Live chat for hotels.

Lodging Interactive Launches Next Generation ADA Conforming Websites for Hotels

Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced its next generation, ADA conforming websites for hotels. Lodging Interactive’s “next-gen” websites include a unique mix of technology and management services designed to drive maximum direct bookings for hotels while staying in compliance with ADA guidelines as they continue to evolve.

“Our next-gen hotel websites leverage the latest website design and development technologies combined with our full-service website management model,” stated DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder & CEO. “Today’s hotel website needs to tell the property’s visual story while being technologically advanced to ensure a mobile-first user experience and conform to all ADA WCAG 2.0 Guidelines; in addition, it needs to load very quickly for users.”

While many digital marketing agencies provide hotel website design services, only Lodging Interactive can offer a fully managed hotel website, digital & social media marketing to support the website and fully managed human live chat services 7 days a week.

Success Factors for The Modern Hotel Website.

Open Source Development and No Proprietary Content Management System (CMS).

Lodging Interactive designs and develops visually stunning hotel websites using Internet Open Source technologies. This enables the highest level of design flexibility while maximizing the hotel website’s search engine optimization (SEO) and the fastest page loading speeds. “Most digital agencies insist hotel websites be developed and managed through their proprietary CMS. While this ensures the hotel is “locked-up” with the agency for many years (good for the agency), it ‘handicaps’ the property in other areas such as page loading speed, design constraints, ADA conformity and SEO,” added Mr. Vallauri.

Fully Managed, Professional Webmaster Services.

Being able to ‘manage’ your hotel’s website changes yourself, sounds really good during the agency sales process and offers the illusion of the property being in total control of its website.  Yet reality has shown quite the opposite is true. Being able to manage your own website changes, means your website will have a CMS (see point above). Sure, with the proper training you’ll be able to change simple text images and in some cases the images on a page, butadding pages, modifying menu items, managing SEO components and maintaining ADA conformance won’t be possible. For that you’ll need to budget additional development dollars.

ADA Conforming Website Design.

Ensuring your hotel website is ADA conforming and meets all WCAG guidelines is not only good business practice it will avoid legal demand letters and potential lawsuits.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, often abbreviated to WCAG, are a series of guidelines for improving web accessibility. Produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the WCAG are the best means of making your website useful to all of your users.  Every new website Lodging Interactive designs and builds meets all WCAG 2.0 guidelines and positions our hotel clients with a path towards compliance with the ADA laws governing websites.

Ongoing ADA Conformance Checking & Maintenance.

The modern hotel website is always changing, new content is added weekly and at times new content will present ADA conforming issues that will need to be addressed.  An example of this, is the uploading of a non-conforming PDF document. In order to safeguard our customers, Lodging Interactive runs monthly ADA conforming checks to ensure the hotel website remains within the ADA conforming guidelines. Should any issues arise, our team will fix the issues and continue to monitor for potential future issues. “ADA legal action against hotel websites that are not in compliance with the current WCAG 2.0 guidelines continues to increase and hoteliers should understand that adhering to future ADA website laws will be necessary and should budget accordingly,” said Mr. Vallauri.

Human Powered Website Live Chat Provided 7 Days a Week.

Customer service is the ‘new marketing’ and hotel websites can differentiate themselves by offering their website visitors real-time, human powered, live chat services. Not only is live chat a great customer service differentiator it provides real value to potential guests visiting your website and has proven to increase group and wedding RFP submissions. “Conversational commerce happens when you move your hotel’s website experience from a ‘self-service’ model and start to provide real-time support,” stated DJ Vallauri.

For more information on Lodging Interactive’s next generation ADA conforming websites for hotels, please call 877-291-4411 ext. 704 or visit LodgingInteractive.com.

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 annually. 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.

Lodging Interactive Launches Industry First Real-Time Reputation Management

Real time hotel reputation management

 

Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced the launch CoMMingle Live Real-Time Reputation Management for hotels and resorts.  CoMMingle Live provides the highest level of reputation management by writing and posting guest review responses on all major OTA’s, social media platforms and for major hotel brands. The service also ensures franchised properties remain in compliance with brand guidelines while maximizing brand quality scores.

“There is no question the guest review landscape continues to change at a rapid pace. TripAdvisor once the ‘defacto’ guest review site now gives way to Booking.com and Google reviews, which when combined make up to 50% of the industry’s total guest review volume,” stated DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder & president. “And according to a recent Moz report, the quality of native Google reviews is a huge factor in the search engine’s ranking algorithm.”

CoMMingle Live, is the hospitality industry’s first reputation management service to include real-time live chat human engagement via Facebook and the hotel’s website. The company’s USA based live chat agents are at the ready to assist any guest, potential or past guest 7 days a week.

In addition, CoMMingle Live monitors and responds to guest reviews on:

  • TripAdvisor
  • Booking.com
  • Expedia
  • Hotels.com
  • Travelocity
  • Orbitz
  • Facebook Reviews
  • Google Reviews
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Marriott Verified Reviews
  • Starwood PHG Reviews
  • Hilton Hotels Reviews
  • IHG Brand Reviews

Serving hotels and resorts since 2009 Lodging Interactive’s CoMMingle Social Media Division has established itself as the industry leader in full service hotel reputation management and social media marketing and engagement. Customers include the Omni Berkshire Hotel in New York, the Boston Harbor Hotel, the Hawks Cay Resort and hundreds of other properties.

“Our team responds to over 200,000 guest reviews per year and works with hundreds of properties around the globe” added Mr. Vallauri. “We believe CoMMingle Live is a natural service extension and delivers unmatched value to our customers.”

For more information please click here or call 877-291-4411 ext. 704.

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 annually. 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.

 

conversational marketing

Lodging Interactive Publishes: Hospitality Social Media News

Hospitality Social Media News

 

Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced the inaugural issue of Hospitality Social Media News a bi-weekly publication reporting the latest social media news and recommendations for hotels and resorts.

 

Hoteliers can click here to subscribe for free.

 

“Our goal in publishing Hospitality Social Media News is to educate and to provide value within the hospitality marketplace.  In any given week social media platforms announce new features and algorithm changes which could affect hotel marketing plans. Unless you ‘live and breathe’ social media like we do, you simply can’t keep up,” said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder & President.  “We know the hospitality industry will benefit from Hospitality Social Media News and we’re pleased to provide this free resource to hoteliers.”

 

Each issue of Hospitality Social Media News provides the latest news from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, and what it all means for hotels specifically.  Hoteliers can click here to subscribe for free to start receiving the bi-weekly email newsletter.  The first issue of Hospitality Social Media News will be published on March 21, 2018.

 

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.

live chat

Why Customer Service is the New Marketing.

At any given moment, there’s a half dozen marketing buzzwords floating around in the advertising industry. We hear about growth hacking and gamification and wearables, all of which are (or have been) popular strategies designed to help businesses build their brand and market themselves.

That’s all well and great, but sometimes the most effective forms of marketing are also the most straightforward. This is true when you embrace customer service as an essential component of your hotel’s marketing strategy.

Why Is Customer Service Important for Marketing? 

Customer service and marketing have traditionally been two very separate departments, with entirely different teams handling each. While the hotel marketing staff ultimately does have a different job than your customer service representatives, there should be overlap between the two for best results.

Marketing, after all, is a discipline that focuses on showing potential guests exactly why they should be making reservations at your hotel. It’s about proving that you’re superior to your competition and that you can best serve their needs. This absolutely includes advertising, but it also can be a lot more personal, with one-on-one interactions being the most powerful.

How Exactly Does Customer Service Tie into Marketing? 

If a hotel or resort has responsive, genuine customer service, their guests will be sure to take note of that right off the bat. Customer service that is both good and fast is important to increasing numbers of guests, especially since there is more competition than ever before; if they don’t feel like you appreciate their business, they’ll take their business to your competition.  With this being such an important factor, having great customer service can help build your brand and shift client perception of you.

It’s also worth noting that customer service is now more closely tied to conventional marketing channels than ever before. Interested potential guests are more likely to contact you through social media private messaging or live chat than phone, email, or mail, so lumping customer service into the performance of your social and marketing channels is an essential part of how customers will interact with them. Some platforms, like Facebook, will even post information about your response time publicly, which can affect how users perceive your brand.

Ultimately, customer service representatives can become exceptional salespeople in addition to making sure all your guests are happy, promoting the right services, bookings, or amenities at the exact right time. Their recommendations will be more personal than autoresponders or Chabots, which utilize algorithms that most times don’t properly and become frustrating to potential guests. By giving your customer service representatives sales and marketing training, they’ll be aptly equipped to handle any guest crisis or question while understanding how to help use the interaction to strengthen your brand.

How Live Chat Can Seamlessly Integrate Customer Service and Marketing 

If customer service is the secret to better marketing, live chat is easily the secret to better customer service. Live chat lets you provide instant and excellent customer service to users who are contacting you with questions, concerns, and problems about a stay at your hotel.

For resorts and hotels in the hospitality industry, this can make the difference between landing a new repeat guest or losing them to a competitor forever. Being available to answer any questions personally and on a case-by-case  basis (instead of utilizing strict, inflexible policies) will help you build your brand and loyalty.

Best of all, live chat marketing won’t slow you down. The immediacy of this particular medium is good for guests who expect faster-than-the-speed-of-light responses, but it also works in the favor of the hotels using them; instead of getting bogged down with back-and-forth emails over several days, you can solve a guest’s question in minutes without ever facing the risk of losing them because it’s just plain taking too long.

If you’re struggling to implement live chat for your hotel or resort, look into live chat management services like CoMMingle Live. We offer full live chat management, with our live chat tool integrating with your website and social media direct messaging platforms. We have highly trained agents on hand to help your guests s get their problems solved quickly. This can help you book more, build a reputation as a brand who is invested in customer relationships, and save you money all at once while you can put time into the other areas of your hotel that need you most.

Want to learn more about how CoMMingle can help you? Get in touch with us here.   

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.

Hotel Website ADA Compliance

Hotel ADA Website Compliance

 Hotel Website ADA Compliance

Hotel ADA Website Compliance – What You Need to Know

Most people can experience the world through the internet. Travel information and choices to make those travel arrangements are at our fingertips. Now imagine a world where you could not easily access the internet to search for hotels and airlines that provide accommodations and accessibility for your specific needs?  For most of us, this is not something we need to consider but, for the disabled, it’s a daily challenge.

To understand their frustrations in navigating a site is to understand what it means to make your hotel website “ADA compliant”. You need to view it from their perspective. That is, putting yourself in the place of a disabled person will better help you understand what it means in terms of making your website accessible.

There are four major categories of disability types: Visual, Hearing, Motor and Cognitive. For each disability category there are certain types of adaptations in the design of web content. Some of these can be helpful to most everyone, like well-organized content or clear navigation.

With the laws of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA, the blind have gone from braille or audio tapes to screen reading software; the deaf have gone from using a stick to type commands to special keyboards or eye-tracking software. In all cases, the changes provided  more freedom and independence to the disabled.

Despite the possibilities offered by these technological advances, there are still sites that have not adapted basic principles that would allow the disabled to access, not only text, but also graphics.

What are the guidelines for an ADA compliant website?

The first thing you should understand is that there is no law regarding ADA compliance and your website, only suggested guidelines from the Worldwide Web Consortium or W3C,  the governing body of the web.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Version 2.0 are based on four principles spelled out in the acronym, POUR.

  •     Perceivable: As a medium of communication, the internet provides access to knowledge and, as far as web accessibility is concerned, this means the brain needs to process web content through the senses (vision, hearing, touch) either through the browser or through assistive technologies (e.g. screen readers, screen enlargers, etc.).
  •     Operable: Some people use adaptive or alternative devices that accommodate their disabilities. In terms of web accessibility, this means users can interact with all controls and interactive elements using either the keyboard, or an assistive device.
  •     Understandable: Language and function is vital in web accessibility. This means content is clear and limits any confusion or ambiguity.
  •     Robust: For web accessibility, this means a wide range of technologies (including old and new user agents and assistive technologies) can access the content.

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the subsequent DOJ publication of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design requires businesses, including hotels, to make accessibility accommodations that enable the disabled public to access the same services as those who are not disabled and this would include hotel websites. However, it does not specifically address websites. These rulings can be confusing in terms of how they apply to website accessibility because they are only suggested guidelines. Regardless, this has not stopped an onslaught of lawsuits for failure to comply with WCAG guidelines as a basis to claims.

Then there is the Section 508 Standards under the 1973 Rehabilitation Act that requires government agencies  to make information and communication, including websites, accessible to people with disabilities whether they are government employees or members of the public. Section 508 was most recently updated to incorporate WCAG guidelines and although hotels may have government travelers, they are not government agencies.

How should hoteliers achieve website ADA compliance?

First and foremost, you need to understand and comply with WCAG guidelines and make it part of best practices. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has an accessibility checklist that can help you check your website for accessibility.

  • Provide text alternatives or ALT Tags to graphics, animations and videos. Consider that if you disable the presentation, the web content should still effectively communicate the message.
  • Ensure text labels are used for all buttons and calls to action.
  • Provide text descriptions to all internal and external links.
  • Ensure keyboard accessibility.  Website should be enabled for navigation by screen readers or alternative keyboard devices so that users can search, find, navigate through and interact with web content. Consider how you would get to content if you could not use a mouse.
  • Allow for longer time to complete a task on the website. Consider slower muscle movements by a person with a motor disability or slower mental processes by a person with a cognitive disability.
  • Pop-ups and image maps are not used on websites.
  • Website contains easily resizable text.
  • Adhere to ADA compliance at the property itself and create a Website Accessibility Statement page, an Accessible Amenities & Services landing page as well as an Accessible Rooms landing page.

Remember, the above are only guidelines and, as mentioned previously in this article, there are no laws governing ADA compliance and websites. Still, you should keep in mind that 20% of the population has some form of disability and spend $19 billion on travel.  In addition, people with disabilities usually travel with a companion, potentially increasing spending to $40 billion.  Hoteliers would be smart to include this group of website visitors by adhering to the WCAG guidelines.  

Please contact us for a complimentary, no obligation ADA website audit.  At the very least, you will understand what your website exposure is and the corrective action you will need to undertake.  

 

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.

why hotels shouldn't use chatbots

Why Human Hotel Live Chat is Better Than Chatbots

If you were to call a hotel, which would you rather get: an automated system that spent fifteen minutes and eight side menus to get through without resolving your problem, or an actual person who can help you immediately?

You’d choose the person, every time. Everyone would.

Live chat is no different. Live chat with real, actual people will be superior than conversations with chatbots on the other side every single time. It may cost a little bit more to pay someone to handle the live chat, but it’s a cost that will provide a return on investment multiple times over.

Here’s how…

Chatbots Are Stuck to Pre-programmed Responses

Chatbots aren’t “smart,” even if you program them really, really well. They are limited to only answer questions they’ve been programmed to identify, and they can only provide a set number of answers to those limited questions.

Sure, when a customer asks about amenities offered by your hotel, they can spout off information about the pool and complimentary breakfast. Your chatbot will fall short, however, when potential customers ask if there’s a limit on towels at the pool or if their breakfast can be gluten-free, dairy-free, and pork-free.

human live chat vs chatbots

 

These small, detailed questions won’t matter to 99% of customers, but the answer could decide whether or not that potential customer books with you. And while only one person will ask each of these questions, an enormous chunk of customers reaching out will have a different question that matters to them. It’s impossible to program for that.

People Understand Nuance

Chatbots only spit out binary responses. Yes and no, we have that or we don’t, I do or don’t understand the request, was or wasn’t this answer helpful? Human beings understand nuance in a way that chatbots never will. Instead of “yes and no,” we can provide “maybe, let’s take a look.”

When it comes to hotel bookings—which may include conference, event, or wedding bookings—there could easily be many grey areas. For example can you extend the number of discounted rooms for our event?

A chatbot will only routinely cycle through policies you’ve taught it; it is incapable of nuance or negotiation, which could be crucial to landing large bookings.

People Actually Care 

Whoever said business isn’t personal was flat out wrong. Business is immensely personal, and if customers feel like you don’t care about them, they’ll go straight to your competition. Chatbots, by nature, cannot care. At best they’ll appear polite, but they won’t have the capability to go above and beyond like a dedicated customer service specialist; they’ll just replay the same menu of options on a loop.

A real person will care that your customer is stressed, or upset, or confused. Since you could lose these customers quickly without turning around their experience, it is essential to have a dedicated representative ready to tackle their problem with them.

Long story short: you want to invest in human live chat instead of relying on chatbots. You can’t afford not to.

Lodging Interactive, through its CoMMingle Live Chat service, offers hotels a fully managed and affordable live chat service available 7 days a week.  For more information on Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle Live Chat for Hotels or call 877-291-4411 Ext 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.

 

 

###

Rosella Virdo - COO Lodging Interactive

Lodging Interactive Announces Rosella Virdo – Chief Operating Officer

Rosella Virdo - COO Lodging InteractiveLodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced the promotion of Rosella Virdo as its Chief Operating Officer.  Ms. Virdo joined Lodging Interactive in 2009 and most recently served as Managing Director of CoMMingle, the company’s Social Media and Reputation Management Division.

 

“Rosella continues to demonstrate her skills and passion for our company and has displayed her unwavering commitment in mentoring her team members and to the success of our company,” stated DJ Vallauri, Founder & CEO of Lodging Interactive.  “I’m excited to have Rosella join me as our Chief Operating Officer during such an exciting time for our company.”

 

The company recently announced its new CoMMingle A.I. platform powered by the IBM Watson supercomputer which enables it to analyze thousands of social media posts and determine key performance factors found in the most successful social media posts. “Through IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence and our proprietary algorithms our social media teams will produce better engagement results for our agency than any other agency,” added Mr. Vallauri.

 

As Chief Operating Officer, Ms. Virdo will have responsibility for the Company’s two operational divisions, the interactive group and CoMMingle, as well as the customer service and human resources teams.

 

“As we move forward into this next exhilarating chapter of our company, it is an honor to be named Chief Operating Officer. With such talented and dedicated people, I am proud of the successes we have reached within CoMMingle. It will be a privilege to work closely with the entire Lodging Interactive team to continue building on our success,” stated Ms. Virdo.

 

 

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.

Lodging Interactive & IBM Watson Launch AI Platform

Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced the roll-out of its CoMMingle AI social media management platform for the hospitality industry.  A hospitality industry first, CoMMingle AI leverages the power of IBM’s Watson Supercomputer, enabling Lodging Interactive to analyze big data sets across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter through the use of Artificial Intelligence technologies.

“Our CoMMingle AI platform allows our agency to read through and analyze the engagement effectiveness of social media posts and to surface the commonality of the top performing posts,” said DJ Vallauri, Founder and CEO of Lodging Interactive. “While such a task is humanly impossible to do, our CoMMingle AI platform can analyze tens of thousands of social media posts and their corresponding images in mere seconds.”

 

CoMMingle AI Social Media for Hotels

 

 

CoMMingle AI Creates Higher Social Engagement

The CoMMingle AI platform can be used to identify social media trends and consumer engagement rates across a hotel’s own social posts as well as to analyze its competitive set, to determine how well their social media initiatives are performing.

“With our CoMMingle AI platform we can analyze historical engagement data to help us create social media posts that will resonate with consumers and achieve conversion results,” added Mr. Vallauri.  “We can remove any guesswork on how to achieve the highest engagement results.”

IBM Watson Lodging Interactive

The Lodging Interactive development team chose to integrate the CoMMingle AI platform with the IBM Watson Supercomputer because it was determined to have the most advanced language, tone and data analysis capabilities.  In addition, The CoMMingle AI platform can scan images used in social posts to determine the commonality of the top performing posts.

 

CoMMingle AI Semantic Interpretations and Keyword Relevance Cloud and Images Count Cloud –

The Keyword Relevance Cloud emphasizes the most relevant keywords.  The Keyword Count Cloud emphasizes the keywords that appear more frequently. Keywords are extracted and normalized from posts and may not exist verbatim in posts.

Image descriptors are extracted from image posts by analyzing the image. Each descriptor is scored based on a confidence level.  The sum of each descriptors’ score emphasizes the descriptors with the highest level of confidence.  The Image Count Cloud emphasizes the descriptors that appear more frequently.

 

Language, Tone and Image Analysis –

The tone analysis calculates the emotions and communication style of the posts. Understanding the tone of posts with the highest engagement helps write future posts that use similar tones.

CoMMingle Social Media

CoMMingle AI Keyword Cloud

CoMMingle AI Image Cloud

 

Lodging Interactive, through its CoMMingle Social Media Marketing and Engagement division provides full service social media and reputation management services to hundreds of hotels worldwide.  For more information on Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle AI please visit LodgingInteractive.com or call 877-291-4411 Ext 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.

 

How to Make the Most of Competitive Research

competitive research

Whether you run a hotel, marketing company or any business for that matter, knowing your competitors has become an inherent part of marketing strategy. It is crucial to learning how to position your business and allows you to get – and stay – one step ahead. How well do you know your competitors and, more importantly, what can you learn from their ideas and ways of conducting business?

 

Competitive research is not just about analyzing data, but using the knowledge gained to make your business stronger and more prevalent than your competitors. This can be a daunting task if not approached properly and dismissing your competition can cost you drops in rankings and conversions, loss in revenue, a bad reputation, etc.

Benefits of Competitive Research

The potential benefits of your analysis would include:

  • Understanding the market: No matter the business field, understanding the market in which you conduct your business is vital to the survival of your business. You need to know who are your competitors as well as potential competitors so you know where you need to position yourself within the market.
  • Tracking competitor pricing: You know your expenses and the mark-ups needed to make a profit but keeping an eye on your competitor pricing is an important part to factor into establishing your own pricing as well. You always want to remain a viable player within your market.
  • Targeting and reaching customers: Your research could help you find new tools and practices to better serve your existing customers. It can also provide insightful information on potential customers and help you create clear marketing plans to reach out to those new customers.
  • Forecasting potential sales: Through your analysis you can discover new opportunities that could lead to potential future sales.
  • Identifying problems: You can get a clearer understanding of things like why other sites are ranking higher than your own or what content you should be producing or how to better leverage pricing.
  • Reducing business risks: Making sure you keep track of things your competitors have tried and failed at will help you learn what to do – or not to do – for your own business and could potentially spur new ideas and business ventures out of those failures.
  • Building relationships: Through alerts you could set up mentions of your company (as well as your competition) and these mentions can be used as a basis for building relationships.

 

Getting to Know Your Competition

How do you conduct your competitor assessment and how can you use the information to gain a competitive edge in your market? When looking at competitors, there are no undercover spy rings used to sabotage your business rivals. Instead the research is meant to gather data to help your business learn what is the best way to improve your site rankings, gain customers, build relationships, improve customer service, spot new opportunities etc.

 

Now-a-days there is an abundant amount of information we can simply collect through the internet. A good start is to create an outline of general information like name, location, website address, products/services offered including pricing, weaknesses, strengths etc. Such a manual  search would also include running website audits, conducting a competitive keyword search and keeping an open mind to filter in new ideas and strategies.

 

Also, your search should not only include your current competitors but there should also be a consideration for those up-and-coming who might become a future competitor. You need to think that, once you show you can be successful, who will want to come take that piece of the market away from you?

 

When all is said and done, it makes it hard to compete when you have an awesome customer service philosophy and enforce those principals in your customer service staff. Their enthusiasm will become contagious and spread to your customers. Just look at Apple. Not only is the staff knowledgable of Apple products but, you could be in a crowded Apple store and still feel like all the attention is on you – as if you were the only one being serviced in the store.

 

Competitive Research Tools

There are so many competitive research tools available so you will have to carefully weigh your needs to know whether or not they stack up to what you want to achieve, the amount of time you want to spend on the research and at what cost you’re willing to absorb. There are market research groups that can conduct audits that include the likes of audience research, brand analysis etc and run reports for you but this option can become very costly.

 

If you can make the time to do your own research, you can sign up for free services to gather the information you need for your analysis. You can set Google Alerts, monitor RSS feeds, monitor Twitter by subscribing to competitor feeds for any mentions of your competitor names including their executives. You can audit competitor websites by browsing through it as if you were a customer paying attention to graphics, ease of use, load time and special pricing for example. You can even access public records for real estate, legal files or even financial records through the SEC database for public companies and state filings for privately held companies.

 

Regular Competitor Assessment

You not only need to know all your competitors, you also need to regularly assess your performance and compare it with your competition. In the vast ocean of online marketing, this will help you remain aware of things like new product/service offerings, new team members, sales wins and losses, promotions as well as keep track of sudden drops or improvements in rankings, get new product ideas, learn from competitor mistakes and see how you stack up against them as well as what you need to do to react to any changes found.

 

Nothing in business remains stationary for too long as economic and/or social issues will always manifest themselves. Such broader changes inevitably cause changes in the market and you need to adapt your business model to these changes to help your business grow and evolve. This is when you can reap the benefits of competitive research and ensure the survival of your business.

What is the ROI of Human Powered Website Live Chat?

Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today offered some insightful looks into the return on investment of live chat for hotels.

 

“I am often asked by hoteliers what is the return on investment, or ROI, when implementing a live chat service on their website,” stated DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder and President. “Like any new product or service that is leading the way to something new and better for an industry, there is always a hesitation at first, as business operators attempt to justify the return on investment of this shiny, new thing.”

 

It has often been said that Customer Service is the new marketing for businesses. And for those businesses that can return valuable time to their consumers, studies have shown loyalty and engagement increase between the consumer and the brand for those businesses. This is supported by the fact that, as consumers, we lead increasingly busy and hectic lifestyles. “So time has become the new currency for the way we live,” added Mr. Vallauri.

 

Hotel operators should be extremely excited with the widely accepted technology and service opportunity known as website live chat. The excitement should stem from the fact that millions of people around the world are very comfortable with the technology and are already utilizing live chat services in other industries such as banking and insurance.  It is very rare to find a technology that has been widely used by millions of consumers around the world and see that same technology having such a profound impact on the return and profitability of a hotel website.

 

Live Chat Saves Consumers Time and Builds Trust.

 

Hotel websites have predominately always been a self-service model for consumers. Meaning when a consumer visits a hotel website, they are left on their own to navigate through what may be a complex structure of interlinked web pages in order to find what they are ultimately searching.

 

For many years website analytics professionals have always looked at the time spent on the website. This KPI or metric measurement has been utilized for the last 15 years as an indication of success when someone remains on your website for an extended period of time. After all, the longer they stay on the website, the assumption is made that they are browsing through all the website content pages finding and enjoying the content.

 

When in fact many consumers are spending more time than they need to spend on a hotel website because they simply cannot find what they need, quickly and efficiently. This can be evidenced by a couple attempting to research for an upcoming wedding they are planning. During the planning stages they will visit a hotel website to check out the wedding facilities and photo gallery as well as dig through the website to seek out any wedding packages or, better yet, catering menus and pricing. “Many times these activities are not as seamless as they should be, and they take time. And time brings me back to my initial comments of saving time for consumers,” said Mr. Vallauri.

 

Live Chat Provides Live Sales Assistance. 

 

According to recent data provided by Forrester, 53% of online buyers are likely to abandon a website if they can’t find answers to their questions quickly. And 44% of consumers stated that having questions answered by a live person is one of the most important features a website can offer.

 

Live Chat Increases Event RFPs. 

 

Now consider a hotel website that has a live chat service enabled. The couple arrives at the hotel website and immediately is greeted with a welcome and an opportunity from a real person providing assistance. A conversation ensues. The couple is guided to the exact pages they are looking for, and is even provided with catering menus, wedding packages and pricing by document sharing in real time. Even an entire wedding sales and marketing media kit or PDF document can be shared with the consumer by the live chat agent in real time. This provides instant gratification and savings of time. The conversation continues. The live chat agent offers the couple an opportunity to have someone from the hotel’s catering department contact them immediately or the next day to follow up and answer any questions or check wedding venue availability.

 

It’s all about instant gratification and saving time for the consumer. Isn’t this what we all want from companies we do business with?

 

Increase Direct Booking Opportunities. 

 

Now consider the consumer who is planning to make a direct booking on your website but is confused about the particular view or location of a room. They want to know the difference between an oceanfront room and a partial view oceanfront room.  As they pass through the booking engine, the hotel’s live chat service agent is always available to answer and clarify information for the consumer. Again doing so in real time and with the potential of moving the consumer towards placing the booking rather than leaving the website in total frustration is another opportunity to increase ROI.

 

And when you think about the real-time marketing opportunities that a live chat service can provide to your hotel website visitors, it really gets exciting.  Live chat agents are always in a position to promote specials, discounted rates or an upgrade, as they engage with the consumer in real time. This can be simply handled by providing the consumer with a specialized booking link or SRP code within the live chat engagement session with the consumer.

 

Customer Service is the NEW Marketing.

 

Clearly the way businesses and hotels can differentiate themselves from their competitive sets, is to implement a live chat service on their website. We believe live chat service for hotels will become as ubiquitous as online booking engines have become. When you have a technology that is widely adopted around the world by millions of people, saves time and provides human engagement between consumers and brands, you win the hearts and wallets of consumers, helping to increase your ROI.

 

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 understand the unique attributes of the hotel customers they serve. For more information please visit: www.LiveChatForHotels.com or call us 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 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 Agency Council contributor. For more information, please contact sales@lodginginteractive.com, 877-291-4411 or visit the company’s website.