Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Building Hotel Brand Loyalty - The Family Traveler

The traveling family has been and will continue to be a significant market for the hospitality industry. Current trends are seeing the large demographic Baby Boomers including their grandchildren in their travel plans and hotel stays, which only enlarge the family travel segment. Yet many hotels only pay lip service to this market by offering little more to gain the family travelers hotel brand loyalty than a so-called “kids club” with video games and coloring books. There is much more that can be done by hotels to win over this valuable hotel travel demographic.

 

Rooms

Many families travel and stay in hotels in groups that are too large for standard size hotel rooms. This creates difficulties both financially and in the family structure. High priced suites are often out of the question. Many hotels charge extra for roll in cots and force the family to pay full price for a second room. Any hotels truly seeking to be family friendly should consider discounted second rooms and offering the extra beds free of charge.

 

Services

Hotels that are serious about gaining increased hotel bookings from family travelers should offer the types of services they really need. Babysitting services are greatly appreciated by parents who need a little time to themselves. Entertainment for kids is also essential in this regard. Video game rentals and in-room movies for children can help keep the kids busy when in the hotel. Free shuttle service to and from area attractions, shopping, and restaurants will make for happy family travelers who don’t have pack the kids up in the car and fight traffic in unfamiliar surroundings.

 

Amenities

A few amenities can go a long ways toward earning the hotel brand loyalty of travelers with families. Hotels with pools should keep on hand a complimentary supply of the types of things kids like or need when swimming. Water wings, floats, pool noodles, etc. are inexpensive and making them available to hotel guests will be memorable when it comes time to make hotel reservations in the future.

 

Food

A family appreciates having certain food related items right in their own room. If parents buy their kids some drinks, snacks, food to be eaten in the room, it is nice to have a small refrigerator in which to cool them. A coffee maker and a microwave in the room will please everyone as well. Child safety must be paramount in regards to all of these appliances also, keeping them out of reach of little ones. Any hotels with a restaurant must have a plentiful amount of high chairs and booster seats for the comfort of children and parents.

Finally, the most important thing hotels can do to earn and keep the loyalty of family travelers involves no cost to the hotel. It is in adopting an attitude of service to children and treating them equally as well as the paying adults. This will make family travelers remember the hotel and come back again.

 


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

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Building Hotel Brand Loyalty

The hospitality industry has historically been, in the form of the Global Distribution System (GDS), an innovator and early adopter of available technology. But despite an early technological edge, hospitality lags behind other industries that are in the lead to some extent. Retail companies are showing the way to the future for hotels and the travel industry through improved websites and mobile apps, according to data compiled by the research firm eDigital. Yet, the vast majority of both leisure and business travelers make their travel arrangements online now.

Hospitality is moving to leverage technology for the future, but there is so much more that can be done to gain the lasting loyalty of travelers.  The key to building brand loyalty for hotels is to improve the way customers experience the hotel at every step of their stay: before, during, and after.

By utilizing superior mobile apps and hotel websites, travelers can better plan their hotel stay while increasing opportunities for direct hotel bookings. These technologies also offer the possibility of raising the guest experience during the stay. Personalizing each guest’s experience to their individuality as much as possible, both with hotel ancillary services and through technology, can move the hospitality industry further toward the goal of building up a brand loyalty for hotels that will last.


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

Friday, May 23, 2014

Using Hashtags On Facebook For Business

The recent roll out by Facebook, allowing the use of functional hashtags, presents an opportunity for businesses who market themselves on the world’s largest social network. Hashtags simplify searching for and sharing of information and have been a popular tool on other social networks, such as Twitter. A hashtag consists of  a ‘#’ symbol, followed by a word or phrase. A hashtag, when clicked, will take the user to a feed of all posts that include that tag word. These hashtags are completely clickable and also searchable.

Opportunities provided by hashtags on Facebook for brands include:

1 - Promoting

Carefully chosen keywords can be used as a hashtag and bring your company’s promotions to a wider audience, beyond your existing base of followers. Be careful that the words chosen cannot be associated in any way with unpleasant or controversial subjects. Also, make sure they are unique enough not to bring up a slew of unrelated results. Make sure you test your hashtags before you use them.

2 - Monitoring

Hashtags offer a way for businesses to closely monitor the conversations surrounding their brand by following their hashtag’s feed. This will provide valuable marketing intelligence, and keep track of how a brand is talked about on Facebook.

3 - Targeting

Hashtags give businesses the ability to target specific audience segments who may be following certain, specific hashtags. By using #greatburgers, for example, a restaurant could target all of the people looking to eat out at an establishment that serves great burgers.

Unfortunately, functioning hashtags are still not supported on the Facebook mobile app. Users can post hashtags, but without the ability to click-through to the feed. With over a billion users, Facebook’s adoption of the hashtag will bring the mainstream into awareness and use of this sharing, following, and searching tool, which will be beneficial to all.


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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Building Hotel Brand Loyalty - The Last Minute Traveler

The global economy over the last five or six years has helped create the last minute traveler phenomenon. But hotels have unwittingly furthered the trend by offering drastically discounted unbooked inventory, particularly across mobile platforms. World and national economic conditions are beyond the control of hoteliers and they must bear with them like any other business. However, heavily discounting remaining hotel inventory is totally within the control of hotel marketers and decision makers.

Continuing to offer these discounts only teaches consumers to wait before they make their hotel reservations and they will be rewarded with last minute deals. Fortunately there are alternative strategies that will not damage hotel inventory values while still leveraging the last minute traveler. It is even possible to earn the hotel brand loyalty of these deal conscious travelers in the process.

 

 Offer Deals Other than Rates

People like getting things for free. Enticements intended to inspire last minute hotel bookers to choose your hotel do not have to be limited to rate discounts. Offers could be for hotel ancillary services, such as the spa or golf, hotel restaurant discounts or giveaways, drinks at the bar, parking vouchers in cities, etc. Any kind of hotel discount or giveaway is better than drastically discounted inventory.

 

 Same Day OTA Sale

Hotels that avoid using online travel agencies for advance hotel bookings can opt for having their accommodations listed on a one-day basis. Advantages include the fact that the discounts offered are not as deep as what the last minute sites dictate and you can set the rate of your choosing. The big OTAs can give the hotel increased exposure for minimum effort as well.

 

 Targeted Push Marketing Ads

Rather than sitting back and waiting for the revenue trickle from the last minute travel discount sites, get aggressive and place specifically targeted ads with other travel related industries such as the airlines and car rental companies. That way your hotel can be push marketed to consumers who will probably be needing accommodations based on the fact they bought last minute airline tickets or rented a car without a reservation.

 

 Social Media

Social media can be a great platform for informing last minute travelers about any availability deals a hotel may have upcoming. It is important to make it perfectly understood to potential guests what specific nights are available to them in order for them to receive the deal. Social media is also the best forum for building a lasting relationship with the last minute traveler through truly engaging that customer. Once the hotel has successfully enticed these discount conscious guests to book the hotel, in order to earn their loyalty and return booking, it is necessary to never offer them the hotel’s most costly daily rates anytime in the future.

The hotel guest phenomenon known as the last minute traveler can be successfully leveraged to a hotel’s revenue benefit. This can be accomplished without destroying its entire rate structure and driving away loyal hotel brand past guests.

 


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

Monday, May 19, 2014

Hotel Marketing With Contests, Sweepstakes, Quizzes, and Coupons

Contest, sweepstake, or quiz. People love them and they can be simple to implement and run with the many available Facebook applications. These promotional techniques are useful devices for gathering information about your customers, in addition to driving website and social media traffic. Unlike other industries, any type of promotion offered by a hotel can prove to be highly popular since the prize or giveaway usually has something to do with a travel destination. Let’s look at contest ideas for hotel marketing and some best practices.

 

Hotel Contests

Whatever promotion type you choose to run on Facebook, make sure the app used is optimized for mobile and offers fraud protection to weed out scammers. This way the fans recruited through the promotion are true. Also, be sure the app allows embedding in your website for cross connection of your fan base. One of the most important purposes of any hotel promotional campaign is the gathering of fan information, so the app must collect the email addresses and other identifying information as well.

Given the nature of the hospitality industry, a photo contest of images or videos submitted by users is probably the best choice for a Facebook hotel contest. This is a perfect engagement tool and also provides user-generated content for the hotel’s page at the same time. Guests will enjoy sharing photos of their stay with other fans, in addition to their friends and family. A hotel photo contest will drive the word of mouth nature of social media interaction, as guests enthusiastically share their experiences at your hotel and its surrounding destination area with others. Judging the winner can either be left up to the hotel or even be accomplished through fan voting, which would power even more brand engagement and awareness. Also, it is helpful if the app allows the moderation of images submitted by fans to avoid any inappropriateness ahead of time. An app that meets all the above criteria while being very easy to use is OnFast. This cost effective tool that can help a business successfully run and manage any promotional campaign, and much more, is available at OnFast.com.

A Facebook photo contest is a powerful way for hotels to draw in their most passionate fans and gain their continued loyalty, while showcasing the hotel property and it’s destination in the best light.


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

Friday, May 16, 2014

Building Hotel Brand Loyalty - The Leisure Traveler

Leisure travelers are looking for an experience outside of their everyday lives while on vacation. They have a much different set of hotel expectations compared to the business traveler. Instilling hotel brand loyalty in the leisure traveler of today therefore centers on providing unique memories that are worth telling others about and which will leave guests wanting more. Gaining the loyalty of leisure travelers for hotels can be accomplished both on and off the hotel property.

 

Off Hotel Property

High-end hotels can offer fabulous experience-rich packages that will be remembered for a lifetime. For example, a couple of nights hotel stay and meals combined with amazing sporting events tickets and a chance to meet the players. Destination tours built around the settings of novels or wine country tours of private vineyards are more examples of “insider” access available through luxury hotels now. The high-end hotel guest is looking for this kind of experience, one that can be exclusively theirs. The high expense and popularity of such packages proves the value of finding a unique experience for leisure travelers as the economy gains its footing again.

Off-property hotel experiences are not limited to higher priced hotels by any means. More modestly priced hotels are offering packages, including bicycle destination tours and kayaking or sailing, among others. The key is to provide a memorable experience for the leisure traveler that gets them active, brings them in touch with the destination and maybe even provides a sense of adventure for them.

 

On Hotel Property

For some hotels, the off-property strategy may not be the optimum approach for leveraging the hotel brand loyalty of their leisure travel guests. For those hotels, a different path to leisure traveler hotel loyalty can be found in the hotel property design, particularly in the guest’s rooms. Hotels can transform the guest experience by bringing in more touches that make guests feel at home. Bedding is the most important feature to hotel rooms for all guests and providing the best sleep comfort experience available can win the hearts of a hotel’s guests. Technology is increasingly being used in rooms to integrate entertainment, security, and lighting all controllable from a single remote. Large flat screen TV’s are now the expected norm, so electronics must match what the guest would find in their home.

There is a trend toward leisure travelers looking for larger rooms and suites. In keeping with those expectations is to increase the size of living and kitchenette spaces. Guest bathrooms are also expanding to include facility for inclusive spas and more lighting. Finding the true resort experience is what leisure travel is about now.

Leisure travelers today expect to be pampered and catered to as much by the hotel facility as the hotel staff, while simultaneously being truly brought in touch with the essence of their travel destination.


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

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Driving Hospitality Revenue With Social Media

The explosion of social media networks across the globe in the last six years has forever changed the way many industries conduct their business, including the hospitality industry. Having a social media presence is becoming crucial for hotels in order to gain and keep the loyalty of their guests. Yet some hotels still are not capitalizing on the opportunities presented by this relatively new marketing tool. Many hotels go through the motions of establishing social media accounts and do nothing with them, letting them slowly die in cyberspace. There is no benefit to merely setting up social media accounts just for the sake of it. Continuous and ongoing follow-up is necessary to reap the rewards that are possible with a vibrant and engaging social network presence for the hospitality industry.
Besides the missed opportunities, this can be a dangerous practice as well. Hotels that ignore social media do so at their own peril. The public has shown its willingness to unleash their wrath on brands who have proven themselves or been perceived to be somehow less than satisfactory to their customers. It is especially essential, given the nature of the hospitality industry, for hotels to stay ahead of the curve. The conversation about your hotel brand is taking place on social networks, whether you are present or not. It is vital for all hotels to be aware and part of those conversations.
By the same token, the nature of social media can work extremely well for a hotel marketing campaign. Hotels have relied partially on favorable word-of-mouth advertising for as long as they have existed. Social media is nothing more than word-of-mouth on a grander and higher technological scale. An ongoing and vibrant social media presence benefits any hotel in a variety of ways including:
  • Higher level of brand recognition and visibility.
  • Improved customer service.
  • More direct and increased opportunity for guest interaction when they are not physically on the property.
  • Building, managing, and repairing, if necessary, the hotel’s reputation both online and off.
  • Leveraging new revenue opportunities through direct hotel booking on social channels.


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

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hotel Marketing and Technology -- Visual Social Media

The hospitality industry is a natural fit for the more visually oriented social media networks. Sites including Pinterest and the video-sharing network YouTube offer hotels tremendous opportunities, being that a hotel is a highly visual business. There are nearly limitless topics around which a hotel can create content. Photos and videos of sightseeing around the destination, tours of the hotel’s features and amenities, travel tips about the area, or even a cooking video from the chef are just a few suggestions. Imagination and creativity are the only limitations of what can be accomplished on these networks.

 

YouTube

In order for a video-sharing hotel internet marketing effort to gain any traction, the videos should feature topics that people will actually want to watch. Just like all the other social networking sites, compelling hotel content is required. A tour of the hotel’s restaurant is great, but may not inspire people to share it with others. Whereas a video of the head chef sharing some of their culinary secrets is extremely share-worthy. The majority of videos on YouTube, especially the ones that are likely to be shared, are less than 5 minutes in length. If a subject is going to require more time, it should be broken up into smaller pieces since many people have a very short attention span. It is just as important on YouTube to monitor and respond to comments left by the audience as it is on other social networks. Also, linkage between the YouTube account and other social media outlets is crucial to successful hotel marketing with videos.

 

Pinterest

From a travel perspective, Pinterest is perfect for people to “pin” and share images of their favorite travel destinations and the hotels they stayed in while traveling. Conversely, hotels can share images to entice would-be travelers to book at their hotel and convert them into guests. The very nature of Pinterest is its visual orientation, seemingly created for a hotel marketing in a spectacular and desirable destination. The images need to be of high resolution and as large as possible. Photos of the destination and location of the hotel should out-number images of hotel property, features, and amenities. This is in keeping with all social media’s aversion to blatant self-promotion.

Pinterest is the perfect platform for a hotel to show-off how knowledgeable they are of their surroundings by sharing travel tips and things to do in and around the travel destination they are located. In this way the hotel can provide a service by being a helpful host to their guests in advance. Pinterest provides a wonderful method for a hotel to connect with their audience, called “re-pin”. In this way brands can comment on and share content that is shared with them by their audience. This is how engagement works on Pinterest. When a hotel’s guests share images from their wonderful stay at your hotel by pinning them to your board, the hotel can then comment and share them as well.

Pinterest and YouTube are tailor-made for the hospitality industry, with its rich imagery. Few industries can benefit more from these richly visual social media networks.

 


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

Friday, May 9, 2014

Building Hotel Brand Loyalty - The Pet Traveler

For hotels that are becoming pet friendly, there are many opportunities for increased revenue available based on making such a change in policy. But there are many preparations that must be made before the first pet friendly hotel reservation is made. Planning the specifics of exactly what the hotel’s policies are going to be regarding the pets of their guests must come first. Also, the physical property must be readied and made safe for animals and hotel guests. In addition, any special services and amenities, such as pet sitting, need to be decided and planned.

 

Hotel Pet Policy

What types and sizes of domestic animals will be allowed on hotel property? Will there be breed and/or weight restrictions? These and other crucial questions must be decided and then clearly stated to pet owning hotel guests. Any special pet specific fees or deposits needed to cover the extra cleaning or damage expenses incurred by the hotel in allowing pets must be specifically laid out for guests in terms they will understand. This goes for any and all legal issues as well, which need to limit the hotel’s liabilities as much as possible.

Placing size restrictions on dogs is common in many hotels that allow pets, but this limits the pool of hotel customers as well.  This is probably better handled through refundable deposits rather than limits. Many hotels will not allow cats because of their dander and its potential for causing allergic problems in future room guests. However, if a little extra time is spend thoroughly vacuuming the room and cleaning with specialized sprays this can be avoided. The extra effort and expense can be easily made up by charging higher pet fees to guests with cats, which they will understand.

 

Hotel Property

The physical layout of the hotel property must be considered in the planning as well. Designated pet exercise and walk areas must be isolated from and not interfere with other guests who don’t have pets. Fencing in these areas will help and be much appreciated by pet owners also. In hotels with multiple floors, it is best to limit pets to rooms on the ground floor level, near any outdoor facilities provided for them.

Rooms must be floored and furnished in a durable, easy to clean fashion. Hard floors will prove better than carpeting for pet designated rooms. Furniture must be made of materials that can be thoroughly cleaned with minimal effort to make ready for the next incoming guest. Breakable items in the room should be limited to only that which is necessary. The safety of the pets must be taken into account regarding items such as electrical wires, which should be protected.

 

Hotel Pet Services and Amenities

The hotel may want to consider offering specialized pet related ancillary services, including pet sitting and walking for those guests who may desire or need time away from their animals. For hotels that want to go the extra step, available grooming services, hotel provided doggie beds, and a welcome basket of treats and toys will go far in assuring guest loyalty of pets and their owners.

Hotels should additionally ensure their staffs are fully trained in animal safety for the well being of all concerned. This includes the greeting and approaching (or not) of animals unknown to them.

Hotels can clearly benefit from a revenue perspective from going pet friendly. Each hotel must determine if this is a truly beneficial move for them and will not be damaging to their reputations with past or future guests who don’t bring pets for a hotel stay.


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

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Social Media Marketing to Seniors - Part 3

Senior citizens make up an extremely under-marketed segment of the population, particularly across social media. With recent studies illustrating the folly of missed opportunities, companies searching for sales on social networks can no longer ignore this enormous marketing potential. As the total population of older citizens steadily grows through the baby-boom generation, businesses must turn more of their attention to the population segment that controls 75 percent of the country’s wealth.
Successfully marketing to seniors on social media involves gaining a true understanding of the audience and creating relevant content to match. This is always important in any social media marketing campaign, but particularly crucial in marketing to seniors. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Seniors tend to be highly brand loyal, so a high level trust must already exist or be earned by the brand.
  • Use relevant images, pictures that they prefer, over video.
  • Content should be extremely straightforward, avoiding gimmicks. Seniors generally like to read and will readily consume written content, more so than younger people who prefer content presented in video format.
  • Seniors today feel young. Direct content at their own self-image, which may not agree with your own image of seniors.
  • Seniors are proud to talk with their friends in a face-to-face setting, about their online successes. Make your brand something that a senior citizen would be happy to talk about and share their experience with your business. This will lead back to the first point about brand loyalty, which the audience is now spreading - good for your company!
The long overlooked senior citizen market is a ripe and waiting business opportunity. Brands willing to make an effort with our most experienced citizens will gain their trust and profit accordingly.


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

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Social Media Marketing to Seniors - Part 2

The often overlooked senior demographic is certainly a lucrative one for social media marketers who are willing to reach out to our most experienced citizens. This is according to results from a study called the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Figures from Pew Research Center and other sources indicate that, along with living longer and leading more productive lives in their twilight years, many senior citizens have become very social media savvy.
Seniors use social media for the same reasons as other age groups but here are some useful figures specific to seniors from Wishpond:

  •  40 percent are on social to connect with family and old friends.
  •  30 percent for photo sharing.
  •  20 percent for social gaming.
  •  10 percent for contest and game participation.

Many senior citizens who suffer from decreased mobility issues find the instant connections and ease of interaction offered by social media therapeutic. Social networks help seniors facilitate and maintain contacts with friends and family that might otherwise be lost, or greatly diminished.
The social platforms of choice for seniors appear to be both Facebook and Twitter. 2013 figures for Facebook indicate that seniors make up 11 percent of users. Currently 39 million people over 65 years of age use Facebook, Twitter, or Skype. 13 percent of adults over 50 years of age, and rising, use Twitter. Seniors find Twitter to be an easy way to keep abreast of news and health information, along with literary publications. (Wishpond)
According to sources quoted here, the ever growing senior demographic on just Facebook alone amounts to a 1,448 percent growth rate. This is a tremendous audience businesses can no longer afford to ignore. In the last part of this series, we will analyze some techniques and tips for companies to reach out and engage with senior citizens on social media.

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

Friday, May 2, 2014

Social Media Marketing to Seniors - Part 1

Social media networks seem to be the realm of the young and nearly young, at least that is the incorrect perception anyway. Life expectancy has steadily risen during the last century, driven by medical advances and better diet, along with other factors. This has led to better levels of productivity for our society’s senior citizens, resulting in seniors living active lives beyond previous expectations. New studies recently released by the Pew Research Center and Wishpond, among others, indicate that senior citizens over 74 years of age make up the fastest growing demographic category across many social media channels. Other important findings for social media marketers:

  •  43 percent of those over 65 use at least one social network.
  •  Adults between 50 and 64 are nearly as active on social media as people between 30 and 49.
  •  Seniors over the age of 74 have 47 times more net worth than non-seniors over 35 years of age, according to AdAge.

These figures have significant implications for marketers across the spectrum of social networks. Most social media marketing campaigns under incorrect assumptions that they are not interested in digital technology and social networking has largely overlooked this market segment. This has been a serious miscalculation on the part of businesses that have been trying to increase sales through the use of social media, yet have been looking past a sizable market segment.
Seniors can now be found using the internet and social media for all the same purposes as their younger counterparts, including conducting Google searches, reading their newsfeeds, keeping up with friends and family on Facebook, or watching videos on YouTube. These are all the same reasons that people of all ages gravitate toward social media sites. Businesses need to strategize how to best leverage this lucrative demographic group while engaging and interacting with seniors with the level of respect and understanding they deserve.
In parts two and three of this series, we’ll see exactly how and specifically where senior citizens spend their social networking time and look at tips on how best to market to them utilizing social media.

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