Why Independent Hoteliers should take note of hotel chains direct booking´s drive

Why Independent Hoteliers should take note of hotel chains direct booking´s drive

Over the past few months, we have started to see a shift in sentiment and resources from the major hotel chains to encourage their clients to book directly.  Loyalty programs that were once afterthoughts and in some cases did not have any meaningful benefits to its members are starting to be restructured to encourage and help guests, that chose to book from the brand website.  Over the past year, we had begun seeing compelling new ads from the chains actively seeking this, when once they were slightly cautious of going up against the all powerful Priceline & Expedia.  So much so that the former CEO of Priceline recently came out with warnings for the major chains, focusing on getting their guests to book directly, clearly a nerve has been touched.

Changing Times ahead

Hotel chains are focusing on direct bookings is due to a variety of reasons.

  1. Lower dependency on OTA´s
  2. Competition by OTA´s on loyalty programs,
  3. Millennials – with up to 64 percent stating that they sometimes book directly on supplier sites (Source: Phocuswright).
  4. More and more Business travelers are booking direct, 39% in the UK 33% in France and 35% in Germany and
  5. Potential threat from Airbnb.

We also see chains like Accor, openly targeting independent hotels to join their franchise programs.  With the technological purchases of companies such as Fastbooking they have made over the last 12-18 months, can now offer a credible offering to independent hotels looking to compete in the online travel space.  Accor´s CEO interview late last year is a compelling read

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As consolidation within the hotel industry continues apace, Marriott´s & Starwood merger can now offer the biggest selection of hotels who can benefit from their revamped loyalty program which drives direct bookings.  We are starting to see that not only loyalty program members getting free nights and other perks, such as free high-speed WIFI but also it allows the hotel chains to personalize pricing and marketing too.

Expedia must have seen the writing on the wall by the fact that Hilton & Marriott recent agreement with them no longer guarantees Last room Availability as well as a reduction in margins.  This has allowed the chains also to be bolder in actively targeting direct bookings.

Age of dependency for Independent Hotels

So for the independent hotelier, as I covered in a previous article are still sleepwalking into an age of increased dependency.  This though can be reversed if you take heed and start to learn from the chains, who are starting to take the OTA´s head on as well as introducing common sense practices to increase your direct bookings.

In reality, it could well be as loyalty programs become stronger along with the immense driving power of Marriott and their investment in content marketing strategies as well as personalized marketing, for some hotels in particular locations, joining as a franchise hotel to a chain could become the straightforward choice.

But what about if you want to remain independent, to provide that unique personal experience and differentiate from the rest?

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Then your choice could not be simpler.  You as a hotel have to map urgently out a clear marketing strategy that includes the answers to the following questions:-

  • Can Users find me online?
  • Does my web make it easy for a guest to book me?
  • Am I capturing guest data in the right way?
  • What am I doing to promote my brand online?
  • How to I communicate with my guests?
  • What incentive do I offer them to book direct?
  • What am I doing to convert OTA reservations into Direct ones?

Where I believe hotels, in general, have failed to do is to create value for their customers in the way they find you online and booking process for hotel rooms, with many solutions still aimed at appeasing the revenue manager rather than the client.

If hoteliers are going to start to turn the dial away from increased dependency, they firstly have to connect with guests and connect with the non-residents who already have an existing relationship with your hotel.  Technologies like Social WIFI and concierge apps are excellent tools in this area.

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Talking with a host of general managers, it is clear they pride themselves on the quality of service they provide to their guests.  It is something in their DNA which keeps them at the hotel to ensure that the Wedding or events goes off without a hitch and view those smiling happy faces of the participants.  Where independent hoteliers have failed though is showing the same pride for the first impression your give to any prospective client and which more and more of your guests are using – ONLINE 

The Major chains are starting the fight back, keep paying attention and learn how your hotel too can start moving the dial back in your direction, or risk becoming even more dependent on intermediaries and probably even irrelevant in the future.

Talk to our team at Hotelient today and let us help you devise your online fight back strategy! Email info@hotelient.net for further information.

 

 

 

 

5 Simple steps that help promote your destination and increase your RevPar

5 Simple steps that help promote your destination and increase your RevPar

Travellers are always looking for that something special, the lure of a swimming pool next to a bar that served Mojito´s to pictures of beautifully cooked food or it could just be that they fall in love with a hotels walk-in therapeutic shower.   For the traveller that is seeking inspiration or just a getaway from the daily stresses, they need to be captivated by what they see not only inside your hotel but also what is going on in your local area.

Having worked in hotels, one of our hardest battles is promoting the many great activities that take place in and around us.  There is so much going on all the time, but to ensure your hotel is up to date is always difficult when there are so many other priorities.  So how does a hotel provide a potential guest with that intoxicating view that makes them want to book that magical holiday or weekend break?

Here are five simple solutions that technology can you help

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1. HD Webcam

Webcams have been around for a while now, but taking a continuous image of your best view from afar such as your swimming pool, view over the city or iconic monuments can set you apart from your competition.  Guests like to feel they are already there.  What is a better story than showing off your beautiful weather with your guests diving into the crystal blue water of your swimming pool!  This technology can be embedded into your website, and as all the images are saved,  they can be used in any marketing material or just shared on to your social media.  Some great content to drive engagement.  In this video below, you can see some examples of time lapse videos that auto-generated, which could be the perfect tool for that Mice agent looking for examples on how your hotel prepare events!

2. Virtual Concierge

Providing up to date information has always proved challenging, with then the task of having to get that information on to your web and other channels.   Guests, once they have identified a possible destination like to research and see what is going on around your hotel, so the more information you provide, the more chance you have of convincing them to choose you.  For a city like London, which has numerous tourist attractions. It is imperative that Hotels keep up to date information on their website.  Companies like fiz.com offer hotels solutions in searching automatically and curating locally based content, which could save you a lot of time and resources.

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3. Smartphone Apps

Once a client has reserved at your hotel, they are most likely to download your concierge app and discover the many great services you have to offer.  I have covered this functionality in a previous article.  The main attraction being that you can communicate with your guest via Push notifications, which at present have 90% readability rates, much higher than any email campaign, in order inform of any events taking place in your hotel or surrounding area.

4.Virtual Reality (VR)

Still a relatively new concept, but will allow your guests to experience first-hand what it is like to be on your terrace bar at night time with views overlooking Times Square, or what is a wedding would be like at your resort.  We are already seeing destination bureaus starting to use this technology to get travellers a feel of what it is like in their part of the world.  Marriott has already launched “VRoom Service,” which allows guests (Currently only available at New York Marriott Marquis and the London Marriott Park Lane) to order a Samsung Gear VR headset, which is brought up to their room for 24 hours. The devices, which run on Samsung’s Milk VR platform, come pre-loaded with three videos that Marriott is calling “VR postcards.” which promotes destinations such as Chile & Bejing.

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5. A Blog

We have seen hotels slowly start to curate content on guest experiences within the local area.  I believe that this is something all your staff can take part in, not writing the articles but provide opinions of local restaurants or recent visits to local monuments or museums, just make sure they take photos and videos of their experience.  Airbnb is leading the way and has been highly successful about sharing experiences of cities or locations from a guest perspective.  Marriott also launched there Traveller magazine traveler.marriott.com.  This recent article goes into more detail on how to help you build a content marketing strategy.

I am sure you can think of other ways; the main thing though is that hotels & resorts have to be more adept in the way they promote their local area by being proactive and offering travellers visually compelling arguments coupled with useful information and personal experiences.  After a stressful week at work, we sometimes need to be carried off to the place that takes us away from our daily routine.  Ensure that your hotel & resort make it easy for them to get there.

If you are interested in finding out more, email us info@hotelient.net or visit www.hotelient.net.

 

 

Push Notifications vs Emails vs Facebook, which offers better value to hotels, Resorts and Golf courses?

Push Notifications vs Emails vs Facebook, which offers better value to hotels, Resorts and Golf courses?

Hotels and Resorts are as usual being very conservative when it comes to adapting to the new realities on how to market to their prospective guests. Most European hotels will find it hard now to find a guest who is not in possession of either a smartphone or tablet.  This is the world we live in, where your guests are accustomed to using Apps from Facebook or Amazon.  They are also already used to receiving marketing messages via push notifications and most use Google maps to find their way around, so why are hotels & resorts being slow to react to this technological change.

Let´s take a look at 3 core marketing communication strategies that hotels should be planning to use in 2016:-

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Email Marketing

As part of your marketing strategy, emails campaigns are great at promoting your services, promotions, blog entries and general information.  You work hard with your front office staff to get the right email address, maybe run competitions both online and offline to increase your marketing database as well as use technology like Social Wifi within your hotel and landing pages on your website. These are all worthwhile exercises and should be continued but let’s get one thing clear, on average only 10-15% of your emails you send will be opened.  That’s an incredibly small number.  What’s more, the vast majority of hotels have not invested in creating a database that includes gender, date of birth, likes, dislikes etc so at least you can be slightly more specific when it comes to you email content.

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Facebook

Like with Smartphones, nearly all your guests are going to have an account with Facebook.  In 2015, they are registering around 1 billion daily users.  In general, most users have been happy to provide Facebook with all kinds of information from their relationship status to age, interests etc so you will be able to use the Facebook Ads Manager to define a target audience. For ads, you are not limited to just your fans; instead you can choose your audience based on geography, gender, age, interests, and purchasing behaviours. For example, hotels can choose to target London business travellers between 35-45 who have returned from a trip within the last two weeks, or let´s say your hotel is a wedding venue, you could target all people within a 100km radius who are engaged.  This is by far a more effective marketing tool and with some major international companies planning to spend over 80% of their marketing budget with Facebook over the next 12 months, demonstrates that advertising with Facebook is providing them with much higher rates of return.

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Push Notifications

Now, for your guests to receive notifications to their smartphone, your hotel is going to need to invest in an App.  Now in my previous article, I laid out how apps are improving the revenue performance in hotels, so I am not going to cover it again here. Push notifications are unique because it’s short and sweet. Unlike traditional marketing, once your app is built there are no further costs.  Push notifications are received exclusively by guest’ who have opted in for your offers, so you will never come across as spammy.  They can be used to show specials that you currently offer in your F&B outlets or for example: If your hotel is in a part of the world known for its seasonal appeal a push notification can increase your revenue of outdoor activities in the offseason. If your hotel is known to be in a great area for skiing, and there is a fluke snow storm in early April, a push will allow you to quickly inform anyone with your app that the slopes are open. The same applies to beachfront properties- if the weather is predicted to be sunny in the high 20´s or 30 degrees in January that will be a great time for you to drive traffic.

Here is also a great example on how Push Notifications are providing new ways to connect with your target audience.    One of the functionalities that our hotelient apps offers is for a golf course that can add the round card to an app.  By using GPS, a user will be able to see how far their ball is from the green as well as a short note on how to play the hole.  So let’s assume an average golf course receives 20,000 golfers a year and 50% download the app.  With 90% readability rates, you will be connecting with 9,000 golfers per year via push notifications, maybe offering them offers from their pro shop, or F&B outlets.

This is an extremely powerful marketing tool that the OTAS are taking full advantage of, but as yet the majority of independent hotels and Resorts.

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Conclusion

So which one offers better value?  Email campaigns are a question of numbers, the more you send, the higher amount of guests that open.  Facebook offers hotels the opportunity to market specific messages to a specific audience, whilst push notifications have very high readability rates using technology that the majority of your guests are accustomed to now which are free to send once your hotel has purchased an app.  You should not discount any of these three strategies but what is apparent is that Facebook and Push notifications offer great value as they enjoy higher readability rates when compared with email campaigns.

The reality though is that the majority of hotels, Resorts and & golf courses in 2015 have been only using email campaigns as their communication strategy.  Hopefully, we have offered you something to think about when planning your 2016 marketing campaign!

Need Help?  Talk to us and we will work with you to optimize your 2016 marketing strategy.  email info@hotelient.net for further information

How concierge apps are transforming European hotels revenue performance

How concierge apps are transforming European hotels revenue performance

It is now a common acceptance within our industry that more and more of your guests are searching for a hotel using their mobile rather than a desktop.  In a recent study from the UK, 70% of travellers at some point during the buying process for flights and hotels used a mobile.  A further study revealed that 85% of mobile users prefer Apps over mobile webs.

Most hotels these days have the website optimised for mobiles and feel they are doing everything to ensure they are interacting with their guests via mobile but is it enough?  This is a common question and one that we will tackle today

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Apps are transforming hotels that have already implemented into their business, here’s how:-

  • Information – Hotels & Resorts are, in general, are notoriously bad at informing their guests on everything that is going to take place during their stay.  From the flyers that we leave next to reception, to the personalised letter they receive on check-in and let´s not forget the infamous hotel directory.  The majority guests are searching for information about the great services you provide before they even arrive, instead they need it when they are on the plane, train or just simply planning their holiday.  Many resorts offer excursions like scuba diving, children activities or trekking that are nowhere to be seen on the brand website but still offer an important part of someone’s holiday.  Having that information beforehand is providing your guests with useful information that they can plan their perfect holiday or stay with you which is available both when there online and offline.
  • Events – Most hotels these days are focused on providing experiences to their guests whether business or pleasure.  From offering yoga, cookery classes to a live act in your bar, these have always been difficult to promote for the hotel.  From publishing on Social media & website to producing a flyer which takes time and incurs costs for printing and designing.  One of the great functionalities about apps is push notifications – These are small notifications sent straight to the phone and appear on the front screen.  At present, these have 95% readability rates, far higher and more cost-effective than any other form of advertising.

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  • Revenue – Apps are proving a great way to increase incremental revenue by selling via your app for services like room service, Spa, Restaurant or promotions on food & drink.  Hotels that have implemented apps have already recouped their initial investment within 6 months of operation. From promoting your room service menus shown with pictures which is proven to increase demand  to Spa treatments which can be pre-booked, this can all be done via the app.  Guests can also interact with your staff instantly to organise transfers, housekeeping etc.  All this helps your guest have the right information at their fingertips at the right time.  From an operational point of view, you app can be connected to your PMS to automatically charge the guests room bill.
  • GPS – So you are a resort in Malaga with many of your guests flying into the local airport.  How great would it be for your guest to receive a welcome message when they arrive along with directions on how to get to your hotel?  Or if you are a golfing resort, how cool would it be for your golfers to know how far their ball is away from the pin?  All of this is possible with an App which offer those little details that set you apart from your competitors.

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  • Loyalty Programmes – Apps are a great way to incentivize multi-purchases as well as encouraging repeat stays.   Promotions like buy 5 beers and get the 6th one free can be controlled by the app, as well as promotions to ensure that your clients come back and stay with you by booking directly.

Apps offer much more versatility and can be an incredible source of direct income if used correctly. Once a client has reserved your hotel via any channel.  You should be informing them to download your app to receive special promotions/information etc that they can enjoy when they are staying with you.

Whereas Mobile websites are instrumental in the initial reservation, apps also provide a valuable tool that your guests will appreciate.  A key component is that all your staff is correctly trained to make sure that your staff are helping your guest take full advantage of the many features that the app can offer them, which also helps to increase your hotels overall revenue performance.

All this taken together establishes that Apps are a vital marketing strategy.  For the hotels and resorts that have already adopted them, they are already reaping the rewards.

Email us info@hotelient.net if you would like to find out more on how an app can be beneficial for your guests and revenue.

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Simple handy guide to help you prepare your hotel´s online marketing strategy for 2016

Simple handy guide to help you prepare your hotel´s online marketing strategy for 2016

About this time of year, most Director of Sales & General Managers are sitting down to finalize their Sales & Marketing budgets and plan for 2016………..Best time of the year,  right before the RFP season begins!

So to help you all, here is a handy guide for you to plan your online marketing strategy.

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Website – The most important part of any online strategy is your own website.  Key things to take in consideration or at least be asking your providers or technical team.

  • Is my website mobile optimized? –  Google now penalizes non-responsive websites on searches from a mobile phone
  • Do I promote Guest reviews? – Showing off your great guest reviews increases your online conversions.
  • Are my photos up to date – Photos are key for hotels.  If they are more than 3 years old, update them.
  • Have I got any videos to show?- Videos are key in the selling process, a great video about your hotel on your homepage is a great selling point……..and google loves it too!
  • Can my content be updated quickly –  If you are relying on 3rd parties to update your content, this is not the best idea when we are living in an era where content is king.  Updating your website should be a question of minutes.
  • Is my website in my guests language? – Numerous studies have shown that when a hotel´s website is in your guests local language, they are more likely to buy directly from you.
  • Can my website add Landing pages and pop-up windows? – These are great for data capture and client retention.

Booking engine

  • Is my booking engine easy to use from a client´s perspective?  Many booking engines are great for revenue managers but a minefield for clients.  Compare yours with booking.com and see how it stacks up
  • Add-ons or extras to be shown after initial reservation? – This is proven to increase your revenue against showing them during the initial process.  Does booking.com show extras or Add-Ons?  So why do you let your guest choose one, when they are more likely to be  looking to compare your prices with an OTA?
  • Create separate booking engines for unique offers – Putting your booking engine in more on more pages with only some of your great promotions is key to driving revenue.  Ask your provider whether they can create this for you

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Connectivity

  • Can my channel manager connect to Google/Tripadvisor /Trivago and other meta search agencies? –  If they cannot, look for alternative solutions.
  • Should my Channel Manager & Booking engine be separate? –  The success of your booking engine will depend on how much your provider is investing to keep up with the industry trends, so by separating them, will allow you to move between providers more freely without the hassle.

Advertising/SEO

  • If your hotel already investing in Adwords but not connected to Google HPA? If the answer is no then you need to get this sorted.  Also, Google RLSA has a better rate of conversion and could be a smarter investment.  Talk to your provider about RLSA or read this recent article.
  • Retargeting Ads are a worthwhile investment, as studies have shown clients visit about 20 web pages before deciding on where they are going to book.
  • Ensure your website has up to date Keywords, SEO Description and Titles on every page.
  • SEO is now not just about backlinks, Google users over 200 algorithms now so just doing one thing is not enough

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Reputation

  • Your reputation is key, not only from a point of monitoring but also to incentivise direct reservations.
  • Generate online feedback for your guests to complete and promote it across your social media, website and Videos.

Social Media

  • Is your Community manager or Social media manager just promoting offers and showing pictures and videos of your hotel?  If they are, tell them to stop or look to replace them.
  • Social media is all about telling stories, interaction, and conversation.  One golden rule, only 20% of your content should be your promotions, the rest should be about your destination, events, interesting stories, interviews etc.  Read this article on how to get the best out of your social media.
  • Building your youtube channel with videos of your hotel, interviews, guest reviews is also a great tool.  40% of all global searches are for videos which are set to rise to nearly 70% by 2018.

Other Technologies

  • Social WIFI – By getting you guests to connect to your FREE WIFI through their social media accounts should be a no brainer for hotels.  No only do they get more followers, you also get their email address, that can be added to your marketing database.
  • APPs- Concierge Apps should be a must by providing your guests information about your hotel including offers, events and much more.  According to recent surveys, 85% of smartphone users prefer apps to mobile websites.  They also reduce your printing cost on flyers and new guest directories!.

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I am sure there are many more ways you can all think of, however by doing the above is a great start.

According to a recent survey we conducted, over 70% of hotels receive less than 35% of their total online reservations directly.  Every point that I have written above, I have implemented and was able to achieve 60% of my online reservations directly in my previous roles within hotels.  It can be done and it also does not need to break your marketing budget in doing so.

Talk to your providers or your team today and see how you can implement these during 2016, or alternatively, allow Hotelient to provide you with a free review on your general online positioning to ensure you are checking all the boxes.  Email us for further information info@hotelient.net

I am passionate about direct sales for hotels and I have put into practice what I believe. We cannot live without OTA´s, but we can take advantage of the many great technologies to ensure the hotel that we work for is getting a fair share of direct reservations.

Simple handy guide that will help your hotel get the best out of social media

Simple handy guide that will help your hotel get the best out of social media

A lot of our clients come to us and ask always the same question.  “We have all been told to be on Social media, we have employed a community manager/social media manager who is publishing content across Facebook, Twitter.  So why are we not seeing results, nor increases in our followers?”

This is a common question especially as many hotels view that their social media channels are an extension of their website, where you place your offers, photos or videos, recent interviews, ads or a great picture of a recent event that took place.

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Having worked in hotels as Sales & Marketing Director, the general guidance for hotels on how to maintain their social media has been constantly evolving.  There is though a coalescing around the general view that to maximize your leverage on your social media, Content Marketing will be key for you.  Now Marriott, since last year has been using this strategy and from the excellent financial results they recently announced, it is clear that it seems to be working.  However, the bad news is that most hotels do not have the budget, nor the infrastructure to compete with the likes of Marriott or the other major chains.  The good news is that you do not have too!  There are plenty of ways you to post great content without any major investment which will lead to better interactions with your followers and increase in direct online reservations.

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So here is my 5 point plan on generating great content for your social media:-

  •  Planning – Great content will be essential to succeeding at social media. Your marketing plan should include a content marketing plan, comprised of strategies for content creation and content curation, as well as an editorial calendar.  Critically important is how you divide up your content.  You should focus on the following

⅓ of your social content promotes your hotel, converts readers, and generates profit.
⅓ of your social content should be focused on your local destination.
⅓ of your social content should be based on interactions with your guests and building your brand.

  • Capturing – Not all your content is going to be generated by you.  Sharing interesting content about your destination, local restaurants, as well as local events is going to be really interesting to your clients.  Get your team to find great local websites.  In my experience, your reception team is a great source of information that you can tap into.   Get all of the hotel staff involved.  At the next head of departments meeting, ask each department to source some great articles.  You will be amazed at what they find for you to post.

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  • Creating – We have all been here, sometimes it is really difficult to create content.   Bear in mind that Google really loves videos, so creating great HD videos does not have to be expensive with your iPhone or Android and will be great for your SEO. You will only need to purchase a tripod stand for around £30.  Here are some ideas that I have used in the past that have proved to be very successful.
    • Staff reviews of local restaurants – Guests ask your reception staff all the time, why not put it in a video or a blog?
    • A day in the life of the Front Office manager. (Great blog title or video)
    • How to prepare your signature dish in your restaurant with recipe (Blog & Video)
    • Guest talking on a video about their stay. (Video)
    • 5-star guest reviews taken from Tripadvisor. (Image)
    • Video series on how things work in your hotel like the remote control, shower etc

I am sure you can think of many more ideas.  The key thing for me was that everyone within the hotel participated.  This is not a Sales & Marketing job only!

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  • Posting – OK, you have created some great content and found some great information about your destination, now comes the fun part – getting it out there.  Now, I came across a brilliant platform which will allow you to schedule when and where you post too.  It´s called Buffer and it is great at allowing you to not only program your posts to when most of your connections are online, it also allows you to add feeds from sites that your guests may find interesting, so from their app, you can choose what to post 24hrs a day, making sure that you are always posting fresh, interesting and exciting content.  Check it out, quite a lot of the functionality is available free.
  • Analysing –  To find out what adjustments need to be made to your social media marketing strategy, you should constantly be testing. Build testing capabilities into every action you take on social networks. Track your links using URL shorteners. Use Buffers social media analytics to track the success and reach of social campaigns. Track page visits driven by social media with Google analytics. Record and analyze your success and failures, and then adjust your social media marketing plan accordingly  Surveys are also a great way you can gauge success. these work both online and offline. Ask your social media followers, email list, and website visitors how you’re doing on social media. This direct approach is often very effective. Then ask your offline customers if social media had a role in their purchasing. This insight might prove invaluable when you look for where to improve.

Conclusion – The most important thing to understand about your social media plan is that it should be constantly changing. As new channels emerge, you may want to add them to your plan.  The key thing is not to turn your social media into an extension of your website.  It is about creating social interactions online –  The reason why we all employ Community Managers!!    For me, Content Marketing evolved into becoming one of the key elements in increasing my direct online reservations and RevPar and cannot be underestimated.

Do you need a helping hand in creating great content?  Email us info@hotelient.net and find out how Hotelient can help you get ahead of your competition.

How Hotels increase RevPar with online guest surveys

How Hotels increase RevPar with online guest surveys

Most hotels spend hundreds and in some cases thousands of euros every month on ensuring that they promote their website either with google AdWords campaigns, SEO optimisation, and general online marketing techniques.  This is good practice, but Google has been saying over the last few years that REVIEWS to them matter and have been making it key that Hotels focus in this area.

So how can online guests surveys increase RevPar?  

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Reviews Matter

Google invites anyone who cares to post a review of any business that they have used. Who cares most? People who have had a bad experience. We estimate that a dissatisfied guest is up to twenty times more likely to post a review.

Studies too numerous to mention, as well as massive amounts of anecdotal evidence, show the effect reviews have on guest behavior. Great reviews drive RevPar, bad reviews drive guests away.

Combine those two factors alone and it rapidly becomes apparent how important it is for all businesses to engage where reviews are concerned.

Google – the major player

This has been (and continues) a major subject for debate. Google has not made life easy for any of us: constantly moving the goal posts. But what is now called Google My Business is well on its way to becoming the dominant force in reviews, for a host of reasons, here are just some which stand out…

  • Verification: since Google introduced mandatory registration all Google reviews are attached to a verified account (YouTube, Google+, Gmail etc.).
  • Coverage: Google provides a ‘one stop shop’ for reviews – of any business or service. Guests will soon tire of looking up different specialist sites depending on what kind of reviews they need.
  • Ease: once registered, writing subsequent reviews is simple.
    Google is the gatekeeper: their reviews will always be shown before any others
    The new Google layout: providing much more information about each individual business, by default this drives other review sites down below the fold (or onto page two – the graveyard)

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So if Google is focusing on Reviews, are they enhancing the visibility of those hotels in their searches who have great reviews, which leads to a higher level of reservations and increase in RevPar?……..You Bet!

1). More reviews = better Search Engine Rankings

Hotels using online surveys have significantly more reviews, and the search engines eat this up. Search engine algorithms are fine tuned to pick up nuances in score and number of reviews. In search world dominated by OTAs, this can make the difference in whether a hotel appears for its own brand.

2). More reviews = increased confidence with travelers

The volume of reviews influences the level of trust a traveler has in the feedback. The difference between a hotel that has 300 reviews and a hotel that has 3,000 reviews is noticeable unless scores are the highest of the high.

3). Higher rankings (Enough said!)

Anything that pushes up rankings is pure gold for hotels in this day and age when 95% of travelers use reviews to make a booking decision. Hotelient surveys easily integrate with your website and can be pushed out to third-party travel sites to help drive higher rankings exactly where you need them.

4). Surveys = guiding the conversation

On review sites, the traveler controls the conversation; in a survey scenario, the hotel guides the conversation. Choosing which questions to ask and how they are asked can influence the way travelers recall their experiences and how they respond. Actionable feedback is still the goal, but framing a survey so that it taps into a traveler’s positive experiences at the very beginning makes sense.  Once completed, the guest will view a short video either in response to a positive review or a negative one.

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Now many hoteliers express resistance regarding post-stay guest surveys; they say it risks the hotel becoming a nuisance. Hotelient suggests that hotels reconsider surveys as a guest service rather than a request—and they really can be, when presented the right way.

Hotelient has touted the benefits of surveys, knowing there’s a reward to hotels reaching out proactively for guest feedback. Just the act of sending a survey lets guests know you care, and when surveys are sent within 48 hours of departure which can also be done automatically saving your team time, guests are still fresh on the experience, making them better able and, perhaps, more willing to give feedback.

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But what about Tripadvisor, is there any correlation between reviews and their ranking on their site? 

In the table that follows, hotels that rank across the spectrum, calculated the number of reviews each has and then divided that by the number of rooms. This gives a figure that enables you to fairly compare any hotel with another.

Ranking Reviews per room per year

Top 10 –  7.4

Top 25 –  4.3

Top 50 –  2.2

75 –  1.4

100  – 1.1

250  – 0.7

500  – 0.5

750 –  0.3

The key question is: can we draw any conclusions from these numbers?

Yes. The more reviews you can get the better your ranking on Tripadvisor & Google will be.

For every hotel? Yes. in one of two ways:

  • You can invest in better facilities and staff training and invite reviews, or…
  • You can invest a fraction of that amount in a professional review management system and invite reviews

Hotelient Reputation Surveys will:

  • Get you more positive reviews to TripAdvisor, Google & Facebook (at least 25% more – based on results for our clients)
  • Enable you to manage at least 75% of the negative reviews you are currently receiving before they are ever posted to TripAdvisor, Google & Facebook
  • Without any radical restructuring in-hotel, you begin to get more positive reviews per year per room, and your ranking begins to climb which leads to increase in RevPar

Hotelient is also offering the following Summer offer:-

If you contract our reputation package before the 31st October 2015, we will design, configure and host for your hotel  a fully customizable App ready for Iphone and Android Smartphones completely FREE and with no hidden charges or obligations.

If you would like to find out more call +44 (0)203 287 1276 or email info@hotelient.net

How Hotels & Resorts can learn from FC Barcelona to reap rewards in Social Media

How Hotels & Resorts can learn from FC Barcelona to reap rewards in Social Media

Barça became the first sports club on the planet to reach 100 million fans on social media by February 2014.   At the time, Barça was attracting, on average, more than 100,000 new followers every single day among its 30 official channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.  These spectacular numbers are proof that they aren’t betting on a single channel, but rather they are looking for users wherever they may be. Barça doesn’t wait for its fans to come to it; Barça goes out and finds them.

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Their strategy was concentrated into 3 areas a) Creating content adapted to each territory through the Club’s international websites b) Utilizing social media as a platform for distributing this content; and generating engagement — commitment — through the employment of mobile apps, promotional marketing, and c) management of the global community of FCB fans. Their digital strategy was strengthened in November 2011 with the inauguration of their new web platform. It featured a fresh design and a broader structure supporting more than 6,000 pages, giving Barça fans everywhere a cutting-edge source of information and enjoyment. The new websites in Catalan, Spanish and English kept up their growth in the ensuing months while the Club incorporated sites in several new languages. The first was Chinese in June 2012, followed by French and Arabic one month later, Japanese in December of the same year, Indonesian in May 2013 and, finally, Portuguese in October 2013. By then, the platform consisted of sites in nine different languages with content specially adapted for each country or region. The launch of each site brought with it new social media profiles that could promote social networking, most importantly on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

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So how can Hotels & Resorts learn from FC Barcelona when implementing their Social Media strategy? Know where to find your audience Look at which nationalities visit your hotel or visiting your competitors and start connecting with them in their language across the social media platforms that THEY use.  With the many great CRM options for independent hotels these days, ensure that your website is in their language, so they can easily find out about the offers and services you provide for their specific nationality and customs as well as the great activities that they can enjoy within your local area.

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Content is King Offer insights on whats it like to stay at the hotel, maybe a video of behind the scenes of a wedding, or your why not share the recipe of your chef´s signature dish.  Celebrate your clients national festive days as well as offering insights in what is going on  around your community.  Focus on encouraging engagement, and extending the value for your clients.  Make sure you share the great content you are generating across all social platforms in your clients language

Go Mobile A great way to connect with your guests is through mobile apps by generating engagement and commitment through the employment of promotional marketing in real-time.  Push notifications have over 90% readability rates, far higher than any other marketing medium.  By incentivizing your guests to download your app from the moment they have booked a room, will allow you to connect with them in a totally new format that they will appreciate.  Who today does not use a smartphone or use a APP?

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By utilizing this strategy, Hotels can make their themselves far more discoverable, reach a far greater audience, enhance the guest experience and improve customer loyalty.  FC Barcelona maybe leading the way in the amount of fans, but hotels can learn from them and be just as successful. Struggling to gain visibility in Social media or do not have the budget or man power?   Do not worry, we can help you get up and running, with the right configuration and a little know how, Social media can become a powerful tool. Email us at info@hotelient.net for more information.

How Hotels can gain higher conversion rates with lower ad costs using Google´s Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA)

How Hotels can gain higher conversion rates with lower ad costs using Google´s Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA)

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) is a great way for hotels & Resorts gain higher conversion online rates with lower ad costs,  It allows hoteliers to reach people in the search results page with a text ad based on since, in theory, someone who has been to your site and familiar with your hotel is more likely to convert, proving that this type of remarketing can be very effective as part of your overall online marketing strategy

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Remarketing can take advantage of what you already know has taken place on your website, therefore the ads you place are more relevant and can deliver higher conversion rates with a lower cost per conversion.  RLSA is available only once campaigns are updated to enhanced campaigns.  Keyword search is the primary source of relevancy with RLSA campaigns with targeted audiences helping to further refine who is reached with keyword targeting. Basically, the remarketing list helps to refines a set of keywords. Any remarketing list can be added to an ad group in a search campaign, bringing an audience dimension to campaigns because we can see how searchers respond based on how they are segmented into the remarketing lists. For example, we can determine where they are in the reservation cycle based on pages they have visited in past.

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To get started with RLSA, you must enable: Remarketing, either through the Google Analytics or Remarking code snippet. Enhanced campaigns. Google has noted, that this isn’t “not search retargeting or search remarketing” because it doesn’t provide access to or use information about users’ Google search histories, and can’t be used in connection with sensitive categories. It utilizes list already available for display to adjust what you see on search, not previous keyword searches.

From a campaign, click the “audiences” tab, then select “add a remarketing list”. You will be prompted to select an ad group to apply the list to. Once the ad group is selected, the available remarketing lists will appear. Finally, choose “target and bid” if you only want to use the remarketing list, or “bids only” if you want to use both keyword search and/or remarketing list to reach your prospective customers.

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Customization is key: To make the most of the RLSA campaigns, use bid adjustments for remarketing lists in adgroups.  For example, visitors who reached your booking engine may be a hotter lead for a conversion than one who only reached the homepage, thus supporting a higher CPC bid. Customize ads with relevant offers informed by users past decisions on the website. Best Practices For Strategy and Structure RLSA only works for the search network, so it’s preferable to separate remarketing for search and display. Also, set campaigns to search only network as a best practice. Understand when creating campaigns the primary relevance of the ad serving is due to keywords and searcher intent. We know there are different intents in search and display, so keep this in mind. If a search campaign is performing well, an advertiser may want to pump this up by adding a remarketing list. Create a copy or a new campaign before targeting remarketing lists for search. This allows different ads to be shown to people on the remarketing list, and bids can be adjusted for those keywords.

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There is no reach and frequency capping for RLSA. If ad fatigue is a possible issue, creating multiple ad creatives will be the way to go. Strategy around match types will change a bit for advertisers using RLSA. Because you can target people who have already been to your site, broad match keywords may have a higher conversion rate because the targeting is already narrowed down with the remarketing list. In addition, advertisers who can’t bid profitably on highly competitive keywords, would be able to do so on keywords + remarketing since they are likely to more relevant to the searcher. This may make it more affordable to bid profitably.

RLSA offers a great potential to get creative and target potential guests like never before. Consider a few ways this can be used: Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) campaign ideas: Use more general keywords in campaigns now that searchers will be more qualified, having been a previous visitor. Use product specific targeting, for example, increase bids for visitors who reached a product page while on then site when they later search for the same product on Google.  Target repeat visitors with a discount promo for the category or section they are viewing. Target a previous visitor who abandoned your booking engine and searches on a competitor’s term.  Use information besides searchers query, like location, day/time scheduling, and device to be super relevant to searchers and compel conversions. Increase visibility for more recent visits, for example, increase your bid by 20 percent for those who previously viewed the website in the last 7 days.

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A remarketing list for Google search ads must have at least 1,000 users on it before it can be used to start serving ads. This not only protects the privacy of those who make up your list, but also helps ensure that your ad will have a big enough audience to make some impact. In comparison, the display remarketing the list size must be minimum 100. At first, the number of list sizes between the two can be very different targeting by website behavior coupled with search behavior is a wake up call for AdWords advertisers to think more about multiple touch points with your guests and the varied ways they can be reached.

Want to find out more? Get in with touch with us info@hotelient.net and we will show your Hotel or Resort how to make the most our RLSA.

Hoteliers need to do more to connect with 70% of UK market study finds

Hoteliers need to do more to connect with 70% of UK market study finds

A recent study by Expedia Media Solutions, the advertising sales division of Expedia, Inc., analyzed online travel content consumption and booking across devices and audience segments in the U.K. The findings should provoke a wake up call for hotels and Resorts to update their marketing strategy and reflect the conversion to mobile that is currently taking place if the UK market is an important source of guests.

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“No matter how much focus you’ve given mobile to this point, you can still do more. Data from Google suggests that 100% of all the growth in search volume now comes from mobile. More than half of all smartphone users sleep with their devices, for fear of missing out on emails, calls, texts, and tweets. As a result, mobile often represents the first experience guests will have with your property. And for most hotels, that mobile experience — from discovery, research, and booking, through on-property and loyalty — has plenty of room for improvement to attract and retain guests.”

–Tim Peter, Digital Marketing Expert, Tim Peter & Associates

Commissioned by Expedia Media Solutions and conducted by comScore, the study found that nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the 48 million people in the U.K. is engaging with digital content across smartphones, tablets and PCs are interacting with travel-related content. The total U.K. travel audience in mobile is equal to that of PC, as mobile device ownership and usage continues to grow. The study further revealed that smartphone users in the U.K. are the most likely to access travel content in a given month. With these findings in mind, there is an increasing opportunity for hoteliers to reach customers in the U.K. across smartphones, tablets and PCs.

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PC usage remains high, but mobile device ownership continues to rise in the U.K. (outpacing the U.S.), pointing to the importance for marketers to employ multiscreen strategies to reach audiences across devices.

Three out of four U.K. travelers own all three types of devices – PC, smartphone and tablet – up from one out of two U.K. travelers in 2014
Nearly half of the travel audience in the U.K. engages with travel on both their PC and mobile devices each month
Among the 25 million U.K. consumers using mobile devices to access travel content monthly, 70 percent access travel content only via smartphone; 14 percent use both smartphone and tablet
The majority of U.K. users access all of the travel categories—including travel information, ground/cruise, hotels/resorts, online travel agents, airlines, car rental, and travel—via PC, however more than one-fourth of the total travel audience only accesses travel content through their mobile device.
Mobile devices are being used by the U.K. travel audience across all travel stages – from researching to planning to shopping to during a trip – but marketers need to understand how content engagement varies between tablets and smartphones.

The majority of mobile users in the U.K. are engaging with travel content on their mobile devices via the browser; 66 percent of smartphone users and 81 percent of tablet users access travel content exclusively via the browser
While the mobile browser drives the travel experience, mobile apps are still important to this audience with 21 percent of smartphone users and 10 percent of tablet users accessing travel content only through the app
In the U.K., tablet usage is consistently leveraged across all travel stages – researching destinations (51 percent), shopping for air and hotel (41 percent), planning trip activities (48 percent) and during a trip (42 percent); the U.K. audience is much more engaged with tablets across all travel stages compared to the U.S. audience.

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U.K. consumers are making significantly more online purchases on tablets than they did the prior year – tablet travel transactions are following pace and are expected to increase even more in the next year.

Over one-third (36 percent) of tablet owners in the U.K. have booked travel on their tablet while one-sixth (16 percent) have booked via their smartphone in the past six months.
When looking at different travel segments, the luxury traveler is more likely to book travel on both the tablet (64 percent) and smartphone (35 percent) than the family, budget or business traveler.
Nine out of 10 travelers in the U.K. who have booked on a tablet plan to book again, and six out of 10 travelers who have booked on smartphone plan to do so again.
U.K. travelers are consuming more content across the travel category, and are more likely to browse travel content for fun – the key for hoteliers is relevant and captivating experiences.

In the U.K. 18 percent of mobile owners intentionally clicked on a mobile ad, primarily because they found the ad relevant to a product or service of interest or it caught their attention.
Also, 21 percent of U.K. tablet users are more likely to see and intentionally click on ads compared to 13 percent of smartphone users.
U.K. business travelers were significantly more likely to intentionally click on mobile ads than other groups, regardless of device.
“Mobile adoption is showing no sign of slowing, and people are getting even savvier with how they are using tablets and smartphones for travel content consumption and booking,” said Noah Tratt, global senior vice president of media solutions at Expedia, Inc. “Using these insights, marketers can better understand U.K. travel audience behaviors across devices and better identify effective points of engagement on each device and during any stage of the of the travel experience.”

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Conclusion:- It is clear that Hoteliers who wish to target UK travelers have to engage with them via the mobile, which is why an optimized webs sites is just a first step. Apps and a clear content marketing strategy is also a key requisite as the study shows.