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3 Things Hoteliers Must Budget for in 2015

What every hotelier should consider and budget for in 2015.

Hotelier Budget GraphicGiven recent trends, digital marketing is set to become a majority piece of the budget pie by 2019. In a world of increased mobile use and expectations of rapid online responses from properties and brands, hoteliers need to stay on trend with digital spending when planning their 2015 budget, making certain three areas of web-based marketing are well addressed next year.

3 Things Hoteliers Must Budget for in 2015

Complete Online Reputation Management

Managing your online reputation isn’t as simple as making sure you monitor what guests are saying on review sites. While monitoring and responding to reviews is still a vital part of maintaining a healthy online reputation, they go hand in hand with social media marketing and social customer care on sites like Twitter. Hotels need to budget for the ability to actively listen 24/7/365 and respond quickly to inquiries and issues in order to meet guest’s expectations and stop any problems from escalating and reaching review sites.

Tools to Capitalize on Website Visits

The research is clear, how your website looks and how responsive it is says a lot about how you regard your customers. Mobile and tablet use is increasing steadily and more and more consumers are purchasing from these devices and they want a seamless experience. Hoteliers need to consider budgeting for a responsive design website or converting a recently-built, non-responsive site so that your content is accessible across any platform or device. This budget essential might not be as large of a budget item as you may think.

A Strategy for Travelers to Find Your Site When Searching

The ABCs of a searchable web presence — SEO, SEM and PPC — should be key parts of your 2015 budget. Properties can have the best looking website out there, but if their content isn’t optimized and doesn’t keep search in mind or they don’t have effective PPC advertising in place to drive traffic, it is all for naught. Don’t get left behind in a sea of thousands of hotel and travel sites. Budget for these vital campaigns as well as content marketing services to make sure your property is a top search result.

“Hotels are turning to digital marketing more than ever to find leads, retain guests and engage with the masses,” says DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive. “As 2015 budgets are being drafted and debated, hoteliers must keep in mind how vital their online presence — be it their website, social media profiles or responsiveness to reviews or questions — is to their property’s success. These are key budget pieces no matter at what scale you are doing business online.”

Lodging Interactive is an award-winning digital marketing agency that provides a complete suite of creative website solutions, digital advertising strategies, and social media marketing exclusively to independent, boutique and brand hotel properties.

To learn more about our customized digital solutions or to partner with Lodging Interactive in 2015, please contact info@lodginginteractive.com or call 877-291-4411 ext. 701.

How Responsive Web Design Affects the Hotel Industry

As more people use their mobile devices to book hotel stays it becomes even more important that you choose the right type of web design to ensure your content is delivered seamlessly across the platforms your audience is using to access your site.

Responsive Web Designs are an excellent choice for Hotel Websites

Not all websites are created equal. There is real value in creating a responsive website that serves all of your content to your site visitors on all their devices (Mobile, Desktop, Tablet, etc.):

  • Lowers Overall Maintenance and Operational Costs – Make one change and see it across three platforms seamlessly.
  • Is Better for SEO – Google says the following regarding responsive web design:
    “Responsive design: serves the same HTML for one URL and uses CSS media queries to determine how the content is rendered on the client side. This removes the possible glitches of user-agent detection and frees users from redirects. This is Google’s recommended configuration.”
  • Measuring Results – Google Analytics has adapted to responsive designs, so analyzing the data and measuring results are already incorporated.
  • Improved Travel Experience – When visitors come to your website and see that you are prepared for them no matter what device they are using, they are more inclined to book a stay with you.
  • According to MCD’s 2014 Survey, the quality of your website impacts 70% of travelers.

MCD's 2014 Survey Graphic

Use of Smartphones Increasing

According to eMarketer, by 2017 Smartphones will be used by 69.4% of the population.

Mobile Phone Users Worldwide - eMarketer

Your website has to be designed to serve these customers more efficiently and effectively without putting a tremendous strain on your current budget. More travelers will begin to book their stays, see what amenities you offer, check in and out, interact with your maps & events, order room service, & utilize your concierge through their mobile devices.

Are you prepared today to serve this group of end users? If the answer is “NO” we can help. Visit our website – Lodging Interactive on your desktop, tablet or mobile device. We an award-winning responsive website design company — recently winning multiple 2014 IMA Outstanding Achievement Awards for excellence in hotel and resort website design.

Let us help you create a responsive website design for your hotel guests today. Contact us at 877-291-4411, or complete our Responsive Website Design form.

Image 1 Credit: MCD 2014 Survey / Image 2 Credit: eMarketer

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."

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."

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.

How Good Is Your Hotel’s Social Media?

Does trying to manage your social media presence have you in a tail spin? Are you still unsure of the value that social media brings to your hotel's online marketing program? Would you like add social marketing expertise without adding overhead? If "yes," than it's time to CoMMingle. 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.

"Social media is more about psychology than marketing," said Rosella Virdo, Director of CoMMingle Social Media Marketing. "Those in charge of managing social media need to understand the mindset of each audience on each network. It's a job that requires the wearing of many hats. It's not just about selling a hotel experience or product. It's about engagement. Content is important. Social channels exist for communication. When guests — past and present — post on your 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."

In a recent article titled "Top 10 hospitality industry trends for 2012," Robert Rauch reported: "By 2016, half of the travel industry will be using social media as a way of generating revenue and bookings. Currently more than one-fifth (22 percent) use social media as a revenue generating tool with a further 27 percent planning to do so over the next five years. Plus, social media will become more of a key component of Search Engine Results Page (SERP) algorithms. Facebook's posts are already integrated into Bing search and Google+ emerged with native integration into Google search. Hotels can no longer afford to linger over adding social media to their marketing mix. It's now a necessary element of traffic-driving success."

Peter O'Connor, Professor of Information Systems at ESSEC Business School in France, recently said: "2012 will be the year when hotels wake up to the power of social media." In an article titled "Hotels Start Putting Their Own 'Social Media House' in Order," O'Connor wrote: "Since travelers enjoy talking about their experiences, discussing future plans and seeking the recommendations of others, social media sites such as blogs, social networks and review sites have become important information resources. Such sites provide consumers with easy access to a pool of high-quality, topical and most importantly, unbiased information, generated not by commercial interests but by other consumers, thus helping to reduce, if not totally eliminate, the aforementioned credibility issue. As a result, social media have had an almost immediate and dramatic effect on how travel is researched, planned and bought."

Engaging with Social Media
With social media becoming such an integral part of consumers' global travel habits, hotels are struggling with finding the internal resources to manage social networks and establish 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 — including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and blogs — but being interactive, constantly monitoring content and keeping the conversations going," CoMMingle's Virdo said. "That's where the success or failure of a social media marketing program comes to play. 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. That's where CoMMingle comes in. We become the eyes and ears of the hotel, monitoring conversations and posting instant replies if desired."

Not only does CoMMingle become an extension of a hotel's Public Relations and Marketing teams, but the company also serves as a consultant to its customers, advising hotels how to deal with social media reviews and giving them tools to manage their social presence effectively. For instance, CoMMingle will nip a bad review in the bud by contacting the hotel and having the appropriate person address the situation — or CoMMingle can manage the conversation. A neglected Tweet can turn into negative Facebook post and eventually turn into a devastating TripAdvisor review.

"As a CoMMingle customer, hotels are not buying Facebook 'maintenance,' but rather they receive a vast array of services that can be adjusted hourly, daily, weekly or monthly," Virdo said. "We literally go with the social-media flow, identifying for the hotel where its strength lies. If a hotel is strong on Twitter, CoMMingle will suggest a campaign that addresses the Twitter audience; If the hotel's strength is on Facebook, then we will suggest posts that drive traffic back to the hotel's Website and/or blog and also continue the conversation on Facebook and Twitter."

According to travel market research firm PhocusWright, social networking is one of the most powerful forces driving travel planning today. The firm found that social media use among travelers is growing far faster than the travel industry itself. A survey conducted by travel social network WAYN for the World Travel & Tourism Council and carried out in conjunction with Frommer's Budget Travel magazine, asked nearly 3,580 people (780 U.S., 2,800 non-U.S.) a range of questions about how they plan, book and use technology with travel. The study revealed that 38% percent of U.S. travelers and 64% of non-U.S. travelers are using social networks while travelling. Of those, 32% of U.S. and 22% of non-U.S. travelers frequently blog about their experiences.

"Social media marketing must be part of every hotel's strategic marketing plan," said DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive. "But it's important to note that one size social media marketing does not fit all. CoMMingle takes the time to understand each hotel's overall goals and objectives, then the team crafts a social media strategic plan for that specific property, backed by proprietary technologies and experienced social media marketers. With experts predicting that social media will continue to grow by leaps and bounds through 2016 and beyond, there is no better time than the present to CoMMingle."

Lodging Interactive Wins Travel Weekly’s Magellan & W3 Awards For Excellence

Lodging Interactive, an award winning Interactive and Social Media Marketing Agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, today announced it has won two prestigious industry awards for its work on the Wyndham Garden Hotel New York Time Square South.

“The Travel Weekly Magellan Awards honor the best in travel and acknowledge the outstanding web designers behind it all,” said Mr. DJ Vallauri, Founder & President of Lodging Interactive.  “Our team is honored to, once again, have been bestowed the prestigious Travel Weekly Magellan Award.”

Lodging Interactive was also awarded a W3 Silver Award for design excellence from the International Academy of The Visual Arts. The W³ Awards honors creative excellence on the web, and recognizes the creative and marketing professionals behind award winning sites, marketing programs, and video work created for the web. The W3 Awards received over 3,000 entries from Ad Agencies, Public Relations Firms, Interactive Agencies, In-house creative professionals, Web Designers, Graphic designers and Web Enthusiasts.