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Is Your Hotel Part of the Social Media Conversation?

Are you participating and/or encouraging conversation on your hotel's social media channels? Is your social media presence consistent? Do you know the right social networks to target for your audience and social search? If you're unsure, it's time to call CoMMingle. An outsourced social media marketing agency from Lodging Interactive, CoMMingle develops customized solutions for hotels, restaurants and spas to help craft their social media marketing messaging to keep travelers thirsting for more informational content . . . more dialog . . . and more fun.

"One of the first questions we get asked at CoMMingle is: What social networks do we need a presence on and how do we market to that audience without overselling ourselves?" said Rosella Virdo, Director of CoMMingle Social Media Marketing. "Creativity, posting content consistently, remaining fluid with the ever changing tides of social media, and having a message that is relative to each audience is the key to engagement and social media success.

"You don't have to win a popularity contest on social media to connect with your past, present and future guests," Virdo said. "Hotels should keep in mind the 'social' aspect of social media. In the last five years, social media has evolved from both the user standpoint as well as the business side. People interact on social networks to be engaging, without being bombarded by marketing and advertising."

The question becomes: “How does a hotel share its offerings, promotions, specials, location, etc. without strong arm marketing?” This is where the softer — or conversational  — side of marketing comes in.

"We are not standing on top of a mountain shouting our message and expect everyone to listen," Virdo said. "Climb down the mountain, mingle with the people and talk. It's simple. Just talk. Now is the time to softly market your property while adding a human voice to the business. These conversations will become an integral part of social search."

CoMMingle serves as a consultant to its customers, advising hotels how to deal with social media, reputation management on review sites, online issues that arise as more social media channels become an extension of customer service, and giving them tools to manage their social presence effectively. For instance, CoMMingle will nip a bad review in the bud by working with hotel management to learn the details of an issue, formulate the response to adhere to third-arty website policies and manage the conversation online for the client. A neglected Tweet can turn into a negative Facebook post and eventually turn into a devastating TripAdvisor review. CoMMingle assists in managing the reputation of the hotel in online conversations and comments, as well as enhancing reputation by addressing issues with the transparency needed on the social networks to remain authentic.

"As CoMMingle clients, hotels are not buying Facebook 'maintenance,' but rather they receive a vast array of social media and reputation management services that can be adjusted to a client's specific needs as well as allow the client to stay visible where the conversation is taking place," Virdo said.

Lodging Interactive More Than Doubles its Growth and Service Offering in 2012

The adage "You can never have too much of a good thing" is ringing true to hundreds of hoteliers worldwide who received extraordinary Internet marketing services from Lodging Interactive and its subsidiary CoMMingle this year. Over the last 12 months, the interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry racked up an unprecedented list of accomplishments. 

"2012 was a very good year for Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle, but it was even more impactful for our customers," said Founder and President DJ Vallauri. "We planned to introduce a few new services and robust business models, but once we got rolling, ideas for even more breakthrough services were proposed. Thanks to the creativity and expertise of the Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle teams, we provided more new services to hotels in 2012 than in the last 10 years combined. From limited-time FREE audits to full-service website design and management, social media marketing, mobile marketing, and measurement and accountability services, 2012 was truly a banner year for Lodging Interactive."

Since 2001, Lodging Interactive has provided hotels, resorts, spas and restaurants in over 35 countries with proven ROI-driven online services, including: website design and development, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and online reputation management. In 2012 alone, the company achieved a 85% increase in growth, a 40% increase in staffing, and more than doubled the number of services it now offers to hotels — some of which are absolutely FREE of charge to its customers.

In 2012, Lodging Interactive earned the following for website design:

• Three Interactive Media Awards™ for Outstanding Achievement in the Hotels/Resorts category for its website design of the Marriott Burlington in Massachusetts, the Denver Renaissance in Colorado and the Doubletree Oak Brook in Illinois by the Interactive Media Council Inc. This was the third consecutive year that Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle was recognized by the IMC for its aptitude in designing, developing, managing, supporting and promoting hotel websites.

• The Silver Magellan Award from Travel Weekly for the Courtyard by Marriott Ft. Lauderdale Beach, Fla.

• Two Web Awards / Hotel and Lodging Standard of Excellence from the Web Marketing Assn. for the Courtyard by Marriott Ft. Lauderdale Beach and the Marriott Burlington in Massachusetts.

• The 2012 Silver Award / Creative Excellence in Hotel and Lodging from the International Academy of the Visual Arts for the Courtyard by Marriott Ft. Lauderdale Beach.

Like its coveted website design service, Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System also was in high demand in 2012. The hotel-based guest comment system enables guests to post comments about their hotel experience and provides hotel management with the ability to respond in real time when reviews are received. The Guest Review System ensures there are no delays in communication, and the appropriate staff can immediately fix any pending problems before the customer leaves the property or has the opportunity to post negative reviews on third-party websites. Additionally, travelers can share their guest reviews on their Facebook wall and to their network of friends.

The success of the Guest Review System spurred Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle to develop and introduced the following new Internet marketing services this year:

• HotelWebShows — A service enabling hotel marketers to add a personal touch to their websites by using crisp HD Video. All video produced through HotelWebShows by Lodging Interactive are 1080i quality and delivered in TV, Web and Mobile formats. Videos are available in 30 second, 60 second and 90 second lengths, and will include music and graphics.

• CoMMingle Social + — A service for hoteliers managing their own Facebook and Twitter accounts but who also want to get involved in the new, emerging social engagement channels such as Google+ Business Page and Pinterest, but do not have the resources in-house to handle it. CoMMingle Social+ adds weekly postings on Facebook and Twitter for hotels that have pages but find it hard to consistently post during the week.

• InnterACT Performance Portal — A website analytics and social service providing real-time website analytics, key performance metrics, and the latest social media monitoring tools. The InnterACT online client portal was made available to existing customers at no cost.

• Hotel Website Solutions — A service offering online marketing services at a low, monthly fee with all upfront costs removed. The service includes website design and management, reputation management, search engine marketing, real-time analytics and accountability, PLUS Lodging Interactive's Content Management System and its coveted Guest Review System.

• Mobile Website Development — A FREE service made available to all new customers contracting full agency services, including website design and development, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and online reputation management. Through this service, hotels received up to 10 static pages of their online website in a mobile format, with an option to purchase more.

To help its customers stay competitive, Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle also offered the following FREE services:

• FREE Website Audit — Determines if a website is performing properly and achieving rankings
• FREE Social Media Analytics Reporting Tool — Delivers weekly analytics about a hotel's activity on the top social media networks, including: Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Google+ and blogs.
• FREE Content Management Systems + FREE Mobile Website.

"To say we were busy in 2012 is an understatement," Vallauri said. "In addition to creating a bevvy of new services to keep our customers performing successfully, we managed to show support to our brand partners and industry associations as well. In 2012, Lodging Interactive became a Best Western Preferred Vendor, and we support the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Assn. International (HSMAI) and the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. We also participated in select industry conferences and events to network with our customers.

"While being visible is important to Lodging Interactive, it's far more important for us to ensure that our customers are visible via the various online and social media channels and that their online reputations are being properly scrutinized and managed," he said. "This new year, those who partner with Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle will be well positioned to socialize and engage with their target audiences. If your hotel needs to be seen in 2013, then it's time to call Lodging Interactive."

Lodging Interactive Offering FREE Social Media Analytics Reporting Tool

According to Social Media Examiner, the world's largest online social media magazine, marketers today are placing high value on social media, with 83 percent rating the network as being important for business. As hoteliers prepare for 2013, it's important to have a solid understanding on the value that social media is bringing to each property and/or brand, and how to measure its return on investment. CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive is offering a FREE social media reporting tool to hoteliers that delivers weekly analytics about a hotel's activity on the top social media networks, including: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and blogs. This offer is made to the first 100 hotel marketers that sign up.

"The importance of building a social media presence is growing across all hotel segments," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Hotels that are active and visible on the social network will certainly have a competitive edge. But how does a hotelier know if his or her social marketing efforts are paying off? How many people are talking about the hotel or promotion on Facebook? What is your weekly total reach? Are fans engaged? Are they talking about your posts? Who are 'they'? Do you know who likes you . . . or dislikes you and how often daily? Do you know the country or city where your fans originate from?  The analytical questions are endless.”

"At Lodging Interactive, we understand how taxing social media tracking can be," Vallauri said. "According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 59% of marketers are using social media for six hours or more each week, and 33% invest 11 or more hours weekly posting and monitoring mentions. However, only 30% of businesses are outsourcing some portion of their social media marketing. That means, many hoteliers are attempting to manage and analyze their social media programs on their own. To aide in their efforts, CoMMingle will provide a weekly analytical report to track performance. Hotel marketers simply need to sign up to start receiving these free reports. There is no log-in required to view the data. It's simple, it's no cost, and it brings all analytics together into one report delivered direct to the hotel." 

Lodging Interactive is an award-winning, interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive is an outsourced social media marketing agency that develops customized solutions for hotels, restaurants and spas. The company works with its customers to grow and better manage their use of social media channels, provide reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization.  
The social media reporting tool being provided by CoMMingle free of charge to hoteliers includes (but is not limited to):

Facebook Management:
• Weekly total reach and the number of people talking
• Total likes, Friends of Fans, People Talking About This During the Past Week, and Weekly Total Reach
• Page Post Report
• Fan Report by Country, City, Language, and Like Sources
• Who was Reached and How
• Who is talking about your page and How they are talking

 Twitter Management:
• Number of tweets
• Number of replies
• Number of retweets
• Number of Followers
• Number of those Following

YouTube:
• Number of video views
• Which video was viewed the most (if hotel has more than one video)

"There is valuable information for everyone through this free reporting tool," Vallauri said. "Social media novices will quickly see if their commitment is paying off (or not paying off). Those more experienced can use the data to develop more comprehensive plans across more channels. The bottom line is, social media is key to increasing online exposure, building traction, driving traffic, developing market intelligence, generating leads, maintaining loyalty, improving search rankings, growing business partnerships, reducing marketing expenses and boosting sales. Hoteliers who may be struggling with analyzing the effectiveness of their social media strategy to reach these goals can rely on CoMMingle to help in a variety of ways. This free report is a good first step."

To sign up for the FREE Social Media Analytical Reporting Tool, click here.

Lodging Interactive Fall Podcast IDs Top 4 Must-Have Digital Marketing Tools for 2013

With Fall now upon us and hoteliers knee-deep in the budget-planning process for 2013, there's no time like the present for hotel owners and managers to focus on their social media marketing initiatives for the coming year. HotelCast 2.0, a free podcast produced by Lodging Interactive, is LIVE and offering up-to-date information on the latest tools and comprehensive strategies needed to implement an effective online marketing plan.

"Making a few postings on your property’s Facebook page or sending out a few tweets is barely scratching the surface of what a successful social media marketing strategy should be," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Social media has become an everyday part of consumers' global travel habits. Hotels that are not fully utilizing its power are missing the boat when it comes to attracting and retaining customers. In just 10 minutes, HotelCast 2.0 will identify how hoteliers can start putting the power of online and social media marketing to work for them. And, if the people or financial resources aren't readily available, we offer a solution for that too."

As part of its Fall podcast, Lodging Interactive identifies four key ingredients to initiating an effective, yet affordable, digital marketing campaign. From refreshing websites and taking a hands-on role in managing guest reviews to mobilizing web content and monitoring social media channels, the podcast lists ways properties can make the 2013 budgeting process a little easier and a lot more effective.

"Social media management and online marketing can be overwhelming for even the most experienced marketer," Vallauri said. "Time and budget constraints are just a small part of the problem. The good news is, Lodging Interactive and our outsourced social media marketing agency, CoMMingle, can help by taking the necessary tasks off hoteliers shoulders. CoMMingle provides website solutions, full guest review management, and complete social media marketing and engagement at a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time social media person."

Click to listen to HotelCast 2.0

A big part of social media marketing for hospitality is managing guest reviews. In HotelCast 2.0, hear what noted travel writer and guide book author Arthur Frommer had to say about online guest reviews. If your hotel hasn't taken the proper steps to manage this controversial  subject, Lodging Interactive has the solution, its Guest Review System and even offers a free trial! HotelCast 2.0 tells listeners how they can manage guest reviews at NO cost, with NO contract to sign, and with NO cancellation restrictions.

Finally, is your hotel taking advantage of the power of QR codes to engage with new and existing customer? HotelCast 2.0 identifies how businesses are using these little boxes of code to open up a plethora of social media marketing opportunities. With consumers scanning QR codes 5.3 million times in the month of June alone, there's no time to waste with getting on board.

Lodging Interactive’s Top 5 Budget Items for 2013

As the dreaded budget season draws near, hoteliers need to place a more strategic focus on digital marketing for 2013, especially when it comes to their social, local and mobile marketing efforts. Lodging Interactive and its subsidiary CoMMingle have identified five digital marketing must-haves to add to the budget in order to remain competitive in 2013, especially today's price-conscious mid-size and independent properties.

Lodging Interactive is an award-winning, interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive is an outsourced social media marketing agency that develops customized solutions for hospitality entities. Together, the companies have identified the following top five ways for hoteliers to interact with their guests and prospects and better grow and manage their use of online marketing and social media channels for 2013 and beyond:

1. Keep Your Hotel’s Website "Fresh":  Just because a hotel updates or makes corrections to its webpage doesn't automatically make it "fresh." Hotels need to continually add new photos to make the website more visually appealing. New content also needs to continually be added, such as press releases and blogs that also can be linked to the various social media channels to ensure more chatter and visibility. Finally, there needs to be accountability to ensure that the web page is meeting goals and reaching its attended audience.

All these things can be accomplished easily and affordably in 2013 via Lodging Interactive's Hotel Website Solutions program. By adopting Hotel Website Solutions, hoteliers can refresh their web site every two years, at no additional cost. Included in the package is:

• RFPLink group lead capture and reporting
• Online analytical reporting
• Homepage call-to-action tile images
• Website Hosting and Server Management
• Robust Content Management, and
• Guest Review System at no additional cost.

2. Take Control Of Your Hotel’s Guest Reviews: It's a known fact that hotels are dependent on reviews and that travelers will seek online reviews just prior to making their online reservations. Knowing if a review is legitimate is confusing for travelers, but knowing how to best manage guest reviews is even more perplexing for managers. Lodging Interactive has designed a way to simplify the guest review process. The company's Guest Review System offers a turn-key system that enables a hotel's proprietary website with the ability for travelers to post reviews and score their hotel experiences based on service attributes. Hotel managers receive real-time alerts advising when pending guest reviews pop up, eliminating delays in addressing concerns and turning potential problems into new opportunities.

In addition, Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System keeps guests on the hotel's website and turns lookers into bookers at higher hotel rates when compared to the OTA’s. Hotels risk losing website visitors if those potential bookers are forced to leave the website in search of guest reviews on third party websites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia or Hotels.com that sell rooms purchased from hotels on a net rate model. Once gone, they may never come back.

All that is required for a hotel to get up-and-running is a snippet of code inserted on the hotel's Website. Once initiated, managers can immediately begin collecting real-time reviews on their own websites and respond to customer concerns in real time. This empowers hoteliers to interact personally with their most valued direct customers. When guests take the time to post their experiences, their time, effort and patronage should be recognized and rewarded with an immediate reply. The Guest Review System alerts management in real time when reviews are posted. This ensures that there are no delays in communication, and the appropriate staff can immediately fix any pending problems before the customer leaves the property.

3. Mobile Marketing: Industry analysts predict that the mobile web will be more far reaching than desktop Internet use by 2015. Therefore there's no time like the present to jump on the mobile bandwagon and start reaching mobile savvy travelers via the channels and devices they depend on daily. With a mobile website, hotels can offer mobile users a dynamic and streamlined user experience regardless of mobile device.

Lodging Interactive provides FREE Mobile Website Development to all new customers contracting full agency services. Any hotel company partnering with Lodging Interactive for website design and development, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and online reputation management will receive a complimentary mobile webiste. Mobile pages can detail the property, including description of rooms, amenities, premise, packages, restaurants, spas, recreation facilities, loyalty programs and online reservations. Additional features may include mapping and directions, click-to-call functionality, photo gallery, embedded video capability, convention and/or meeting listings, social media links, guest reviews and more. Mobile website management and hosting also is provided by Lodging Interactive.

4. Social Media Monitoring & Management: Today hoteliers are getting comfortable with social media giants Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and You Tube. But new sites are emerging, such as Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Wikipedia to name just a few that are making an equally big online marketing impact. It's critical that hotels are covered across all social media channels in order to be effective. The problem is finding the internal resources to manage social networks and establishing effective social media marketing campaigns. CoMMingle will assist hotels in engaging online with social media strategic planning, growing and managing social media channels, word-of-mouth marketing and experiential marketing, reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization.

Hotels that can't afford to have an internal, full-time social media watch dog can now cost-effectively budget the services of Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle in 2013 to become the eyes and ears of the hotel, monitoring conversations and posting replies if desired. CoMMingle will work with hotels to initially establish, then manage on an ongoing basis, the following social networks & engagement channels:

• Google+ Business Page – CoMMingle will set up the page if needed and maintain weekly postings on the page. 
• Pinterest – CoMMingle will create a Pinterest hotel account, relevant pin boards, and then pin images weekly to the boards. CoMMingle will also monitor and engage with consumers as needed.
• Facebook – CoMMingle will create additional apps for the property, above and beyond what is presently being managed by the hotel.
• Ongoing Facebook & Twitter postings – CoMMingle will go a step further and assist hotels that don't have the time to post content consistently to Facebook and Twitter by posting content weekly on the hotel’s behalf.
• Wikipedia – CoMMingle will set up a Wikipedia listing if one does not exist and create social links. CoMMingle will also monitor the Wikipedia listing quarterly and check content for accuracy.

5. Reputation Management: Hotels of all sizes have begun to add social media technologies that monitor a hotel's or brand's online reputation, but unless those tools are being maximized, reputations and business practices can still suffer. Lodging Interactive believes that it takes people, in addition to technologies, to make reputation management effective. That's why Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle have teamed up with leading hospitality reputation-management companies to supplement their technology applications whereby CoMMingle provides the human resources necessary to answer guest reviews and manage guest responses on behalf of the hotel.

Hotels using solutions from companies such as Revinate can outsource the social media monitoring and guest review response portion to Lodging Interactive. Logging in as the hotel, the CoMMingle team will reply to guest reviews accordingly, always keeping the hotel apprised of comments and alerting it to concerns.

2013 Bonus Tips:
In addition to Lodging Interactive's top 5 budget recommendations, here are other items every hotelier should plan for in 2013:

1. Quarterly landing pages to promote seasonal activities through the website.  When properly keyword optimized landing pages provide fresh, relevant content for search engines and website visitors.
2. Facebook applications development to leverage a hotel’s website promotions on the largest social media engagement channel.
3. Create independent videos for the promotion of hotel meeting space and packages, weddings and other social events.  Once created, optimize them and host them on YouTube.
4. Consistent email marketing programs targeting travel agents and meeting planners.  Email marketing remains very effective and every hotel website should maintain it’s own email capture widget.

 

Drowning in a Sea of Social Media Mayhem? ‘CoMMingle Social+’ Comes to the Rescue

Just as hoteliers get comfortable with social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube, new sites are emerging, such as Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Wikipedia to name just a few, that are making an equally big online marketing impact. To ensure hotels are covered across all social media channels, Lodging Interactive and its subsidiary CoMMingle are announcing a new level of service called CoMMingle Social+. CoMMingle Social+ serves as an extension to the hotel’s core social presence on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube plus it provides a fully managed presence on additional emerging social media marketing and engagement channels.

Lodging Interactive is an award-winning, interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive is an outsourced 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.  

"CoMMingle Social+ is a service for hoteliers who already manage their own Facebook and Twitter accounts but also want to get involved in the new, emerging social engagement channels but do not have the resources in-house to handle it," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "In addition, CoMMingle Social+ will add weekly postings on Facebook and Twitter for hotels that have pages but find it hard to consistently post during the week."

Through the CoMMingle Social+ program, team members will work with hotels to initially establish, and then manage on an ongoing basis, the following social networks & engagement channels:

• Google+ Business Page – CoMMingle will set up the page if needed and maintain weekly postings on the page and engage with consumers as needed;

• Pinterest – CoMMingle will create a Pinterest hotel account, relevant pin boards, and then pin images weekly to the boards. CoMMingle will also monitor and engage with consumers as needed;

• Facebook – CoMMingle will create additional apps for the property, above and beyond what is presently being managed by the hotel. Apps could include promotions, specials and contests;

• Ongoing Facebook & Twitter postings – CoMMingle will go a step further and assist hotels that have don't have the time to post content consistently to Facebook and Twitter by posting content weekly on the hotel’s behalf and engage with consumers as needed;

• Wikipedia – CoMMingle will set up a Wikipedia listing if one does not exist and create social links. CoMMingle will also monitor the Wikipedia listing quarterly and check content for accuracy.

With social media increasingly becoming an integral part of consumers' global travel habits, hotel operators are struggling with finding the internal resources to manage social networks and establishing effective social media marketing campaigns. CoMMingle is designed to assist hotels in engaging online with social media strategic planning, growing and managing social media channels, word-of-mouth marketing and experiential marketing, reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization.

"The challenge for hoteliers is not just being visible via the various social channels, but being engaging, constantly monitoring content and keeping the conversations going," said Rosella Virdo, Director of CoMMingle Social Media Marketing. "That's where the success or failure of a social media marketing program comes to play. If a hotel does not have numerous dedicated staff members serving as its social media watch dog, it's easy for the plan to fall apart. With so many consumers being drawn to these new, relevant social media sites, it's near impossible for hoteliers to keep abreast of the chatter. With CoMMingle Social+, we become the eyes and ears of the hotel, monitoring conversations and posting instant replies if desired."

Does Guest Review Management Really Pay Off?

Does posting guest reviews and using social media to air travel grievances really make a difference? Lodging Interactive, an interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry for the past 10 years, knows that it does. Together with its subsidiary CoMMingle, a social-media marketing consultancy, the two companies have spent the last five years helping hoteliers grow and better manage their use of social media channels for hotel marketing, of which monitoring and managing guest reviews is a big part.

Consider this scenario. In a recent USA Today column titled "Airing your hotel problem on Twitter can pay off," Travel Columnist Barbara DeLollis recaps a story shared with her by one of her "Hotel Check-In" readers:

"About 18 months ago, I checked into the [hotel] for staycation when a friend was visiting from Seattle. When I opened the mini-fridge, to my horror and disgust, there was a leftover box frozen solid into the freezer section, with strong odor of what may have been a lovely Mexican meal gone bad. I immediately took a picture with my iPhone and Tweeted [the hotel] before heading out to dinner with my friend. In the middle of our appetizer, I received a Tweet apologizing for the mishap and an offer of free breakfast for two the next morning. When I arrived back in my room, a bottle of wine and a hand-written note were waiting for us. Needless to say, the frozen dinner was gone. Since then, I have used [the Twitter handle for the hotel] for everything from confirming early check-in to ordering room service. The consistent, immediate and non-intrusive service of [the hotel's Twitter handle] is probably the No. 1 reason I've remained loyal to the chain. Since the above-mentioned incident, btw, I have made Diamond status with [the brand] and will probably be a customer for life."
Lin told USA Today's DeLollis that he believes "Twitter is almost always faster than calling the front desk or corporate to get results." The biggest bonus, he said, is that "he can just type a quick message while on the go instead of taking the time to get someone on the phone and talk."

While this situation was resolved via Twitter, Lodging Interactive professes that using a hotel's own website to enable guests to post reviews works equally as well, and it helps to better manage channel shift from third-party sites to the brand or property site. In addition, for hotel managers who may not be as social media savvy, being able to reply to guest reviews via a laptop or desktop onto the hotel website makes the response process that much quicker and easier.

"Social media is more about psychology than marketing," said Rosella Virdo, Director of CoMMingle Social Media Marketing. "When guests take the time to post a review on Twitter or the hotel's Facebook page, for example, someone needs to be monitoring the channel ready to post a response. It's a way to take online marketing to the next level. Frequent traveler Lin who corresponded with USA Today was fortunate that he stayed at a hotel that had social media monitoring tools in place. Most hotels don't; but that's where Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle come in."

Lodging Interactive has developed an easy-to-use and extremely affordable Guest Review System that enables guests to post reviews directly on the hotel's website. By allowing management to respond to comments in real time, hotels are improving hotel-to-guest communications and boosting guest retention and loyalty. The Guest Review System alerts management in real time when reviews are posted. This ensures that there are no delays in communication, and the appropriate staff can immediately fix any pending problems before the customer leaves the property. Additionally, consumers can share their guest reviews on their Facebook wall and to their network of friends. Hotels are notified in real-time of new guest reviews and have the ability to validate guest stay information before reviews are posted on their website.

With Lodging Interactive's low-cost, turn-key Guest Review System, hotels can be up and running in 10 minutes. If finding the time to respond is an issue, Lodging Interactive is staffed to reply on the hotel's behalf.

"It's important for hoteliers to know that they can easily and affordably compete with brand guest review programs and take control of their online reputations today through Lodging Interactive," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Those that want to go the extra step and also monitor the various social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and blogs can benefit by partnering with CoMMingle. This group is designed to assist hotels with social media engagement via strategic planning, growing and managing social media channels, word-of-mouth marketing and experiential marketing, reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization."

The challenge for hoteliers is not just being visible via the various social channels, but being interactive and engaging, constantly monitoring content and keeping the conversations going, Vallauri said.

"If a hotel does not have a dedicated staff member serving as its social media watch dog, it's easy for the plan to fall apart," he said. "That's where CoMMingle comes in. We become the eyes and ears of the hotel, monitoring conversations and posting instant replies if desired. So the next time your hotel gets a Tweet from a disgruntled guest like Mr. Lin, management will have a team in place to Tweet a reply and turn the negative situation into a positive one. Easier yet, by adding the Lodging Interactive Guest Review System to the hotel website, management can monitor reviews and respond to complements or concerns in a format that they are more comfortable with."

FREE OFFER!
Lodging Interactive is offering a free trial of its Guest Review System. There is no contract to sign and hotels can cancel anytime. For more information, visit http://www.guestreviewsystem.com. The offer is being made available now through June 28 at the conclusion of the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC).

Reputation Management Software Tools: Are They Enough?

Due to the rapid acceleration of social media and the growing desire of travelers to read reviews before booking their accommodations, more and more hotels are subscribing to reputation management software tools to assist in monitoring their social media reputations and guest responses. What they are finding, however, is that having the tools is not enough. To be successful, Lodging Interactive, an award winning interactive agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, says that by "combining people with technology," hotels are managing their online reputations far better.

CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive is an outsourced social media marketing agency that develops customized solutions for hotels, restaurants and spas. The company works with hotels to grow and better manage their use of social media channels, provide reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization. CoMMingle has teamed up with leading hospitality reputation-management companies, such as Revinate, to supplement their technology applications whereby CoMMingle provides the human resources necessary to respond to guest reviews and manage the entire guest response process on behalf of its hotel clients.

"Implementing reputation management software is good, but combining that technology with people will equal far greater results," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Here's how: Before, hoteliers had direct control over their branding and could direct people easily to their hotel. Then social media came along. Savvy travelers use Facebook, Twitter and travel review sites such as TripAdvisor, to find unbiased reviews. It only takes one unhappy guest to post a bad review, then the company's reputation is damaged, which in turn effects their sales."

To regain control over their reputations, Vallauri said “companies have developed software tools that scour the social media universe for reviews or mentions about the brand. It's like having an in-house intelligence agency providing actionable information and allowing management to see what guests like or don't like. The technology tools come equipped with sentiment analysis and workflow tools to enable each hotel or brand to engage with prospects and drive loyalty. Easy-to-use reports analyze the data, track the program's success and see how the hotel or brand is stacking up against the competition.”

"Now here's the dilemma," Vallauri added. "If the hotel doesn't have the resources available to do the aforementioned tasks (ie. analyzing the data, tracking program success and monitoring the market), the technology investment was for naught. CoMMingle is designed to complement a hotel's existing reputation-management technology tools with 'our people.' It doesn't matter what type of guest-review technology platform a hotel is using; CoMMingle can work within the tools to maximize the messaging and deliver more consistent responses."

Best Practices for Reputation Management
In a recent article titled: "Social media matures, forcing hotels to focus on reputation," Dennis Morris, director of revenue development for Meyer Jabara Hotels, said: “Reputation is so important from a customer standpoint because they read postings and believe they are real. If you are not focused on your online reputation, then what are you doing about your online reputation? There needs to be best practices in place to see that you are managing your reputation."

Lodging Interactive's Vallauri said he believes following a "Technology + People = Reputation Management" formula is a best practice that should be implemented industry wide.

"Purchasing reputation management software is only the first step in managing and monitoring a hotel's or brand's online reputation," Vallauri said. "Technology is critical to capturing information. But unless a hotel has the human resources in place to interpret that data and respond to reviews to manage their ongoing guest relationships, the technology alone isn’t the total solution. At Lodging Interactive, we understand that having the manpower to tackle these tasks is a challenge. CoMMingle brings the much needed talent to the table."

In a recent article titled: "Reputation management an evolving consideration," Associate Editor Andrew Sheivachman, wrote: "More than just proactively responding to reviews and opinions, looking at aggregated data on guest opinions can help to improve a brand's reputation." CoMMingle provides the intelligence and resources to analyze that aggregated data, and then some. Since 2009, CoMMingle has been providing social media assistance to hundreds of hotels. For more information about CoMMingle, visit http://www.commingle.me/.

Technology + People = Reputation Management

Is your hotel using its reputation management software to its fullest potential? Are you responding to guest reviews in a timely manner? Are the reports you are generating being analyzed to correct issues in operations or guest services? For the majority of hotels, the answer likely is "no." Adopting social media technologies that monitor a hotel's or brand's online reputation is critical today to better connect with travelers. But unless those tools are being maximized, reputations and business practices can still suffer.

CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive has teamed up with leading hospitality reputation-management companies to supplement their technology applications whereby CoMMingle will provide the human resources necessary to answer guest reviews and manage guest responses on behalf of the hotel.

Consider this data provided by ReviewPro:

• A negative review or comment on the Twitter, Facebook or You Tube Web sites can lose companies as many as 30 customers (Convergys Corp)
• 92% of Internet users read product reviews and 89% of people say that reviews influence their purchasing decision. (e-tailing group)
• 85% of executives use social media during a purchase decision (Forrester research)
• TripAdvisor reviews are viewed three times more often on partner websites than on TripAdvisor.com (Tnooz)
• 69% of online shoppers said they trusted the Internet for advice, vs. 43% for magazines and 35% for TV (Yahoo)

"With guest review management becoming critical to the success or failure of a hotel's social media program — and its online marketing campaign overall — hotels would be remiss not to dedicate a full time team to social media monitoring," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "But let's face it, unless you are a mega brand or luxury resort, finding the financial or human resources to monitor social channels to their full potential and creating effective responses to guest reviews in a timely fashion, is increasingly difficult. That's where CoMMingle comes in.

"We have spent the last few years building relationships with guest-review companies so that we can complement their technology with 'our people,'" Vallauri said. "Hotels that are using systems such as Revinate, for example, can outsource social media monitoring and guest review responses to us. Our teams log in as the hotel, and reply to guest reviews accordingly, always keeping the hotel apprised of comments and alerting it to concerns. It doesn't matter what type of guest-review technology platform a hotel is using; CoMMingle can work within the tools to maximize the messaging and deliver more consistent responses. Hotel General Managers especially appreciate this service, since it saves them considerable time in personally responding to reviews."

Lodging Interactive is an award winning interactive agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive is an outsourced social media marketing agency that develops customized solutions for hotels, restaurants and spas. The company works with its customers to grow and better manage their use of social media channels, provide reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization. CoMMingle is designed to assist hotels in engaging online with social media strategic planning, growing and managing social media channels, word-of-mouth marketing and experiential marketing, reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization.

Technology + People = Success
Revinate is a software platform designed exclusively for the hospitality industry that makes it easy for hotels to take control of their online reputation by using online reviews and social media to learn from and connect with travelers. CoMMingle works side-by-side with Revinate customers to provide staff to respond to the reviews.

"As a software company, we provide software, extensive training and best practices, but look to partners for managed services," said Marc Heyneker, Revinate Co-Founder and VP of Sales. "Having partners such as Lodging Interactive’s CoMMingle division handling the social media at hotels makes it a very robust solution for online reputation management — as well as using data to drive operational changes and engage with clients. Revinate provides the technology backbone, while CoMMingle serves as the eyes, ears and mouthpiece of the hotel, monitoring conversations and posting instant replies if desired."

CoMMingle has been providing social media assistance to hundreds of hotels since 2009. The company works closely with each property to understand its goals and objectives, then crafts a strategic plan, backed by proprietary technologies and experienced social media marketers.

"Hoteliers need to understand that just because they purchase reputation management software, it can only do so much to improve communication between the property and its guests," Vallauri said. "While hotels receive a dashboard of information as to how the property and its service is perceived by travelers, it also needs to interpret that data and respond to reviews to manage their ongoing relationships with guests. That alone can get overwhelming. CoMMingle, however, is able to help."

Lodging Interactive Launching Affordable ‘Hotel Website Solutions’

When it comes to website design and development, web hosting, maintenance, and search engine optimization, there are three key ingredients that today's mid-size and independent property owners are looking for: Price, Price, and Price. Therefore, Lodging Interactive is unveiling a new Hotel Website Solutions program designed to offer online marketing services at a low, month-to-month fee with all upfront costs removed. The service will include website design and management, reputation management, search engine marketing, real-time analytics and accountability, PLUS Lodging Interactive's Content Management System and its coveted Guest Review System.

Lodging Interactive is an award winning interactive agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, and its subsidiary, CoMMingle is an outsourced social media marketing agency that also develops customized solutions for hotels, restaurants and spas. Hotel Website Solutions will debut at the Asian American Hotel Owners' Association (AAHOA) Annual Convention in May in the Lodging Interactive Booth #124.

"It's time to make online marketing easier and more affordable for everyone," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "With social media channels making online marketing more critical than ever before, smaller hotels and independent properties need the same quality design and maintenance services as the big resorts but without the expense. Unlike some companies that try effortlessly to convince small- to mid-size property owners that they need a costly full-service web-management program, we have designed an alternative program with fairness and affordability at its core."

With Hotel Website Solutions, hoteliers can refresh their web site every two years, supporting up to 25 web pages, at no additional cost.

Included in the Hotel Website Solutions package:
• RFPLink group lead capture and reporting
• InnterACT client reporting online portal
• Homepage call-to-action tile images
• Website Hosting & Server Management
• Robust Content Management Solution (CMS)
• Optional Guest Review System Inclusion at no additional cost

InnterACT by Lodging Interactive provides real-time website analytics, key performance metrics, and the latest social media monitoring tools. Using a digital dashboard, hoteliers can remotely access analytical production information about their website performance, search engine ranking performance, as well as the bounce rate and average time spent on the site. Owners and marketing managers can log in and access real-time ranking reports to determine where their website is positioned on Google, Yahoo and Bing, and view their traffic and determine where it's coming from. Because the dashboard can be customized, hoteliers can view these reports in such a way that is personal to them, so that when they log in, the information they need most is always present, such as website traffic analytics and landing page views.

Also part of the Hotel Website Solutions package is Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System. This web-based tool is successfully helping hotels verify, review and display customer comments directly on their websites. By allowing management to respond to comments in real time, hotels are improving hotel-to-guest communications and boosting guest retention and loyalty. The GRS posts traveler's comments and scores their hotel experiences based on service attributes. Hotel managers receive real-time alerts advising when pending guest reviews pop up, eliminating delays in addressing concerns and turning potential problems into new opportunities.

"At Lodging Interactive, we understand the importance of a well-maintained and up-to-date website, as industry reports show direct bookings via the hotel's proprietary website are on the rise," Vallauri said. "Hotel Website Solutions will enable hoteliers, regardless of their hotel segmentation, to keep their websites fresh with relevant content that is recognized by the various search engines, and benefit from customized programs. "

Also at no additional cost, Lodging Interactive will include in its Hotel Website Solutions program: Initial SEO research and analysis, creation of strategy and implementation; InnterACT client portal real-time web analytics; Weekly website analytics; Monthly SEO ranking reports; and, Quarterly SEO refresh (review, analysis and implementation recommendations). Customers will also have access to Lodging Interactive's Content Management System (CMS), giving property managers the ability to modify page content and images.

Hotels interested in learning more about Hotel Website Solutions should call 877-291-4411 or visit www.LodgingInteractive.com. The company will also be exhibiting at the AAHOA Convention in May in Booth #124.