Trip Advisor and FaceBook link!

January 11, 2011 at 1:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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“TripAdvisor has integrated with Facebook to personalize the site for each visitor. … automatically showcasing travel reviews from friends.” (Travel Weekly, 12/21/10) WOW! Time to make sure both bases are covered – are you responding to those Trip Advisor reviews AND how is your social presence on FaceBook? Is your Fan page an attraction to visitors to the page and FANs – are you building a Fan base and interacting with Fans and responding to posts?

Grudgingly, many managers have accepted Trip Advisor. They usually blame Trip Advisor for bad reviews — must have been a disgruntled employee, a scamming guest,(fill in the blanks)! The reality is that Trip Advisor does a pretty good job of vetting their reviews. Most of the disgruntled managers have a bunch of bad reviews that they don’t want to respond to because there may be a grain of truth there.

These managers should go look in the mirror, take a deep breathe and accept the fact that after price and location, reviews and recommendations from friends is the deciding factor in property selection! (Epsilon Survey)

Let’s talk about those friends — FaceBook friends. If the property is not monitoring it’s online presence on social networks, does not have an effective Fan page (with Fans) AND does not respond to Trip advisor reviews — it could be in serious trouble with this new partnership between Trip Advisor and Facebook.

If you think you might need help on that Fan page log onto Social Media RevMax on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Social-Media-RevMax/144897988896255 It might be a quick, easy, affordable solution for you!

Recession Lessons To Use Going Into the Recovery

December 10, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Posted in Hotel Sales Training Issues, In the News, Information, Social Media | 5 Comments
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The Recovery is here — so the experts are telling us.  This recovery may be felt in some markets more than others.   After all the dust has settled from the last brutal 18 months — what lessons can we carry into the recovery.

1.  Dropping rate does not create demand.  There have been studies on this by people smarter than I am, Cornell University for one, to the effect that those hotel’s that value add and are smarter about discounting generate more revenue than those hotels that jus follow the lowest rated hotel to the bottom.  

2.  Customers are now trained to expect value. Peter Yesawhich defined value as ‘ something that the customer could not otherwise afford.’  This could be the reason that the luxury segment of the industry is recovering faster than the other segments.    See — it’s not just about rate!

3.  Meetings are back but we lost 15% during the recession and are expected to only increase in this segment by 8% in 2011.   Value add- value add!  Be very careful of dropping rates especially on longer lead business.  

4.  Customers are locating, gathering information and booking hotels on different channels than they were prior to the recession.  How well does your hotel web site appear  on mobile phones, do you have a mobile app, how well is your property placed on Google maps? 

5.   It’s time to reward the warriors — those that have come to work every day and fought the frustrating battle of the last 18 months.   Say Thank You to everyone that stuck around.  While you are at it — pat yourself on the back!

The eBook The Best of Hotel Sales & Revenue Management is here!  The past two years have been among the most difficult in the industry’s history. This 55 page book contains lessons we all learned during the recession and those that will launch us into the recovery. Click below for  more info. 

http://www.carolverret.net/viral/dec10book.php

Social Media as a Sales Tool

November 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Socail media’s benefits extend to using as a sales tool for prospecting, qualifying and engaging potential prospects.

Facebook works as a sales tool with the proper Fan buidling Strategy. A Facebook Fan page without Fans is like a PBJ without the jelly. It’s dry and sticky and not very satisfying! Apart from the insertion of the icon and tag Become a Fan on FaceBook, and invitation through FAceBook to all of your exisitng clients and prospects to become a Fan is an effective way to increase your professional Fan base. Only then does Facebook become an effective tool for engaing with clietns and prpspects.

But remember you have to give your Fans a reason to return to your Fan page. Try a scavenger hunt through your links and pictures with a prize for everyone that gets all the answers. Fun, simple and will ensure that your Fans visit all of your Fan page pages.

Qaulitfy accoutns on LInkedIn throughcompany searches. This willalso list a number of emplyees of the company. Find the right contacts and join the groups that they belong to. Be active on the groups. You can invite people into your network if the two of you belong to the same group. they get to know you and you are at the top of thier minds when they are ready to buy!

Just a few tips — we have more to help you maximize your presence on social networks.

Ask us how at carol@socialmediarevmax.com

Mobile Apps & Google Maps — New RM Channels for 2011

September 15, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Posted in Events, Hotel Sales Training Issues, In the News, Information, Uncategorized, Webcasts | 2 Comments
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RMs have new tools for distribution that weren’t even on the radar prior to the recession and were barely on the radar in 2010. Now these tools are must haves!

As though revenue managers didnt’ have enough channels to manage there are several new ones.

Mobile apps have demonstrated that they have become a valuable new reservation channel and have the potential of generating incremental revenue from in house guests.

 However, a few questions to ask your team be fore enabling a mobile app. Is your res engine on the web site up to the task? Is it mobile friendly and how will it appear on a mobile device screen? Are your promotional eblasts mobile ready in terms of short concise offers that users don’t have to scroll down too far to access? Have you linked your Twitter and FaceBook to your mobile offers?

The second thng is Google maps exhibiting hotel rates on destination searches. I am in Des Moines and I needed a hotel room on Friday night at the airport. I searched for ‘airport hotels des moines’.  Most popped up with their rates but a few of the franschises weren’t playin’.

The real issue was that in many cases the rates were just wrong! Most consumers will make a selection based on the rate structure on the ‘Google map’. When I went into one hotel’s web site the rate was $10 higher than the one on the map and another was not only ten dollars lower than the rate on the map but also included breakfast and a ‘beverage’ — very welcome on a Friday night!

It is unclear where Google is pulling the rates from but this makes a clear case for rate integrety and parity across all channels.  How many people would go back to the map and take the time to click through all of the other hotels whose rates were displayed just in case they could find a better one.  Most of them will take the rates at face value.

Google maps is going to be a huge palyer in travel search and will drive business to those htoels that maintain parity and updates on offerings on all channels incuding the mobile app!

Join us on Sepptember 23 for a webinar Habits of Highly Successful Revenue Managers for 2011.  These are just a few of the issues we will be discussing.  Copy and past or click below for more info.  

http://www.carolverret.net/viral/sept1110.php 

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Social Media Orphans and Electronic Billboards

August 17, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Social media orphans are orphan pages and profles that were built and never returned to. You a can tell when the last post was eighteen months ago. On LinkedIn it is those profiles with four connections and no picture. There are no apps enabled, no dicussion groups, no posts that the four people in the network would miss!

Social media electronic billboards ae those FaceBook pages that only post promotions like Mother’s Day Brunch — the last post made. There are only four Fans because no one has attempted build a Fan base — so what’s the point?

On LinkedIn there is a page for the business profile but it has not been updated for ages — half of the contacts that are listed moved on a year ago!

All of those companies with orphan sites or electronic billboards and indivduals with orphan pages are going back to management and saying ‘this social media thing isn’t working for us’!
Management is agreeing because they don’t get it either.

One company typical of many indicated that they did not want to develop a social media strategy until ‘they have it figured out’. They can wait as long as they want but thier competition is there NOW!

The people and companies that ‘get it’ are engaing with custoemrs and potential customers, getting new leads and booking buisness from the communites they have built.

Those companies and idividuals that ‘get it’ will rise to the top in revenue generation and customer loyalty — the ones that don’t ‘get it’ will just blame a bad market when they underperform the competition.

There is enough compelling information out there on why engagement in social media is critical to business success and plenty of companies that can get you started and even do the work for you with pages and posts.

Why don’t companies and idivudals use social media — I think it is the ‘fear factor’ of the unknown and not wanting to appear incompetent in an area they understand and know so little about.

A wise business person surrounds themselves with people that are smarter than they are — understanding that no one person or company can be the ‘expert’ in everything.

Go find someone who is smarter than you if the social media ‘thing’ isn’t working for you.

Social Media RevMax can help you get started but is not the only one that can help you. http://www.socialmediarevmax.com
Disclaimer: it is one of our companies but I did surround myself with people smarter than me!

Google — The New 1,000 Pound Gorilla in the Online Travel Space

July 20, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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We all tend to have good feelings about Google and its company culture. Google is about to become a major force in the online travel space with its acquisition of ITA.

“ITA currently provides airfare data to many of the industry players, including Orbitz, Kayak and Bing; … The businesses that are most likely to be hit soonest are those known as travel meta-search engines, like Kayak and Bing Travel. … Google itself said on its site that it “has no plans to sell airline tickets to consumers.” (Wall Street Journal, 7/5/10). However, 10% of all Google searches are travel related. With Google already testing featured hotel rates on ‘searches’ (will they decide to sell hotel rooms?), the addition of the functionality of researching air fares could make Google a major force in online travel and Kayak should be very afraid.

We are alll waiting to see how all this plays out and how Google will pull these elements together.

What will Google Travel look like when it’s all integrated? Good question but with budget season upon the hotel and travel industry, it might be wise to add a few extra dollars in a contingency online advertising line item.

7 Social Media Mistakes Most Hotels Make

July 7, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Okay, your feeling pretty good that you have a FaceBook Fan page and a LinkedIn profile. But neither of them are generating buzz or business — it must be this social media thing isn’t working for you.

If it isn’t working for you, maybe it’s due to 7 common mistakes hotels and other small businesses make. Look below and see if these 7 common mistakes sound familiar:
1. You threw these pages up last year but you haven’t been back since.

2. There is not a complete profile of the property.

3. You have links to the sales team but their pages are Friend pages — have you checked these out? Is this really what you want potiential
customers to see?

4. You hired a social media manager fresh out of school who is great with the mouse but has no clue about industry Best Practices.

5. There is no strategy to build a Fan base or a network.

6. You push out promotions but there is no engagment with visitors to the page (if you have any).

7. The sales team doesn’t’ want to invite clients to be Fans or be in thier network because they are afraid that their competitiors, who were the first people invited, to find out who their clients are. PLEASE!

So you say this social media thing isn’t working for you and you really don’t have time to work on it.

Social media is the great equalizer between the big and the small, the independents and franchises. If you are not playing properly, you are missing a great opportunity.

In repsonse to these issues (and there are many more but this is a blog not a book) that I have encountered with my clients and seminar participants, we developed a very cost effective product to give hotels an effective social media presence in accordance with Best Practices. We will even manage the posts after we assist you in developing a social media strategy so that you have a clear road map of how to make social media work for you. We will work with your social media manager as well. Log onto http://www.SocialMediaREVMax.com to find out how you can drive revenue through social media.

Can Social Networks Really Generate Leads?

June 23, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Posted in Hotel Sales Training Issues, In the News, Social Media, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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In an article in eMarketing.com (June 15, 2010) a recent study indicated that social networks generated weak lead generation in visits to the company’s website.   The visitors to the web site generated by social media were visiting one page, had a short attention span and seldom got to the ‘contact us’ page.

Visitors Referred from Social Media Sites to B2B Sites Who Only Visited a Single Page, June 2010 (% of each group)

One of the most interesting things to come out of this research are the pages that social media referral visitors looked at.

Visitors to B2B Sites from Facebook, by Site Pages of Interest*, June 2010 (% of total)

Notice how high the percentages for visitation to the blog page.  The same was shown with Twitter and it is unfortunate that the research did not more extensively include LinkedIn, which is the B2B site of preference.

Several months ago the same online publication published a study indicated that companies were obtaining customers in the B2B space but they came primarily from LinkedIn.  The pages most likely to generate these leads that were converted to customers was the blog.

Companies in North America Who Have Acquired a Customer from a Social Media Site or Blog, by Customer Focus, January 2010 (% of respondents in each group)

Why? At it’s best, the blog is informational and not just product promotion as most of the web site is (See Seth Godin’s book ‘All Marketers are Liars.) Most web sites are filled with adjectives that customers don’t really believe any more but a well done blog gives visitors information about issues and/or the company without hyperbole.   

What can we deduce from this.  First of all, a vistor may return to a site many times before they become a lead through the contact us page — there are no stats because the customer only appears as a social media lead the first time they visit — after that they are ‘repeat’ visitors.  Secondly and probably more importantly, the blog is one of the most useful tools in the marketers aresenal and it is often missued or neglected — it’s value not perceived to be as strong as other lead generation sources.

Let’s hope that these two graphs give the company blog it’s due and prominence in communicating with ptotential customers.

PS  If you were waiting to receive leads flowing out of social media, think again.  For the most part leads still need to be developed and social media is an invaluable prospecting and relationship building tool.

Are Hotel Rooms in Danger of Becoming a Commodity?

June 15, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Does anyone remember when the legacy airlines, Delta, United, Continental, etc, began engaging in price wars? These were driven by mulitple bancruptcies, follwed by a recession and dictated by their own yield management systems. They then began dumping distressed seat inventories on the OTAs, both opaque and transparent.

Today there are virutally no points of differntiation bewteen them except routes and schedules and the cookies on Delta that no one is willing to pay extra for. In other words, airline seats on these carriers have basicly become a commodity, undifferentiated by fares or amenities whre they follow each to the bottom.

Interestingly enough, it is the discount airlines that now are clearly differentiated. Southwest with its no checked baggage fees and cattle call seating priroities, Frontier with its three tiered fare structure and don’t forget those cute tail animals as well as several others.

On the other end of the spectrum the luxury airlines, mostly overseas airlines like Singapore Air, Quantas, etc are differntiated by the level of service and amenities offered, albeit at a price.

Sound familiar? Could this be the reason that the luxury, independent and economy sectors are leading the hotel industry out of the recession? (STR, June 10, 2010)

Is it becuase these sements are differentiated by rates and amenities for the luxury and economy sectors, and by price pretty much for all three.

It is the mid market hotels, with or without Food and Beverage, that are still struggling. Most of these have pretty much the same amenities, Frequent Guest programs (most travelers belong to many) and are only differentiated by rates that become a diluted differentiator when so much inventory is ‘dumped’ on the OTAs.

It is the ‘race to the bottom’ that has exposed this threat but it isn’t too late!

Learn the lesson of the airlines and don’t follow the market in a race to the bottom. Now is the time to maximize the opportunities in the increasing demand that we are seeing!

Rate Integrity & Rate Parity

May 25, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments
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I don’t know if there is right or worng answer here as necessity has indicated the ‘dumping’ of unused inventory on the opaque channels.

This is a little story of trust and integrity.

I went online to book an airline ticket on the United Airlines site that states that the customer will not find lower fares on any other site. The fare was almost $600.

So I tried to save my cleint some money and went to Priceline where I haven’t ever booked an airline ticket before. The fare to the same destination with a better schedule was only $300. Granted, United posted in it’s lower fare column the same fare but the flight schedule was for flights leaving at ungodly hours and with hideous layovers.

Maybe I was naive to believe that United meant what it said but it taught me one thing — I will always check on Priceline prior to booking another ticket.

Does your hotel have a similar lowest rate guarantee on your web site? Will your customers find lower rates on Priceline and the other opaques?

Have we created Priceline’s incredible profits last quarter by driving our clients to the opaque channels?

As Seth Godin said in his book “All Marketers Are Liars” our cutomers don’t believe our marketing copy any more, they believe User Generated Content by ‘people like themselves’ as found in testimonials and review sites.

Have we given the power to the review sites that many hotel managers resent by failing to maintain integerity in posting rates?

Think about it — leave your comments and let’s start a discussion!

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