5 Shockingly simple ideas for creating engaging content that works for any hotel, without having to think

5 Shockingly simple ideas for creating engaging content that works for any hotel, without having to think

The majority of hotels have a Facebook page, twitter account, and google+ page.  That is great but it is always a real struggle to post interesting content apart from the obligatory sharing of offers and upcoming events right?  Well here is 5 proven ways to get you posting exciting content that helps generate online bookings without breaking into sweat! Content

  1. Video Reviews -Ask your Reception or public relations team to suggest to your clients, who have mentioned that they had a fantastic stay at your hotel, whether your team can record a 30 second video review.  You do not need any fancy video cameras, just a smartphone recording a client what they think about their experience at your hotel or resort.  Great content within a minute!
  2. Upload & Share – Get these reviews into your youtube channel and share it across your social media channels.  Prospective clients love to see other clients talking about their stay.  We all know the power of Tripadvisor, creating your own video reviews is taking it to the next level.
  3. Share your written testimonials – Most hotels have some form of online or written questionnaires, well don´t just keep them for the weekly internal meetings, start posting them on your social media.  you can also promote the great comments you receive on Tripadvisor or booking.com.
  4. Feature Videos – Got a great pool, wonderful lobby or a stunning suite? Well don´t just post photos, create your own 20-30 second videos describing how great they are and what your clients can find when you are there.  Again no hi-tec equipment required, just invest in a tripod fit for a smartphone and you are ready.  Just make sure you upload them to your Youtube channel and post across all your social media pages.
  5. Local Reviews – Your reception team recommend to your guests great places to go, best bars & restaurants, best beaches, etc all the time.  Well why don´t your staff write a review about how great these places are and post online.   All of you are local experts and can really provide your guests useful and informative information to explore your local area.  If some of your staff like being in front of the camera, well get them to make a video about their experiences. Now you are motoring!

quattrojaws_500_01 So, five great and easy ways to get engaging content for your social media pages that will provoke discussions and comments that drives more fans and more interactions.  Do not use your social media just to post offers and photos of your hotel, engage in a whole new way, and have fun while you are doing it! Need help in guest marketing? Hotelient can help you get ahead online, for more information email us info@hotelient.net bnr_content-marketing

Is Your Hotel Website Mobile-Friendly? Google’s Next Algorithm Update is coming this month

Is Your Hotel Website Mobile-Friendly? Google’s Next Algorithm Update is coming this month

Do you remember the last time you landed on a site that wasn’t optimized for mobiles?  Frustrating isn´t it.  From zooming in to view content to trying to click on tiny links.  Most likely you just clicked off this website and carried on searching.

Well Google realized how frustrating this whole experience is and decided to change their algorithm accordingly, so when someone’s searching on a mobile device, Google will position first sites that are easy to read, make navigations and links easy to tap, have images appropriately sized for the device, and more generally, make information easy to find.

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At the moment, Google advises you which sites are mobile-friendly in their mobile search results however, from the 21st April, they’ll be actually rewarding and penalizing websites for their mobile experience.

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So how can you check that your website is not going to penalized from the 21st April?

Enter your website’s URL into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and it will tell you if you’ve got a mobile-friendly page or not. If the website you entered passes Google’s test, you will see a green banner indicating the website is mobile-friendly. If the website does not pass, Google will let you know the page is not mobile-friendly and give some reasons why.

Many of the common reasons why a website isn’t mobile-friendly is because:

  • The content is wider than the screen: This requires users to scroll side-to-side to read the page.
  • The text too small: This means the user must zoom to read text on the page.
  • The links too close together: On a smartphone, links should be easy to tap with your fingers — this means that the links should be big enough and in natural location to tap. Most smartphone users hold their phone in their right hand and tap links with their thumb.
  • The mobile viewport isn’t set: This is a little more on the technical side of things, but the mobile viewport controls the width of the page for the device. If your website displays a desktop landscape when smartphone visitors land on your page, then the viewport is not set for mobile on that page. This is an extra special case where responsive design comes in handy — responsive design will automatically adjust the viewport based on the device.

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If your website is not optimized, no worries.  Hotelient can provide your hotel or resort with a number of options to get you up and running quickly.

Email us at info@hotelient.net for more information.

 

Do hotels get measurable revenue from social media?

Do hotels get measurable revenue from social media?

Over the last few years, hotels have been rapidly contracting Community Managers to manage their social media sites, upload content and generally manage there presence on the brand website as well as maintaining content on other online sites that promote or review the hotel. They ensure that all promotions are uploaded and marketed online and in some hotels create adword campaigns and provide SEO. Hotels who have contracted a Community Manager feel they are relating better with their clients and General Managers are always happy when they see an increase in Facebook, Google+ and Twitter Fans. More Fans = More Business and better client interaction right?

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I have a few questions that might make you question this strategy and maybe get you to have a rethink a) Is the Content that you are uploading onto your social media sites interesting to your clients? b) How much business can you directly attribute to the work of the Community Manager? c)Who owns all your content, communities and Data?

Lets take the first question. To me this sums up content marketing so that almost anyone can understand it.

“Your audience don’t care about you, your products, or your services. They care about themselves, their wants, and their problems. Content Marketing is about creating interesting information your audience is passionate about, so they seek you out and actually pay attention to what you have to say.”

By having a community Manager that is just uploading promotions or talking about what is going on in your hotel does not fulfill their job description. They have to be publishing content that generates reactions and debate which may or may not be related to the hotel they are working for, which leads me onto question b. I asked 4 Hotel General Managers. 2 from City Centers and 2 from Resorts, how many reservations have they received as a direct result of the work of the Community Manager and I was amazed with their answers. Not one of them could provide me with a figure, all of them boasted how many fans they had and also the regular content they were publishing with only one of the GMs saying that they used the Community Manager to increase their marketing database. At leasts theirs one, I thought! Finally a Community Manager producing a quantifiable result for their hotel.

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The work of any Community Manager should be focused in increasing your marketing database & your online conversions, uploading content that gets fans engagement on the various social media sites and managing your hotels or resorts reputation.

There is though one final bit missing which leads me on to question c. Do you own all your content that you publish on social media sites, do you own your fans and data? The answer is NO, THEY DO!! So how can we change this and gain control? By creating your own social website! A relatively new concept coming from the states but one sure to take off, which is to create website where you place all your social conversations, promotions, content & Reviews. Where the fans you build are YOUR FANS, Where the content you share is YOUR CONTENT and where the data you gain from your hard efforts is YOUR DATA that can be used to market your hotel or resort in more traditional means like email camaigns. So the work of your Community Manager with a Social Website can now actually be about increasing your social fan base which will always stay with you and in your control. You still have to publish content with the other social media sites but the generation of content is done and controlled on your social website and shared across the other channels,

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Hotelient can help your hotel get ahead. We can work with your community manager in the configuration and setup of your social website so your investment in social media is now producing tangible results. Email us at info@hotelient.net for more information.

Does everyone know about your great guest reviews?

Does everyone know about your great guest reviews?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building your brand through reputation marketing, now thats clever!

Call or email us for further information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Battle of the Hotel Booking Engines – Evolution vs Hotelient

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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