7 Instagram Tips for Hotels

Images capture the eye and the imagination, which makes it understandable why they are one of the most popular types of content across social media networks. As a Facebook owned photo-sharing network with more than 400 million active users per month and an average of 80 million photos uploaded every day, Instagram has an advantage over other networks. It has become one of the most popular mediums for digital marketers to raise brand awareness, increase engagements and leverage their place in this medium.

Here are a few tips for hoteliers on the best ways to use and take advantage of Instagram features.

  1. Use quality photos and videos: Authentic images/videos do best on Instagram. Professional shots are nice but not what the Instagram audience is hoping to see from you. Designate key employees or managers to use their cell phones to take pictures & videos around the neighborhood of the hotel, in front of the hotel, of lobby decorations, ‘meet the employees’ (make sure to get permission!). Three words to remember when taking pictures for social media – Keep It Real.
  1. Repost photos: Using hashtags or @mention to repost images that your fans have tagged you in is a great way to champion your brand. But you really can’t repost natively on Instagram and permissions are needed. If you find a photo that’s a must to share with your followers, here is a link with some ways to repost – http://www.wikihow.com/Repost-on-Instagram
  1. Like a photo: Engaging your followers will also mean that you can like one of their posted photos. It shows you’re interested in what they do and see. Do searches of keywords & hashtags regarding your hotel/destination so you can like & engage on images that others may post that have not directly tagged you.
  1. Use Links: Inserting a link to an Instagram caption on a photo or video will only make it appear as plain text. But placing a link in your Instagram bio it has the potential of driving traffic back to your website through a clickable link and turning your Instagram followers into guests.
  1. Use brand champions: Social media influencers on Instagram are skillful at creating, publishing and promoting appealing photos and videos. They have an established large following and gained credibility with their audience. These influencers are playing a larger role when it comes to travel purchasing decisions. You can capitalize on this collaboration with your brand champions and create effective influencer marketing campaigns.
  1. Use hashtags and emoji: Put those creative juices to work and think of a hashtag for your brand. Use it consistently on posts to help brand discovery and awareness. Then there are emoji. They are everywhere. Using symbols to quickly express a moment, a feeling, a situation seems made perfectly for social media outlets. It is becoming a language unto itself. With hashtags and emoji you can come up with creative captions to your Instagram photos.
  1. Remain active on social networks: It’s important to post consistently and across social networks best suited for your hotel. After all, it will take quite a few visits before you can convert a visitor to a customer. You will also need to like your fans’ posts and keep an eye on conversations concerning your brand. Not only will this help you build a strong customer relationship but will give validity to your presence in social and humanize your brand.

Videos and photos rule on social media. You can capture more in one picture and one-30 second video than a paragraph of words. Instagram usage has doubled during the last 2 years and has been rolling out longer length video options offering you more time to tell your story. This is an inexpensive, broad reaching medium to help build brand loyalty, create social media advocates, influence USG (user generated content) and showcase your property! Remember, keep it real.

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Boost your Hotel Bookings with Live Chat

Live Chat has been around for years.  If your hotel is still doubting its use, you should watch episode 48 of the #AskDJV show today and learn how you can boost your hotel bookings.

Advantages of Live Chat for Hotels

Now that mobile has increased in popularity, being able to live chat with your customers has almost become a necessity in order to promote loyalty and build brand ambassadors.  They want to know about your amenities, hotel policies, meeting space and restaurants before checking into your property.  More than “basic” information, they want to know how you can help them.  Maybe there’s a group event that has special needs, or perhaps they have questions about your pet policies.  Whatever their needs, if you can answer them through live chat support, you’re way ahead of your competition.

Live Chat Customer Service

Using live chat customer services is a great way to engage your hotel guests and bring customer service to a new level.  That’s why we’ve created CoMMingle Live.  CoMMingle Live is the hospitality industry’s first real time live chat service for hotels and resorts.  We did beta testing on live chat with our clients and have found:

40% increase in Request for Proposal submissions.  People asking to book weddings, meetings, conferences, reunions, all through the live chat.  We’ve been able to help those hotels capture 40% more RFPs than they normally receive through their website.

We’ve also seen a 12% increase of direct bookings when live chat technology with human engagement is deployed.

Learn more about Live Chat for your hotel and watch episode 48 of the #AskDJV show today.

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So you want to Engage in Social Customer Service?

All that you have heard is true. If you want your brand to be involved in social media, you must get ready to handle the customer service interaction that goes along with it.  According to a Pew Research Center report, 65% of adults now use social networking sites and recent Forrester data found that 77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service. That is great news! Data confirms that being involved in social customer service can give your brand a public voice and show that you are engaged and responsive.  Whether ranting or raving, people love to be heard.

Addressing your customer on a social customer service level can be the perfect way to showcase your responsiveness. Visitors to your page can gain an idea of what kind of service you provide before, or after a face to face experience. Keep in mind, on social media, you’re not just demonstrating your abilities to one person, but also their friends…and everyone else watching. It can be your first, or perhaps, last impression. As always, keeping your customer happy and coming back for more is the goal and a responsive brand presence can be one of the most important keys to ensure that happens.

Your social media accounts can also be used to find some real “social media advocates” for your brand.  Social media advocates are positively passionate about your business. Creating this kind of passion can be as simple as keeping an eye out those who mention your brand in some capacity and then engaging with them, when they may least expected it.  Are they planning to vacation or celebratory getaway to your hotel and remark about it on Facebook or Twitter?  Do they have a large number of followers? Give that future guest a shout out socially and make a note to have your management team welcome them with a small gift or gesture.  Small acts of kindness can go a long way with your social reputation!

Above all, when venturing into the world of social customer service, keep it real! Customers seeking out your brand on social channels are looking for authentic exchanges with real-live humans in a timely fashion, not canned one-size-fits-all responses.  After all, it is social customer service!

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5 Ways to Use Social Media as a Gateway to Effective Customer Service

When it comes to social media, attracting new customers and capitalizing on this effort is what hospitality industry marketers have in mind. We have reached a point in this ever-evolving communication medium where it is no longer a question of whether or not to use social media for customer service but how to use it effectively.

 

Today’s social media networks have become the perfect funnel through which customers try to get in touch with customer service representatives. To provide the best possible customer care you need to be active social media.  Which medium is best for your hotel will depend on your objectives as well as the size of your property and available resources.

 

There are plenty of advantageous measures that you can use to get started on your way to providing the best social media customer service:

 

  1. Communication: Say bye-bye to canned responses! Whether people have issues that need to be resolved or are just seeking out information, they want to be heard and to have the gratification of immediate responses. We have all experienced the challenges to finding that phone number/email/form to reach out to a customer service representative. Then once you have the contact, you find yourself greeted with a human robot spewing out pre-packaged (complete with bow) responses! By it’s very nature, social media allows you to communicate in a more casual, conversational tone. You can retain your brand voice all the while putting the “human”, personal relationship back into customer service.

 

  1. Reputation: You want to encourage more brand mentions and influence your online reputation since controlling it is no longer an option in today’s world. Making sure your representatives provide immediate responses with no lapses, ensures you are on your way to have it come back to your own brand. No matter if it is a concern, issue or comment, the more activity on social media networks, the more it helps your SEO rankings.

 

  1. Listening: People will always prefer a personal exchange with an individual representing a brand rather than hearing a “company” voice. So it’s important to bond with your guests and hone the art of listening. When you create dialogue and give people a more personal experience, you build their loyalty and they will call out your brand in social media. At the same time you show prospective customers you can quickly resolve issues.

 

  1. Commitment: Of course having a presence in social media is the first step but the real clincher to making yourself a customer service guru is your commitment.  That’s right! Being available 24/7/365. A hotel runs 24/7/365 and so should your customer service. After all, there could be nothing worse than a customer who reaches out to your hotel or comments about your property and then they hear nothing but crickets. The immediacy that is inherent in social media affords you the wonderful moments of providing your guest with the quick answer they expect and the personal attention they need.

 

  1. Follow through: There are some circumstances that might take a little longer to resolve so follow up is vital. You put so much effort into building the relationship so now you have to maintain it or risk having it backfire. Following up will give you the chance to know whether or not your guest is satisfied with the resolution or response. If yes then you have the opportunity to ask whether or not the exchange was helpful. If not, then you will have created the chance for taking further action showing your guest you would not abandon them or throw them back into another round in the customer service pool.

 

So, welcome to the “new” customer service where the focus is truly on the customer – their social network, their time, their needs. It’s an era of building relationships, earning loyalty and influencing your online presence.  It is no longer enough just to be present on social media sharing your latest promotion. Participate in a proactive, reactive and solution focused manner for those areas that need a resolution. Keep these basic points in mind and you’ll be a success with your customer service on social media – and make your customers happy.

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Lodging Interactive Launches Hospitality Industry Consumer Engagement Report

Lodging Interactive, the leading digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced the rollout of its monthly CoMMingle Hospitality Engagement Report Infographic.   The free monthly infographic reports on trends in the area of online reputation management and social media engagement.

“We work with hundreds of hotels in the area of reputation management and social media engagement, and as a result we collect a tremendous amount of data which we’ve decided to share in aggregate,” said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder & President.  “We felt an online infographic is the perfect format and makes for a quick read.”

Hotels can opt-in to receive the CoMMingle Hospitality Engagement Report Infographic  by subscribing to the Company’s newsletter.

 

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Account Management Principles From Our Director

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The key to successful account management is great organization, time management, and good listening skills.  Managing multiple accounts can be a daunting task if you do not have the tools in place to keep your responsibilities in check.  Some of the questions you may ask yourself in planning out your tasks may be, what does the client expect from me, how can I meet their expectations, what are the deliverables I owe the client, how can I show the client the value of my services.

What does the client expect from me?

Clients expect that you keep their best interests in mind.  They expect you to listen to them.  As digital marketing experts, it’s the account managers’ responsibility to provide marketing strategies, recommendations and a well organized plan to help them reach their goals.  Clients expect communication!  In addition to regularly scheduled calls, you should be checking in with clients in between these calls.  Send them an article of interest or see if there is anything they need. It’s important that they know you are there and ready to assist.

How can I meet the expectations of my clients?

To meet their expectations, the most important thing you can do is to really understand your client.  Listen to what they say.  You must understand their needs and goals, their market and what they have available for their consumers.  It is only after this clear understanding that you can successfully put a plan into action.

What are the deliverables I owe the client?

Your client has a need to know and understand how they are performing.  One of the key deliverables to provide your client with is monthly and weekly reports.  Reports reflect their performance and are a clear measure of whether or not they are achieving their goals.  In addition to providing these reports, a clear understanding of them is vital.  Requests made by the client are also considered deliverables and should be provided on a timely basis.  As their marketing specialist, you should be providing strategies based on their needs, information on what their competitors are doing, changes occurring in the industry, and above all, a marketing plan for the year.  A marketing plan is key in providing suggestions throughout the year and with specific dates outlined in the plan, it keeps the client on track for the deliverables they owe you, i.e. holiday menus or specials.

How can I show the client the value of my services?

By showing a clear understanding of their goals and offering suggestions to reach those goals, you are showing the value of your services.  However, more importantly is sharing with the client the positive outcomes of your strategies.  That is where the true value lies.  Having a keen insight to the industry and the changes that occur shows the client your awareness and expertise in preparing them for the effects they may feel.

As account managers, once you have these questions answered you can put your plan into action and figure out how you will manage the tasks involved to be successful.  Some valuable tips include, using a calendar to trace out important dates and for scheduling, recording all emails, phone calls and voicemails, preparing an agenda prior to calls, subscribing to industry newsletters to keep up with the latest trends, and keeping a checklist of tasks pertaining to each client to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.  Find what works best for you and follow through and you’ll see how manageable your accounts can be.

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Is Planning or Reacting the Best Strategy for Social Media Marketing?

You know you have the best intentions when carrying out any carefully laid out plan. You made sure of every eventuality and covered what you thought was every possible outcome. But as Murphy’s Law would have it, there will always be something new that comes to play that makes it necessary to tweak what you thought was a fool proof plan. This is especially true when it comes to social media marketing plans. But fear not! Adaptability and flexibility are the keys to making your social media marketing strategy a success.

 

With the advent of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat and other new platforms on the horizon, being in the here-and-now is so vital to staying ahead of the game and taking immediate action to trending topics, comments, questions, issues etc. These social media platforms are ever-changing to keep up with the demands of their audiences and every hotel needs to keep up or get left behind in the dust of what was previously the “it” way of taking care of business.

 

The very nature of social media demands that you react quickly to unexpected incidents: Either remedying a bad situation or promoting a good one. It is always a challenge to your social media know-how. And, while creating a social media marketing calendar is an important part of your hotel’s plan, it is just as important to remain fluid to changes. Being flexible is an inherent part of making the magic happen.  Also, making sure your plan includes someone monitoring your social media accounts 24/7 would help you stay on top of the fast-paced social news cycle. After all, it’s about the customer relationships you are trying to build to gain their loyalty.

 

So now you know that both planning and reacting creates a successful social media marketing strategy. Hotel social media gurus need to react quickly to the situation of the moment while keeping their plans on target. It goes without saying that it’s a delicate balancing act that would rival any circus high-wire performer but a necessary one to come out a winner.

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What does a Website Award do for your Hotel?

Paying for a pat on our own back to get a Trophy – not anymore!

What does a Website Award do for your Hotel? Nothing.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Let’s back track a bit.

‘Old school’ style awards honor process and procedure – you enter your work product to an organization or committee to be judged by a panel, hopefully of your peers.  They choose the best submission according to a pre-selected list of criteria. A winner is chosen and ceremoniously, a physical award is given.

This process costs money. Entrants have always paid a fee to be considered for an award.  There are administrative costs that need to be covered for the award organizer.  Makes sense to me.

The benefits of winning an award, gives your business:

  • Credibility
  • Validation
  • Peer acknowledgement
  • Reputation builder
  • Promote your achievement & leverage ranking

Great – did you notice something?

The benefits of winning the award are for the company that created your website.  What does it do for your hotel? Perhaps it is a sign of prestige? The company you hired did such a good job, an award was won.  Ok, let’s go with that one for now.  I would agree that it would be prestigious … if it were based on transparency and true competition.

I promise, I am getting somewhere with this rant.

Over the years, Lodging Interactive has won many awards for website development, design, etc. We’ve always paid to enter into the numerous “competitions”, as we should.  Whenever we won an award, we were asked to buy the award. Yes, buy the physical award.

It seemed odd. I would have thought the cost of the award would have been collectively part of the entrance fee. It is the same for numerous industry awards. We kept paying to enter and then paying when we won.

During a weekly manager’s meeting, the discussion arose about the awards. Were we paying to play? Are we paying to give ourselves a pat on the back that we are good? It didn’t feel honest. It didn’t feel right. On further thought about this subject, could it be that the cost of the physical award was not collectively covered in the entrance fee because there weren’t three awards to give but hundreds?

Ok, I’ll give that a moment to sink in.

Not everyone is a winner. I believe competition is healthy. I love trophies and awards. Paying for the privilege of winning an award that is part of our job seems a bit self-serving since my company reaps the benefits of that award and not the hotel.

I would rather that the efforts of our labor, and your dollars, be spent on an amazing website that would win an award of results: Rankings, Conversions, ROI, Organic Search Results, Visual Presentation, Easy Navigation and so on.

From now on at Lodging Interactive, no purchase is necessary to build a winner.  We win when our clients say we win. We will not be entering any more awards programs.

The money that would have been spent will be repurposed to charity or back to the clients.

And the winner is…

You.

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Lodging Interactive Launches Live Chat Customer Service For Hotels

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Lodging Interactive Launches Live Chat Customer Service For Hotels

 

PARSIPPANY, NJ – April 26, 2016   Lodging Interactive, the leading digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced the rollout of CoMMingle Live the hospitality industry’s first real time live chat service for hotels and resorts. CoMMingle Live elevates online customer service to an entirely new level and has shown to increase RFP and online direct bookings for hotels.

 

“In 2016 Customer service has become the new marketing as social media networks continue to evolve into direct consumer to brand communication platforms,” said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder & President. “Our CoMMingle Live service enables hotels and resorts to humanize their properties and to build loyalty with customers by providing a level of online customer service never before experienced in our industry.”

 

CoMMingle Live is provided through a combination of state of the art live chat technologies and the Company’s own live chat agents. All operations are handled in the US and agents are trained to engage with customers as an extension of the property’s own operational team.

 

“As consumers we’ve all become comfortable with live chat services when shopping our favorite online sites, like Amazon or Best Buy, but when booking hotels online we’re left with more questions than can be answered via hotel websites,” added Mr. Vallauri. “CoMMingle Live bridges that tremendous gap and not only provides real time assistance to consumers but also generates increased business for the properties.”

 

During a three month BETA test, CoMMingle Live increased group RFP requests by nearly 40% and online direct  bookings by 12%. Customer satisfaction levels and ongoing engagement also grew at a rapid pace.

 

CoMMingle Live enables us to provide the highest level of customer service even before our guests arrive,” said Ed Reagoso, General Manager of the Wilshire Grand Hotel. “I’ve been amazed at the level of customer engagement we’ve been able to achieve which helps us build long term loyalty.”

 

CoMMingle Live is easy for hotels to implement by simply placing a snippet of code onto their website. The CoMMingle Live technology is fully mobile enabled and automatically launches when consumers visit a hotel’s website. The service captures the consumer’s full name and email address prior to launching into the live chat session. “As an added benefit for hotels, CoMMingle Live creates a valuable database which can be used for future marketing programs,” added Mr. Vallauri.

 

For more information please visit: www.CoMMingleLive.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.

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Pay-to-Play: The New Social Media Marketing Norm

There was a time when you wouldn’t think of paying to have your Tweets or Facebook posts seen by your own fans or followers. Social media marketing is an industry that is so young but constantly evolving and we all saw the writing on the wall that social networks would eventually have to find a way to become profitable.  So it should come as no surprise that pay-to-play has become the norm for social media marketing.

 

When Facebook went public they had to generate a profit to appease their investors. This meant that changing their algorithms would bring relevant content to the viewer as well as boosting their profits.  It was only a matter of time that Twitter would follow suit: They changed their timeline to show top tweets first rather than in reverse chronological order.  All of this meant that organic posts would not have the reach they once had and appearing on your fan’s newsfeed was becoming a distant memory.

 

As social media marketing becomes more prevalent in every marketer’s plans, the need for that visibility, exposure, engagement and growth raised the bar. Without a clear measurable it is difficult to determine success. The question becomes, how do you measure ROI on a system that is all about creating relationships, building loyalty and extending brand reach? It must begin somewhere.

 

It has become evident that organic social media posts are valuable for providing good content that can keep a viewers attention. The tide has changed because now you must find the viewers who might be interested in what you have to say and share.  When boosting a Facebook post, you effectively showcase your content to those who might enjoy seeing them, allowing those viewers a chance to participate, engage, try or buy.

 

The tides are changing for social media. Hotels need to open their coffers and budget social media costs into their financial planning. Gone are the days where organic social media posts drive traffic to your product. Want real results from social? Start planning, budgeting and paying.

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