Does everyone know about your great guest reviews?

Does everyone know about your great guest reviews?

As Hoteliers, we have always based importance on what our clients think of your quality of service and experience.  From the paper questionnaire that was reviewed by the general manager on a weekly basis at the heads of department meeting to connecting your reviews to providers such as Reviewpro to ensure you are monitoring the great feedback from your guests both online & offline.  This has always been a major part of any hotel management strategy.  It is imperative for any General Manager to be make sure that they the hotel is receiving great reviews which in turn will provide new clients with the confidence to book with you.  Some GM´s even have bonuses linked to level of guest satisfaction.

This is all great, but why don´t hotels actively market the great reviews they receive?

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A relatively new concept, but also a very powerful one.  Hotels should actively look for clients that can become their salespeople.  Are there better advocates for your brand that happy satisfied customers?

Online reputation has become the most significant single factor affecting the number of reservations that you receive from search engine traffic. In the UK, over 90% of that traffic originates from Google search, and over half of that traffic comes from mobile devices. 2014 was the year that Google declared that when its users search for a hotel or resort, it is going to suggest the best rated according to its user reviews.

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So how can Hotels and Resorts get ahead of the curve?  Reputation Marketing works by helping you build a stellar online reputation, then creating engaging content from reviews and posting to a range social media and websites.  Now that Google is becoming like Tripadvisor to hotels & resorts, you will attract clients who were originally checking out your competition.  So by getting your reviews out there, your clients when searching you on the media of there choice, will encounter what your guests are saying about your hotel.  By ensuring that you are getting the reviews into Google+ page,  you are also maximizing your visibility in searches which as I said before is key if you want to be first in google hotel location searches.

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Hotelient can provide your hotel with the tools and the know how to get you up and running to starting receiving and promoting the great client comments. We can make it easy for your clients to promote the great review they have given you.  We can also help you in promoting these reviews across all channels whilst filtering out the negative ones, so what your prospective customers see is not just a great looking hotel but also great reviews that they are viewing on the channel of their choice.

Building your brand through reputation marketing, now thats clever!

Call or email us for further information.

How Apps can delight guests, reduce costs and increase your revenue!

How Apps can delight guests, reduce costs and increase your revenue!

Over the last few years, Smartphones have become a must have for everyone. Recent studies have shown that the first thing that people look at after they wake up is there phone. From watching the evolution of hotel mobile optimized pages and seeing first hand the increase every year in visitors to the mobile website. It is clear that any hotel wishing to connect with their clients has to base any marketing strategy around the smartphone.

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When devising your mobile marketing strategy, apps have to be a big part of it. Still a relatively new concept with hotels who are still feeling their way through in seeing what the client wants. The most popular is a concierge type app, providing usual information for guests, places to go and visit nearby, things to do, etc, but could hotels get better value with their apps? The answer basically is yes, Apps can be a very powerful tool for any hotel. Yes they should provide usual information for clients to have available at their finger tips but also they can be used to increase your sales! Lets take this example. How great would it be if a client entering into your spa receives a notification that between the hours of 2pm-4pm there is a special discount on massages, sent directly to their phone via push through notification. App push through notifications have 95% readability rates which is extremely high and a great way to connect. It also allows you to reduce your costs and save printing flyers or posters to promote your promotions. What about multi purchase coupons for resorts. Buy 3 bottles of wine during your stay, get the 4th Free. These are both great ways to improve your sales once a client gets to your hotel but what about before they get there?

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A client that is coming to stay at your hotel, is more likely to download your app, so that they can become aware of all the great things you can offer, if your are a resort for example, maybe on Friday nights, you have live music in your restaurant or bar, by providing this information beforehand can become a great way for clients to plan their stay with you. You can also include within your app the ability to connect to some of your providers like car rental or taxis to offer them a one stop shop without searching around the web. Little details like receiving a welcome message on arrival to your hotel, navigation tool to direct them directly to your door as well as unique discounts for repeat visits exclusive to app users, allows your app to start to give you a direct return on your investment.

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The majority of hotels are very good a providing information online which is of interest for their clients. However, by combining the ability the provide useful information as well as sell online will set you apart from your competitors. Hotelient understands that a hotel online strategy is about targeting, capturing and selling online. From standalone apps to ones fully integrated with your PMS, we can provide your hotel or resort with the tools and knowledge to convert more clients booking directly with you as well as develop your online brand. Call us for more information or visit www.hotelient.net or email info@hotelient.net

Hotels are wasting 99% of their Marketing Budgets!

Hotels are wasting 99% of their Marketing Budgets!

Bold statement isn´t it, but how do we know it is true?

Just imagine this scenario in your hotel or Resort:

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You announce an open day where you are going to show off your hotel or resort for a wedding fair, you publize the day through newspapers & radios ads as well as bill boards to gain maximum visibility.  The day arrives, you have a registration desk in your lobby area with the incentive of being a winner in a competition you have created especially for the event, so that they leave you their email address in order for you to target them later.  Sound familiar?  So why are hotels not doing the same online!

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As part of your online strategy you invest in SEO as well as retargeting and adword campaigns, have an mobile optimized website with user friendly booking engine.   Most likely, you will have a community manager publishing content across your social media connections.  You are increasing the amount of visits to your website and increasing Facebook & twitter fans,  you are also seeing a gentle upward curve in your online conversions.  This is all great, but what if you could get even better value for your investment in digital marketing.

We all know that travelers tend to visit around 20 websites before making a hotel reservation, so by being the first website is not necessarily the best.  What is important though is that by applying the same theory as in the scenario above with the wedding fair, you are creating a bigger database in which to target and to convert into potential future business.  A) Invest to get them to visit your website, B)Gain their contact information and C)Target them afterwards.

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An average mid size hotel has around 15,000 visits per month to their website.  How great would it be that even a mere 10% of those visitors is leaving their details with you. That´s 1500 more people per month that you are connecting with, which is 18,000 more people in a year than you are gaining today.  By asking potential clients to provide you with their email address, will allow you to reconnect with them automatically, making the investment you are doing in online advertising offer better value for your hotel and increase your online conversions. As Google is evolving to become the new OTA online, not only is it important to understand what you need to do to maximize your visibility, you also have to capture the clients once they get to your website. By doing this, you will not be wasting 99% of your marketing budget!

Hotelient is a company which understands that the majority of independent hotels do not have the major budgets or infrastructure to compete with the major chains, but we also know that by working smarter online, you can position your hotel to compete with their online conversions levels.  We have over 15 years in Hotel & Digital Marketing Sales and can provide your business with the techniques and technologies to maximize your online conversions.  Call us for further information.

Do Independent hotels have the right strategy with OTA´s?

Do Independent hotels have the right strategy with OTA´s?

Having worked for a number of independent hotels, I appreciate the difficulty in attracting clients online to come and stay at your hotel or Resort.  It is a highly competitive market place, especially online with a number of dominant players who have bigger budgets and therefore higher visibility.

So the obvious solution for independent hotels when promoting online, is to contract with as many OTAs (Online Travel Agents) as possible.  You can also pay a higher commission to gain a higher position in the searches and compete with the big boys.  A recent study by HeBS Digital (2014) found that 70% of online bookings for independent hotels come from OTAs.   For Europe, booking.com is the dominant player where the independent hotels receive the majority of there reservations.

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Having such a high level of dependency on OTA´s in the mid to long term for any hotel will ultimately affect your bottom line.  Even booking.com does not believe that there website will be their major source of income over the next few years demonstrated by the recent acquisition of Buuteeq, a hotel marketing platform which has been rebranded to suite.booking.com  With their recent purchase, they are going to provide a digital marketing platform for independent hotels to increase their visibility and revenue through their web.  Google´s introduction (www.google.com/hotels) into the market place and the recent change to price guarantee in Europe are big market changes.  Even Amazon recently announced that they a dipping there toe into the travel market with a trial in New York.

So what is the right strategy to follow?

  1. Connectivity to Google HPA, Tivago & Tripadvisor
  2. Adword campaign to increase visibility in searches
  3. Increase comments on your hotel´s google plus page
  4. Ensure your own web site has the best price
  5. SEO & SEM digital Campaigns
  6. Targeted Youtube campaigns
  7. Comprehensive Data Capture strategy
  8. Optimized Web & easy to use booking engine
  9. Close out in OTA´s where you have little or no visibility or high commission rates

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Is the above going to allow you to stop working with OTA´s?

With the introduction of websites like Trivago, it has made it even easier to search for the best price for your hotel and by always having the best price on your website, this is going to help increase your direct reservation revenue.  You can also close out the OTA´s where you have little or no risk.  The main players like booking.com will always provide you revenue as they are a global player and a magnificent booking engine but at least over the course of a few years you will be much less dependent which in turn reduces the amount you pay in commissions.

The market is changing rapidly but what is clear is that hotels have a terrific opportunity to increase there direct reservations.  Over the course of the last 10 years hotels went from being dependent on travel wholesalers to online travel agents.  Lets break the habit of dependency and create our own client base!.

If you would like to find out more, feel free to get in touch with us.

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Are hotels doing enough to increase their online conversions?

What is a typical hotel online marketing strategy?  You need to visible everywhere, on social media, blogs, email campaigns, great looking web & easy to use booking engine.   You start pushing content and publishing it everywhere.  You hire a community manager or you contract a company to do it for you.  Fantastic, bit by bit you increase your followers and presence.  Occasionaly you do a competition on Facebook or instagram to give your pages a push.  Everything is great right?  You feel you are covering all the bases.  Now onto sending newsletters by email, you send them out frequently, you rely on your reception team to input the correct email address into your PMS and hope that the guest has given you the right one! You feel your reaching your clients and you try and incentivize them to come back and stay with you with promotions.  You do business card and other internal promotions to increase your database.  Your community manager also does SEO & SEM as well as adword campaigns to increase your visibility in google keyword searches.  You feel you are doing everything to maximise your sales and online conversions.  Sound Familiar?

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The majority of hotels in the UK & Europe are doing all of the above and are increasing slowly their online conversions, However this has been the industry standard for the last few years, even though technology has moved on since then. Today a hotel can make it even easier to connect with more potential clients and not rely on your operational staff.

Technology can automate a lot of processes that hotels do manually.  To demonstrate this, below is a list of marketing actions that you can do today:-

  • Obtain a email address of all the occupants in a guest room
  • Obtain a email address of a non resident
  • Obtain a email address of a visitor to your web
  • Obtain a email address of participants that enter a competition on Social media
  • Increase your Facebook fans daily without any promotions or new content

Are you doing all or any of the above?  Are you increasing daily your marketing database?

All the above can be put in place quickly and without major investment. Another key benefit is that it does not involve your staff, so they can concentrate on providing great service for your guests.

In hotels that we have installed this technology, we have seen over 400% increase in their marketing database. By increasing the amount of clients contact details to your database, you are increasing your visibility and therefore increasing your conversions.

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This is a great first step for your hotel, you also need to ensure you have a responsive web and booking engine that can work to ensure clients book with you, not the OTA´s or your competitors.

With the recent changes to the way Hotels price themselves online, it is imperative that you are capturing as much data as you can, which will enable you to maximize your direct bookings.  Relying on the OTA´s in the long term is not a winning strategy, creating a powerful marketing database that can be used to drive direct bookings should be a key part of your long term digital marketing objectives.

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Battle of the Hotel Booking Engines – Evolution vs Hotelient

I was with a group of Hotel Sales Directors in FITUR last week discussing the pros and cons of the booking engines they have on their own website.  They all realise that their brand website will become and is today a focal point of their online sales strategy, however, it was very interesting to hear how they view the booking engine they currently have.  Most of the feedback was positive with the good layout of the backend, how it is was easy to change pricing and how they could quickly load their last minute promotions etc.  That is all great, but for me, they are all missing one key element and maybe the most important one of all.  Is it easy for the client to navigate?  can it compete with booking.com?  Can it integrate well with my website so provide a seamless solution for my web visitors?  Is it secure?

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With the market full of great functioning booking engines that do the job, why are there so few that really work for the client? To demonstrate this, I have chosen 2 very different booking engines, Evolution and Hotelient.  The reason I have chosen these 2 is that I have used both of them and I like them both for very different reasons.  I was a big fan of the backend of Evolution, easy to use, easy to change pricing, restrictions, photos etc.  However, my clients found it difficult to navigate, could not find what they were looking for, preferred to call the hotel and book over the phone.   What about the clients that did not phone to book and just went straight to booking.com as they found it easier?  After extensive market research I decided to change to Hotelient, as I was becoming very aware that I had to find a booking engine that competed with booking.com, especially now that the price guarantee has disappeared.  Only when I started using it did I begin to realize what a powerful tool this Booking Engine is to improve the % of conversions on my website.

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To demonstrate this, I have put together a list of things you can do on Hotelient that you cannot do on Evolution.

  • Complete Analytical tool, see which dates your clients are searching for, lead time, average nights, average revenue, from which countries and from which referrer.
  • Sell Gift Vouchers online and separately from your booking engine.
  • Different booking engine for each language – personalise to suit every market.
  • Create separate booking engines exclusively for different promotions or company rates that can be inserted to their extranet.
  • Create Client record, save their details for future bookings
  • Facebook only promotions
  • Change daily inventory, which when only a few rooms are left to sell, appear in bold on the booking engine (like booking.com)
  • Promotions shown even if do not meet search criteria to incentivize higher spend.
  • Changing Meal Plans
  • Configure, add & personalize automatic emails for clients.
  • Ability to create Flash Deals

Apart from the above, it is a smarter, cleaner and more user friendly booking engine and the backend is very easy to navigate.  The powerful analytics offer you key data that is invaluable for any city centre revenue manager looking to see when they need to launch promotions for distressed occupancy periods.

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Having a great booking engine is only part of the story, if you really want to increase your website bookings.  You need to also find a way how to increase your client marketing database and direct them to your website to book and keep them coming back.  Making it easy for your clients to reserve your hotel & resort on your brand site is a great first step, but has to be part of a wider online marketing strategy. Hotelient can help your hotel or resort with an overall and complete digital marketing solution to increase your direct online revenue streams and online visibility.  Email us at info@hotelient.net if you would like to find out more

Why do my repeat clients always book with booking.com?

Why do my repeat clients always book with booking.com?

This is a question that I hear often from Hotel & Sales Directors especially ones that are investing in targeting new clients via OTA´s and online SEO as well as other means. Once the client has booked into the hotel, enjoyed a great experience and has left with the feeling that would like to come back, why do they go back to booking.com for their next stay with you?

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The answer is a simple one………..booking.com makes it easy for the client. They save your credit card details, they provide free cancellation, have an app for your smartphone and they are the same price as your hotel owned website. Booking.com also target your brand keywords so your client, that you worked so hard to get, both in providing great service and in investment via commissions and adwords etc, when searching for your website encounters booking.com. The client also checks and compares between your site and booking´s. Most hotel web booking engines in the industry today are complicated to navigate and clients find it difficult to reserve exactly what they want. Again booking.com wins, but for how long?

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As most of you who are reading this blog are aware, price guarantee has been quietly dropped by booking.com due to the various cases that are open in some european countries. This will allow hotels for the 1st time to incentivize on price, but is that enough? No, the major secret of booking.com´s strength is that they have a very visual and easy to use booking engine. However, this can also be overcome by choosing and implementing a booking engine that mirrors what booking.com does. Not only that, it can allow you to actively incentivize your web visitors whilst on your site. Now that is progress, but still only part of the story.

Hotels have always been lax about building databases, there is a heavy reliance on your PMS as well as your reservation and reception team to capture emails in order for you to send newsletters and promotions. If you checked your database now, I would hazard a guess that it is not as good as you believe, incorrect email addresses, duplicates, etc. However why not let technology give you a helping hand? How about that instead of giving your clients a code to connect to your free WIFI, you ask them to connect to via their Facebook, twitter or just sending you their email address? Now if there is 2 occupants in a room, you now get both their details. Clever! Airports have been successfully implementing this technology as well as shopping centers over the last couple of years, so why not hotels? It is a relatively cheap solution and another way for your clients to interact with you, but still not the complete solution.

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As all hotel directors are aware, phones like the iphone and samsung galaxy have changed the way your clients view your hotel and app´s have become a key part of that evolution. 95% of smartphone users read the notifications they receive from the apps, so again, a hotel that wants to maintain a connection with their client they have worked hard to win, apps seem like a logical step forward. But how do we get our clients to download our app? Simple, internal promotions whilst at the hotel exclusive to the app, useful information (online concierge) and for all new and returning clients maybe a promotional code that is within the app? Another great way to incentivize your client to book directly with you.

So in summary, you get yourself a proactive booking engine that makes it easier for clients to book you and you incentivize customers that are just searching for prices on your web using promotions with very short time limits. You play with your price advantage and you start to build your client database using technology via WIFI, Social media and apps. Is this the magic potion to ensure that your repeat clients book directly with you? Some clients will always book with what is most confortable for them however you are achieving 2 things, 1)Connecting with your clients in a way to make it really easy to book with you using the technology they are using TODAY and 2)Building a comprehensive database of your clients which makes it easier and cheaper for you to interact with them in the future whilst providing you with a massive advantage over your competition that will continue to be dependent on reservations from booking.com.

Booking.com will not be around for ever (In future posts I will discuss what is happening in the market place and what booking.com is doing to vary their business model.) Make sure you give your hotel every opportunity of being around for a long time to come

Email us at info@hotelient.net if you would like me to help your hotel maximize your online marketing opportunities.