Independent hotels need leverage to better compete with branded properties, according to the 2013 International Travel Trends survey. The study, which polled more than 1,000 Americans ages 18 years and older, found that "When booking a hotel or resort, Americans like the safety of widely recognized brands when traveling domestically and internationally, over alternative lodging options such as . . . an independent hotel." To begin attracting and engaging with more travelers, Lodging Interactive and its subsidiary CoMMingle have developed a fully-integrated approach to online-marketing for independent hotel operators that levels the playing field and makes them viable contenders.
"Independent hotel operators may think that they can't compete with the big boys because they lack the resources and support system that a franchise provides — but that's a huge misconception," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle provide the same, and in most cases more comprehensive, online marketing services offered by the brands.
"Want to give guests a place to post reviews but don't have the time to manage responses? Looking for an industry-leading booking engine but don't know which to choose? Confused by how to stay on top of the various social media channels? Unsure about your online reputation? These are just a few of the many challenges that our team of experts are tackling everyday for independent operators while providing a big return on their investment," Vallauri said.
Lodging Interactive is an award-winning, interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive is a fully managed social media marketing agency that develops customized solutions for hospitality entities. Together, the companies are providing powerful new ways for hoteliers to interact with their guests and prospects and better grow and manage their use of social media channels.
While the brands may offer a service, such as collecting reviews on each hotel's website, Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle go the extra step by actually managing the review process and informing the hotel when comments are posted that require immediate action. If the independent hotel doesn't have the manpower available to respond in a timely manner, CoMMingle will take on that task on behalf of the hotel and respond immediately and appropriately. Likewise, CoMMingle will monitor the various social media channels to see what is being said — or not said — and can communicate with bloggers, friends and fans on behalf of the independent hotel to maintain a stellar online reputation.
Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle are offering Independent hotel operators the flexibility and affordability to build their own suite of services from the following resources:
• Website design and management
• Social media marketing
• Reputation management
• Guest review system
• Email newsletter marketing
• Video production
• Hotel gift certificates marketing
• Full advertising agency services
• Seamless connectivity to the Global Distribution Systems (GDSs)
• Improved placement with the Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
• Direct Connect, Net Rate and Merchant model programs
• Fully customizable booking engine with easy to use/understand analytics
• Mobile booking engine through smartphones and social media (Facebook)
• Measurement and accountability services
"Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle are bringing all of these resources to the table to enable any hotel to compete aggressively," Vallauri said. "Whether they need one service today or several, our team of experts can assist with any area of online marketing and reservations processing. It's time for independent hotels to get the recognition they deserve as a viable lodging destination. The best way to accomplish this is to have a consistent online presence with a relevant message that is being monitored and managed by true e-marketing experts. With Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle at the helm, problems associated with managing online reviews, giving up inventory to third-party administrators and OTAs, and even issues with impact seem to disappear."