Lodging Interactive Establishes World’s Largest Hotel Gift Card Website

If your hotel or spa sells gift cards, Lodging Interactive has just made this task easier for you in 2013. Today, the interactive and social media marketing agency for the hospitality industry introduces a new website called "Gift Hotel" which is the world’s largest portal website exclusively marketing gift cards for hotels, resorts and spas. Gift Hotel enables properties to create gift card listings on www.GiftHotel.com and receive qualified sales directly to their websites where transactions are processed. There are no commissions to pay or revenues to share.

"In 2012, the gift card market delivered $110 billion in U.S. transactions that were purchased by nearly 85% of the U.S. population; yet, until now, there hasn’t been a single website solely focused on matching the buyer’s needs related to the purchase of hotel or spa gift cards," said D.J. Vallauri, Lodging Interactive founder and president. "‘Googling’ for hotel or spa gift cards by location, hotel amenities and spa facilities simply results in a frustrating list of useless links. We felt there had to be a better way for hotels and spas to increase their online marketing reach and maximize their gift cards sales, so we built Gift Hotel. As an interactive website, Gift Hotel by Lodging Interactive drives gift card sales directly to hotels and spas. It's that simple."

Here are some fun facts: If you laid the number of gift cards sold in the U.S. in 2012 end to end, it would extend 5,318,813 miles long, cover a surface area of 5.4 square miles, or blanket 32 NFL football fields 82 times (according to CEB TowerGroup Research).

Currently representing 84 markets, Gift Hotel enables hotels, resorts, spas and restaurants to create their own listings, including photographs and videos showcasing their location, amenities and services.  Consumers search the site based on their criteria and are returned a list of businesses that meet their needs.  When ready to make the gift card purchase, Gift Hotel links shoppers to the business’ website where they buy direct.

Gift Hotel also includes integrated Google mapping technologies, guest reviews and social networking components for sharing listings with family and friends.

"We believe Gift Hotel will help properties sell hundreds of thousands of gift cards in 2013, driving revenues to their bottom line and new customers to their doors," Vallauri said. "Gift Hotel not only puts the hotel in charge of the gift card transaction, but also provides in-depth analytics information for the hotels. Properties can log into their accounts and view the number of page views, click throughs and we even report on phone calls made to the property.”

Online Guest Reviews Replacing Need for Star Ratings, Surveys

According to newBrandAnalytics, in 2012 online customer reviews rose by 25 percent. In an article titled "Social Intelligence Trends for 2013," the social market intelligence group said: "The explosion of online customer feedback is transforming how businesses will use social intelligence to deliver a quality customer experience." newBrandAnalytics predicts that businesses will stop investing in solicited surveys in 2013 due to consistent, reliable and free customer feedback coming from the web via guest reviews. The company also predicts that star ratings will become a thing of the past, as they are being recognized by consumers and businesses as "misleading, unreliable and not actionable." Instead, "consumers will seek verbatim reviews in making their purchase decisions; businesses will decipher the true meaning and uncover important themes discussed in these unstructured reviews to drive improvements." 

With travelers now using smartphones and tablets for making hotel reservations, remote check-in/-out, mobile room keys, etc., hotels are fast becoming mobile-rich environments. While the dramatic shift from PCs to smartphones/tablets is providing travelers with unprecedented conveniences, it poses new challenges to owners and operators for reputation management. Should a hotel guest have a bad experience, he or she can tell the world — or at least his or her personal universe — in a matter of seconds. Lodging Interactive, hospitality's leading provider of interactive Internet marketing services, proposes that hoteliers prioritize adding online guest review processes to their websites in 2013. By responding instantly to travelers about their stay experience, hotels are improving customer relations and turning around a potentially damaging situation and much more.

Lodging Interactive Founder and President DJ Vallauri says the business intelligence driven by its Guest Review Systems is vital, and in many cases, it is replacing other costly procedures.

"Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System was hugely successful in 2012 for a number of reasons," Vallauri said. "First, GRS technology is enabling hotels to do things never before possible. By encouraging guests to leave a review on the hotel's website — not on the OTA — hotels are maintaining control over the guest experience, the guest relationship and the hotel's reputation. Directing guests to the hotel's website to post comments and reviews keeps them from being redirected to an OTA where they will never come back to book direct. By implementing a web-based Guest Review System, hotels are removing OTA's from the equation and taking ownership of the guest-communication process. Second, private replies to the guest are sometimes warranted. Lodging Interactive's GRS dashboard provides hotel managers with the reviewers email address, facilitating direct-to-guest communication. You can't do that on OTA's. Capturing this critical data goes a long way in establishing and maintaining loyalty and supporting future marketing efforts. Third, a review posted to the hotel's proprietary website gives management the ability to validate that the guest is real before the review is posted publically. Again, that can't be done on OTA's. For years hotels have turned over control of their inventory to third parties. They shouldn't be at the mercy of OTA's for guest reviews too. It's time to take a stand."

Providing a repository for online guest reviews also serves as an important way to hold employees accountable for their performance. According to newBrandAnalytics, "social intelligence will drive the real-time 360° performance evaluation system of the future." Hotels can find immediate value in using online guest feedback to "assess performance, make hiring/firing decisions, and motivate staff."

Fueling the Social Channels
Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System ensures there are no delays in communication, and the  appropriate staff can immediately fix any pending problems before the customer leaves the property or has the opportunity to post negative reviews on third-party websites. Additionally, travelers can share their guest reviews on their Facebook wall and to their network of friends. Because the Lodging Interactive GRS validates the legitimacy of the guest, hoteliers can rest assured that reviews posted on the social channels are valid. 

Lodging Interactive is now offering a FREE 10-day trial of its Guest Review System. There is no contract to sign, no credit card required, and hotels can cancel anytime. Click here to begin.

"There has never been a more critical time for hotels to add an online Guest Review System to their websites and social media channels, especially since close to 50 percent of consumers said they will not book a hotel that doesn’t have online reviews (Forrester Research)," Vallauri said. "If you don't have the time, knowledge or resources to manage this process, Lodging Interactive is here to help — affordably."

Roman Aluisy Joins Lodging Interactive as Director of Business Development

Lodging Interactive is proud to welcome hospitality industry veteran Roman Aluisy as Director of Business Development. As the interactive and social media marketing agency continues to introduce new services and robust business models for hotels, resorts, spas and restaurants, Aluisy will use his expertise in business planning, sales and marketing, vendor relations, financial analysis, management, and process implementation to grow the company's portfolio.

"Roman has been helping hotels market themselves since the early 1990s, and has a clear understanding of what a hotel goes through from an outsider looking in," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive President and Founder. "His full-service hospitality sales background, from soliciting print advertising to hotels at Hotel Travel Index to selling hotel franchises and reservations technology makes him ideal for this business development role. As travelers' adoption of the Internet and mobile devices continues to reshape the hospitality and travel landscapes, Lodging Interactive is positioned to assist General Managers, Revenue Managers and Directors of Sales and Marketing by giving them back the precious time they lost in trying to manage online marketing and social media processes themselves. It is this service message that Roman will take to his infinite contacts across the hospitality sector, thereby growing our website design and development, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and online reputation management business exponentially in 2013."

Prior to joining Lodging Interactive, Aluisy served as sales manager for InnVite CRS powered by InnLink LLC and director of business development for REZlink International. On the hotel front, Aluisy worked as sales and marketing consultant to Vantage Hospitality, regional vice president of franchise sales and development for Country Hearth Inns & Suites, and director of franchise sales and development for both Suburban Lodges of America (Southeast) and Cendant Corp. (now Wyndham Hotel Group). He is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston.

"The one thing that is always working against us is time; people are asked to do more, but the amount of time they have to accomplish the task remains constant," Aluisy said. "Lodging Interactive is all about freeing up hoteliers' time to do more important tasks, like providing personalized service to guests and leaving the complicated and somewhat confusing job of social media management and online marketing to the experts. Lodging Interactive has an impressive team of analysts that manage online marketing processes daily for hundreds of hotels, creating, hosting, managing, responding, planning and coordinating on a hotel's behalf so they can do what they do best: put heads in beds and make sure the guests' stay is as enjoyable as possible.

"DJ Vallauri is a visionary, and Lodging Interactive is setting hoteliers up to be successful today and long into the future," he said. "It is the entrepreneurial culture of Lodging Interactive that attracted me to this job, along with the company's impeccable reputation. Lodging Interactive customers really enjoy working with us and our employees are proud of the jobs they are doing. The bottom line is that Lodging Interactive will be extremely successful in 2013, and the hotel companies that partner with us will be equally as successful and well positioned to socialize and engage with their target audiences."

Since 2001, Lodging Interactive has been providing hotels, resorts, spas and restaurants in over 35 countries with proven ROI-driven online services. Hugely successful in 2012 was the adoption of Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System which enables guests to post comments about their stay experience directly on the hotel's website and provides hotel management with the ability to respond in real time when reviews are received. Replying to reviews is giving travelers confidence that they are booking at a hotel that will take care of their needs. Aluisy will continue to expand awareness of the Lodging Interactive GRS in 2013 to ensure that the 71% of travelers who say they want a way to read and post reviews online (according to Forrester Research and TripAdvisor) have the opportunity to do so.

If your hotel needs to be seen in 2013, then it's time to call Roman Aluisy at 877-291-4411 x705.