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AAHOA Members to Receive Aide Via New Lodging Interactive Membership

Lodging Interactive has joined the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) as an Allied Member. The interactive and social media marketing agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry will unveil a comprehensive program during the AAHOA Convention in May that is designed to assist members with website design, optimization and content management.

"On behalf of the nearly 11,000 AAHOA members who own more than 40 percent of all U.S. hotels, we would like to officially welcome Lodging Interactive as an Allied Member,” said AAHOA President Fred Schwartz. “We wish them the best as they join us for what we expect to be a very successful new year.”

More than ever before, hotel owners and operators are looking for ways to improve their Web presence, increase direct web bookings, control their online reputations and better direct their overall online marketing programs and use of social media. As an Allied member, Lodging Interactive will work to build relationships with hotel owners and assist them in all of these areas through strategic and affordable services and consulting.

"These are still challenging times," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive President and CEO. "The economy is beginning to recover, but we're not out of the woods yet. That's why Lodging Interactive will introduce new financial models at the AAHOA Convention designed specifically for both small hotel owners and those running full-service properties with multiple flags."

Plan, Socialize, Engage and Measure
"Also at the show, we are encouraging members to sign up for a no-cost, no-obligation social media marketing audit through CoMMingle, Lodging Interactive's full-service social-media marketing agency," he said. "The explosion in social media offers owners powerful new ways to interact with their guests and prospects. The CoMMingle team will assist 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.

Lodging Interactive information can now be accessed via AAHOA's website at http://www.aahoa.com/Source/Products/Search.cfm?Section=Search. The company will also be exhibiting at the 2012 AAHOA Annual Convention & Trade Show in Atlanta May 2 to 5 at the Omni Hotel and the Georgia World Congress Center in Booth No. 124.

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."