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Lodging Interactive Continues to Win Multiple Industry Awards for Website Design

On the heels of winning three Interactive Media Awards™ for Outstanding Achievement in website design by the Interactive Media Council Inc., Lodging Interactive is pleased to announce another series of distinctive honors. This month, the interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry was recognized by Travel Weekly, the Web Marketing Association, and the International Academy of the Visual Arts for its website design and development work.

Since 2001, Lodging Interactive has provided more than 650 hotels, resorts, spas and restaurants in over 35 countries with proven ROI-driven online marketing services, including: website design and development, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and online reputation management. Property sites designed by Lodging Interactive receiving top honors include:

          Courtyard by Marriott Ft. Lauderdale Beach in Florida:

• Silver Magellan Award / Travel Weekly
• 2012 Web Award / Hotel and Lodging Standard of Excellence / Web Marketing Assn.
• 2012 Silver Award / Creative Excellence in Hotel and Lodging / International Academy of the Visual Arts
    
Marriott Burlington in Massachusetts:

• 2012 Web Award / Hotel and Lodging Standard of Excellence / Web Marketing Assn.

"Lodging Interactive is more than just a company that builds websites," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Our award-winning full-service agency is uniquely positioned within the hospitality industry to offer the latest website management tools to maximize results for our clients. Website design is just one piece of the puzzle. We combine our design expertise with a unique ability to manage website content, guest reviews, and our customers' overall online reputations. It is this full-service approach to online marketing that makes our customers' websites stand out and achieve maximum optimization.

"We would like to thank Travel Weekly, the Web Marketing Association, and the International Academy of the Visual Arts for recognizing these property websites as the 'best' in the travel industry," he said. "We proudly share these honors with Lodging Interactive's team of more than 50 highly skilled web experts."

Lodging Interactive also was recognized by the International Academy of the Visual Arts with a Silver Award for its Guest Review System. The online tool alerts hotel management in real time when reviews are posted to their web sites. The GRS 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, 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.

 

USA Today and ABC News Report Guest Satisfaction Lowest in Seven Years

A recent article in USA Today reports that hotel guest satisfaction has dropped to its lowest level in seven years, noting that check-in and check-out, guestrooms, food, Internet/WiFi fees, and facilities such as pools and business centers top the list of travelers' dislikes. ABC News also reported that how a person books their hotel stay may also be related to their satisfaction. In Hotels with Highest, Lowest Guest Satisfaction, Travel & Lifestyle Editor Genevieve Shaw Brown wrote that "guests who book their hotel stay with online travel agencies (Orbitz, Expedia and competitors) tend to be less satisfied with their stay then those who book directly with the hotel web site or over the phone. These travelers tend to be more price-sensitive, have lower levels of satisfaction with their stay, are less loyal to hotel brands and tend to report more problems."

The underlying message for hoteliers is twofold: 1) If you don't take direct control of your guest reviews NOW, chances are the comments they post will not only turn travelers off, it could keep them away.  2) It's time to refresh your websites because enticing travelers to book directly on your website will improve your chances of having satisfied customers, thereby increasing your chances of receiving positive 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," said DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive, an award-winning, interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. "Today travelers have no problem telling the world what they like — and more importantly, don't like — about their hotel experience. Knowing how easy the Web and social media has made it for consumers to find their voices, hoteliers should be fearful to create an atmosphere whereby a negative review can even occur. Those hotel companies that have been identified in recent reports by travelers as providing below average service need to act — and quickly — to salvage their reputations and restore faith in their patrons."

Lodging Interactive has established a Guest Review System for hotels that alerts management in real time when reviews are posted to their web sites. This 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, 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.

"Negative reviews will happen; no matter how stellar the hotel's reputation, someone will find something to complain about — even if it's a competitor posting a fraudulent review," Vallauri said. "The key to containment comes with responding immediately to the post and flipping the negative experience into a positive — preferably before the guest has even left the property. Equally important is responding in an appropriate manner. Be thankful, polite, and respectful of guests, even if the complaint is not warranted. Remain calm and always be courteous. Tell the guest how the situation will be addressed and what the next steps are. Tell the guest that you deem the complaint to be serious, and that there is a plan in place to resolve the matter. More importantly, give him or her a way to stay in touch with management, and invite further feedback."

Hotels can quickly and cost-effectively add Lodging Interactive's low-cost, turn-key Guest Review System in about 10 minutes. 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. In addition, the company is staffed to reply on the hotel's behalf if staffing is an issue.

But wait, there's more . . .
Hotels needing to update their websites to provide fresh content and simplify the direct booking process can actually receive the Guest Review System absolutely FREE!

"Adding guest reviews to a hotel's website is critical for business success today, but if the website isn't fresh — featuring new, visually appealing photos and links to social media channels to ensure more chatter — owners and operators are just compounding the problem," Vallauri said. "Lodging Interactive's Hotel Website Solutions program enables hoteliers to refresh their web site every two years, at no additional cost, and we'll throw the Guest Review System in at no additional cost."

Included in the Hotel Website Solutions 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.

"It's important for hoteliers to know that they can easily and affordably take control of their reputations by simply and affordably updating their Web sites and adding a Guest Review through Lodging Interactive," Vallauri said. "Hotel companies that have been ranked as providing below average satisfaction to guests can easily boost their credibility, restore consumer confidence, and regain lost business from third-party review sites."

Lodging Interactive has identified the following 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" by updating websites at least every two years
2. Take Control Of Your Hotel’s Guest Reviews by adding review functionality to your web site
3. Invest in Mobile Marketing
4. Enhance your presence on all social media channels
5. Manage our online reputation by monitoring chatter

 

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.

 

Hoteliers Take Control Of Guest Reviews For Less Than $65 Per Month

In a recent Wall Street Journal Article titled "Big Flaws in Hotel Rankings," it was said that "influencing reviews and ratings is a time-honored tradition in the hotel and restaurant industries." After about five years of printing reader letters about hotels in the 1960s, travel-guidebook legend Arthur Frommer said he realized that hotels were writing letters about themselves. "Hotels are so dependent on reviews that of course they will generate their own," Frommer said. "They would be crazy not to." As for online reviews, which have replaced guidebooks for many travelers, Mr. Frommer has disdain. "It's a vast buzzing, blooming confusion."

Lodging Interactive, an interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, has designed a way to remove this "blooming confusion" from the "buzzing," online marketing/social media equation. The company's Guest Review System sits on a hotel's proprietary website and enables travelers to post comments 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.

"The impact that guest review sites are having today on consumers buying decisions is off the charts — just look at the rapid growth of TripAdvisor and its competitors Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, Orbitz and Hotels.com," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "The rise in review-site popularity — and their associated challenges — has spurred some of the large brands, such as Starwood and Marriott, to migrate the review process to their proprietary websites. This is good for the industry overall. With the brands leading the way, soon hotels of all sizes and across all segments will follow suit, leveling the playing field for hotels worldwide and making the industry more competitive and more in control of their reputations. Hotels that want to jump on the bandwagon but don't know how or where to start, can easily and affordably turn to Lodging Interactive."

All that is required for a hotel to get up-and-running is a snippet of code attached to their Website. Once initiated, hotels 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 valued 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.

"Third-party review sites do have merit when they make interaction between the reviewer and hotel possible — but that's not often the case," Vallauri said. "As hotels strive to deliver the ultimate customer service today, adding a proprietary Guest Review System raises the bar for service delivery and gives operators the ability to really sell their hotels. With direct bookings on a continual climb industrywide, adding this service to the hotel's website is the next evolution in website optimization and improved customer relations."

As an added benefit of the Guest Review System, travelers are encouraged to share their reviews on Facebook with 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.

FREE GRS Trial
Lodging Interactive is offering a free trial of its Guest Review System. There is no contract to sign and hotels can cancel anytime. When the trial concludes, hotels can maintain the service for about $60 per month with no long-term agreements and the ability to cancel at any time.

Lodging Interactive Becomes Best Western Preferred Vendor

As a Best Western Preferred Vendor, Lodging Interactive, an interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, will introduce new pricing plans, financial service models, mobile website offerings and content management toolkits exclusive to members of THE WORLD’S BIGGEST HOTEL FAMILY® during the 2012 Best Western Supply Products Showcase, to be held October 11 to 13 at The Venetian in Las Vegas. 

"Maintaining an up-to-date website and monitoring the various social channels for visibility and engagement is critical to brand success today," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Industry reports show direct bookings via the hotel's proprietary website are on the rise, and unprecedented numbers of travelers are being drawn to new and established social media sites — from Facebook, Twitter and You Tube to Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Wikipedia — to name just a few. Lodging Interactive not only has the team in place to design prized hotel websites for Best Western properties, but our proficiency in managing those sites, along with establishing brand presence on all social media marketing and engagement channels, is unsurpassed."

Through Lodging Interactive's preferred vendor status, Best Western members will receive fresh and enhanced website content, effective social media marketing campaigns, reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, social search engine optimization, and assistance with online engagement of social media strategic planning via its social media marketing agency, CoMMingle. In addition, Best Western hotels will have the direct benefit of featuring Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System directly on their Websites, giving travelers a place to post comments and score their hotel experiences based on service attributes. In turn, hotel managers will receive real-time alerts advising when pending guest reviews pop up, eliminating delays in addressing concerns and turning potential problems into new opportunities.

Lodging Interactive is comprised of a team of more than 50 highly skilled web experts. Since 2001, the company has provided more than 650 hotels, resorts, spas and restaurants in over 35 countries with proven ROI-driven online marketing services. In May, Lodging Interactive was recognized by the Interactive Media Council Inc., winning three Interactive Media Awards™ for Outstanding Achievement in the Hotels/Resorts category for its website design services. This is the third consecutive year that the interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry has been recognized by the IMC for its aptitude in designing, developing, managing, supporting and promoting hotel websites. 

"We are honored to be part of Best Western's preferred vendor program and look forward to meeting with members in October," Vallauri said. "Our unique online marketing techniques, combined with our social media marketing services, wins online business for hotels and resorts. Whether Best Western members need to supplement their current Internet marketing programs or establish new social media engagement programs, Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle will deliver proven services that are measured by clear definitive results."

Lodging Interactive Giving Hoteliers Control over Hotel Website Content

When it comes to online marketing, "Content is King," and the more content the better. Hoteliers are finding that fresh content translates to better search engine optimization on Google, Yahoo and Bing and other search engines. What this means to hoteliers is the more often content is refreshed, the more likely travelers will find the site, and not only will they stay longer, but they ultimately will book while there. If your hotel website is outdated but you don't have the resources to keep it maintained, Lodging Interactive has developed a Content Management System (CMS) that makes it easy for your content to reign supreme.

Lodging Interactive is an award-winning, interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. In addition to content management, the company offers website design and management, reputation management, search engine marketing, real-time analytics and accountability, and an online Guest Review System.

"Refreshing a website can be a tedious task unless you have the right tools in place," said DJ  Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Our CMS is easy to use and extremely comprehensive, enabling hoteliers to update or add content anytime, anywhere, and without any hassle.”

Last month Lodging Interactive earned three Interactive Media Awards™ for Outstanding Achievement in the Hotels/Resorts category for its website design services. This is the third consecutive year the company was recognized by the Interactive Media Council for its aptitude in designing, developing, managing, supporting and promoting hotel websites. 

Using the Lodging Interactive Content Management System, hoteliers can:

• Manage website text content
• Add, delete and modify pages
• Manage header/footer navigation items
• Manage website images and photo gallery images
• Manage the entire site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
• Instantly create updated XML site maps

"With our CMS tool, all updates are performed in real time," Vallauri said. "The CMS is browser-based, with no software to download and no technical skills required to operate it."

To help make online marketing easier and more affordable for all hotels across all segments, Lodging Interactive recently launched a new Hotel Website Solutions program designed to offer web-marketing services at a low, month-to-month fee with all upfront costs removed. Hotels that enroll in this program will automatically receive Lodging Interactive's CMS.

"Today a well-maintained and up-to-date website is critical to remaining competitive in the market and driving more direct bookings to your hotel," Vallauri said. "By giving hotels control over their content, it enables them to continually find new ways to redirect travelers from third-party sites to their proprietary websites. And today, direct bookings are the name of the game."

Is Your Hotel Website Ready for Summer?

With summer right around the corner and industry indexes projecting travel on the rise in the coming months, hoteliers need to have their websites looking and functioning their best in order to attract travelers and turn lookers into bookers. According to a May 2012 article titled: Forecast Optimistic For Upcoming Summer Travel, 92 percent of Americans will take a vacation this summer. To help hoteliers better plan their seasonal online marketing strategies, Lodging Interactive has developed a new Hotel Website Solutions program that delivers online marketing service and support at a low, month-to-month fee with all upfront costs removed.

Lodging Interactive is an award winning interactive agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. The company's new Hotel Website Solutions 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. The program enables hoteliers to refresh their web site every two years at no additional cost.

"Website design and development, hosting, maintenance, and search engine optimization is more important today than ever before," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Our new Hotel Website Solutions program not only delivers those services, but it makes them far more affordable. This summer, travel is projected to return to pre-recession levels. Until that happens, hoteliers can't afford to buy into a costly, full-service web-management program to remain competitive, nor should they have to. Lodging Interactive is giving hoteliers the ability to refresh their websites with no red tape or going into the red to do it."

Included in the Hotel Website Solutions package, hotels will receive:
• RFPLink group lead capture and reporting
• Homepage call-to-action tile images
• Website Hosting & Server Management
• Robust Content Management Solution
• Guest Review System
• Initial SEO research and analysis
• Creation of strategy and implementation
• InnterACT client portal real-time web analytics
• Weekly website analytics
• Monthly SEO ranking reports
• Quarterly SEO refresh (review, analysis and implementation recommendations).

Summer Survey Says:
In March, SpringHill Suites by Marriott commissioned independent research company TNS to conduct its 3rd Annual Vacation Attitude Study. The online summer survey (which polled 1,000 consumers between March 13 and March 18, 2012) indicates the following:
• 58 percent of Americans reported they will use at least one online travel site to read reviews, book accommodations, find deals or scan guidebooks.
• More than one-third of people (36 percent) expect to spend just two hours or less researching their summer vacation, with a national average of five hours’ planning.
• Travelers with children are most likely to plan their vacations quickly, with 48 percent making plans in one month or less, compared to those without kids, of whom 60 percent will take two months or more to prepare.

"At Lodging Interactive, we understand the importance of a well maintained and up-to-date website," Vallauri said. "With digital media making it possible for consumers to book travel quickly and with little advanced notice, it's critical that a hotel's website is up to date, showcasing the most relevant features that keep visitors captivated. Being able to read guest reviews directly on the hotel's website, for example, is having a positive impact on turning lookers into bookers. 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."

Hotels interested in learning more about Hotel Website Solutions should call 877-291-4411 or visit www.LodgingInteractive.com.

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).

Lodging Interactive Wins Multiple Awards for Hotel Website Design

Lodging Interactive has been recognized by the Interactive Media Council Inc., winning three Interactive Media Awards™ for Outstanding Achievement in the Hotels/Resorts category for its website design services. This is the third consecutive year that the interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry has been recognized by the IMC for its aptitude in designing, developing, managing, supporting and promoting hotel websites.

Property sites designed by Lodging Interactive and receiving top honors include the Marriott Burlington in Massachusetts, the Denver Renaissance in Colorado and the Doubletree Oak Brook in Illinois. Nominations are accepted from web design firms, advertising agencies and corporate marketing departments, as well as individual web designers and graphic artists, among others, from around the world. It is the mission of the IMC to increase the standards of excellence on the Internet, and the group welcomes all who will join in the effort.

"The third time certainly is the charm," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Earning three awards, three years in a row, validates the outstanding talent of our website design and search engine optimization teams. This group knows how to work together to deliver an attractively designed site that is optimized specifically for the purpose of attracting the hotel shopper when they are using the major search engines and social media network sites. We commend them for yet another job well done."

Lodging Interactive also offers website maintenance services to hotels via a Website Content Management System (CMS) which enables hoteliers to keep their websites fresh and updated at all times with the latest seasonal promotions. In addition, to make online marketing easier and more affordable for all hotels across all segments, the company recently launched a new Hotel Website Solutions program designed to offer web-marketing services at a low, month-to-month 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.

"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. "Our team has the skill set necessary to design prized hotel websites — and keep those sites fresh with relevant content that is recognized by the various search engines, and benefit from customized programs."

AAHOA Members Offered FREE Guest Review System from Lodging Interactive

Members of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) attending the Annual Convention this week at the Omni Hotel and the Georgia World Congress Center are receiving an unprecedented offer from Lodging Interactive. For the first time, the interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry is offering 90 Day FREE USE of its Guest Review System by simply visiting Booth No. 124 and registering for the service.

Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System enables guests to post reviews directly on the hotel's website, making it easier to verify, review and display customer comments and instantly post management responses to comments for better hotel-to-guest communications and heightened customer-relationship management.

Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System 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.

"Hotels risk losing website visitors if those potential bookers are forced to leave the website in search of guest reviews on third party websites," Vallauri said. "Once gone, they may never come back or worse, they may book with the competition or third-party distributor such as Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia or Hotels.com that sell rooms at a considerably lower rate. Adding the Guest Review System keeps guests on the hotel's website and turns lookers into bookers at rates owners are comfortable with."

Integrating the Guest Review System with Facebook is key to expanding a hotel's social media effectiveness. This link enables hotels to collect and share their guest reviews right from their hotel Facebook pages. In addition, past guests can share their own reviews via a hotel's Facebook page.

Ed Reagoso, General Manager of The Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange, N.J., had this to say about Lodging Interactive's Guest Review System:

"I'm a big believer in soliciting guest reviews, but unfortunately, due to the nature of the Web, there's no real way to validate whether or not a person claiming to be a guest with a bad experience actually stayed at your hotel. The Guest Review System from Lodging Interactive puts a stop to fake reviews posted by competitors or dishonest guests looking for refunds. This not only helps us to maintain our impeccable reputation, but it gives me an opportunity to interact personally with our guests. Thanks to the automated GRS tool, I can post responses to comments quickly. Not every hotel review site makes that type of interaction possible. It's not only great customer service, but it gives me the chance to really sell our hotel. Almost daily our reservations agents hear from guests who say they read the reviews on our site and truly appreciate that we took the time to respond. We attribute it all to Lodging Interactive and the excellent training they provide to us as part of their service."

Added Offers Abound
As an Allied member of AAHOA, Lodging Interactive strives to build relationships with hotel owners and assist them in all areas of online marketing, from reputation management and guest reviews to Web presence and direct web bookings. Therefore, the award-winning company will introduce new financial models at the AAHOA Convention designed specifically for small hotel owners and those running full-service properties with multiple flags.

Members also will be encouraged to sign up for a no-cost, no-obligation social media marketing audit through CoMMingle, Lodging Interactive's full-service social-media marketing agency. The CoMMingle team will assist AAHOA members with planning their unique social media strategy based on their individual property goals. Then they will teach members how to socialize online, 'comingling' and managing their message on the channels (blogging, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and more) that work best for their properties. CoMMingle ensures that each hotel's message is communicated smartly, efficiently and effectively, constantly measuring each plans' critical success factors and fine-tuning each strategy for long term success.

"By leveraging the support of Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle, we are confident that AAHOA members will be widely successful in 2012 and beyond," Vallauri said. "We encourage anyone interested in our FREE Guest Review System, FREE Social Media Marketing Audit and learning more about our new financial models for web design, web optimization and content management, visit Lodging Interactive in Booth No. 124 at the 2012 AAHOA Annual Convention & Trade Show."

For more information on Lodging Interactive, visit http://www.lodginginteractive.com.