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Lodging Interactive Launches Vanity URL Service for Google+

Would you rather create a link to your branded Google+ Business Page that looks like this: https://plus.google.com/u/0/107157850917015701607/posts#107157850917015701607/posts or that looks like this: http://GPlusPage.biz/HotelName/G+? The latter is possible with Link2Brand from Lodging Interactive.

"Lodging Interactive has developed the technology for creating branded vanity URLs for Google+ Business Pages that removes lengthy numeric coding and adds click tracking as part of the service," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Facebook met this challenge early on, as more and more companies began using the social media mechanism for business promotions, but to date, G+ hasn't caught on.

"Link2Brand not only owns Google+ related domain names (which can be used with the service to create a hotel’s vanity URL link), but our proprietary click-tracking system will report the number of times a viewer clicked on the link to connect to the hotel’s G+ Business Page," Vallauri said. "It's an easy to use and highly secure tool that also provides valuable analytics. No other company is offering this level of G+ service and support."

According to Google, Google+ has reached 90 million+ users as of January 2012 globally, making it the 4th largest social network. The company also maintains that Google+ is the fastest growing network of all times. It only took Google+ 3 weeks to reach 20 million users, while it took Facebook 3 years, Twitter 2.5 years and MySpace 2 years to hit that milestone.

Google+ Business Page Creation
Before the Link2Brand service can be utilized, a hotel must first have a Google+ Business Page. This social media channel allows members (hotels) to organize people (guests) into social groups referred to as "Circles." Then, hoteliers engage with their own circles of potential guests and build larger circles through social networking and marketing.

Lodging Interactive offers a Google+ Page Creation service for hotels, while its subsidiary CoMMingle manages the page to ensure that each hotel is properly positioned on Google+. As an extension of a hotel's marketing department, CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive takes a pro-active role in managing each hotel's online presence and communications to not only Google+, but to all social media networking communities.

"Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle work side by side to ensure maximum social media exposure for our customers," Vallauri said. "First, we create the Google+ page for our customers to maximize their exposure through all social media channels. Second, we leverage all of the opportunities available from Google+ to engage with guests on a hotel's behalf so the likelihood of their content will be picked up on travel related searches. Third, we make it simple for hotels to promote their Google+ presence by creating vanity URLs that best represent their brand and provide click-tracking to monitor the program's effectiveness.

"We understand how difficult it can be to keep up with this rapidly accelerating social media scene," he said. " Lodging Interactive is here to help."

Lodging Interactive, CoMMingle Adds Google+ Service to Enhance Hotels’ Social Media Strategies

The social media universe no longer rests solely with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Today Google+ is quickly becoming an important Internet marketing player. Lodging Interactive, a social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, and its subsidiary CoMMingle, a social media consultancy, is now offering a turnkey service for creating and professionally managing Google+ Business Pages.

According to Ancestry.com and FamilyLink.com Founder Paul Allen in his Google+ blog, the Google+ network will hit 400 million users by the end of 2012. Facebook currently has more than 800 million users. Google+ is adding 625,000 new users per day or 20 million per month on average.

"Social networking continues to be the least expensive way for hotels to market their brand, engage guests and build loyalty," said D.J. Vallauri, Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle Founder and President. "Taking advantage of all social media channels is critical. Today, only a few hotel companies have expanded their inner circles outside of Facebook to include Google+. Failure to do so can be detrimental in the long term."

Google+ Business Pages are socially enabled and allow members (hotels) to organize people (guests) into social groups referred to as "Circles." Then, hoteliers engage with their own circles of potential guests and build larger circles through social networking and marketing.

"We understand how difficult it can be to keep up with this rapidly accelerating social media scene," Vallauri said. "As such, we are offering to leverage all the opportunities available from Google+ to engage with guests on a hotel's behalf so the likelihood of their content will be picked up on travel related searches."

Vallauri explained that Google considers Google+ 1's ("likes") as social signals within its Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). As the Google+ network continues to grow, the weight applied to +1's will receive more consideration, and the hotels with the most +1's will reinforce their search engine rankings.

Here's how it works:
Lodging Interactive will create a Google+ Business Page on behalf of its customers. Then, CoMMingle takes over. CoMMingle's fully managed social media marketing service ensures that each hotel is properly positioned on Google+ where potential and past guests "commingle" to discuss their destination, including the hotel. As an extension of a hotel's marketing department, CoMMingle takes a pro-active role in managing each hotel's online presence and communications to not only Google+, but to all social media networking communities.

"Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle work side by side to ensure maximum social media exposure for our customers," Vallauri said. "Think of us as a dating service. Lodging Interactive makes each hotel look good and lets travelers know that they are 'available.' Then it's CoMMingle's job to keep the conversation flowing and continually fill the date card. The more content created by Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle, the wider a hotel's social media circles expand. The end result is better exposure on Google and a much stronger overall social media strategy."

Online Guest Reviews Gaining Momentum; Good News for Independent Hoteliers

Think guest reviews aren't that important to your ongoing web strategy? Think again. In a recent USA Today article titled "Hotel giants embracing guest reviews — good or bad," author Barbara DeLollis reports that some of the world's biggest hotel companies are adding customer reviews of their hotels to their own websites "betting that their best customers will put more faith in reviews that are on their websites because they — unlike TripAdvisor — have the ability to confirm whether a review writer really checked into that particular hotel." The good news for independent hoteliers is that an easy-to-use and extremely affordable Guest Review System is available from Lodging Interactive that enables them to mirror — and even surpass — these brand initiatives.

In the article, DeLollis reports that Starwood, Marriott and Four Seasons already have their own customer review-posting portals, and Hilton, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) and Radisson are in the processes of evaluating or launching programs later this year. IHG Marketing Vice President Michael Menis was referenced as saying . . . "reviews are important because they play 'an important role in helping a customer make their ultimate booking decision.'" Likewise, Hilton Senior VP of Global Online Services Chuck Sullivan, was quoted as saying: "Consumer reviews are a very positive thing. They help provide customers with a real understanding of a property. We believe that direct channels — specifically, our Web brand hotel pages — have to be seen by the guest as the ultimate source of truth."

Truth in Advertising
With so many brands either leaning towards a proprietary web-based guest review program, or already implementing one, Vallauri said consumers will soon expect it to be a standard part of every hotel's website. Lodging Interactive’s Guest Review System is leveling the playing field for independent hotels by giving them a tool that is quick to implement today and enables them to compete with the big boys while also enhancing their web strategy.

"Recent studies confirm that more than 60 percent of online shoppers and travel planners visit and seriously consider peer-written reviews prior to making their online purchase," Vallauri said. "Being able to monitor what people are saying about their individual property 24/7 is important, but enabling guest reviews to reside on your website gives hoteliers the opportunity to respond in real time to posted reviews — good or bad — thereby keeping potential problems in check.

"Through the Lodging interactive Guest Review System, any independent hotel that wants to validate and respond to reviews today can do so on their own website, and with no capital investment," he said. "Our Guest Review System makes it easy for travelers to share their reviews on Facebook with their network of friends. It's a tool that independent hoteliers need for their properties, but without the cost of development."

Hoteliers on board with new Google features

"A new Google Maps feature that aggregates real-time hotel rates and availability has passed a seven-week beta test and has gone live, and at least one Central Reservation System provider is on a global road show informing hotel clients of their appearance on the new distribution channel.

Distribution experts still are hypothesizing about what kind of effect the search-engine giant will have on where travelers book hotel rooms, but some say the program should be embraced by hoteliers who don’t want to lose bookings to online travel agencies. Brands have taken notice and are discussing whether to alter their distribution strategies."

Read the full article at www.hotelnewsnow.com