Generating revenue from your hotel´s FREE WIFI will be key in 2017

Generating revenue from your hotel´s FREE WIFI will be key in 2017

For hotels and resorts over the last few years have always been faced with the same issue, which is the urgent need to improve their WIFI infrastructure so their guests can enjoy their favourite series on Netflix, upload and download photos or videos without waiting an age for the task to be completed.  Hotels, in general, have been extremely lax in providing quality of service, as the cost to improve the infrastructure could never be offset by the revenue it could generate.   Some hotels charge for the service which is not desirable, as according to Hotels.com who released a survey which stated that free WiFi was the most desired in-room amenity.  Also, from the moment of check-in, either you are giving a small piece of paper with a password on it, or written on your key card folder, or you are provided access without the need to introduce a password.  As we move forward into an era in which a guest will be able to check in, open their room door and pay their bill from their smartphone, interaction with your reception staff will become less and less especially in business hotels.

Bearing this all in mind then, how can a hotel generate revenue from their hotel’s FREE WIFI service?

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The answer is using Social WIFI technology.  So how does it work, let’s take it in 3 easy steps:-

Access

Providing simple and easy access to your FREE WIFI service is key.  By allowing your guest to sign in one time only to your service using their favourite social media channel which in the majority of cases will Facebook or just completing a simple form, whether a guest speaks with your reception staff of not, they will able to gain access quickly to your WIFI.  Clients will be encouraged as well to connect to your social media pages, which automatically increases your fan base and also provides increased visibility.  Guests will also be accustomed to connecting to WIFI using this method especially in Travel where this technology exists in the majority of airports across the world

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Analyse

Now, while your guest is enjoying your high-speed internet access, you are gaining an insight into your guests.  Demographics, guests interests, how long do your clients spend online and email addresses to name a few.  The statistics gleaned from your guests connecting to your WIFI service will allow you to be more targeted with marketing campaigns as well as design offers and services that suit more your guest requirements.  However data collection is only one part, you will also be able to see where in your hotel or resort guests are connecting to your service, how they move around your hotel which will allow you to correctly position marketing for promotions or events that will be taking place at your hotel or improve signage or layouts.  You will also be able to identify and collect data from conference attendees, Diners at your restaurant or spa users even if they are non-residents.  Again sourcing this information will allow you personalise your marketing campaigns.

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Action

So your guests are connected to your WIFI and you an understanding better your guest’s interests and requirements.  Now, it’s time to take action.  Here´s how.  Firstly, right from the sign-up page, you can promote any events or special promotions that your are currently offering.  By knowing at what time of day the majority of your guests are connected, you can also send via email and SMS personalised messages.   You can make them aware of what is going on at your hotel or just simply ask them to provide feedback on their stay which you can encourage them to share on Google, Facebook or Tripadvisor.  Another avenue to generate revenue is to allow companies that have products displays within your resort the ability to promote their offers via your WIFI.

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In summary, by using Social WIFI technology, not only are you making easier for your guests to connect, you are gaining a data capture & marketing tool that will allow you to understand your clients better as well improve your TrevPar revenue and direct bookings.  There is clear data to suggest that we are in the final days of rate parity across Europe, so it is imperative that any hotel or resort is wishing to build an extensive database of users to encourage them to book direct, Social WIFI should be an essential part of this.

If you would like to discuss with us how Social Wifi and generate revenue for your hotel, email info@hotelient.net.

 

 

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.

 

 

Solving the Guest Data puzzle for hotels to increase Revenue & Guest Satisfaction

Solving the Guest Data puzzle for hotels to increase Revenue & Guest Satisfaction

The amount of data we as individuals share online has increased year by year.  From what we post on Facebook or tweet on Twitter gives a little insight into the type of person we are.  Over the last few years, we have seen companies starting to take advantage of the numerous amount of data we share every day.  For example, Google started sending me emails to remind me to leave feedback on the level of service from shops and businesses I had visited recently.  Shopping Centres are now assessing what stores you visit to personalise messaging to match your interests.  The “Big Data” era is upon us, yet Hotels have been slow to react to this change because trying to capture data from their guests without being intrusive has always been a puzzle.

Keyboard with Big Data Button.

When I speak to Directors of Hotels, there is a belief that guests do not want to be disturbed, do not wish to fill in too many forms, clients do not like being asked too many questions about their stay.  But what about if by finding out just a little bit more about our guests, we can provide that unique personalised service that we all want to deliver.

So how can hotels achieve this in a cost-effective way and solve the Guest Data puzzle?  Here are a few ideas:-

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CRM/PMS

Well, let’s start with the most complicated part first, yet one you can start straight away – Keeping up to date guest information on your CRM or PMS.  Training ALL your staff to help build a strong profile of your clients is paramount.  From dates of birthdays to allergies, this is vital to avoid asking the same questions everytime your regular guests stay with you.  Active communication between departments is key to complete guest profiles.  Simple I know, but so many hotels miss this part out.  How many hotels have sent you a birthday greeting? remembered that you had a nut allergy?,  or a Thank you gift for staying 5 or more times at your hotel?  These are little details that say a lot to a guest and can make all the difference as well as helping to build a direct relation with the hotel instead of always booking your hotel on their favourite OTA!

Now, that the hard part is out the way, now onto the easy part – Using Technology to capture data.

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Social WiFi

If your Hotel or Resort hosts guests, especially from foreign countries, most likely as soon as they arrive at the reception desk, they are pleading for the username and password to access the WIFI, so they avoid roaming charges and can connect their IPad to watch their favourite series on Netflix. Now instead of just handing over the code, allow them to connect to your WIFI network via their favourite social media account or fill in a short online form.   There are some significant benefits for your hotel or Resort by doing it this way:-

  1. They become a fan of one of your Social Media Channels
  2. Email address, Country of Origin, Sex, Age and Date of Birth are all stored (Great marketing resource)
  3. You can pinpoint where people connect, so if you are hosting a conference, you will be able to segment between conference visitors, wedding invitees and in-house guests to personalise messaging.
  4. Instant Notifications of any events taking place that evening straight to those that are connected online to your hotel.
  5. Find out how your visitors react due to different weather conditions as you can see where in your hotel they are connecting which is correlated with the actual weather on the day.

Building a marketing database, increasing your social media fans and informing your guests of significant events taking place while they are at your hotel are powerful tools.  Social Wifi also connects into to your existing infrastructure so an extremely affordable way to generate Revenue and guest data which could come in handy, especially if you are currently in need of justifying the investment in improving the speed of your WIFI, a current dilemma for hotels & resorts.

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Concierge Apps

As an hotelier, we are always thinking about ways to improve what we offer and deliver what our guests want.  We want to find out but at the same time, we do not wish to be intrusive during their stay with us.  A unique and relatively new way for hotels to reach out to the clients is via Apps that can take advantage of either GPS or IBeacon technology.  Say your client was entering your garden restaurant, the app will automatically send a notification to your customer which could ask their opinion, advise them of any special offers or what is the dish of the day.  We are seeing more and more each day; guests are using concierge apps to ask for extra pillows, room service or book taxis.  All of this data is stored; so you can gain a pattern of your regular guests to determine the everyday needs and wants so you have them ready for their next stay without even asking!

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Yield Management

Award-winning software for booking engines can now source so much information, from lead times to average nights based on searches. From which page did they get to your booking engine or what was the weather like on the day they booked.  All fundamental questions so you can understand your Web visitors better.  By understanding what they are looking for, can enable you to promote the right deals and offers at the right time and obtain optimal rates on bookings.

By being smarter in the way you capture data, which you can then use to the benefit of your guests by providing a personalised service that will set you apart from the rest.  Guests share data all the time, Now it’s your turn to start to using it to enhance their experience with you and, of course, increase your overall revenue performance.

Require a strategy that enables you to understand better your guests whilst improving your hotels or resorts profitability?  Hotelient can help, email: info@hotelient.net to start the conversation.

 

Why hotels should be focusing on improving their online user experience to increase direct reservations

Why hotels should be focusing on improving their online user experience to increase direct reservations

The recent announcement that Booking.com was integrating with Tripadvisor’s Instant Booking has been filling our industry news for the last week.  This news though should be another wake-up call for hotels to start taking seriously the user experience on their website and online booking process.

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The likes of booking.com are continually investing in improving their user experience across all devices. This is especially critical when considering 47% of all last minute hotel bookings are done from a smartphone which apps like Hoteltonight and Booking Now from booking.com, with their slogan that you can reserve within 4 clicks, are focusing on.

For far too long, independent hotels have not invested in improving the user experience on their website.  More users are booking online than ever before across all devices and as this recent study suggests, more business travellers are booking their hotel and flights by themselves which also is backed up by booking.com and Airbnb´s focus in this area.

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So with OTA´s investing heavily in user experience across multi-platforms along with their huge budgets in online advertising spend, how can an independent hotel compete with this?

Here´s some helpful pointers to get you going in the right direction:-

  • Booking Engine – This is where the OTA´s have invested heavily in the user experience and hotels just have not improved in this area.  There is a reason that the OTA´s do not offer extras or added value like roses or champagne during the booking process, users want the final price in the fewest clicks.  You will have plenty time once you receive the reservation to promote these automatically and the client will be much more receptive too!  It is also critically important that your booking engine is visually great and easy to use for your guests. Sounds obvious I know, but there are many engines out in the market that have been designed for revenue managers, not users!  View your hotel in booking.com from a client’s perspective and see how they sell to you and make it easy to complete a reservation, then look for a supplier that best replicates this.  Also, you need to make sure that your booking engine backend can provide you with good analytical data, how many visitors and from which countries are coming to your booking engine, what dates are they searching for, how many days in advance are they looking to book and from which websites are they visiting you from.  With this, you will be able to determine the right promotions at the right time to optimize your online conversions.

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  • Cart Abandonment –  A re-engagement strategy can be what makes the difference. An email campaign shouldn’t bombard or annoy customers; it should be treated as an extension of your customer service.  It is perfectly legitimate when users have left your booking engine to send them an e-mail (even without completing a reservation) with a personalised follow-up message. This demonstrates an appreciation of their interest, shows users that you value their custom and that yours is a hotel worth booking.  Some hotels offer promo codes or incentives to stimulate impulse buying, however, this is not always necessary, as the email itself demonstrates that you value their business. It can also serve as a helpful reminder and quick route back to a room they had seen earlier and liked.
  • Website – We all know that users 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 creating a bigger marketing database in which to target and to convert into potential future business booking directly.  A) Invest to get them to visit your website, B) Gain their contact information and C) Target them afterwards.  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

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  • Reputation Marketing – In 2015, just monitoring your reviews by Tripadvisor and other review sites is not enough with management products largely becoming redundant.  Users seek out independent reviews before making a reservation, with 95% claiming to read reviews before booking.  OTA´s understand this, so they make customer ratings and feedback a prominent part of the hotel research process, offering millions of reviews directly on the site, so it is incredibly important that you are actively asking for feedback from your guests whilst helping them to promote them on your website as well as other key sites that will aid your visibility such as google, facebook and of course Tripadvisor. Here are some good practices:-
    • Website – Showing good reviews from a variety of places show you care about your reputation on your brand website will help increase your direct bookings and show to your users that you value feedback.
    • Stop giving Tripadvisor a free lunch and remove their widget from your website.  Yes, promote your reviews, just don´t make it easy for you guest to click off to Tripadvisor.
    • Proactively seek guest feedback – Ask your guest for feedback, understand better what you do well and what you can do better.

Book Now

Now doing the above is going to help your direct bookings but a good percentage of your guests will still come from OTA´s no matter how good your digital marketing strategy is, so here are a few more cost-effective ideas that will help you connect with your guests and allow you to understand their requirements to further personalise your marketing message to attract more guests to book directly.

  • Social Wifi – Allow your guests to connect to your free Wifi using their social media channels.  This is a great way for you to connect with everyone coming through your door (Conference Delegates, Wedding guests, Non-residents in your bar) not just one guest per room.  You will also increase your Social media fan base as well as your marketing database!
  • Upselling – This is a great way not only increase your revenue but also learn what kind of experience your guests want from your hotel, which will help you personalize even further.  Having a PMS (Property Management System) or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software that records the buying habits will allow you also to customise your marketing messaging.
  • Concierge APP – Make it easy for your guest to interact with you.  Apart from promoting your services, apps can offer loyalty programs that provide your guests value and provide you with a great new marketing technique – Push Notifications & GPS Marketing.  Read more here on how apps are beneficial for hotels.

None of the above are going to break your budget and will help set you on the path to increasing one of your most profitable reservations channels.  OTA´s are constantly improving their user experience, it is about time that independent hotels focus on this too.

Why Max Starkov’s Google/TripAdvisor nightmare is a blessing in disguise for hoteliers willing to embrace a new paradigm

Why Max Starkov’s Google/TripAdvisor nightmare is a blessing in disguise for hoteliers willing to embrace a new paradigm

Remember this? Steve Ballmer suggested in this interview back in 2007 that no-one would pay 500$ for a phone or that business people will not buy one, as the iPhone did not have a keypad. We all know how that prediction turned out?

Well, Max Starkov who is a leading voice within our industry wrote a recent article. He shares why “Book on Google” and “Book on Tripadvisor” will be a nightmare for the hospitality industry and it reminded me of Steve Ballmer´s infamous interview.

Max´s basic argument is that “book on Google” and “book on TripAdvisor” is three-fold:
1) Will increase OTA dependency
2) Lose control in creating demand
3) Worsening ROI.

He also recommended that hotels continue with meta search marketing ads as well investing in online marketing techniques to aid direct sales.

Let’s take these 3 points in hand.

– OTA dependency – Poorly managed hotels have high OTA dependency; They have allowed the likes of booking.com and Expedia to dominate their inventory. In a recent survey we conducted with European hotels, nearly 70% said that 60% or more of their online reservations come from OTA´s. So there already is high OTA dependency currently and two new major players in the market will only provide added competition. Google and Trip Advisor entering the market could result in lower OTA commissions if the market works as it should.  It does not automatically follow that two more players will increase OTA dependency from where it is today. Where Max is totally correct though is the need for hotels to invest in ensuring a higher % of reservations come directly. There are plenty of new technologies that if implemented correctly and with buy-in from the staff, offer many ways of increasing direct online reservations.

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– Lose Control in Creating demand – Using Metasearch to create demand is a good idea, but is just too costly and risky for many hotels. They just do not have the budgets to compete with the OTA´s. The independent hotel ROI model is different from an OTA’s ROI model. In meta search advertising, it is David versus Goliath, except this time Goliath wins ninety-nine times out of a hundred. If a hotel has, as Max suggests a robust marketing budget and meets some requirements to make it competitive against OTA’s, this can be a good way for hotels promote themselves during low and distressed periods. The reality though is that it is just not practical for the vast majority. Let’s also take it a stage further, if the metasearch model was working, then why are Tripadvisor and Google moving away from their respective programs that have been in BETA for many months?

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– Worsening ROI – Now here, Max explains that reservations that come from OTA´s have a higher cost of sale rather than ones that are reserved directly from meta search advertisements. They also impose restrictions like rate parity and LRA. I believe that the cost of sale will be pushed down by this added competition. In Europe where we already see that hotels are now not legally obliged to offer rate parity to OTA´s. We will see revenue managers increase their pricing where the cost of sale is higher. Likewise with these two major players entering the market and especially with Google´s dominance in mobile search this is likely force other players to reduce their % to maintain market share.

Max´s article is about Meta Search ads vs. OTA´s, the reality is, and our survey demonstrates this. Tripadvisor´s Tripconnect was a non-starter for hotels, with Instant Booking being far more acceptable. Google & Tripadvisor are just responding to the realities of the marketplace. Maybe to run meta search campaigns is financially beneficial for marketing agencies. However, for the majority of hotels, this is just not going to be an activity that makes sense commercially.

By no means am I an OTA fan. I did not achieve obtaining over 60% of my online reservations during my time as a hotel sales director by allowing them to take control of my inventory. What I do see though is that they are necessary for attracting clients to your hotel. The real trick is siphoning traffic from OTA’s and getting them to book on your website. Personally, this is where hotels have a major opportunity for getting some payback after years of feeding the OTA beast.

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

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.

10-Killer-Content-Marketing-Tips-for-Independent-Hotels

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.

Cart abandonment marketing can double or triple bookings through your website. So why aren’t you doing it?

Cart abandonment marketing can double or triple bookings through your website. So why aren’t you doing it?

Most hotels & resorts have for a number of years been investing into generating traffic to their website through PPC and SEO strategies, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that when you ask hotels about their website’s performance, bounce rate is usually singled out as the tell-all figure. While this is relevant, typically 67-80% of hotel site visitors still abandon at the booking stage – after selecting date, room type etc.

Given how high this figure is, it is surprising the number of hotels who are not reacting to what’s happening further down the purchase funnel – measuring booking abandonment levels and developing a strategy to re-engage with visitors who drop off.

Browser’s Market.

The hotel industry is a browser’s market. Increasingly visitors will research your facilities and engage with your website, only to drop out at the booking stage and to do the same with other hotels as they try to find the best deal. That’s the bad news. The good news is that almost everyone who has made the effort to interact with your website is keen and ready to make a purchase.

To ignore this group is to ignore the lowest hanging fruit, and a golden opportunity to secure quick bookings. So how can you start to improve your online conversions?

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Booking Engine

It is critically important that your booking engine is visually great and easy to use for your guests. Sounds obvious I know, but there are many engines out in the market that have been designed for revenue managers, not customers! Also, you need to make sure that your booking engine backend can provide you with good analytical data, how many visitors and from which countries are coming to your booking engine, what dates are they searching for, how many days in advance are they looking to book and from which websites are they visiting you from. With this you will be able to determine the right promotions at the right time to optimize your online conversions.

Customer Service

As we all know, a hotel lives and dies on its reputation, so there can be a certain hesitancy about taking a more proactive approach to engaging with potential guests. However, your re-engagement strategy can be what you make it. An email campaign shouldn’t bombard or annoy customers; it should be treated as an extension of your customer service.

It is perfectly legitimate when visitors have left to send an e-mail (even without completing a booking) with a personalised follow up message. This demonstrates an appreciation of their interest, shows visitors that you value their custom and that yours is a hotel worth booking.

Some hotels offer promo codes or incentives to stimulate impulse buying, however this is not always necessary, as the email itself demonstrates that you value their business. It can also serve as a helpful reminder and quick route back to a room they had seen earlier and liked.

cart

It is a challenge to continually attract new guests, yet hotels can see immediate returns by engaging with site visitors known to have genuinely considered making a booking. Most visitors to your site expect this level of engagement and communication, which will in turn lead to increased bookings.

If you require a booking engine proven to get results, get in touch with us. Our current booking engine is producing for our clients up to 200% growth on online direct business simply by applying common sense practices and proven technology. Email us for further info info@hotelient.net

Cart Abandonment Marketing, a simple way to improve your hotels RevPar

Cart Abandonment Marketing, a simple way to improve your hotels RevPar

Most hotels & resorts have for a number of years been investing into generating traffic to their website through PPC and SEO strategies, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that when you ask hotels about their website’s performance, bounce rate is usually singled out as the tell-all figure. While this is relevant, typically 67-80% of hotel site visitors still abandon at the booking stage – after selecting date, room type etc.

Given how high this figure is, it is surprising the number of hotels who are not reacting to what’s happening further down the purchase funnel – measuring booking abandonment levels and developing a strategy to re-engage with visitors who drop off.

Browser’s Market.

The hotel industry is a browser’s market. Increasingly visitors will research your facilities and engage with your website, only to drop out at the booking stage and to do the same with other hotels as they try to find the best deal. That’s the bad news. The good news is that almost everyone who has made the effort to interact with your website is keen and ready to make a purchase.

To ignore this group is to ignore the lowest hanging fruit, and a golden opportunity to secure quick bookings. So how can you start to improve your online conversions?

2014-Travel-Infographic1-1280x706

Booking Engine

It is critically important that your booking engine is visually great and easy to use for your guests. Sounds obvious I know, but there are many engines out in the market that have been designed for revenue managers, not customers!  Also, you need to make sure that your booking engine backend can provide you with good analytical data, how many visitors and from which countries are coming to your booking engine, what dates are they searching for, how many days in advance are they looking to book and from which websites are they visiting you from.  With this you will be able to determine the right promotions at the right time to optimize your online conversions.

Customer Service

As we all know, a hotel lives and dies on its reputation, so there can be a certain hesitancy about taking a more proactive approach to engaging with potential guests. However, your re-engagement strategy can be what you make it. An email campaign shouldn’t bombard or annoy customers; it should be treated as an extension of your customer service.

It is perfectly legitimate when visitors have left to send an e-mail (even without completing a booking) with a personalised follow up message. This demonstrates an appreciation of their interest, shows visitors that you value their custom and that yours is a hotel worth booking.

Some hotels offer promo codes or incentives to stimulate impulse buying, however this is not always necessary, as the email itself demonstrates that you value their business. It can also serve as a helpful reminder and quick route back to a room they had seen earlier and liked.

cart

It is a challenge to continually attract new guests, yet hotels can see immediate returns by engaging with site visitors known to have genuinely considered making a booking. Most visitors to your site expect this level of engagement and communication, which will in turn lead to increased bookings.

If you require a booking engine proven to get results, get in touch with us.  Our current booking engine is producing for our clients up to 200% growth on online direct business simply by applying common sense practices and proven technology.  Email us for further info info@hotelient.net