Hotel Social Media News Platforms Shifting to ‘Authentic’ Usage to Encourage Community Building

There is an apparent trend showing social media platforms are shifting more towards “authentic” usage of the platforms that encourage community building, and we’re seeing more features and changes coming as a result. Staying on track with these changes will be important for the long-term success of your campaigns.

Twitter Cuts Access to Third Party Apps 

Twitter has shut down API access to a number of third-party apps and ended support for Twitter for Apple Watch and Twitter for Mac. This includes popular tools like Tweetbot, which are not officially run by the social media site. Official mobile apps and those run by Twitter, like TweetDeck and Periscope, are still fully functional and will remain so.

What This Means for Hotels

Twitter has made a lot of changes this year in order to try to reduce clutter and make room for more meaningful engagement. We saw this with their restrictions on automated or cross-promoted retweets, and this is just another step down that path.

If you’re using any software to enhance your Twitter marketing with features like scheduling or content creation, keep an eye on your profile to make sure things are working as expected. If not, you’ll need to cut the app loose and see if you can find Twitter-run alternatives, like TweetDeck.

LinkedIn Relaunches Groups 

LinkedIn groups have been around for a while, but they’re now being relaunched. According to TechCrunch, LinkedIn will be adding groups to their main app. They’ll also be focused on reducing spam and making the groups more efficient. They’re doing this with temporary removal of features like sending posts as emails to the entire group.

Image source: TechCrunch 

What This Means for Hotels

LinkedIn groups have always had enormous potential but fell a little short. They become too self-promotional, but with new developments, that could change. If groups pick up on LinkedIn, this could be a great asset for hotels and resorts. You can network with and learn from other industry experts, find potential employees, and even occasionally mention your conference or lodging services to professionals looking to make bookings.

Facebook Allows Admins to Link Pixel with Groups 

Group admins can now link Facebook’s tracking pixel to their group, allowing admins to better track user growth and engagement on their actual websites off-platform. This information will be anonymous, and it will only be available to groups that have at least 250 members.

Image source: Facebook 

What This Means for Hotels

Facebook Groups are a powerful community-building tool, but the ability to anonymously track group member’s relationship to your hotel or resort as a whole outside of the actual group is a huge advantage. Now you can more accurately assess whether the group is driving more leads or bookings, or building stronger relationships with your guests.

Facebook Group Admins Can Pin Comments 

Matt Navarra found a feature Facebook is testing that will allow group admins to pin comments in discussion threads. This will push that comment to the top of the comments section in the conversation thread, ensuring that it’s the first thing people see.

Image source: Matt Navara

What This Means for Hotels

If you have groups for your hotel or resort, you have likely already seen how conversations can spiral amongst members. People veer off course with the discussion, or you (or someone else) ends up clarifying the same thing many times over. The ability to pin comments will give you additional moderation control so that you can keep things on track and hopefully framing the group and your hotel in a positive light.

Forget Loyalty Programs: Customer Service Matters Most to Travelers

Most hotels and resorts offer some sort of loyalty program, allowing guests to accrue points based on stays and purchases that they can later use for free or discounted bookings. Publix’s BOGOs are great, after all; why not set up something similar for hotels?

 

While many guests are avid users of your hotel’s rewards program, they’re likely avid users of your competitors’ rewards programs, too. It’s almost a guarantee, after all, that almost all of your competitors will have their own similar programs in place.

 

Think with Google recently conducted a study  to find what matters most to high value travelers and see which factors will affect where they choose to stay. Loyalty programs were a factor, but not a major one, ranking fourth on the list of considerations that high value travelers focused on.

 

So what was the number one factor that guests took into consideration when choosing where to stay?

 

Customer service.

 

Why Customer Service Comes in First

Many hotels may automatically assume that if their loyalty program is superior to their competitors, that’s all it will take to create true loyalty, but we already know that isn’t the case. So why is customer service so important?

 

Image source: Think with Google

 

There’s several answers to this. The most obvious is that the market is now saturated with loyalty programs that are all so similar that they’re no longer unique; they’re almost expected in many cases. Customer service has become the true differentiator.

 

Excellent customer service will also directly impact a guest’s entire experience with you, from the pre-booking research all the way to the checkout and beyond. It will be the difference between whether they struggle (or fail) to book a reservation with you, get the accommodations they need, and have a positive experience, or whether they walk away dissatisfied (or worse).

 

How quickly and personably you can resolve any concerns will be what sways them, because when it comes to where they’re staying, they need to know they’re in good hands. Strong customer service builds trust, and trust can begin to foster true brand loyalty.

 

Meanwhile, loyalty programs don’t actually impact a guest’s experience at all; it just affects their wallet. And since only 21% of most high value travelers— the kind you really want to get on board– will sacrifice comfort for a lower cost, those savings only amount to so much when they can find something similar elsewhere.

How You Can Offer Exceptional Customer Service to Every Guest

While it goes without saying that being warm and accommodating in person is an important part of customer service, true customer excellence needs to start long before they show up at the check-in desk with their bags in hand.

 

Every guest– and every potential guest– not only expects but demandstop of the line customer service at every turn, and if they don’t see it from the get-go then you’ve already lost their booking. And in today’s world, that means focusing on your website’s online communication with guests.

 

More and more guests prefer to find questions about a potential booking online, whether that’s through your site’s information or through a live chat service. They want the information fast, and they want it without a big hassle or having to wait on hold or go through an automated phone system.

 

It’s no surprise, therefore, that while customer service was the first priority for guests when considering where to book, an easy-to-use website came in at second place. The two now go hand-in-hand for many guests, so in order to deliver outstanding customer care, you need to do so in the communication of their choosing. That means improving your live chat services immediately if you haven’t already.

 

Live Chat for Hotels & Resorts: No Longer Optional

The writing is on the wall here, and with websites and customer service both valued so highly by high-value, high-spending travelers, you can’t afford to skimp out on live chat for your site.

 

And when we say live chat, we’re not talking about robotic, badly-programmed chatbots. We’re not even talking about chatbots that have been programmed really well, because customers don’t want to go through anykind of automated process; they want to be put in touch with an actual human representative who they feel cares about them and can help them immediately. No chatbot can offer the kind of personalized help and attention that high value guests have come to expect, so they’ll let you down in the long run.

 

Instead, human-to-human live chat through your site is the only way to go. While it may sound like a lot to tackle, it doesn’t have to be.

 

CoMMingle Live Chat, for example, offers full, 24/7 live chat management for hotels and resorts so we can pick up the slack while you focus on the guests who are actively staying with you. Potential guests will receive immediate responses from real, highly trained representatives who all have experience in the hospitality industry and will learn the in’s and out’s of your specific hotel to deliver personalized customer service just like you would.

 

Whether you invest in a service like CoMMingle or take on the process yourself, immediate-response live chat isn’t so much a great option as it is a necessary one. It will only become more important moving forward, so stay ahead of your competition and adapt now if you haven’t already. Your loyalty programs, after all, can apparently only help you so much, so it’s best to make investments where they’ll matter post: the actual experience of the guests themselves.

6 Big Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest Changes Affecting Hotels & Resorts

Hospitality Social Media News

 

Are you up to date with all six of the big changes that happened in social media in the last two weeks? Know how they’ll directly affect your hotel or resort?

If you aren’t sure, don’t worry; we know it’s a lot to keep up with.

Let’s take a look at the most recent social media changes that are relevant to the hospitality industry and how they’ll affect you.

New Look & Features for Pages on Mobile 

Facebook Pages are getting a new look, with recommendations taking center stage and being featured more prominently. There will also be new features that will make it easier for your guests to view menus, book reservations, or take other actions more easily than they can now.

There will also be new local browsing options, which allow users to look for local businesses and events near them. Facebook will include recommendations based on users’ preferences and histories, and ratings from other viewers will likely impact these recommendations heavily.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts 

Reviews are now called Recommendations. They are no longer a Star-Rated scale (1-5 Stars). The visitor can either Recommend or Not Recommend, with or without a comment. Recommendations are even more important than ever before because of their heightened visibility, so do what you can to get more reviews on Facebook directly. Consider prioritizing Facebook when asking users to leave reviews, placing it above Google or TripAdvisor if you’re lacking them on Facebook.

As the new booking features roll out, make sure that your Pages are optimized and utilizing them. The ability for guests to book reservations through your site or view your resort’s menu can make everything a little more convenient for them, resulting in increased bookings.

Facebook Releases Image-to-Video Ads 

Facebook’s Creative Shop has released a new tool called “Create to Convert,” which allows advertisers to add motion and animation to two still images. You can make your logo, product, use cases, and benefits come to life by just uploading two still images, no animation experience required.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

If you’re on a budget and don’t want to shell out the big bucks to a video agency, or looking for a way to make your ads more compelling in a scalable way, this is a tool you’ll want to utilize. Use these image-to-video ads to showcase your gorgeous resort and everything you can do there, and watch the bookings come rolling in.

Facebook Starts Rolling Out Stories Ads 

Facebook started testing Facebook Story Ads in May for select advertisers in the U.S., Mexico, and Brazil. These Ads are now slowly rolling out to more advertisers and will appear in the Ads Manager once you have access. These ads will consist of 5 to 15 second videos that resemble Instagram Story Ads, with “Click to Learn More” CTAs now available.

Image source: Ana G.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts 

Plenty of hotels and resorts have had great luck using Instagram Story Ads, and it will be interesting to see if Facebook’s counterpart works just as well. If more of your guests are on Facebook than on Instagram, this could open more doors for you.

Instagram Testing Recommended Posts  

Instagram is currently testing recommended posts in users’ feeds. These posts will appear at the bottom of a user’s feed. The content will come from accounts that the user doesn’t already follow, but which Instagram thinks they’d like based on the accounts and content they interact with most frequently.

Image source: Instagram 

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts 

This feature is only in testing, but this could be a great new way to get more reach on Instagram. At this point, there’s no way to influence whether or not you appear in a recommendation aside from having strong engagement rates, but you can diversify the types of content you post (mixing it up with videos, unique topics, multi-image posts, and more) to increase the likelihood of creating content different guests like to see.

Pinterest Releases Maximum Width in Promoted Video 

In May, Pinterest started testing maximum width for their Promoted Video Pins, and it’s now available for all advertisers. These new pins are 4x wider than the standard pin, taking up the full range of space in Pinterest’s mobile two-column feed and practically demanding user attention. This feature can be found in the Pinterest Ads manager.

Image source: Pinterest 

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts 

Promoted Video Pins are already a great way to stand out on mobile, and this new maximum width feature is a big opportunity. Videos of your gorgeous hotel and all the activities that can be done there will be even more powerful at a larger size. Several case studies from Pinterest’s initial tests have found that these specific video pins have higher rates of engagement and ad awareness than even other types of promoted pins.

Not sure where to start? You can always run retargeting campaigns based on website traffic, and utilize those extra-big videos to increase bookings with potential guests.

Latest Social Media Updates: Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram

We’re nearing the end of summer vacation season, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to take your foot off the marketing breaks! Instead, take a look at all the new changes happening on social media that can directly affect the hospitality industry and see how to incorporate them to better serve and understand your guests.

Facebook Updates Video Ad Metrics to Remove Redundancies 

Facebook recently updated its video ad metrics to better match actual viewer behavior. The changes include:

●     Video play metrics, which tell advertisers how often video ads are played instead of just seen (impressions)

●     The measuring of unrepeated seconds, which changes how Facebook evaluates watch time on video ads

●     Removal of redundant metrics like video watched percentage and 30-second video views

Image source: Facebook

What This Means for Hotels

Many hotels and resorts use video ads on Facebook and Instagram to connect with their audience, build brand awareness, and increase reservation bookings. Be on the lookout for these changes. The new video play metric will be particularly helpful, because when compared against impressions, you’ll be able to gauge initial interest. If necessary, this can help you make changes to your video campaigns to get more interest early on, getting more results.

Facebook Releases New Mobile Ad Creation Tools 

Facebook’s Ads Manager app now has a whole suite of new creative tools that allow you to create more dynamic ad campaigns right on your mobile device.

New features include abilities to:

●     Add logos or text overlay to your ad images

●     Check to make sure there’s no more than 20% text on your ads

●     Crop images

●     Add stickers

●     Apply color filters

●     Use ad templates to improve appearance

Image source: Facebook

What This Means for Hotels

The ability for hotels and resorts to better create more visually appealing ads on the go is always an advantage. We no longer need to rely on third-party apps or designers to add text overlay, logos, or adjust the color on our ad images, saving us a few steps along the way.

Facebook Restricts Cross-Posts from Twitter

As of August 1st, Facebook restricted posting access to the platform. Tweets and Retweets are no longer automatically cross-posted on Facebook, even if you had that feature enabled. This is due to the new API restrictions Facebook has been putting in place.

Image source: TechCrunch 

What This Means for Hotels

Best practices have already dictated not to cross-post tweets to your hotel’s professional pages on Facebook, so not many hotels and resorts will see a lot of change here. That being said, if you use any kind of software to automatically post your Tweets to your Page, shut it down immediately.

Facebook Updates Workplace 

Facebook has been aggressively updating their Workplace over the past few months, and they just rolled out a few more features. The new additions focus on improving team collaboration and improving personalization capabilities to boost relationship building. They include:

●     One-click connection to facilitate chat

●     Highlight team members’ birthdays

●     Directory search, which makes it easier to find team members

●     Workplace profiles to share personal information

●     Admin control over what’s shared in Workplace profiles

Image source: Facebook 

Facebook’s Workplace has also required an email startup, messaging, and calendar app called Redkix, and there are rumors that this will be used to improve communication abilities in Workplace further.

What This Means for Hotels

Facebook’s Workplace seems to be positioning itself to attempt to replace Slack, and larger hotels and resorts with larger teams (either internal or external) typically need software like this for communication, project management, and distribution of important messages. If you’re in need of software like this for your hotel, keep an eye on Workplace and all the new features– it may be the right fit for you.

WhatsApp Releases Business API 

WhatsApp’s launch of the Business API is an expansion of their business tools, and it allows larger businesses to send non-promotional messages to customers like reservation reminders or shipping information. You can do this for a fixed rate. The new API is currently only available for 90 specific companies, but it will be rolled out on a more widespread basis soon.

What This Means for Hotels

The ability for hotels and resorts to be able to send reservation reminders or arrival instructions is another great way to engage guests before they even set foot on your property. This is also a great way to jumpstart conversations; guests can respond with any questions they have, and you can address them right away, providing top-notch customer service.

Instagram Tests Emoji Reactions to Stories 

Thanks to marketing sleuth Matt Navarra, we know that Instagram is testing new Facebook-style emoji response options for Instagram Stories. The Facebook counterpart just rolled out last month, so there’s a good chance we’ll see this soon.

(no image source picture tag because it’s a tweet)

What This Means for Hotels

More reaction options means that hotels and resorts can get more potential engagement when using Stories. You can increase the number of responses you get by asking users outright how they feel, or to share their opinions by selecting certain emojis.

Restaurant Reputation Management Services

Lodging Interactive Launches Reputation Management for Restaurants

. Fully managed service for restaurants.

PARSIPPANY, NJ, August 1, 2018 – Lodging Interactive, an award-winning digital and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced it has expanded its CoMMingle reputation management services into the restaurant industry. During the last 10 years CoMMingle has established itself as the hospitality industry’s leading provider of guest review management services and has partnered with hundreds of hotels worldwide.

 

 

“Providing our CoMMingle reputation management services to restaurants is a natural extension of our very mature and proven hospitality services,” stated DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder and CEO. “As Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor restaurant review volumes continue to grow, it is critical for restaurant owners to provide timely management responses.”

 

According to ReviewTrackers, 63.6 percent of consumers say they are likely to check reviews on Google before visiting a business — more than any other review site.

 

 

Additionally, according to Illumen’s Top 50 Digital Marketing Stats for The Restaurant Business:

 

  1. Over 1 billion restaurant visits by consumers are influenced by online marketing (Monetate).
  2. Out of all industries, consumers read restaurant reviews more than any other industry (Bright Local).
  3. Since 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations for dining decisions, it’s key you have a bunch of positive reviews (Bright Local).
  4. A half-star difference on a Yelp review rating can swing restaurant business by a whopping 27% (Foodbeast).
  5. Restaurants who respond to customers on social media will win as 71% say they’re more likely to recommend a company that responds quickly to them on social media (Forbes).

 

Please click for more information or contact us on 877-291-4411 extension 704 or email info@lodginginteractive.com.

 

 

About Lodging Interactive

 

Headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, Lodging Interactive is a full-service digital marketing and social media engagement and reputation management 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 cost-effective Internet marketing services to hundreds of branded and independent properties as well as management companies, restaurants and spas.

 

CoMMingle has established itself as the largest provider of reputation management services for the hospitality industry, handling over 200,000 guest review responses annually. The company also offers fully managed Live Chat agents for hotel websites through its LiveChatForHotels.com division.

 

Lodging Interactive is an HSMAI Adrian Award winner and has won awards from 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.

 

For more information, please contact sales@lodginginteractive.com, 877-291-4411 or visit the company’s website.

 

Contact: DJ Vallauri

 

pressreleases@lodginginteractive.com / 877-291-4411

 

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Latest Hotel Social Media Changes

We’re in the middle of summer’s busy season, but that means it’s more important than ever to stay up to date on all the latest social changes. This month we’ve got new updates that will allow us to continue making more engaging content with a little less hassle. Let’s take a look.

Facebook Adds a Stories Archive Feature

Facebook has been testing and slowly rolling out an Archive feature for their Stories, and it works differently than Instagram’s Stories Highlights. Users who have this feature can now save their Facebook Stories once they expire so they can repost them again later if they choose.

What This Means for Hotels

The expiration of Stories after 24 hours has always been a setback of the feature, because it can be difficult to create content that has such a short shelf life. The ability to save the content and reuse it is a huge advantage if it’s evergreen.

Want to simplify things further? It would also work to just download stories after you create them on Instagram, add them to your Instagram highlights, and then upload it to Facebook, too.

Facebook Rolls Out Crossposting Ability with Instagram 

We’ve had the ability to share Instagram posts directly onto Facebook for a very long time, but now we have a new feature that lets us do the reverse, too. Pages can now crosspost to Instagram as long as their Facebook post contains a single image. Multi-image and video posts are not currently supported.

What This Means for Hotels

Being able to easily distribute content to two platforms at once can save you time, especially if you aren’t already using social scheduling software. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Instagram best practices don’t always line up with Facebook’s. You’ll want to add hashtags, for example, to your Instagram posts so that potential guests have a better chance of finding you.

It will be better to post individually in most cases, but if you ever have something you need to distribute quickly, this feature will work for that.

Instagram Launched Question Stickers 

Instagram has just released a Questions Sticker to its Stories. This is another interactive sticker that allows users to ask their followers questions. The replies their followers submit will be shown to you privately, but they can be shared within the Stories feed. It is now available for both iOS and Android users with the latest update of the app.

Image source: Instagram 

What This Means for Hotels

This new sticker is another way to get engagement through Stories, but it also gives you a way to build and leverage social proof. Ask your guest questions about their stays or their dream vacations, or even what types of events they’d like to attend or host at your resort. Share some of the best answers to your Stories in order to demonstrate social proof and build relationships with your guests and followers.

Instagram Tests In-App Verification 

In-App verification has been available on Instagram for a while for high-profile brands and users, a coveted blue checkmark you’ve also seen on Facebook and Twitter. However, the company has approved an incredibly low amount of accounts for verification. Instagram is currently testing a new in-app verification option, where public figures, celebrities, and brands can submit a form to apply, which requires usernames, full names, and photo identification. Currently, the in-app form for verification is only available to iOS users in a selected test group, but will soon be coming to Android.

Image source: Mashable 

What This Means for Hotels

The blue checkmark automatically signals that your hotel or resort is established enough to be recognized on social media, and you risk losing credibility if you’re the only one without it. Users may be more likely to go to a website and book reservations through Instagram profiles with that blue checkmark, so keep an eye out and do what you can to apply as soon as possible.

LinkedIn Announces In-Feed Translations 

LinkedIn is slowly releasing a new translations feature similar to Facebooks. This feature will allow users to see a “See Translation” button on posts that are written in languages different than what they speak. There will be more than 60 languages included in the translation feature, including German and Japanese. More languages will follow.

What This Means for Hotels

If your hotel or resort hosts professional events or has a large number of traveling professionals, LinkedIn could be a valuable marketing channel. Even if you don’t, most hotels and resorts may benefit from using the platform to find new employees or vendors. The ability for your posts to have more reach just with a click of a button on the user’s part is a huge advantage, no matter what specific goal you’re using LinkedIn to accomplish.

Lodging Interactive Announces LinkedIn Marketing Services for Hotels

Lodging Interactive, an award-winning digital and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced the launch of its fully managed CoMMingle LinkedIn marketing service for the hospitality industry. CoMMingle LinkedIn Marketing manages all aspects of a hotel’s LinkedIn presence and community engagement.

 

“LinkedIn presents enormous branding and business opportunities for hotels and has been mostly ignored by property marketing teams.  With over 560 million LinkedIn monthly users, hoteliers must maintain a presence and aggressively build and engage with their LinkedIn community as they have done for years on traditional social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder & CEO. “Our CoMMingle LinkedIn Marketing service is fully managed for the hotel. While we manage the hotel’s entire presence on LinkedIn, the property approves every post and our teams work with the property in a collaborative manner to establish a monthly LinkedIn content calendar.”

LinkedIn Marketing for Hotels

 

Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26 billion and continues to enhance the platform as LinkedIn continues to be the leading business-2-business networking platform. LinkedIn’s Q3 2016 revenue was $960 million with 17% generated ($162 million) generated from premium account subscriptions; 18% ($175 million) from marketing solutions, and staggering 65% ($623 million) from talent solutions.

 

“While traditionally known as thesocial network for job seekers and employers, LinkedIn offers an impressive treasure trove of new business opportunities for hotels that only needs to be mined.  For example, when you consider that meeting planner executives can be directly reached through LinkedIn, it becomes very interesting for hoteliers,” added Mr. Vallauri. “Our service ensures hotels have a professionally managed presence on LinkedIn and positions the property to capture new business opportunities.”

CoMMingle LinkedIn Marketing services include:

 

  • Establishing an effective Company LinkedIn Page for your hotel.
  • We will define your audience and goals.
  • Create a LinkedIn content marketing calendar.
  • Pre-approved content and content planning.
  • Write and post LinkedIn content.
  • Leverage rich media video content.
  • Research appropriate #hashtags to use in posts.
  • Manage job postings.
  • Create and manage LinkedIn advertising campaigns.
  • Cross market your LinkedIn profile with your social media accounts.
  • Engage with posted comments.
  • Comprehensive monthly reporting.

 

For more information on CoMMingle LinkedIn Marketing please contact us at: https://lodginginteractive.com/contact/or call 877-291-4411 extension 704.

 

About Lodging Interactive

 

Headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, Lodging Interactive is a full-service digital marketing and social media engagement and reputation management 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 cost-effective Internet marketing services to hundreds of branded and independent properties as well as management companies, restaurants and spas.

CoMMingle has established itself as the largest provider of reputation management services for the hospitality industry, handling over 200,000 guest review responses annually. The company also offers fully managed Live Chat agents for hotel websites through its LiveChatForHotels.com division.

Lodging Interactive is an HSMAI Adrian Award winner and has won awards from 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.

For more information, please contact sales@lodginginteractive.com, 877-291-4411 or visit the company’s website.

Contact: DJ Vallauri

pressreleases@lodginginteractive.com / 877-291-4411

Social Media Trend: Race for Creative Tools to Make Dynamic On-site Content

Hospitality Social Media News

As social media has evolved, we’ve seen each platform racing to make on-site content more dynamic. GIFs can be added to comments on Facebook, there are interactive stickers for stories, and video is booming everywhere. The last two weeks’ worth of social media updates largely reflect this trend, granting hotels and resorts new creative tools to better connect with our audiences.

Let’s take a look at what’s new in social media…

Facebook Releases New Video-Focused Features

Facebook has released a handful of new features designed improve its video platform and make it more community-oriented.

These features include:

●     New interactive abilities like polling during Live Streaming

●     Bringing videos from Pages into the Watch tab

●     A new video template that will put videos at the forefront of a brand’s Page (though this is still in testing)

●     The Android version of the Facebook Creator App

Facebook is also testing out a new Brand Collabs Manager. This tool will allow businesses to discover and connect with creators and influencers who they can establish deals or partnerships.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

Video isn’t going anywhere, so new features to help hotels and resorts get the most out of it are welcome. Take advantage of all video features that are available to you to increase engagement and make your content more dynamic and interactive.

You can apply for access to the Brand Collabs Manager now (though it may take awhile to be accepted). Once admitted into the program, you can connect with influencers who can help you promote your hotel or resort by coming to stay, attending an event at your venue, or even just eating at your on-site restaurant.

Facebook Introduces Info and Ads on Pages 

In an effort to improve transparency further, Facebook has launched a new Info and Ads section to Pages. This section will allow any Facebook user to view all the active ads that Page is running through Facebook Ads (including Instagram and audience Network). Users will be able to click on the interactive elements of an ad, like the CTA button, but not see engagement.

Users will also now be able to see any name changes your Page has undergone, along with its date of creation.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

Your guests having the ability to see your ads and past business information likely won’t affect most hotels and resorts. You will want to be careful when you’re running special offers that are targeted to exclusive groups, even if it’s because they’re part of a rewards program or first-time guests. One guest won’t like to see that you’re offering 10% off to another for reasons they can’t discern, so keep an eye on this.

Twitter Rolls Out In-Stream Video Ads to More Advertisers 

Twitter has been testing in-stream video ads, and now they’re now rolling out the feature to advertisers in 12 countries, including the US, UK, Canada, France, India, Japan, and Australia. These are pre-roll ads, meaning they’ll show before the video that your guests are interested in watching.

Image source: Twitter 

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

Facebook’s mid-stream video ads have gotten lukewarm reception, but pre-roll ads have distinct advantages. With many users being willing to watch a quick ad to get to the content they really want to see, you have a captive audience. Now imagine being able to show that relevant captive audience a quick intro video about your resort or hotel, selling them the adventure of travel or the relaxation of a weekend away.

YouTube is Testing New Creative Suite 

YouTube is currently working with select brands to test out a series of new tools that will offer new analytics and testing tools for creators on the platform.

These new tools include:

●     Video Experiments, which is a testing tool in Adwords that makes it easier to evaluate the effective of creative aspects of a video ad on its results.

●      Video Creative Analytics that evaluates video performance within different audience segments.

●     Video Ad Sequencing, which will allow you to tell your brand story in snippets through different ads. The videos will be shown to individual users in a specified sequence to improve storytelling.

●     YouTube Director Mix, which is a tool that allows you to create a base version of an ad that can have different text, image, sound, and even video swapped out based on the audience seeing it.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

Most hotels and resorts won’t have these tools for a little while, but they’ll be great to have once they’re available to everyone. Being able to more effectively test video ads and understand why they are or aren’t working will be essential to improved success moving forward.

The ad sequencing will also be a huge development for brands, as the shorter snippets of video shown in sequence will improve consistency in brand storytelling and make the ads significantly more effective as a result. You’ll be able to slowly introduce guests to your hotel piece by piece, building brand recognition and increasing the odds that they click over time.

Instagram Launches Music in Stories 

Instagram users in select countries can now add music to their Stories. They can choose a song by selecting the Music icon that’s found in the stickers section.

Image source: Instagram

Music for stories is only available in 51 countries (though Instagram didn’t specify which) and on iOS. Support for Android will be coming soon.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

Instagram Stories are already fun and can be interactive thanks to features like polling and shoppable stickers. Music takes that one step further. Music is a great way to help your Story stand out from the rest, and it can help you better portray a feeling. A whimsical melody can up the romance of a video of your on-site wedding venue, and a tropical beat could make your sparkling pool that much more irresistible.

Instagram IGTV Launch, Facebook A/B Testing for Organic Posts and more….

We’re almost halfway through the year, and the world of social media has changed drastically– even in the last two weeks. Let’s take a look at the most recent social media updates and how they’ll affect hotels and resorts.

Instagram Announces IGTV

Instagram just launched IGTV, a YouTube-esque platform that allows users to create and share videos up to an hour long. IGTV can be accessed through Instagram, but is also available as a standalone app.

Image source: TechCrunch

IGTV will curate relevant videos for each individual user, including videos from those they follow, and show them that content in their feed.

What This Means for Hotels – IGTV Video Marketing Helps Hotels

Video marketing is huge for the hospitality industry and now you can tap into your Instagram user base and go beyond the short video limitations. You can show extended videos that feature your hotel’s amenities, on-site activities, meeting rooms, and more.

Instagram Shares Algorithm Insights

Last week, Instagram opened up, sharing specific insight on how its feed algorithm works. We now know that the following factors most heavily determine what users see in their feeds:

●    Expected interest determined by past behavior on similar content

●    The recency of the post, with newer posts getting priority

●    How much they’ve interacted with the person posting

None of these factors are surprising, and there are three more factors that can contribute somewhat to feed placement. They also revealed that while they don’t penalize brands for posting “too frequently,” if you share several posts in short succession, you’ll likely only have one or two show up towards the top of your followers’ feeds.

What This Means for Hotels – Driving Hotel Engagement with Instagram

Focus on driving engagement on Instagram, as this will help you perform better on the algorithm. Pictures and videos of the stunning views and exciting events will be sure to get plenty of likes and comments. You’ll also want to make sure you space out content enough that you aren’t necessarily competing against yourself for those spots in guests’ feeds.

Instagram Releases @mention Sharing for Stories

Now, when someone tags your property’s profile in a Story using the @mention sticker, you have the option to add that content to your own Story. The original story will appear as a sticker on yours, which you can rotate, resize, or add to it as you see fit.

Image source: Instagram

What This Means for Hotels – Hotel User Generated Content

User Generated Content (UGC) from guests is exceptionally powerful, and this is one of the best ways to showcase it. Plenty of guests share Stories during their stay with you, but since it disappears after 24 hours, this effect was limited and short-lived.

To get the most out of your guests UGC featuring your hotel, share it to your Story and then add it to a Story Highlight dedicated purely to UGC from guest visits.

Facebook Experiments with A/B Testing for Organic Posts

Facebook is currently experimenting with the ability for Pages to run A/B testing with organic posts. Admins will be able to post two versions of a post and show them to two different sets of audience members to see how each performs.

What This Means for Hotels – A/B Testing for Hotels

A/B testing is important, and it lets us better evaluate what content our guests most want to see. Being able to see what types of posts drive the most site clicks, messages with inquiries, and bookings will be invaluable to improving the effectiveness of your campaigns. A/B testing, after all, will give you more insight than just general analytics because you can see how subtle changes can make substantial differences.

Facebook Enforces New Custom Audience Requirements

Starting July 2nd, advertisers will need to specify how they got the information of their custom audiences when uploading lists of guest files. You can say that you got the information directly from customers, directly from partners, or a combination of the two.

Image source: Facebook

You’ll also need to set up partnerships and agree to share customer files in Business Manager if you’re sharing information with another business.

What This Means for Hotels – Facebook Audience Requirements for Hotels

In reality, the first part of this new change won’t affect most hotels and resorts much. You’ll just need to specify how you got your guest information, and if you got it when they booked, “directly from customer” is all you need.

Hotels and resorts using services from agencies like Lodging Interactive would need to set up this partnership so that we could run their ad campaigns for them. This is easy, however, and only needs to be done once.

Facebook is Monetizing The Marketplace with Ads

Facebook has officially monetized the Marketplace, allowing some advertisers to place ads within the Marketplace feeds. Optional objectives include conversions, video views, reach, traffic, and product catalogue. This feature will be rolling out to advertisers targeting audiences in the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

Hotel Live Chat Instant Gratification Wins Every Time

PARSIPPANY, NJ – June 20, 2018– There’s a lot of debate about the best way to handle the huge influx of guest messages happening through private message and live chat platforms.

 

Should we be using more automation? More resources in house? More outsourcing?

 

There are a number of different services and solutions out there– not all of which are created equal– but there’s one thing that everyone agrees on: Answering customer messages quickly and thoroughly is essential. And by fast, we mean lightningfast.

 

Chief of Marketing of Booking.com Pepijn Rijvers put it perfectly when he recently stated that a slow response or no response to a private message “basically means ‘I don’t count’” from a guest’s perspective.

 

He’s absolutely right. It’s trivial and it’s maybe a little impulsive, but we live in a world where instant gratification is expected. Getting a response in ten seconds or less is no longer a sign of exceptional customer care; it’s a requirementof decent customer service, period. This puts more strain on businesses, especially those heavy in one-on-one customer interaction like hotels or resorts.

 

So what can we do about it?

 

Live Chat Expectations: The Solutions

When it comes to managing the demands of live chat messaging, there are a few common approaches.

 

Some prefer to hire multi-person, in-house teams to handle the messages. These teams become expensive to staff, train, and maintain. You either have to worry about increased pay rates for holidays and graveyard shifts, or not offer that availability to guests who may need urgent attention during those times.

 

Others, like Booking.com, opt to utilize chatbots and automate more of the process. While chatbots can help to cut down on costs and improve automation, they also lack a personal touch and are incapable of resolving guest concerns or questions in a personalized way that can provide exceptional service. For some industries that may be ok, but not for those with the high level of personalized assistance that guests need while interacting with hotels, resorts, or other businesses in the hospitality industry.

 

I agree with Rijvers earlier assessment about the importance of not only live chat but exceptionally fast live chat. I also agree with the statements that Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are becoming even more important platforms for customer service. That being said, I disagree with the fact that it’s too difficult or impossible to provide fast and thorough responses without the use of chatbots, especially for hotels at a larger scale.

 

Here’s what he had to say:

“If you’re a hotel with 100 rooms you’re not going to manually respond to every message 24/7 even though you may have 150 check-ins a day that are all asking questions. You already have two staff on board that are going to do this. So you need to both enhance the customer experience and deliver services, faster and cheaper. This can be done though automation and it is better to start investing now.”

Automation is great. It’s convenient, and sure, it’s relatively cheap. But it’s not always the most effective, especially when you have large numbers of unique and personalized requests from guests that truly do require one-on-one personalization.

Why Human-to-Human Interaction Will Always Be Best

Guests would much rather know that a real person who cares about them and understands their problem in a way a robot never could is going to get that answer to their question or resolve their problem. If they don’t feel like you can offer that, they might turn to your competition who can.

Human-to-human interaction is always the right choice when it comes to investing in your guests, because they won’t care about you if you don’t care about them. An actual, trained customer service representative will be able to assess situations and address customer concerns with a personalized solution based on the guest and their specific needs.

One guest who asks for a room with a kitchen, for example, might just want a mini-fridge and a microwave; others might expect a stove, counter space, and pots and pans. The former might not be willing to pay for a full-on kitchen, while the latter may have medically-required dietary restraints that necessitates the stove and preparation ability, so they can make their own food.

Similarly, not all guest complaints are equal, so solutions can’t just be automated. Someone who had a light flickering isn’t going to need the same level of compensation as a guest whose AC went out in the Bahamas in July and gave Grandma heatstroke. Robots might offer the same solution for each of these guests, which is a disservice to both of them and to your business.

It’s also worth noting that guests can tell when they’re talking to a chatbot and they may not be happy about it. Chatbots have that painful association of long navigation menus you get while calling your insurance company; you get ten options in, and you’re still asked to hold for an operator because the system couldn’t figure out what you wanted. This doesn’t exactly bode well for guests who are demanding instant gratification and outstanding customer support.

So Is an In-House Team My Only Option

While some hotels and resorts opt to hire staff, whose sole purpose is to answer guest live chat messages, this isn’t the most practical option. We recommend outsourcing.

 

CoMMingle offers a live chat service designed specifically to help hotels and resorts handle the flood of live messages coming from multiple platforms online. All of our U.S. agents are trained in customer service excellence, and we’ll be able to answer all of your incoming messages in real-time. We’ll keep costs down and profits up, giving you the solution you need so you can keep running your business and keep guests happy.

 

Chatbots, after all, can be a big investment. We’d rather you invest in your guests instead, prioritizing people over automation and giving every guest the best experience possible with personalized attention and care.

 

 

About Lodging Interactive

 

Headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, Lodging Interactive is a full-service digital marketing and social media engagement and reputation management 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.

CoMMingle has established itself as the largest provider of reputation management services for the hospitality industry, handling over 200,000 guest review responses.  The company also offers fully managed Live Chat agents for hotel websites through its LiveChatForHotels.com division.

Lodging Interactive is an HSMAI Adrian Award winner and has won awards from 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 the company’s president, DJ Vallauri, currently serves on the Board of Directors of HSMAI’s New York Chapter and is a Forbes.com Agency Council contributor. For more information, please contact sales@lodginginteractive.com, 877-291-4411 or visit the company’s website.