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.

 

 

How Facebook messenger can help increase guest satisfaction and RevPar performance

How Facebook messenger can help increase guest satisfaction and RevPar performance

Hotels have in general been slow at introducing new ways to connect and interact with their guests directly to their mobile, especially considering a vast majority of your clients are already using a smartphone daily!  Users spend more than one out of every five minutes on Facebook via their mobile.  Facebook also announced recently that more than 700 million monthly active users engage with Messenger. Think about how you communicate with your friends and family today.  From organising a night out to arranging a get together at Thanksgiving.  We have become so accustomed to Instant messaging being an important part of the way we communicate with others.

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Over the past couple of years, we have started to see major companies like Tesco, Audi and more recently El Corte Ingles in Spain beginning to use Facebook messenger as a new tool to connect with their customers.  More recently, Hyatt was the first hotel chain to announce that they were testing a new guest service channel using Facebook´s new “Businesses on messenger”, available currently only in the US

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Hotels & Resorts are also starting to be aware of a higher amount of guest interactions from a smartphone for complaints, questions or posting photos.  Clients want solutions in real time, from dealing with a complaint to booking a table in the restaurant,  or just finding out what they can explore within your local area.    Reservation confirmations, which are usually sent to emails are one-way forms of communication which don’t provide your guest an opportunity to personalise their stay further.  Facebook Messenger can also provide a better online booking experience by offering real time support for the user to navigate through the transactional parts of a booking and improving the overall user experience.   Interacting with your clients in real time is becoming a necessity for hotels, especially as it will help improve guest experience and satisfaction that leads to increased revenue performance.

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So how can you implement this into your hotel operation?

  • Which department should be responsible for responding to guests?  Offering messaging in real time needs to be available 24/7, so reception would be the logical choice.  They must ensure that the are always online on messenger, so having the page open on one of the back office computers is ideal.
  • Ensure that all your marketing material throughout the hotel, as well as online via your web, booking engines as well as your descriptions on Tripadvisor, Booking, etc., include that you provide 24/7 real-time guest support on Facebook Messenger.
  • Interact with your guests, rather than reacting will allow you to anticipate your clients wants and needs, sometimes before they even tell you!
  • Connecting with your guests on a personal and emotional level will also enable your team to build relationships and trust that will allow your hotel to increase guests satisfaction and reservations booked directly overtime.

All of us are so accustomed to using instant messaging,  so it should be only natural that hotels & resorts are exploring new ways to interact with their guests and offer that personalised experience that every hotel wants to provide.

Hoteliers should also be aware that as Google starts to become an OTA; Google Now will also be in the not too distant future, an important part of your guest communication strategy.

Hotelient provide guest marketing solutions to Hotels across Europe If you like to find out about more ways to connect to your guests and increase your RevPar performance, email info@hotelient.net for further information.

 

 

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 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.

Why your front office team should be having conversations with your guests on facebook too!

Why your front office team should be having conversations with your guests on facebook too!

As Social Media is continually evolving, from first-hand experience I know the difficulties that hotels face just to keep up with the ever-changing times.  When a new social channel launches, the whole buzz is about how every hotel should get on it a bit like on this video here:-

As much as the social media landscape is evolving it is clear though that there are two leaders, Twitter and Facebook. However when placed side by side, one dwarfs the other.   Where Twitter has 302 million monthly active users, Facebook has a mind-boggling 1.44 billion monthly active users.  So most hotels in Europe can say quite safely that the majority of their guests use Facebook.  With that in mind, their recent announcement should grab the attention of a few Hotel Managers ears.

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Facebook has for some time been working on improving customer service  features for their business pages, most recently with the introduction of “Saved Replies,” a feature that allows administrators to quickly respond to incoming enquiries with canned (pre-written) replies. Now, admins will be able to tout just how fast they do answer their customers’ questions, as a number of Facebook users report seeing a “response rate” feature. The addition will show a Page’s responsiveness info to Page admins, and if the rate is high, it will also be displayed to Page visitors via an icon below the cover photo.  So in a nutshell, if your Hotel is great at responding to guest queries and questions, your future guests are going to know about it!

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Not all Facebook Pages appear to have this feature yet, which typically indicates either a staged rollout or a test. The feature has been spotted before, but Facebook recently published official documentation detailing how the feature works, which signals this is more than a test and is here to stay.  The feature is only available to those Pages that have allowed people to contact the Page.    When a Page has a high response rate, this information is displayed publicly to visitors alongside a green messages icon right below the Cover photo on the left-hand side of the screen.

You have to meet two specific metrics over the past seven days: you have responded to 90 percent of their messages, with a median response time of 5 minutes for all replies sent.

Though this is a relatively small move by Facebook, it comes at time though when they are trying to make its social networking platform more appealing to businesses with the recent launch of their call to action buttons and connectivity to Shopify.

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So how can hotels respond within 5 minutes?

A lot of hotels ask me this question and my response is always, “Social Media is not a tool just for your marketing department, it is a conversation that everyone at the Hotel can join in on”.  Where do you receive normally your guest questions and comments? At your reception, so why change that with Facebook?  Who can talk about a picture of a menu or a question on how a particular plate is prepared? A chef. How different is it to leaving the kitchen to speak to a guest?  Hotels have to be more proactive and remember social media is an ongoing conversation that when a guest is at your Hotel or Resort is having with you all.  Hospitality is a 24-hour industry so unless you want to have a 24 hour, 7 days a week, non-stop marketing department that knows every last detail about your hotel, you are going to have to come up with a better solution, especially when the majority of your guests are right now having conversations on Facebook forget, and let’s not forget, guests leave reviews on facebook too

Used in the right way, you can make your hotel team feel included with your social media marketing strategy.   I have implemented this successfully in hotels and I have seen first hand the benefits not only in an increase in staff morale but also a visible increase in direct online revenue.  There are so many ways on how your staff can create content for you as well as offer insight into the hotel for guests that are planning to stay with you thus providing a unique and pleasurable experience that all hotels & resorts strive to offer their guests.

Hotelient understands that Social Media is not just about posting lovely photos or great stay offers, it is so much more. We can advise and implement for your hotel to get ahead in Social Media without breaking into a sweat and start a new type of conversation with your guests whilst improving your bottom line and staff morale.  Email us for further information info@hotelient.net