Social Media Myths – Busted!

When it comes to Social Media, let’s do away with hearsay! With such a young and ever-evolving industry, it’s easy to get information that is going to make you question it all. Like any new industry, Social Media is experiencing growing pains as it moves out of its adolescence. But hotels need to stay clear of all the noise that surrounds Social Media: Noise that can create confusion of what Social Media can or cannot do for your hotel.

 

So like Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage in their TV show Myth Busters, it’s time to crush the myths surrounding Social Media!

 

MYTH: I built my Facebook page and set up my Twitter and Instagram accounts all for free so I’m a social media marketer.

BUSTED!

While you can sign up and create a profile on these platforms for free, it’s not enough to just to set up a presence. You have to constantly monitor, respond and create good quality content that nurtures the interaction with your guests and/or prospective guests. You also need to search out your social media influencers that will become advocates of your hotel. This takes commitment on your part to engage your target market and build relationships.

 

 

MYTH: My guests are not using Social Media Platforms.

BUSTED!

Come now, you know better than this! Consider these facts. In just one day: Facebook users post 4.75 billion items of content. Twitter users send 400 million Tweets. Instagram users “like” 1.2 billion photos.  YouTube users watch 4 billion videos and Snapchat is on its way to surpassing the number of Twitter users. With this there can be no question that your guests are, in fact, spending time on social media sites. So this myth is debunked without question.  The question should be how do I get more visibility to all these users? The game has changed now that investors are involved in those social network companies. You have to pay-to-play – consider ad spends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

MYTH: My hotel doesn’t have a chance to make Social Media work for my hotel when I’m up against big hotel brands.

BUSTED!

While it’s true that you need a large audience to be successful, even the big brands had to start somewhere! Every hotel has a guest database. Or maybe you distribute a newsletter where you can use your subscriber list.  These can provide an invaluable foundation to building a quality audience and finding your social media influencer. All are definitely a good beginning to get your hotel on the way to making your social media imprint and stand out from a crowded market. There is nothing better than a guest who has already experienced your hotel to become your social media advocate!

 

MYTH: A conversational exchange is all that involves Social Media.

BUSTED!

Of course there is engaging conversation that helps your hotel make and keep your guests coming back but it’s not enough. Keeping the conversation real is the first step your hotel takes toward social media marketing success. People tend to gravitate toward an honest handling of situations. Then there is some research to find your social media influencers and you can’t give this responsibility to just anyone who happens to be savvy on all social media platforms. It would be like giving your newborn to some youngster and say ‘Here you go! Make sure you give my baby all it needs to grow into a healthy, viable adult’.  Having somebody with experience and good judgment is your best choice. Bottom line is that you need to research and know your audience: What they want, how they look for what they want and how you can make sure your hotel gives them what they want.

 

MYTH: Social Media is too time consuming especially since I need to be active on every single platform.

BUSTED!

As the saying goes, you reap what you sow. Making the time in your day responding to comments/questions, engaging with your community and sharing with your community can make all the difference between just having a social media presence to creating a successful social media marketing campaign. After all, time and effort is at the heart of any success story. In this digital age, social media is the new word-of-mouth. To get the highest impact, your hotel needs to focus efforts in learning the social media platforms on which your guests are most active and concentrate on those social networks.  Besides, if you were to go on every channel it would mean you would have to maintain them as well. If you don’t, you risk a bad reputation with your guests, as they will feel ignored when you don’t respond to their queries. Then this would end up being a social media nightmare for sure!

 

MYTH: Social media will not help my bottom line.

BUSTED!

You wouldn’t use a handsaw to cut down a dead tree, right? You would use the most efficient cutting tool to get the job done as quickly, effortlessly and efficiently as possible. With social media your hotel has an incredibly powerful tool right in the palm of your hands. With the right strategy and combination of paid advertising and good organic content your social posts can become an invaluable selling tool. Also, social media is today’s version of word-of-mouth advertising and, by engaging your social media influencers, you inspire them to advocate on behalf of your hotel. This can create revenue opportunities.

 

There’s no magic formula to social media that will bring your hotel into the limelight or that will create leads and/or sales. If you want social media to work for your hotel you need to make it happen. A clear, decisive plan to make a splash on social media is a start. There will be some trial and error in the process but the benefits to your hotel will be well your time and effort. So keep arms length from the adage “you can’t always believe what you hear” and don’t let anyone tell you social media is not worth the time and resources. The value of social media is a fact, not a myth!

Millennials Use of High-Tech Reshaping Hotel Industry Landscape

Call to make hotel reservations? Waiting on lines to get theater tickets? Waving to hail a cab? No more!

For a millennial these arrangements would sound more like, “Hey, let’s catch a train to the city to see Sleep No More. Heard it was one of the best immersive theater events out there.” Then out comes the smartphone, checking theater seat availability, buying the tickets, logging on to the local transit app, buying an e-ticket and off they go! Start to finish this whole arrangement takes 10 minutes.

Then the show is over and the conversation continues. “Let’s stay the night in the city” and, you guessed it, out comes the smartphone once again to make the hotel booking.

Technology has heightened the hotel experience for the traveler. So in this digital age hotels need to search out new ways to streamline operations, services and costs through their effective technological choices as well as keep up with guest expectations. This couldn’t be more important than with the ever increasing, technologically savvy, traveling millennials as guests.

Millennials are a larger group than baby boomers and account for 38% of all mobile bookings.  Hotels should be mindful of this group that is so dependent on their smartphones. They are reshaping the hotel industry landscape.

Oracle Hospitality recently published the report “Millennials and Hospitality: The Redefinition of Service” surveying 9000 millennials around the world to understand how they use technology in hotels, restaurants etc. and what they expect from hotel service in today’s digital world. According to this report 87% of millennials use smartphones on a daily basis and revealed how millennials use mobile devices at hotels:

  • 94% use their smartphones in a restaurant
  • 82% have connected their mobile devices to hotel Wi-Fi
  • 13% have used a hotel’s mobile app
  • 12% have used their mobile device to order room service
  • 46% have used their smartphones to book a room
  • 20% have checked in using a mobile device
  • 52% use smartphones to take advantage of loyalty programs
  • 55% want to connect mobile devices to guest-room TVs/audio equipment to access their own content

For hotels, it becomes a delicate balance of creating a personalized guest experience without digging too deep into your coffers. You might want to consider attending the HITEC conference in June 2016 to keep on top of the latest available technological trends and products for your hotel.

Millennials are gleefully unaware of how things were done old school.  That is how it should be since they are the ones moving the world into this amazing age of technology. It’s not a far stretch to have them say, “Let’s not stay at XYZ Hotel, they don’t have free Wi-Fi. We can check out The Hotel ABC that lets you check in with an app and use your phone as a key!”

Is your hotel keeping up?

Respond to Guest Reviews or Not: That is the Question

With the advent of social media, the need for a hotel’s timely response to guest reviews or inquiries has increased ten-fold in recent years. When guests or potential guests reach out to a hotel through one of the many social media platforms and review sites in search of answers or solutions to a particular situation, they expect to receive a response from brands in a relatively short time. This means that a hotel should be johnny-on-the-spot offering a reasonable turn-around time to their responses.

Four hours is the average response time people have come to expect but brands have kept people waiting for as much as 10 hours before giving their response. The reasons for a brand’s delay are many: Treating responses as secondary to promotional offerings, having personnel shortages and, of course, budgeting concerns to just name a few.

But recent studies have shown that guests will not think twice about publicly shaming you. The price a hotel pays for this negative publicity is that it prompts consumers to think twice before booking at your hotel. With this in mind, hotels really don’t want to also face the risk that people will change loyalties to a competitor.

Instead, hotels want to build relationships with guests, establishing dialogue that sparks interest in the hotel. The only way a hotelier can do this is to ensure they are on top of responding to their audience.  After all, a hotel’s aim is to keep a guest and, with the good publicity, gain a new guest’s loyalty.

TripAdvisor and PhoCusWright did a study in 2014 that showed 77% of travelers reference reviews before choosing a hotel and 62% are more likely to book a stay at a hotel based on management review responses. Two years later a Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration study shows that answering reviews at least 40% of the time is effective but more than that could be just as bad as no responses at all. The key is not only acknowledging a positive comment but to constructively respond to negative reviews.  Consumers are suspicious if they only and always see good reviews. Nothing in life is perfect!

The Cornell report goes on to say consumers show more of an appreciation when they see how quickly you respond and make good on a situation that would have otherwise become a hotel’s nightmare. 72.5% of the hotels in the study show that encouraging review postings drove up the hotel’s ratings. Higher ratings means a better online reputation. Better online reputation means more bookings. More bookings translate into more revenue.

Any way you slice it, review responses are a necessity that brands cannot ignore.  It’s not just about the hotel rating itself. It’s how your hotel is perceived by all that read your responses.  So join the online conversation showing some r-e-s-p-e-c-t and putting a human face behind the words within your responses. You will create your brand loyalists and project a positive online image for your hotel. These are things that don’t have a price tag when it comes to having hotel visitors book their stay with you.

What’s Reputation Management Really About?

AAHOA-Logo_OfficialPublication

Hoteliers should consider reputation management as being any time a customer provides an engagement opportunity wherever they are.  Customer service is the NEW MARKETING.

Click to read DJ Vallauri’s article in AAHOA’s Today’s Hotelier.

Aren’t We All Like Millennials Anyway?

A lot has been said and written about the “millennial traveler” and how “different” their travel and hotel needs are. How connected and ambitious they are, the young movers and the shakers in the modern business world. In fact, nearly every major hotel brand believes millennial travelers are seeking new places to stay when traveling, new experiences, new ways to connect, new ways to stay healthy while on the road and so on.

Click to read my article on Hotel Executive.

Content Marketing: Video Trends 2016 and Beyond

A picture is worth a thousand words and, when it comes to content marketing for hotels, video speaks volumes. Brands that cleverly focus on considerate and compassionate visual content marketing glide right into the hearts and minds of customers. After all, these customers are making purchasing decisions based on their personal or emotional connection to the brand.

 

Something unique to video viewing is that it provides a feeling of being in the moment without physically being present. People will always remember how something they saw made them feel and videos are the perfect medium for hotels to evoke an emotional response and help build brand loyalty. This emotional response is just as valuable to a hotel as the more traditional sales driven campaigns since it provides a spark that can fuel the discussion about your hotel’s values and culture.

 

2015 saw a dramatic increase in visual content marketing over previous years and the trend is continuing full force into 2016 and beyond. YouTube has become the #2 search engine right behind Google and video ad spend is on the rise. A Cisco forecast says video will account for 80 percent of total internet traffic by 2019. More recently, Google commissioned studies and survey findings say:

 

  • 6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV
  • 8 out of 10 eighteen to forty-nine year olds watch YouTube
  • In 2015, 18 to 49 year olds spent 4% less time watching TV while time on YouTube went up 74%
  • On mobile alone, YouTube reaches more 18 to 49 year olds than any broadcast or cable TV network.
  • Among millennials, YouTube accounts for two-thirds of the premium online video watched across devices.
  • The time people spend watching YouTube on their TV has more than doubled year over year.

 

There is no doubt that it’s important to increase your hotel’s output of video content but, when you create your own video, always remember to keep it real and relevant. Some suggestions to consider:

  • Designate a hotel representative to use their cell phones to take videos around the hotel’s neighborhood
  • Give a virtual tour of your hotel giving viewers a first hand experience of your property
  • Create a day-in-the-life video of a hotel employee
  • Interview guests for a video testimonial (with permission granted)
  • Create your own YouTube channel with a link to your hotel website
  • If your hotel participates in a social initiative, put together a video to show your hotel’s earnest concern and passion on the subject

 

Trends are showing that video should have a significant role in your marketing strategy and budget. If you already haven’t, start making video content a part of your hotel’s overall marketing strategy keeping it real, relevant and timely.

Lodging Interactive Promotes Key Operations Staff And Continues To Focus On Growth

PARSIPPANY, NJ – June 6, 2016   Lodging Interactive, the leading digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry since 2001, today announced the promotion of key Company staff members. This comes on the heels of the Company’s aggressive growth plans for more than ten years.

“We are fortunate enough to have created a company culture that encourages individuals to take calculated risks to ensure we remain relevant to our customers.  In my eyes, if you’re not failing often, you’re not trying and not trying stifles an organization,” stated DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder and President.  “The following individuals have continually gone above and beyond what they were initially hired to do.  We remain as committed to them as they have shown towards the company.  I applaud them for their ongoing success.”

The Company is announcing the following staff promotions:

 

Rosella Virdo has been promoted to:

Managing Director, CoMMingle Social Media

For more than 7 years, Rosella has been instrumental in devising and bringing to market the Company’s social media engagement practice, CoMMingle.  She leads the CoMMingle team’s operations and oversees all client relationships.  Rosella’s responsibilities also include ongoing research and development and further growth of the CoMMingle platform.

 

Andra Chin has been promoted to:

Director, CoMMingle Social Media

For the last 6 years, Andra has managed the CoMMingle operation and team members.  In her new role she will continue to ensure operations and team work remain flowing as well as formalizing best practice procedures and SOPs. Her new role brings her part of the growth of product and service within the department and the operational process.

 

Kristine Gilbert has been promoted to:

Creative Coordinator, CoMMingle Social Media

Kristine has been one of CoMMingle’s lead analysts and oversees the Company’s Social Voices 24/7 engagement service during her 4 years with us.  In her new role she will assist internal staff with the creation of client marketing campaigns aimed at driving social consumer engagement and driving direct business to clients.

 

Jackie Saunders has been promoted to:

Operations Coordinator, CoMMingle Social Media

For more than 5 years, Jackie has created and managed critical company operational and financial billings databases.  In her new role she will oversee CoMMingle Analysts, the Client Liaisons staff and client relationships.  Jackie will also manage workflow and ensure all product delivery schedules continue to be met.

 

Laura Van Houten has been promoted to:

Operations Assistant, CoMMingle Social Media

Laura has served a vital role within CoMMingle for more than 5 years. In her new role, Laura will assist the CoMMingle Operations Management team in meeting client deliverables while adhering to procedures, processes and best practices of the department.

 

For more information about Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle, please visit: www.LodgingInteractive.com

 

About Lodging Interactive:

 

Headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, Lodging Interactive is a full-service digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. Through its web design and search optimization division as well as its CoMMingle Social Media Division, Lodging Interactive provides effective Internet marketing services to hundreds of branded and independent properties as well as management companies, restaurants and spas. The company also offers Social Voices, the hospitality industry’s first 24/7/365 social customer care service as well as HotelSiteXPRESS, which designs affordable, responsive websites that properties own.

 

Lodging Interactive is a 2015 Adrian Award winner and the International Academy of Visual Arts, Interactive Media Awards, Horizon Interactive Awards, Web Marketing Association, Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts, and Travel Weekly’s Magellan Awards have recognized Lodging Interactive as an industry leader.

 

Lodging Interactive is a proud supporter of the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and DJ Vallauri is the Social Media Director and on the Board of Directors of HSMAI’s New York Chapter.  Lodging Interactive is also a preferred Vendor for Best Western International, and is a member of the International Luxury Hotel Association (ILHA). For more information, please contact sales@lodginginteractive.com, 877-291-4411 or visit the company’s website.

 

###

10 Reasons a Social Media Marketing Calendar = Marketing Success

When it comes to a successful social marketing strategy, there’s always a story to be told and planning is everything.  Creating and adapting original content for distribution is already something you have mastered but churning out good, quality content is not enough to have you rise above the “noise”. Having a social media marketing calendar in place will help you keep your team organized to collectively build your customer loyalty.

 

You can go the old fashioned route by creating a content list but this won’t get you far in really seeing how that content needs to change or adapt to the ever evolving social media marketing world. You want to be able to visualize your social media content distribution throughout the year and year-over-year. Just using a long laundry list of ideas won’t give that overview.

 

If you want to be heard above all the digital marketing “noise” you will need a clear strategy across all social media marketing platforms. Then it’s not only a matter of being heard but also having your story resonate so people act on what they heard.

 

Creating a social media marketing calendar means you have to pay attention to context and is important for relating your story by:

  1. Planning social media content around key events or important dates to support marketing initiatives
  2. Creating consistency of content to make sure all internal marketing teams are on the same page for all content marketing across all social media marketing platforms
  3. Focusing on ‘need’ areas (more weekend leisure travel, more weddings, etc.) so you reach your goals
  4. Allowing multiple hotel departments and vendors to work together (Food & Beverage, Front Desk Manager, Social Media Agency, PR agency, Ad agency, etc.)
  5. Avoiding duplication or repetition of content
  6. Providing a comparison year over year against which you can move holiday/annual hotel events according to any changes
  7. Helping your viewers know what and when to expect things from your hotel by developing consistency in content posting.
  8. Making sure your content is ready in time to publish
  9. Recognizing any gaps in your plan that need attention with time to make any corrections.
  10. Giving your audience good, quality content to share on a consistent basis to build customer loyalty.

 

Social media content marketing calendars are an important part to a successful marketing strategy. It now needs to be created and there are a vast amount of choices available.  You can create a calendar using any spreadsheet application (Excel, Google Sheets, Numbers, etc.). Or you can find a free one through an online search. Of course you need to make the choice based on your hotel needs and resources but basic information that should be on your calendar should include: Separating the information by social network and by month as well as content subject headline/category, date/time to post/distribute, content owner/author, content format type, URLs etc.

 

So start planning and let your story be heard! The results will no longer make your planning seem overwhelming but keep you on top of your game and help make your hotel the “it” place to be!

So you want to win a hotel website award?

Over the years, we have entered many website competitions for our customers.  In episode 49 of the #AskDJV show, we discuss what it truly means for your hotel to win a website award.

After entering and winning numerous website awards and trophies, we have come to find that it really doesn’t help our customers at all.  Sure, there’s the prestige of saying that you won an award, but what does it truly bring to you in terms of your bottom line?

We have discussed awards on our website in the past and this week’s episode of the #AskDJV show is sure to shed a whole new light on the meaning of website awards and why we choose to no longer participate in them.

Customer Satisfaction

In the end, it’s all about what makes you, our customers, happy.  We feel that you are happier when your bottom line increases – when you see things like:

  • An overall increase in hotel bookings
  • Increase in relevant traffic to your property
  • More F&B Revenue
  • Greater RFP Submissions

We have decided that we will spend our time and money wiser, making you happy.  In the end, it really isn’t about how many awards you’ve won, but how successful we make our customers.  Wouldn’t you agree?