Lodging Interactive Announces LinkedIn Marketing Services for Hotels

Lodging Interactive, an award-winning digital and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced the launch of its fully managed CoMMingle LinkedIn marketing service for the hospitality industry. CoMMingle LinkedIn Marketing manages all aspects of a hotel’s LinkedIn presence and community engagement.

 

“LinkedIn presents enormous branding and business opportunities for hotels and has been mostly ignored by property marketing teams.  With over 560 million LinkedIn monthly users, hoteliers must maintain a presence and aggressively build and engage with their LinkedIn community as they have done for years on traditional social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder & CEO. “Our CoMMingle LinkedIn Marketing service is fully managed for the hotel. While we manage the hotel’s entire presence on LinkedIn, the property approves every post and our teams work with the property in a collaborative manner to establish a monthly LinkedIn content calendar.”

LinkedIn Marketing for Hotels

 

Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26 billion and continues to enhance the platform as LinkedIn continues to be the leading business-2-business networking platform. LinkedIn’s Q3 2016 revenue was $960 million with 17% generated ($162 million) generated from premium account subscriptions; 18% ($175 million) from marketing solutions, and staggering 65% ($623 million) from talent solutions.

 

“While traditionally known as thesocial network for job seekers and employers, LinkedIn offers an impressive treasure trove of new business opportunities for hotels that only needs to be mined.  For example, when you consider that meeting planner executives can be directly reached through LinkedIn, it becomes very interesting for hoteliers,” added Mr. Vallauri. “Our service ensures hotels have a professionally managed presence on LinkedIn and positions the property to capture new business opportunities.”

CoMMingle LinkedIn Marketing services include:

 

  • Establishing an effective Company LinkedIn Page for your hotel.
  • We will define your audience and goals.
  • Create a LinkedIn content marketing calendar.
  • Pre-approved content and content planning.
  • Write and post LinkedIn content.
  • Leverage rich media video content.
  • Research appropriate #hashtags to use in posts.
  • Manage job postings.
  • Create and manage LinkedIn advertising campaigns.
  • Cross market your LinkedIn profile with your social media accounts.
  • Engage with posted comments.
  • Comprehensive monthly reporting.

 

For more information on CoMMingle LinkedIn Marketing please contact us at: https://lodginginteractive.com/contact/or call 877-291-4411 extension 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 cost-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.

For more information, please contact sales@lodginginteractive.com, 877-291-4411 or visit the company’s website.

Contact: DJ Vallauri

pressreleases@lodginginteractive.com / 877-291-4411

Social Media Trend: Race for Creative Tools to Make Dynamic On-site Content

Hospitality Social Media News

As social media has evolved, we’ve seen each platform racing to make on-site content more dynamic. GIFs can be added to comments on Facebook, there are interactive stickers for stories, and video is booming everywhere. The last two weeks’ worth of social media updates largely reflect this trend, granting hotels and resorts new creative tools to better connect with our audiences.

Let’s take a look at what’s new in social media…

Facebook Releases New Video-Focused Features

Facebook has released a handful of new features designed improve its video platform and make it more community-oriented.

These features include:

●     New interactive abilities like polling during Live Streaming

●     Bringing videos from Pages into the Watch tab

●     A new video template that will put videos at the forefront of a brand’s Page (though this is still in testing)

●     The Android version of the Facebook Creator App

Facebook is also testing out a new Brand Collabs Manager. This tool will allow businesses to discover and connect with creators and influencers who they can establish deals or partnerships.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

Video isn’t going anywhere, so new features to help hotels and resorts get the most out of it are welcome. Take advantage of all video features that are available to you to increase engagement and make your content more dynamic and interactive.

You can apply for access to the Brand Collabs Manager now (though it may take awhile to be accepted). Once admitted into the program, you can connect with influencers who can help you promote your hotel or resort by coming to stay, attending an event at your venue, or even just eating at your on-site restaurant.

Facebook Introduces Info and Ads on Pages 

In an effort to improve transparency further, Facebook has launched a new Info and Ads section to Pages. This section will allow any Facebook user to view all the active ads that Page is running through Facebook Ads (including Instagram and audience Network). Users will be able to click on the interactive elements of an ad, like the CTA button, but not see engagement.

Users will also now be able to see any name changes your Page has undergone, along with its date of creation.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

Your guests having the ability to see your ads and past business information likely won’t affect most hotels and resorts. You will want to be careful when you’re running special offers that are targeted to exclusive groups, even if it’s because they’re part of a rewards program or first-time guests. One guest won’t like to see that you’re offering 10% off to another for reasons they can’t discern, so keep an eye on this.

Twitter Rolls Out In-Stream Video Ads to More Advertisers 

Twitter has been testing in-stream video ads, and now they’re now rolling out the feature to advertisers in 12 countries, including the US, UK, Canada, France, India, Japan, and Australia. These are pre-roll ads, meaning they’ll show before the video that your guests are interested in watching.

Image source: Twitter 

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

Facebook’s mid-stream video ads have gotten lukewarm reception, but pre-roll ads have distinct advantages. With many users being willing to watch a quick ad to get to the content they really want to see, you have a captive audience. Now imagine being able to show that relevant captive audience a quick intro video about your resort or hotel, selling them the adventure of travel or the relaxation of a weekend away.

YouTube is Testing New Creative Suite 

YouTube is currently working with select brands to test out a series of new tools that will offer new analytics and testing tools for creators on the platform.

These new tools include:

●     Video Experiments, which is a testing tool in Adwords that makes it easier to evaluate the effective of creative aspects of a video ad on its results.

●      Video Creative Analytics that evaluates video performance within different audience segments.

●     Video Ad Sequencing, which will allow you to tell your brand story in snippets through different ads. The videos will be shown to individual users in a specified sequence to improve storytelling.

●     YouTube Director Mix, which is a tool that allows you to create a base version of an ad that can have different text, image, sound, and even video swapped out based on the audience seeing it.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

Most hotels and resorts won’t have these tools for a little while, but they’ll be great to have once they’re available to everyone. Being able to more effectively test video ads and understand why they are or aren’t working will be essential to improved success moving forward.

The ad sequencing will also be a huge development for brands, as the shorter snippets of video shown in sequence will improve consistency in brand storytelling and make the ads significantly more effective as a result. You’ll be able to slowly introduce guests to your hotel piece by piece, building brand recognition and increasing the odds that they click over time.

Instagram Launches Music in Stories 

Instagram users in select countries can now add music to their Stories. They can choose a song by selecting the Music icon that’s found in the stickers section.

Image source: Instagram

Music for stories is only available in 51 countries (though Instagram didn’t specify which) and on iOS. Support for Android will be coming soon.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

Instagram Stories are already fun and can be interactive thanks to features like polling and shoppable stickers. Music takes that one step further. Music is a great way to help your Story stand out from the rest, and it can help you better portray a feeling. A whimsical melody can up the romance of a video of your on-site wedding venue, and a tropical beat could make your sparkling pool that much more irresistible.

Instagram IGTV Launch, Facebook A/B Testing for Organic Posts and more….

We’re almost halfway through the year, and the world of social media has changed drastically– even in the last two weeks. Let’s take a look at the most recent social media updates and how they’ll affect hotels and resorts.

Instagram Announces IGTV

Instagram just launched IGTV, a YouTube-esque platform that allows users to create and share videos up to an hour long. IGTV can be accessed through Instagram, but is also available as a standalone app.

Image source: TechCrunch

IGTV will curate relevant videos for each individual user, including videos from those they follow, and show them that content in their feed.

What This Means for Hotels – IGTV Video Marketing Helps Hotels

Video marketing is huge for the hospitality industry and now you can tap into your Instagram user base and go beyond the short video limitations. You can show extended videos that feature your hotel’s amenities, on-site activities, meeting rooms, and more.

Instagram Shares Algorithm Insights

Last week, Instagram opened up, sharing specific insight on how its feed algorithm works. We now know that the following factors most heavily determine what users see in their feeds:

●    Expected interest determined by past behavior on similar content

●    The recency of the post, with newer posts getting priority

●    How much they’ve interacted with the person posting

None of these factors are surprising, and there are three more factors that can contribute somewhat to feed placement. They also revealed that while they don’t penalize brands for posting “too frequently,” if you share several posts in short succession, you’ll likely only have one or two show up towards the top of your followers’ feeds.

What This Means for Hotels – Driving Hotel Engagement with Instagram

Focus on driving engagement on Instagram, as this will help you perform better on the algorithm. Pictures and videos of the stunning views and exciting events will be sure to get plenty of likes and comments. You’ll also want to make sure you space out content enough that you aren’t necessarily competing against yourself for those spots in guests’ feeds.

Instagram Releases @mention Sharing for Stories

Now, when someone tags your property’s profile in a Story using the @mention sticker, you have the option to add that content to your own Story. The original story will appear as a sticker on yours, which you can rotate, resize, or add to it as you see fit.

Image source: Instagram

What This Means for Hotels – Hotel User Generated Content

User Generated Content (UGC) from guests is exceptionally powerful, and this is one of the best ways to showcase it. Plenty of guests share Stories during their stay with you, but since it disappears after 24 hours, this effect was limited and short-lived.

To get the most out of your guests UGC featuring your hotel, share it to your Story and then add it to a Story Highlight dedicated purely to UGC from guest visits.

Facebook Experiments with A/B Testing for Organic Posts

Facebook is currently experimenting with the ability for Pages to run A/B testing with organic posts. Admins will be able to post two versions of a post and show them to two different sets of audience members to see how each performs.

What This Means for Hotels – A/B Testing for Hotels

A/B testing is important, and it lets us better evaluate what content our guests most want to see. Being able to see what types of posts drive the most site clicks, messages with inquiries, and bookings will be invaluable to improving the effectiveness of your campaigns. A/B testing, after all, will give you more insight than just general analytics because you can see how subtle changes can make substantial differences.

Facebook Enforces New Custom Audience Requirements

Starting July 2nd, advertisers will need to specify how they got the information of their custom audiences when uploading lists of guest files. You can say that you got the information directly from customers, directly from partners, or a combination of the two.

Image source: Facebook

You’ll also need to set up partnerships and agree to share customer files in Business Manager if you’re sharing information with another business.

What This Means for Hotels – Facebook Audience Requirements for Hotels

In reality, the first part of this new change won’t affect most hotels and resorts much. You’ll just need to specify how you got your guest information, and if you got it when they booked, “directly from customer” is all you need.

Hotels and resorts using services from agencies like Lodging Interactive would need to set up this partnership so that we could run their ad campaigns for them. This is easy, however, and only needs to be done once.

Facebook is Monetizing The Marketplace with Ads

Facebook has officially monetized the Marketplace, allowing some advertisers to place ads within the Marketplace feeds. Optional objectives include conversions, video views, reach, traffic, and product catalogue. This feature will be rolling out to advertisers targeting audiences in the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

June 12, 2018 – Hospitality Social Media News

Hospitality Social Media News

 

 

 

 

June 12, 2018 Issue

Latest Updates – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Yelp

 

A lot of social media changes have happened in the past two weeks, giving us features ranging from Instagram Ad updates to new ways to connect with guests on Yelp. This edition of our biweekly newsletter takes an in-depth look at all of them and how they will affect your hotels and resorts moving forward. Let’s get started.

Organic Instagram Posts Can Be Made Into Ads

Previously, Instagram’s organic posts could only be promoted through an ad system if they were boosted natively on-platform. Now, you can turn single image and single video organic Instagram posts into actual ads through Power Editor and the Ads Manager.

These ads will give you more objectives, better targeting, and more bidding options than boosted posts did. If you’re worried about all the engagement disappearing, that shouldn’t be a concern; all likes and comments will be aggregated on the original organic content.

What This Means for Hotels

Hotels and resorts can use this new feature to gain a large amount of engagement in likes and comments on their organic content very quickly, in addition to building brand awareness and encouraging more bookings. Since Instagram has recently rolled out the new CTA buttons that allow for reservations to made, making your content look as good as possible with likes and comments could help get you more bookings.

Facebook Stories Get Instagram-Style Polling 

Instagram Stories polls have been a great way to drive engagement and get feedback from followers. Now these polls are now coming to Facebook. Poll stickers will let you ask a question and fill in two potential answers.

Image source: Facebook

What This Means for Hotels

Facebook users haven’t engaged with Stories as often as they do with Instagram’s counterpart, but that may change thanks to the increasingly engaging features being added to the platform. People love to share their opinions, so now would be a great opportunity to ask guests that they think about a vacation at your resort. Some questions you could ask include:

  • “What’s your favorite part of your stay? Spa or Restaurants?”
  • “Which would you choose: Pool view or Ocean view?”
  • “Favorite resort activity: Snowboarding or Skiing?”

Facebook Events Testing New Ticketing Feature

Facebook is currently testing new functionality for their Events feature, including new ticketing and messaging options. The ticketing feature will allow businesses to offer two purchasing options, including through the site or ad the event, or to request/purchase tickets through Messenger.

What This Means for Hotels

If your resort hosts any kind of event or conference and sells the tickets directly, this could help you boost attendance by offering more convenient ways to purchase tickets and the ability to answer questions quickly.

Facebook Tests Review Scores on Business Pages

The traditional ratings system on Facebook utilizes a 5-star scale. The platform is currently testing a new review system that factors in ratings, user reviews, and the recommendations people share on platform. Instead of five stars, the new system gives you a score out of ten.

Image Source: Social Media Examiner

What This Means for Hotels 

Reviews from guests are always important, and that’s still true. If you only have a few ratings and some other feedback on-site (or a single negative rating and plenty of positive general feedback on the platform), check and see if this new system works for you. Right now some Pages have the option to choose one over the other, though that may not be the case forever. Take advantage of that while you can, and use the system that helps you promote your hotel most effectively.

Pinterest Tests Screen-Wide Video Ads 

Pinterest is currently testing a new promoted video format that will take up the full width of a mobile screen. It’s only being tested by a few big name companies like Kohl’s, American Express, and Tropicana, but hopefully we’ll see more from this soon.

What This Means for Hotels

Full-screen video ads will ensure that you have a user’s full attention, making it easier to accomplish higher video completion rates from users and making your ad more impactful.

Once available, you can showcase the stunning views around your hotel and resort. When possible, use text to explain what users are seeing if you want to get the most clicks (and bookings!). Remember that Pinterest is used to make buying decisions, so once this ad format is available, take advantage of that to put a full-screen ad in front of users doing research for their next vacation or event.

Yelp Rolls Out Collections

Yelp has just rolled out a new feature called Collections, which provides users with personalized, “hand-picked” recommendations based on their Yelp activity. The Collections will be made up of recommendations from friends and top-rated recommendations from the Yelp community in general. New recommendations are provided weekly, and users can create their own Collections of favorite brands, stores, and (of course) hotels. 

What This Means for Hotels  

We don’t know a ton yet about how exactly to be featured in a Collection by Yelp, but this is a feature that we’ll keep an eye on as personalized suggestions containing your resort could be a goldmine.

In general, encourage users to leave reviews on the platform with follow-up emails after their stay, or mention it during checkout. Yelp is already partially a numbers game as it is, so getting more reviews could only help you if you want to be featured in Collections moving forward, too.

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Hospitality Social Media Marketing News – May 16, 2018

Social media normally evolves quickly, but the past few weeks have been a flurry of new updates that seem to be coming at us faster than ever. In this bi-weekly edition of our newsletter, we’ve got big updates from Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Keep reading to see how they affect you and your hotel.

Facebook Rolls Out New Analytics App

Facebooks has recently made some big additions to their analytics suite. The first of these changes is a new analytics mobile app that allows admins to review metrics and insights on the go. They’ve also added a new featured called Journeys, which provides anonymous omni-channel data reporting that helps you evaluate the relationships users have with your business before they purchase. This ties in with their new feature that automatically detects sales funnels and common paths to conversions.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

More data is always good. Being able to access insights on the go is always convenient, but being able to get a better understanding of how guests interact with us online (and not just on Facebook) before they convert and book reservations is incredible. We can see which offers and packages are most effective at increasing bookings, and how more of our guests are interacting with us.

Facebook Announced New Integrations for Workplace

Increasing numbers of hotels and resorts are testing out Facebook’s Workplace to create a cohesive, online work environment. Facebook has sweetened the deal even more, announcing a large number of new integrations for Workplace. These integrations include many of the world’s leading enterprise cloud services, including Hubspot, Hootsuite, Zoom, and SurveyMonkey. Facebook has also improved extension sharing and search features for Workplace.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

For hotels and resorts using Workspace for their teams, this will improve functionality on the platform. Being able to integrate with third party cloud services and more easily share extensions with your staff will streamline the process and make online teamwork a little more efficient.

Facebook Refines Targeting Policies & Exclusion Targeting

In attempt to keep their ad services in good standing, Facebook has announced that they have removed thousands of exclusion targeting categories from the ad system. Advertisers use exclusion targeting to eliminate irrelevant audience members from seeing an ad, ensuring it was seen by the right people instead. While there are plenty of legitimate uses for this feature, Facebook was worried about abuse.

Image source: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/reviewing-targeting-to-ensure-advertising-is-safe-and-civil

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

There are still some exclusion targeting categories available, so your marketing strategies haven’t been thrown out the door if you use this on your ad campaigns. Facebook supposedly focused on removing topics that related to sensitive or personal attributes like religion, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity. You’ll still be able to exclude users who are already connected to your Page if you want to target new users only.

Facebook Reopens App Reviews

In our last newsletter, we shared an update that Facebook was pausing app reviews while they sorted through privacy issues. We’re happy to announce that Facebook has reopened the review process.

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

If you have an app for your hotel or resort and are trying to get it approved, reviews are now open, making it possible. If you were waiting to submit until after the pause was over, now is your chance.

Instagarm Updates Stories & Posting Functionality  

Stories is an exceptionally popular on feature on Instagram, and now we have new functionality when using it to market to potential guests. It’s now possible to upload multiple photos and videos to a story at once, saving you a significant amount of time.

They’ve also improved location tagging, with Stories automatically suggestions location stickers based on where the photo or video was taken.

These new features are currently available on Android devices and will be rolling out to iOS in the following weeks.

Image source: https://instagram-press.com/blog/2018/04/24/improvements-to-stories-uploads/

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

Since third party posting tools can’t post to Stories but it’s an essential marketing tool, being able to upload more content at once will save hotels significant amounts of time without sacrificing any of the benefits. Even more importantly, location stickers being suggested to guests can increase the number of user-generated content posts your resort gets, as users may be more likely to tag you if the platform does it for them.

Pinterest Releases New Business Profiles & Insights

Pinterest has revamped the appearance of business profiles, which features a dynamic cover image that lets you showcase certain boards or recent activity. In addition to the new sleek, modern look, we’re also getting more insights that include the number of users who saw your pins within 30 days.

Image source: https://business.pinterest.com/en/blog/new-profile-new-insights-new-ways-to-get-discovered

What This Means for Hotels & Resorts

The new look of the Pinterest business profiles is already a plus, but the rest of the updates are what will affect hotels and resorts most. Choose your dynamic cover image carefully; instead of highlighting recent activity, use it to share boards of your most popular destinations or spa packages to give them maximum visibility. And as the new insights feature rolls out fully, you can use it to evaluate how your audience is responding to your pins.

Messaging Apps as Ubiquitous as Booking Engines for Hotel Websites

Live chat for hotels.

Technology has made us more dependent on its abilities to plan better vacations and business trips. In recent times hotel websites have come a long way from simply being online static e-brochures to becoming more experiential. Online hotel website experiences sell rooms and create loyal guests. Yet, for the majority of hotel websites, the experience remains mediocre and “ok” at best. Think about it, when you visit a hotel website you are basically on your own without any human connections or the ability to engage and ask questions that you are sure to have when you consider booking a hotel online. Why is that? It’s 2018 after all, so it can’t be a technology issue or is it?

 

Personal technologies over the last 10 years have changed our lives and the world we live in. When you consider how far we have come and how comfortable we have become in being interconnected through mobile devices, it’s no wonder that we crave immediate responses to our hotel questions. And mobile technology is the enabler as nearly every human on the planet carries computing power that can fit in one hand what once took large data centers, and millions of dollars, to equal the same power. Do you realize that Apple’s iPad was introduced to the world only 8 years ago? That Uber launched in 2009 and Snapchat was launched in 2011?

 

There is no turning back, we are all online and we are all connected. As a result, we have the ability and, many times, we demand immediate gratification. This is where I believe most hoteliers are missing tremendous opportunities to book more business and build loyalty. By leveraging the power of website live chat and guest messaging, hoteliers can really gain market share. We constantly read about hoteliers wanting to drive more direct business to their websites with the intent of lowering their OTA and third party booking costs.

 

Website live chat has been around for many years and, as consumers, we have become comfortable when a live chat window pops up while we’re shopping for a pair of shoes online. After all we can decide to engage, or not, and we control the conversation. Live chat agents are not applying hard sales tactics, they are supporting us as we navigate through the online purchasing process.

 

Let’s not forget that the hospitality industry is all about being hospitable and providing service to guests when they are in-house but in my experience, hospitality and service needs to start on the hotel’s website before a potential guest books a room. This is where live chat engagement can make a huge difference. Live chat leverages the same technologies we have all become so dependent upon and it provides that immediate guest gratification we want while supporting the online sales process.

 

The smart hoteliers understand that the overall hotel guest experience begins at the website level when the guest first experiences the hotel. This is evidenced by the abundance of personalization technologies promising to deliver a “unique experience” for every website visitor. Yet most hotel websites are cold and impersonal. They provide the potential guest with a self-service browsing environment and the only option is to figure it out for themselves. Why? It doesn’t have to be this way when the technology is here today and with zero learning curve from the consumer’s perspective. Clearly every hotelier I speak to about online customer service agrees that having a live chat channel available on their website makes perfect sense. I have yet to come across any hotelier who disagrees.

 

The clear recurring comment I receive from hoteliers is that budgets and appropriate staffing is the issue preventing their website from becoming more useful to visitors and more effective at driving direct business: Two things they most desperately want by the way. While I agree that on-property staffing specifically for website live chat doesn’t make sense for the majority of properties, all properties can benefit from partnering with a company that provides fully managed live chat services for hotels. Our agency provides USA based fully managed live chat services to hotels, 7 days a week year-round. And while other agencies provide similar services, hoteliers should keep in mind that quality really matters with live chat. The worst possible situation that can happen is for a hotel to partner with a live chat service overseas who has live chat agents that don’t have a good understanding of “American” English and its nuances.

 

I’m a firm believer that just as hotels post telephone numbers on their websites, so too will live chat widgets become as ubiquitous as booking engines have become. Staffing issues aside, there is no downside when you’re trying to help your potential customers do business with you.

 

Messaging services are also becoming increasingly widespread within the hospitality industry. Much of this has to do with the amount of venture capital chasing new technology platforms in an attempt to disrupt the hospitality market. Live chat has not experienced the same level of fervor due to live chat technologies not being the shiny new technology du jour. After all live chat has been in existence for over a decade in other industries.

 

I believe messaging platforms work well at the property. It makes perfect sense to provide streamlined communications for in-house guests. While it is easy for a guest to pick up the phone in their room to request more towels be sent up to their room, it is not always the case where the hotel answers the phone fast enough. We’ve all be there I’m sure, calling the front desk or operator during check in and check out time only to have the phone ring 15 to 20 times before we hang up in frustration. On site guest messaging certainly helps with this, but only if the hotel staff…yes a human is on the other end ready, willing and able to respond in a timely manner. Perhaps when it all plays out with on-property messaging, the same “staffing” issue will become evident. Only time will tell on this one.

 

While I’m on the topic of having “humans” on the other end of live chat and messaging technology platforms, lets discuss the chatbot and its relevance for the hospitality industry. Going back to the beginning of this article, we’re in the hospitality business and in a business where customer service always wins. All the technology in the world won’t help your hotel if you are not able to meet or exceed customer service expectations.

 

Having engaged with (uhm, tested) many chatbots I can say that I’m not very impressed with the level of understanding they have or the engagement opportunities they offer. Going beyond asking a chatbot “what time is check in” or “does your hotel have onsite parking”, chatbots are useless other than to aggravate customers and potentially hurt business opportunities for a property. I believe chatbots for the hospitality industry is simply not ready for prime time. Why would any hotelier risk his property’s reputation and customer service to a chatbot who can’t complete the conversation with a human? Smart hoteliers will want to wait until the artificial intelligence technology improves, which experts say is 10 years away. Customer service and building guest loyalty is so important and still requires humans after all.

 

Oh, one more thing. The genie is out of the bottle and there is no turning back for hotels when it comes to providing website visitors with live chat engagement services. Research confirms this.

 

Live chat is the natural way we, as consumers, have been conditioned to interact online. The successful hotelier is the one who understands this and uses live chat as a true differentiator for his or her property. Our own research indicates that less than 5% of hotel websites in North America offer live chat and real time human engagement services. This presents a huge business opportunity for the smart hotelier.

 

Hospitality Social Media News Issue – Facebook Chat Bots

Typically when it comes to social media updates, Facebook is leading the charge with the most significant changes and the largest number of them. When our last newsletter ran, Facebook was busy tackling the privacy debacle they’re now in. At the end of the day, we firmly believe Facebook remains key to any hotel’s social media and engagememnt strategy.

Here are the social media updates that have happened in the last two weeks and how they will affect those in the hospitality industry.

Facebook Pauses Chatbot & App Review

It’s no secret that we’re not a fan of chatbots here at CoMMingle, and this is an enormous development even if it is just for a little while. Facebook has temporarily paused the chatbot and app review system, preventing pending chatbots new apps from getting approved and running. If yours is already up and running, it will continue to function.

What This Means for Hotels

If your chatbot is already functional (as functional as chatbots can be, anyway), you should be in the clear. If you’ve been considering chatbots or rely heavily on them, however, take a look at hiring a live chat service like CoMMingle to handle your private messages for you. You’ll be able to provide better customer service to your guests and you won’t be susceptible to chatbot shutdowns.

Facebook Restricts Questionable Ad Targeting

This likely is a result of the backlash of all the talk and concern about privacy and data breaches on Facebook. They’ve recently announced that they’re cracking down on several things related to ad targeting. The highlights of this are:

  • Enforcing the rules against creating and using custom audiences from emails without users’ consent. According to TechCrunch, this includes the inability to share custom audiences across multiple linked ad accounts.
  • Shutting down partner categories for ad targeting, which enabled third-party data providers to offer ad targeting information to businesses.

What This Means for Hotels

Most hotels and resorts won’t be directly affected by this as long as they’re already following Facebook’s guidelines. The exception is hotel branded properties or resorts with multiple Pages (like a Hilton Orlando and a Hilton Denver), which may have been using the same custom audiences for multiple campaigns. If you’ve been utilizing these strategies, adapt and make sure that you can prove you have customer consent to keep your ad account in good standing.

Facebook Improves Split Testing on Ads

Split testing is an important part of any ad campaign. It allows you to see what’s working and optimize your campaigns for maximized results and profit. Facebook just released a new Quick Creation Flow to improve split testing and make it easier and faster. It will allow you to create multiple creative variables for each main campaign, speeding up the process significantly.

What This Means for Hotels

Split testing will help you better evaluate what creatives are working best for your hotel. You can test different offers for different audiences, like featuring different services in your wedding package when targeting brides or different excursions your resort offers. This will speed up ad creation on a massive scale, too, making it much more simple to run and test larger number of ads for your resort.

 Snapchat

Tagging in Snapchat Stories Now Available

According to engadget, you can now tag other users in Snapchat Stories in their new Mentions feature. This is groundbreaking as far as Stories across all platforms go, with neither Facebook or Instagram offering this feature yet. To tag users, just type in the @ while creating your story, followed by their username. Viewers watching your Story can swipe up to see the tagged account’s public Stories or see their profile. This should be coming in the next few weeks.

What This Means for Hotels

This feature is a big one for hotels and resorts. By asking users to tag you in their Stories, you’ll be able to find more user-generated content and guest reviews that you can ask to feature on your profile. If users swipe on one of these Stories, they can also see all the public Stories from your hotel and resort, too. This is a great way to get more visibility and increase word-of-mouth marketing for hotels in a way that users will find appealing.

Facbook Messenger

Facebook Opens Up 360 Video in Messenger  

Facebook’s incredible 360 degree photos and HD quality videos can now be sent through the Messenger platform. This can be used to share specific high-performing content with individual users as appropriate, making Messenger a more visual platform.

What This Means for Hotels

There’s a lot of incredible use cases of 360 photos and high quality videos, but hotels and resorts can best take advantage of them by showcasing full, dynamic views of their properties, activities, and individual rooms. Imagine having a guest ask a question about a specific room type and being able to send them a 360 degree photo of the exact room in question. This could help answer guest questions quickly and increase bookings.

Pinterest

Pinterest Adds a New Following Tab  

Followers now mean more than ever before on Pinterest thanks to their new Following Tab. Users can click on this tab to see all of the latest pins (in chronological order) from the people they follow. This will help people see more content from those they want to see it from, and it makes followers more valuable because they’re more likely to see more of your content.

What This Means for Hotels

It has previously been difficult to get your pins noticed, even with a large follower count. This new feature allows you to turn pins into something resembling more of an Instagram feed for your followers. Hotels and resorts should find the best times to post online to appear at the top of the feeds. This will likely vary for each individual business, but take time zone of your guest’s home locations into consideration in addition to the time zone where you reside.

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Hospitality Social Media News is brought to you by Lodging Interactive, 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. For more information: Telephone: 877-291-4411, Email: info@lodginginteractive.com

Hospitality Social Media Marketing News – April 4, 2018 Issue

It’s just been two weeks since we sent our last social media update newsletter, and so much has already changed. Keep reading to see what these changes mean for hotels and resorts in the hospitality industry, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for biweekly updates moving forward! We don’t want you to miss a single thing that could improve your hotel’s social performance, so we’ll be compiling bi-weekly lists of the most important changes happening on social media and how it will affect the hospitality industry.

InstagramNew Working Hashtags & Account Links in Bios

Instagram just released a new feature that allows users to attach links and actual, working hashtags to your profile. Many hotels will feature their branded hashtag in their profile, and now this will allow you to make that hashtag clickable.When it comes to the account links, you’ll be able to put links to other Instagram accounts in your resort’s bio. This includes linking to your hotel or resort’s other Instagram accounts.

How Hotels Should Use This Feature

There’s two parts to this new update, and we’re going to break down what both mean for hotels and resorts.

Being able to add an actual, clickable hashtag to your profile is a big deal, especially if your resort gets a lot of user-generated content. Imagine having a potential guest click on that hashtag and see not only posts that you’ve shared, but pictures of and videos of smiling guests enjoying splashing around in your oversized pool or raving about their spa weekend. This is immensely more persuasive what even the most talented strategists could create on their own.

The account links also give hotels and resorts a distinct edge. Now, you can send users to other sister resorts and hotels if applicable. If your resort has separate accounts for your restaurant, spa, and/or wedding venue, this feature also gives you an excellent opportunity to promote those from your main profile, too. This will boost followers across the board on all accounts, and make your marketing seem a little more seamless.

Instagram screenshot

Instagram’s Updated Algorithm

A good while back, Instagram caused a Facebook-eque when they announced that they would be rearranging the newsfeed. Since then, users are shown content that’s deemed to be most relevant to them, and it’s no longer in chronological order. Instagram will be changing this back to the way it was, focusing on newer posts.

What This Means for Hotels

This is good news for hotels and resorts building up their following and engagement, as you’ll no longer get dinged by the algorithms. Make sure to find your peak posting times when your users are most likely to be online so you can post accordingly and get better results. In the meantime, post plenty of Stories, which last 24 hours.

SnapchatSnapchat’s Map Explore

In our last newsletter, we talked about how Snap Map was expanding. Now, the Snap Map Explore feature lets users better see what’s going on around them by seeing where their friends are on the map. According to engadget, users will be able to see updates from their friends who have chosen to share their locations.

What This Means for Hotels

If your target audience is active on Snapchat, this could be a big advantage for you. Imagine having users sharing stories and locations while they’re relaxing in the cabana or enjoying dinner in the resort. People at large conferences could be inspired to meet up with other attendees, for example, giving you a few extra heads during the dinner rush.

Twitter

Twitter’s Verification Will Soon Be More Widespread

Twitter is currently working on finding a way to scale that much-coveted blue checkmark, making verification more available to more users. Their verification system was originally created to help celebrities and influencers verify their identity and protect them from potential imposters or spammers. According to Business Insider, plan is to allow all users to access this feature to prove they are, indeed, who they say they are.

What This Means for Hotels

Hotels and resorts who are not yet verified will be able to accomplish this much easier, getting a nice boost of credibility along the way. This will help customers feel more confident in who they’re engaging with, increasing the likelihood that they’ll reach out for help if they need it through Twitter’s messaging feature.

Snapchat

Snapchat’s Location Data

Snapchat historically hasn’t done so well with providing businesses data about how users are interacting with their content, especially when compared to Facebook. They’re trying to compensate for that with their new location data, where they’ll offer brands free statistics about how many users are visiting their locations.

According to AdWeek, the platform will soon be telling brands how many visitors came to their store, and how many came back at a later date. The data may even include information about demographics or users’ interests.

What This Means for Hotels

Hotels and resorts are inherently location-based, and this update shows that Snapchat may be trying to take center stage as a location-based platform. This information, combined with a unique and highly engaged demographic that uses on Snapchat, could be an enormous advantage for those in the hospitality industry, especially if you want to learn more about your audience for future marketing campaigns.

Snapchat screenshot

Hospitality Social Media News is brought to you by Lodging Interactive, 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. For more information:Telephone: 877-291-4411Email: info@lodginginteractive.com

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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.

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.