What’s Happening with Google Products in 2015?

Google+ Products

It’s no secret that social media websites are a chatter with talk of major changes to Google+ in 2015.

Trying to get the inside scoop on what’s going on with Google Products in 2015? The buzz, according to a number of sites, is that the search engine may be dismantling Google+ in favor of separate products like Google Streams and Google Photo among others.

The industry talk is all speculation at this point. The general public will likely remain in the dark until at least after Google’s annual I/O conference in May, but that hasn’t stopped many from sharing their own hypotheses of what will become of G+.

What does Lodging Interactive think?

We can speculate like everyone else, but what we do know based on our experiences with the hospitality industry, is that there have been noticeable changes in the Google products integration over the last year. Back in April 2014, Vic Gundotra, father of G+ left Google. CEO of Google, Larry Page, left the breadcrumbs to follow on the future of G+.

Rather than speculate, we’ll have updates on any product announcements from Google this year.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Buffer this pageDigg thisEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on RedditPrint this page

Why Aren’t Hotels Responding to Guest Reviews Online?

Hotel reception with bell

Hotels that respond to reviews see an increase in overall review ratings and booking
inquiries. The benefits are well documented, and yet hoteliers still are not responding.

If a guest fills out a comment card on-site, emails a hotel’s customer service address or even calls to share their frustration or praise about a recent visit, hotels know to read the card, answer the email or return the call. So why, in an age where everything is done online and the majority of consumers rely on travel and hotel reviews before booking a trip, do hoteliers still miss the opportunity of responding to online reviews?

Ideally, hoteliers would pre-empt a negative experience before it ever made it online, while a guest is on-site. Realistically, that is not possible to do each and every time, for each and every guest. When hoteliers are unable to provide the experience that meets or exceeds a guest’s expectations, taking advantage of posting a management response is an important step in protecting a hotel’s online reputation. This step, however, is something only a small amount of hoteliers do with an average of just 36% of hotels responding.

Hotel guests can post reviews of a stay to over 100 review sites, according to the 2014 Hotel Reputation Benchmark Study, however, hotel management is barely responding to two of the largest review sites online. 56% of hoteliers offer replies to TripAdvisor reviews and just 17% respond to those that review their experience on Expedia.

There is ample proof from a variety of studies that it is in a hotel’s best interest for hoteliers to respond to the online reviews that their property receives. Often boosting a hotel’s rank or rating, bookings or booking inquiries and even justifying an increase in room rates.

Consider these guest review statistics:

A 2014 TripAdvisor study noted a connection between the rates of management responses with the average review rating a hotel receives. Properties responding to over 65% of the reviews they received saw an average review rating of 4.15.

Is this because guests magically experience only positive stays? Not according to the researchers at Boston University who deduced that perhaps the most impactful result of providing management response is that, “consumers with a poor experience become less likely to leave a negative review when hotels begin responding.”

This can be seen across the industry where 75% of reviews are four- and five-star reviews while less than 10% are one- and two-star reviews, according to the 2014 Hotel Reputation Benchmark Report. Do not be fooled though, while one-star reviews make up the lowest percentage of all reviews, the number of total reviews are increasing and the volume of both one-star and five-star reviews are seeing the biggest surge.

While hoteliers aren’t responding to reviews, it seems that they recognize that they should be and are taking steps to begin penning replies. According to Ipsos and TripAdvisor’s 2014 TripBarometer Report, six in 10 hoteliers say that investments in reputation management would increase in the next 12 months. The commitment to invest is a new way of thinking for hoteliers who may finally be ready to reap the benefits of replying to reviews by providing management responses. This is the second largest increase in investment priorities, only surpassed by small renovations – a list of property refreshes likely taken from what guests point out in negative reviews.

Hoteliers cannot afford to neglect review responses any longer, especially if their competitive set is making plans to reply to guest reviews. Hoteliers that understand the importance of management responses and how essential it is to invest in them, but may not have the time to take on the task can look to Lodging Interactive’s CoMMingle Reputation Management services as a complete solution for handling review responses.

We provide a personalized approach to management responses that hotels find to be invaluable. CoMMingle Reputation Management monitors, collects and researches reviews and provides suggested responses for approval by hotel management. We also post the approved responses to the review sites as a feature of the service. Contact us or call 877.291.4411 to learn more.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Buffer this pageDigg thisEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on RedditPrint this page

#AskDJV – Episode 18: Is Your Hotel Using Meerkat Streaming Video to Increase Bookings?

On this week’s episode of the #AskDJV Show, I am talking about emerging technologies and Meerkat, a new application that will help humanize your hotel.

*Update: Emerging technologies change quickly! Between shooting the latest episode and sharing it with you Twitter cut off Meerkat‘s ability to access its social graph, but Meerkat released an update that added a number of new features including search functionality.*

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!

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Buffer this pageDigg thisEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on RedditPrint this page

#AskDJV – Episode 17: Tips for Better Social Media Engagement

In this week’s episode, I answer a viewer’s question and share our tips for better social media engagement.

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!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Buffer this pageDigg thisEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on RedditPrint this page

Keys to Marketing Your Restaurant & Reaching Potential Diners

In honor of Lodging Interactive’s recent expansion into social media marketing and reputation management services for restaurants, we’re sharing helpful tips on marketing your restaurant and how to capture the attention of potential diners online.

The belief is that the food, ambiance and service offered at a restaurant paints the picture of the dining experience at that establishment. However, as is reflective in the number of restaurant reviews online and how much stock consumers put in them, a digital presence on review sites and social media channels is just as important as the delicious smells wafting from your restaurant’s front doors.

CoMMingle for RestaurantsHow to Market Restaurants Online:

Digital marketing of restaurants is most effectively handled as a strategic, multi-pronged approach. The approach ideally involves a strong and consistent social media presence as well as professional, helpful responses to restaurant reviews on sites that offer management the opportunity to reply. There are also countless other avenues to consider as well, including: a blog, sharply designed and well-timed email marketing campaigns targeting loyal diners or potential customers looking for the latest special or coupon, app and online promotions, contests, promoting participation in local events, establishing hashtags to name a few.

The digital marketing aspect of promoting a restaurant can often be a secondary thought. But creating the same intimate, casual or fine dining experience on social media that can be expected at your restaurant is essential to standing out in an industry of numerous options, typically searched for with little lead time and often sought out by nearest location and via mobile device.

If resources are limited, and they almost always are, the two areas you should concentrate on are your restaurant’s social media channels and responding to diner’s reviews.

Social Media Presence:

Accounts on large social sites including Facebook and Twitter may seem obvious, but less obvious platforms can also raise awareness of a restaurant.

Consider image-centric platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest to showcase quality images of dishes or share recipes as well as video-based channels like YouTube and Vine to offer a “behind the scenes” look.

Establishing these accounts is just one piece of the pie. Regularly scheduled postings that share specials and discounts as well as local write-ups and upcoming events will help to gain the following restaurants desire for long-term success. A restaurant’s following is found by posting information on social media, but it is maintained and flourishes by posting quality content that doesn’t always sell.

“Social media has shaped a new way for consumers to interact with businesses,” says Rosella Virdo, Director of CoMMingle Social Media at Lodging Interactive. “It is actually the old way of interacting, person to person. Over more than the last hundred years: from telegraphs, telephones, beepers, cell phones, smart phones — each progression in technology has made the connection more personal.  The social media and review sites have soften the digital world to bring the human touch back to what has driven technology.”

Not only will followers be given a glimpse of a restaurant’s style, cuisine and philosophy on social, but it also provides a platform for your customers to post quality content on a restaurant’s behalf. Encourage diners to share their experience and they’ll quickly become social media champions. Considering that 49% of people use Facebook when searching for restaurants, the positive buzz on social media can be more influential than your most strategically placed, thoughtfully targeted ads.

Restaurant Reviews & Online Reputation:

Social media lets patrons informally share their take on a restaurant with their followers, with Facebook reviews going a step further by putting this feedback directly on a restaurant’s page. Review sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon are resources for diners searching for where to eat, when to eat or even a particular cuisine. They provide information like price point, menu and location, details that are essential to the decision-making process for the mobile user, 95% of which conduct restaurant searches. These sites are also home to positive and negative feedback from guests that is considered just as trustworthy as a personal recommendation by 79% of consumers. Reviews, however, have the potential to be far more impactful based on their considerably greater reach than traditional word of mouth.

Consider these statistics:

  • 53% of 18- to 34-year-olds report that online reviews factor into their dining decisions. Source
  • 58% of consumers searched restaurant ratings online in 2014, making it the top-searched industry. Source
  • A one-star increase in a Yelp rating leads to a 5 to 9% increase in revenue. Source

Managing these reviews should be a priority. Negative reviews are opportunities to reach out and connect not only to the reviewer, but the greater audience of readers. Address positive and negative feedback and monitor business listings for reviews that violate site guidelines. Restaurateurs need to be aware of what is being said about their business online and have a process in place to look into reviewers’ comments and respond accordingly.

“Restaurateurs put much effort into their menus, atmosphere, quality of ingredients, service and so on,” says Virdo. “Is your restaurant showcasing who you are in the digital world where your guests are speaking and sharing things about your restaurant and food?”

“Restaurateurs and hoteliers should create what they can maintain, manage and grow,” says DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. “That may be a restaurant with an enticing atmosphere and menu that turns a one-time diner into a loyal patron, but that may not be social media and that’s where we come in. CoMMingle for Restaurants is a significant resource for restaurant owners as well as hotels that have established, flagship on-site restaurants with their own following.”

Lodging Interactive’s CoMMingle for Restaurants can create and execute an innovative social media and reputation management strategy customized for your restaurant. The experienced digital marketing strategists that provide solutions for your hotels will cultivate your restaurant’s online presence.

Contact us to learn more.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Buffer this pageDigg thisEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on RedditPrint this page

#AskDJV – Episode 16: Do You Need Hotel SEO If You Have PPC?

Today’s episode marks week 16 of the #AskDJV Show!

In episode 16, I answer the question: “Do you need hotel SEO if you have PPC?”

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!

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Buffer this pageDigg thisEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on RedditPrint this page

A Real-Life Look at the Downside of Renting a Website for Your Hotel

I had such a sad telephone conversation with a General Manager yesterday. It was so sad and disappointing, in fact, that I wanted to share it with you here. Let it be a cautious tale about renting a hotel website…

The conversation started with the GM just looking to get some information about whether Lodging Interactive might be able help him drive more business and booked revenues into his hotel.

You see he proceeded to tell me he had his “new” website created and launched about 8 months ago and ever since the first month his search engine rankings and subsequent direct online bookings had dropped. He was now only getting 1-2 bookings per month!

To make matters worse, and just as I figured, his hotel’s website was nowhere to be found within Google search engine results. He told me that prior to his “new” website, his old site always ranked well and booking volumes were very good.

So I asked him, “what happened?”

What happened was that he signed with a vendor that promised him a fully optimized, latest technology website. A website with full content management so he could manage the site himself.

And the cost for this “new” site? He is renting it for $100 per month.

He invited me to log into the website’s Content Management System with him to take a look around and see if my firm could help to optimize his site. I jumped at the chance to look under the hood of how a cheap and ineffective website worked, or this case didn’t work.

To our mutual horror we confirmed there was no onsite optimization and the website was only ONE PAGE. Wait, his previous website had over 20 pages and now he had only one page?!  What’s that all about?  So we poked around to see where additional pages could be added.  No such luck. The GM was stuck with his one page website.

So here was a one page website with no optimization, a proprietary content management system that won’t allow him to add new pages, no search engine rankings and 1-2 bookings per month. He asked me what he should do. Unfortunately I had to deliver the bad news.

There was nothing he could do except throw away this disaster of a website and start again from scratch with a proper website design and build. I could sense tears running down his cheeks as he expressed concerns on how to tell his hotel owner.

All in all, the GM did technically get what he paid for — I guess that is the good news if there ever was any in this story. Probably less stellar news for the GM is that when he tells the hotel owner what he’s uncovered about the low-cost, rental website he bought into, the owner will likely be looking for two things: a new GM and a new website for his property.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Buffer this pageDigg thisEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on RedditPrint this page

#AskDJV – Episode 15: Social Customer Service

It is week 15 of the #AskDJV Show! In this week’s episode, I am talking about how you convince your General Manager to give you the resources needed to properly manage your social media marketing and social customer service opportunities.

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!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Buffer this pageDigg thisEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on RedditPrint this page

#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!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Buffer this pageDigg thisEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on RedditPrint this page