Spreading the gospel of managing reputation – online and on property

By Daniel E. Craig, Reknown

What a summer! The great thing about having a virtual office is you can work anywhere, anytime. (That can also be a bad thing.) This summer I’ve had the pleasure of working from the incredibly vibrant city of Barcelona. With so many distractions around, I’ve been neglecting this blog. So here’s an update on Reknown’s latest projects.

ReviewPro's Resource Hub - Reknown Hospitality Marketing
ReviewPro’s Resource Hub
My stay in Spain is thanks to RJ Friedlander, CEO of ReviewPro. I’ve been collaborating with ReviewPro for 2 ½ years now, and this summer I’m working on various projects at head office. One is the Resource Hub, a collection of webinars, guides and other content we’ve developed. It’s a fantastic free resource for hoteliers.

TripAdvisor Webinar – September 4!
Since my first event in Las Vegas in 2010, I’ve spoken at over 20 TripAdvisor Master Class events across North America. So I was delighted when TripAdvisor for Business came calling again early this summer to ask me to produce a webinar for them.

The result is The New Guest Service: Social, Real-time and 24/7, to be broadcast on Thursday, September 4. We’ll be talking about the emergence of social media as a customer service channel and how hotels can drive positive reviews and social media recommendations by providing remarkable service online and on property.  Read more »

Alas, another cautionary tale in reputation management

Those of us who have been in the travel industry for a while have undoubtedly made questionable decisions along the way. For hotels, airlines and other travel businesses, the quest for the “perfect fill” leads us to overbook and relocate individual travelers regularly. It’s a nasty thing to do, but typically we get away with it unscathed save for the occasional searing TripAdvisor review.

To bump an entire group is a much riskier undertaking—especially in the age of social media. Occasionally businesses are confronted with this quandary when fully booked or close to it and a particularly lucrative opportunity comes along. Typically, common decency rules, and management grudgingly passes up the opportunity. Occasionally, however, greed clouds judgment.

This appears to be the case with a Nashville hotel scheduled to host a repeat conference, Killer Nashville, in August. According to an inside source I spoke with, when an opportunity to take a wedding group presented itself, hotel management attempted to move the conference to another hotel for one night, in the midst of their stay, to make room for the wedding.

The real twist in the plot? Killer Nashville is a writers conference. To bump a group of storytellers is an audacious move in itself, but these people specialize in reporting crime. As a mystery author myself, I know how cunning and calculating they can be.  Read more »

Eight Service Strategies for Earning Five-star Reviews

Earning Five-star Reviews with Remarkable Service Webinar - ReviewPro and Reknown
By Daniel E. Craig

Traveler reviews have had a disruptive effect on traditional rating systems, making a well-run budget hotel as likely to receive a five-star rating as an ultra-luxury hotel. Whether it’s circles on TripAdvisor, happy faces on Travelocity or stars on Google, Expedia, Yelp and Facebook, traveler ratings are shaped less by luxury features than by how well a business meets expectations.

While researching the most recent ReviewPro webinar, Earning Five-star Reviews with Remarkable Service, which attracted over 1,800 registrants worldwide, I asked representatives from a range of top-rated hotels, from economy to luxury, to share their strategies for earning five-star reviews.

1. Make service the No. 1 priority
Travelers may choose a hotel for the first time based on price, location or brand, but it’s the service that gets them writing reviews and brings them back. We polled attendees on the most important factor in driving five-star reviews, and service came out as a clear front-runner, at 72%, followed by value and cleanliness, tied at 11%, room at 5% and amenities at 2%.  Read more »

Trends in Digital Marketing: a Perspective from India

Today we feature a guest post from Avijit Arya, CEO of Internet Moguls, based in New Delhi. With 1.2 billion people, India is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and predominantly a mobile-only Internet population. Arya visits Vancouver regularly, and like me he’s a former hotelier. We often discuss the latest trends in hotel marketing, so I asked him to share his thoughts on this blog. As he notes, the digital trend is universal. In the U.S., eMarketer estimates that digital ad spending in 2014 will increase by 21.3% over 2013.

Avijit Arya, Internet Moguls, Reknown Travel Marketing BlogBy Avijit Arya, Chief Mogul, Internet Moguls

I like to believe that digitalism, with regards to the hospitality industry, is undergoing a significant transformation. And I am sure that I can say this not just with respect to India, but globally.

By digitalism I mean the spread of all things digital in the marketing sphere. Adopting digital, spending more on digital and expecting ROI, measurability and trackability will surely be the right way forward. Digital helps lower the costs of guest acquisition, and ROI from dollars spent can easily be measured.

Read more »

Is Facebook a sales, marketing or customer service channel?

By Daniel Edward Craig for ReviewPro

By now most hotels have a Facebook page, but many struggle with how much time to dedicate and what results to expect. Is Facebook a channel for sales, marketing or guest service? In ReviewPro’s most recent webinar, we tackled these questions and more. Here are the highlights from our discussion.

Is Facebook declining in popularity?
First, are rumors true—are people abandoning Facebook in droves? A study by digital agency iStrategy found that U.S. Facebook users declined by 25.3% in the 13-to-17-year-old age category between 2011 and 2014 and by 7.5% among 18-to-24-year-olds. But the study also found that users grew by 32.6% among 24-to-34-year-olds, by 41.4% among 35-to-54-year-olds, and by 80.4% among those 55+.

iStrategy 2014 Facebook Demographics Report - Reknown Travel Marketing

iStrategy 2014 Facebook Demographics Report (U.S. Users)

Does this mean young people are fleeing Facebook as parents rush in? And will parents soon follow? Only time will tell. For now, unless teenagers book the majority of your rooms, with 1.23 billion users worldwide Facebook is more relevant than ever for hotels.

AgoraPulse app, ReviewPro Facebook for Hotels webinar with ReknownBuilding Your Fan Base
During the webinar, panelist Alex Houg, vice president of optimization at BlitzMetrics, recommended a three-campaign system on Facebook: build an audience, engage and convert.

When building an audience, it’s quality and not quantity that matters, said Emeric Ernoult, CEO and co-founder of AgoraPulse. “The highest quality fans are those who have visited you,” he said. “They know your property, and they can provide that valuable ‘social proof’ travelers are looking for when deciding where to stay.”  Read more »

OTAs, Deal Sites and Social Media Backlash

Guest Post by Jane Coloccia, President & Chief Creative Officer, JC Communications

Priceline complaint on TripAdvisor - Reknown Travel MarketingLike it or not, social media is having a significant impact on your business. Hotels and travel companies are now accepting that all of this tweeting, pinning, and online critiquing isn’t going away. As such, you’re going to have to embrace it as an integral part of your sales and marketing culture.

In fact, many businesses now tie employee performance evaluations and bonuses to ratings, reviews and commentary on everything from TripAdvisor to Twitter.

Now here’s the rub …

If your hotel allots a significant number of rooms to online travel agencies like Expedia, Priceline and Booking.com in order to put heads in beds during need periods, you must now factor in how this will impact your online reputation. The same can be said for tour operators, attractions, restaurants and any other businesses that sell products and services at heavily discounted rates via group “deal-of-the-day” sites like Groupon and Living Social.

Why? Consumers who get a great deal via these sources probably wouldn’t pay your regular rates and thus aren’t your ideal customer. And now you have someone staying in your hotel or experiencing your product who may not fully understand or appreciate it.  Read more »

10 Social Media Types and How to Respond to Them

By Daniel Edward Craig

eMarketer YouGov Online Review Survey 2014 - Reknown Travel MarketingAre you ever stumped over how to respond to social media feedback?

Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp or another review site, sometimes comments are so extreme or feel so personal your judgment gets clouded. When is it better to ignore a comment? And is it ever okay to say the person is wrong?

In business we should always be as professional and courteous online as onsite, but different comments call for different responses. A lot of social media interaction is public, so your audience goes well beyond the person you’re responding to. Say the wrong thing, and it can have a direct impact on your ability to attract business.

To help, here’s a quick guide to ten common social media personality types and how to respond to them.

1. The Complainer. These people feel they’ve been mistreated and want to sound off. Don’t deny them the privilege. Engage them, apologize, and try to make amends. But don’t assume they’re looking for freebies; sometimes they simply want an empathetic ear—or several hundred ears. And don’t give them reason to complain about how you handled the complaint.  Read more »

Free Webinar: Facebook for Hotels

Ushuaia Ibiza Hotel on Facebook - Reknown Travel Marketing
By Daniel Edward Craig, Reknown.

Facebook Logo - ReviewPro - Reknown Travel MarketingAre you struggling with how much time and effort to put into Facebook and what results to expect?

Just ten years old and now boasting a mind-boggling 1.3 billion users worldwide, Facebook has emerged as an important customer service and marketing channel for hotels and brands.

But many hotels are unsure how to build and engage a fan base, drive ROI and measure results.

Join me on Tuesday, February 25 for ReviewPro‘s next free webinar: Facebook for Hotels. I’ll kicks things off with a look at the platform’s latest features and then our expert panelists will discuss how hotels can use Facebook to build awareness, advocacy and revenue.  Read more »