Lodging Interactive Launching Affordable ‘Hotel Website Solutions’

When it comes to website design and development, web hosting, maintenance, and search engine optimization, there are three key ingredients that today's mid-size and independent property owners are looking for: Price, Price, and Price. Therefore, Lodging Interactive is unveiling a new Hotel Website Solutions program designed to offer online marketing services at a low, month-to-month fee with all upfront costs removed. The service will include website design and management, reputation management, search engine marketing, real-time analytics and accountability, PLUS Lodging Interactive's Content Management System and its coveted Guest Review System.

Lodging Interactive is an award winning interactive agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, and its subsidiary, CoMMingle is an outsourced social media marketing agency that also develops customized solutions for hotels, restaurants and spas. Hotel Website Solutions will debut at the Asian American Hotel Owners' Association (AAHOA) Annual Convention in May in the Lodging Interactive Booth #124.

"It's time to make online marketing easier and more affordable for everyone," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "With social media channels making online marketing more critical than ever before, smaller hotels and independent properties need the same quality design and maintenance services as the big resorts but without the expense. Unlike some companies that try effortlessly to convince small- to mid-size property owners that they need a costly full-service web-management program, we have designed an alternative program with fairness and affordability at its core."

With Hotel Website Solutions, hoteliers can refresh their web site every two years, supporting up to 25 web pages, at no additional cost.

Included in the Hotel Website Solutions package:
• RFPLink group lead capture and reporting
• InnterACT client reporting online portal
• Homepage call-to-action tile images
• Website Hosting & Server Management
• Robust Content Management Solution (CMS)
• Optional Guest Review System Inclusion at no additional cost

InnterACT by Lodging Interactive provides real-time website analytics, key performance metrics, and the latest social media monitoring tools. Using a digital dashboard, hoteliers can remotely access analytical production information about their website performance, search engine ranking performance, as well as the bounce rate and average time spent on the site. Owners and marketing managers can log in and access real-time ranking reports to determine where their website is positioned on Google, Yahoo and Bing, and view their traffic and determine where it's coming from. Because the dashboard can be customized, hoteliers can view these reports in such a way that is personal to them, so that when they log in, the information they need most is always present, such as website traffic analytics and landing page views.

Also part of the Hotel Website Solutions package is Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System. This web-based tool is successfully helping hotels verify, review and display customer comments directly on their websites. By allowing management to respond to comments in real time, hotels are improving hotel-to-guest communications and boosting guest retention and loyalty. The GRS posts traveler's comments and scores their hotel experiences based on service attributes. Hotel managers receive real-time alerts advising when pending guest reviews pop up, eliminating delays in addressing concerns and turning potential problems into new opportunities.

"At Lodging Interactive, we understand the importance of a well-maintained and up-to-date website, as industry reports show direct bookings via the hotel's proprietary website are on the rise," Vallauri said. "Hotel Website Solutions will enable hoteliers, regardless of their hotel segmentation, to keep their websites fresh with relevant content that is recognized by the various search engines, and benefit from customized programs. "

Also at no additional cost, Lodging Interactive will include in its Hotel Website Solutions program: Initial SEO research and analysis, creation of strategy and implementation; InnterACT client portal real-time web analytics; Weekly website analytics; Monthly SEO ranking reports; and, Quarterly SEO refresh (review, analysis and implementation recommendations). Customers will also have access to Lodging Interactive's Content Management System (CMS), giving property managers the ability to modify page content and images.

Hotels interested in learning more about Hotel Website Solutions should call 877-291-4411 or visit www.LodgingInteractive.com. The company will also be exhibiting at the AAHOA Convention in May in Booth #124.

AAHOA Members to Receive Aide Via New Lodging Interactive Membership

Lodging Interactive has joined the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) as an Allied Member. The interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry will unveil a comprehensive program during the AAHOA Convention in May that is designed to assist members with website design, optimization and content management.

"On behalf of the nearly 11,000 AAHOA members who own more than 40 percent of all U.S. hotels, we would like to officially welcome Lodging Interactive as an Allied Member,” said AAHOA President Fred Schwartz. “We wish them the best as they join us for what we expect to be a very successful new year.”

More than ever before, hotel owners and operators are looking for ways to improve their Web presence, increase direct web bookings, control their online reputations and better direct their overall online marketing programs and use of social media. As an Allied member, Lodging Interactive will work to build relationships with hotel owners and assist them in all of these areas through strategic and affordable services and consulting.

"These are still challenging times," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive President and CEO. "The economy is beginning to recover, but we're not out of the woods yet. That's why Lodging Interactive will introduce new financial models at the AAHOA Convention designed specifically for both small hotel owners and those running full-service properties with multiple flags."

Plan, Socialize, Engage and Measure
"Also at the show, we are encouraging members to sign up for a no-cost, no-obligation social media marketing audit through CoMMingle, Lodging Interactive's full-service social-media marketing agency," he said. "The explosion in social media offers owners powerful new ways to interact with their guests and prospects. The CoMMingle team will assist members with planning their unique social media strategy based on their individual property goals. Then they will teach members how to socialize online, 'comingling' and managing their message on the channels (blogging, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and more) that work best for their properties. CoMMingle ensures that each hotel's message is communicated smartly, efficiently and effectively, constantly measuring each plans' critical success factors and fine-tuning each strategy for long term success.

"By leveraging the support of Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle, we are confident that AAHOA members will be widely successful in 2012 and beyond," Vallauri said.

Lodging Interactive information can now be accessed via AAHOA's website at http://www.aahoa.com/Source/Products/Search.cfm?Section=Search. The company will also be exhibiting at the 2012 AAHOA Annual Convention & Trade Show in Atlanta May 2 to 5 at the Omni Hotel and the Georgia World Congress Center in Booth No. 124.

How Good Is Your Hotel’s Social Media?

Does trying to manage your social media presence have you in a tail spin? Are you still unsure of the value that social media brings to your hotel's online marketing program? Would you like add social marketing expertise without adding overhead? If "yes," than it's time to CoMMingle. CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive is an outsourced social media marketing agency that develops customized solutions for hotels, restaurants and spas. The company works with its customers to grow and better manage their use of social media channels, provide reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization.

"Social media is more about psychology than marketing," said Rosella Virdo, Director of CoMMingle Social Media Marketing. "Those in charge of managing social media need to understand the mindset of each audience on each network. It's a job that requires the wearing of many hats. It's not just about selling a hotel experience or product. It's about engagement. Content is important. Social channels exist for communication. When guests — past and present — post on your hotel's Facebook page, for example, someone needs to be monitoring the channel ready to post a response. It's a way to take online marketing to the next level."

In a recent article titled "Top 10 hospitality industry trends for 2012," Robert Rauch reported: "By 2016, half of the travel industry will be using social media as a way of generating revenue and bookings. Currently more than one-fifth (22 percent) use social media as a revenue generating tool with a further 27 percent planning to do so over the next five years. Plus, social media will become more of a key component of Search Engine Results Page (SERP) algorithms. Facebook's posts are already integrated into Bing search and Google+ emerged with native integration into Google search. Hotels can no longer afford to linger over adding social media to their marketing mix. It's now a necessary element of traffic-driving success."

Peter O'Connor, Professor of Information Systems at ESSEC Business School in France, recently said: "2012 will be the year when hotels wake up to the power of social media." In an article titled "Hotels Start Putting Their Own 'Social Media House' in Order," O'Connor wrote: "Since travelers enjoy talking about their experiences, discussing future plans and seeking the recommendations of others, social media sites such as blogs, social networks and review sites have become important information resources. Such sites provide consumers with easy access to a pool of high-quality, topical and most importantly, unbiased information, generated not by commercial interests but by other consumers, thus helping to reduce, if not totally eliminate, the aforementioned credibility issue. As a result, social media have had an almost immediate and dramatic effect on how travel is researched, planned and bought."

Engaging with Social Media
With social media becoming such an integral part of consumers' global travel habits, hotels are struggling with finding the internal resources to manage social networks and establish effective social media marketing campaigns. CoMMingle is designed to assist hotels in engaging online with social media strategic planning, growing and managing social media channels, word-of-mouth marketing and experiential marketing, reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization

"The challenge for hoteliers is not just being visible via the various social channels — including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and blogs — but being interactive, constantly monitoring content and keeping the conversations going," CoMMingle's Virdo said. "That's where the success or failure of a social media marketing program comes to play. If a hotel does not have a dedicated staff member serving as its social media watch dog, it's easy for the plan to fall apart. That's where CoMMingle comes in. We become the eyes and ears of the hotel, monitoring conversations and posting instant replies if desired."

Not only does CoMMingle become an extension of a hotel's Public Relations and Marketing teams, but the company also serves as a consultant to its customers, advising hotels how to deal with social media reviews and giving them tools to manage their social presence effectively. For instance, CoMMingle will nip a bad review in the bud by contacting the hotel and having the appropriate person address the situation — or CoMMingle can manage the conversation. A neglected Tweet can turn into negative Facebook post and eventually turn into a devastating TripAdvisor review.

"As a CoMMingle customer, hotels are not buying Facebook 'maintenance,' but rather they receive a vast array of services that can be adjusted hourly, daily, weekly or monthly," Virdo said. "We literally go with the social-media flow, identifying for the hotel where its strength lies. If a hotel is strong on Twitter, CoMMingle will suggest a campaign that addresses the Twitter audience; If the hotel's strength is on Facebook, then we will suggest posts that drive traffic back to the hotel's Website and/or blog and also continue the conversation on Facebook and Twitter."

According to travel market research firm PhocusWright, social networking is one of the most powerful forces driving travel planning today. The firm found that social media use among travelers is growing far faster than the travel industry itself. A survey conducted by travel social network WAYN for the World Travel & Tourism Council and carried out in conjunction with Frommer's Budget Travel magazine, asked nearly 3,580 people (780 U.S., 2,800 non-U.S.) a range of questions about how they plan, book and use technology with travel. The study revealed that 38% percent of U.S. travelers and 64% of non-U.S. travelers are using social networks while travelling. Of those, 32% of U.S. and 22% of non-U.S. travelers frequently blog about their experiences.

"Social media marketing must be part of every hotel's strategic marketing plan," said DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive. "But it's important to note that one size social media marketing does not fit all. CoMMingle takes the time to understand each hotel's overall goals and objectives, then the team crafts a social media strategic plan for that specific property, backed by proprietary technologies and experienced social media marketers. With experts predicting that social media will continue to grow by leaps and bounds through 2016 and beyond, there is no better time than the present to CoMMingle."

HOW GOOD IS YOUR HOTEL’S ONLINE REPUTATION? Lodging Interactive Sites 5 Top Reasons Why Hoteliers Should Add a Guest Review System to their Website

Today's travelers love to tout their experiences whenever and wherever possible. Whether they post their travel reviews on Facebook, Google+, TripAdvisor, Amazon.com, Yelp, or simply send an email to their universe of friends and colleagues, the bottom line is, good or bad, the information is going to get out. As hoteliers, the best possible way to stay aware of that content and control the hotel-to-guest relationship is to add an easy-to-use and extremely affordable Guest Review System from Lodging Interactive directly onto their website.

Consider this: Statistics show that the average Facebook user has approximately 130 friends. In the social media realm, that equates to approximately 10,000 friends of friends, and over 1,000,000 friends of friends of friends. If a Facebook page has 500,000 fans (fans are people who clicked ‘Like’), you can imagine the vast reach each guest review can have in attracting travelers.

"There are many reasons why a hotel — especially an independent property — should add a Guest Review System directly onto its website," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "In addition to the obvious need to take control of their online reputations, the Guest Review System from Lodging Interactive is the easiest way for travelers to automatically link their reviews from the hotel's website to Facebook, instantly sharing their adventures with their network of friends. When you consider that one review has the potential of reaching thousands of “friends”,' it's counter-productive not to embrace this technology. This is just one of many reasons why website-based reviews are so critical to business today. Her are a few others . . ."

Top Five Reasons Why a Website Guest Review System is Critical to 2012 Operations:

1. Gain Control Over What You Want Displayed on Your Website.

Due to the nature of the Web, there is no real way to validate whether or not a person claiming to be a guest with a bad experience actually stayed at your hotel. Placing guest reviews directly on the hotel's website puts a stop to fake reviews posted by competitors or dishonest guests looking for refunds. This not only helps hotels maintain an impeccable reputation, but it gives hotel owners and managers an opportunity to interact personally with their guests more frequently. By having complete control to approve or deny any guest review that appears on your site, hoteliers can better manage their online reputations.

2. Boost Credibility and Display Trustworthiness.

As travelers are doing more and more of their research online, hotels and resorts are relying on online reviews to entice new guests to stay at their properties. But consumers are getting smart. With critics complaining that an entire cottage industry of paid reviewers has sprung up, travelers are questioning the validity of reviews found on booking sites like Orbitz, Travelocity and Hotels.com. This makes moving reviews to the hotel's website even more valuable. Hotels that post replies — both positive and negative — will be seen as more credible and trustworthy.

In an recent blog post titled: Keeping negative Facebook comments leads to more trust in your brand, Internet consumer psychologist Dr. Brent Coker wrote: "It is rare that a brand does not have some unhappy customers on occasion. These customers should be given the chance to publically display their disgruntlement. In other words, brands should never tamper with their Facebook page by deleting negative comments, only allowing the positive comments to shine through. Ideally, responding to negative comments creates an opportunity to show the world that you care. The result is greater feelings of trust, honesty, and genuineness towards your brand."

3. Capture Lost Business From Third Party Review Sites.

Hotels risk losing website visitors if those potential bookers are forced to leave the website in search of guest reviews on third party websites. Once gone, they may never come back or worse, they may book with the competition or third-party distributor such as Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia or Hotel.com that sell rooms at a considerably lower rate. Adding a Guest Review System keeps your guests on your site and turns lookers into bookers at rates that you are comfortable with.
Studies have shown that 75% of online travel buyers will check at least three review sites before booking online.

4. Improve Communications with Guests Via Real-Time Email Alerts.

According to Forrester, 49 percent of people won't make a reservation at a property that has no reviews; only 7 percent of hotels are responding to reviews even though 71 percent of travelers say that seeing a management response is important. In addition, 79 percent of people say that seeing a response to a negative review is reassuring. When deciding between two hotels, Forrester reports that 65 percent of people seeing a management response would sway them to book with the responding hotel. But be careful in how you respond. Forrester advises that aggressively worded management responses will do more harm than good according to 60% of the people.

By adding a Guest Review System to the website, hoteliers receive real-time email alerts for every guest review submitted, ensuring their business is always on top of what guests are saying. This means no more delays in addressing guest reviews. If a problem is identified, real-time damage control is rendered, and a potentially lost customer can be saved.

5. Expand Social Media Effectiveness Quickly and Cost Effectively.

Integrating a guest review system with Facebook is key to expanding a hotel's social media effectiveness. This link enables hotels to collect and share their guest reviews right from their hotel Facebook pages. In addition, past guests can share their own reviews via a hotel's Facebook page.

"Implementing these five steps is easy via the Lodging Interactive Guest Review System," Vallauri said. "Our web-based tool empowers hotels to collect their own guest reviews and post management responses on their websites. The Guest Review System lets consumers post their comments and score their hotel experiences based on service attributes. Additionally, consumers can share their guest reviews on their Facebook wall and their network of friends. Hotels are notified in real-time of new guest reviews and have the ability to validate guest stay information before reviews are posted on their website. The Lodging Interactive Guest Review System is a low cost turn-key system any hotel can use to manage their guest reviews. There is no programming required and hotels can be up and running in 10 minutes."

Lodging Interactive is offering a free trial of its Guest Review System. There is no contract to sign and hotels can cancel anytime. For more information, visit www.GuestReviewSystem.com.

Lodging Interactive Launches ‘InnterACT’ Website Analytics & Social Tool

In keeping with its ongoing investment in technology, and a solid commitment to increase the service levels to its clients, Lodging Interactive is rolling out a new solution this month that provides real-time website analytics, key performance metrics, and the latest social media monitoring tools. The InnterACT online client portal is available immediately to Lodging Interactive customers at no additional cost.

Lodging Interactive is an award winning interactive agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, and its subsidiary, CoMMingle is an outsourced social media marketing agency that also develops customized solutions for hotels, restaurants and spas.

"The InnterACT branded portal is yet another way in which Lodging Interactive is providing proactive web monitoring tools to our customers," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder & President. "The digital dashboard provides hoteliers with the ability to remotely access analytical production information about their website performance, search engine ranking performance, as well as the bounce rate and average time spent on the site.

"It's an online repository that contains the data necessary for our clients to access key metric reports to see how well key words are performing," he said. "This means Lodging Interactive customers don't have to go elsewhere to see how well their campaigns are running. They can log in and access real time ranking reports to determine where their website is positioned on Google, Yahoo and Bing, and view their traffic and determine where it's coming from. For example, managers running a new banner ad for their hotel can use this tool to see how much traffic the spot generated as early as the day after the campaign began. Because the dashboard can be customized, hoteliers can view these reports in such a way that is personal to them, so that when they log in, the information they need most is always present, such as website traffic analytics and landing page views."

InnterACT Integrates Social Media Key Performance Indicators
Another key aspect of the InnterACT system is its ability to pull key performance indicators for social media activity. Now hoteliers can see at a quick glance how many "likes" they have on Facebook, "tweets" and "retweets" on Twitter, and "views" their video attracted on You Tube.

"In essence, InnterACT is a business intelligence tool that offers transparency to hoteliers in regard to what is happening with their online marketing," Vallauri said. "Now, in addition to the scheduled delivery of client PDF reports, managers can access data any time they want it or need it."

InnterACT offers hoteliers the ability to:

• View real-time analytics for a website and/or blog (traffic, keywords, top landing pages,
referring sites, etc.)
• Access real-time Search Engine Rankings and keyword reports
• Download archived weekly and monthly management reports
• Monitor a hotel's social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
• Create personalized analytics via the dashboard for quick reference on key performance
indicators
• Create customized PDF reports to share with others
• Export data into Excel

In the future, Lodging Interactive will roll out additional functionality within InnterACT — at no charge — in order to continually drive relevant analytical data to hoteliers.