#AskDJV – Episode 14: Social Media Marketing & Social Customer Care Collide

In Episode 14 of the #AskDJV Show, I talk about why social media marketing and social customer care are colliding.

Want more #AskDJV? Visit our website to view all of the episodes we’ve posted.

You can also check back here each Friday for the latest episode.

Do you have a question for me?

Tweet me @DJVallauri using the hashtag #AskDJV, and your question could be featured on the show!

Thanks for watching!

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Why We Love These Twitter Engagement Tips (and You Should, Too!)

Hoteliers: Learn how to get more out of your social efforts with some of our top Twitter engagement tips.

Twitter Engagement Tips

With over 288 million active users, it is imperative that hotels know that they can’t take a backseat approach to this ever-growing social channel. It isn’t enough to simply have a Twitter account anymore. We are in an era of instantaneous and immediate. Twitter users are frequently taking to their computers, tablets and smart phones to share ideas, reviews and learn more about the businesses they deal with. In the hotel industry, the difference in your Twitter engagement strategy can be the difference in converting Tweeters into guests.

Not sure where to start? Try out our favorite Twitter engagement tips.

  • Feedback: Always reply to people tweeting to or about your hotel. Never leave a question unanswered or an issue unresolved. People love not only to be heard, but they value the connection with a real, live person at the other end.
  • Follow: Follow influential Twitter accounts and retweet their content. You don’t need to always recreate the wheel – but you can increase your brand awareness simply by following those who have something to say that pertains to the travel industry, your city, local attractions, and more. Simply retweeting content from influential users can increase your property’s visibility to a host of new Twitter users. Be sure to give credit back to your source.
  • Share: Use the right kind of content at the right time. Warm weather destination while the rest of the county is dealing with a cold snap? Use it to your benefit and tweet out a sunny image poolside at your hotel with some fun hashtags.
  • And Reshare: Have a successful tweet? Congratulations! Now go out there and reshare your own tweet! Tweets have a fairly short life expectancy – resharing what works for you can often reach a new audience of people that will enjoy your tweet as well.

Twitter can be a powerful social network for your hotel. Response to guests and future guests, as well as increasing your brand awareness through social engagement, can help create new fans of your property.

Want more on why engaging on Twitter is vital to your property’s success? Download our white paper.
Learn more about our 24/7 social customer care service, SocialVoices, on our website.

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#AskDJV – Episode 13: The Wide vs. Deep Approach in Social Media

Social media may be free to set-up but you still have to dedicate your time to reap its benefits.

In this week’s episode, I discuss the “Wide” vs. “Deep” approach to gaining followers. Find out which one will work best for your hotel.

Want more #AskDJV? Visit our website to view all of the episodes we’ve posted.

You can also check back here each Friday for the latest episode.

Do you have a question for me?

Tweet me @DJVallauri using the hashtag #AskDJV, and your question could be featured on the show!

Thanks for watching!

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SEO for Hotels: Not a “One Time” Thing

When Can I Stop My Hotel’s SEO Campaign?

“SEO is dead.”
“It’s all about link building.”
“We’re ranking well in the Search Engines, let’s drop SEO.”

Have you ever caught yourself saying those things? We hear it often. Every time you write a new piece of content, redesign your hotel website, talk about online reviews or reputation management, SEO is there in the background.

As a decision maker in your hotel, it’s normal for you to think about the expense of SEO as it relates to your bottom line. It’s often the last piece brought on board in a hotel and usually the first piece that people feel they no longer need. Before we can discuss stopping your SEO campaign, let’s take a look at the other ways SEO affects your hotel:

SEO for Hotels– The Silent Marketer

Most people can “see” SEO in your content, but do you know that SEO goes beyond what is visible to the human eye? Take a look at the different departments that are affected by SEO:

Graphic Design – SEO is there, in the naming of your images. It may seem like a silly question, but think about it – your graphic design team relies on your SEO team to help make your images more meaningful to your site visitors.

Web Design – Your web development team takes their navigation from your SEO. In addition, your SEO team works hand-in-hand with your web development team to create the proper code for search engines and humans alike. They are here in your Heading tags, your Internal Links, your Local SEO and your analytics. They are also tell the search engines which pages to crawl in your website and redirects the old pages to the new ones.

Social Media – You can guarantee that your SEO team is working with your Social Media gurus. When you write a new blog post or content piece for your site, these are shared in your Social Media. When visitors come to your site, they can share your content on social media channels. Anytime you use Social Media, you also have a piece of SEO right alongside it, working together to make your hotel a success.

Hotel Bookings – When your front desk is receiving phone calls, when forms come in requesting wedding information, when people want to book a reservation for your restaurant, or learn more about your specials, SEO is present. Invisible in this role, your SEO team helped generate these leads or inquiries. They did competitive research, worked on your content pages and choose the keywords your target market will use to find you.

Hotel Deals, Restaurants & Venues– Your SEO team works with your account managers to design a strategy for all of these areas of your hotel marketing. What keywords should you use? Are they seasonal specials? Is your competition also marketing the same type of venues? These are all things your SEO team takes into consideration when you talk about hotel deals, restaurants, weddings and corporate events.

Video – Does your hotel create videos to help sell your property? Your SEO team is optimizing the videos, assisting with the titles, descriptions and keywords used in your videos.

Do not underestimate the power of SEO and don’t think it something you can do for your property just once and experience success. Any ongoing investment, the long term effects of SEO far outweigh the short term, as it takes time to build your online reputation and brand.

As a hotelier, you may not need to know the minutia of what SEO does, but you will notice a huge difference in your overall website traffic without one. The truth is, your SEO campaign is never finished and continually adds value, even when you don’t see it in the foreground.

Learn more about our SEO services or read about the times when hoteliers must use SEO.

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#AskDJV Episode 12: Renting vs. Owning Your Hotel Website

In this week’s episode of the #AskDJV Show, I explain why it’s better to buy, and not rent, your hotel’s website.

Read my recent blog post on demystifying the concept of renting a property website.

Want more #AskDJV? Visit our website to view all of the episodes we’ve posted.

You can also check back here each Friday for the latest episode.

Do you have a question for me?

Tweet me @DJVallauri using the hashtag #AskDJV, and your question could be featured on the show!

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Demystifying the Concept of Renting Your Website Versus Buying Your Website

I often hear of hoteliers deciding to “rent” their website versus paying a developer or agency to create a site. Most of the time hoteliers are presented a slick sales pitch for why “renting” a template-based website is in the hotelier’s best interest. This is so far from the truth that I want to clarify for those who might still be confused about “renting” versus buying.

Website Design Based on Prefabricated Templates

Your hotel is unique. Your service is unique. These are items that separate you from your competitive set. Why would anyone think that your website shouldn’t be unique as well; uniquely emphasizing your points of differentiation? Yet the “rental” sales rep assures you that having your hotel website look like hundreds (thousands?) is ok and the new way to design websites. Really?

Proprietary CMS Provides Ultimate Control

This is truly laughable. Having a proprietary Content Management System only assures you will never have control of your website. Remember your website ONLY works with the back end CMS. If one day you decide to leave this vendor, your website CMS cannot go with you. At that point your website is rendered useless and all the costs you sunk into it are for naught. Always select an open source platform CMS such as WordPress. Open source CMS platforms ensure any agency can operate your website in the future. If you’d like to test what I’m saying, ask the “rental” agent who owns the digital assets that make up your website? Watch out for the fancy footwork on this one.

Renting Your Website is the Lowest Cost Solution

This, in fact, may be true as startup costs are minimal, usually a few hundred dollars. After all you’re just selecting your website from prefabricated templates remember. Ongoing, you only pay a small “rental” fee and you’re good to go. But any smart hotelier will know that you get what you pay for in life; there is no such thing as a “free lunch”. So ask yourself, or better yet the “rental” agent, considering the low monthly fee how much time will be spent on marketing and identifying ways to drive business to your website? The answer is clear to me, not much time as no business can stay in business if it’s not making money. Time is money.

Interested in learning more about investing in you website?
Read about Lodging Interactive‘s website services or contact me.

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#AskDJV – Episode 11: Benefits of Having a Social Media Marketing Strategy

In this week’s episode, we are discussing the benefits of having a social media marketing strategy.

Want more #AskDJV? Visit our website to view all of the episodes we’ve posted.

You can also check back here each Friday for the latest episode.

Do you have a question for me?

Tweet me @DJVallauri using the hashtag #AskDJV, and your question could be featured on the show!

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Facebook Ads: Your Do-It-All Sales Solution? Think Again…

Don’t get the ROI of Facebook Ads confused with the effort to develop a content rich
page where your hotel engages with fans. Want the payoff? Do the hard work.

Facebook AdsFacebook Ads: Do They Work?

Facebook, still the first choice of social media platforms by the vast majority, is considered a king of social media. It is also a helpful place to build your hotel’s social media presence and engage your guests as well as manage your online reputation. However, it is not a one-stop shop. If you are looking to Facebook as a vehicle for acquiring new customers via ads, then we suggest allocating your resources elsewhere.

Sure, you may be asking — why shouldn’t I put money into Facebook ads for my property if companies, from small business to Fortune 500 giants, are doing it?

Facebook: Good for Branding, Not Customer Acquisition

The majority of buzz about Facebook should revolve around your page, not ads. The smart guys at Pepsi, Nike or Shell understand that the value behind Facebook is when it is used as a branding tool, not a customer acquisition tool.

While an incredibly effective customer retention and engagement tool, Facebook shows a much lower return on investment as a customer acquisition tool than most brands may think. Facebook is a place where users connect with those they already know, as opposed to a platform like Twitter or even Groupon where users are more likely to connect with new people or try new brands.

Just as you wouldn’t invest all of your efforts on social media on Facebook alone, ads can’t be the only thing you do on Facebook. Best as part of a complete marketing campaign, Facebook Ads are not useful as a “quick fix” for finding customers, nor is it an effective stand-alone platform. If you wish to take part in Facebook Ads for your hotel, you should know when to use them, how maximize their impact and how your other digital marketing efforts can support them.

Why Facebook is ineffective as a customer acquisition tool.

  • Few, if any, qualified leads/new customers if privacy settings are set to friends only.
  • Expensive way to advertise
  • Low Clickthrough Rate (CTR)

If you are convinced that Facebook ads are the best direction for your brand, the most important questions hoteliers should ask before launching Facebook advertising include:

TimingWhen should we use this?
GoalsWhat do we hope to achieve?
EvaluateHow will you measure its success?
Supporting InitiativesHow will you support the campaign across other channels?
AudienceWhat are the right investment decisions based upon your target demographics?

Investing in Facebook Ads only and thinking you will be bombarded with new customers is an unreal expectation. If you have a robust marketing strategy that includes a dynamic Facebook page with well-crafted content written for your target audience, then your Facebook efforts will be effective in supporting your goals of furthering your brand’s recognition. Then and only then, you may be among the few that can consider ads, but even then… you know where we stand.

Think PPC is a better fit for your hotel? We do!
Check out our “Back to Basics PPC Blog Series” for helpful hints on getting started.

Visit our website for more on effective paid advertising, including details on Lodging Interactive’s PPC and SEO services.

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#AskDJV – Episode 10: Email Marketing Strategies that Drive Business

In this week’s episode of the #AskDJV Show, we are discussing the email marketing strategies that will drive potential business and build loyalty for your hotel.

Want more #AskDJV? Visit our website to view all of the episodes we’ve posted.

You can also check back here each Friday for the latest episode.

Do you have a question for me?

Tweet me @DJVallauri using the hashtag #AskDJV, and your question could be featured on the show!

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When Should I Use SEO for My Hotel?

Why Hotels Need SEO

SEOServicesforHotelsWhen SEO is mentioned as something you should have for your hotel, how do you react? Ambivalent because you find it is a waste of resources? Trepidatious because it is unknown? Excited because you know it has value?

Many hoteliers may respond with any mix of these emotions and that’s ok. SEO is a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal, but its true value is often underestimated. SEO is not a one-time thing, nor is it something hotels can afford to overlook, especially in certain situations.

Which situations? We’re glad you asked! Our recommendation is that hotels have an SEO plan and strategy implemented at all times, but because we realize this isn’t possible for all properties, I’ve share a list below of times hoteliers should absolutely hire an SEO. The list is comprised of situations every hotel has faced at some point. These often complicated times can be improved with expert SEO strategy. When used correctly, it helps to increase your bookings over time and eliminate the pitfalls your competitors often make in these same situations as it affects the rest of your digital marketing more than you may realize.

6 Times Hoteliers Should Hire an SEO

Anytime you do or experience the following, utilizing SEO can profoundly impact your efforts — whether it is in website design, content creation for your site, a social media campaign, improving search, updating your local business listing or staying on top of algorithm changes.

    • Website Redesign – You need a SEO to work with your web development, graphic design and marketing teams from the beginning. The SEO team is responsible for your keyword management, information architecture, image names and directory structure. They are also the part of your team that integrates web analytics, webmaster tools and schema information on your site.
    • Social Media Marketing – If your hotel has a social media presence, it needs SEO. The two should be working hand-in-hand ensuring that your promotions and marketing efforts stay consistent. As you work to establish solid social media content, your SEO helps you with keyword structure and link building efforts, ensuring the proper marketing messages are sent at the right time.
    • Search Engine Ranking – Your competitors are using SEO to rank well in the search engines and gain followers on social media. If you don’t stay on top of (and ahead of) your competition by implementing an SEO strategy, it means a loss in bookings and search engine traffic.
    • Create Site Content  Every time you create content for your website, you have to SEO the content. This includes keyword research, writing titles and descriptions and ensuring your site code has all proper SEO elements.
    • Local SEO – For smaller hotels, Local SEO is not as easy as it looks. A lot of SEO goes into making sure you are listed in the proper way across multiple directories, that your NAP (name address phone number) are all the same in your website code and the directories.  In addition, hotels are unique in that they change ownership and names.  All of this data has to be updated in a timely fashion and additional marketing campaigns may be needed.
    • Major Algorithm Changes – Google is constantly changing their algorithms to accommodate end users, as evident with the recent Panda, Penguin and Pigeon updates. Not keeping informed of the changes can result in that penalties will affect your overall rankings and search engine visibility. Without an SEO to help you, you could lose your search engine traffic altogether.

SEO is critical to the growth of your hotel. We hope that our list gives you an idea of when you should implement SEO into your hotel marketing plans or hire an expert to do it for you. Exponentially, the benefits are enormous and to go without it will surely hurt your online marketing in the long run.

For more insights in SEO for hotels, please visit our website or contact us!

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