Category Archives: Branding

Social Media Interaction

Social

Hotel marketers could not have hit a longer home run than that tied to social media. Social media is undoubtedly a monumental player in today’s online marketing landscape. Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn offer different avenues to different demographics, all of which can be utilized to brand and drive front end conversion to your hotel.

There are a million best practices when it comes to social media; make sure you post a certain number of times per day, keep your content fresh, use visuals, the list goes on and on. As hotel marketers ourselves, ResortsandLodges.com has recently utilized one small, but very effective tool to leverage our social presence across numerous platforms. What is it? Interaction.

Interaction on social media can be defined in several facets – commenting, sharing, posting, hashtags, check in’s, etc. All of these are fantastic ways to engage your social audience across the platforms mentioned above. Of course, the dilemma now becomes how to answer every single comment, “like” every single comment or post, etc. Simply put, this isn’t necessary. A healthy amount of interaction is enough to show your following that you are engaged with what they are telling you.

What is a healthy amount? That is for you and your marketing team to decide. Responding to a handful of comments on the same topic is a great place to start. Sharing posts from fans, both people and companies is another hot spot for social interaction. But, when it comes down to it, there are three elements to social interaction that work well for both boosting your social reputation and increasing your following. Let’s take a look at those practices:

1. Post, Post, Post - Posting to your social multiple times per day is the best place to start in terms of generating any kind of interaction. After all, if you don’t have any content for people to comment on or share, interacting will be terribly difficult. Shoot for no fewer that 4 posts per day to the various social mediums you are on.

2. Share Others Content - More so than a comment or a “like,” sharing another individuals or company’s content shows that you are engaged in what they have to say. Sharing is a great way to interact, as often times the source of the content will return the favor and share your posts. The great part about that? Your content is now not only in front of your following, but the following of whoever shared your content as well.

3. Keep it Fresh - As many times as this has been said, it cannot be overlooked. People love looking at new content, new visuals, etc. For that reason, it is important to keep your content fresh each day. For the sake of others engaging and interacting with your content, this is a must do on the list of social do’s and dont’s.

Remember, social is an incredibly powerful platform to brand your hotel. Social gives you the power to reach millions of people, connect with potential customers, create original content…and oh yeah. its FREE! A solid effort around your social presence will not leave you disappointed.

Your Email Marketing: The Facts

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Hotel marketer’s are not foreign to the impact of timely, relevant emails. In fact, email marketing is a staple in many marketing programs as it delivers fresh content to a proven customer base. What can often times be overlooked in a marketing email campaign is the trends that shape an industry; the impactful forces of change that, if ignored, can be detrimental to the overall efforts of a campaign.

Perhaps the biggest news in the email marketing world currently is the use of mobile to open, view, and click through on emails. What was once a slowly rising trend is now right on top of marketers across all industries. Recent data collected by leading email design company, Litmus, revealed that 47% of all emails are now opened on a mobile device. This number holds a 3% increase from July, and a 24% increase year over year. If the data is any indication of what is to come, mobile is not only the future of email marketing, it is the present.

So what does this mean for your business? As a hotel marketing extraordinaire, it is time for you to adapt (if you haven’t already). The spike in mobile opens is a wake up call that your content, visuals, etc. all need to be responsive. Responsive design is one that allows content to be viewed across multiple devices, without the look of visuals, text, etc. changing. The content on the screen “snaps” to the size of the screen. Ensuring that your emails appear sharp, clear, and without hassle across mobile devices is critical to your email campaign success.

ResortsandLodges.com Best Practices

As hotel marketers, best practices for producing responsive emails can include a number of things. The content in your emails can be extensive and far reaching. Ideally, everything in your email will appear exactly the same on a mobile device as it does on a desktop computer. While technical and development support will be necessary to implement a responsive design to your emails, here are a few tips for the time being:

1. Test Across Multiple Devices - When your responsive design is built, it is best to test all of your emails (before sending) across multiple devices: Desktop, mobile, tablet, etc. This quality assurance is a peace of mind tactic when it comes time to send.

2. Keep it Clean - The best emails are those that are un-cluttered. This is not to say that your email should contain the bare minimum, but rather the most important things you want your subscriber to take away from the email. Remember, that 47% of individuals who open emails on a mobile device are more likely than not on the go. They might not have the time to sift and scroll through lengthy, cluttered emails.

3. Include Visuals - Everyone likes visuals. Especially in the hospitality industry, visuals are a huge part of selling your hotels experience. ResortsandLodges.com emails generally contain no fewer than 2 images. Be creative and work with your team to decide what looks and feels the best as a representation of your property.

 

9 Ways to Generate More Revenue Through Your Bottom Line

The recent white paper released by HSMAI is a gold mine for hotel managers and owners as shoulder seasons start to creep in. The white paper is an in depth explanation of various (and proven effective) ways to generate more revenue to your hotel’s bottom line. How? It is simple really; a good majority of the tactics discussed in the report deal with internal management, trends, and developing positive habits that lead to positive results. To recap, here are the top 3 ways that Trevor Stuart-Hill, President of Revenue Matters, recommends for driving more revenue:

1. Focus on Forecast Performance - It is critical to ensure that every level of employment has a clear understanding of the operational and financial forecasts of  the company, as well as the implications that each carries.

2. Engage Your Associates - It is no secret that guest satisfaction is often times directly related to a physical experience. With that being said, it is important to empower associates at your hotel. After all, there is a good chance various associates will play a roll in forming your guests experience. Empowering your associates raises morale and creates a positive energy around the workplace.

3. Optimize Market Segmentation - Perhaps the most critical element to any successful business is understanding your customer. Rather than target customers in a broad bucket, find and focus in on your most profitable customer. Understand actions such as booking windows, channel preference, etc.

But What About the Other Ways?

Not to worry, there are still 6 more ways to generate more revenue through your bottom line, as discussed in the white paper. Let’s take a look at the remaining ways, as well as discuss what they mean for your business:

4. Match Staffing Levels to Demand - The hospitality industry is no stranger to last minute fluctuation in demand. It is important that hoteliers adapt accordingly and staff according to demand.

5. Know the Value of Your Services - Understanding the value of your various services and perks can go a long way in driving revenue. For example, a late check out or early check in time sliding for a normal fee – consider some options there.

6. Be Religious About the ROI of Your Marketing Spend - ROI is a key business metric in measuring the success of both basic and complex business projects and activities. Having a holistic approach to these numbers can pay dividends in the short and long term.

7. Wow Your Guest Before They Walk in the Door - A creative way to drive additional revenue to your bottom line is to enhance the guest experience before they even walk in the door. Leverage your social media to offer incentives to guests who book early, as well as present supplemental services that can be utilized for a small additional fee. Little things can go a long way.

8. Know Your Charges - It is a good practice to review a guests expenses days before they arrive. This ensures that everything was covered, and nothing was under or over charged. On the day of check out, do the same thing. You would be surprised at how often things are missed.

9. Be on Top of Your Hotel - Proactively managing your hotels assets is a sure fire way to increase your revenue. Closely monitor energy and efficiency at your hotel according to occupancy level and seasonality. Doing so with committed practice will prove to be beneficial.

If you are looking at the coming months and wondering how to grow your revenue through your bottom line, look internally at these nine steps first. Simple practices that go a long way in both employee and guest experiences. Using these steps as a reference will be beneficial to both hotel management and guest.

Google & Reviews

Many of our business partners at ResortsandLodges.com have been given insight into the power of customer reviews: Reviews drive credibility, can be used as a tool to improve front end staff, as well as drive a higher conversion rate. As consumers continue to use reviews as a trusted source of online research in the hospitality industry, generating positive reviews becomes increasingly important.

New data and analysis from Digital Marketing Works, has revealed the importance of reviews as they pertain to Google, and the recently updated carousel feature in basic searches. The study, performed in June of 2013, revealed a strong correlation between average review rank and quantity and where hotels popped in the carousel search results. How strong was the correlation? To put it simply, the correlation between these data points was strong enough to yield that “Earned media (online guest reviews) is now a major component of Google’s search results for hotels.

So what does this mean for your business? Using the research as a platform for any type of actionable item, experts are urging hotel owners and GM’s to focus more on generating Google reviews. Of course, the standard platforms for reviews remain equally as important (Hotel Review Sites, Social Media, etc.).

To learn more, and to read the full article with data and analysis, click here.

The Big 3: Keeping Your Customers Happy

In an online market place filled with banners, pop-up’s, sign up’s, etc. the art of customer service in hospitality can sometimes be overlooked. It is important to remember the value behind genuine customer service – personal interaction and understanding your customer on a deeper level than hooking them into an email sign up. After all, quality customer service typically leads to new and repeat business – something hotel marketers can attest the importance of.

So what are some of the key things to keep in mind when talking about customer service and satisfaction? A recent white paper from Market Metrix discusses 3 primary areas that hotel owners, GM’s and marketers should be obsessive over. Let’s take a look at the big 3:

1. Direct Guest Feedback - Perhaps more powerful than anything in the hospitality industry is direct feedback from your consumers. This feedback can come in a variety of forms…satisfaction survey’s, social media posts, telephone calls, etc. The power behind direct guest feedback is the message it conveys about the experience of your consumer at your hotel. After all, experience is everything. Aside from giving you insight to your guests experience at your hotel, direct guest feedback also presents a nice snapshot of what you do well operationally, as well as what you can improve on. It’s a win win.

2. Competitive Benchmarking - While direct guest feedback remains very important, it becomes even more valuable (to you as a business owner) when you can leverage the data against your competitors. Things like overall satisfaction score, ratings of amenities, etc. become critical to the over riding presence of your hotel. Understanding your own performance is key to the present and future success of your business. But what is perhaps even more important is addressing and analyzing what makes your competitor stronger in one area, weaker in another, etc. A solid understanding of this information will give you a competitive advantage over other hotels.

3. Social Media - It is no secret at this point that social media is an incredibly powerful tool to leverage your business. In fact, 93% of global travelers say that their decision to book was directly influenced by online reviews and social media. The mobility of social media (Smartphone, Tablet, Laptop, etc.) is icing on the cake when it comes to social platforms. Access to social across multiple devices allows for real time analysis of what guests are saying…where they are staying, what they thought of a particular property, ratings, recommendations, the list is endless!

To Sum it All Up

A firm understanding of the 3 metrics listed above will equate to a serious advantage in the marketplace. The combination of guest feedback, competitive benchmarking and leveraging social media is a strong box of tools to help your business grow. While each element alone holds its own unique value and importance, the combination of the 3 is even more powerful. Mark Waite, EVP Marketing and Client Development put it best: “The combination of the three brings powerful balance – three legs of a stool, three primary colors, three parts to the atom and the three musketeers.

Gaining Customer Loyalty

In the hospitality industry, it’s the latest, greatest hotel features, lowest prices, and most eccentric travel packages that seemingly draw the largest followings. That is great for large hotels, with the budget and marketing dollars to execute high level plans and build a “loyal” customer following. But what about all of the other guys? Not every hotel or lodge has the financial wiggle room to head-up major loyalty program efforts. Not to worry, there is a strategy to building a loyal customer following – and it can work for anyone. A recent article written by Ted Wham, VP of Travel Industry Solutions at Responsy’s (a Marketing Solutions company), goes into extensive detail around a 10 step plan, designed to build long term customer relationships and loyalty. Let’s take a look at the basics of the plan:

1. Analyze Weakness - To best serve your customers, it is critical to assess your own weaknesses as a company. Once weaknesses are brought to the forefront, improvements can be made, making your product better, and your customer happier.

2. Listen to Your Customers - It is important to determine both what the traveler wants, and how they want “it” delivered to them. Listen to your customers, and take into account the things that spending trends, market shifts, etc. might have on your demographic.

3. Understand Your Data - In order to fully understand your customers, you must first have a firm handle on your data. Capturing and applying key data in the marketplace can be one of the most beneficial and effective tactics in your arsenal.

4. Give it to the Traveler Right Now - Integrating real time details into your marketing efforts is a key element in gaining a loyal customer following. Make sure deals, packages, or special offers are all current and detailed correctly.

5. Keep the Customer Informed – As we all know, travel plans can change at the drop of a hat. It is important to keep your customers informed on anything that may alter their travel itinerary.

6. Embrace the Times - Travelers are researching, planning and booking their trips across multiple web devices everyday. Keep with the times – Understand how to use social media to your advantage. Twitter and Facebook have incredible reach capabilities.

7. Tie-In More Benefits - Travelers love free things – promotions, extended stays, etc. However, travelers also appreciate the little things being included in the premium price they are paying for lodging – things like airport shuttle service, rental cars, complimentary beverages, etc. The more the merrier.

8. Keep Customer Service Spot-On - As holds true in any business, customer service is crucial to consumer satisfaction. Make sure that your customer service efforts are solid – from booking time all the way through the check out.

9. Stand Out - Too many loyalty programs look alike. Be creative – develop ideas that are going to blow your customer away and keep them coming back for more.

10. Encourage Feedback - When the trip is over, don’t stop there! Follow up with your customer – dig deep into their experience. This goes back to analyzing weaknesses. Understanding the customer experience can lead to improvements for your hotel.

Full article found on MarketingProfs. To read the article in its entirety, click here.

Hotel How To – Content

The importance of content in the hospitality industry cannot be stressed enough. “Content is king,” as the saying goes is holding truer everyday. With that in mind, it is important to remember that while the look and feel of a hotel website grabs a viewers attention, it is the body, the content that leads them to making a yes or no decision when deciding if they are going to stay at your property. Rich, original and engaging content is the key factor in getting that traveler to book at your hotel.

A hotel website is crucial for providing information to potential guests, and for search engine optimization (SEO). Because search engine bots crawl and index content to provide in results pages, your content becomes that much more important. You can manipulate your content to attract certain guests based on their searches.

There are a handful of major no-no’s and a laundry-list of do’s when it comes to hotel website content – here are a couple.

Dont’s

1. Duplicate Website Content – Simply put, search engines hate duplicate content. During scans for information, search engines pick their proverbial brains to produce content that is unique to a search. If a website contains one or more pages of duplicate content, the search engine removes those pages from the list of search results. Be mindful of what is on each page of your website to avoid this from happening.

2. Official and Unofficial Page Content – A common pitfall of hotel websites is the separation between official and unofficial content. Official content is content that has been approved (and often times internally created) by the property for use across multiple platforms. Unofficial content is content such as a review post, Facebook mention or anything else that has been composed by someone not affiliated with the property – user generated content. The bigger the gap between these two categories, the less credible a property looks. It is critical to be on the same page as your guests…monitor what they are saying about you at all times and be sure that your content is saying the same thing.

Do’s

1. Keyword Research – Keywords are where it all begins. Quality research about keywords that define your demographic and traveler audience is the jump-off point to creating quality content that will let your travelers easily discover you in their searches.

2. Maintain a Consistent Voice – One of the more common errors in producing quality website content is the habit of jumping between voices – Past, present and future tense. To create the highest quality content means to stick to one voice. That voice is up to you and your team, just be certain that it remains the same across all platforms – website content, social media content, press releases, etc.

To read the full article and to get more useful information about generating quality content, click here.

Brand – Tell Them Who You Are

Often times, companies get caught up in the branding of themselves, their products and their services. It is important to remember what exactly branding is, and where we actually want to focus our branding efforts. As a visitor destination, how do you brand yourself? For some, the answer might include things like logos, websites, and slogans. But is that really the brand of your destination?

When you tackle the branding or re-branding of your property this year, consider the customer. The brand should be the feelings, connections and emotions that the customer experiences  when they look at your website, visit your property or hear your slogan. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you take on the brand of your destination in 2013:

1. Look Out the Window – Your brand is your chance to separate yourself from the crowd. Own this opportunity. Look all around you and record what you see…oceans, beaches, forests, whatever it is, use it to your advantage. Take the elements available to you and flip them to impact the emotions of your customer.

2. Don’t Hold Onto the Past – Consider how you view your destination versus how your customer does. Are they the same? Perhaps they are, but if not, do not be afraid to change. Just because you were a beach resort last year does not mean you have to be known for that this year.

3. Use Your Brand Everywhere – Once you have a brand that us uniquely your own, use it. Use it everywhere, across all platforms: websites, mail pieces, slogans, logos, telephone calls, etc. You get the idea. Consistency is the key.

Original Article found on MediaPost. To read the full article, click here.