Category Archives: Social Media

Hotels Taking Social Media Offline

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While social media may not be the most effective sales conversion tool for companies in the travel and hospitality industries, it is still a critical factor for a company’s online reputation management.  Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and others social media channels are a great way for you to reach out to fans and potential travelers alike.

As social media is constantly evolving, hotels are forced to come up with new and innovative ways to stay connected with their guests.  Some hotels are taking an outside-the-box approach to tying social media into in-person activities.  The following are examples of hotels incorporating social media channels into their on-site experience. Continue reading

Google Outpaces Social Media in Priceline Conversions

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Social media channels play an important role for every company’s online reputation, but are they providing the best ROI when it comes to digital ad-spend? According to Priceline’s CEO Darren Huston, ads for his company on Facebook and Twitter have failed to deliver results.

“For Facebook and Twitter, we have endless amounts of money,” Huston said April 14 in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. “But we haven’t found anything there.” Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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

How Social Media Affects Revenue Management

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Well-informed hotel revenue managers have always used a variety of factors to determine pricing for available rooms.  These factors include the competitive landscape, market trends as well as long-term business plans.  However, a new factor that must be considered is the role social media plays in making more informed pricing decisions.

In the hospitality industry, cultivating and nurturing your online reputation is critical for success.  This is something we talked about in a previous blog post titled “The Importance of Online Reputation Management”. 

What once may have been viewed as a minor factor in pricing decisions has quickly become an increasingly important indicator for revenue managers.  The global trend of reputation management has prompted several studies over the past couple of years exploring the link between online consumer behaviors and pricing decisions.

Kelly McGuire of SAS, went so far as to uncover a strong relationship between user-generated content (ratings and reviews) and the quality of value perceptions of hotel room purchases.  Her research ranks positive or negative review valence as having the most significant impact on purchase decisions, followed by price and then aggregate rating.

What Does This Mean For You?

Social media should be used as a two-way communication forum.  When guests post a positive or negative comment on Facebook or Twitter, your social media department should respond as soon as possible.  This lets the individual traveler know that their comments are appreciated and lets the rest of your social media following know that you care about the needs of all guests.

When you are proactive and appropriately reactive with your social media channels, your online reputation will improve.  This can be a great way to build loyalty with a new generation of travelers, the Millennials, and can in turn change the way you manage your revenue strategies.

Reviews sites should be seen in the same light.  When you receive a negative review on one of the major OTAs or meta-search engines, whether it is about the rooms, food or service, a quick and well thought out response is the best way to ease a customer’s troubles.  Make sure you remedy this issue soon so that additional guests do not leave the same feedback on these review sites.

10 Do’s and Don’ts When Using Crowdsourcing

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Social media has become a vital channel for hoteliers to use when highlighting all of the unique aspects of your property.  Taking that idea a step further, some properties are now using crowdsourcing to create a visual-rich website experience with the help of these channels.

For those of you who are digging through the depths of your vocabulary attempting to put a definition to the word crowdsourcing, it means accomplishing a task with the help of a crowd of people on the internet.  Collectively working together and putting their ideas together online with hundreds or thousands of other people allows for an optimized result.

You have worked hard to cultivate a steady following across a variety of social media channels, and now it is time for that effort to pay off.  Use your online community to obtain endless amounts of unique and inspiring guest photos and videos by encouraging guests to tag your property in their social media posts, especially on Instagram.

Before you start posting pictures from each and every one of your social media followers to your brand.com website, here are a few helpful “Do’s and Don’ts” that will keep your visual content fresh and attractive to potential travelers.

Five Things You Should Do For a Successful Crowdsourcing Campaign

-Keep photos fresh and up-to-date by curating crowd-sourced images on a regular basis in addition to your professional content.  Choosing photos from a traveler’s trip three years ago likely will not help you tell a current visual story.

-Use crowdsourcing to monitor how customers view your hotel, and what they find interesting enough to share online.  It is important to find out what travelers find unique and important about your property.  What you find important and what customers find important may be two very separate things.

-Check the social media site’s terms of use and consult a lawyer before publishing your guest’s photos on your website in order to avoid any risk of copyright liability.  Just because these photos were taken at your property does not mean you own them.  Make sure you have rights to publish them on your site.

-Select the best and most compelling guest photos to host on your website to ensure a consistent story and message.  Take a look at one of our previous blog post that talked about the importance of quality images on your site.

-Encourage guests to post the photos on social media using a predetermined hashtag to make finding and selecting photos as easy as possible, and not to mention publicly available.  Hashtag campaigns are a great way to grow your social media following across a variety of channels.

Five Don’ts to Keep in Mind with Your Crowdsourcing Campaign

-Do not completely let go of your professional photography.  Travel shoppers do enjoy seeing amateur pictures from their peers, friends and family, but there still must be a mix of authentic and professional photos.

-Do not ignore the free feedback that guest photos are providing your hotel.  Use this feedback to make changes and leverage these social media channels as a two-way communication avenue.

-Do not confuse travel shoppers by using absolutely every photo that gets posted about your hotel.  There is such a thing as overloading potential buyers with information, and crowd-sourced images should be used proportionally with professional images.

-Do not use photos from a guest’s personal copyrighted website.  Make sure you have permission to use every photo that goes on your website.

-Do not leave guests without a reason to take photos of your property during their stay.  Be creative with designing visually compelling amenities and decorations in your hotel.  This encourages guests to take a photo and share it online.

Keep these 10 “Do’s and Don’ts” in mind, and you will easily be able to utilize crowdsourcing as a way to incorporate new images onto your brand.com website.

3 Tips to Help “Sweep” Up More Fans

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Marketers should always be looking for an opportunity to engage customers, with the ultimate goal of letting consumers do your advertising for you.  The recent social media boom gives travelers a channel to do this, but the social-media-saturated world we are living in makes choosing a medium a top priority.

After you choose a medium, you still need to find a way to engage with a large number of people, and encourage them to share with their own friends (who will potentially turn into your future customers).  A great way to bring a large group into the fray is planning, and seamlessly executing, a sweepstakes promotion, drawing or other contest.

These three tips will help you create a program that lets your fans do the talking for you, while generating new followers and potentially new customers as well.

1. Know your fans’ social habits and integrate them into your engagement plan.

Let’s assume you are running a resort with a golf course or spa you wish to showcase, and are looking to give away a package deal.    Although these two amenities are not exclusive to males and females, golf typically seems to be lumped in with men’s activities, while spa treatments are commonly linked with women.

Knowing this, does it make sense to market your golf sweepstakes on Pinterest, a social media channel with women making up nearly 80% of total users?  Use this helpful link to learn more about user-demographics of key social media channels from information compiled by Pew Research.

If consumers feel interrupted in their day-to-day lives or they think that their privacy is being invaded, they will tune you out without thinking twice.  It is important that every aspect of your contest flawlessly fits into their conversations.  Once you unearth the channel that best fits your audience, you can work on intersecting with their lives.

2. Don’t underestimate the power of incentives.

Studies show that when people are provided incentive, 20% more will share your message vs. those without incentive.  When you relationship is mutually beneficial, your audience is more likely to come back more often.

The problem with incentives can be how expensive they are.  If you do not have money in the budget for daily giveaways, try something else.  Reward fans who share the promotion on their social media sites with additional entries into your contest.  Fans will have to opportunity to increase their odds of winning while you reach more people through different social media channels.

3. Partner Up!

Find the Robin to your Batman, and become the next dynamic duo!  Associating with an outside play will do two things to help your promotion:

-Increase the potential reach for your contest

-Improve the quality of the prize you are giving away (e.g. Why offer just a night’s stay when you can offer a round of golf, or a romantic meal as well?)

To Sum Things Up

-Sweepstakes are a fun and exciting way to engage current customers while also capturing new ones.

-Incentives, even free ones like additional entries into a contest, are a great way to expand sharing across social media platforms.

-Partnering up allows you to expand your fan base, while improving the product or service you are giving away.

Guest Acquisition: E-mail vs. Social Media

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I cannot go a day without seeing a social media-driven article on many of the top hospitality and travel marketing websites.  Social media is everywhere and plays an important role in your marketing campaign, helping you connect with potential travelers.

With that being said, is social media the most effective marketing tool available, or should you stick with more traditional options like e-mail?

A recent study by predictive analytics firm Custora discovered that customer acquisition via e-mail has quadrupled in the last four years and now accounts for almost seven percent of customer acquisitions.  The study also found that organic search is the most powerful acquisition channel, accounting for 16 percent of customers acquired.  Despite substantial recent growth in social media channels, Facebook and Twitter lag far behind in customer acquisition.

Custora’s data also gave some insight into Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), which refers to the future profit a company expects to earn from a customer throughout his or her relationship with the business.  Similar to the customer acquisition model, organic search lead the way with a CLV of 54% higher than average.  Twitter ranked dead last in this category with the lowest-value customers (23% less than average).

E-mail may not have some of the flash and pizzazz of social media, but it’s a medium that generates revenue.  Whereas Facebook, the highest-ranking social media platform in CLV, ranks at 1% above average, e-mail has a level of 11%.  Simply put, customers who come to businesses through e-mail tend to shop more and spend more.

Social media is at its most effective when it is used as a customer engagement tool.  It can be a two-way communication line between a company and potential customers.  Twitter is typically used to relate breaking news and deals, while Facebook users usually want to increase their contact with a brand.

Mobile Plays a Role

One reason why e-mail is so effective is the fact that it is permission-based.  Customers typically have to opt-in to start receiving e-mails.  Moreover, with the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, they are always listening.  In fact, e-mail is the top activity for most people on their phones.

People check e-mail constantly, wherever they are, and that enables you to stay connected with them.  However, people who read their e-mail on a mobile device do so quickly, meaning your messages must be powerful enough to grab their attention.

For all of its positive aspects, mobile also offers some drawbacks for marketers.  Forty percent of all e-mails are now viewed on smartphones, which means they must be coded to be attractive on a phone screen.  If your message looks bad on a mobile device, 70% of customers will unsubscribe from your e-mails.