Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hotel Social Media Strategy - 2

More Hospitality Relevant Channels

 

In order for hotels to gain the most leverage from their online social media efforts, it is crucial that hoteliers carefully select which social channels to make their presence known. To that end, there are some social channels more relevant to the hospitality industry, while others are not very useful for hotel marketing.

 

LinkedIn

On the surface LinkedIn may appear to be nothing but a place for job seekers to post their resumes, but that assumption would be a mistake. LinkedIn is rather a social media gathering place of concentrated expertise on a myriad of business related topics.

LinkedIn has over 300 million users, according to their website figures. This amounts to a powerful force of knowledge and influence. The network provides hoteliers with a great way to maintain contacts with vendors, travel planners and experts, and corporations which may decide to become corporate hotel customers. This is highly effective for driving indirect business.

 

Google

The search engine giant’s own social media network claims over 500 million users. However, only about 300 million are regularly active on the network’s streams. The vast majority of these regulars are male, nearly 70 percent. The strength and importance of Google for the hospitality industry, lies not in engaging with users, but rather merely maintaining a presence on the network. A Google account has a potent effect on a hotel’s rank in the search engine listings because of its connection to Google Local. This is particularly important if, for example, a traveler was searching for a nearby hotel on their mobile device.

 

YouTube 

YouTube is the world’s largest video-sharing website. Owned by Google, the platform also features a search engine second only to its owner. Over a billion visitors per month come to YouTube to watch videos. For the age demographic 18-34 year olds, YouTube is their preferred platform for conducting travel-related searches. Videos of hotel property or the local surrounding area posted on YouTube, with hotel website cross-links, can be a powerful tool in driving hotel bookings. This is particularly effective with a younger audience.

 

Instagram

Owned by Facebook, Instagram is a photo and video sharing social network service with over a 150 million users. The combination of the platform’s integration with Facebook and its highly visual nature make Instagram a perfect choice for hotels to share rich imagery. Geared toward mobile users, the Instagram platform is ideal for travelers on-the-go. A great way for hotels to showcase their property is to run photo contests for hotel guests to share their images.


In future blogs we will take a look more specifically at social media strategies utilizing the various social network channels which are relevant to the hospitality industry. 


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Friday, November 14, 2014

Hotel Social Media Strategy - 1

Relevant Channels For Hospitality

 

Social media has been a transformative force in the hospitality industry, changing the manner in which hotels market themselves to the traveling public. With the medium itself in a constant state of change, adding new channels regularly, hotels run the risk of diluting their online marketing efforts by trying to be everywhere at once. It is therefore imperative for hoteliers to carefully select the most relevant social platforms for their hospitality marketing campaigns.

 

Facebook

A robust presence on the world’s largest social media network is of course absolutely essential to any hotel’s social media effort. With well over a billion users worldwide, Facebook opens up a hotel’s exposure level to a vast pool of potential guests. The social media giant provides an effective platform for hoteliers to connect with users through engaging in conversation, posting special promotional offers, running contests, and gathering customer feedback. As the public increasingly begins their exploration of travel options on Facebook, such social media activities will grab their attention.

 

Twitter

Although not as large as Facebook, the micro-blogging site Twitter has over 271 million active monthly users according to the network’s figures halfway through 2014. A sizable audience for a platform that can potentially make user’s Tweets go viral at the speed of light. Also according to the company, last year in 2013 the 55-64 year old demographic experienced the fastest growth in the amount of users. Twitter affords hotels with a useful platform for timely responses to questions and comments from guests and past customers. Twitter can also act as a conduit for hotels to connect with industry influencers, such as the news media and bloggers, to seek their assistance with promotions.

 

Pinterest

Having more than 70 million users, most of whom are women, makes Pinterest a vital piece of any hotel social media marketing campaign. Pinterest is largely visual in nature, making the platform perfect for hotel properties to share gorgeous images of their accommodations, amenities, and surrounding area as a destination, etc. The largest demographic base of Pinterest consists of women between the ages of 18 and 35, important decision makers regarding travel arrangements. Another advantage of this platform is the high conversion rate of Pinterest users afforded to brands with a presence.


In the next part in this series we will take a look at a few more social media networks for hotels to consider for their marketing campaigns on the medium.


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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Social Media For The Hospitality Industry - 3

More Methods for Hotels to Leverage Social Media

 

1. Customer Reviews

Customer reviews on social media networks and review websites can become an opportunity for hotels to really shine, if handled properly. Hotels must diligently monitor online channels for reviews and commentary regarding their property. All must be responded to as there is potential for grave damage to a hotel’s reputation in not responding. But the real opportunity lies in the response from a hotel to a review, particularly if negative.

If handled professionally, without becoming overly defensive, a negative review can showcase excellent customer service. After apologizing to the reviewer and thanking them, explain how the situation will never happen again, and then point out the measures being taken to ensure a positive outcome. By following these steps, hotels can turn a negative review upside down. Additionally, hotels benefit from the unprecedented level of customer feedback available to them from such reviews.

 

2. User Generated Content

By giving guests the forum to share their own content about their time at a hotel property, hoteliers accomplish several things. Hotel content can be self-generating to some degree and relationships are built between customer and brand, leading to a deeper level of brand loyalty. User generated content, especially in the form of pictures and videos, has tremendous value to the hotel. It can clearly be utilized in such a way to drive hotel lodging sales. The content can be moderated in the form of a contest, with winners receiving a prize in exchange for allowing hotel usage of their images. This is another driving force of customer loyalty.

 

3. Videos and Pictures

The online and social media world is becoming increasingly visually oriented. This is probably a reflection of our 21st century society’s rapidly decreasing attention span. Hotels can leverage these trends however by sharing a larger degree of visual content in the form of both videos and pictures. Videos must be kept brief and on point, only 15 seconds is allowed on Instagram for example, in line with the user’s attention. High quality images of the hotel, its surroundings, and guests savoring its comforts can become compelling selling points to potential guests.


Social media should be viewed by hoteliers as a tool for building relationships with their customers through online engagement. If utilized properly, social networks can instill brand loyalty in their hotel’s guests and prospects. Something which is exceedingly difficult to measure strictly in return on investment terms.


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Friday, November 7, 2014

Disruptive Technologies And The Hospitality Industry - 3

Disruptions Yet To Come For Hospitality

The wave of disruptively transformative forces carrying the hospitality industry into the future shows no sign of breaking anytime soon. The industry, generally speaking, is holding on to antiquated legacy central reservation systems and still relying on locally stored data infrastructures, with their attendant high costs in hardware, maintenance, and staff. Cloud-based systems featuring all the functionality required by hotels to successfully operate are available to the industry at present and going forward. These systems are hosted entirely in the cloud and require very little in the way of dedicated hardware. They also feature lightning fast response times while offering immense scalability.

 

The Next Disruption

Above Property, based in Naples, FL, is one of those on the edge hospitality technology companies moving the industry forward.  They have taken the traditional monolithic central reservation system and have distributed it across multiple data centers as well as cloud providers.  The Above Property platform is a multi-cloud always-on distributed reservation system.  The result of this innovation is a platform of unparalleled speed, scalability, and cost savings.  The requirement of third party license fees, traditional disaster recovery, and owned data centers are no longer required. The platform also has modern features such as real-time revenue management, dashboard, alerts, and notifications. A mobile-first approach that includes responsive design allows for productive access on any device at any time. As hotels accept and adopt this technology, their focus can be on their business versus being held captive by today’s 25-year-old to 49-year-old technology.

 

Disruption’s Curve - PhoCusWright

The annual PhoCusWright conference will be held on November 11-13 in Los Angeles, CA.  The theme of this year’s conference is Disruption’s Curve.  While many other industry verticals have adopted new technologies over the past several years, the consensus is the time has come for the travel industry.  Above Property along with 31 other innovators will be participating and competing in the PhoCusWright Innovation Summit.  Each participant is looking to bring disruption and forward progress to the travel industry.  

Representing Above Property and speaking at the conference will be noted hospitality technology authority, Aaron Shepherd, the company CEO. Aaron brings over thirty years of expertise to AboveProperty as a recognized industry innovator.  Legacy based central reservation systems is clearly an area where innovation is required.  Above Property is answering that call and leading the way to an open transaction grid that will bring a level of speed, reliability and cost savings never before seen by hoteliers.

As the hospitality industry progresses further through the 21st Century, these disruptive technologies will gain traction and eventually become standard operating procedure. Yet innovation never ceases as long as forward thinking people, at companies like Above Property and individuals as well, are willing to realize their dreams of disrupting the technological status quo by challenging our world with bold new innovations.


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Monday, November 3, 2014

Disruptive Technologies And The Hospitality Industry - 2

Disruptions in Hospitality

Like any other industry, hospitality is continually affected by new and sometimes disruptive technological developments. Over the course of the last 50 years or so these developments have shaped both the manner in which hotels conduct their business and how guests experience a hotel. Most of the forces of disruptive change have come from outside the industry, but a few have come from within as well.

 

Holidex

Beginning in the early 1960’s, the hotel industry experienced its first real disruptive innovation that was to transform the hotel booking process forever. Holiday Inn, close on the heels of the establishment of the Sabre global distribution system, introduced its proprietary hotel central reservation system it called Holidex. This system was revolutionary in that it was the first time hoteliers had a reservation system that was automated to some degree, at least from the customer’s perspective.

As time went on, over the course of decades, Holidex was improved upon and went through a number of iterations before becoming what is now called Holidex Plus by Holiday Inn’s parent company, IHG. The system followed and changed with innovations from outside the hospitality industry. In the 1970’s directly interfacing with travel agents, the digitalization of the system in the 80’s, to becoming the first to be web enabled in the 90’s. During the evolution of Holidex, system improvements were steadily increasing the number of transactions it could manage simultaneously.

In 2011, IHG announced its plan to retire Holidex and modernize their reservation system through project REVolution.  To date, the project is not complete, demonstrating the technical complexity of hotel reservation systems.

 

Disruptively Transformative Forces of Today

The entire hospitality industry of the future is being shaped today by a myriad of both inside and outside forces. The explosion of online travel agencies, social media, and travel review websites has had a profound and ongoing influence on the future of hotels. All of which has made for an increasingly transparent guest experience. Pricing is available at all times and via multiple channels/devices to all customers. Mobile technology is driving the industry into improved guest relations through such concepts as “virtual’ concierge services and mobile check-in for example. Hotel guests fully expect to have the ability to book their stays on their smartphones and tablets from anywhere. Hotels, whose websites are not designed responsively, can expect their customers to either book through an outside channel or in the worst scenario go elsewhere.

Emerging technologies are available to the hospitality industry involving the utilization of cloud-based technology for data storage without the investment in elaborate hardware or extensive staffing requirements. Systems that perform all the functions necessary to successfully operate either a single hotel or the largest chains, and do so quickly and efficiently, will streamline hotel operations in the future. In the last part of this series we will examine these innovative technologies further. 


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