Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Building Hotel Brand Loyalty Through Personalization

With intense competition between brands, hotels are finding that in order to gain and keep each customer’s loyalty, they must create a highly personalized experience. The guest experience must be unique at every step of the travel process. The planning pre-trip, time spent during the trip, and the post-trip need to make the guest feel as if their individual wants and needs have been met and even exceeded by the hotel. We’ll take a look at what hotels can do to personalize how future guests experience their hotel online.
The days of hotel marketers presenting cookie cutter content designed to appeal to all customers are gone. The key to winning over today’s traveler is to know the demographics of the hotel’s guests and shape content and create offers based on that information. From a larger perspective, what type of traveler stays at your hotel? What is compelling to a leisure traveler rarely will have any significance to the business traveler. But creating content that is structured and presented to appeal to the tastes of specific hotel guest segments requires much deeper demographic knowledge.
Technology, through websites and social media outlets, can provide hoteliers information to properly target their hotel marketing efforts. This is accomplished through tracking what users click on, likes on Facebook for example, and compiling them into valuable customer intelligence. The reverse works as well, making various offers and keeping track of who picks up an offer and what they do with specific incentives and rewards. Through these methods, specific users who are most actively engaged can be targeted with hotel marketing offers. Online cookies can be of great value in the process of personalization for hotel guests by recognizing each individual online user and automatically targeting them with special offers geared to their tastes and preferences.
Another area of personalized online hotel experience is making all searches relevant for each individual user. Hotel websites should deliver content that is contextually proper for the end user. Content should reflect knowledge of the user’s location also, as this may have a significant impact on their travel arrangements.
These factors are all of vital importance for the hotel that desires to stay ahead of their guests needs and desires, before they arrive on-property. In the next part in this series, we’ll examine what hotels can do to personalize the guest experience during their stay.




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Monday, February 24, 2014

Building Hotel Brand Loyalty - The Woman Traveler

The woman traveler has become the fastest growing and most influential demographic force shaping the hospitality industry today. As increasing numbers of women enter the workforce, they now comprise nearly half of all business travelers. In America alone, according to the Travel Industry Association, there are 32 million single women who travel every year. 30 percent of those women travel five or more times in a year.

This travel is for more than just business, but leisure travel as well. Solo vacation travel by single women is on the rise, based on information from Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Their figures indicate a 53 percent increase in single occupancy hotel room reservations made by women from 2011 to 2012. All of these numbers add up to the fact that hotels around the world must respond to the needs of the woman traveler. But what do women look for in a hotel?

 

Amenities

The fact that most airlines are charging for checked baggage puts an extra burden on women trying to fit all they need for their trip in one carry-on bag. Women like when hotels provide items on loan that they require, but would rather not have to pack. These items should include phone chargers, laptop power cords, hair dryers, curling irons, flatirons, razors, and yoga mats. Anything they may either forget or would take up too much space in their bag. Also, women expect to be able to actually use hotel toiletry items such as shampoo and conditioner and so would like to see them be of a higher quality, more like what they would use at home.

Food

Anyone who is trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle knows how difficult this can be while traveling. Providing healthy meal, snack, and beverage options in hotel restaurants and room service is of importance to women. Giving hotel guests the choice of smaller portions, meals prepared in healthier ways, and fresh juices or smoothies should be offered

Safety and Security

Safety and security are of much greater importance to women travelers than men. Because of this fact, some hotels have tried offering female-only floors, but this trend has not become widespread as many women feel offended by being singled out to that extent. Better solutions that will make women hotel guests truly safer and feel that way is to provide 24-hour staff at reception, female room service staff, and secure parking on hotel property.

Hotels need to recognize the importance of the woman traveler to the future of the hospitality industry. Women are now making most of the hotel booking decisions. This is whether they are traveling solo, with a group or family, or male companion. Hotels need to respond to their expectations for comfortable and safe travel.

 


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Friday, February 21, 2014

Hotel Marketing and Technology - Guest Services and Hotel Operations

Technology, as in all industries, is having a profound impact on the future of hotels. One way the hospitality industry is utilizing technology is to enrich the guest experience at their hotels around the world, while saving on operational costs. Services that once seemed like a luxury perk are now viewed as necessities that should be free, such as Wi-Fi. The expectations of the traveling consumer have reached a new level. As technology plays a greater role in their everyday lives, they expect hotels to keep up and meet their expectations. Technology is also streamlining day-to-day hotel operations while cutting expenses.

 

Guest Services

Hotels are beginning to digitalize every facet of how guests experience their stays. Younger consumers, a demographic hotels are trying to reach, are much more comfortable with hi-tech devices. They expect hotels to be as tech-savvy as they are. For example, tablets are being provided to travelers at some hotels to replace some concierge services. The tablets are loaded with hotel and local restaurant and attraction information. In rooms and suites, hand-held devices control, not only the TV but regulate the temperature and control the blinds as well.

 

Hotel Operations

Keeping track of all the sheets, towels, linens, and other items used and needed by hotels is a large undertaking. Inventory management is an area where hotels are realizing cost savings through loss prevention. Stitched into these items now are small electronic ID tags that are sensed, and counted, at certain entry and exit locations. This is reducing theft of these necessary items. 

All of these technology additions by the hospitality industry are meant to make guests more comfortable and feel at home, while making it easier and less costly for hotels to do so.

 

 

 


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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Building Hotel Brand Loyalty - The Young Traveler

Younger travelers, those between their late twenties and forties, comprise a large group of hotel customers whose influence is growing both in travel and society at large. The so-called X and Y Generations have, or in the case of the Millennial Y Generation, are just reaching the point of full decision-making and buying power. As hotels increasingly feel the influence of these age groups, the hospitality industry is being transformed because of their different set of expectations and growing clout as consumers.

These expectations, if met, will garner a higher degree of hotel brand loyalty than seen in older generations of travelers. Research by Expedia.com and Egencia has found that 51 percent of travelers from the Millennial Generation think hotel loyalty programs are important to them when booking hotels. This is in contrast with Baby Boomers being influenced by loyalty programs at only approximately 30 percent.

 

 

Mobile Technology

 

Younger travelers have grown up with technology and are completely comfortable with using it in every aspect of their travel. This includes planning their trip, booking hotels, making reservations during their stay, and voicing their opinion about the hotel through review websites and social media. Older generations are catching on to technology, and utilizing it in growing numbers for travel. But for the Millennial Generation and many from Generation X, mobile smartphones and tablets are just a part of everyday life, almost like breathing. For the younger traveler, hotels having a mobile app is just expected.

 

 

 

Social Media

While living with their mobile devices, younger travelers spend considerable time on social media and expect to be able to truly connect with the brands they give their money to, including hotel brands. Hotels, in order to earn and keep the brand loyalty of younger travelers, must have a robust and engaging social media presence across multiple networks. This means not merely putting up a page or opening an account and forgetting about it. Frequently updated posts featuring images and videos must be followed up with true interaction with hotel brand fans and followers. Not to mention the fact that younger hotel guests are more than willing to express their brand dissatisfaction on social media.

 

Hotel Design

Another factor that motivates younger generations of travelers is their love of design. This is a reflection of their level of comfort regarding the mixing of work and play. They desire spaces that can accommodate both worlds. One hotel design feature that can meet their needs is having large open lobby areas for social interaction while the young traveler works simultaneously.

The younger traveler is an important hotel market segment for hoteliers since population figures show that Millennials outnumber Baby Boomers. This will only increase moving forward through the coming decades. The young traveler of today is a future hotel guest who will shape the hospitality industry of tomorrow.

 


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Monday, February 17, 2014

Building Hotel Brand Loyalty -- The Senior Traveler

Between the “Baby Boomer” generation reaching retirement age and advances in medicine helping the “War” generation live longer, more active lives, there has never been a time with more senior citizens than right now. And the number of seniors is only going to grow in the coming years. This amounts to a sizable segment of potential hotel guests. Many hotels try to earn the patronage of the senior traveler merely with “senior discounts,” forgetting that it takes much more to earn the loyalty of the most experienced travelers.

Making hotels more friendly to a rapidly aging population should be mostly centered around changes in attitude and the training of staff to be more sensitive to the needs of seniors. Instilling an awareness in personnel that things such as strength, stamina, hearing, sight, and balance decline with age is important in anticipating the needs of seniors. This is crucial for providing outstanding hotel service to those guests. Another factor to be taken into consideration is the way Baby Boomers dismiss the facts of getting older. They do not like being treated as seniors, despite the reality of their age, because they still think of themselves as young. So in addition to the anticipation of their needs, providing excellent service to Boomers requires a degree of discretion.

Beyond training and awareness there are some changes to hotel operations and amenities that will make seniors more at home. Implementing some or all of these would go a long ways toward making seniors more likely to book the hotel again.

 

  • Streamline the check-in process in order to keep seniors from standing in line for extended periods of time. Ensure valet and porter service is available immediately upon arrival.
  • Avoid small or fine print in all hotel guest documents, room controls, menus, and other hotel amenity items. Restrict all forms to that which is absolutely necessary.
  • Respond quickly and efficiently to service requests and provide swift and positive response to complaints that need to be rectified. Doing otherwise can make some seniors feel helpless.
  • Be clear and straightforward regarding any ancillary hotel charges.
  • Have staff and facilities prepared for medical emergency scenarios that will arise.
  • Be sure hotel staff know precisely what to do in response to a variety of situations. 

Seniors, particularly Baby Boomers, will encompass significant and increasing numbers of hotel guests going forward in time. It is best for both the hospitality industry and its customers that hotels are fully prepared to welcome all guests to their establishment.

 


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Friday, February 14, 2014

Current Trends In Vacation Rentals - SEO Website Optimization

People are making most of their travel arrangements online, with nearly 8 out of every 10 booking online according to Google. And the world’s number one website search engine decides who and what they see. Recent changes to Google’s search algorithms have complicated the issue for vacation rental companies trying to stand above the crowd. Thinking of the end user, Google is encouraging original content with higher rankings and penalizing sites that merely stuff themselves full of keywords. Also, an active and engaging social media brand presence is an increasingly vital facet of a website’s search engine optimization (SEO). In this two part series, we will explain what steps can be taken both inside and outside a website to optimize it for higher search engine rankings.

 

Website Optimization

Relevant Keywords

In order to compile an effective keyword list for your website, it helps to truly understand your vacation rental home, its rental guests and their needs, and your vacation rental’s place in the community. Make your keywords descriptive with terminology that might be used by your guests. Be specific to the things that make your vacation home and its location special and unique. You must also understand the difference between broadly written keyword search terms and wording more specific to your particular location. For example, “Florida beach vacation rental” as opposed to “vacation rental”. The former will compete with a much smaller number of websites by being more specific.

 

Quality Content

Providing rich, valuable content to visitors is the most effective way to raise a websites search ranking. Giving your audience content that is always relevant while enjoyable, helpful, and informative, will bring them back again and again. This takes considerable effort and time, but pays off in the end. Quality, useful content will always help give your website ranking a boost.

These are a few things you can do directly on your website, but Google’s latest search algorithms give higher rankings based on social media presence and engagement. In part two, we’ll examine how social media influences a website’s search ranking.


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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Building Hotel Brand Loyalty - Through Mobile Apps - 2

The vast numbers of mobile devices, both smartphones and tablets, used by the public now is a good enough reason to have a mobile optimized hotel website. But to go a step further and reach out to customers in an effort to gain their loyalty, requires a mobile hotel app. Obviously, hotels are in the business of keeping their guests happy and with most guests carrying a mobile device, a hotel app can go a long way toward attaining that goal.

A hotel can offer their guests a higher level of customer service by utilizing a hotel app. Guests may not be fully aware of all the services and hotel amenities available to them during their stay. The app can be a useful tool to keep guests informed of any special events taking place on the property. Hotel apps should highlight special services such as a spa, restaurant, golf, skiing, and shopping, along with any associated special deals. This will make the hotel guests feel at home and like special “insiders”.

Many of a hotel’s guests may be visiting your destination for the first time and need valuable information about the surrounding area. Even seasoned travelers can gain inside information about the city, town, or countryside where the hotel is located from a hotel app. Offering users restaurant suggestions, sightseeing highlights, and travel directions will be greatly appreciated by both business and leisure travelers. The hotel can become a virtual tour guide for its guests that they will remember, tell their friends about and inspire them to return for future hotel bookings. Hotel guests will love having a concierge they can take with them wherever they go.

Providing excellent customer service is only one benefit for hoteliers. Improving hotel operations is another plus for hotel managers. The app can answer many questions that are usually asked of the hotel’s extremely busy front desk staff, freeing them up to handle more pressing matters. An added bonus to app users can be provided in the form of checking out through the app, avoiding front desk lines.

The dedicated hotel mobile app’s usefulness does not end when the guest’s stay is over. The great thing about an app is the fact that they take it with them when they leave. Valuable feedback can be learned through guest surveys conducted through the app. A hotel app can be a powerful tool also for maintaining connection with past guests, keeping them abreast of future specials or events to drive repeated hotel bookings.

The hotel app is a cost-effective means to gaining lasting guest brand loyalty for hotels. In the next part of this series, we will examine how personalizing the guest experience will strengthen this aim even more.


Posted via OnFast - http://www.OnFast.com

Building Hotel Brand Loyalty - Through Mobile Apps - 2

The vast numbers of mobile devices, both smartphones and tablets, used by the public now is a good enough reason to have a mobile optimized hotel website. But to go a step further and reach out to customers in an effort to gain their loyalty, requires a mobile hotel app. Obviously, hotels are in the business of keeping their guests happy and with most guests carrying a mobile device, a hotel app can go a long way toward attaining that goal.

A hotel can offer their guests a higher level of customer service by utilizing a hotel app. Guests may not be fully aware of all the services and hotel amenities available to them during their stay. The app can be a useful tool to keep guests informed of any special events taking place on the property. Hotel apps should highlight special services such as a spa, restaurant, golf, skiing, and shopping, along with any associated special deals. This will make the hotel guests feel at home and like special “insiders”.

Many of a hotel’s guests may be visiting your destination for the first time and need valuable information about the surrounding area. Even seasoned travelers can gain inside information about the city, town, or countryside where the hotel is located from a hotel app. Offering users restaurant suggestions, sightseeing highlights, and travel directions will be greatly appreciated by both business and leisure travelers. The hotel can become a virtual tour guide for its guests that they will remember, tell their friends about and inspire them to return for future hotel bookings. Hotel guests will love having a concierge they can take with them wherever they go.

Providing excellent customer service is only one benefit for hoteliers. Improving hotel operations is another plus for hotel managers. The app can answer many questions that are usually asked of the hotel’s extremely busy front desk staff, freeing them up to handle more pressing matters. An added bonus to app users can be provided in the form of checking out through the app, avoiding front desk lines.

The dedicated hotel mobile app’s usefulness does not end when the guest’s stay is over. The great thing about an app is the fact that they take it with them when they leave. Valuable feedback can be learned through guest surveys conducted through the app. A hotel app can be a powerful tool also for maintaining connection with past guests, keeping them abreast of future specials or events to drive repeated hotel bookings.

The hotel app is a cost-effective means to gaining lasting guest brand loyalty for hotels. In the next part of this series, we will examine how personalizing the guest experience will strengthen this aim even more.


Posted via OnFast - http://www.OnFast.com

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Building Hotel Brand Loyalty - Through Mobile Apps - 1

Keeping pace with the mobile device usage explosion of recent years should be a part of every hotel’s marketing budget. Staying ahead of the curve with a consistently performing and user-friendly mobile hotel app can be a step toward winning the brand loyalty of your guests. According to Google, browsing on mobile devices has increased over 50 percent in the last year and tablet use is projected to skyrocket by 180 percent in the coming year.

Yet despite this phenomenon, Google also reports that fully one-third of users find their experience with mobile websites to be negative. These users say that many sites are difficult to see on their devices or cannot be navigated easily and intuitively. In contrast to the user’s negative experiences, they are moving forward toward using their devices to not only plan their travel, but also make the purchase and book a hotel. When it comes to mobile technology and travel, the consumer appears to be ahead of hotel brands.

Considering how pervasive mobile devices have become and the public’s resulting expectations, it is risky at best for any hotel to not have a website optimized for mobile at a minimum. Those hotels and chains that choose to go the extra mile for their customers with a user-friendly and free mobile app will reap the rewards of improved brand loyalty, resulting in increased hotel bookings. The traveling public now seems more than willing to dream about, plan, and make all of the arrangements for their travel via mobile devices. This includes actually paying for and booking the hotel. Giving them a comfortable in-house mobile app makes sense for hotel brands that desire to win over their customer’s loyalty.

Effective hotel mobile apps should go beyond just bringing guests to the premises, they can transform the guest experience during the hotel stay and beyond. Customer service, in addition to sales and marketing, should be an important facet of any hotel app. In the next blog post, we will look at what features go into a hotel mobile app geared toward building brand loyalty.

 


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