Season’s Greetings from Lodging Interactive to You and Yours!

Warmest wishes for a joyous holiday season and a happy, healthy New Year from the entire Lodging Interactive family!

Annual MeetingLodging Interactive recently rounded out a wonderful year that featured exciting announcements, new services, design awards and much more at our annual company meeting held at The Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange, New Jersey.

The LI team took a look back at 2014 and discussed our goals and ideas for 2015. We also shared plenty of delicious food, great conversation, laughs and of course — hashtag cookies!

Thank you to our valued clients for a terrific 2014!

We are excited about the opportunities that await us in the New Year and wish you all a prosperous 2015!

Bing Adds International Hotel Bookings to Search Engine Results

An Search Engine update from our SEO Manager, Mary Jo Caruso.

Bing and TripAdvisor bring International Hotel Bookings to Search Results

Last week, Bing announced their new booking engine in conjunction with TripAdvisor.  They are currently serving 22 countries in 14 languages.

Begin your search for a hotel on Bing.  We used Fitzpatrick hotel NYC.  

Bing and TripAdvisor Screenshot

How do Bing’s new listings affect my Hotel?

As you can see from the above image, the hotel Search Engine Results are on the left and “Snapshot” information about the hotel is on the right. The snapshot information allows guests to book a room right from this page or view your TripAdvisor reviews, without having to visit your actual website. Ultimately, this may lower your overall Sessions or Visits, but increase your hotel bookings.

Look at the below image for greater detail of the Snapshot view:

Bing and TripAdvisor Snapshot View

The hotel name, is shown, along with directions & a link directly to the website. From here, you can check availability, find rates, & see the most recent TripAdvisor reviews at your fingertips. If you want more information, you can click on the TripAdvisor link. There is also a section to view hotel photos.

How will TripAdvisor Hotel Reviews affect my rankings?

Hotels that have been avoiding getting reviews from TripAdvisor should think twice about this now that Bing has adopted them into their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS). Since they are now incorporated into Bing’s Mobile Results as well, this is going to be something that hotels want to capitalize on in 2015. Learn more about social media customer service and how it will affect your hotel marketing today.

Covenant House 2014 Sleep Out – Executive Edition

Last week, our own DJ Vallauri — Founder and President of Lodging Interactive — joined more than 750 executives in 14 cities throughout North America as part of the Covenant House 2014 Sleep Out to bring awareness and raise funds for homeless youth.

DJ was one of over 250 executives supporting the efforts of the Covenant House NY to assist the millions of homeless youth in the United States by sleeping out on the streets of NYC on November 20th. Participants were provided sleeping bags (or could bring their own) and slept on the ground using cardboard as a barrier from the cold. Temperatures sat in the 20’s throughout the night, making it difficult to sleep, but the night proved to be a life changing one for many involved.

My gloves are starting to fail me. Fingers frozen. No joke. 2:50am

My gloves are starting to fail me. Fingers frozen. No joke. 2:50am

“The experience was truly one I will remember for the rest of my life,” said Vallauri. “The stories I heard from some of the homeless youth were heartbreaking and tough to listen to. Makes you appreciate all you have and inspires you to support causes that work so hard to help others.”

Tweeting and sharing photos during the experience on Instagram, DJ admitted that he found it challenging throughout the night — even when armed with more layers and heavier outerwear than most homeless teens and youth that have to persevere these conditions night after night. The small glimpse of what homeless youth go through should be a wake up call for all to lend a hand.

The 2014 Covenant House Sleep Out raised over $5 million to “bring food, shelter, home, and hope to homeless youth across the U.S., Canada, and Latin America,” according to the Covenant House website.

The Lodging Interactive team is proud of DJ for supporting such a worthy cause as the Covenant House and hopes his involvement, and the involvement of thousands, will bring to light the needs of our homeless youth.

For over 40 years, Covenant House has been helping homeless youth across the US, Canada & Latin America. They provide more than food, clothing and shelter, they provide hope.  Their programs include helping teenagers (including unwed parents with children) find a permanent residence, jobs and health insurance, giving them the ability to stand on their own two feet.

To learn more about the Covenant House or to support their efforts to help youth homelessness, please visit their official website. You can also Like them on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter.

Effective Planning For The Holiday Season

Alicia Pavignano With Thanksgiving approaching, the holiday season is in full swing.  That means people are making their holiday plans with family and friends.  As we all know,  many holiday plans include travel and hotel stays.  In addition, some folks may travel because of holiday events occurring at certain destinations or even holiday events  hosted by hotels, a common trend these days.  Many hotels begin their holiday festivities with a Thanksgiving celebration closely followed by Christmas breakfasts,  brunches and dinners.   Of course, as we near the end of the year, New Year’s festivities are also planned at numerous hotels around the world.

Hotels are hoping to sell out during the holidays by offering special room rates and/or special holiday dining prices.  It’s also a time for holiday parties, so there are enticing deals for groups looking for a venue for their own holiday celebrations.  There is a great opportunity for hotels to capitalize on individual travel and group events during the holiday season, however timing is an important factor that will determine success or failure of these initiatives.

To reach potential holiday customers, hotels should start thinking about their holiday menus, specials and deals as summer comes to an end.  This may sound a bit premature, but the truth is, after the summer’s unofficial end after Labor Day weekend, most people begin to focus on fall activities, getting back to business and thinking about their holiday plans.  It’s at this time that the online searches begin for low cost airfares, hotel deals, holiday dining reservations, celebrations and activities, as well as party venues.  If you’re not timely when posting your holiday information you could easily miss out on potential bookings, while those who are timely will happily snatch them up.

Ideally, you want your potential customers to see your holiday offerings starting in September and most importantly, they should catch their attention and be visually appealing.  Call to action banners linking to holiday landing pages that list special deals or call outs linking to festive menus are a great way to grab your customers’ eye.   For customers looking to book a party or event with you, give them an incentive to choose your facility.  Perhaps if customers book by a certain date or book for a certain number of guests, they can be given special pricing or additional amenities for their event.  Whatever the offer, make it unique, enticing and cost effective.

With the right offers and deals and timely advertising, you have the potential for a profitable holiday season.

 

 

 

Social Media for Hotels now Customer Service?

Social Media Hotels has evolved into Customer Service

Customer Service is an attitude not a department

Customer Service the new Landscape of Social Media for Hotels?

The landscape of marketing continues to evolve for all businesses, but especially for the hospitality industry.

Almost 6 years ago, when I was first hired at Lodging Interactive, I heard the infamous line for the first time and which has continued to circulate in our company ever since.

Rosella, I have an idea.” 

When DJ Vallauri* first developed the concept of CoMMingle **, the feedback to his vision of social media marketing for hotels was interesting.

Why do I need a presence on social media? My hotel is already doing marketing.’  The landscape was changing from traditional marketing to soft marketing on social media.   The tone was a bit dismissive, but DJ was focused and confident that this was the future of marketing for hotels, whether they wanted to admit it or not.

Social Media is just a bunch of kids hanging out online.’ But this wasn’t true, DJ kept pushing forward. He knew that an industry he loved the most would lose out on the potential of social media and reaching their guests on a personal level.

‘We have a presence of social media and an intern posting pictures of kittens, how does this help us?’  Kittens & interns, seriously? You trusted an intern with your hotel’s social voice to the public, your guests, future guests, disgruntled guests — and let them share pictures of kittens to communicate your message with them?  DJ realized then that it was imperative that hotels realize the opportunities lost and the potential revenue slipping away just because of a stubbornness not to accept change.

He didn’t stop and pushed ahead.

Today, CoMMingle serves 100’s of clients with their social media marketing and digital reputation management needs.  The approach was to help a hotel expand their reach through social media through content and engagement.  Nuts to bolts, we roll up our sleeves and put the human touch back in a digital customer focused environment, leaving the technology-driven data to the technology companies. We didn’t just tell hotels what to do, we did it for them.

I’m not sharing this story to write a PR piece on CoMMingle and our services. My purpose in writing this blog post is that DJ came to me not too long along and shared his infamous words to me again.

“Rosella, I have an idea.”

This time the hospitality industry is listening more intently. The landscape of social media for hotels is changing again, faster than you might believe. Just the name of the industry lends itself to the tone that is woven in social media.  The definition of hospitality:  the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

Social media is emotional — it is about people.

A hotel’s social media presence now has so many areas woven in and involves more than your sales and marketing team. Now, your Front Desk Manager, Reservations Specialist, Guest Relations Director, Operations Manager, Event Sales Director, Food & Beverage Managers and so many other departments must all contribute to the complex and intricate web of managing your social media ecosystem.

Hotel’s Social Ecosystem Evolving Into A Customer Service Economy

Customer Service — Responsive and proactive, no longer just reactive.

Guest Engagement – Conversation and Interaction with past, current and future guests

Influence Social Presence — Control of your reputation is a thing of the past, now you must influence that perception.

Reputation Management — Authentic, individually written responses to your reviews, addressing the positive and the negative.

Content & Search Marketing — Me, me, me, I, me, I … the message you send should not only be about you. Example: What does your location offer? Share the message of supporting the local businesses, events, destination drivers.

Advertising & Promotions — Remember, it is about people. Your guests enjoy their social network for the SOCIAL aspect of it — not to be bombarded with advertising and promotions. Make your content relevant.

Your guests are consuming your content differently than before. The  content has been redefined and the way you share it has changed.

Are you prepared for the new landscape of social media for hotels?

What was DJ’s idea and the results of his infamous line this time around?  For the hospitality industry, he states, social media is evolving from marketing into a more sophisticated, customer service economy online.

Even if you don’t hire professionals to manage this for you, just remember that kittens won’t cut it.

 

*Owner & CEO of Lodging Interactive
**Social Media Marketing division of Lodging Interactive

Are You Losing Traffic? What Does Your Email Signature Say?

SEO Expert, Mary Jo Caruso shares how you can use your email signature to drive traffic to your hotel website.

It’s not what you say, but how you say it that counts.  Those words ring true especially in your emails.  When you correspond with people via email, they not only get to read your words, but they get to see more information about you and your company through your email signature.  Below are some ways your email signature can help (or hurt) your marketing efforts.

Why your email signature is important to your hotel marketing efforts

It is your “silent” salesperson.  Your email signature tells the world:

  • Who you are (Name)
  • What brand you represent (Company Name & Logo)
  • What your role is within the company (Job Title)
  • How to contact you directly (Phone, Email, Postal Address)
  • Where they can learn more about you and your services (website URL)
  • What sets you apart from your competitors (Tagline)

It can also invite recipients to follow your hotel on social media and read your blog, so you also have:

  • Social Media Information (Twitter & Facebook)
  • Blog (link to your blog URL)

While you don’t want your signature file to be too long, you might want to add new marketing messages from time to time, depending on your brand.  Below are some suggestions:

  • Is your hotel ranked #1 in TripAdvisor?
  • Did your hotel website win an award?

You’ve redesigned your hotel website, but did you redesign your email signature?

Usually, the purpose of redesigning your hotel website is to increase overall traffic and hotel bookings.  You wouldn’t send people away from your new site, would you?  If your email signature lists a website other than yours, that’s exactly what you are doing.  You are losing valuable marketing collateral and an opportunity for prospective guests to learn that you have redesigned your website.

Email Signature Suggestions

  • Create a standard signature for your team – avoid sending mixed marketing messages to your audience.
  • The average email signature is between 4-7 lines.  Make sure you don’t go over that length.
  • Add marketing messages as appropriate – “#1 on TripAdvisor”, “Celebrating our 10th year”, etc.
  • Include a disclaimer about your correspondence.

How to add your Email Signature to your Email Client

If it’s been awhile since you updated your email signature file, we have included links to the most popular email clients for you:

If you’d like to add images for your social media, we’ve included some for you.

Blog-RSS feed facebook google+ pinterest twitter youtube

 

Say “goodbye” to this missed marketing opportunity. Do not underestimate the importance of your “silent” salesperson.  Make sure your email signature is updated today.

Need more tips on driving traffic to your site and engaging your audience? Contact us!

Lodging Interactive Wins Davey Awards for Hotel Website Design

The NJ-based digital marketing firm adds to its 2014 accolades with two Davey Awards, a major award honoring the best in web, design and advertising from firms throughout the world.

davey_gold_bugLodging Interactive, an award-winning digital marketing and social media engagement firm exclusively serving the hospitality industry, recently received two International Davey Awards. The firm earned a Gold Davey Award, their highest honor, for the design of The Manhattan Club website and a Silver Davey Award for the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group website.

These awards are the latest industry accolades earned by Lodging Interactive in 2014 for outstanding website design, making the websites for  The Manhattan Club and the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group multiple award winners. The Manhattan Club’s new site design has been awarded a W3 Award, Magellan Silver Award from Travel Weekly and 2014 WebAward, while the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group site also received a 2014 WebAward as well as an Interactive Media Awards™.

The Davey Awards, according to their website, “honors the achievements of the “Creative Davids” who derive their strength from big ideas, rather than stratospheric budgets.” Voted on by the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts, the Davey Awards are considered “the first major awards competition specifically for smaller firms.”

“Our entire team is extremely proud of winning these awards,” says DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive. “We’re thankful that the Davey Awards have been established to recognize something that drives all of us at Lodging Interactive to do big things — that ingenuity and creativity are recognized by our peers on a global level.”

To learn more about Lodging Interactive’s website design services available to hotels, visit our website.

 

Social Customer Care IRL: JetBlue Uses Social Media for Customer Service, Marketing and All-Around Good

Ann Handley TweetAnn Handley, Author and Chef Content Office at MarketingProf, recently penned an article about leaving a signed copy of her latest read, Show Your Work, on a JetBlue plane after a flight to Philadelphia.

Spoiler alert: She is reunited with said book.

Why does this matter?

Well, Handley details the events that led to getting her book back and the story is one that should serve as an example to businesses on social media.

(Hint: It all started with a tweet, venting her frustration about losing her Austin Kleon’s book.)

What we love about the post is Handley’s analysis of how JetBlue’s use social media, and social media as a whole, is no longer just a marketing or just customer service tool, but really both.

The biggest take away, though, has to be the basic yet essential sentiment every business on social media — especially those in the travel industry –  should know and live by in order to extend the type of customer care their consumers (and the general public) want and need. And that is:

“Make social the central nervous system, not just the face.”

With the increasing use of social media as the front line of customer service, the division between social media as a marketing tool and your business’s customer service department no longer exists. Social media has become the way millennials, travelers, and connected individuals alike wish to reach out to share their praise, questions, like or dislike for your company, product or service. To survive, and in order to ever thrive, businesses need to be tuned into these conversations at all times, on all levels in order to deliver a high caliber of customer service satisfaction and maintain a positive online reputation to match.

Give Handley’s article a read here.

What resonates with you from her article? Does it change your company’s approach to social?

Panda & Penguin – What’s the difference and why does it matter?

Panda v Penguin

SEO Manager Mary Jo Caruso explains Google’s Panda & Penguin algorithms, their differences, why they matter and how they impact your hotel’s website.

Do you remember when you were in school and the teacher would give you catchy phrases to learn different grammar and spelling rules such as, “i before e, except after c”?  Well, there is no “catchy” phrase for Panda & Penguin, but hopefully, you will understand the difference and a way to remember them soon:

Panda 4.1 was rolled out on in September 2014 and Google rolled out a new Penguin update in October 2014. This is the first Penguin update in over a year.

What does that mean? What’s the difference between Panda & Penguin? How does this affect my hotel?

Differentiating between Panda and Penguin

Pandas originate in China – which is a very large land mass. When you think of Panda, think of your content – the largest pieces of your website.

Penguins travel together and you will often see them waddling in videos and images. Think of Penguin as the individual links to and from your website.

So now that you know the difference between them, let’s dive into how they help or hurt your hotel.

Hotel Content Marketing & Panda

You’ve just written a fantastic piece of content for your hotel website. You’re excited to get it out to your audience and just know it will help increase your bookings, get more newsletter signups or add value to your hotel brand.

Think of your hotel content as a first edition novel. While many editions can be published over time, they become less valuable than the original. Let’s take a closer look at Panda penalties and how that affects your content.

Google crawls your site and sees you have:

  • New Content – check
  • Websites linking to it – check
  • Is it unique?  Can it be found on thousands of other websites? Is it valuable to your audience or industry?

All of these factors contribute to whether Panda rewards or penalizes you in the search engines results.

Hotel Link Building & Penguin

The same thing can be said for your hotel link building efforts. Did you buy text links because you thought they were the “quick and easy” way to rank in the search engines?  Do you link to sites that are considered quality websites? What type of sites link back to yours?  Are they only directory or article sites? Some people (misguidedly) think having a high number of back links automatically boosts your search engine rankings.  It’s not about quantity, but quality. You don’t want this to happen to your link building efforts.

Panda & Penguin – How They Affect Your Hotel Search Engine Rankings

By now, you have probably figured out that creating unique, entertaining content and getting the content linked by valuable sources plays a significant part in your hotel search engine ranking results (SERPs).  Think about the following two questions when creating and sharing new content on your site:

  • Is my content really unique and engaging?
  • Will quality websites want to link to or share my content?

These are the two questions Google asks (along with a million other algorithm questions) when they look at your website and determine if you will be affected adversely by Panda (content) or Penguin (link) updates. If you have been patient and done a good job in both your content and your link building efforts, you might just find your reward in higher search engine rankings over time.

For more on how your hotel or brand can incorporate unique, quality content on your websites, contact Lodging Interactive.