The Costly Effects of Bad Customer Service on Hotels

Ultimately every hotel manager wants to provide the best in guest satisfaction. In today’s world, hotel guest satisfaction is based on customer service and it extends beyond check out. One guest who experiences a short tempered front desk clerk, a towel requested but not sent to the room or a doorman busy with his cell phone can seem insignificant on their own. But collectively and consistently, these situations will find their way to a reputation of bad customer service on review sites, spilling over to social media outlets and become detrimental to a hotel’s bottom line.

 

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” –Warren Buffett

 

Consistent poor customer service can create a variety of negative and costly impacts on your hotel. But if actions are quickly taken to correct them, a hotel manager can avoid any long-term effects on their hotel’s reputation and profitability.

 

Keeping Current, Potential and Future Guests

Build loyalty by building relationships. Guests are more likely to book their stay and speak well of your hotel within their circle of friends and family if they are given the attention they feel they deserve. Then good customer service and positive reviews provide the fuel for invaluable word-of-mouth advertising. Instead of costing your business, your guests could become hotel influencers in social media.

 

Holding Onto Your Hotel Reputation

No guest wants to be ignored and no hotel manager wants to lose bookings because of poor customer service. Guests would be quick to post negative reviews and vent their frustrations to their immediate social circles and beyond. It’s all in your control so make sure you have a key representative reaching out right away to address the issue. Accept responsibility and make amends. This shows good faith and leaves a guest or prospective guest with the knowledge that your hotel hears every voice and cares. Set a customer service standard that will become routine in your hotel operations.

 

Keeping Your Best Employees

Keep an eye out for low performers who leave your best employees to pick up the slack. If the situation goes on without correction for too long, it will eventually make your best employees grow weary, dissatisfied and even consider resigning their position. Recruiting and training new staff is a costly venture.  So incentivize your staff to deliver the best customer service. Promote or spotlight your best staff performers that go above and beyond to please your guests. Their efforts toward providing great customer service should set the standard that makes up your hotel’s culture and they will become your staff advocates.

 

Reaching Conversions and Profits

You don’t want to have guests lose interest in the hotel because of poor customer service. Lower sales and profits start a cycle of reducing costs and staff as well as plunging service levels even further. Regularly monitor and address customer service issues early and often. The best solution to bad customer service is to prevent it but the second best way is to fix the problem before it creates bigger issues that will affect your bottom line.

 

Having good customer service is not just about attracting new guests but guest retention as well as incentivizing your best employees. It sets the groundwork for a profitable, reputable and exceptional hotel. Don’t make the mistake of putting customer service second on your list in operations. It is the groundwork that will create revenue opportunities your hotel will not want to miss.

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Make Twitter a Part of Your Hotel Digital Marketing Strategy

Providing great customer service to boost direct bookings is the end game no matter what social media platform your hotel uses to engage potential guests. But what makes Twitter stand out as one of the top digital channels for getting out your hotel’s message and helping to create the best hotel guest experience? Well every hotel has a story to tell and Twitter is a great platform to get the conversation going.

 

In a world where large hotel chains can swallow up the competition, digital marketers for smaller and independent hotels could create revenue opportunities by using Twitter to improve customer service and increase guest engagement. Hotels can tap into Twitter’s 313 million users who post 500 million tweets per day. Reaching such a large audience, hotels can announce openings, special offers, services and other promotions.

 

Going beyond this global reach, Twitter can also be the means to build a sense of community around your hotel. Reaching out to Twitter followers shows your hotel is ready and willing to listen to guest needs. Providing quick responses or solutions to their needs, wants and frustrations will build a sense of trust from hotel followers. It will also encourage your followers to have a greater interaction with your hotel and show potential guests that you care.

 

A recently published infographic from Digital Information World shows some valuable Twitter findings. Here are only a few to consider:

  1. 85% of followers feel more connected to a business after following
  2. 77% of Twitter users feel better about a brand when it replies to their tweet
  3. Companies using Twitter for customer service see a 19% increase in customer satisfaction.
  4. 70% of small business followers retweet content

Then keeping an eye on your Twitter stats could reveal your hotel influencers as well as gain insight into your audience. With this information in hand, you can learn how to focus on your marketing objectives so you can make your hotel stand out among the rest.

 

Now joining in on a new marketing trend, Twitter has gotten into live streaming with the likes of Presidential debates and National Football League games to name a few. The best part of this is non-Twitter users can watch a live stream without creating a Twitter account. Imagine the possibilities!

 

Making Twitter a part of your hotel digital marketing strategy offers many chances for using guest feedback to make the most of their hotel experience. It will give you insight on areas that need improvement and allow relationships to continue with incentives to return long after the guest has checked out, as well as increase opportunities for direct bookings. It’s your hotel’s chance to use the platform to reach your guests and build on your reputation. Are you making the most of Twitter for your hotel?

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Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring: A Fly on the Wall Approach to Social Media

Social Listening vs. Social MonitoringYou monitor your hotel’s social accounts. Logging into Facebook, Twitter and Instagram faithfully to see what type of feedback visitors have posted on your pages.  But is it enough?  What are your fans (and critics) saying about you behind your back?

When considering your social efforts – social monitoring and social listening are often used interchangeably but there are subtle differences between the two that can make a big difference in learning what is being said about your brand.

 

Social Monitoring:  The practice of monitoring online conversations about a specific phrase, word, or brand. It looks at individual messages coming in across your channels.

Vs

Social Listening:  Is more of a proactive approach to social media.  It examines what is being said in online conversations around your brand. This practice allows you to see what the online community is saying ABOUT you, rather than TO you.

When it comes to social listening, the expression, “I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that conversation!”  Is what immediately comes to mind.

Hotels can take that fly on the wall approach to watch people’s feedback, questions, conversations or comments in order to discover opportunities and create interesting content for those audiences. Remember, these are social opportunities that are not using the @ sign for your property’s social media page or tagging you directly.

Why is social listening important?

Social Listening helps to:

  • Spark new conversation
  • Provides awareness
  • Identify social media champions and social influencers
  • Builds brand exposure
  • Helps find customer support or sales opportunities you may have previously missed

Social listening also assists in preventing negative reviews of your property by those guests who may not feel their needs are being addressed. 

When done right, the combination of social monitoring and social listening can offer engagement opportunities that can help turn a social conversation between strangers into loyal fans and guests who tell all their friends how great your property is. All because you took that fly on the wall approach to social media.

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Why do hotels take time to answer guest reviews?

guest reviews99  Guest Reviews – 99 Opportunities

As people use social media for expressing their opinions or for a source of information, it is important that hotels carefully monitor their online reputation. By responding to negative or positive guest reviews, the hotel is letting travelers know that they care about their guest’s feedback and are willing to make the necessary improvements to ensure their future guests do not experience the same thing.

Sometimes Good Intentions Go Bad

You’ve done everything possible to try to turn your guests experience around and they still write a bad review, what do you do? By responding back to your guests it allows you to share your perspective and to guide what is being said about your hotel. For example, if a guest should claim that they found a bed bug in their room, you can respond back to the guest letting them know (and anyone else reading the review) that your hotel has taken the necessary measures to ensure that your rooms are always at their best and highlight any changes your hotel have made.

Also, by responding back to your guest reviews, it allows the hotel to address those accusations so bizarre, that there’s no way it can be true. From a so-called hotel haunting to sarcastic feedback, by responding to such accusations in a positive tone, you can ensure your guests that all is well for their future stay.

So why do hotels answer guest reviews? Because it is important understand that the guest experience doesn’t just end when they walk out the door. It continues long after the guest has left. Your guests experience is a measure of how well you are doing and what can be improved.

Remember:

  1. It is important to not delay your response. In our 24-hour/7-days a week social media word, guests want to hear back from the hotel quickly.
  2. Keep it real. If it sounds canned, then they won’t feel you are being sincere to their experience.
  3. If you say you are going to fix it, then make sure you do. Nothing like getting several reviews about the same issue long after you have claimed to have made the changes.

Your response is just as valuable as the guest review. So take advantage of this opportunity to turn and negative experience into a positive one or take that positive stay and make it memorable long after they have left.

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Lodging Interactive Offers Search Engine Marketing To BookingSuite Hotels

Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced it is offering special Search Engine Marketing (SEM) programs to all BookingSuite hotel customers. It was announced last week, via an email to all hotel members, that BookingSuite would no longer provide SEM services to its member hotels effective January 1, 2017.

“It is an unfortunate position BookingSuite hotel customers find themselves in and confirms that ‘you get what you pay for’ and that there is no cutting corners when it comes to hotel search engine marketing,” stated DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and CEO.  “SEM is core to every hotel’s digital marketing plan and our team of SEM experts stand ready to help BookingSuite hotels make a smooth transition.”

Lodging Interactive has established affordable SEM package plans exclusively for BookingSuite hotel customers.  The package plans include:

  • Keyword research
  • Onsite organic search optimization
  • Search optimization of existing website content copywriting
  • Inclusion of H1, H2 and Alt Tags
  • Ongoing addition of new search engine optimized pages
  • Initial & ongoing consultation with an assigned SEM expert
  • Full reporting & transparency of KPI’s
  • Pay-Per-Click campaign management
  • Retargeting & display paid advertising programs
  • Creative ad copywriting

Since 2001, Lodging Interactive has exclusively worked with hotels and resorts to maximize online digital revenues opportunities.  Clients include small to mid-sized independent properties as well as franchised branded properties representing nearly every brand.

For more information on the special BookingSuite SEM packages please visit: www.hotelSEM.com or call 877-291-4411 ext. 701.

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Hotels Reaching Out to Millennials Through Texting?

It’s the same story with a new twist – No matter the era we were born into, most innovations are made by youth looking for the next best thing that will differentiate them from older generations.  Then older generations learn to adapt to the changes.  It’s an expected part of the life cycle.

 

These days the millennial lifestyle has shaped the way we communicate. Nearly a quarter of the US population are millennials and, with mobile usage increasing each year, our exchanges have adapted to accommodate the explosion of social media outlets, video viewing and – texting!

 

Reality Mine, a mobile research agency, found a trend across all generations that texting has become preferable to calling and the trend is most prevalent in millennials. The April 2016 OpenMarket nationwide poll of millennials showed that 75% of millennials preferred texting more than any other method of communication.  The more recent OpenMarket survey shows text messaging is the preferred way millennials like having exchanges with businesses. According to this recent survey:

 

  • Texting leads the way as a notification preference from businesses followed by email and then last with calls.
  • 80% prefer texting a company’s 1-800 customer service line rather than making a call and being put on hold.
  • 60% prefer texting with companies because it’s quick and works within their schedule without being intrusive
  • 30% receive texts from companies they interact with on a regular basis and, of these, 75% find text reminders and promotions helpful
  • Only 0 to 5 texts from businesses are received per week and nearly 20% never receive any texts from businesses.

 

This could not only present opportunities for hotels to better reach their millennial and even Generation Z guests but also help create a more efficient staff in terms of operations. Hotels could improve the guest service experience by using text messaging to confirm spa appointment, send payment reminders, process Wi-Fi requests, make and confirm room reservations, provide offers/discounts/coupons and conduct short surveys just to name a few.

 

Providing such services via text would reach out to millennials and improve your hotel’s chances for good guest reviews. If the millennial guest is left feeling satisfied with your hotel’s service they would be inclined to let others in their network know it. Good reviews mean a greater chance for positive content in organic search results. Positive organic content means building toward a better reputation for your hotel. A better reputation increases opportunities for direct bookings.

 

If hotels want to reach millennials, then it’s best to reach them in their language preference – text messaging!

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Hotel ABC’s of Pay Per Click Marketing

PPC is an ever evolving form of digital advertising that has proven to provide great results if you plan well, monitor your campaigns and spend the appropriate budget each month.  It is an especially popular form of advertising for the travel industry.  Hotels, in particular can benefit greatly from paid ads, as it gets you easily noticed when potential guests are searching for accommodations.  However, in order to be successful, you must have the right strategy in place.  This is where a lot of misconceptions about PPC come into play and your PPC advertising can prove to be ineffective if not handled properly.  Hotels need to fully understand how PPC works and the repercussions that can occur if it’s mismanaged.

One of the first things you need to decide for your PPC advertising is how much will you allocate to your monthly budget.  There are quite a few factors to consider when determining your budget.  Some of these include, what market is your hotel in, how many campaigns you will be running, and what the average cost per click is for the keywords you are targeting.

Let’s face it, if your hotel is in a market like Miami or New York City you’re going to need a larger budget than say a hotel in Des Moines or Bismark.  Frankly, there just isn’t a comparable volume of searches in these markets and this is one of the first items of consideration.

How many campaigns you’ll run is also an important factor.  Hotels will often want to advertise their event space and so that may mean you’ll consider a meeting and/or wedding campaign. This would probably be in addition to a general hotel/location campaign.   Depending on your market, there may also be popular local attractions that you’ll want to focus on, which would require yet another campaign.  So, keep in mind that your monthly budget needs to be distributed among all running campaigns and you don’t want to stretch that budget too thin because that may lead to having campaigns that don’t have budgets healthy enough to be effective.

In addition to spreading the budget over the number of campaigns you have, you also have to distribute the monthly budget over the 30 days within the month.  So, for example, if your monthly budget is $750 and you divide that by 30 days, you have a daily budget of only $25 to spend.  Although it may seem that $750 is a large chunk of your advertising budget going toward PPC, in actuality it really isn’t when you break it down to the daily budget.  This is where your keyword cost per clicks are going to be very important to understand.  Let’s take a market like New York City.  As you see in the screen shot below, these are 3 keywords that have very high cost per click rates of $19.90, $18.24, and $22.55.  This means that a bid on any of these keywords will decrease your daily budget by the respective price.  If the daily budget is $25 then you can only afford to get one click per day with high priced, competitive keywords such as these.  It’s important to remember that once you exhaust your daily budget, your ads are no longer shown until the next day when your daily budget replenishes itself.  Also, if your budget is only allowing for 1-2 clicks per day, the traffic to your website will be pretty dismal at only 30-60 visits in an entire month!

 

 

Keyword Cost per Click
“boutique hotels new york” $19.90
+boutique+hotels+in+new+york $18.24
+nyc+boutique+hotels $22.55

 

In a situation like this it would be more appropriate to have a monthly budget in the range of at least $3500-$5000.  This will increase the daily budget and allow for more clicks, which leads to more website visits, which leads to more opportunities for bookings.

You will also want to consider seasonality when planning your PPC campaign budget.  You will most likely not need the same monthly budget throughout the year.  Historically, many markets will see a decrease in traffic during September due to summer coming to an end and families getting into “back to school” mode.  This would be a prime example of a month where you may decide to decrease your budget.  Whereas, you may want to consider increasing your budget when the winter holiday season begins to approach, as consumer searches tend to be on the rise during this time.

Although a proven effective way to market yourself, there needs to be a full understanding of PPC and the correct campaign management in order to achieve positive results.  Taking all of the above factors into consideration, understanding the market and carefully planning your budget, will put you on the right track for success in PPC advertising.

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Lodging Interactive Provides Hotels Online Real Time Sales Support Via Live Chat

Lodging Interactive, the leading digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced its expanded CoMMingle Live ChatSM service to now include real-time sharing of hotel promotional materials during online chats with potential guests.

“When a visitor navigates through a hotel’s website and engages via live chat, CoMMingle Live Chat agents will have an opportunity to share hotel specific promotional materials in real time,” stated Mr. DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder & President.  “CoMMingle Live Chat now serves as a real-time sales agent, 7 days a week, where there currently is none on the hotel’s website.”

Lodging Interactive’s CoMMingle Live Chat service is a fully managed, real-time service for hotels and resorts.  CoMMingle Live Chat elevates online customer service, customer engagement and sales to an entirely new level and has shown to increase corporate group and social event RFP submissions.

“In a time when properties are looking to minimize their OTA contributions and for ways to drive direct website business, our fully managed CoMMingle Live Chat service provides hotels with a competitive service and selling advantage,” added Mr. Vallauri.

CoMMingle Live Chat service benefits for hotels:

  • Real-time customer engagement throughout the booking process
  • Real-time online sharing of promotional documents with potential guests
  • Provides conversational commerce while assisting in the booking process
  • Increases direct booking opportunities and event RFP submissions
  • Reduces negative reviews/comments posted to TripAdvisor & OTA sites
  • Crisis alert escalation to property as needed
  • Offers true market differentiation within competitive set
  • Unlimited live agent fully managed chats for low monthly fee
  • 100% mobile responsive enabled
  • 100% US based live chat agents, employed by Lodging Interactive

Getting started with CoMMingle Live Chat is easy and implementation only requires a small snippet of code be added to the hotel website.  For more information, please visit: LiveChatForHotels.com.

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Foster a Great Hotel Guest Experience with Live Chat

What live chat feature creates a great hotel guest experience: The easy to use technology or the personal attention? There could be many thought provoking analogies for both sides but at the heart of all possibilities is one common thread: The hotel guest.

 

Live chat as a technology has been around for years and used extensively for online retail sites but using a tried and tested technology on hotel websites? – You bet! – The familiarity of a well-known platform reduces any guest or prospective guest frustrations with things like website navigation or a non-responsive hotel phone line. The easier the interaction, the more pleased the hotel guests. The more pleased the hotel guests, the more chances of having them book their hotel stay directly through your hotel website.

 

From the human perspective, who wouldn’t want to deal with less frustration and get a bit of personal attention? Live chat agents would be present in the moment that the hotel website visitor is searching out answers. Whether it’s seeking to know more about hotel activity offerings, requesting wedding information or wanting to know area attractions, the guest would be pleased with your short response time as they go through their travel journey searches. This all gives the hotel a chance to build relationships on a personal level, creating an unforgettable guest experience and motivating guests toward making direct bookings for rooms, meetings or events.

 

Putting the guest experience first and foremost gives an advantage to hotels. Whereas OTA’s have little to do with the overall guest experience, hotels who use live chat can engage visitors on a personal level with a real person not an avatar. Live chat would be there on your hotel website prepared to address all interactions – the first line to the customer service experience. This will increase opportunities to gain customer loyalty and repeat business as well as creating chances to upsell.

 

In the end, lessening a potential guest’s frustrations and being present in the moment a visitor seeks out information, clarification or direction is what live chat is all about. The easier it is to conduct a transaction, the less frustrated the visitor, the better the guest experience. So make the hotel guest experience your focal point with live chat.

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Hotel Marketing Trend – Video Rules!

video image

 

When the Buggles presented their music video hit “Video Killed the Radio Star” in 1979, there was somewhat of a premonition for what role video would play in our lives going forward.  The internet became accessible to everyone and opened a pathway to social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Periscope and Instagram – all providing visuals that capture everyone’s attention and endless opportunities for hotels.

 

It’s a known fact that people will remember 80% of what they see versus only 20% of what they read. With video, being present in the moment without actually being at the hotel will resonate with the potential guest who makes purchasing decisions based on the emotional connection to your hotel visuals.

 

So it’s not a far stretch to see why this trend toward video presents all kinds of possibilities for the hotel digital marketer to build guest loyalty, raise brand awareness, increase engagements and leverage a hotel’s place in this medium.

 

A recent Cisco Systems study shows that, by 2019, video will account for 80% of all internet traffic. Instagram has at least one photo or video posted 73% of the time each week.  YouTube has become the #2 search engine right after Google. Facebook has been vying for a piece of the action by introducing its video platform, Facebook Live earlier this year that promises to rival YouTube. Then Facebook upped the ante in August by starting to test live stream ads.

 

The growing interest in video has sparked a consideration of budgeting dollars toward video marketing and advertising. If you haven’t already, hotel digital marketers should consider video as part of their overall marketing strategy & make video spending a part of their budget.  

 

Hotels can drive home a powerful response, increase chances for conversions and create a more personal relationship with guests and potential guests through the best storytelling medium there is – video!  So be heard. What’s your hotel’s story?

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