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.

Social Media Consumption and Your Hotel

At the risk of sounding like my father, there was a time when it would take months for news to reach the other side of the world but the Internet has brought the world closer and made it a smaller place. We literally now have the world at our fingertips.

In more recent years, the explosion of social media through platforms like Periscope, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook as well as instant messaging apps, we can have the latest news within minutes of an event happening anywhere in the world. It’s given a whole new meaning to the Wordsworth sonnet ‘The world is too much with us’.

What is media consumption?

Simply put, media consumption is the total amount of information and entertainment media that an individual or group has listened to or viewed. It traditionally included the likes of print (books, magazines, newspapers), television, film, music and video games.

It not only incorporates content but also the device through which the content is delivered. So media consumption has grown to include modern formats with use of cell phones, tablets, personal computers and social media networks. eMarketer’s latest report shows adults in the US now spend more than 12 hours a day consuming media. What makes usage so high is media multitasking. That is, a person can be on more than one media platform at the same time.

 

 

Social media consumption and your hotel

In recent years, there has been much research that has quantified just how much time we actually spend consuming media. According to a Nielsen study last year, television and radio are still the most popular medium among US adults and, with hand devices like smartphones and tablets, it has made it even easier to live stream our favorite shows, sports events or movies.

Pew Research showed that 65% of adults use at least one social networking site and not surprisingly, when it comes to teens and millennials, social media platforms are the preferred media. This younger crowd spends a lot of time watching television, playing video games, listening to music and checking social media. The average person spends almost 2 hours on social networks each day. 

With so many social media outlets available, the shift from traditional brand advertising to consumer centered marketing has empowered the consumer and influences how your hotel does business. The important things to remember are know your audience and what social media platforms they prefer. Adapting your marketing approach will make sure your hotel stays one step ahead of the competition.

Social Influencer Marketing Impact: Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat Stories

In October 2013 Snapchat updated its app to include Stories which allowed users to build a sequence of content that could be viewed an unlimited number of times over a 24-hour period.  Then in 2016 Snapchat updated this feature to include Snapchat Stories auto-advance allowing users to move to the next story after one story has played. Snapchat Stories became a big hit with its younger audience and quickly took hold with millennials.

 

It wasn’t long before other platforms realized the potential of Snapchat’s feature and in August 2016 Instagram launched Instagram Stories. The product piggybacked on the success of Shapchat Stories and works just like it. One difference is that Instagram has double the user reach over Snapchat – Instagram Stories feature is currently used by 200 million of their 700 million users.

instagram vs snapchat social influencers

According to Google Trends, Instagram Stories is two times more popular than Snapchat Stories. Couple this with the fact that Instagram users easily go through the new feature while staying on a familiar platform and you have yourself the winner of this competition. With such a greater reach to a wider audience, Instagram Stories is attracting users away from Snapchat and even is attributed to stalling Snapchat’s growth.

 

Instagram or Snapchat: Who do Social Influencers Favor?

 

With growing competition for the same feature on the two different platforms, it prompted a month-long study by Mediakix that examined to which platform’s Stories feature top influencers posted most often.  The evaluation included 12 top social influencers who had from 495K to 16.6 M followers, regularly post on Snapchat, and are looking for the most engagement opportunities.

 

Number of Instagram vs SnapChat stories social influencers

 

The study findings showed:

  • Instagram Stories was favored over Snapchat stories 25 of the 30 days
  • On average, social influencers posted on Instagram 25% more of the time than Snapchat.
  • Instagram had an average 6.6 stories posted per day over Snapchat’s 5.3
  • 8 out of 12 social influencers posted more on Instagram Stories than Snapchat Stories

 

Social Influencer Marketing Impact

The Instagram vs. Snapchat study is but a small example of the greater picture for the rapidly growing social influencer marketing industry. Instagram’s influence marketing, currently a 1 billion dollar industry, shows it could reach 2 billion by 2019. Clearly social media influencer marketing has become one of the most important ways to increase awareness of your property and brand. With its leap ahead of Snapchat, Instagram learned there is power in the opinion of peers. They are clearly onto something!

 

Hotel Customer Service Through Social Media Channels

In today’s digital world we all communicate through social media to one degree or another regardless of generational differences. It has become the medium we use to exchange ideas or opinions and create or maintain relationships with not only friends and family but with every industry including, and perhaps especially, when discussing hotel customer service in the hotel industry.

For hotels, it offers a direct channel for guests to provide feedback, from compliments to requests to complaints. And, together with advances in technology, social media channels have created opportunities for hotels to provide and improve customer service.

Social Ecosystem woven in Social Search

The Three R’s of Social Hotel Customer Service

Revenue: Hotels that deliver great social customer service will become more profitable than hotels that do not.  It is the avenue that influences purchasing decisions and creates booking opportunities.

Reliability: Addressing complaints and resolving issues quickly shows your hotel listens and cares about guests. That spontaneous and authentic contact is what your guests and prospective guests crave. It creates a bond between your hotel and guests that creates loyal followers.

Reputation: Guests that experience a positive customer service experience are 25% more likely to become advocates and influencers of your hotel. But they can just as likely stop coming to your hotel and give bad reviews because of a poor experience.

Social Hotel Customer Service Guidelines

When it comes to a social hotel customer service strategy, there is no magic route your hotel can follow to find the best social customer service practices. It all depends on your hotel’s structure, processes, message and identity. But there are some guidelines that will help shape your hotel social customer service practices and serve as a reminder that responsiveness is everything.

 

  • Staff Ambassadors: Your hotel staff is first in line for interacting with your guests. Guests want to feel their issues are as important to you as it is to them. Respectfully take care of any issues and show that your hotel makes them your number one priority. To avoid confusion, ensure your staff is consistent with their handling of all issues by setting standard practices for basic issues but allow some flexibility so that staff can make decisions that make them feel they are part of the solution.

 

  • Chat Messaging: Provide a messaging service between staff and guests as a solution for handling volume requests of basic issues – like needing towels or an extra pillow. It will also assist your staff in attending all guest needs in a less stressful and efficient way.

 

  • Guest Expectations: When guests or prospective guests engage with your hotel through social media platforms, they expect a response in real time. This is your opportunity to shine. There are many live chat services available that can give you the chance to connect with your guests on a more personal level and show your hotel cares – all in real time!

 

Simply put, properties that take the time to include social hotel customer service as part of their social media marketing strategy will be the ones that will reap the benefits of repeat business and increasing their chances for profitability.

Top 5 Reasons Live Chat is a Must for Hotel Websites

PARSIPPANY, NJ – May 22, 2017 Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry recently launched CoMMingle Live, its fully managed Live Chat service for the hospitality industry.  Over the past 6 months, the company has gained valuable insights on how consumers interact with hotel Live Chat agents and now shares the Top 5 reasons Live Chat is a must for hotel websites.

“Our CoMMingle Live Chat service provides an assisted sales function for hotel websites, where there currently is none,” stated DJ Vallauri, Founder & CEO of Lodging Interactive.  “As consumers, we’ve become accustomed to interacting via Live Chat services with many brands and it’s time the hospitality industry provides conversation commerce support as well, especially as hotels look to increase their share of direct website business.”

Most consumers today are very comfortable using Live Chat to engage with brands and find it extremely convenient to be able to do so at a time and place of their own choosing.  Yet, the hospitality industry has been slow to adopt this technology as a method for real-time customer engagement.  Technology and staffing issues around the clock 7 days a week undoubtedly are reasons for the slow adoption.

Last summer Lodging Interactive launched a fully managed Live Chat service exclusively for the hospitality industry to help hotels improve their guest and potential guest engagements.  Through our Live Chat service, hotels benefit from real-time customer engagement without the headache and expense of managing Live Chat internally.

Top 5 reasons Live Chat is a Must for Hotel Websites

Here are the top 5 reasons why today’s hotels must have a human Live Chat service on their websites:

 

Live Chat Reason Number 1: Time is Money.

Time is something we, as consumers, have very little of these days. Any business that can provide additional time to its customers is going to win in the loyalty game. And loyalty is what creates business opportunities. For hotels, this means booked rooms.

When potential guests are visiting your website, and have questions about your property or destination, they traditionally must either call or send an email and then wait for a reply. We have all had this experience as consumers but it is not the best way to provide immediate customer service to potential customers. Live Chat addresses this service gap for hoteliers.

Our CoMMingle Live Chat service on your website is an enabler that connects your potential guests with business opportunities for your hotel via Live Chat operators who are always standing by ready to support your website visitors needs.  And because our CoMMingle Live Chat service is completely mobile enabled, potential guests can request immediate service and assistance from anywhere. Our hotel Live Chat live service agents will always be there ready to assist them.

 

Live Chat Reason Number 2: live chatHumanizes Your Brand

Real-time Live Chat service enables your hotel to connect with its guests in a human manner. No robots allowed.  Today’s consumers want to feel connected to a brand or company on a human level. With all the automated messaging, artificial intelligence and chat bots available today, your hotel can really standout by providing a human connection with your guests.  Use Live Chat to engage with them as you would on a telephone call.  And because it is a human interaction, your emotion and empathy will clearly come through to win the customer.

 

Live Chat Reason Number 3: Offer FAQs in Real Time

Hotel websites that offer FAQs are in the minority.  It is a shame that most hotel websites do not offer frequently asked questions pages. As consumers, we have come to expect FAQ pages on every e-commerce website we visit. Yet for whatever reason, the hospitality industry has not adopted such a practice.  With the competitive nature of direct online hotel bookings, maintaining an FAQs page on your website should be as ubiquitous as your booking engine.

Live Chat can take the FAQs page to and even higher level by providing a real-time human engagement experience with your customers.  Providing our service on your website increases the likelihood potential customers will begin to engage with your Live Chat agents as they are clicking through your website; side by side and even when the customer transitions from your website into your booking engine.

 

Live Chat Reason Number 4: Increase Group RFP’s

Through the use of Live Chat, agents are able to share group related documents in real-time with potential customers while they’re on your website.  For example, agents can immediately share floor plans, catering menus and even available event booking specials. This form of “assisted sales” has resulted in an uplift of group RFP’s submitted on a month-over-month basis.

 

Live Chat Reason Number 5: Immediate Crisis Management

When a potential crisis situation begins to flare up, Live Chat agents can be the first line of defense for your hotel.  They can engage with customers immediately and potentially defuse the situation and potential stop negative guest reviews on TripAdvisor.

 

BONUS: Competitive Advantages / Marketplace Differentiation

And, as an added bonus, a Live Chat service on your hotel’s website is a competitive advantage and a true differentiator.  When you consider that Live Chat is only available on a handful of hotel websites across the country, there is no doubt that your hotel can clearly differentiate itself from its competitive set within the marketplace.  Research continues to support that consumers would rather do business through websites that have Live Chat verses those that do not. In fact, 63% of consumers are more likely to return to a website that had Live Chat verses one that did not.

 

For more information on how to add CoMMingle Live Chat to your website, please visit: www.LiveChatForHotels.com or contact Lodging Interactive at 877-291-4411 extension 701.

 

 

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. 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.

 

###

Snapchat Marketing for Hotels

A Hotel Social Media Marketing Budget Reconsideration

 In 2011 Snapchat launched as a fun and simple messaging app that reached out to a young teenage audience. The concept was to share images with users’ friends that then disappeared in seconds.

Then they introduced Stories: A chance to put together all user images into a succession of snaps to tell the user’s story. It was a big hit with the younger crowd and quickly caught on with millennials.

Even Facebook’s subsidiary, Instagram, realized the potential when they created their own version of Snapchat Stories.  600 million users strong, Instagram’s version caught on well with users who didn’t have to learn a new social media platform to use the feature. In fact, Instagram became a very strong competitor and their version of Stories became popular enough to stall Snapchat’s growth.

Clearly Facebook and Google also knew that Snapchat was onto something when, in 2013, both giants made bids to acquire them for $3 billion and $4 billion respectively. But Snapchat owners were having none of that. They had bigger and better ideas in mind.

snapchat

Snapchat Paving Their Way into the Future

If Snapchat was going to make it into the future as a vital social media platform, they needed to think beyond their niche market and open themselves up to a wider audience.

According to an eMarketer forecast, this year Snapchat is expected to grow to 70.4 million users in the U.S. and to 89.2 million users by 2021. Their largest user base continues to be between the ages of 18 to 34 but users between the ages of 35 and 44 have been steadily increasing and predicted as jumping from 6.6% in 2017 to 9.8% in 2021. Users between the ages of 45 and 54 are predicted to climb from 4.5% in 2017 to 6.7% by the year 2021. This slight shift in age demographics becomes a consideration for hotels trying to reach their target audience.

Snapchat Inc. became Snap Inc. in September 2016 in preparation for its decision to go public with the Snapchat app being its main product.  Its value now is at approximately $28 billion. According to Snap Inc.’s IPO filing, they:

  • Have 60 million active users from the US and Canada
  • 60% of all smartphone users are now on snapchat
  • 50% of U.S. daily new users are 25 and older

It is evolving and working hard to increase their number of users within a wider audience. They need to show value to their investors by proving they are a viable social media platform well worth the investment. If the numbers increase as predicted, hotels would want to reconsider adding them within their social media marketing plans.

The company introduced their first consumer product, Spectacles, that became available for online purchase this February.  It is a strong indication that Snapchat wants to delve deeper into consumer products and now, having gone public, their interest toward e-commerce can show investors that they are serious about expanding and growing into a solid investment.

Snapchat 3Vi (Vertical Video Views and Interactive) advertising are ads in vertical format that tailor content to the mobile app.  Snapchat popularized this format and it allows users to make purchases through the Snapchat app. According to Snap Inc.’s S-1 filing, over 90% of those that participated in Snapchat’s advertising saw a rise in sales. 3Vi ads also promise to provide a way for hotel advertisers to track ROI. This might make it an alluring way to get hotels to consider joining the app and giving Snapchat ads a try.

Snap Inc. has the incentive and drive to prove they are a viable player against competitors but they have to delicately balance this with the young public that followed them and brought them to this stage in their vision. Also there are so many things happening – and fast – that hotel digital marketers need to keep an eye on the developments to see whether or not Snapchat is worth a second glance.