The Human Live Chat Revolution for Hotels is About to Begin

PARSIPPANY, NJ – July 25, 2017   Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, predicts that the way hotels engage with consumers online is about to change and that hoteliers can expects total disruption ahead.  Online consumer engagement disruption is a good thing for hoteliers who want to increase their website direct bookings and minimize their OTA contributions.

 

“The progression towards live chat services for hotels is natural and expected. Consumers have already become accustomed to communicating with their banks, cable companies and cell phone providers via online live chat,” stated DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder & President.  “Consumers like that live chat offers mobile convenience and the fact that they get to control when to initiate the conversation.  Live chat empowers the consumer to control the time and place of their choosing to get questions answered; no waiting on telephone hold or 24 to 48 hours for an email reply.”

 

 

Automated chat bots are not as impactful as many have predicted they would be within the travel and hospitality industries.  According to the recent report, Are Bots Worth The Bother?, published by EyeforTravel Ltd, a mere 15% of hotel companies are offering booking assistance on Facebook Messenger.  The report also stated that 29% of hotels take between 24 hours and one week to respond on Facebook Messenger. For an industry built on providing hospitality to customers, the response time is disappointing.

 

Mike Slone, Chief Experience Officer at Travelaer stated, “The small percentage of travel bots that are live don’t impact the customer journey in a meaningful way, are gimmicky and don’t fit into an overall digital strategy.  Customer service is the most demanded feature, no commerce.”

 

As live chat technology providers continue to enter the marketplace, the latest being Apple’s Business Chat powered by its iMessage services launching with iOS 11 this fall, hotel operators will need to consider how hotel live chat services will play into their overall digital customer service and website sales strategies.  Hoteliers will need to come to grips that human powered live chat is coming and that the “train has left the station” on this one, there is no going back.

 

“Social media platforms, such as Facebook, WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) and Twitter all provide human live chat service technology platforms.  And with Apple about to launch its iMessage Business Chat, there is no doubt that the consumer’s appetite for immediate, live chat engagement with a human is here to stay,” added Vallauri.

 

So, what are the operational challenges hoteliers will face in this new world of real-time engagement?  For over a year Lodging Interactive has been providing CoMMingle Live Chat service for hotels, and it has experienced the same challenges hoteliers will experience when deciding to launch their own hotel’s live chat service.  Challenges include:

 

  • Selecting the right live chat technology platform that can scale with hotel chat volume and is secure.
  • Live chat coverage 7-days a week requires the hiring of approximately 8-10 agents to cover operational shifts and agent time off/vacations.
  • The cost of hiring, salary and health benefits can be upwards of $42,000 per live chat agent.
  • Initial and ongoing training expenses for every live chat agent.
  • Continual motivation and retaining live chat agents.
  • Scheduling of live chat agents to ensure prompt, real-time engagement with customers. Consumers expect real-time responses within 3 minutes or less.

 

“Clearly, for any hotel managing a live chat operation on property is no small feat. With staff budgets contracting and the escalating costs of health benefits, it becomes challenging to show management how a property based live chat team makes any ROI sense,” said Vallauri. “Lodging Interactive has made the substantial infrastructure investments and we’re committed to providing the hospitality industry’s premier fully managed live chat service.”

 

Lodging Interactive, through its CoMMingle Live Chat Service, offers 7-day a week live chat services coverage.  U.S.A. based live chat agents are all employed by Lodging Interactive and are fully trained to fully understand the unique attributes of the hotel customers they serve.  For more information please visit: www.LiveChatForHotels.com or call us on 877-291-4411 extension 701.

 

About Lodging Interactive

 

Headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, Lodging Interactive is a full-service digital marketing and social media engagement and reputation management agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. Through its web design and search optimization division as well as its CoMMingle Social Media Division, Lodging Interactive provides effective Internet marketing services to hundreds of branded and independent properties as well as management companies, restaurants and spas. CoMMingle has established itself as the largest provider of reputation management services for the hospitality industry, handling over 200,000 guest review responses.  The company also offers fully managed Live Chat agents for hotel websites through its LiveChatForHotels.com division.

 

Lodging Interactive is an HSMAI Adrian Award winner, and has won awards from the International Academy of Visual Arts, Interactive Media Awards, Horizon Interactive Awards, Web Marketing Association, Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts, and Travel Weekly’s Magellan Awards recognizing Lodging Interactive as an industry leader.

 

Lodging Interactive is a proud supporter of the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and the company’s president, DJ Vallauri, currently serves on the Board of Directors of HSMAI’s New York Chapter and is a Forbes.com Agency Council contributor. For more information, please contact sales@lodginginteractive.com, 877-291-4411 or visit the company’s website.

 

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Hotel Booking Tracking Issues

What happens when a web developer doesn’t implement your e-commerce tracking code properly?

Your hotel booking engine is vital to your online success.  We all know the importance of data but what is even more important is that the data you are tracking is correct. Your success hinges on not only the figures in your account but also that the figures you are seeing are accurate.

Most of the Independent and boutique hotels rely on third-party booking engines or third-party vendors for recording bookings and revenue. Unfortunately, sometimes third-party vendors, IT people or web developers don’t take the time to understand proper implementation of the e-commerce code, and this is where we step in to troubleshoot and fix the problem fast.

You’re about to launch a website, and you’ve ensured everything on your end is streamlined and ready to go. You did everything you were supposed to do on your end, including giving the web developer the tracking code for conversions to install. Suddenly, it hits you — it wasn’t anything you did. The tracking code wasn’t installed properly.

After a website goes live, there are numerous possible reasons why the e-commerce conversion code isn’t attributing correctly to the proper channel. Some of the common problems we see with implementation are as follows.

  1. The code is not placed on the correct page.
  2. The code is placed on the correct page but not in the right place of the website. (In header, footer or body tags.)
  3. Additional JavaScript code has been added via the CMS or application delivery infrastructure that may have changed the e-commerce code.
  4. The code is for remarketing in Google AdWords and not the conversion code.
  5. Customization of the code is wrong. (This is a major issue and needs to be resolved by tweaking the code according to the site changes and upgrades.)
  6. Hotel and booking engine website needs are tracked by a customized cross domain tracking code. Implementation of this code is wrong.
  7. The code is placed on the correct page, but is not copied exactly as it should be.

Here is a brief example of when the code is not copied exactly as it should be even though it was placed on the correct page. (Problem number 7).

During our process of routine expert checking, we noticed that the revenue attribution was not flowing correctly in Google Analytics reports. A print shot from the Google Analytics report here shows clearly that the paid search revenue was attributing towards direct traffic.

In the case of this client, the revenue and transaction pattern was attributed to almost 80% direct traffic, 15% paid search traffic and the rest from other sources. (There was only one transaction of $151 revenue before this issue occurred.)


When our experts analyzed the situation in detail, we found out that, while upgrading the booking engine site, the booking engine developer did not exactly copy a very small snippet of the code as it should be (line 46) and it completely brought down the revenue reports data.

The correct code was as follows, which needed the Hotel website name in the [‘ ‘] square brackets, to track the cross domain tracking correctly.


After troubleshooting, the issue was resolved with this correction and the latest Google Analytics report now clearly shows the revenue pattern of 80% and 15% from direct and paid search channels.

 

Even though it seems like a very small error, it is a time-consuming process to analyze and pinpoint the exact issue from the whole nitty-gritty of website coding. But we at Lodging Interactive have the technology, processes and people in place to monitor and troubleshoot complicated issues.

Through our experts and state of the art technology, the booking engine source code and hotel website are constantly supervised so that information gleaned from website interactions and bookings can help boost ROI and increase bookings. In this way, the client is able to make more informed choices with plenty of information to back up their decisions.

Is Facebook Still a Relevant Platform for Hotel Social Media Marketing?

Most social marketers still consider Facebook their most valuable hotel social media platform and it shows by the amount of ad revenue poured into the platform. 2017 ad revenue for Facebook is nearly three times as much as Google.

 

According to eMarketer, Facebook grew by 12.8% to 1.34 billion users in 2016 and recently Mark Zukerberg announced that Facebook has hit 2 billion monthly users. But so far this year growth has actually waned to 9.6% and is predicted to slow to 7.9% growth through 2018.

 

As a consequence ad revenue is predicted to slow down.  A contributing factor is that Facebook ads have nearly saturated user news feeds to the point where consumers don’t even look at the ads anymore. For hotel marketers, this means there will be some fierce competition for ad space and the cost to advertise will increase all while consumer engagement declines.

 

 

Despite these issues, hotel social media marketers are not stopping or slowing down any advertising in Facebook. In fact, 62% of marketers consider Facebook their most important marketing platform. The reasons seem to be because of the sheer size of Facebook’s user base and perhaps the hope that Facebook will make some changes to turn this situation around.

 

Facebook is acutely aware of the growing ineffectiveness of their news feed ads and the rapidly declining click-through rates it causes so they presented another option in Messenger ads for both Facebook and Instagram.  Facebook states over 2 billion messages are sent between people and businesses every month and, if stats hold true, this could mean booking possibilities for hotels.

 

According to a recent Social Media Examiner report, marketers need to change it up a bit and use varied ad formats as a work-around to the news feed overload. SME shows 75% of the participants in their report said they would use video content and 61% would use live video. So adding video to your hotel content strategy might be just the thing to catch users’ attention.

 

Like anything new, there are bugs to work out. Facebook has had their share of questionable metrics but corrected the problems and have shown their resilience over the years by turning mistakes into lessons learned. None-the-less, hotel social media marketers should be mindful of metrics for any new Facebook ad initiatives to ensure that they are getting the most out of their advertising spend.

 

 

Lodging Interactive Integrates Live Chat Services Into Facebook For Hotels

PARSIPPANY, NJ – July 11, 2017  Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced the integration of its fully managed CoMMingle Live Chat services into Facebook’s social media platform. As a result hoteliers can now benefit by providing Live Chat services to consumers when they visit their hotel’s Facebook page.

 

“Consumers are increasingly using Live Chat services to engage with hotels in real time and our Facebook integration ensures the hotel always has fully trained Live Chat agents available 7 days a week to respond to potential guests,” stated DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder and President. “Our fully managed CoMMingle Live Chat service is a game changer for hotels who truly are looking to step up their customer service.”

In today’s fast paced mobile environment, hotels can effectively differentiate themselves against their competitive sets by providing online Live Chat customer service. Engaging with potential guests in real-time while on the hotel website provides opportunities to surprise and delight resulting in more wedding, group and event leads and creates guest loyalty to a hotel.  Research continues to show that 65% of consumers would return to a website that had Live Chat services over one that didn’t.

 

“Customer service is the NEW MARKETING and hoteliers who understand how low current customer expectations bar is,  can deploy our CoMMingle Live Chat service to win new customers,” added DJ Vallauri. “Our fully managed Live Chat service offers US based, fully trained Live Chat agents and provides coverage 7 days a week. And now with our Facebook integration we’re increasing opportunities for hotels to always be available where and when their guests are.”

 

For more information about the fully managed CoMMingle Live Chat services for hotels visit: www.LiveChatForHotel.com or call 877-291-4411 extension 701.

 

About Lodging Interactive

 

Headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, Lodging Interactive is a full-service digital marketing and social media engagement and reputation management agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. Through its web design and search optimization division as well as its CoMMingle Social Media Division, Lodging Interactive provides effective Internet marketing services to hundreds of branded and independent properties as well as management companies, restaurants and spas. CoMMingle has established itself as the largest provider of reputation management services for the hospitality industry, handling over 200,000 guest review responses.  The company also offers fully managed Live Chat agents for hotel websites through its LiveChatForHotels.com division.

 

Lodging Interactive is an HSMAI Adrian Award winner, and has won awards from the International Academy of Visual Arts, Interactive Media Awards, Horizon Interactive Awards, Web Marketing Association, Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts, and Travel Weekly’s Magellan Awards have recognized Lodging Interactive as an industry leader.

 

Lodging Interactive is a proud supporter of the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and the company’s president, DJ Vallauri, currently serves on the Board of Directors of HSMAI’s New York Chapter and is a Forbes.com Agency Council contributor. For more information, please contact sales@lodginginteractive.com, 877-291-4411 or visit the company’s website.

 

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User-Generated Content (UGC) Influence on Hotel Bookings

User-generated content (UGC) means digital content created, uploaded and shared publicly online by consumers or end-users through pictures, videos, blog posts, discussion boards, product or service reviews, comments, tweets etc. UGC can initiate a conversation among unpaid contributors through popular social platforms that include the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and so many other social networks. So what does this all mean for your hotel and the possibility of encouraging bookings? Now-a-days just about everything!

User-generated content (UGC)Various studies have shown some compelling statistics:

  • Neilson has shown that consumers look to recommendations from those they know for purchases 92% of the time.
  • McKinsey has shown that word of mouth marketing generates twice as many sales as paid advertising.
  • Tomoson has shown that, on social influencer marketing, ROI is $6.50 for every dollar invested.
  • Reevoo showed that 72% of people searching out hotels would use UGC as a basis for their purchasing decisions.
  • TurnTo Networks just released a consumer study that shows 90% of consumer purchasing decisions are based on UGC

 

Benefits of UGC for Hotels

 

In today’s digital world, no one can deny the impact of social media on companies, products or services provided. People share their activities, opinions and interests through the various social networks.  UGC becomes an invaluable resource for hotels where these exchanges can create booking opportunities. Its benefits can be seen through:

 

  • Authenticity & credibility: We have grown skeptical of traditional marketing content to make purchasing decisions because the source is the brand itself. Instead, more and more, the trend is to search out the opinion and comments from peers to make purchasing decisions. We want to hear from people like ourselves with authentic accounts about experiences.

 

  • Personalization: Hotels get to have exchanges with guests or prospective guests where they interact with each other through the many social networks. UGC is unique in that it taps into consumer trust and relationship building. This is where brands learn what resonates with their target audience. So these exchanges create a meaningful interaction and encourage other guests to submit content.

 

  • Cost benefits: The costs of traditional advertising and marketing campaigns are always a strain on hotel budgets. But the cost of content creation is included in this marketing approach. After all, the source is the user’s exchanges posted publicly through social networks.

 

  • Re-purposing unique content: Users contribute new content all the time so information is always fresh. Hotels can re-purpose influencer content into blogs, web page copy etc. It helps the hotel marketing team keep content interesting and encourages users to stay engaged. It allows the hotel/guest relationship to develop beyond check-out.

 

  • Social traffic increase: A social media influencer in the hotel industry has established credibility and has a large follower base. They don’t have to be celebrities. They can be bloggers or thought leaders. In all cases, their authentic approach can have an impact on consumer behavior. It wouldn’t be far fetched for consumers to be persuaded to listen to their views, appraise the information and check out your hotel site when considering a hotel booking. It would also be important to keep in mind that, in this digital age, millennials are the largest and most influential of all age groups. They are turning off traditional ads and looking to engage in real-time conversations with brand advocates for their purchasing decisions.

 

  • Building SEO value: According to Kissmetrics, 25 percent of search results for the top 20 largest brands are links to UGC. Positive guest reviews can raise your SEO ranking. Also, gaining knowledge of the most frequently used words and phrases used by your audience can help your keyword optimization research.

 

  • Audience insights and sales leads: Through UGC, hotel marketers can analyze exactly what content is being shared and helps understand what your guests or prospective guests find most engaging. This information can provide valuable insights that can help generate leads and increase sales.

 

In the end, it’s all about people – your guests, your followers, your brand champions – and their experiences, thoughts and mentions of your hotel. If your hotel hasn’t considered UGC within your marketing strategy, you will be missing out on the possibility of a great many booking opportunities.

Lodging Interactive Offers Free Live Chat Service with Every New Website

 

Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced its Independence Day promotion for Independent Hotels. Now through September every hotel that signs an agreement for a new website will automatically be provided with its fully managed CoMMingle Live Chat service at no additional cost.

“Website live chat is quickly becoming something consumers expect to see on all hotel websites, and the smarter hoteliers understand the tremendous competitive advantages live chat provides,” stated DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder and CEO. “As the hotel industry’s largest provider of fully managed live chat services, for a limited time we’re bundling our CoMMingle Live Chat service with all new website projects.”

SIMILAR STORIES

Research continues to support that human-based live chat services (not chat bots) increases customer satisfaction levels and creates brand loyalists who then convert into paying customers. Consumers find live chat to be more efficient than calling a hotel and certainly faster than sending email to the hotel. And with today’s smartphones, live chat is simple to use and provides hotels with the power of providing exceptional customer service.

“We’ve invested heavily into developing a fully networked, fully managed, hospitality focused live chat operation in the U.S.” added Mr. Vallauri. “Our CoMMingle Live Chat agents are highly trained on the property specifics and are the best in the industry. We’re truly moving our clients above their competitors as it relates to online customer service.”

CoMMingle Live Chat Advantages

  • Fully managed – no need for hotel to hire staff.
  • CoMMingle Live Chat hours 9am-8pm EST, 7 days a week.
  • Humanizes hotel brand while customers are on hotel website.
  • Acts as a human powered FAQs page.
  • Increases brand loyalty & engagement.
  • Live chat agents can share PDFs during live chats (floor plans, menus, etc.)

For more information on how your hotel can receive CoMMingle Live Chat services at no cost, please visit Lodging Interactive’s Independence Day promotion for Independent Hotels visit: https://lodginginteractive.com/independence

Google’s Focus on AI-First and the Implications for Your Hotel

What seemed like something far into the future is right here, right now.  Alexa, turn off the bedroom lights. Siri, find me a luxury hotel in downtown Chicago. Hey Google, show me photos from my stay at Hotel ABC. Asking assistance or search using your own voice simplifies what you want and the right result should happen, right?  Read on for Google’s Focus on AI-First and the Implications for Your Hotel.

Well behind what seems like simple voice commands are companies like Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and especially Google blazing the way through AI and machine learning. In fact, Google’s May 2017 keynote made clear that they were moving away from their mobile-first approach to an AI-first focus.

 

From Mobile-first to AI-first

Mobile-first meant that, when designing websites, you would first need to design your mobile website and then work your way up to create a responsive desktop design. Since most web searches are now on mobile, Google had their primary search engine index based on mobile version content.

Now Google’s focus is toward applying AI to solve problems and accomplish tasks through relevant searches that rely on the use of conversation – natural language – instead of typed keywords. Essentially they are using natural voice as an input to computers and using training to make it easier for speech recognition.

They have even gone so far as to use enhanced picture attributes for image recognition – not saying a word but simply snapping a photo of a marquis with a band or play’s name and, just from the photo, know to search out dates/times for the event displayed.

AI and the Hotel Industry

Google’s latest focus shows how they expect artificial intelligence to become a very large part of our lives – from products to services – and the hotel industry has and will feel its effects as well.

Google says 20% of mobile queries are voice searches and, with 1.2 billion mobile web users worldwide, voice queries with the likes of Cortana, Google Now or Siri will continue to grow. The result will be users moving away from desktop and using only mobile or home-based products like Google Home, Apple’s HomePod or Amazon Echo for their searches.

In the hotel industry, some brands have already begun to incorporate AI into hotels.

Leading Hotels of the World has been using AI to improve the hotel research and booking processes. There’s also AI concierge Connie used by Hilton Worldwide or, more recently, AI Rose at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Then there is AI chat bot Edward at the Radisson Blu. Now the latest to consider guest and employee services through AI is Best Western who is testing Amazon Dot devices in its hotels. In all cases, these AIs are designed to deliver the best guest experiences and at the same time alleviate some staff workload.

For hotel industry websites, you will need a strong mobile-friendly site providing relevant content to create the best possible mobile user experience. From personal mobile devices, to home to hotels, the rocketing presence of AI into the world – and into the hotel industry – is a sure thing and Google is leading the way. So hoteliers need to be ready for the next wave of what it takes to provide great customer service.

#AskDJV Episode 58 – Hotel Reputation Management HSMAI Panel Discussion

#AskDJV Episode 58 - Hotel Reputation ManagementHello Everybody and welcome to the #AskDJV show. This is episode 58! I’m so glad you joined us today. On this week’s episode, we’re going to do something a little bit different.

I was on a panel discussion just a few weeks ago, on the HSMAI Greater New York (Hotel Sales & Marketing Association) related to Hotel Reputation Management and Best Practices and we had a hotelier with me as well as someone from TripAdvisor.  So, the first question was:

What can hotels do to encourage more hotel reviews from their customers?

It’s very simple. You need to ask your customers. As someone is checking out at your front desk, it takes less than 10 seconds to say, “Have you enjoyed your stay?” and they say, “Yes” and you can see how they are excited and they enjoyed their stay. “Would you mind please going to TripAdvisor?” “Here’s a little card with the website address on it and leave us a review?” “We’d greatly appreciate that.”

Also TripAdvisor has their own tools that you can download from your business account and actually go in there and see all of the resources they have, to actually help you to acquire more reviews for your website.

What Reviews Should Hotels Respond To?

Was another question, one that we get asked all the time. Our belief is that you should always respond to positive and negative reviews. All reviews, period. The first reason is because you want to show that you appreciate the time that someone took to write a review and you’re now coming along and responding because you’re showing that attention to detail, if you will, on responding to that review.

But the really, really, really, important reason you want to respond to all reviews is because you’re not really just writing it for the person who read the review. 93% of consumers will visit review websites before booking a hotel website. That’s a stat that TripAdvisor just recently put out. So, with that in mind, you want to make sure that you’re writing it with the intent of the next person coming along actually seeing your response. It shows them you care and it gives you an opportunity to correct any negative situation that happened or to thank them for a positive review and pump up your positive vibe, if you will, for the new guest opportunities that come along.

Who Should Respond at the Hotel Level to Reviews?

It should come directly from the General Manager as far as the signature. You know, you may look to find assistance by a company like ours who actually provides review response services for hotels, we do that for 100’s of hotels, we’re the largest provider handling over 200,000 reviews a year.

But don’t forget Social Media. Facebook, Twitter, Google. Consumers are also leaving reviews on those platforms and it’s important as a hotelier that you are always watching for those. We have many hotels where we are actually seeing more Google reviews every month posted than on TripAdvisor. Next question that came up that was pretty important was, “What do you do?”:

How do you address a complaint, where someone is complaining about price?”

What you want to do is address the situation by providing the following:
• One is you want to state how compatible and comparable your pricing is to other hotels in the marketplace. So it’s important that you state that because you don’t want people to think, well, they could just go to another hotel and get a better price on WiFi or parking.
• You also then want to show them a solution. Present a solution where you can say to them, “You can go to our website and actually book a package that includes WiFi or free parking.”

Another question that came up on the panel was

How do you handle fake reviews that you believe are just from disgruntled employees or competitors?

Now, we’re not really seeing fake reviews that much and competitors going on there. Rest assured that TripAdvisor takes this very, very seriously and your option is to really go and contact your account manager at TripAdvisor and have them investigate that review and potentially remove it from their site.

The last question I’ll leave you with that was on the panel is

Should a hotel website have their own reviews on their own website?

And my answer to that is, “Absolutely.”

Because we know if someone leaves and goes to an OTA website, they may never come back. They may make a reservation for one of your competitors, on TripAdvisor, for example, or go to Expedia and check out the reviews there and decide to make a reservation there for one of your competitors. So you want to keep them on your website as much as possible.

There are many technologies out there available that will enable you to do that, they all have plug-ins that you can plug in, as well as other companies like ourselves have a service where you can also integrate a guest review system into your website.

So, there you have it, those are the questions that were asked at the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association luncheon last month and I’m happy to be able to share with you our responses and our point of view.

Please be sure to subscribe to this YouTube channel so that you can stay up to date as new videos come out. Thanks again for joining and we’ll see you next week. Take care.

Airbnb Web Traffic Highest Among Travel Sites: Hotel Brands in Check

If hotel brands were in a chess game with Airbnb, they would now be in check position. According to Bloomberg, Airbnb Inc. was valued at $31 billion this past March and is looking to raise funds for expansion. With this kind of growth, hotel brands now consider them more like a rival than a business partner and as a hindrance for direct relations between hotels and their guests.

Recently eMarketer reported that Airbnb has the highest traffic of all travel sites – that includes the likes of Booking.com/Priceline Group and Hotels.com/Expedia – and it even eclipses the larger hotel chains.

Airbnb vs. Hotels

At the base of this new standing is Airbnb’s resounding use by millennials. This group looks for more personal experiences in their travels that fit, what they believe, is the uniqueness of their lives. They find this in a home-based stay rather than in a more boxed offering from an average hotel.

But Airbnb is not taking a breather with just this demographic’s allure to their site. They are seriously looking into expanding their services with more personal recommendations, like connections to tour guides and special expeditions. They are even looking to expand beyond the core that gave them its current status by considering to market to business travelers – all through their platform. With the growing number of millennial business travelers who like to mix business with pleasure, Airbnb has already signed up 250,000 companies this year.

Airbnb vs Hotel Brands: The rivalry begins

According to Phocuswright , hotel online bookings through third-party travel sites grew to $31.4 billion in 2016. Hotel brands are now trying to claw their way to winning direct bookings and move away from the expense of commission hungry travel sites.

The response from large hotel brands was to offer lower rates and perks to loyal members that book direct. But these traditional approaches don’t sit well with younger travelers who are less likely to be part of loyalty programs. They prefer travel sites because of their package offerings like combining airfare or car rentals.

The sad part is that hotel brands are doing this by only operating through the old-fashioned wheel-and-deal: Offerings of all kinds from lowered special rates, amenities etc. If the deal is all the ammunition brands have, then they are going to be pushed off the chessboard.

So hotel brands need to get a bit more creative with their marketing. For example, Hilton allows points used toward Amazon.com purchases and Choice Hotels allows customers to redeem points at Starbucks. Or they allow certain services like free Wi-Fi if they book direct.

It’s definitely going to be a challenge and hotel brands need to carefully weigh all the possibilities of their next moves to get out of the check position, reconsider their marketing strategies to lure guests of all ages to book directly to avoid a checkmate – game over!

#AskDJV Episode 57 – Live Chat and Live Chat Widgets on Hotel Websites

#AskDJV Episode 57 Live Chat WidgetsHello Everybody and welcome to the #AskDJV show.  This is episode 57 of the #AskDJV show.  Thank you so much for joining us this week.  On this week’s episode, I’d like to talk about live chat and live chat widgets on hotel websites

I’ve got 5 reasons, 5 top reasons why your hotel needs to have a live chat widget and service for your website customers.

5 Top Reasons Why Your Hotel Needs a Live Chat Widget on Your Website

Reason#1 – It Humanizes Your Brand

It enables you to make your brand human and to engage with another human being.  Someone wants an answer now, why not provide that to them? That will facilitate the booking.  It will create a loyal guest that says, “You know what?” “This hotel really cares about the engagement and connection with me, I’m going to give them a shot.”  “I may make a reservation.”

Reason#2 – You’re Providing Time Back to your Consumer

Specifically, you’re enabling your consumer to engage and interact with you on their time, not your time.  When you give back someone their time they will become very loyal to you, that’s for sure, 100%.

Reason#3 – You’re Going to Provide Answers in Real Time to what has traditionally been known as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Now, you and I both know that many hotel websites, in fact your hotel website, may not have an FAQ page on it, shame on you, you should have that as a bare minimum.  But this takes it up a notch.  You’re providing real time FAQ service when the consumer wants it.

Reason#4 – You’re Going to Drive more RFP submissions through your website

Here’s an example:
A wedding couple about to get married a year from now is surfing through your website. Well, without FAQ’s their kinda left on their own, but if they have a wedding planning question, it’s easy for you to engage with them via live chat to enable that conversation, to push them to filling out an RFP form vs. leaving them on their own and having them go to potentially a competitor because you’re not there servicing them in a real-time human engagement and assisted sales support channel.

Reason#5 – and this is a BIG ONE Guys – You’re Avoiding Potential Crisis Situations

We have seen examples of people going to their hotel room, trying to figure out who they need to speak with, they’re very upset, they go on your website, well, we’re able to capture them in our live chat service and speak to them and calm them down and escalate that conversation to the General Manager because that crisis situation can blow up into a real nasty fight with your hotel and that consumer and it can be aired on TripAdvisor and other OTA websites.  So crisis escalation is something that you will capture through a live chat service as well.

Those are the 5 reasons why your hotel website needs to have a live chat service.  Now, if you can’t do it for yourself, we have a live chat for hotels.com website, you can check that out, livechatforhotels.com and you’ll be able to get information on what we can do to support you with our own live chat agents, 7 days a week, full coverage.
Thanks again for joining us on this week’s episode on the #AskDJV show.  Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you can be informed when new episodes come out.  Thanks again and we’ll see you next time.