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On Chatbots and the Hospitality Industry

The premise of a chatbot is simple – automate communication and act as a window to access a service.

In the hospitality industry, one which is built around making the customer alpha, communication and information transactions must be smart, swift, insightful and analysable. Chatbots are hence the perfect tool for this type of communication and service provision. They live in messaging apps where today’s internet user spends a significant portion of his time, they are also cheap in the long run and can provide deep insights into customer preferences that can greatly improve offerings for the the customer, the alpha.

In 2017, the key players are still trying to figure out how to build the perfect chatbot – smart, capable of understanding complex semantics, and conversing with the customer as an experienced service rep would. Today’s chatbots, limited as they are by the available underlying technology have been deployed by several players in the hospitality industry – flight providers, hotels and more.

Hotels.ng, a Nigerian OTA looks at existing and projected applications of chatbots and attempts to estimate the net effect that they might have on the entire industry in years to come.

Bookings and reservations

Brands that require that bookings be made – flights, hotels, tour guides and more are already rolling out functional chatbots. Using these bots is convenient, simple and gives an air of chatting with a friend. Hipmunk recently upgraded their chatbot to allow for group planning and chats on their Facebook Messanger based platform. It’s easy to see how this can be adopted for OTAs providing group tours.

Expedia and Kayak are some other early adopters of chatbots for the purpose of making reservations.

Learn user preferences

By silently sitting in the background, and potentially collecting information such as correlation between geolocation and time versus brand-specific actions carried out, smart deductions can be made as to the user’s behavioural tendencies and preferences. Also, past responses, questions and queries that the customer made can be automatically processed to give actionable insights into the customer. Brands can as a result offer personalised and customised services to the customer and increase the chances of delighting him and spending less to acquire each dollar from him than they normally would.

Customers can also be retargeted in the future with higher precisions. Brands are able to engineer a greater correlation between the time of the customer’s need, and the content and timing of chats sent with a marketing intent.

Upselling to clients

With chatbots, brands can more easily induce customers to make more expensive purchases, upgrades, and add-ons thereby increasing the chances of squeezing more value out of the client without appearing over enthusiastic. Products and services can be upsold or cross-sold through casual suggestions to the client.

Top-of-mind awareness (TOMA)

The modern day internet user spends more time on messaging apps than they do on social media. In the fight for users’ eyeballs, chatbots which mostly live in messaging apps therefore provide very great opportunities for subtle top-of-mind awareness campaigns. TOMA is defined as awareness campaigns aimed at making a brand the first a customer thinks of when asked an unprompted question about a brand’s category.

Cost effective customer support

Eventually, AI driven chatbots become smarter through learning. When they become sufficiently smart and are able to handle complex queries, brands spend less on the supervision of chats, customer support, and can dedicate saved funds into other segments of the brand.

Challenges & Controversies

As with most novel technologies, chatbots too have controversies and challenges tied to their successful implementation. A few pressing ones are discussed below:

Threat to existing jobs:

As in all forms of automation, job shifts occur and jobs designing and managing the automation always displace the jobs that previously ran the processes. Markets will always demand for more reliable, cost effective, and faster processes making these threats to jobs an occurrence that can be managed but not eliminated.

Sharecropping:

To tap into what makes chatbots powerful for brands – large audiences, they have to be sharecropped on platforms that host the most people thereby expanding the potential reach and influence of the brand. Facebook, Wechat, and Amazon Echo are a few popular platforms that host numerous chatbots. They are popular because people want to interact with brands on platforms where they already interact with friends. Understandably, this hands over reins of control to the messaging and voice AI giants, but it’s a reasonable compromise that should be made.

  • Privacy concerns:

Chatbots have the potential to offer so much personalised information and services that they might come off as intrusive. Care must therefore be made while designing them to handle information transactions at levels of personalisation that are at par with the target audience’s temperament toward AI. Helpful can easily become creepy.

  • High cost of build:

Chatbots can be expensive to build. In the long run however, they are almost always smart investments as they bring down operational costs, open up new opportunities for brands and help generate more revenue.

  • Lack of empathy:

Chatbots can come off as stiff or robotic. While this is not a problem for many, a few people are put off by it. Most primitive chatbots work like a search engine that search for some keywords that then trigger predetermined responses. AI driven chatbots are however more capable of handling more complex queries and conversing as a human would.

Conclusion

Chatbots are simple, ubiquitous, and highly effective. AI driven chatbots also become better and smarter with use so while the wide adoption by hospitality brands will create job shifts, it will also create new opportunities that will allow for better personalisation of experiences for the customer.

In one line, the hospitality industry will be benefit greatly from the adoption of chatbots.

Social Media Marketing in the Hotel Industry: Trends and Opportunities in 2017

Social Media Marketing in the Hotel Industry: Trends and Opportunities in 2017

As social media platforms gain traction in usage rates and become ubiquitous in day-to-day life through the proliferation of mobile devices, they are proving to be valuable marketing channels, especially when targeting younger consumers. Although several prominent hotel brands have begun to scratch the surface of utilizing these social media channels for marketing and bookings, the state of this practice in North America is in its infancy. Other technology giants around the world have already capitalized on this opportunity with their social-media, mobile-adept user base. Nonetheless, the mass adoption of digital payment in North America is likely to take place in the near future given that technology companies are actively working out the technological and legislative challenges. The advent of digital payment has the potential to create new challenges for the North American hotel industry, but with these challenges comes opportunities for those who have done their groundwork.

Hoteliers should embrace the new ways people are communicating and be ready for the changes in consumer behavior and expectations that are on the horizon. By being up to date with social media marketing trends and developing a dynamic online presence, hotel companies can quickly adapt to the disruption and achieve an early adopter advantage when attracting business from tech-savvy millennials.

Mobile Device & Social Media Growth

Globally, the number of mobile device subscriptions has seen exponential growth over the past decade. At the end of 2016, there were 4.8 billion unique mobile subscribers—65% of the world’s population. By 2020, it is estimated that there will be 5.7 billion mobile subscribers, representing a mobile phone penetration rate of 73%. The growth in mobile device usage has transformed the travel and tourism industry; travel bookings are increasingly occurring through mobile devices. Consumer engagement has begun to shift towards mobile platforms, and rightfully so; the vast reach and worldwide interconnectivity of mobile devices make them a suitable platform for commerce. As mobile device penetration rates strengthen globally, consumer engagement through this platform is only expected to strengthen.

Social media usage is likewise on the rise. Today, digital consumers are spending more time on social networks and messaging platforms than ever before. It is thus important for hotels to have a brand presence and a marketing effort on social media channels, especially since social media marketing has been proven to be more effective than traditional marketing (when utilized correctly). Social media marketing allows for two-way communication between consumers and customers; this interactive element helps companies cement a long-term consumer following. Additionally, social media marketing supports the real-time promotion of new products and services, all while yielding measurable consumer data that can be further leveraged to target, engage, and grow a base of consumers.

Popular social media networks—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat—are steadily growing on a global scale. The following chart shows the number of active users over time on each of these social media networks. Most of these social media networks have achieved stellar year-over-year growth in daily active users; the only exception is Twitter, whose user-growth trajectory seems to have plateaued. With the rapid growth in these social media channels, the pool of potential consumers that they provide access to is also growing in tandem. Significantly, all of these potential consumers are directly accessible through marketing on these channels.

Social Media Marketing in the Hotel Industry: Trends and Opportunities in 2017 | By Jimmy Quach

New Opportunities from the Rise of Consumer Sharing

Digital media is ever moving towards greater consumer empowerment and content creation given the ease with which digital media (particularly photos and videos) can be transmitted through mobile platforms and the internet. As part of sharing their own content and experiences through pictures and videos, users are also spreading digital word-of-mouth about a brand, a product, or an experience to their personal networks, which can reach a substantial audience. Geo-locational tags and brand hashtags allow user posts to be found via metadata searches, thereby increasing the reach of such posts.

Hotels can capitalize on this trend by motivating consumers to use branded hashtags or specific hashtags that are relevant to a current promotion or event. For example, Starwood hotels launched a campaign in 2016 to encourage the #SPGLife branded hashtag on Instagram. Posts with this hashtag feed into the Starwood website’s guest gallery of user-generated content, where visitors can also book a hotel room directly via a link. A simple hashtag is effective because it allows users to easily discover related content through a search filter.

Influencer Marketing

In influencer marketing, an individual’s expertise, popularity, or reputation is used to sway someone’s thoughts and purchasing behavior. Although this method of marketing has been used for decades, the rise of social media platforms that allow for user-generated content has empowered more people from all walks of life to become influencers. Additionally, social media platforms have an added a layer of measurability to influencer marketing that go beyond mere conversions/sales, such as cost per thousand impressions (CPM), inbound links, and lead growth (number of followers, social mentions, etc.). With these added metrics, businesses can more accurately identify their return on investment against marketing dollars spent.

In 2015, Starwood Hotels experimented with Snapchat geofilters at some of its W Hotels to see how guests would use them. Geofilters allow users of Snapchat to add a sponsor-created geolocational tag to their photo or video message (coined “Snap”) that can only be used when sending a Snap within a sponsor-defined geographical area (e.g., within a 10-metre radius of the hotel). The usage rates and number of views for the geofilters were well above what Starwood had anticipated, indicating that Snapchat may be a viable option for future brand marketing initiatives.

Marriott Hotels recently launched a Snapchat campaign that features social influencers who created organic content on the brand’s Snapchat account to showcase the brand’s loyalty program and several hotels around the world. The social influencers also used their own Snapchat accounts to broadcast their experience to their followers, hoping to create brand awareness among millennial travellers in the process.

Opportunities for Personalization

Within the hospitality industry, improved personalization is coterminous with a higher level of service. As such, hotel companies are attempting to personalize communications by interacting with consumers through their mobile device. Mobile phones are often perceived as an extension of an individual, or as an intimate partner that accompanies a person into almost every aspect of daily life. Reaching an individual through their mobile phone thus has the benefit of seeming like a personal interaction. To capture this opportunity for more personalized interaction, hotel companies must become phone-friendly and create the infrastructure necessary to allow guests to interact with the hotel easily and meaningfully through their mobile device.

Personalization through the mobile phone ecosystem and social media platforms is constantly evolving. Personalization can occur on a broad level, such as an interaction between a brand’s social media channel and a consumer account, or on a more granular level, such as communication between a hotel guest and the hotel’s guest services team through a messaging application. From an advertising standpoint, several social media platforms have launched dynamic advertising whereby a consumer’s recent travel searches will trigger personalized advertisements, which present a touchpoint for possible consumer conversion (by a direct hotel booking, for example). This represents a critical opportunity for hotel companies, particularly since the use of online travel agents (OTAs) diminishes the profitability of a hotel. In 2016, IHG began using Dynamic Ads on Facebook to target “high-potential” customers with personalized advertisements—and live pricing—based on searches, which yielded an increase in the brand’s ability to reach relevant travellers and a lower cost per booking. In the big picture, social media channels are beneficial to hotel companies because they offer an opportunity to create personalized interactions with consumers, which can be leveraged to yield more direct online bookings.

Digital Payment Platforms: A New Opportunity

With the proliferation of mobile devices and internet access around the world, the use of digital payment has seen accelerated growth. According to Allied Market Research, “the global mobile payments market is estimated to reach $3,388 billion by 2022, representing a compounded annual growth rate of 33.4% from 2016 to 2022,” with the Asia–Pacific region accounting for most of this growth. The North American market, although far from mass adoption, is amenable to digital payment. Based on the 2016 North American Consumer Digital Payments Survey, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of digital payment options, and American consumers responded that they foresee being more likely to use mobile payment apps and mobile wallet apps in 2020 than in 2016.

For the North American hotel industry, the projected adoption of digital payment, along with the growth of social media users, is an opportunity for direct booking and quicker conversions directly through mobile devices. In China, for example, mobile payment has already become part of daily life—the country is advanced in this area relative to North America. The two major digital payment platforms in use there, WeChat Wallet and Alipay Wallet, have enabled digital payment through mobile devices and have had incredible success in adoption; this form of payment is accepted at almost all vendors in major cities. Notably, WeChat has evolved from a person-to-person messaging application to an all-in-one social-media, messaging, and digital-wallet application. The integration of a mobile digital wallet into the social media and messaging application has allowed users to send money to each other and/or make purchases entirely through the WeChat ecosystem. Through the account feed of a vendor, users can pay for not only restaurants and retail purchases but also such things as utility bills and public services, all through their mobile wallet. Through WeChat, vendors are able to offer discounts or reward loyalty points, thereby further incentivizing the use of the channel. For example, the Kempinski Hotel in Chengdu has launched a function that allows direct bookings through its official WeChat account and also provides a discount or an amenity to those using this channel. In the case of WeChat, hoteliers were able to directly tap into a pool of daily active consumers and generate conversions through the social media messaging platform.

In North America, digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and PayPal exist; however, mobile users lag in adoption. Traditional forms of payment, such as cards, are not yet seen as “broken,” so many consumers don’t see a need for change. As digital payment adoption is expected to grow in future years, it is important for hotel brands to keep up with consumer expectations. Given that the evolution of messaging applications into mobile-purchasing ecosystems has already started, hotel companies need to be in a position to provide digital payment options in anticipation of the change in consumer behavior, especially since this will be key to protecting the online reputation of the company. In Canada, a 2016 study into mobile wallet usage by the Nielsen Company found that 76% of respondents would switch to a mobile wallet as their primary mode of payment if all reward programs would honour mobile transactions, 75% would make such a change if more merchants accepted mobile transactions, and 74% would do so if rewards programs and mobile wallets could be integrated to redeem rewards instantly. Therefore, an opportunity may exist for hotel companies to integrate their rewards programs with digital payment.

In North America, hotels are slow in the adoption of mobile payment platforms that take the form of a digital wallet. Nonetheless, several hotel brands have implemented the use of messaging platforms that allow guests to interact with customer service agents and even property-specific guest service agents, and also book directly (but without digital wallet capabilities). Through brand-specific native applications, third-party applications, and established messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, hotel brands are experimenting with personalized guest communication, which will likely lead to a more seamless adoption of mobile payment at a later date. In 2014, for example, Starwood Hotels launched “Let’s Chat,” which allows guests to communicate with the company’s guest service team at more than 150 properties worldwide through WhatsApp, BlackBerry Messenger, or iMessage at any time, from anywhere.

Social Media Marketing in the Hotel Industry: Trends and Opportunities in 2017 | By Jimmy Quach

Moreover, Hyatt hotels was the first to provide customer service through the Facebook Messenger platform following the launch of Facebook’s Businesses on Messenger in 2015. Through the platform, Hyatt customer-service agents can help with bookings worldwide, and also respond to guest requests.

Social Media Marketing in the Hotel Industry: Trends and Opportunities in 2017 | By Jimmy Quach

Hotel brands clearly see an opportunity in tapping into the vast user base among these messaging platforms, and they are beginning to implement these platforms as a means of communicating with guests. The personal experience of messaging builds loyalty and guest engagement even as the messaging platform serves as another vehicle for direct bookings; however, the mobile ecosystem in North America has not gained as much traction as other markets internationally. Nonetheless, the continued growth of mobile devices and social media users is expected to align with digital payment in the near future, thereby connecting a pool of potential consumers with seamless mobile purchasing platforms once digital payments become mainstream.

Conclusion

The tactics and tools employed in social media marketing within the hotel industry are constantly evolving. Companies that are early adopters of new social media marketing tools hope to gain an edge over the competition; being first to the plate can yield success, but it is not without risk, both of failure and of squandered resources. For hoteliers to remain relevant in this dynamic field, it is essential to understand the pulse of current technology trends within the hotel industry, and be prepared for changes in consumer behaviour. A positive outlook remains for the hotel industry as companies continue to expand their scope of social media marketing. Meanwhile, the mass market is inexorably moving towards the adoption of digital payment; its anticipated convergence with social media and messaging platforms will generate new opportunities for personalization, engagement, and conversion.

[Infographic] Majority of Travelers: Need to Use Mobile Devices on Holiday Stronger Than Cybersecurity Risks

PHOENIX – University of Phoenix® today released the results of its summer travel cybersecurity survey, which found that while half of registered voters worry about cybersecurity risks while on vacation, 55 percent feel that the need to use personal devices outweighs those risks.

“Vacations are often a time when we let our guard down, which can leave us vulnerable to hackers who want to steal personal information,” said Dr. Kirsten Hoyt, academic dean, College of Information Systems & Technology at University of Phoenix. “Whether you are in another country or down the street, it is important for people to take precautionary measures when travelling this summer.”

Summer vacation is often seen as a time to disconnect, yet three out of four respondents say they bring their smartphone with them, and half check their devices at least once an hour. Despite using their devices often, very few take measures to prevent hackers from potentially accessing personal information: 54 percent lock devices when not in use, but less than half take other precautions, such as hiding devices when away (40 percent), updating antivirus software (39 percent) or changing passwords (24 percent).

According to the survey, stolen bank information is the top concern for registered voters while travelling, selected by more than half of respondents. Other major concerns include losing devices (48 percent) and contracting viruses on devices (44 percent), while less than a third are concerned about hacked email or social media accounts. Some people are taking steps to be more secure: 86 percent of those surveyed say they update security settings if hacked.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Half of respondents say using devices on vacation is as safe as at home.
  • Sixty-eight percent of respondents feel more secure using their phone’s hotspot versus public Wi-Fi.
  • More than half of respondents check email or social media while on vacation.
  • Forty-one percent of respondents post photos from trips on social media accounts while away from home.

“There are myriad ways your personal information can be compromised while you’re away from home; the best method to prevent it is to be aware of how you can be hacked and take steps to avoid that,” Dr. Hoyt said. “Vacations should be relaxing and fun, but in today’s world of connected devices, we always have to be alert.”

The Need to Use Smartphones and Other Personal Electronic Devices on Vacation Outweighs Cybersecurity Risks for Majority of Travelers

n Mobile Travel, Comfort Leads to Confidence in Booking

Apart from the advent of the Internet itself, no phenomenon has both captivated and terrified travel executives as has the rise of mobile. Its impact continues to evolve – but the implications are profound.

Phocuswright’s The U.S. Mobile Traveler in 2017report provides a complete view of the mobile traveler in 2017, including who they are, how they plan and shop for travel, how they use their device in-trip, and what it all means for travel brands and the industry overall.

What Travel Brands Should Understand About Mobile Travelers
The mobile traveler population has been growing each year as more travelers own smartphones and use them to plan and book travel. Today, two in three U.S. travelers have shopped or booked either air or hotel on a mobile device (smartphone or tablet). Nearly half of those mobile travelers are under 35 years of age. But don’t count out older travelers – they too are driving the move to mobile. Mobile travelers are getting more comfortable planning on mobile, even as the population gets a little older. And with comfort comes confidence: 69% of mobile travelers feel they can find the same flight and hotel info on a smartphone as on any other device; 66% of mobile travelers are comfortable planning and booking a vacation only with a smartphone.

When asked if travel is a very important part of one’s lifestyle, mobile travelers in the U.S. were more likely to “strongly agree” than non-mobile travelers. Plus, they take more trips and spend more on travel.

For mobile travelers, travel is a big deal. And that means they should be a big deal for travel brands. Dig deep into who the mobile traveler is, explore mobile traveler trend, and more with The U.S. Mobile Traveler in 2017

Level Up(grade): W Hotels Debuts Hotel Industry’s First-Ever Video Game To Celebrate The Opening Of W Bellevue

To power up the forthcoming opening of W Bellevue, W Hotels Worldwide, part of Marriott International (NASDAQ: MAR), is taking the hotel guest experience to the next level – literally. With the brand’s newest hotel set in the heart of one of the country’s renowned tech hubs, W is excited to press play on the hotel industry’s first ever video game, Belle the Bear, on June 15th. W fans and tech-heads alike can play their way to W Bellevue virtually on opening day, with real-life rewards for top scorers in the United States.

Gamers, guests and W fans can explore the natural beauty and tech-centric city of Bellevue, Washington, with the Frogger-style Belle the Bear adventure game. Help Belle traverse landscapes, cityscapes, inside W Bellevue. Along her journey, Belle finds herself immersed in a robotic world, encountering drones and robots, all while avoiding (and occasionally embracing) cheeky roadblocks with skillful timing. Hit a cannabis leaf? Belle will turn into a gummy bear. One too many cocktails collected? Belle’s commands become reversed.

And what’s a video game without some friendly competition? To celebrate the debut of Belle the Bear, gamers can try their luck and compete for a variety of prizes from June 15th through July 15th, 2017. The five highest scorers in the United States will win prizes, with the top scorer receiving a complimentary three-night stay in the Extreme WOW Suite at W Bellevue, roundtrip airfare for two, dinner for two at The Lakehouse, a $500 shopping spree to The Bellevue Collection, VIP tour and private wine tasting for two at Guardian Cellars and a private 75-minute seaplane tour of Western Washington, including stunning views of Lake Washington and Mount Rainier.

“Bellevue is a gamer’s city, so we thought it would be fun to tap into that energy but with a W twist,” said Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide. “Creating Belle the Bear, a throwback game with an innovative edge, is just another example of how we are constantly looking for new ways to engage with future W fans on their own turf. Plus, it’s a fun way to celebrate the opening of W Bellevue!”

W Bellevue will open its doors to guests on June 15th, touting 220 guest rooms and 25 suites with modern design elements inspired by the Puget Sound’s heritage of lakeside living, such as an oversized fireplace and library of pulp fiction novels. The culinary offerings at The Lakehouse also incorporate local flavor, serving vibrant, farm-inspired craft cooking from James Beard Award-winning Chef Jason Wilson. W Bellevue is the first new-build project from W Hotels to open in the United States in seven years, with many more to come.

To play the game via smartphone, tablet or desktop, visit BelleTheBear.com beginning June 15th. For more information on W Bellevue, visit WBellevue.com, or join the conversation with @WBellevueHotel, @WHotels and #BelleTheBear.

Source: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4083260.html

5 Hotel marketing tips for better Google search results

While bringing in website traffic certainly is one of Google’s most important functions, it’s not the only way hoteliers can leverage success from the search giant.

Google offers a variety of different services that can help hotel marketers expand their reach, increase online visibility, and ultimately improve their business – and better yet, they’re easy to implement and most won’t cost you a cent.

Below, we take a look at some simple and effective ways hoteliers can boost their brand with Google.

#1: Get listed on Google My Business

Google My Business (previously known as Google Places) is a must-have, free-to-use platform for hoteliers. It combines Google Search, Maps and Google Plus (also known as Google+) to help your hotel connect with potential guests by making it much easier for them to find you in an online search.

For example, people will very often use a blanket search term like ‘hotels in London’ when using Google, rather than searching for a specific hotel directly. And it goes without saying that when they do, you want to be among the hotels listed on the Google Maps and Google+ entries in the search feed – especially if the search is made in the nearby vicinity of your hotel.

A comprehensive Google My Business listing will ensure that:

  • Your hotel will be pushed much higher up Google’s search rankings
  • You’re able to make the booking process far easier for potential guests by uploading photos, videos, GPS coordinates, phone numbers and more
  • Reviews are also pulled through to your unique information feed displayed on the Map entry, or to the right of the search results page (also known as a Knowledge Graph or Card) – and if they’re positive, people will be more compelled to make a booking
  • Your listing will be linked to your Google Analytics page so you can monitor your traffic and popular page hits

It’s free to use, mobile friendly and allows you to upload multiple locations if you have more than one property in a city.

Simply visit Google My Business and follow the prompts to get the ball rolling. Managing multiple properties can get a little confusing, but luckily you can follow Google’s handy guide to simplify the process – check it out here.

#2: Update your Google+ pages

Google+ is Google’s very own social network that allows you to connect with other users who have the same interests and ideas. While the success of Google+ is often debated, its impact on your SEO, and the fact that it’s connected to your other Google features, makes it something worth paying attention to.

What you need to know:

  • Your Google+ page data forms part of your Google My Business listing, so make sure your information is up-to-date. It will add even more value to the Knowledge Graphs displayed in Google’s search listings
  • Google+ pages are good for your SEO (or organic search rankings)
  • Guests can submit reviews that users will see when searching your hotel or seeing your hotel featured in a knowledge graph
  • Remember: any information or posts you publish on your Google+ page will feature in Google’s search results so make sure it’s fresh and unique

After creating your Google My Business account in the point mentioned above, Google will automatically create a Google+ page for you. If you haven’t done so already, make sure you add text and images to your profile.

This is where it can get a little confusing. If you already had a Google+ page, adding a profile to Google My Business will create a duplicate Google+ account (which you don’t necessarily want). So to avoid that, if you already have a Google+ profile for your hotel, make sure you’ve connected it via your Google My Business dashboard.

TIP: Visit the Google+ homepage and do a search for your hotel to make sure there is only one listing. Duplicated listings could result in the wrong information being pulled through to the search results.

You can go a step further by using your Google+ account to create networks among guests to foster loyalty, attract and recruit people passionate about your brand, and keep abreast of happenings in your area by networking with nearby attractions.

#3: Give your guests a visual tour with Google Street View

Google’s popular Street View functionality isn’t restricted to, well, the street. Marketers looking for a new approach can give potential guests an engaging online tour of the hotel’s interior by using this innovative platform, also called Business View. With a collection of high-quality images, you’ll be able to put together a beautiful 3D showcase of your hotel for curious online viewers, and inspire greater confidence among potential guests.

According to a study done by TripAdvisor, good quality photos not only drive higher user engagement but are also a key component to the decision making process: compared to hotels without photos, hotels with at least one photo saw a 138% increase in travel engagement. If this is the impact an image can have, immersing your guest within a virtual tour could make booking at your hotel an even easier decision.

It can offer an innovative, fresh way for your hotel to market itself. And remember, first impressions mean everything.

Google highly recommends hiring a professional to film the 360-degree tour. While this isn’t a free service, the lasting benefits in the long run will be worth the money spent now. Click here to find out more.

#4: Get even more traffic with Google Hotel Ads

If you want to take your Google search listings to the next level, consider using Google Hotel Ads. Google Hotel Ads can be used by OTAs or hotels themselves to make sure that their stock and prices are also listed across Google’s different platforms (searches, Maps, Google destinations, etc.).

Having a Hotel Ads account will also open the door to Google’s new Book on Google functionality. This feature will allow travellers to make a direct booking without leaving the main search results page. If you have a Hotel Ads campaign running, adding the ‘Book’ button is essentially a free service provided by Google.

What you need to know:

  • To get started, you need to work through a ‘Hotel Ads Integration Partner’ (find one here). These are the guys who will give Google your hotel rates, availability information and manage your campaign.
  • You can choose a PPC (pay per click) or commission based model

#5: Understanding Google’s new event search feature

Google is constantly looking for ways to improve the mobile user experience. As part of that quest, the search giant has been busying itself with a new event search feature that, much like point one mentioned above, will allow mobile users to enter a blanket search term like ‘events near me’, and return search results most relevant to their geographic location.

What you need to know:

  • Google has partnered with a growing number event websites like Ticketmaster, Bandsintown, Eventful, Meetup, Yext, Vividseats, EventBrite, Seatgeek and a few more, to drive their search results.
  • All you need to do to make sure you hotel’s events are displayed is sign up to one of these partners.

At the moment, it looks like this feature is being predominantly rolled out in the US, but keep an eye out for updates going forward.

As you can see, Google is far more than a simple traffic generator. The search giant is quickly becoming a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all things travel related, and if used properly, can help you increase your online footprint and attract more business.

Source: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4083185.html

Next-Generation Technologies Set the Stage for Hotel Revenue Growth

A Property Management System (PMS) serves as the lifeblood of any hotel, resort or other lodging property. It is the organization’s central nervous system. To the extent that it facilitates a bi-directional flow of information to achieve mission-critical results, delivering real-time data and reports in the process, the technology platform can also be viewed as the organization’s command-and-control center.

Ideally, a  next-generation PMS should enable hoteliers to centrally manage, track, measure, analyze and optimize the constant flow of information across all parts of the organization in real-time. Ultimately, and most importantly, it should ensure that business operations run as efficiently and as effectively as possible.

As discussed in The 2015 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems, these operations are largely interconnected. They generally include all front office, bookings and reservations functions, from assigning guests to rooms and maintaining guest folios to coordinating profile changes, posting room charges and maintaining housekeeping status.

They also generally include functions related to concierge and guest services, banquet and conference management, physical inventory, guestroom devices, room maintenance and security management — and, in some cases, golf, spa and other facilities management.

Beyond improving operational performance, a next-generation PMS should play an instrumental role in enhancing the quality of the guest experience. In fact, there may be no better measure of technology performance than the degree to which the new system helps raise the level of overall guest satisfaction. And increased guest satisfaction invariably leads to increased revenue growth.

Working in concert with a PMS, but separately enabled, is a hotel revenue management solution.

Next-generation hotel revenue management is fueled by the rapid growth of big data processing, advanced analytics, demand forecasting and pricing optimization models and next-generation technology platforms. These combined capabilities and technologies are helping to automate the pricing recommendations and decision-making processes that enable not only better inventory management and increased room occupancy, but higher revenues and profitability across all parts of the hotel, resort or other lodging property.

According to The 2016 Smart Decision Guide to Hospitality Revenue Management, the practice of hotel revenue management has gone from being an undertaking with uncertain financial upside potential to being a strategic imperative with predictable revenue outcomes. Indeed, when properly executed, hotel revenue management can be used to deliver very substantial increases in top-line revenue growth and profitability.

In fact, according to new research conducted by Starfleet Research, the implementation of Hospitality Revenue Management results in a 9 percent average increase in revenue per available room (RevPAR) for large and very large hotels. That percentage increase can translate into millions of dollars in additional profit on an annual basis.

Source: http://www.hotelnewsresource.com/article87976.html

The four booking behaviours driving travellers

Men spend less time booking trips than women. Younger travellers tend to start their planning later. And 59% of travellers begin researching their next trip between one and three months before departure.

Diversity People Connection Digital Devices Browsing Concept

Those are just a few of the findings in the latest TripBarometer1 survey from TripAdvisor. Together with independent research firm Ipsos, TripAdvisor asked 36,000 travellers how they plan and book their vacations – and discovered four booking behaviour trends and six distinct traveller personas.

Four behaviours based on how travellers book their trips:

  • Flight bookers (48% of respondents):
    • Book flight and destination first.
    • Are destination-orientated – they travel mostly to experience different cultures.
    • Are most common among those taking longer vacations, in which flights are often more expensive.
      • Hotel bookers (29% of respondents):
        • Start by researching and booking accommodations.
        • Make decisions based on price, and prefer family-friendly destinations.
        • Travel for just a weekend break in half of all bookings.
      • Mavericks (13% of respondents):
        • Book quickly and don’t spend as much time on research.
        • Tend to be business travellers, or go on long vacations.
        • Are creatures of habit: 17% choose destinations they visit every year.
      • Balanced bookers (10% of respondents):
        • Combine their interest in cultures with their desire for good travel deals.
        • Invest time researching destinations.
        • Travel for about as long as other travellers.

      Six travel personas based on attitude, booking preferences, age, and income:

      • Value seekers are those who say, “We want to make the most of our vacation.” Often travelling with children, they have a medium income and fall mostly into the 25-34 age group. They particularly value TripAdvisor to help them find deals, babysitting services and kid clubs — and they tend to research on their smartphones. Beach holidays are a favourite for people in this group.
      • Luxury travellers are those who say, “We want to enjoy and spend.” These are high earners who travel with a partner, have a substantial budget, and are most prevalent in the 25-49 age group. They like their destinations hot and sunny, and cities and beaches top their lists of places to go. They check TripAdvisor before booking—90% say ratings on review sites are important when making a final accommodation booking decision.
      • Social travellers are those who say, “We want to share and engage with others.” They don’t travel alone, preferring to spend time with friends and family. They also appreciate babysitting services and kid clubs since they often travel with children. They’re very influenced by word of mouth and recommendations from other travellers and tend to prefer beach holidays. They trust TripAdvisor to help them identify hidden treasures, have medium to high income, and tend to fall into the 25-49 age group.
      • Independent travellers are those who say “I want it my way.” They love to go solo and make travel choices independently. They want adventure and use online research to find it. Culture matters to them – climate doesn’t. They are mostly low or high earners, falling into the 25-49 age group. They are most likely to share a TripAdvisor review on social media.
      • Researchers are those travellers who say “We want it perfect.” They spend a lot of time researching destinations, activities, restaurants and accommodations, usually on laptops. They spend a little extra for something special. They are often high earners in the 25-49 age group who travel with a partner.  Researchers trust TripAdvisor to provide the voice of the consumer when deciding on each stage of the journey.
      • Habitual travellers are those who say “We want it simple and easy”: They tend to go to the same locations repeatedly, so they don’t need to spend much time planning or researching. Travel is more about relaxing than activities. Mostly male, they often go away by themselves and tend to be low earners in the 35-64 age bracket.
      • 1.Methodology: The TripBarometer study, by TripAdvisor, is based upon an online survey conducted from 21st of June to the 8th of July 2016, conducted by Ipsos, a global research firm. A total of 36,444 interviews were completed in 33 markets, spanning seven regions. The sample is made up of TripAdvisor website users and Ipsos online panelists who chose to take part in the survey and have researched their travel plans online in the last year. The survey data is weighted to represent the known profile of the global online population, to keep in line with previous waves of TripBarometer.

        Source: http://ehotelier.com/insights/2016/10/31/four-booking-behaviours-driving-travellers/

5 Types of Kitchen Equipment you can get from Online Stores

High-quality tools and equipment are workhorses of every productive commercial kitchen.

You need to select carefully these pieces of equipment based on their functionality and your requirements to make sure that your kitchen can provide your customers with the best of meals. The advancements in technology have made the equipment-buying process easier, and now you can buy these types of equipment easily from a reputable Hospitality Superstore. Read this post to know five types of kitchen equipment that you can buy from these online stores.

If you have finally decided to turn your dream of having a restaurant into reality, one of the most important buying decisions will be to choose equipment for your kitchen. The kitchen is the soul of every restaurant as this is where the chefs prepare delicious meals for your customers and it is the taste of the food you offer that will create your reputation.

Thus, it is very important to ensure that you purchase high-quality kitchen equipmentthat will make the cooking process easier for the chefs, and they can cook the best of meals in the least possible time.

The advancements in technology have now made it possible for us to buy almost everything online. So, why not buy kitchen equipment online as well? There are some great hospitality stores online where you can buy kitchen equipment from the best of brands at highly affordable prices. Let us have a look at five types of equipment that you can buy online.

  1. Deep Fryer: A restaurant kitchen is incomplete without a commercial fryer. While the fried food items are not the healthiest, people love them, so you should add some deep fried items on your menu. Right from fried red tomatoes to french fries, a wide-range of appetizers and side-dishes need deep frying, and a good quality deep fryer will allow you to offer these items to your customers.
  2. Griddle: If you want to serve breakfast at your restaurant, you certainly cannot operate it without a griddle. They can be used to cook scrambled eggs, hamburgers and a lot more. It is pretty simple to use but requires a bit of space in the kitchen. So, if you don’t have enough space for a full-sized griddle, try to buy at least a smaller one.
  3. Commercial Refrigeration: Commercial freezers, refrigerators and walk-in freezers and coolers are also very important for a commercial kitchen to keep your stock close at hand and fresh. You can get in touch with a reputable online store and discuss your requirements with them, and they will be able to recommend refrigeration equipment that are perfect for your needs.
  4. Convection Oven: Convection ovens are also very important no matter what kind of restaurant you are planning to open. Right from roasting beef, making breakfast, to baking biscuits, a variety of jobs can be accomplished with the help of a convection oven.
  5. Dishwasher: Once the meal is prepared and eaten, the next important step is to wash the cooking utensils and plates, and a commercial dishwasher will make this process easier and quicker. They are available in a variety of sizes, and you can easily select one that will fit your kitchen.

Source: http://www.hospitalityhub.com.au/5-types-of-kitchen-equipment-you-can-get-from-online-stores/f/18718

World’s Quickest and Shortest PR Lesson!

I have given you my 25 Golden Rules for Pitch Perfect PR, for whatever they may be worth, in the past, but here follows the quickest, shortest, five-point PR lesson to get you working like a Pro and making moves that only successful professionals do.

Considerably, these skills will hold good not just for people from Public Relations but for anybody who sees himself as a good Brand Ambassador of his or her Organization.

So here follow my Top-Five for an effective PR Expert

1. DEVELOP MULTI-LEVEL SKILLS SET

You need to be a good writer, good with graphics and creatives for all your Marcomm needs, a good event organizer, tech savvy and with a bit of finance and business acumen in order to understand the bottom line well and add your spin to it.

Move with the times. The new age way of doing things is quite different from how it used to be done. In the times of Social Media, Web 2.0 and technology-on-tap, evolve yourself and rethink your strategies to get the best results.

2. NOSE FOR NEWS

When writing press releases and backgrounders ensure that your pitch has a high news value for both the target audience and the vehicle you want to see it carried in. Otherwise you just end up wasting paper and the journalists’ time, who then would subject your release to the waste basket treatment.

3. FACE AND BODY 

Since you are the face of your organization that interfaces with a wide range of publics – from Heads of State to the celebrity clientele to the media – you need to have well-honed social skills, be charming in your demeanour and engaging in your conversations.

At the same time, since you are also the dogsbody that carries out the nitty-gritty of the PR functions, you need to be always on the ball to keep the PR machinery well-oiled and running, seemingly, effortlessly.

Being like the duck that seems calm on the surface but paddles madly underneath, is then a virtue.

4. KNOW IT ALL 

You must have a thorough understanding of the various operations of your business. Definitely what keeps Sales & Marketing, Food & Beverage, Catering, HR ticking but you must also be in cahoots with the Security Chief, Engineering Head, Housekeeping people, the interior, art or flower expert, the Purchasing Manager – in order to keep all your ten fingers on the various pulses and be well equipped to develop interesting, multifarious story angles aimed at a plethora of publications.

You are in the spotlight 24X7 now with news being consumed via the new platforms of Twitter, YouTube et al. You are easily searchable. Consumers can get their hands on even your archived bits of information with just a click. Therefore be more diligent, news-worthy, meaningful and relevant.

Do make sure that along with the right keywords you use for good search engine optimization, your information capsules also carry significant value for your consumers and are crafted such that they bring top of the mind recall.

5. BE LOCALLY SOUND AND GLOBALLY PROPELLED 

Since you work in an international industry and are also driven to market your specific destination, being international in your approach at the same time being a great cultural ambassador is a major plus.

And here’s what gets you handsome returns – promise and deliver value to your customer, be true to your consumer even amidst all the verbiage and messages, stand head and shoulders above the clutter with your outstanding communication, engage the customer in your messaging with several points of interest, always respond and be prompt in your reply and finally build a healthy relationship based on trust, mutual liking and respect.

Source: http://www.4hoteliers.com/features/article/10040