Is Your Hotel Website Ready for Summer?

With summer right around the corner and industry indexes projecting travel on the rise in the coming months, hoteliers need to have their websites looking and functioning their best in order to attract travelers and turn lookers into bookers. According to a May 2012 article titled: Forecast Optimistic For Upcoming Summer Travel, 92 percent of Americans will take a vacation this summer. To help hoteliers better plan their seasonal online marketing strategies, Lodging Interactive has developed a new Hotel Website Solutions program that delivers online marketing service and support at a low, month-to-month fee with all upfront costs removed.

Lodging Interactive is an award winning interactive agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. The company's new Hotel Website Solutions service includes 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. The program enables hoteliers to refresh their web site every two years at no additional cost.

"Website design and development, hosting, maintenance, and search engine optimization is more important today than ever before," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Our new Hotel Website Solutions program not only delivers those services, but it makes them far more affordable. This summer, travel is projected to return to pre-recession levels. Until that happens, hoteliers can't afford to buy into a costly, full-service web-management program to remain competitive, nor should they have to. Lodging Interactive is giving hoteliers the ability to refresh their websites with no red tape or going into the red to do it."

Included in the Hotel Website Solutions package, hotels will receive:
• RFPLink group lead capture and reporting
• Homepage call-to-action tile images
• Website Hosting & Server Management
• Robust Content Management Solution
• Guest Review System
• Initial SEO research and analysis
• Creation of strategy and implementation
• InnterACT client portal real-time web analytics
• Weekly website analytics
• Monthly SEO ranking reports
• Quarterly SEO refresh (review, analysis and implementation recommendations).

Summer Survey Says:
In March, SpringHill Suites by Marriott commissioned independent research company TNS to conduct its 3rd Annual Vacation Attitude Study. The online summer survey (which polled 1,000 consumers between March 13 and March 18, 2012) indicates the following:
• 58 percent of Americans reported they will use at least one online travel site to read reviews, book accommodations, find deals or scan guidebooks.
• More than one-third of people (36 percent) expect to spend just two hours or less researching their summer vacation, with a national average of five hours’ planning.
• Travelers with children are most likely to plan their vacations quickly, with 48 percent making plans in one month or less, compared to those without kids, of whom 60 percent will take two months or more to prepare.

"At Lodging Interactive, we understand the importance of a well maintained and up-to-date website," Vallauri said. "With digital media making it possible for consumers to book travel quickly and with little advanced notice, it's critical that a hotel's website is up to date, showcasing the most relevant features that keep visitors captivated. Being able to read guest reviews directly on the hotel's website, for example, is having a positive impact on turning lookers into bookers. 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."

Hotels interested in learning more about Hotel Website Solutions should call 877-291-4411 or visit www.LodgingInteractive.com.

Does Guest Review Management Really Pay Off?

Does posting guest reviews and using social media to air travel grievances really make a difference? Lodging Interactive, an interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry for the past 10 years, knows that it does. Together with its subsidiary CoMMingle, a social-media marketing consultancy, the two companies have spent the last five years helping hoteliers grow and better manage their use of social media channels for hotel marketing, of which monitoring and managing guest reviews is a big part.

Consider this scenario. In a recent USA Today column titled "Airing your hotel problem on Twitter can pay off," Travel Columnist Barbara DeLollis recaps a story shared with her by one of her "Hotel Check-In" readers:

"About 18 months ago, I checked into the [hotel] for staycation when a friend was visiting from Seattle. When I opened the mini-fridge, to my horror and disgust, there was a leftover box frozen solid into the freezer section, with strong odor of what may have been a lovely Mexican meal gone bad. I immediately took a picture with my iPhone and Tweeted [the hotel] before heading out to dinner with my friend. In the middle of our appetizer, I received a Tweet apologizing for the mishap and an offer of free breakfast for two the next morning. When I arrived back in my room, a bottle of wine and a hand-written note were waiting for us. Needless to say, the frozen dinner was gone. Since then, I have used [the Twitter handle for the hotel] for everything from confirming early check-in to ordering room service. The consistent, immediate and non-intrusive service of [the hotel's Twitter handle] is probably the No. 1 reason I've remained loyal to the chain. Since the above-mentioned incident, btw, I have made Diamond status with [the brand] and will probably be a customer for life."
Lin told USA Today's DeLollis that he believes "Twitter is almost always faster than calling the front desk or corporate to get results." The biggest bonus, he said, is that "he can just type a quick message while on the go instead of taking the time to get someone on the phone and talk."

While this situation was resolved via Twitter, Lodging Interactive professes that using a hotel's own website to enable guests to post reviews works equally as well, and it helps to better manage channel shift from third-party sites to the brand or property site. In addition, for hotel managers who may not be as social media savvy, being able to reply to guest reviews via a laptop or desktop onto the hotel website makes the response process that much quicker and easier.

"Social media is more about psychology than marketing," said Rosella Virdo, Director of CoMMingle Social Media Marketing. "When guests take the time to post a review on Twitter or the 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. Frequent traveler Lin who corresponded with USA Today was fortunate that he stayed at a hotel that had social media monitoring tools in place. Most hotels don't; but that's where Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle come in."

Lodging Interactive has developed an easy-to-use and extremely affordable Guest Review System that enables guests to post reviews directly on the hotel's website. By allowing management to respond to comments in real time, hotels are improving hotel-to-guest communications and boosting guest retention and loyalty. The Guest Review System alerts management in real time when reviews are posted. This ensures that there are no delays in communication, and the appropriate staff can immediately fix any pending problems before the customer leaves the property. Additionally, consumers can share their guest reviews on their Facebook wall and to 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.

With Lodging Interactive's low-cost, turn-key Guest Review System, hotels can be up and running in 10 minutes. If finding the time to respond is an issue, Lodging Interactive is staffed to reply on the hotel's behalf.

"It's important for hoteliers to know that they can easily and affordably compete with brand guest review programs and take control of their online reputations today through Lodging Interactive," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Those that want to go the extra step and also monitor the various social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and blogs can benefit by partnering with CoMMingle. This group is designed to assist hotels with social media engagement via 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, but being interactive and engaging, constantly monitoring content and keeping the conversations going, Vallauri said.

"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," he said. "That's where CoMMingle comes in. We become the eyes and ears of the hotel, monitoring conversations and posting instant replies if desired. So the next time your hotel gets a Tweet from a disgruntled guest like Mr. Lin, management will have a team in place to Tweet a reply and turn the negative situation into a positive one. Easier yet, by adding the Lodging Interactive Guest Review System to the hotel website, management can monitor reviews and respond to complements or concerns in a format that they are more comfortable with."

FREE OFFER!
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 http://www.guestreviewsystem.com. The offer is being made available now through June 28 at the conclusion of the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC).

Lodging Interactive Wins Multiple Awards for Hotel Website Design

Lodging Interactive has been recognized by the Interactive Media Council Inc., winning three Interactive Media Awards™ for Outstanding Achievement in the Hotels/Resorts category for its website design services. This is the third consecutive year that the interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry has been recognized by the IMC for its aptitude in designing, developing, managing, supporting and promoting hotel websites.

Property sites designed by Lodging Interactive and receiving top honors include the Marriott Burlington in Massachusetts, the Denver Renaissance in Colorado and the Doubletree Oak Brook in Illinois. Nominations are accepted from web design firms, advertising agencies and corporate marketing departments, as well as individual web designers and graphic artists, among others, from around the world. It is the mission of the IMC to increase the standards of excellence on the Internet, and the group welcomes all who will join in the effort.

"The third time certainly is the charm," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Earning three awards, three years in a row, validates the outstanding talent of our website design and search engine optimization teams. This group knows how to work together to deliver an attractively designed site that is optimized specifically for the purpose of attracting the hotel shopper when they are using the major search engines and social media network sites. We commend them for yet another job well done."

Lodging Interactive also offers website maintenance services to hotels via a Website Content Management System (CMS) which enables hoteliers to keep their websites fresh and updated at all times with the latest seasonal promotions. In addition, to make online marketing easier and more affordable for all hotels across all segments, the company recently launched a new Hotel Website Solutions program designed to offer web-marketing services at a low, month-to-month fee with all upfront costs removed. The service includes 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.

"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. "Our team has the skill set necessary to design prized hotel websites — and keep those sites fresh with relevant content that is recognized by the various search engines, and benefit from customized programs."

AAHOA Members Offered FREE Guest Review System from Lodging Interactive

Members of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) attending the Annual Convention this week at the Omni Hotel and the Georgia World Congress Center are receiving an unprecedented offer from Lodging Interactive. For the first time, the interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry is offering 90 Day FREE USE of its Guest Review System by simply visiting Booth No. 124 and registering for the service.

Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System enables guests to post reviews directly on the hotel's website, making it easier to verify, review and display customer comments and instantly post management responses to comments for better hotel-to-guest communications and heightened customer-relationship management.

Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System 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.

"Hotels risk losing website visitors if those potential bookers are forced to leave the website in search of guest reviews on third party websites," Vallauri said. "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 Hotels.com that sell rooms at a considerably lower rate. Adding the Guest Review System keeps guests on the hotel's website and turns lookers into bookers at rates owners are comfortable with."

Integrating the 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.

Ed Reagoso, General Manager of The Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange, N.J., had this to say about Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System:

"I'm a big believer in soliciting guest reviews, but unfortunately, due to the nature of the Web, there's no real way to validate whether or not a person claiming to be a guest with a bad experience actually stayed at your hotel. The Guest Review System from Lodging Interactive puts a stop to fake reviews posted by competitors or dishonest guests looking for refunds. This not only helps us to maintain our impeccable reputation, but it gives me an opportunity to interact personally with our guests. Thanks to the automated GRS tool, I can post responses to comments quickly. Not every hotel review site makes that type of interaction possible. It's not only great customer service, but it gives me the chance to really sell our hotel. Almost daily our reservations agents hear from guests who say they read the reviews on our site and truly appreciate that we took the time to respond. We attribute it all to Lodging Interactive and the excellent training they provide to us as part of their service."

Added Offers Abound
As an Allied member of AAHOA, Lodging Interactive strives to build relationships with hotel owners and assist them in all areas of online marketing, from reputation management and guest reviews to Web presence and direct web bookings. Therefore, the award-winning company will introduce new financial models at the AAHOA Convention designed specifically for small hotel owners and those running full-service properties with multiple flags.

Members also will be encouraged to sign up for a no-cost, no-obligation social media marketing audit through CoMMingle, Lodging Interactive's full-service social-media marketing agency. The CoMMingle team will assist AAHOA 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. "We encourage anyone interested in our FREE Guest Review System, FREE Social Media Marketing Audit and learning more about our new financial models for web design, web optimization and content management, visit Lodging Interactive in Booth No. 124 at the 2012 AAHOA Annual Convention & Trade Show."

For more information on Lodging Interactive, visit http://www.lodginginteractive.com.