All posts by Paul Manzey

5 Reasons Your Social Media Campaign is Failing

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Social media plays a vitally important role in any company’s marketing campaign, but some companies are unable to harness the power of this constantly growing communication channel.  There are a variety of reasons why social media marketing campaigns fail, but these are five of the most common issues I read about on social media marketing websites.

1. You are not considering social media as a two-way communication system.
Some companies make the mistake of just releasing a deluge of information to customers, and disregarding whatever the replied communication is.  Social media has brought us up-to-the-second in our ability to retrieve the information we’re looking for.
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Native Apps Overwhelm Mobile Web Usage

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Without looking at your phone right now, would you be able to tell someone what internet browser your smartphone uses? You are probably not alone if your immediate response to this quandary is no. According to a recent study conducted by Flurry, mobile web browsing is losing the battle to native apps when it comes to mobile data use.

According to data compiled from January to March 2014, mobile device usage has risen to 2 hours and 42 minutes per day, up from 2 hours and 38 minutes per day in March of 2013. Native apps cemented their lead atop the list of in-phone functions, commanding 86% of the average US mobile consumer’s time (approximately 2 hours and 19 minutes per day). Continue reading

Five Tips to Improve Your Online Reputation

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Maintaining a positive online reputation can be difficult for any company in a place as public as the internet, but for the hotels and unique lodging options we promote on ResortsandLodges.com, it is of vital importance.  Although the thought of people openly reviewing your property may be scary at first, it is important to see these online reviews as an opportunity.  According to Jennifer Davies, senior content manager at Expedia, good reviews of 4.0 or 5.0 generate more than double the conversion rate of a review of 1.0-2.9.

Davies’ statement deals specifically with data compiled by properties on Expedia.com, but the idea is relevant across the hospitality industry.  Still, conversion rates are not the only numbers that are affected by a positive online reputation.  An interview with Expedia’s VP of Supply Strategy and Analysis, Ben Ferguson, revealed that a one-point increase in a review score (on a five-point scale) equates to a 9% increase in average daily rate (ADR).

All property managers and hoteliers realize the importance of conversion rates and ADR, but many do not understand how or why they go hand in hand with a property’s online reputation.  Proactively managing your reputation and using the feedback from online reviews to increase guest satisfaction will allow you to increase both your conversion rates and revenue in a sustainable way.

Here are five tips on how to improve your property’s online reputation:
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Upselling for Guest Satisfaction and Revenue

Front desk Interalpen Hotel in Tyrol

With occupancy rates returning to pre-recession levels in many parts of the world, many property owners and hoteliers expect that revenue per available room (RevPAR) and average daily rates (ADR) will continue to grow with an increased number of heads in the beds.  However, without an effective upselling program, it will be difficult for properties to increase revenue in 2014 and beyond.

We discussed implementing a front desk upselling program in a previous blog post, which dealt specifically with how training companies are attempting to teach employees to effectively upsell when guests check in.

Upselling provides an important revenue stream for managers and hoteliers, but the idea is still underutilized across the industry.  Let us look at why your upselling program will not only increase your revenue, but may also increase the satisfaction of the guests who choose to stay with you.
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Wego Launches Arabic Metasearch App for iOS

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Wego, a leading travel metasearch site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East, today launched the world’s first dedicated flights and hotels travel metasearch mobile app in Arabic for iOS.  This app is expected to follow the success of the first travel metasearch site available in Arabic, created by the company in 2012.

“The response from GCC countries to Wego’s fully Arabised site has been overwhelming,” said Mohamad Ibrahim Masri, Managing Director, Wego Middle East and North Africa.

Masri added that it only made sense to invest in a fully-localized version of the company’s mobile app, especially when experts predict an almost 14-fold increase in Middle East North Africa (MENA) mobile data traffic by 2018.

“The app for iOS comes complete with right to left language support (Arabic RTL support for android coming soon), for comfortable navigation of Wego’s extensive global metasearch platform, available in multiple currencies, displaying both local and global air services and accommodation options.”

Since the Arabised metasearch engine was released in 2012, Wego has built valuable partnerships with major travel brands in the region including Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, GulfAir, Musafir, ArabRooms and more.

Impact of the Wego App

The Wego app was recently released in the company’s core markets, and to fairly resounding success.  It currently ranks as the number one new travel application in Singapore, China, and Thailand, and ranking number two in India.  It also ranks in the Top 100 of travel apps in 20 countries worldwide.

“We’ve had very positive reviews of the application so far and the download momentum is continuing to accelerate,” said Matthew Varley, Wego’s Chief Operating Officer.

“We spent a great deal of time consulting our Arabic speaking colleagues so that every minute detail was reviewed and verified. We paid careful attention to numbers, calendars, currencies and labels and the complexities of tools required for right to left translation, screen transition directions and swipe gestures were all a huge challenge.”

To learn more about Wego, and the Wego Affiliate Travel Network, click here.

To download the Wego App, click here.

The Future of SmartPhones

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A recent post on Venture Beat discussed the future of mobile technology, but the conversation was not centered around the phones themselves, but on adaptive operating systems. You may have already seen examples of these adaptive OS’s with your own smartphone. Have you been directed to Facebook when you were trying to access Twitter? Companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google are using our usage data to transform our experiences with the “best friends” we carry in our pockets.

Adaptive Mobile Technology in the Travel Industry

In our “Death of the Cookie” blog post, we discussed how most mobile devices are “un-cookieable”, making tracking from platform-to-platform a difficult concept to achieve. However, mobile applications are typically coded to give hoteliers and property managers a better feel for what type tasks travelers are using a specific app for.

Phones themselves are not likely to change in the near future. The next option would be to revert back to smaller-sized phones, but most users prefer a larger screen for multiple uses. This is why apps and the OS make all the difference in the world. These are the parts of the smartphone landscape that will see the most gains in the future.

Potential Future Opportunities in Mobile Marketing

As operating systems become more adaptive, it may benefit brands to focus more on direct mobile advertising. Currently, advertisers are investing large sums of money to put their ads within mobile applications. Could the next step be marketing directly through OS itself? Cutting out the application “middle men” would allow marketing guru’s to reach out directly to the consumer.

To read the entire Venture Beat article, click here.

Smart Hotels are No Longer an Idea of the Future

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Smart phones appear to be on the forefront as far as the future of the hospitality industry goes, but are hoteliers ready to take the next step forward? In 1999, Disney released a television show called “Smart House”. This show was centered around a teenager winning a fully automated dream house in a competition. Now, iBeacon is attempting to make the “Smart Hotel Room” a very real possibility.

Hotels are always looking to give guests the feeling and comfort of being at home. One way to achieve this is by replicating the feeling of being at home. Smart homes are the future and hotels should embrace change and be at the forefront of this technological innovation.

The Concept of the Smart Hotel

The concept of the smart hotel is to automate everything you want to forget about, allowing you to have more time to enjoy the great aspects of traveling. Here are a few of the things the hotel app, in addition to the iBeacon technology, will take care of:

  • Find your room - Having trouble navigating the winding halls of an expansive luxury hotel? Beacons are great for determining your position in large hotels, helping to guide you to your room.
  • Room Service - Check out the menu for the evening and order a movie all from the comfort of your bed.
  • Messaging - Communicate quickly and efficiently with the front desk in a WhatsApp-like messaging style.
  • Lights - This system will help save energy by automatically turning on and off room lights when you enter or leave your room.
  • Check In – If I have said it once, I have said it 1,000 times: people want to avoid a check-in wait at all costs. Your information is entered when you book the room and you are provided with your electric room key because of the beacon at the entrance.
  • Room Cleaning - When a guest has checked out of their room, the beacons can notify the cleaners ensuring they never have to knock on a door again.
  • In-Room Entertainment – Playing your own music straight from your phone and watching your favorite series on the television is just the beginning.

There are more perks to using the iBeacon system, but all of them lend to the idea of making the travel experience easier and more convenient. Smart housing has been a concept of the future for quite some time, but now it is becoming mainstream. The next step will be to determine whether this technology is cost-efficient for hoteliers to incorporate into their revenue strategy.

Priceline Looks to Enhance Mobile Offerings

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OTA’s and mobile technology are two themes you see a lot on the ResortsandLodges.com Business Blog, and a recent interview with the company’s chief marketing officer regarding Priceline entering the on-property services market may be a signal of things to come throughout the travel industry.

Priceline’s goal is to play a larger roles throughout the travel experience, such as enabling hotel check-ins or on-site purchases, and views mobile as essential to realizing these goals.

The idea of mobile check-ins is not a new theory in the travel industry, but most of this discussion focused on individual brands like Starwood, Marriott and Loews leading the way with new mobile innovations.

Often times, once the initial booking of the hotel room through the OTA has been completed, these companies have played no further role in the travel experience.  As Brett Keller, CMO of Priceline put it, “We are primarily a transaction service.  We want to help you find and book that hotel as quickly as possible, but we have expanded beyond that a little bit.”

How is Priceline Expanding?

Newly-enhanced app features will now allow Priceline travelers the opportunity to explore the area to which they are traveling, in a map-based environment, to quickly find and explore where they can fly and purchase products at a discounted price.

Going forward, Priceline would like to have a hand in day-to-day tasks when a travelers arrives at their destination with features like checking in at a hotel, making purchases at the property, unlocking room doors and even unlocking rental car doors.  This may seem futuristic, but these types of things are offered on a limited basis right now.

Why This Matters to You

Although this is a great opportunity for OTA’s to play a more impactful role on the travel industry, it could have a negative impact on these services at your property.

Expediting the check-in process continues to be an important improvement for any type of lodging, whether you are running a brand-name hotel, or a small boutique hotel.  Travelers are happy to get away from long lines and waiting just to get a key to your room.

On-property services and purchases, however, are a priority revenue stream for hoteliers, and losing this money to OTA’s could create a more fragmented industry.  Property managers/owners may have to consider price changes in order to keep their services attractive to travelers.

Ultimately, travelers are looking for the best value with the most convenience.  Creating an easy-to-use marketplace these bundled packages and services can be found serves the traveler on a very personal level, but could lead to problems down the road between hoteliers and OTA’s.

To read the entire interview with Brett Keller, click here.