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#AskDJV Episode 29: Hotel Digital Marketing – Social Media Marketing

Are you a hotel sales manager?  Have you ever wondered how to capitalize on your online digital marketing efforts with your offline marketing campaigns?  In this week’s episode of #AskDJV, DJ Vallauri discusses what you can do to integrate your hotel social media marketing with your offline marketing efforts.

Hotel Social Media Marketing

How do you marry both online marketing and real world marketing?  Try some of the following hotel marketing tips:

  • Use something like Periscope (tell stories about your hotel) to stream live video about your hotel.
  • Describe memorable events from working on your hotel property
  • Explain why your hotel is special, but don’t try to “close”, instead, build a community around your hotel.
  • Do not underestimate the power of hotel email marketing. Use this tool as a way to get feedback, earn repeat guests and create a buzz about your hotel.

 

Remember these Hotel Marketing Tips:

  • Show a genuine interest in people
  • Respond to guests through the application, if someone is asking you a question, pause for a moment, answer them, then continue to live stream your hotel video
  • Be Yourself. Be genuine, concerned and a real person.
  • Find a common ground – if you are talking about weddings or social events, stick to the subject matter.
  • Tie your Hotel Internet Marketing efforts with your offline marketing efforts, ensuring that you are reaching your largest guest audience

We hope you enjoy Episode 29 of the #AskDJV show.  Come back next week when we discuss Negative Hotel Reviews and how you can avoid them.

Tweet me @DJVallauri using the hashtag #AskDJV, and your question could be featured on the show!

Until next week!

#AskDJV – Episode 14: Social Media Marketing & Social Customer Care Collide

In Episode 14 of the #AskDJV Show, I talk about why social media marketing and social customer care are colliding.

Want more #AskDJV? Visit our website to view all of the episodes we’ve posted.

You can also check back here each Friday for the latest episode.

Do you have a question for me?

Tweet me @DJVallauri using the hashtag #AskDJV, and your question could be featured on the show!

Thanks for watching!

Are You Posting Properly to Facebook?

Today, there are more than 1.5 billion active Facebook users, with 699 million people logging onto Facebook each day and 4.5 billion "likes" generated daily as of May 2013, according to the leading social media giant. More important to note is that 16 million local business pages have been created since June, which is a 100 percent increase from 8 million in June 2012, Facebook reports. Hoteliers who want to compete effectively and maintain a competitive edge need to know how to best utilize Facebook and ensure that their efforts stand out and reach intended audiences. CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive, an outsourced social media marketing agency that develops customized solutions for hotels, restaurants and spas, has a simple list of suggestions to make the most out of a Facebook social media campaign.

"Approximately 42 percent of marketers claim that eMarketing via Facebook is crucial for business success," said Rosella Virdo, Director of CoMMingle Social Media Marketing. "That leaves 58 percent of marketers who seem to be missing the big picture. Utilize Facebook as more than just another vehicle to advertise or promote your property. Social media marketing has become an extension of your customer service. With that knowledge and focus, you can then speak with your fans about your property and offerings, drive engagement and create loyalty. Then social media marketing becomes an all-encompassing vehicle to reach, speak and mingle with your audience, paving the road for a successful marketing campaign.

"Social Media Marketing has a different approach than traditional marketing," she said. "No longer do you shout your message, now you share your message to those listening and encourage them to share spread the word. Today with social media, hoteliers have the opportunity to share, connect and listen to their fans/guests, and most importantly, offer the level of customer service they come to expect while still sharing all you have to offer. This new way of marketing includes reputation management, customer service, traditional marketing and giving a human voice to a brick and mortar business. To help hotel marketers put their best Facebook post forward, the CoMMingle team is offering the following tips."

10 Tips to Facebook Posting Success:

1. Keep it short: Share just a bit of what you’d like to say, but be brief. Try to keep the post to around 250 characters, without losing the message you want to share.

2. Photos / Videos: To make your message stand out, a photo or video will bring the eye to the message. Give viewers an inside view of what makes the hotel tick. An example: Showcase your employees. Adding a first name and a face from the person to the service they received or will be receiving, offers that personal touch. Display a front desk clerk welcoming a guest . . . the housekeeper hard at work . . . or your marketing manager smiling at their desk. Always ask the employee for their permission before you post.

3. Call to Action: Engage your audience by asking questions or suggest a link to visit, "like" the post, or share an experience.

4. Offer a perk to your Fans: Create a special offer with link, exclusive to your fans. Links and calls to action add value to a Facebook campaign.

5. Participation: Ask your audience to participate in the process of building your next package or promotion. For example, request feedback from your fans on what type of amenities they would like to see in a package? Free Internet, Free Parking, Free Resort Fees, Dinner for Two, etc. Use the feedback to create the package then let your audience know that they were a vital part of the process by their input. 

6. Be consistent and current: Post about local events around the hotel. Make sure that you offer links, and post consistently (once or twice a week is good).

7. Create a Social Media Calendar: Plan a strategy to compliment your off line marketing initiatives. Topics, times, frequency that work best with the hospitality industry. Remember that these “best practices” of when to post are not relevant to every industry and every audience. Learn your audience; learn the audience of your industry.

8. Target: You can create posts on Facebook specific to an audience. If you have a package available to only the  residents of your state, then target post to the audience in that segmented location demographic.

9. Schedule posts: You can schedule posts up to six months in advance in 10 minute intervals. This will help you manage your time more effectively.

10. Have fun. Keep the “social” on your social network. Post fun trivia facts about your location; create engaging puzzles focused on your brand or city; send encouragement of support to your local sports teams, etc.

"According to Infodocket, the average time spent per Facebook visit is about 20 minutes," Virdo said. "You have a small window of opportunity to share your message and speak with your audience. Knowing effective ways to reach them could make all the difference in your success. If you are still unsure as to whether or not your message is effective, give CoMMingle a call today."

Lodging Interactive to Launch Innovative New Service for Hospitality Industry

Lodging Interactive announced today an innovative new  service for the hospitality industry, www.HotelFAQs.info. Powered by proprietary technology developed by Lodging Interactive and enhanced by professional copywriting services of its CoMMingle Social Media Marketing division, HotelFAQs.info enables hotel websites to offer comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) pages.  The results are increased booking conversion rates, reduced customer calls to the front desk and exceptional online customer service.

“Online shopping websites clearly understand the value of offering their shoppers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) pages, yet in the hospitality industry we fail to provide FAQs that would improve online booking conversion rates,” said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive’s Founder and President. “Instead, we force potential guests to call the property and to hunt down the information they seek prior to making a reservation; we knew there had to be a better way and developed HotelFAQs.info.”

Developed to leverage the value of social media networking, HotelFAQs.info easily integrates into any hotel’s Facebook page and blog.  Fully mobile compatible, HotelFAQs.info enables smartphone users to also benefit from vital FAQ content, thereby supporting and increasing mobile booking conversion rates.

“Our HotelFAQs.info service is fully managed for the hotel," Vallauri said. "We develop the questions people typically ask the front desk or reservations department, source the answers from the hotel and even allow new questions to be asked by consumers online. We also optimize all content to maximize its organic search engine value so the hotel can benefit from a lift in search engine rankings.”

For more information, please visit www.HotelFAQs.info.

Budgeting for 2014? Remember Reputation Management Plus Social Media / Web / Mobile Marketing

If there is one thing hoteliers can't forget to budget for in 2014, it is digital marketing. Keeping website and mobile web content fresh, scrutinizing the property's reputation via the web and social media channels, plus responding to guest reviews is critical for operational success and true customer-relationship management. The good news is that hoteliers can count on the fully managed digital marketing programs and expertise offered by Lodging Interactive and it’s social media marketing agency, CoMMingle.

"'It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.' Hoteliers need to heed this advise [offered by one of the world's most savvy and successful businessmen, Warren Buffett], especially in today's digital marketing age," said DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive, an award winning full-service digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. "Many hoteliers are already finding it hard to keep up with managing content on Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube. Throw in rapidly growing channels Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and others, and marketers are realizing they’re going to need help in order to be effective. The same is true for responding to online guest reviews and managing a hotel’s online reputation. If any of these digital marketing touch points are not being properly orchestrated, the hotel's reputation and revenues will be negatively effected.

"The most cost-effective and productive way to manage and maintain a robust digital marketing program is to work in partnership with an experienced digital marketing agency, and one that is exclusively serving the hospitality industry," Vallauri said. "Budgeting for digital marketing today — including inflation for pay-per-click programs costs — will ensure success in 2014 and beyond."

Lodging Interactive has identified six must-haves that hoteliers need to build into their budgets for 2014 for an effective digital marketing campaign:

1. Staffing to set-up and maintain a Google+ page. Not only do marketers need staff to support a G+ page, but they need to budget sufficient time for staff to engage with the hotel's target audience and support ongoing conversations. Today, two-way communication via Facebook and Twitter pages is not enough. The name of the game in 2014 is aggressive participation on Google’s social network, Google+.

2. Staffing resources to reply to all guest reviews on top travel review sites and social networks. Whether a review is positive or negative, it requires a response. For many properties this can be a full time job. Think of the service as a way to reach the next potential guest who is reading your reply.

3. Guest Review Widget deployment on the hotel’s website, or vanity website if the hotel is branded.  Marketers need to provide guests with a place to leave reviews on their hotel's website, and not online travel agent (OTA’s) sites. By implementing such a tool, hotels are removing OTA's from the equation and taking ownership of the guest-communication process and reducing their contribution of lower rated net rate business.

4. Streamlined mobile website exclusive for smartphone users. Forget about a 75-page responsive design . . . placing too much content on a mobile website can be more of a traveler deterrent rather than an incentive to book or buy. Hotels must have a dedicated mobile website that delivers a dynamic and streamlined user experience regardless of mobile device.  Remember, mobile is about speed and efficiency. 

5. Website redesign. Last year's website is obsolete. Ensure your website has been re-designed to leverage large photography – consumers have larger PC screens than ever and expect to see stunning visuals on your website.  Every hotelier should budget for new photography and re-designing of their existing website.

6. Inflated Pay-per-click Advertising. If your hotel has not increased its pay-per-click advertising budget in the last year of so, you had better do so for 2014. Year over year, travel related PPC costs have increased and there is now more competition than there used to be. The end result, the cost per clicks are increasing and hoteliers need to keep up.

"Hotel owners and marketers must consider adding each of these six line items to their 2014 budgets in order to be competitive, Vallauri said. “Lodging Interactive can provide hoteliers with guidance and support in all the areas mentioned and ensure properties remain competitive and maximize their online revenues in 2014.”

Fully Managed Social Media Marketing
Like Lodging Interactive, CoMMingle can also provide services above and beyond what hotels can provide themselves, especially in the area of social media monitoring and reputation management.

"Hoteliers typically can't afford to have internal, full-time social media watch dogs on staff, so CoMMingle will provide due diligence on their behalf," said Rosella Virdo, Director of CoMMingle Social Media Marketing. "CoMMingle will cost-effectively monitor conversations and post replies on the hotel's behalf. In addition, we can set up a Google+ page if needed and maintain weekly postings on the page; create a Pinterest hotel account, relevant pin boards, and then pin images weekly to the boards; establish and manage a customized blog focused on promoting local demand drivers and, create additional apps for the property — above and beyond what is presently being managed by the hotel. CoMMingle will even 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. "

As hotels of all sizes begin the arduous 2014 budgeting process, it's imperative that digital marketing and its many nuances don't get overlooked. If they do, the hotel's or brand's online reputation can suffer. Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle have the human resources and expertise on hand to cost-effectively maximize exposure and credibility to both loyal and prospective customers.

Hotels Looking to Heighten SEO and SMO Need to Engage with SoLoMo

Just when you thought you knew every possible acronym for hotel technology, a slew of new social media terms emerged, many of which are as important to learn as they are critical to implement for business success. Topping the list is SoLoMo, the convergence of Social, Local and Mobile strategies that is dramatically changing the way that businesses and consumers communicate. Lodging Interactive, and its outsourced social media marketing agency CoMMingle, are fluent in speaking the SoLoMo language, and together they are helping hotels improve conversations with global guests across the social, local and mobile channels to tap new revenue streams and target new customers.

"eMarketing today is an art, especially in a SoLoMo environment," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive founder and president. "The Internet, smartphones and social channels have made it possible for even the smallest hotel to share its messaging with the world with just a click or a touch. While the process sounds simple, the intricacies of SoLoMo marketing are quite complex. Which social media channels are the most effective to reach the right audience? When is the right time to push local offers and to whom? How do you manipulate web content for mobile devices and get users to engage with the offers being made? Who is monitoring the various SoLoMo conversations to protect the hotel's reputation? Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle have the time and the talent to address those questions and many more."

Lodging Interactive is an award winning full-service digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry. The company provides ROI-driven online marketing services, including: website design and development, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and online reputation management. CoMMingle manages hotels' use of social media channels, provides reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization.  

The SoLoMo Connection
According to "Technopedia," SoLoMo is defined as: A more mobile-centric version of the addition of local entries to search engine results. SoLoMo emerged as a result of the growing popularity of smartphones, and provides greater local precision to search engine results than what's available via a PC.

Consider this:

• More Internet access occurs through mobile devices than by laptop or desktop (Expedia)
• Two-thirds of Americans sleep with their mobile device in range (Expedia)
• Current number of bookings via mobile device is about 16 million, and it's expected to double by 2016 (Expedia)
• 97% of consumers now search for local businesses online (Eventility)
• 72% of consumers consider online reviews trustworthy (Eventility)
• 61% of Millennials reference social media when deciding where to go out (Eventility)
• 78% of small businesses now get at least a quarter of their new customers through social media (Eventility)

"Hoteliers can't turn their backs on these who are searching for the very services they offer," Vallauri said. "It's time to grab consumers' attention . . . and those consumers will tell their friends, and so on. The convergence of social, local, and mobile channels is key to how hoteliers can effectively communicate with guests, and how travelers willingly engage in return with hotels. Social addresses 'where' travelers share their hotel experience; Mobile is 'how' they send and receive information with the hotel; and Local speaks to the immediate environment or 'when' travelers can receive the best offers at the best rates for the best experience. When hotels harness the power of the SoLoMo initiative, it enables them to stay hyper-connected with their guests like never before."

Finding the expertise at the property level to launch a strong SoLoMo strategy is challenging, and being able to analyze its effectiveness once it goes live is equally as difficult. Next-generation hotels need to engage with guests socially via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. They must respond to online reviews . . . provide locally-meaningful content and offers . . . and manage that data to ensure that it is relevant to each audience on each channel. Having the staff and expertise to make all this happen is even more challenging. This where Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle can be a valuable resource.

"With SoLoMo 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," said Rosella Virdo, Director of CoMMingle Social Media Marketing. "Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle will assist hotels by 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.

"We monitor content and keep conversations going," she said. "We become the eyes and ears of the hotel, monitoring conversations and posting instant replies if desired. We also serve as an extension of a hotel's Public Relations and Marketing teams, and 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. The bottom line is that hotels need to tap into their customers, and having properly managed social, local and mobile profiles will keep them coming back and growing revenues while you are growing loyalty."

SoLoMo Portfolio
Leveraging a team of more than 50 highly skilled online content experts, Lodging Interactive offers the following services that work together or independently to support a hotel's SoLoMo campaign:

• Website design and management
• Hotel reservation services
• Social media marketing
• Reputation management
• Email newsletter marketing
• Guest review system
• Video production
• Strategic marketing
• Advertising agency services
• Measurement and accountability

"There is no time like the present to begin leveraging the power of SoLoMo," Vallauri said. "Hoteliers that don't know where or how to begin can tap the expertise of the Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle teams to receive a customized strategy for each property backed by superior customer service.”

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 Teams with InnLink to Offer Booking Engine, GDS/OTA Connectivity

Hotels using Lodging Interactive for online marketing services, including website design and development, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and online reputation management, can now benefit from the industry-leading InnLink Central Reservation System powered by Travlynx. Through this integration partnership, Lodging Interactive has added a booking engine and connectivity to the Global Distribution Systems (GDS) and Online Travel Agents (OTA) to its long list of award-winning, interactive and social media marketing services.

InnLink, powered by TravLynx CRS technology, has been delivering comprehensive reservations and revenue management solutions with award-winning customer service in the hospitality and travel industries for more than 20 years. The company powers more than 6,000 independent hotels, chain properties, resorts and destinations worldwide. 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 more than 35 countries with proven ROI-driven online marketing services.

"Lodging Interactive continues to go above and beyond its full-service web design and management services by partnering with the industry's best-of-breed solutions providers with whom we have uncanny synergies," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "InnLink was created for hoteliers, by hoteliers, as a way to deliver easy-to-use, intuitive management tools to hotels that have limited resources or that desire competitive support in their local market. Likewise, Lodging Interactive was formed to assist hotel operators who are struggling with finding the internal resources needed to implement online marketing strategies, manage social networks and establish effective social media marketing campaigns.

"Together, Lodging Interactive and TravLynx are leveraging their years of expertise to deliver the best possible results for our customers, including maximizing incremental net revenues and increasing visibility for mid-tier, limited-service hotel chains and independent properties," Vallauri said. "Our customers benefit by receiving an abundance of proven services, from seamless connectivity via InnLink to the GDSs and placement with the OTAs, to easy-to-use and understand analytics and a full-service call center based exclusively in the United States."

Kristin Intress, CEO of InnLink, said customers too will see immediate benefits from enlisting Lodging Interactive's expertise.

"Through this partnership, our customers have direct access to expert hotel marketing services that deliver results and win awards," Intress said. "Not only will Lodging Interactive's website design and management services be extended to TravLynx users, but customers will also benefit from expanded services, including website audits, website hosting and server management, a robust content management system, an optional Guest Review System, lead capture and reporting, social media analytics, social network engagement, mobile website development and more.

"Like Lodging Interactive, we only partner with the best," she said. "We are thrilled to be adding more services to drive net reservation revenue for our clients via Lodging Interactive; true leaders in their field and a good match for InnLink."

InnLink provides Lodging Interactive customers with access to:

• Seamless connectivity to the Global Distribution Systems (GDSs)
• Improved placement with the Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
• Direct Connect, Net Rate and Merchant model programs
• Fully customizable booking engine with easy to use/understand analytics
• Complete integration of packages and up sells to increase ADR and RevPAR
• Mobile booking engine through smartphones and social media (Facebook)
• Personalized, full-service call center based exclusively in the U.S.
• Group and Tour Reservation Desk with no additional fees
• Independent and after hours/overflow answering
• 24/7/365 reservation services

Via Lodging Interactive, InnLink customers, and those using any of the InnLink solutions, can receive:

• Website Design and Management
• Social Media Marketing
• Reputation Management
• Guest Review System
• Email newsletter marketing
• Video production
• Hotel gift certificates marketing
• Full advertising agency services
• Measurement and accountability services