handling expansion into other markets and what do you look for in partners in the future?

Las Vegas is always going to play a big part of Galavantier because there is always something exciting and fun to do for all walks of life. We are already looking into other destinations for travel partners that provide superior customer service and a truly great product. When looking for a potential travel partner, we send a Galavantier team member unannounced to dine, stay, or enjoy their products and services. This way the potential travel partner isn’t giving us the royal treatment to score points. We want to see and experience it from the consumer’s eyes. If the experience doesn’t live up to our expectations, we pass on approaching them. If they meet our expectations, we want to share everything about them.

What separates Galavantier from the heap of online travel sites?

Other than what I’ve already mentioned above. What separates Galavantier.com from many of today’s travel sites is simply that we curate every travel experience offer as if was a package we’d purchase ourselves. Each travel experience package is carefully curated and each package within the package is fully vetted before it’s featured on the site. That means, if a room is less than 500-square feet, we don’t sell it. If the tour operator has a less than perfect safety record, we don’t offer it. If we get several complaints from our customers about a particular travel partner, we ask them to address the issue. If the same problem continues and isn’t resolved, we no longer feature their products and services. Since all our travel products are hand-selected, we don’t allow banner and display ads on Galavantier. We feel if you’re on the site, that’s the best advertising available on Galavantier. By representing the traveler and not the hotel or vendor, we look to secure the best rates possible for quality products without breaking the bank.  Another thing to mention is we don’t expect our customers to pay resort fees upon arrival. All our package prices included tax, gratuity and resort fees. Basically the price you see is the price you pay. Many travel sites try to show the lowest price possible. Before you know it, you’re booking it and between taxes and fees, you’re spending another $30 per night. Let’s not forget the $10-$20 resort fee per night once you arrive and check in to the hotel. No one likes surprise charges nor does Galavantier.

For more information about Galavantier please visit www.galavantier.com

Joining the QR Club

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Joining the QR Club

Hotels find new ways to market deals, events, menus and more using the 2D barcodes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Caryn Eve Murray

Small, unique and easily read by scanner-enabled mobile devices, QR codes have become a digital welcome mat in the hospitality industry. Once they are scanned from wherever they may appear – a print ad, a loyalty card, a menu – they provide a link to additional information: a wine list, a menu, a special feature or event, or a website highlighting a hotel or resort’s special offerings.

Best of all, their prowess as a marketing tool, when used with guests and prospective guests, can be bolstered with other tools that measure their success, said Mark Johnson, president of the Loyalty Marketing Association. Pair a QR code with an analytic tool such as LoopFuse, for instance, and a hotel can track how effective its QR codes have been in linking visitors to its website or forum.

The value here, said Johnson, is that “you can start assessing how effective they are at driving site engagement and purchasing engagement.”

This element is critical for QR-code users, Johnson said, because the codes are only a form of one-way communication and effective marketing requires involvement on both sides of the discussion. The code is only the first step: meaningful, appropriate content on the other end of the link is the make-or-break factor.

“QR codes are very unilateral,” Johnson said. “They are not a dialogue, they are a ‘uni-logue,’ a one-way conversation. But they push you toward a dialogue, an engagement with the customer so they can get back to you.”

The real power, he said, is how they link users to the next step: such as social media, where real marketing magic can happen.

“We live in a very dynamic marketing age, and I think you have to consider all the marketing mediums and be diligent” about moving to the next level once the digital door is open, he said. The codes could link to a website, a forum, a customer loyalty site or an RSS feed. What matters, said Johnson, is that the digital destination is meaningful for the user.

“You need to provide relevant content, provide insight they may not be able to get anywhere else. That’s the whole challenge,” said Johnson. “It’s ‘I have this QR code, now what?’ You have to get them to a destination. But is the information relevant? A QR code to a 25-year-old for a high-end property or a destination reward may not be appropriate for them. That’s the challenge. Just because that person is clicking and engaging doesn’t mean it is going to be a long-term engagement.”

Linking a code effectively means knowing one’s target demographic – by age, income and other factors. Then the goal becomes opening the door and beginning the dialogue, and that’s where the QR code comes in.

Codes on hotels’ print ads in magazines can highlight a particular regional property; for restaurants it might put the spotlight on special menus or menu offerings. Or the codes might link to discount offerings.

“Get them into your forum, your social media, which you control,” he said. “Once you have them come to your site it becomes a destination site. They see people who post to other people’s blogs. And at the end of the day if you can get them to engage in your site, that’s what you want them to do. That’s what leads to loyalty.”

Some Hotels Still Not Using Social Media to Boost Occupancy and Revenue

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Some Hotels Still Not Using Social Media to Boost Occupancy and Revenue

Poll: Consumers still price sensitive despite improving economy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Related Companies
Travelclick

Over the past five years, social media has revolutionized the global economy and become one of the most attractive and cost effective platforms to promote brands and stay competitive in the market. Yet according to a recent poll conducted by TravelClick (www.travelclick.com), the leading provider of revenue generating solutions for hoteliers across the globe, almost a quarter of hotels are not utilizing social media to increase occupancy and revenue per available room (RevPAR).

Only 20 percent of the poll’s respondents cited using Twitter, 10 percent cited using Groupon or other forms of online couponing, and eight percent utilize FourSquare promotions. Facebook was by far the most preferred social media channel for hoteliers, with 65 percent of respondents using it to increase bookings and revenue.

“Instead of running cost-efficient promotions on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, hotels are electing to increase their advertising spend through online advertisements (57 percent) and paid search advertising (20 percent),” said Jonathan Cherins, chief marketing officer of TravelClick, “It’s important that hotels don’t rely solely on advertising to increase bookings. Hoteliers should be incorporating a mix of online marketing, GDS media as well as social media in order touch their key audiences.”

The poll, which was conducted during the TravelClick webinar titled: “2011 First Quarter Hotel Industry Update: Adapting to the Changing Revenue Management and Marketing Landscape,” also showed that despite the improving economy, hotels are still seeing rate driven guests. Two-thirds (66 percent) of the webinar attendees, which includes hoteliers from around the globe, agreed that although they are seeing less price sensitivity from their guests, rate is still a key factor in bookings. Only four percent believe rate is no longer the driving issue for hotel guests.

“The data from this poll shows that while rate is often a key factor in consumer booking rates, ultimately smart hoteliers need to have better data in order to optimize channel mix, set competitive prices and forecast revenue,” said Cherins.

Another way hotels are looking to boost occupancy is through added room amenities. When asked what amenity their hotels are adding, two-thirds of hoteliers cited “free WiFi” as the number one amenity change. Hotels are also introducing better televisions (42 percent) and iPod docking stations (20 percent) to help stay ahead of competitors.

About TravelClick, Inc.
TravelClick (www.TravelClick.com) is a leading provider of profitable revenue generating solutions for hoteliers worldwide. TravelClick offers hotels world-class reservation solutions, business intelligence products and comprehensive media and marketing solutions to help hotels grow their business. With local experts around the globe, we help more than 30,000 hotel clients in over 140 countries drive profitable room reservations through better revenue management decisions, proven reservation technology and innovative marketing. Since 1999, TravelClick has helped hotels leverage the web to effectively navigate the complex global distribution landscape. TravelClick has offices in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Barcelona, London, Dubai, Houston, Melbourne, Shanghai, and Tokyo. Follow us on www.twitter.com/TravelClick and www.facebook.com/TravelClick.



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