February - Social Media: Interacting with the Hotel Customer
Consider these astonishing numbers: 1.49 billion active monthly Facebook users. 1.1 billion active monthly YouTube users. 320 million active monthly Twitter users and nearly 400 million registered users on LinkedIn. 400 million active monthly Instagram users and 200 million active Google+ users. The power and reach of social media is an awesome force and it has transformed how hotels interact with their customers. In the past year, social media advertising spending increased 33.5% to nearly $24 billion dollars. Social networks are being utilized by hotels to reach more visitors, expand brand awareness, enhance brand reputation and to establish more direct and personal communication with their customers. Savvy hotel operators are adopting a comprehensive social media strategy, and there are several emerging trends to note. Video continues to be a powerful and influential element in social media marketing, with 70% of companies saying that it is their most effective marketing tool. Video generates a 62% higher engagement rate than photographs alone, and with new social sites like Meerkat and Periscope which offer live video streaming, those numbers will only increase. Sponsored content is another growing trend. Though advertorials have been around for decades, hotels are finding new ways to maximize the visibility of their content. Some are placing sponsored content on Facebook, or on influencer blogs. Another trend is the integration of a “Buy Now” button into social media websites. Customers will be able to make purchases without ever having to leave their favorite social sites. This development is a major convenience for customers and should also be an additional revenue source for hotels. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations. Need to subscribe? Click here!
Sherry Heyl

With 59% of marketers increasing their budget to work with social media influencers, Influencer Marketing is going to continue to grow. We will see hotels getting feature stories on top blogs and/or highlights on influential social profiles. There are a variety of reasons influencer marketing is taking over, including more compelling and entertaining stories told to a targeted audience as well as the increased ability to measure the impact and affect behavior and drive conversions. Whether or not you can increase your budget, here are a number ways you can increase the value of your influencer marketing strategy. READ MORE

Stephanie Miller

Where are your guests when they’re not at your hotel? The answer is simple: they’re on social media. But, the real question is: are they on your social media? Social media is the go-to platform for many travelers who no longer want to visit websites, pick up the phone or even send an email. It’s the fastest way to communicate information about a brand. Often, it’s the first resource referenced for news. While social media will always have its share of window shoppers, more followers are turning to it for specific questions about pricing, availability, onsite amenities and destination activities. Your followers expect immediate responses, informative answers and ongoing information about hotel news, updates and offers. READ MORE

Anne Sandoval

It’s undeniable that hotel brands have found success in using social media to engage travelers. Some of the more active brands on social media can boast millions of Facebook Likes and hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter. Scores of additional followers join in the conversation on Instagram, Pinterest and Google+, and the most current brands are trying out networks like Snapchat and Periscope. With this level of undisputed success at the brand level, some hoteliers might think that any engagement at the individual property level is unnecessary, but that is far from the truth. READ MORE

Pedro  Colaco

Impressions. Leads. Conversion. Bounce Rate. Hands up who is really obsessed in monitoring these social media quantitative metrics on a daily basis? Quantitative metrics tends to be the main priority when analyzing social media reach or success but there are some new key indicators and metrics that have been overlooked and can also be a key element for a successful hotel social media performance. Most hoteliers are constantly worried about the same old metrics and looking for benchmarks that can help them to monitor their performance successfully on social media. But what about qualitative metrics and sentiment analysis? Are they meaningful? Which ones to use? What can we learn from them? How can we measure them? READ MORE

Alan E. Young

Today, social media is a staple in most people’s daily lives. In 2016, 78 percent of Americans had a social media profile, up 5 percent from 2015. Worldwide, there are 2.3 billion active social media users – 1.7 billion on Facebook alone! And popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram aren’t missing this opportunity to capitalize on our need to be social. In 2016, Facebook underwent a dramatic transformation from social network to a media delivery service right before our eyes. Facebook is now the second biggest ad publisher globally behind Google, and in Q3 2016 reported record earnings of $7.01 billion in revenue. READ MORE

Mary Gendron

It seems just a short time ago that hospitality public relations – PR – was implemented as a one-way communication between a brand or hotel or resort and its potential market segments. The purpose was to gain attention, interest, and, ultimately, bookings that would turn prospects into customers and, ideally, loyal repeat clientele. Today, the media relations function represents just one component of an interactive, engaged connection between hotels (or hotel companies) and their constituents. This article takes a look at where the discipline came from, how it has evolved, and where it may be headed as a vital tool for driving revenue. READ MORE

Ron Caughlin

When accessing and converting potential guests to your hotel, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns or Social Media Marketing. The most valuable tool you have in the battle for Google’s favor should be the ability to evolve, I like to call this “Digital Promoflex” in today’s marketing environment. We all know, just like in chess, we need a plan in order to play a decent game. This is exactly the same premise in digital and social media marketing. In order to determine what kind of channels to target your audience, READ MORE

Gini Dietrich

The proliferation of travel discount websites has many hotels scrambling in a race to the bottom. Trust me—this is a race you don’t want to win! So how do you attract travelers (and ideally repeat travelers) who aren’t simply looking for the cheapest bed for the night? Becoming an expert resource on your city and sharing it through a branded blog is a great way to stand out from the competition. By creating and regularly publishing to a blog that celebrates what makes your city unique, you can elevate your hotel from only ranking in Google search for those looking at hotels in a specific price range to being a top destination for anyone looking to learn more about your destination. READ MORE

Nisha Thakkar

While social media has become a mainstream marketing channel, there are many variables that hoteliers are not taking advantage of to increase their revenue. Unlike other mainstream marketing avenues, social media is not static, as platforms continuously find ways to increase engagement with both users and advertisers. As social platforms have realized their massive marketing opportunities within their user base, they have increasingly capitalized on their clearly defined users by providing advertisers access to them. Today, the popularity of social channels has created a “pay-to-play” model that leaves many business owners and managers perplexed as to which channels to focus on, and the right budget to allocate in order to maximize return on investment (ROI). READ MORE

Cass Bailey

These days, a lot goes into choosing the perfect hotel. Hotel choice no longer depends solely on the location, price, and amenities; it depends on experience. Customers have become more interested in experiential features instead of whether or not the hotel has a five-star review. As the phrase goes, many “do it for the gram.” When looking to book their stay, the Instagram generation is interested in things that are eye-catching and worthy of sharing with their followers. Just searching the hashtag “wanderlust” reveals millions of images of different travel experiences from around the world. READ MORE

Tim Sullivan

As hoteliers’ key audiences spend less time on the Web and more time on their smartphones’ social apps, it is crucial for hotels to have a digital engagement strategy that creates meaningful interactions on social channels. Desktop still converts higher, but the path to a booking is a journey full of touch points across social. Now that social media platforms are maturing, hotels can go beyond targeting their own guests to discovering new profitable audiences. They can reach and drive sales for all sides of the business: leisure, corporate and group sales. However, before hoteliers think about social engagement, they need to cover the basics of personalization and one-to-one marketing. READ MORE

Chris Teso

Social media has traditionally been approached as a marketing tool for top-of-funnel activities. However, the activities associated with generating awareness, like creating viral posts and taking advantage of real-time marketing moments, are difficult to measure and even harder to link to real business value. Yet, marketers innately know that social media has real opportunity as their audience is there—in volume and in frequency. As a result, a new trend is emerging among hotel marketers that takes distinct advantage of the direct follower model of social networks: the marriage of the loyalty program with social media marketing. READ MORE

Eugenio Pirri

In the service sector, people are the lynchpin of any business, and success or failure hinges upon them. Though this success can only be unlocked if employees are spotted, nurtured, engaged and developed; the key to which is great hotel leadership. In this exclusive article for Hotel Executive, Vice President for People and Organisational Development at luxury management company, Dorchester Collection, and author of Be A People Leader, Eugenio Pirri, explores what it takes to be a people leader in the 21st Century and why businesses across the world are currently experiencing a leadership deficit. READ MORE

Marigrace McKay

Human Resource leaders in all business sectors are stumped by how to hire the talented employees needed by their businesses in order to meet company strategic objectives. This responsibility is especially difficult in the service sector of hospitality. In no other sector is the one-to-one personal connection more important, perhaps with the exception of medical providers. In hospitality, an employees’ air, attitude, a wrong word or gesture can be perceived badly by the customer – a kiss of death. Or, with another customer the same circumstances can be received with over the top joy, acclaim, compliments, and kudos – a big win! READ MORE

Peter McAlpine

There is increasing awareness in the hotel industry that something intangible is missing in hospitality because generally speaking it is not making the sought-after emotional and energetic connection to the guest’s heart, which will increase revenue and make guests flock to the brand. Hospitality still feels energetically and emotionally weak in spite of all efforts to change this, and I would like to shed some light on why this is so. In short, the hotel industry would make the connection and revolutionise hospitality by changing from the mechanistic Newtonian worldview to the energetic Quantum worldview, which replaced it in 1925. READ MORE

Roberta Chinsky Matuson

The U.S. labor market continues to tighten with The Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting a decline in the unemployment rate to 4.6 percent in November of 2016. The unemployment rate is even lower in many states and metropolitan areas. Unrealistic expectations and increased stress, due to staffing shortages, is causing many employees to reconsider their current work situations. Many will soon choose to depart. This will only add to the need for organizations to involve more than HR, if they are to fill job openings promptly or at all. READ MORE

Coming Up In The June Online Hotel Business Review




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Feature Focus
Sales & Marketing: Who Owns the Guest?
Hotels and OTAs are, by necessity, joined at the hip and locked in a symbiotic relationship that is uneasy at best. Hotels require the marketing presence that OTAs offer and of course, OTAs guest’s email when it sends guest information to a hotel, effectively allowing OTAs to maintain “ownership” of the guest. Without ready access to guest need hotel product to offer their online customers. But recently, several OTAs have decided to no longer share a data, hotels are severely constrained from marketing directly to a guest which allows them to capture repeat business – the lowest cost and highest value travelers. Hotels also require this data to effectively market to previous guests, so ownership of this data will be a significant factor as hotels and OTAs move forward. Another issue is the increasing shift to mobile travel bookings. Mobile will account for more than half of all online travel bookings next year, and 78.6% of them will use their smartphone to make those reservations. As a result, hotels must have a robust mobile marketing plan in place, which means responsive design, one-click booking, and location technology. Another important mobile marketing element is a “Click-to-Call” feature. According to a recent Google survey, 68% of hotel guests report that it is extremely/very important to be able to call a hotel during the purchase phase, and 58% are very likely to call a hotel if the capability is available in a smartphone search. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.