Positioning your hotel for optimal visibility and appeal in search results

ReviewPro Google Webinar - Reknown Hotel MarketingFor hotel marketers, Google’s search algorithm is a mysterious and powerful gatekeeper to the global community of online travel shoppers. As soon as we think we have it figured out, it changes.

Recently, Google confirmed that local search results are based primarily on relevance, distance and prominence. Further, “Google review count and score are also factored into local search ranking—more reviews and positive ratings will improve a business’s local ranking.”

How do recent changes at Google impact hotels, and what should you do about it? In my next webinar with ReviewPro, How to Optimize Your Hotel’s Presence in Search Results, we’ll bring in the experts to discuss how search has evolved in 2016, the key factors in search rankings, how to manage your Google My Business page, the paid options for hotels and the role of reviews in rankings.

I’m excited to confirm the following guest speakers:

  • Cliff Galitz, Partner Development Manager, Google
  • Shannon DeFries, Director of Search & Analytics, Tambourine
  • Tim Towle, Co-founder and Director of Product Development, ReviewPro

Click here to reserve your spot for the March 23, 2016 webinar.

Hope to see you there!


Making Sense of Big Data for Hotels

Big Data for Hotels - Reknown Travel MarketingBy Daniel E. Craig

“Big Data” is a hot topic in the travel industry today. It refers to the massive amounts of digital information available to businesses today to help them identify patterns, trends and associations and make smarter decisions.

Big Data is particularly relevant to the travel industry. Everywhere they go, travelers leave digital data trails, providing opportunities for hotels and travel businesses to gain insight into behavior and preferences, to predict future behavior, and to personalize marketing activities and the guest experience.

In my next webinar with ReviewPro, we’ll be tackling this topic with a special focus on three areas: marketing data, revenue data and review data. We’ll explain what Big Data is, why it’s important to hotels, the tools available, and how you can use data to optimize guest satisfaction, revenue, expenditures and profitability.

ReviewPro - Reknown Webinar Panelists - Big Data for HotelsOur special guest panelists are Paolo Torchio, VP, Product Management and Consulting at Sabre Hospitality Solutions, Martin Soler, Chief Marketing Officer, SnapShot, and Fiona Gillen, VP Marketing at ReviewPro.

This free webinar is on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 8:00 am PST, 11:00 am EST and 5:00 pm CET.

Click here to register. Hope to see you there!


Just For You: Latest News, Data & Insights from TripAdvisor

By Daniel E. Craig, Reknown

There have been a lot of changes at TripAdvisor recently, and if you’re not keeping up you’re probably missing out on opportunities. In this exclusive interview with Reknown, Brian Payea, TripAdvisor’s head of industry relations, brings us up to speed on the latest developments on the world’s largest travel website.

From Business Listings fees to Instant Booking to the new Just For You search filter, Payea discusses the latest data on worldwide travel trends, TripAdvisor’s evolution as a total trip planning and booking site, and how hotels and travel businesses can adapt and thrive.

Brian Payea, TripAdvisor - Reknown Travel MarketingDaniel Craig: TripAdvisor just keeps on growing. Can you share the latest stats?

Brian Payea: It’s true, each quarter we see significant growth across multiple areas of the business. Currently, TripAdvisor attracts a remarkable 375 million unique monthly visitors and has more than 250 million reviews across over 5.2 million accommodation, restaurants and attractions listed on the site.

You and I have been talking about reputation management for years, and it seems the industry is finally listening. In a recent TripBarometer Survey of over 10,000 hospitality businesses worldwide, online reputation management was identified as the top investment priority in 2015. How should this investment be prioritized?

Online reputation is something business owners have really started to address over the past five years and if anything, its importance is growing. As you mentioned, this year three in five hoteliers globally reported that they were planning to invest more in online reputation management, the most notable increase in investment of any aspect reported on in our annual TripBarometer study. In fact, one in four (26%) said they planned to spend ‘much more’ on this area in 2015.

The reason behind this dramatic increase in investment is clear – when asked which elements they feel are central to the future of their business, online reputation management is cited as important by 95 percent of hoteliers.  Read more »

Independent hotels & the untapped potential for local content marketing

Editor’s Note: With OTAs and big brands all but shutting out independent hotels and small groups from both paid and organic search results, content marketing has grown in importance as an effective and affordable means of gaining visibility and traffic. Recently I read a smart article on Tnooz by Matthew Barker called SEO is Alive and Kicking in Travel, and I asked Matt to prepare this piece as part of Reknown’s guest post series. Enjoy! – Daniel E. Craig

By Matthew Barker, Founder, I&I Travel Media

Matthew Barker - i&i Travel Media - Reknown MarketingIn a recent Skift interview, Gray Shealy, executive director of the Master’s of Hospitality Management Program at Georgetown University, discussed how hotel chains could follow Airbnb’s lead to better connect guests with the local neighbourhood and provide a more immersive stay in the area:

“…what Airbnb allows a user to do is really have an accessible localized experience… People are looking to relate to people… and get away from the touristed restaurant establishments and things like that.”

Shealy argued that hotel groups should aim to provide a similar degree of connection to their locality, as an extended, hyper-local concierge service. In his view, hotels should become a “knowledge hub, a place, a resource, a library for the traveler.”

The interview was primarily about major hotel groups trying to improve their appeal against the onslaught of Airbnb-style competition. But we’ve been saying exactly the same thing to smaller, independent hotels for many years.

With their intimate local knowledge and expertise, these companies are much better placed to provide true connections and insights to their surrounding areas.

Not only that, but this knowledge can also be used as a powerful marketing asset to drive new bookings. Read more »

Digital Marketing Demystified

Rekown Travel Marketing - Digital Marketing Strategies

By Daniel E. Craig, Reknown

If you struggle to keep up with the dizzying array of acronyms, buzzwords and references used by marketers today, you’re not alone.

Well, I’ve got good news. In the next installment of Reknown’s webinar series with TripAdvisor for Business, we go back to the basics to explain the essentials of digital marketing for hotels.

In Digital Marketing Demystified: Everything You Need to Know but Are Afraid to Ask, we’ll discuss:

  • What is digital marketing?
  • What’s the difference between:
    • Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM)
    • Social media and online reputation management
    • Online travel agencies and metasearch
  • Plus the latest news from TripAdvisor, and a live Q&A with the experts

For the webinar I created the above chart as a quick reference guide to four key digital marketing strategies and how they differ in terms of earned, owned and paid content.

In addition to Brian Payea, Head of Industry Relations at TripAdvisor, the webinar will feature special guests Martin Soler, Chief Marketing Officer at SnapShot in Paris, and Mark Hayward, Digital Marketing Consultant in Puerto Rico.

Reknown & TripAdvisor - Digital Marketing Demystified Webinar

Click here to register. For the full library of TripAdvisor webinars, visit TripAdvisor Insights.

For those wanting more, we’ll cover advanced topics in digital marketing in the fall. Watch out for announcements on Reknown’s Events page.

Also, stay tuned for my next webinar with ReviewPro: We Hear You! Guidelines for Responding to Guest Feedback. We’ll discuss tips, best practices and examples of how to respond to all types of customer feedback, from in-person complaints to guest surveys to online reviews.


Bravo! The End of Rate Parity As We Know It

Freedom from online travel agencies - Reknown Travel Marketing

By Daniel E. Craig, Reknown

There’s a revolution happening in France that could send shockwaves across the international hotel industry.

If the French government succeeds in passing the “Macron” Bill in August this year, online travel agencies in France will no longer be able to enforce rate parity on hotels. The practice has been cited as anti-competitive behavior and not in the consumer’s best interest.

Nor has the practice been in the best interest of hotels. For years, hotels have been bullied by powerful OTAs like Expedia and Booking.com into giving heavily discounted rates and access to inventory at steep commissions ranging from 12% to 30%. If hotels want premium positioning in OTA search results, they must pay even more.

Travelers love OTAs because they allow them to compare pricing in a destination, as do metasearch channels. OTAs have also opened up markets for hotels they might otherwise not be able to reach. But they have become too powerful and too aggressive.

OTAs have grown exponentially in recent years, reaping huge profits on the backs of hotels. In turn, they use this money to aggressively advertise in order to lure travelers to them, often bidding against hotel brand names. Expedia and Priceline, which owns Booking.com, are two of Google’s top AdWords clients.

Fair game in a free market, and in many respects hoteliers have only themselves to blame. But this has not been a free market. OTA contracts have imposed restrictions that limit hotels’ ability to manage their own rates and inventory.  Read more »

More Resources for Managing Your TripAdvisor Presence

Managing Your TripAdvisor Presence - Five Components - Reknown
By Daniel E. Craig, Founder, Reknown

TripAdvisor 15 Years Anniversay - Reknown Travel MarketingCelebrating its 15th anniversary this year, TripAdvisor continues to disrupt the travel industry with new products, new features and an ever-growing community.

In a recent TripAdvisor survey of 7,215 hospitality business owners worldwide, 82% agreed that review sites have a positive impact on the hospitality industry and service standards. Seventy percent have taken steps to improve quality of service as result of a TripAdvisor review.

According to the TripBarometer Survey of over 10,000 hospitality businesses worldwide, online reputation management is the top investment priority in 2015, outranking renovations, marketing, staff training and technology.

Lately I’ve been busy collaborating with industry players to produce resources to help hospitality businesses around the world take advantage of the opportunities presented by TripAdvisor. These free webinars attract thousands of viewers from around the world.

On the heels of my recent webinar with TripAdvisor, Using Guest Feedback to Guide Improvements & Earn Better Reviews, next week I’ll be hosting another TripAdvisor-themed webinar in collaboration with ReviewPro.

TripAdvisor for Hotels Webinar Panelists - Reknown Travel Marketing
Entitled TripAdvisor for Hotels: How to Drive More Reviews, Referrals & Revenue, this free webinar will bring you the latest news, research and tips from TripAdvisor and will show you ways to earn more positive reviews, more website referrals and more bookings. Read more »

Leadership, Social Media & Service Excellence in Hospitality

Towing - Hospitality Service Excellence - Reknown
By Daniel E. Craig, Reknown

If you’ve been in the hospitality industry for a while, you’ve probably suffered through your share of service training seminars. We all need a refresher from time to time, and today I’d like to discuss customer service within the context of leadership and social media.

At a time when consumers have dozens of channels on which to share their disappointment or delight with the masses, customer service has never been more important to businesses, and management plays a critical role.

Think about the last time you dealt with a guest situation that spiraled out of control. What happened? Was the guest completely irrational, or is it possible that you did or said something to set him off? Sometimes we need to take a hard, honest look at these situations.

During my earlier days in hotels, a woman came to me at the front desk, upset that her car had been towed from the hotel’s parking lot. I quickly interrupted her to explain that the hotel didn’t manage the parking lot. She said she didn’t care, she expected us to pay for the towing charges. Crossing my arms, I told her I was very sorry, but the signage was clear. Realizing she was getting nowhere with me, she said, “Young man, why don’t you run along and get me the manager”? And I said, “Ma’am, I am the manager.”

I had just become a duty manager, and I was drunk on power. I knew that my staff were watching me, and I wanted to show that I couldn’t be pushed around. The woman exploded, threatened to get me fired, and stormed off. I was like, “Whoa crazy lady, take a pill.”

So what do you think, did I handle the situation brilliantly? No? Okay, then what went wrong? Let’s have a closer look.

The Three Stages of Anger
Whether you’re dealing with an upset customer, a friend or a family member, it’s helpful to be aware of the three stages of anger, each of which requires a different approach.

Stage 1: Angry at the problem. In this stage the left side of the brain, which governs logic, is predominant. The customer is annoyed or frustrated but is still rational. With expert handling, it shouldn’t be difficult to appease her, even if you can’t give her exactly what she wants.

Stage 2: Angry at the employee. Here the customer’s thinking shifts to the right side of the brain, which governs emotion. Now it’s personal. Before resolving the problem, you’ll first need to address the emotion.

Stage 3: Furious. This stage is pure right brain. The customer is highly emotional and may resort to threats. Logic is useless, and a great deal of skill will be required to talk her down before you can attempt to resolve the matter.

Beware of Triggers
What causes people to move to Stages 2 and 3? Triggers are the things we do and say that make a situation escalate from bad to worse. There are three types:  Read more »