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Posts tagged with "hotels"

Booking a Coachella hotel from the eyes of a hotel marketer

As a hospitality marketer, there are many things of which I take note when booking a hotel room. I love when a hotel has clearly dedicated time and money to its online presence – it tells me that if the property sees the value in spending money on the page, that off the page it will likely also fit my needs and desires. So when I decided to attend the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival very last minute, I knew I might have to do some digging to find both a hotel with availability and a hotel worthy of my business. To my dismay, I found a plethora of hotels in the Palm Springs area that were not worthy of my business and probably realistically don’t receive much business outside of the busy Coachella and Stagecoach Festival weekends.

image

For anyone not familiar with the Palm Springs area, it is a frequent spot for retired, luxury travelers looking to shop, relax with friends, partake in some fine dining, and simply unwind.
There are many nice hotels in the area that cost a pretty penny. But, as I found out through my hotel booking experience earlier this week, there are so many properties in the area that do charge a more affordable price, which would perhaps allow a traveler to spend money on other nice luxuries. So what’s the problem? These hotels have virtually no web presence! How does anyone actually find these properties and book with them?

I came across multiple hotels that had no online booking systems. Call to book? Okay…fine. But alas, there was no answer and the phone rang and rang. There were broken linksand broken plug-ins. A few had social media pages listed but when clicked upon, I foundthey were not linked to anything. Don’t even get me started on the poor image qualitysome websites showed. Many had outdated copy or were very obviously keyword stuffing. There was a lot of missed opportunity for bookings and while I understand that it can be hard to spend money on marketing when money isn’t coming in…hoteliers need to remember that you have to spend money to make money!

I understand that Palm Springs might not have the most tech-savvy travelers visiting, so something as simple as a Facebook icon not linking to the hotel’s Facebook page might not be trivial. But travelers are becoming more tech-savvy these days and Palm Springs hotels are just one example. I’m sure there are a large number of hotels out there with websites over a decade old that are missing out on a lot of conversions…but we can’t even find them on Google to verify their existence!

How Hoteliers Can Take Advantage of ‘Foursquare for Business’

While it may be true that Foursquare is not doing as well as was initially projected, it is also true that at least some guests are still checking in to your hotel on the popular location-basedsocial network. Yes, Foursquare does not have the user base of Facebook, but if your guests are there, you should be too. Enter Foursquare for Business, a new mobile app released for iOS and Android yesterday designed to supplement Foursquare and ease the business page management process for business owners on-the-go.

The first step in gaining access to Foursquare for Business is toclaim your business, which hopefully was done long ago. After downloading the application from your app store, enter your log-in information, et voila! From here, business owners can perform the following tasks:

  • Check activity – This shows you any recent activity happening on your business page – recent visitor check-ins, tips, photos, likes, etc. The tab is simple, yet valuable for any quick up-to-the-minute activity.
  • Manage specials – From this tab, you can turn specials on or off, and manage various aspects. A big limitation and something that will most likely be added soon is the ability tocreate specials must still be done on a desktop computer.
  • View customer stats – The stats available are not incredibly detailed but they can tell you enough to get an idea of the demographic of your social media-savvy customers. Available to you currently on the Stats tab is a summary of your business’ page, such as how many total check-ins there are. There is also a list of your recent top customers, and how many times each has checked in.
  • Post updates – Perhaps one of the best features of Foursquare for Business, business owners can now easily share updates and photos with their customers on the business’ Foursquare page, while simultaneously sharing them on Twitter and Facebook.

How can hoteliers use Foursquare for Business? Beyond the ease in the way you manage your hotel’s online reputation, you can do a lot more to bring in guests to your property. Especially with Foursquare’s recent updates and the way it expertly recommends establishments to nearby users, there is lots of opportunity to draw in passersby by posting a photo of your restaurant’s latest specialty, or your fancy new lobby artwork. Update your page to broadcast that there’s a special event going on at your property. It’s simply a quick and easy way to get the word out about anything exciting your guests would like. Is there a special group meeting at your hotel? Turn on a special for a discount on drinks at your lounge. Did you forget Valentine’s Day is coming up and you’re not on the property? With a few quick swipes and clicks you can turn on the spa day special.

Foursquare for Business may not be a groundbreaking development but it is still a valuable addition and without a doubt opens up more potential for interaction between brands and users. Get started updating your hotel’s Foursquare page today!

Frosty the Hotel Marketer

(Sung to the tune of Frosty the Snowman)

Hotel Arazzo was a lovely old hotel,
With quaint little rooms and a stellar staff,
Though it still had rooms to sell.
Hotel Arazzo is the perfect tale, they say,
Of using the web to get heads in beds,
In a most efficient way.
It redesigned its website,
Made a mobile website too.
Throw in a site for tablets and
Oh, how the traffic grew!
Then, Hotel Arazzo,
Launched a travel blog,
And the more it wrote,
Search engines took note,
Now Page 1 it does hog!
Google, Bing, Yahoo,
Google, Bing, Yahoo,
Visibility has increased.
Google, Bing, Yahoo,
Google, Bing, Yahoo,
Bookings haven’t ceased!

Hotel Arazzo knew
It needed another hook,
For there’s more to explore,
More revenue in store,
From Twitter or Facebook.
So many networks,
Where else should the hotel be?
On Pinterest and Instagram,
Google+ is gaining fans,
YouTube lets guests see!
The hotel thrived and flourished
As its social networks grew,
People joined in online,
Old guests and many new!
For Hotel Arazzo,
Made the most of the online space,
And as the guests piled in,
It declared this a win,
As it still is in the race!
Tweet, Post, Pin, Share,
Tweet, Post, Pin, Share,
New site and SEO
Tweet, Post, Pin, Share,
Tweet, Post, Pin, Share,
Social media – here we go!

Read more: Hotel for the Holidays: A Social Media Poem

Is Anonymity the Key to Social Apps for Hotels?

Last week, Tnooz reported on a new application called MeetMeIn, which was recently released by a German hotel management company and is currently being tested on select hotels in Germany. The app serves as a portal for hotel guests to find useful information relevant to their stays, as well as a haven for socializing with other guests, if desired. While most apps these days are either linked with Facebook directly or they encourage their users to connect with actual friends for travel tips, the key to MeetMeIn is that users remain anonymous.

MeetMeIn’s About page states a few of the app’s great features, listing it can be used “to network with new people, connect with guests, to view activities in and around the hotel, build relationships, participate in discussions, suggest a place or an attraction, or just have fun meeting and interacting with other guests.” While this may sound similar to existing apps such as LobbyFriend, which connects guests to other guests, and software by Intelity, which enables many digital concierge amenities, the standout feature of MeetMeIn is anonymity between users.

Without a doubt, apps like these are the perfect medium for hotels. They can alleviate stress on an already-busy concierge, work as a promotional tool, and serve as yet another channel to get the word out about specific events or local tips. The problem with the more transparent apps is that they can easily scare people off. Not everyone has the desire to so publicly post or share content with a bunch of strangers. Many users are interested in connecting, sharing, and participating but would like the interactions to stay online. They might not want to run into somebody in the lobby who would flag them down to chat. This is why MeetMeIn could prevail. Users can remain anonymous yet still perform many of the tasks they might be able to on Facebook, Foursquare, or another app specifically designed for hotels where there is a public face behind the name.

With the rise in social media has come the idea that everything should be more transparent, but when it comes to travel, it may be possible that the bigger picture is simply getting travel tips from other like-minded travelers. The specific identity of each person plays a small or even nonexistent role. What becomes important now is getting the most out of the trip!

Sep 5

The Importance of TripAdvisor’s New Full Review Form

TripAdvisor alleviated its review process more than ever last week when the popular travel website released its newest widget for hotels. The widget, called the Full Review Form, is a nice addition to TripAdvisor’s pre-existing widgets that encourage users to leave reviews with an inset on the hotel’s website itself. Before this new widget was released, the only options available let users simply start the review process but made them navigate to the TripAdvisor website in order to actually finish and post the review. With the Full Review Form, reviewers can fill out an entire TripAdvisor review without ever leaving the hotel’s website.

This new plugin aims to be more effective in garnering reviews. The idea is that since users won’t have to navigate to a different site at all, they can quickly rate the cleanliness, service, value, etc. and leave a note about the property without hesitation or inconvenience. It is typically considered poor etiquette to ask a customer flat out for a review, so this widget can have an even greater impact because a customer will be more likely to leave a review on his own instead of being used as an obvious promotional vehicle. From TripAdvisor’s official press release:

“TripAdvisor’s new Full Review Form tool helps businesses collect more reviews and opinions right from their own websites and make this feedback available before our large community of travelers,” said Christine Petersen, president of TripAdvisor for Business. “Research shows that 81 percent of travelers find user reviews important when determining which hotel to stay at during their trip, and nearly half won’t book a property if it doesn’t have reviews on sites like TripAdvisor.”

The Full Review Form widget only reiterates the ever-growing importance of reviews in the travel industry. With this potential increase in hotel reviews, it is also essential that a hotel’s management monitors and responds accordingly to select reviews. A recent Forrester and TripAdvisor study revealed the following insightful statistics about online reviews:

  • 71% of travelers think that management responses are important
  • 68% of travelers would choose a hotel with management responses over a comparable hotel without them
  • 79% of travelers feel reassured to see management responses to negative reviews
  • Hotels that respond to online reviews (positive or negative) average 6% higher review scores than hotels that do not

These numbers should encourage hoteliers to enhance their strategies for getting reviews, as well as responding to reviews in the digital space, and installing TripAdvisor’s Full Review Form widget is a good place to start!

                                  Tripadvisor logo

5 Things Hotels Did For You That You Didn’t Even Know You Needed

While you may think your company has great service, you might find it hard to surpass the lengths that some hotels go to please their customers. While hotels are all about service, there are a few select hotels out there that have gone beyond the usual kleenex flowers, free coffee dispensers, and the endless assortment of free bathroom toiletries. They’ve provided services and amenities that you didn’t even know you needed, if indeed you actually needed them at all.

These services and amenities include:

5. A Pocket Change Cleaning Service

Henry Ford once said, “Quality is doing it right when no one is looking.” This is something that the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco has certainly taken to heart. Since 1938 the hotel has taken it upon themselves to wash all the currency they receive at the front desk so that each penny, nickel, dime, and quarter you receive from them sparkles like newly minted coins. This isn’t something they advertise. It’s just one of those unspoken courtesies, like the triangular folded ends of toilet paper rolls in hotel bathrooms.

The current hotel money washer, Rob Holsen, has been doing this three times a week for 20 years. He estimates that he’s probably cleaned a neat $1.5 million  in cash over that time. Arnold Batliner, his predecessor, had probably cleaned at least $14 Million in cash altogether. That’s a lot of coin!

4. Complementary Emergency Head Bags

The “APA” in Japan’s APA Hotel Chain stands for “Always Pleasant Amenity.” And while we wouldn’t dispute that this hotel offers such pleasant amenities, this particular one pictured below had us scratching our heads:

Emergency Head Bag
Source: Reddit.com

What we have here is a large plastic bag to wrap around one’s head should there be a fire. The plastic bag is intended to protect the wearer from smoke inhalation for about 2 to 3 minutes before the oxygen runs out. While we’re glad that the hotel is being conscientious about the safety of their guests, this particular amenity made them seem less like thoughtful hosts and more like overprotective parents.

3. Hallway Snore Patrols

Crowne Plaza Hotels, in an effort to stave off guests’ complaints of sleepless nights due to the stentorian snoring of a neighbor, have decided to hire hallway snore patrols in select hotels in Europe and the Middle East to knock on the doors of those whose snorts can be heard from the hallway in certain “Quiet Zones” of the hotels. Repeat offenders of the anti-snoring ordinance will be referred to rooms outside of the quiet area. Seems like Crowne is committed to peace and quiet in their hotels by any means necessary.

2. A Resident Psychic

Colorado’s Stanley Hotel takes its reputation as one of the most haunted hotels in the U.S. seriously. And they should. After all, Stephen King, while staying in room 217 reportedly had certain paranormal experiences that became the basis of his book “The Shining.” Because of this, if you turn to channel 42 you can have the “privilege” of watching Kubrick’s film adaptation of the book for ever and ever…

Twins from the Shining
….and ever.

Because of their history of hauntings, the Stanley is the only hotel that we know of to have a resident psychic on the payroll. Not only that, but their social media manager also happens to double as a paranormal investigator. We doubt that any similar positions will open up at other hotels any time soon.

1. A Bathtub Full of Reese’s Peeces. (Ok, Not Really)

You could fill a volume with the number of unusual requests made by hotel guests. Howard Hughes, for example, had hotel staff hide sandwiches in trees for him to find later. Of course, unless you’re insanely wealthy like Hughes was, you’ll probably be hard pressed to find hotel staff who would comply with such outlandish requests.

That’s why when a guest of the Hotel Monaco in Portland, a part of the Kimpton hotel chain, jokingly asked for a bathtub of Reese’s Pieces and a bed full of kittens, he didn’t expect anything of it.

Upon entering the room, however, this is what he got:

Bathub Full of Reese's Pieces

For more photos and the whole story, go here: http://imgur.com/gallery/d573R

This guest happened to be a user of the ultra popular site reddit, with over 2 billion pageviews a month (yes, Billion with a “B”). The link reached the front page of the site and resulted in a massive PR win for Kimpton, all for the price of a card, some candy, and a little thoughtfulness. Pays to go the extra mile, no?

This is a guest post by Kenji Crosland of eVenues. eVenues is a Seattle-based startup and an online marketplace for meeting rooms and event space–currently focused mostly on the West Coast. For more great content, check out their blog and their event planning guide.

(Source: e-marketingassociates.com)

From Liking to “Liking” - How to Get Your Hotel Guests to Join You on Facebook

For your typical hotel, creating and maintaining a social media presence is hard enough, but growing your network can be even harder. It can be challenging for some hotels to convert even their most loyal guests into fans online. So how can you get guests that like your hotel to in turn Like you on Facebook? Beyond a rigorous social media outreach program, there are a few simple practices you can employ that will encourage your customers to join and engage you on your various social media channels.

Utilize social media icons
First off, don’t underestimate the power of social media icons. Keep the icons subtle though, not loud or too front & center. Add your hotel’s buttons to the email signatures of all staff and employees. They should also be posted on your homepage as well as your blog. If you follow up with guests via an online monthly newsletter or something similar, this is also a great place to include those social media icons and is a medium that is often neglected. Going off-line, I recently stayed at a hotel that put its Facebook URL on complimentary water bottles in the rooms. This was a great idea because it showed me that not only was the hotel savvy, but that it also wanted to connect with me online.

Incorporate technology on-site
Many properties have computers available for guests’ use in the lobby or business center. Set the computers’ browsers’ default page to your hotel’s Facebook page. If your property uses iPads or tablets, try to incorporate your Facebook and other social media channels into your app or digital services. If you use TV screens in the lobby or anywhere on the property, bring awareness to your Facebook or Twitter by showing a ticker or feed for them on part of the screen.

Provide enticing content
Publishing compelling content on Facebook is another way to bring in more people to your community. EdgeRank, Facebook’s news feed algorithm, will reward posts with high engagement by placing them high on others’ news feeds, so all the more reason to give your fans what they want. Getting friends of your fans to Like your page can be easy if they see value! Don’t be afraid to promote a contest or a special just for your community on the site.

These tips can be especially helpful for independent hotels, which might not always have the same marketing opportunities as brand name properties. What other strategies have you found successful to bring in people to your online communities?

                                      

Top 10 Hotel Websites - Respond & Win Starbucks Card!

If you read our blog on a regular basis or have ever come across one of our articles, you’ll notice we rarely, if ever, promote our own services as a company. We don’t use our blog to plug ourselves but instead discuss digital marketing trends that often focus on the hospitality industry since we cater to hotels. We typically don’t ask for direct responses from our readers but welcome genuine insightful discussions on our comments sections. However, E-Marketing Associates is currently revamping our website design program and for the first time, we are asking for your help to make our web design program the best it can be. Don’t worry – it’s easy, and there’s even an incentive to participate (details to come)!

Internally, we have come up with a list of our top 10 favorite hotel websites that we evaluated based on the current web trends. We looked at the website design, functionality, content, speed, etc. We have included screenshots and links to the respective websites below.

Where you come in
What we want from you, our readers, is feedback on these websites. Which are your favorites? What aspects do you like or dislike? Keep in mind the characteristics mentioned above – design, functionality, content, speed, etc. Do you have other favorite hotel websites that aren’t included below? You can make your observations based on the screenshots, but we encourage you to visit the hotels’ sites and click around to get a more in-depth look.

Reward
We are offering three $25 Starbucks cards to the three most authentic and insightful responses. We prefer you to comment below but we will also accept responses on Facebook, Twitter, social bookmarking sites, etc.

Again, this is only for internal purposes and we are just looking for honest input from hoteliers, marketers, designers, etc. on what makes hotel websites great. We would also really appreciate you sharing this with your colleagues and friends so we can get as much feedback as possible. Start scrolling and we’ll see you in the comments section!

1. The London West Hollywood

2. The Shores Resort & Spa

3. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

4. Hotel Chocolat5. Four Seasons Los Angeles

6. Lion Sands

7. Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts

8. Vista Caballo

9. Bellagio Las Vegas

10. Xinalani Retreat

10. Aria Hotel (tie)

May 9

Hotels and Social Media: Agency or DIY?

If you manage or are in a position of power at a hotel, it is probably up to you to decide how to manage your hotel’s social media channels. In all reality, it takes a lot more time and effort than you probably think. To do it right takes constant monitoring, updating, responding, tweeting, posting, tagging…the list goes on! To take that on all while running an entire property would be quite a feat. Hiring an agency or marketing team to flourish your social media presence is a viable option, along with doing it yourself, but neither is without its pros and cons.

Hire outside
The best reason to outsource or hire an agency to run your social media channels is that you will have more time to take care of other important concerns. You’ll be hiring experts (presumably), so you also won’t have to spend time learning about and reading up on the latest and best digital strategies. If you are lucky enough to have a team of individuals working on your account, that’s even better – you’ll get double, triple, even quadruple, the brain power. With an agency, chances are you will get more ideas, more hands, more combined experience, and probably more savvy people than you would otherwise. A potential negative to hiring an outside marketing team is that there could be a disconnect between your property and the company. You need to be sure that the Point of Contact at the property is available and responsive to the social media team in case any specific questions arise. That person also should update the agency when there is something special going on at the property so the team can properly publicize it.

Do it yourself
Handling your hotel’s social media accounts in-house is the other option. If you need to update your fans and followers with information quickly, it’s probable that you will be able to disseminate that information faster since you might have to go through multiple people to get to the right person at an agency. However, it’s much easier for someone working at a hotel to not be as well-versed in the appropriate social media tactics. There’s also the opportunity cost to keep in mind – what is not getting done while that employee is updating Facebook or writing tweets? At some hotels, it might be possible to hire someone specifically to run the social media accounts. But is that really cost-effective? Hiring an agency in most cases is cheaper than hiring a full-time employee.

Whether hiring an agency or doing it yourself, it is clear that hotels need to implement a consistent social media plan in order to keep up with the industry. The possibilities and opportunities are endless on the Internet, and you’ll keep your guests happy too!

Hotels: Optimize Your Twitter Network

I was recently reading a Mashable article about small businesses on Twitter and it got me thinking about a similar issue but for hotels. Building a strong and steady Twitter following for your property helps get the word out about your hotel, improves your SEO, and enhances your credibility. But what is the best way to go about gathering a large but loyal following?

One of the first tips I can give you is embrace the power of following others. When I come across a brand that has a high number of Followers but a very low number of Following, it automatically gives me the impression that the company cares very little about doing actual outreach. I feel like the company is unlikely to interact with me and has a presence on the social network only to promote itself and gain followers so that it can showcase “impressive” numbers.

Who Should You Follow?
It can be tricky figuring out whom exactly to follow because you don’t want to follow just anyone. Show your Tweeps love by following people that frequently interact with you and retweet you. You should not follow back everyone that follows you, especially since you will probably get some spambots in there, so take a minute to read someone’s bio and possibly check out his/her tweets before making the ultimate decision. If what you see is pertinent to your hotel then I recommend following back, especially because you may not know how influential the person is or who he/she knows.

In terms of seeking out people to follow, influential hospitality bloggers or other key industry people are a good place to start, especially because those can be the people that carry compelling Twitter conversations. Community leaders are also interactive on the network. Does your hotel have a killer golf course next to it? Follow golf bloggers or people who have a clear interest in golf. If you have a unique special then seek out people whose interests are relevant and start conversations with them or invite them to check out the special. Don’t forget about local venues or events with Twitter accounts as well.

Following Tools
Twitter Lists are a great way to find people to follow within targeted areas. Your hotel itself will probably be added to others’ Lists and that will only increase your exposure. There are some websites you can use that help you mass follow people, but in general that is frowned upon and can bring you many low quality followers. If you follow a large number of people but want to see who isn’t following you back, sites such as ManageFlitter can tell you and even lets you unfollow people from the site. Unfollowing people is helpful if you are trying to keep your number of Followers and Following balanced and while it may seem a bit unethical, maybe you have nothing in common with a specific user so following him or her might not be the best connection.

Building a following can be time consuming but keep in mind that it’s quality, not quantity! For more tips and hospitality-related articles, follow us on Twitter!