Lodging Interactive Launches End of Summer Website Sale

Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced its End of Summer website sale program. Through the program Lodging Interactive will credit full service customers for the cost of developing their new website, essentially providing customers with a free website.

 

“Hoteliers realize that ongoing budgeting and investment is required in order to keep their websites competitive and with End of Summer website sale program they can be assured they have a budget for future website enhancements and development,” said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder and President.  “Every new full-service customer will receive a credit for every dollar spent on their new website which can be used to further enhance and update their website in the future.”

 

To be eligible for the website credit, new hotel customers must enter into a full-service agreement with Lodging Interactive before November 1, 2017.  For example, if a hotel spends $15,000 on a new website, Lodging Interactive will provide a $15,000 credit to be used for future website enhancements or a website redesign.

 

For more information on Lodging Interactive’s End of Summer website sale program please visit LodgingInteractive.com or call 877-291-4411 Ext 701.

 

Contact
DJ Vallauri
President & Founder
Phone: 877-291-4411
Fax: 877-833-7375

What Motivates Travelers to Create and Share Content?

Summer is synonymous with vacation. What better way to create memories of that vacation than to document it with photos, videos and commentaries that are shared with friends and family? This begs the question: What gives the vacationer the motivation to go one step further and share their content online via social networks?

sharing content

Images and chatter are about sharing moments in time: Experiencing life and all it has to offer. To capitalize on these moments, hotels need to first understand the different motivators within each stage of the traveler’s journey so that they capture – and hold – the traveler’s attention in all steps of their decision-making process.

Social relationships can be complex but at the heart is the desire to gain information from peers who have previously experienced the resort, hotel, vacation spot, or activity.  People tend to associate more closely with others who they perceive to be similar to them. They’re perceived as more credible, influential and reliable. A sort of word-of-mouth solicitation that hotel’s can use to their advantage.

5 Stages of the Guest Journey 

There are five stages in the guest journey. Within all stages people will look to others who have already joined in on a unique activity or visited that location on an off-beaten path, that hotel with great service, that local restaurant with delicious food.

  1. Inspiration: This first stage is the desire for the traveler to fulfill wants and needs for fun, relaxation and/or adventure so your hotel should be searchable.
  2. Planning: This is the stage when the traveler begins searching out possible destinations, hotels, transportation etc. in consideration for a booking. Your hotel needs to tap into this stage by offering the most relevant information to capture the traveler’s attention.
  3. Booking: It’s in this third stage that the traveler finalizes plans based on the search for information including shared content from other travelers who have “been there, done that”.
  4. Experience: In this stage the traveler takes in the best of destination, hotel and local area offerings.
  5. Sharing: At this point the traveler is now the “expert” and shares their experiences and spreads the word about the location, hotel stay etc. with friends, family and through online social channels.

Travelers Motivation for Sharing Content Online Via Social

In the sharing stage of the guest journey, travel photos not only provide personal messages about experiences, but also show brand affinity and can influence others on the same social networks. So the next traveler looking for that unique spot or get-away will look to the shared content that can influence their booking decision.

Olapic , together with Kantar Added Value, analyzed more than 2, 000 social travel images in an effort to determine what motivates people to share travel content online. The data points to what makes the traveler want to share experiences. 38% showed they want to share what they believe to be a unique experience. 23% wanted to share their moments of how to unwind and relax. 21% are excellent quality images that are very engaging. 18% just like to share their entertaining, fun experiences.

The most shared images were famous landmarks, cities or big events (54%); urban, off the beaten path images (44%); parks, mountains or forests (40%); and ocean, pool or blue skies (34%).  These were followed by images of Mother Nature, posing with friends and dining-shopping-eating like a local.

Through images there is a social sharing of the emotion experienced. Hotels want to get travelers to convert in any one of the guest journey stages. So these shared moments in any one of the traveler’s journey becomes a hotel’s opportunity to drive engagement, gain loyalty and earn a stronger ROI. What is your strategy to engage guests from inspiration to post stay?

 

The Rise of Messaging Apps for Hotels

Messaging apps are changing the way people communicate and, as messaging companies like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat build out their services, there are greater opportunities to reach out to guests by connecting hotels with users.

messaging apps

Gartner recently conducted a mobile apps survey showing that the number of people using messaging apps is steadily growing. Some interesting finds from their survey include:

 

  • People are looking for an app that has many services without the user having to leave the app. The main reason is that people are searching for a more engaging experience.
  • Businesses and app providers need to enhance their services by developing more engaging strategies for messaging and personal assistant apps.
  • For personal assistant apps, marketers should be looking at what’s needed to create a more friendly search strategy.
  • Social media apps are still the most popular but usage fell behind messaging apps. Messaging, personal assistant and shopping app usage was on the rise because of features like user-generated videos, customer service chats and m-commerce capability.

 

Messaging apps, like social media channels, change as features change and these changes happen quickly. Messaging apps are no longer just on a peer-to-peer level. People are now also using messaging apps to connect with hotels, watch content and browse offers so their adoption into businesses is rapidly growing.

 

Facebook Messenger boasts 1.2 billion monthly active users and its integration with Uber and Lyft shows their plans to move toward broader partnerships. Then there’s WhatsApp with plans to introduce a new commercial messaging platform specifically for businesses. Caesars Entertainment Corporation became the first to use messaging apps in the hospitality industry when they recently debuted WeChat Pay at selected locations and plans to have it roll out to all outlets in Caesars Palace and resorts in 2018.

 

Social media and messaging apps have become an ingrained part of daily hotel business. They have features that are valued by guests and potential guests who are on-the-go for both internal or external communications. With increased messenger app usage, hotels need to consider changing their content marketing strategy to reach out and connect with their guests and potential guests.

 

The projected growth of messaging apps is expected to be 2 billion people using messaging apps by 2018.  Hotels are always looking to see how to reach out to guests in all phases of their travel journey, creating memorable guest experiences and turning satisfied guests into loyal customers. As these messaging apps are expanding their functionality to connect brands with users, it is well worth exploring how they could be incorporated into your hotel marketing plans.

Learn more about Lodging Interactive’s live chat service for hotels.

 

Lodging Interactive Launches Stay.Play.Explore Local Content

Lodging Interactive, an award winning digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively serving the hospitality industry, today announced the launch of its localized Stay.Play.Explore micro website services for hotels. Stay.Play.Explore provides hotels with fully curated local destination content and lifestyle activity based information for hotel guests.

“Hotel websites rarely provide deep localized content to inform and inspire guests when they’re in the travel planning phase,” said DJ Vallauri, Founder & President of Lodging Interactive. “Our Stay.Play.Explore micro websites provide curated local content tailored around things to do near the hotel and differentiates the property against its competitive set. This kind of localized, human curated content helps to drive direct bookings.”

 

Lodging Interactive Stay Play Explore Live Like a Local Marketing Micro Websites

 

Lodging Interactive marketing landing pages for hotels.

 

 

SIMILAR STORIES

 

Stay.Play.Explore adds value to any property seeking to drive more direct bookings and minimize its dependence on OTA’s. By providing deep, local information that is designed to complement the local destination, hotels are playing a more involved role in the guest’s travel planning process. Lodging Interactive copywriters curate and create unique content to appeal to all travel demographics.

“Stay.Play.Explore for branded properties, is the perfect content addition to brand.com property pages,” added Mr. Vallauri. “Providing potential guests with recommended weekend sightseeing itineraries and helpful local hints communicates to all demographics, business travelers, leisure travelers and family vacationers.”

Facebook integration of the Stay.Play.Explore micro website also extends the value to the hotel’s social media network.

 

Lodging Interactive Facebook marketing for hotels.

“Inspiring travelers throughout the travel journey is critical in closing more direct bookings. Anytime you can enable travelers to ‘Live Like a Local’ in a foreign destination, you win,” stated DJ Vallauri.

For more information on how to add Stay.Play.Explore localized content your hotel’s brand.com website pages, visit Lodging Interactive or call 877-291-4411 ext. 704.

Contact
DJ Vallauri
President & Founder
Phone: 877-291-4411
Fax: 877-833-7375

Lower Hotel Guest Satisfaction Associated with Bookings made through OTAs

The 21st annual J.D. Power 2017 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study was just released. The study measures overall hotel guest satisfaction and this year’s study showed that guests are more likely to be less satisfied with their stay when booking through independent travel websites.

 

Here are some key findings of the JD Power 2017 study:

  • OTA vs. Direct Booking: Guests are more likely to experience issues that decrease their satisfaction with their stay when booking through an independent travel website instead of directly with the hotel.
  • Reward Membership: 75% of hotel reward members are more inclined to book directly with a hotel than the 47% that are not members, and guest satisfaction is higher.
  • Mobile Apps and Reservations: The number of online reservations made on mobile devices has risen to 25%, up from 14% in 2014. Of these users, most are in a younger age group or business travelers. 38% of guests who have a hotel’s app on their mobile device don’t use it during their stay. Only 4% use the mobile app at check-in and only 1% at checkout but guests that do use the app show they have a greater satisfaction with their stay.
  • Loyalty: Those guests who use a hotel’s mobile app have a greater satisfaction with their stay and greater loyalty to the hotel.
  • Social Media: 86% of people who experience a problem are very likely to post to social media. Despite this, those who share their experiences via social channels appear to be more satisfied overall.
  • Hotel Reviews: 52% of guests have read a hotel review in the past month and 46% of these guests wrote a review in the past six months. Also, people who read and write reviews are more likely to have higher guest satisfaction.

An increase in mobile usage has caused a growth in mobile app services in hotels. This presents both opportunities & challenges for hoteliers. Major chains like Marriott and Hilton have launched campaigns promoting direct bookings with promises of discounts and perks.  But Phocuswright estimated that OTA’s will have increased their share of online U.S. hotel bookings to 52% by 2020.  With this growth comes the likelihood that guests will finalize their booking through an OTA rather than book direct with a hotel.

 

Bookings through OTAs are notoriously associated with lower guest satisfaction. Over the last 10 years, the CoMMingle division of Lodging Interactive has seen this come to light through our own analytics in reputation management for hotels.

One way to influence your reputation is by incorporating mobile apps into a hotel stay because it is associated with higher guest satisfaction. It makes guests more willing to share their positive hotel experiences on social media.

 

The fact of the matter is that mobile apps have become central to the guest experience. The challenge for hotels to have guests book direct are many but hoteliers can help themselves by creating and strengthening guest relationships and providing great customer service. The best way to combat dissatisfied guests who booked via an online travel site is to be armed with a strong mobile and social media strategy that will provide quick action and resolve issues. To do this, hoteliers will need to seek resources to help them know their rankings on various online sites and social media channels. With these tools in hand a hotel can get enough control over distribution to entice those direct bookings and increase revenue.

Takeaways from Google’s Presentation at 2017 SMX Advanced Seattle

The mecca for search marketers are the SMX conferences where they find sessions and training workshops covering all things SEO and SEM related. At the June 2017 SMX Advanced conference held in Seattle, Google’s presentation did not disappoint search marketing gurus.

 

Google’s Mobile-first Indexgoogle's presentation smx advanced

 

The Google presentation included the latest goings-on regarding their Mobile-first Index. Here are a few important summary points:

  • The switch to Mobile-first Index could take as many as four to five years to completion but is expected to start rolling out in 2018.
  • A responsive website is preferred by Google within their Mobile-first Index. If your website content is only for the desktop, you would still get indexed but how well you get ranked after the Mobile-first complete launch is another story.
  • Google is reconfiguring all their page speed metrics to be Mobile-first so we can expect many updates are forthcoming.
  • Google said that anything longer than a 5 second load time for mobile is too long and you will need to improve site speed to have your website rank well within the new Mobile-first Index.
  • A new mobile testing tool is under consideration that would allow site owners to see what would change on their site once the Mobile-first Index is launched.
  • The Link Graph is not working well for mobile so Google said they continue to work on it to see what they can do to make PageRank effectively work on the Mobile Web.

 

Concentration on a Better User Experience

 

There were some other important takeaways but all of them, in the end, were to benefit the end user with a better experience:

  • At Google’s May 2017 keynote, AI-First was the theme but, at SMX Seattle, there were no plans mentioned for machine learning updates coming any time soon but Google Voice Search Analytics is underway.
  • While there is no exact word count qualifier, websites with word counts of 1536 words or more, rank no.1 and 2 on Google.
  • If you’re in Ecommerce, you need to optimize your conversion process to be 3 clicks or less for a better user experience
  • User engagement is still the measuring stick for Google to see how well their algorithms are performing.
  • Google made a whopping 1,623 algorithmic changes to their index in this past year alone.
  • Well known SEO consultant, David Mihm, said that when many people get the online conversation about you going, it is most favorable for establishing a strong Local Ranking Factor within Google’s local search algorithm.
  • Google has no plans to add a new meta tag (allowing publishers to control whether or not their content would be shown) to Featured Snippets and no plans for Featured Snippet Analytics.
  • Removing old, outdated content that has no traffic might give you a ranking boost. Disney gave a convincing case study to prove this.
  • Google still frowns upon buying links and is going after the big sites selling them such as Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine. They say not to purchase links as it considers the practice of buying links a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
  • Google will not penalize you if you hide content for a better user experience (UX). Examples include the “read more” and “more” links on your site.
  • Google has a clear focus on Progressive Web Apps (PWA) for providing a better user experience.

 

Though Google’s process to Mobile-first Index completion is a complicated one, there is no time like the present to be prepared for the effects it will have on your website rankings.

Hotel Booking Tracking Issues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

User-Generated Content (UGC) Influence on Hotel Bookings

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

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

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

 

Benefits of UGC for Hotels

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Lodging Interactive Offers Free Live Chat Service with Every New Website

 

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

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

SIMILAR STORIES

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

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

CoMMingle Live Chat Advantages

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

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