February - Social Media: Communication Platforms to Build Your Business
A comprehensive social media strategy is now a must for any hotel that that wishes to remain relevant in today's hyper-competitive market. Every leading hotel company has made a major commitment to social media implementation in an effort to cultivate community engagement, broaden their market research, and enhance their brand and reputation - all with the intention to drive conversion and incremental sales. Furthermore, a social media strategy is required in order to satisfy guest expectations. Today's travelers are smart, savvy and sophisticated social media users who presume that these forms of engagement will be readily available to them. Therefore, not only must hotels decide which communication platforms to adopt (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr and more) but also how to use them to their best advantage. Some hotel chains are now using Twitter as a means to book hotel rooms while others are using Facebook to conduct market research. Photo and video sites increase online rankings if they are properly optimized, and blogs have become a popular tool for promoting an operation's credibility and trust. Some companies are emphasizing the development of branded online communities while others are using social platforms to create reward and incentive programs. Conducting surveys and polling have also become a means to directly engage customers and to collect useful data and, of course, online reputations have to be monitored and managed on travel review sites. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these vital issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations. Need to subscribe? Click here!
Tema Frank

Nearly half of US consumers use social media to get customer service and 1/3 would rather use social media than make a phone call. Those numbers are likely to keep growing. If you handle social media queries right, you can grow your base of potential customers and strengthen relationships with existing ones. On the other hand, if you handle it badly, your mishandling can ricochet around the world in an instant. So how the heck should you manage this beautiful but dangerous wild animal we call social media customer service? This article takes you through the basics of what you need to know. READ MORE

Pedro  Colaco

Word of mouth is nothing new. Consumers have always shared their opinions with their family and friends. Brands, on the other hand, have always known that word-of-mouth has a powerful influence on business results, as consumers trust friends over advertising. With the rise of social media on the Internet, consumers can now share their opinions with a much larger audience, amplifying its impact and multiplying it by 100x or more. Welcome to word-of-mouth 2.0. READ MORE

Tyler Cameron

In 1888, George Eastman introduced the world to the first Kodak camera. Eastman’s patented box and roll camera revolutionized photography by providing individuals the ability to capture everyday moments with relative ease. Fast forward to 2010, when Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom co-founded the modern version of the Kodak camera - Instagram. Within a week of launching, the app drew in 100,000 users. Two years later, Krieger and Systrom sold it to Facebook for $1 billion. READ MORE

Robert M. Cornell

Social media influencers are changing the way hotels and hotel brands are promoting themselves in the digital era. In years past, hoteliers could simply consult a short list of available options to promote their products through paid advertising media. Moving beyond the local newspaper, a GDS terminal sign-in message could offer a “point of sale” purchase that directly targeted travel influencers. At the same time, paid consumer advertising meant print space in Conde Nast Traveler or The New York Times travel section. Advertisers could tally the number of impressions the publication declared through the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) that supported their advertising line rates. READ MORE

Darren  Panto

More and more guests post reviews online, tweet about their experience or post photos about their idyllic holiday getaways. This trend is gaining considerable momentum and many potential hotel guests place a lot of importance on these online opinions and will often make their decisions on which hotel to book based on these recommendations. Hotels can see this as an opportunity to boost their online presence, their brand awareness and grow their online community of fans. What tools can hotels use to encourage guests to post positive online reviews, tweets and photos? How can they increase customer loyalty and see their guests as their best marketers? READ MORE

Beth Benjamin

As the use of social media becomes more pervasive, its impact on businesses becomes more significant. Digital conversations about your hotel are taking place all the time, and if you’re not engaging in that dialogue, it’s a huge missed opportunity to strengthen your relationship with consumers. By taking advantage of social media interactions, you learn more about your customers and their experiences with your company. Furthermore, you can leverage that information to enhance your operations, create new sources of value for your guests, and influence perceptions about your brand in the global marketplace—ultimately increasing your bottom line. READ MORE

Gini Dietrich

In the past six years, social media has exploded on the hotel scene, creating an opportunity for many hoteliers to not only engage guests, but measure effectiveness. When Twitter became a household name in 2009, most business owners thought social media was a fad and hotels didn’t take it seriously as a platform to communicate with guests. Since then, social media continues to evolve and new networks are introduced that affect the way we deliver news, communicate with guests, promote specials, and manage critics. Learn what is new, how you might incorporate it, and the opportunity you have to measure effectiveness. READ MORE

Stephanie  Hilger

The first step to social success is figuring out where to be, and even more importantly, why. Social media can be overwhelming at first. There are many different platforms organizations can use to deliver their message to the public. From Facebook to Twitter, Instagram to Pinterest, professional networks such as LinkedIn to video-orientated channels such Periscope, Vine, and YouTube - there are endless opportunities out there for businesses to interact with their consumers (and that is without diving into extremely specific niche oriented channels). READ MORE

Hilary Murphy

Loyalty programmes have been around since 1981 and have evolved from simple offerings to customised offers for customers in exchange for their continued patronage. This is facilitated by the advent of a more complete single data view of the customer, long sought after by hotels and hospitality related companies. The obtainability of rapid results from complex data mining techniques have now enabled us to reach the point where we can customize offers for customers and reward them in ways that are specific to their needs and desires. READ MORE

Bronwyn  White

When Google and other search engines changed their algorithms to be based on semantic search, branding, content marketing and social media took on a new role and a new level of importance. This integrated marketing mix can seriously catapult your hotel brand ahead of your competitors. I know, it always has - but even more so in the world of semantic search. READ MORE

Ken Edwards

Online reputation management is essential for success in the hospitality industry. It creates a platform for employees to communicate your hotel’s best characteristics and overall brand image as well as offers a defense to any negative and inflammatory content against your business. Every day, more businesses are participating in online marketing strategies to protect and fortify their reputation. READ MORE

Renie  Cavallari

Culture is the heart and soul of your organization. Culture sustains employee and customer buy-in – the predictors of success. The clear definition of your culture lays a solid foundation, builds the framework of how your business will function, and is a cornerstone to your team's alignment. It is alignment that gets results. You must value culture above the individual in order to achieve those results. An individual who is not aligned may follow procedure and yet if they do not fit your culture, they can have an adverse impact on the overall team. READ MORE

Suzanne McIntosh

Millennials will make up 50% of our workforce within the next several years. Our hiring managers need to understand how to attract, develop, and retain this new talent. Methods are changing and we must change with them to attract the best of the best. To hire and retain the Millennial who has the core competencies and values that "fit" with the job, most organizations and managers must shift how they interview and engage employees. They also need to consider what strong Millennial candidates look for in an employer and what their organization has to offer. READ MORE

Robert M. O'Halloran

In a recent conversation at the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) fall meetings in New York, several hotel professionals were discussing the issue of tattoos, body art, piercings, and hiring. The framework for the conversations included company policies, social acceptance, visibility, and appropriateness of tattoos in the hospitality work place. Personal appearance and changing societal norms can cause conflicts for some when recruiting. READ MORE

Matt Sanfilippo

There is a direct correlation between pay and declining unemployment. Many employers make the mistake of chasing the changing climate with money. The Service Companies has found this to be a negative practice as it lowers our margins and reduces our ability to adjust as market conditions fluctuate. The position we find that works best is using a multi-tiered approach to recruiting and retaining talent. This strategy allows us to find ways to enhance our offerings with other methods than through straight compensation. READ MORE

Coming Up In The November Online Hotel Business Review

Feature Focus
Architecture & Design: Authentic, Interactive and Immersive
If there is one dominant trend in the field of hotel architecture and design, it’s that travelers are demanding authentic, immersive and interactive experiences. This is especially true for Millennials but Baby Boomers are seeking out meaningful experiences as well. As a result, the development of immersive travel experiences - winery resorts, culinary resorts, resorts geared toward specific sports enthusiasts - will continue to expand. Another kind of immersive experience is an urban resort – one that provides all the elements you'd expect in a luxury resort, but urbanized. The urban resort hotel is designed as a staging area where the city itself provides all the amenities, and the hotel functions as a kind of sophisticated concierge service. Another trend is a re-thinking of the hotel lobby, which has evolved into an active social hub with flexible spaces for work and play, featuring cafe?s, bars, libraries, computer stations, game rooms, and more. The goal is to make this area as interactive as possible and to bring people together, making the space less of a traditional hotel lobby and more of a contemporary gathering place. This emphasis on the lobby has also had an associated effect on the size of hotel rooms – they are getting smaller. Since most activities are designed to take place in the lobby, there is less time spent in rooms which justifies their smaller design. Finally, the wellness and ecology movements are also having a major impact on design. The industry is actively adopting standards so that new structures are not only environmentally sustainable, but also promote optimum health and well- being for the travelers who will inhabit them. These are a few of the current trends in the fields of hotel architecture and design that will be examined in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.