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March 18, 2014

The 4 Rules of Social Marketing for Hotel Marketers (Travel Tuesday)

March 18, 2014 | By | No Comments

Couple by pool sharing their stayA hotel group recently invited me to talk about how they could use social media more effectively for marketing. Their key question was: “What rules exist in social media for hotel marketers?” I thought you might enjoy finding out some more about that, too.

Based on my experience, 4 rules exist when it comes to social marketing in the hospitality industry (and in most other industries, too). They are:

  1. Social is people. Your guests (or clients, customers, members, or whatever you prefer to call them), have individual needs and concerns. They’re busy folks on a mission to solve their problem, not spend a lot of time listening to you. “Social” isn’t a channel that you can use to simply shout about yourself. Well, you can. But you won’t see any positive results. Instead, you need to listen, understand, and engage with customers in social on their terms. That is, as human beings.
  2. All marketing is social. Broadly, the role of marketing is to connect customers with a solution. And since customers are social by definition, your marketing must be social, too. More specifically, you’ve probably noticed the increase in ratings and reviews in search results, and the way your competitors make it easy for their guests to share information with their friends and family and fans and followers on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and all the rest. Have you made it easy for your guests to do the same?
  3. Your brand = What you say + what guests experience. Every single guest in your hotel is now, effectively, a professional reviewer. And, as you’re likely aware, they’re more than happy to share their experiences with those friends and family and fans and followers I just mentioned. As I’ve noted before, working to increase the quality and quantity of your property’s reviews and ratings represents the single most effective way to improve your online marketing.
  4. There are no rules. As Barbossa memorably notes in Pirates of the Caribbean, these are “…more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.” Social media continues to evolve. And your guests’ use of social evolves along with it. The “rules” that “everybody knows” today may turn out to be different tomorrow (in fact, I’d bet on it). So, instead, you’re best bet is to test and see what works for you to drive the results you need.

Anyway, that’s a quick look at what works today. When you get a moment, you can check out the whole presentation here:

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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March 5, 2014

How to Use Emotion and Storytelling in Digital Marketing (Travel Tuesday)

March 5, 2014 | By | No Comments

Happy family shopping on tabletPicture this: An injured football player hobbles down the tunnel, leaving the field in obvious pain. A young boy steps forward, offers him a Coke… and history is made.

If you’ve never seen this commercial, you probably weren’t alive in the late ’70′s/early ’80′s. (And if you weren’t alive then… man, I’m getting old. But I digress).

If you were alive, you undoubtedly remember this ad. It was hugely popular, not only airing originally during a game in October, but several more times during the 1979 season and during that year’s Super Bowl.

Now, here’s a question for you: Why do you remember a 60-second spot from 35 years ago featuring a player and child actor who both retired not long after the spot first aired?

And, what in the world does this have to do with marketing a hotel, resort, or any other business online?

How about we answer those in order.

“Have a Coke and a Smile”

The reason you remember the Mean Joe Green commercial ties back to one of the lessons from last week’s HSMAI conference:

“Customers remember how you made them feel, not what you said.”

Coke’s classic ad demonstrates that message perfectly, fueling warm feelings towards the actors, the commercial, and, most importantly, the brand. Hell, they didn’t even disguise the intent: The whole ad campaign was called “Have a Coke and a Smile.” Subtle.

Of course, you do the same thing every day in the hospitality industry, helping your guests have a great day, no matter the circumstances. A restaurant owner I’ve worked with talks about “nailing the rolls and coffee,” suggesting that guests will remember their first interaction at the table (a server bringing rolls), and their last experience (a cup of coffee with/as dessert), more than the rest of the meal. The message for his employees is clear: Guests may forget a small error or two during the meal, but a bad first or last experience will stick with them — and will keep them from coming back.

It’s easy to overlook the emotional aspect of the guest experience online though, given how difficult it is to drive emotional engagement in popular digital channels. Search, for example—with its limited character count and “10 blue links” appearance—kind of sucks for serious story-telling designed to elicit emotion. Happily the increased use of images in search results may change this. And other channels, such as social, work brilliantly for story-telling and enhancing an emotional connection. Social, at its core, is people. And people are emotional beings.

More to the point, pretty much every purchase decision is an emotional choice. Even the most logical shoppers won’t reach for their credit card until they’re satisfied, emotionally, they’ve made the right choice. Even business customers want to be sure they’re aligning with corporate policies and, often more importantly, making their boss happy. Fear is a powerful motivator because it’s a powerful emotion.

Speaking of fear, a number of psychological models for emotions exist. Here are some of the most common emotions marketers seek to evoke, along with some examples of where you’ve seen them before:

  • Happy. Used all over the place. Very common in travel marketing (picture a couple on a romantic getaway, blissfully relaxed, or a happy family frolicking in a pool).
  • Excited. Frequently used for adventure tourism, skiing, that sort of thing. Laughter can elicit a similar response, which is why there’s so much humor in advertising.
  • Tender. Go ahead, watch that iPhone commercial with the kid making a video for his family at Christmas and tell me you’re not touched. No, I’m fine. That’s just something in my eye. Like a twig, or a branch.
  • Calm/Serene. The bread and butter emotion for many resorts and spas. When done well, it’s brilliant. However, can easily slide into self-parody or, worse, boredom (worse, because at least people will remember the unintentionally funny one).
  • Scared. Think about how most security companies promote their alarm systems, or those images of elderly relatives who’ve fallen and can’t get up. Not usually a great travel marketing play.
  • Sad. The go-to emotion for many charities. Picture Sarah McLaughlin singing a tear-jerking song while images of hungry children or animal shelters appear on your screen. Almost always the wrong choice for marketing your hotel or resort. (Rough rule of thumb: Sadness usually doesn’t lead to immediate action).
  • Angry. I can’t think of many examples from “traditional” marketing, but fairly common in political/cause marketing campaigns. Get your target audience pissed enough at your opponent and they’ll vote/march/rally/what-have-you to change the world.

Now, what does any of this have to do with digital or e-commerce? How can you use these emotions online?

Glad you asked.

Emotions + Digital = Successful Modern Marketing

Driving an emotional response — and one that leads to a booking — takes some doing. Here are four tips to get you started:

  1. Who do you think you’re talking to? Your customer data is a hugely important, strategic asset. Even if you can’t do “Big Data” yet, you know tons about your guests. Part of what makes digital marketing and tactics like behavioral targeting and email marketing so effective is that they allow you to put the right story in front of the guest most ready to listen. Use your guest data to segment your email list (low-rated vs. high-rated business, business travelers vs. leisure travelers, repeat vs. one-time guests, longer-stay guests vs. transients, and on and on and on). Test behavioral retargeting campaigns to recapture guests who’ve visited your site without booking. Then use those channels to tell a distinct, emotional story to engage each segment and drive more bookings.
  2. Align emotions with your brand story. As Josh Johnson says, “Stories are vehicles for values.” I’ve often talked about how your brand story is all about your values and the value you offer guests. Different types of properties (or non-hotel businesses, for that matter), have different stories to tell. A hip, four-star hotel in the city center’s hottest neighborhood is going to tell a vastly different story than a luxurious beach resort removed from the nightlife and neither will tell the same story as a family-owned ski resort that’s been part of its welcoming mountain community for generations. The emotions each property’s marketing team seeks to elicit among its guests should reflect the values of the property, brand, and community to attract the right type of guests and drive greater guest satisfaction overall (to say nothing of the reviews those highly satisfied guests will share with their friends, family, fans, and followers on social networks and review sites).
  3. Craft compelling copy. How many times have you seen website copy that states “…located in beautiful downtown…” and so on? Sure, it’s inoffensive. It’s also boring. Now, isn’t this better: “…The Wentworth Mansion embraces guests with warm, intuitive service. Like the greatest family traditions, it preserves its original intrigue and ensures that each guest is not a mere witness to the magic, but integral to it.” (Full disclosure: Wentworth Mansion is a client, but we used a local copywriter to capture the true spirit of the location). “Embraces… warm… family… traditions… intrigue… witness… magic… integral.” Lively, engaging, welcoming words. And ones that tell a clear story about the type of property its guests will enjoy. And, judging by the property’s TripAdvisor ranking, its guests do enjoy it.
  4. Use bold images. By bold, I don’t mean, “bright colors.” I mean images people give a damn about. If I see one more loosely cropped beach photo with a palm tree waving lazily in a gentle breeze, I might cry. Yes, sadness is an emotion. But not one that typically drive action. You have a pretty beach. Why should your guest care? Why not show people having fun on that beach? Or relaxing? Or dancing? Or something? Use images to tell a compelling story that lets your guest picture themselves achieving their goal—serenity, excitement, fun, family bonding, you get the idea.

It’s worth noting that Coke’s “Mean Joe Greene” and Apple’s “Misunderstood” spot hit all the right notes here, too. There’s a reason Coke and Apple get such high marks for their marketing. And such loyal business from their customers.

Speaking of storytelling, you may also enjoy these slides from another recent speaking engagement “Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results” here:

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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January 16, 2014

3 Key Things to Remember About Remote Work

January 16, 2014 | By | No Comments

Building the right teamSo, I realize the whole “work from home vs. work in the office” debate is kind of done, right? Marissa Mayer sent out her memo—a year ago, I might add—the Internet exploded, and promptly forgot about it.

So, why am I bringing this up? Again? A year later?

Funny you should ask.

I was visiting with a client earlier this week and something interesting happened (all parties were completely fine with me sharing this story; as you might expect, names, and a boatload of details, have been changed).

A key individual, we’ll call him “Peter Gibbons” was working remotely to meet some fairly crushing deadlines. He, with the acknowledgement and endorsement of his team, turned off his phone and IM. It’s all good, as the kids say.

He churned out his work, reconnected his devices/utilities, and learned that the world had caught fire while he was offline. Um… kind of not cool.

Anyway, once they team got together, they fixed the issues, and life went on. Not great, mind you. But, y’know, fine.

Now, the guy was completely in the right on this one. He’d done everything right. Everyone thought it was cool. They made the best of the situation and discussed how to ensure this wouldn’t happen in the future (i.e., make sure Peter had some appropriate backup).

Except for one thing.

An individual on another team, who we’ll call “Michael Bolton,” completely lost his mind. “My work is just as important as that guy’s,” he bellowed. Well, insisted. But it came off kind of bellow-y. “How come I don’t get to do what he did? And what’s worse, the whole world caught fire! If that happened to me, I’d get reamed up and down. I’ve got to churn out (pick whichever one works for you):

  • the big client presentation; or,
  • that major press release; or,
  • 5,000 lines of code; or,
  • our entire business strategy for next year.”

He continued, “I’ve got important work to do. And I’m way more productive outside the office. I’m not constantly interrupted by other people and I can focus on getting my job done. It’s ridiculous that I’m held accountable for meeting specific productivity goals and not given the opportunity to meet them.”

And on and on and on. You know the type I’m talking about.

Now, to be fair, his last point has some merit and I’ll come back to that.

But, while I think remote work is right for many people in many situations, there are three, highly related reasons why not everyone should work remotely. At least not every single time they want to. Happily, this individual’s mentor laid them out plainly:

  1. You are not a number. Your value to your organization is more than a single measure, no matter how important the presentation, press release, code, or strategy you’re developing. Now, if you’re legitimately being interrupted by people talking about trivial, non-important stuff, you’ve got a legitimate reason to say, “Hey, sorry, but I can’t talk right now. I’ve really got to get these TPS reports to Lumbergh by the end of the day or they’ll take my Swingline stapler.” But, if they’re trying to solve real, honest-to-goodness work related things, take a minute to assess whether their things might be worth contributing to, too. Which leads to…
  2. You weren’t hired to do one thing. Your value is not that one thing you do. Doesn’t matter how good you are it, either. Part of your value to the organization is “dealing with interruptions” and being available to the rest of your team to answer questions, engage, brainstorm, and, participate in the overall process. Sometimes, maybe even go to a meeting (as long as it’s a useful meeting; I’ll have more to say about this another time). Part of your role in just about any organization is to help move the entire organization forward, not just your piece of it. Which leads to…
  3. Don’t confuse your productivity with your team’s productivity. Finally, this is the kicker. Your client presentation, press release, code, strategy, or what-have-you is undoubtedly important (if it really isn’t, but they’re having you do it anyway, you really want to schedule some time with Lumbergh to sort that out). It may in fact be critical to the organization. But it’s also possible that your focus on that thing creates a roadblock to others’ productivity and, worse, to that of the overall organization. When Peter Gibbons was out of the office and “the whole world caught fire,” it definitely delayed the team’s response. If two or three or four or more people are standing around waiting for you while you work on your project, that’s a pretty big hit to the organization as a whole.

Now, as for Michael Bolton’s complaint about being held accountable for meeting specific productivity goals and not having a realistic opportunity to meet those goals? Yeah, that’s bad. It’s not only demotivating; it can be downright soul-crushing.

What a good manager is supposed to do in those cases is work with Michael Bolton to determine the organization’s actual priorities and create an environment where Michael can both get his work done and get recognition for contributions to the team’s success too. Which, I’m thrilled to say, Michael’s manager accomplished handily.

So, does this mean I’m against remote work?

Absolutely not. Not even for Michael Bolton, sometimes.

With the right people, processes, and platforms in place, many organizations can benefit from getting their folks out of the office from time-to-time (I’d recommend revisiting these tips on how to do just that).

I’ve said many times, people don’t go online; they are online. The web, mobile, social. and otherwise, creates lots of opportunities for people to work at a remove and remain completely connected. What matters is how you make it work in your organization.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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November 1, 2013

Email Marketing: When & How Often to Hit Send by Megan Totka

November 1, 2013 | By | No Comments

Email marketing timingDespite the rise of social media and mobile technology, permission-based email lists are still the reigning champion of online marketing strategies. A recent study from ExactTarget showed that a staggering 77% of consumers prefer email for receiving permission-based marketing over other channels In fact, we’ve been calling email “the forgotten social network” for several years now.

Of course, you need the right strategies to make email marketing work for you. Your email marketing campaigns should have compelling subject lines, a professional and aesthetically appealing design, and great content to help you overcome Gmail’s tabbed inbox interface.

What’s missing from this list?

Timing.

Why Timing Counts in Email Marketing

In order to be effective, your marketing emails need to be opened and read. Your catchy headlines and fantastic content will be wasted if your emails get lost in the shuffle. There are a lot of reasons people delete emails unread, or open them without actually reading the content and subsequently forget about them. Many of these reasons are related to timing.

The trick is to send out your emails at the best time of the day, on the best day of the week, and at the right intervals to get as many people as possible to open them.

How Often? Finding Your Email Marketing Interval

The best send frequency for email marketing messages has long been a subject of debate. If you look, you can find evidence that less is more, more is more, and every range in between is the “right” one, too. So how do you decide?

Fortunately, there are a few basic rules to apply here. We know that if you send email too often (say, every day), your customers will get either bored or annoyed, and start deleting your messages unread—or unsubscribe. And if you don’t send often enough (say, quarterly or bi-annually), your customers will forget who you are and what you do. In effect, you’re starting at the beginning of the conversion funnel every time.

The right interval really depends on your business, your customers’ expectations, and the type of content you send. If you use email lists to send out information-packed newsletters with lots of articles and resources, monthly is a good interval—it takes time to put all that information together, and quality is more important. If you’ve got a list for new subscribers that you’re using to send a series of building content, you might want to get those out close together—say three times a week.

In general, once a week or once every two weeks is a good interval. That way you’re not burying your subscribers in emails, but your messages are arriving often enough that they’ll remember you.

When to Send: Best Days and Times for Marketing Emails

Knowing which days of the week and times of the day more people open emails can give your email marketing campaigns a boost. Recent research from MarketingSherpa asked email marketers to let them know which days of the week gave them the best results. According to the findings:

  • Weekdays are more effective than weekends
  • Tuesdays had the highest effectiveness, with 26% saying their campaigns performed best on that day
  • Wednesdays are a close second at 23%, while Thursdays at 18% beat out Mondays at 15%, and double the effectiveness of Fridays at 9%
  • Sundays are the worst, with 42% saying they’re least effective. Saturday is right behind Sunday at 39% least effective.

As for the time of day, earlier seems to be better. Emails sent between midnight and 3 a.m.—so they’re waiting in your subscribers’ inboxes when they first check their email—are most effective, according to the latest Email Marketing Metrics Report from MailerMailer.

Of course, the best way to find your own most effective days and times is to analyze the results from your email marketing campaigns with send timing in mind. Find out when your highest open rates are, and adjust your mailing schedule accordingly.

Interested in learning more about the future of marketing in a multiscreen world? Register to receive a special report Tim produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

And, if all that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

About the Author:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Image credit: Image courtesy of William Warby.

Tim Peter

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October 7, 2013

Solving for "Why": The Myth of More

October 7, 2013 | By | No Comments

E-commerce strategy developmentBusiness, and marketing specifically, often focuses on “more.” But here’s a question for you: Is more always better?

I’d argue that cases exist where “more” isn’t always a good thing, at least not in itself. Let me give you an example.

A company I worked with recently (they’ve given me permission to share this), called me in because they’d launched a promotion designed to bring in more traffic and, they hoped, more sales.

They’d achieved the first goal; traffic to their site skyrocketed. But… something went wrong. Their revenues didn’t increase. In fact, they fell.

What went wrong?

Hang with me for a second and I’ll explain.

First, there’s a fairly simple model I’ve used for years for evaluating e-commerce strategies and tactics that looks like this:

Revenue ( R ) = Visitors ( V ) times Frequency ( F ) times Conversion ( C ) times Purchase Value ( P )

Or, more simply:

Revenue = V * F * C * P

If you want to increase your revenues, you can increase:

  1. The number of visitors your site gets
  2. The frequency those visitors come to your site
  3. The conversion rate among those visitors (you can bone up on what conversion rate is here)
  4. The value of the transaction from those visitors who convert
  5. Some combination of the above (there are 11 possible combinations, in case you’re curious)

Increase one or more of these numbers and you can expect your revenue to grow. And the more of these four variables your chosen initiative affects, the more likely you are to increase revenues. Which, you know, is kind of the point. This model also works for ad-supported businesses with just a little finessing.

Too often, businesses look to grow one of these numbers in isolation from the others (a problem I’ve discussed at length here and here). Occasionally, this isolated focus occurs because companies “silo “teams, for instance making one group responsible for promotional tactics and another responsible for improving site functionality.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case here. Unfortunately, the tactic the company had chosen—creating so-called “link-bait” content designed to increase the number of sites linking in, improve their search engine ranking, and grow traffic—did increase their traffic, but it didn’t consider any other component of the model. And ignoring the other elements caused the overall decline they experienced.

So what went wrong?

Well, a few things:

  1. The content wasn’t particularly relevant to their business. While the content was well written, eye-catching and increased their traffic, almost none of the new traffic converted.
  2. The new visitors rarely returned to the site. The client’s frequency metrics fell pretty sharply as the “new” visitors almost never came back to the site a second time.
  3. The new content distracted long-time customers. Not only did the new content not encourage repeat visits or purchases, it actually distracted the company’s existing site visitors from their initial purchase intent, hurting conversion rate.
  4. The additional traffic slowed their site response. A couple of their pieces got picked up by larger content aggregators and the added volume hurt site stability, which impacted sales during peak periods. Worse, their operating expenses increased because of the need to improve server capacity (while the cost of a single additional visitor is essentially free—low marginal cost, in economic terms—the cost of a 2.5x volume increase was not).

Fortunately, none of these were long-term problems. By shifting focus from “more traffic” to “more qualified traffic,” we were able to re-engage existing customers, improve conversion rates, and drive higher purchase values from visitors to the site (visit frequency returned roughly to pre-link bait campaign levels). Result: happy customers and happy business owners.

Now, does that mean “more traffic” is a bad goal? Or “more” anything, for that matter?

Not at all.

But you’ve also got to consider what you want those visitors (or what-have-you) to do when they arrive at your site and whether they’re drawn from new visitors or people you’ve already engaged with—or, of course, both.

So when you’re thinking about “more,” think also why you want more. Then align your objectives, strategies, and tactics with solving for “why.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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September 18, 2013

Making the Most of Key Influencers in Social Media

September 18, 2013 | By | No Comments

Do you know what a Key Influencer is? Do you want to?

Of course you do.

Key Influencers are those well-regarded and widely respected folks who help promote your content , brand, and business to their friends, family, fans, and followers on social media channels.

But how do you get them to do that?

Well, that’s the topic of my latest Biznology post, “Content Marketing for Fun and Profit”. Check it out if you get the chance.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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September 10, 2013

Mind Your "P's and Q's" (Travel Tuesday)

September 10, 2013 | By | No Comments

Kelly McGuire and Breffni Noone have a great piece over on Tnooz about the role of ratings and reviews for consumers making a decision of where to stay.

As you might imagine, they found that ratings play a pretty big role. But what might surprise you is that, in some cases, ratings and reviews matter more than price. This is very consistent with research I conducted a few years back and that I use as part of my “P’s & Q’s” model for evaluating hotel marketing activities.

The “P’s & Q’s” model illustrates guests’ focus on three areas when they’re making a reservation decision:

  • Price
  • Proximity
  • Quality

And I usually represent the model as a Pareto chart like this:

Price proximity quality ps and qs

I’ve spoken about this at length in the past:

But, to summarize, w hat guests really want when they’re making a reservation decision is value. Value, of course, is often overused and under defined. What the team and I do with the “P’s & Q’s” model is attempt to define value for different types of guests based on their needs for a given trip. What changes in each version of the model is how those three attributes overlap.

Some guests just want a room close to their business meeting within their per diem, in which case they’re driven by proximity and price. Some can only afford a certain rate and are willing to drive a little to get better quality. And, even in today’s economy, some want luxury regardless of price. You get the idea.

The point is that ratings and reviews play a huge role in helping guests determine the quality of the properties they’re evaluating—and as a result, play a huge role in determining the value those properties offer.

In any case, Kelly McGuire and Breffni Noone’s research offers an excellent overview on how ratings and reviews influence your guests’ view of your property’s quality and is well worth your time.

If you’d like to learn more about our “P’s & Q’s” model and how we use it to help hotels drive more business, give me a call at 201-305-0055.

And if you’re interested in learning more about travel marketing and where it’s going—as well as lessons that apply to a host of other industries—register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of these changes in the marketplace, including:

Tim Peter

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September 9, 2013

Facebook Etiquette: 4 Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid by Megan Totka

September 9, 2013 | By | No Comments

Facebook marketing etiquetteFacebook marketing can be a tricky beast. As a business, you want Facebook engagement to translate to sales—but you don’t want to come off as pushy. There’s also the social aspect to consider, the need to be approachable and personal.

While there’s no magic formula for the right approach to Facebook marketing, remember two things:

  1. There are a number of mistakes you must avoid in any marketing channel
  2. Proper Facebook etiquette tips will help you boost engagement by not turning people off about your Facebook page, your message, or your entire brand

What is “proper Facebook etiquette”? Glad you asked.

Don’t Ask For “Likes” on Your Posts

The Facebook “Like” button has become something of a holy grail for some marketers. Get enough “likes” on your post, the idea seems to be, and you’ll magically go viral. Your fan base will explode. Money will start pouring in. That’s why you’ll find plenty of social media marketing advice out there telling you to ask for the like.

The problem with this strategy is that everyone knows it’s a strategy. There are massive numbers of posts on business Facebook pages out there starting with, “Like this post if you…” And while your likes may start to add up, those numbers aren’t going to convert to dollars.

It’s better to write fantastic content that people “Like” because… well, they actually like it. You may end up with smaller numbers next to your thumbs-up, but they’ll reflect a true, organic level of engagement that’s more likely to go viral because people are actually interested in what you have to say.

Don’t Clog Up Your Fans’ News Feeds

There’s a difference between actively posting and over-posting. You want to maintain a social media presence, but you don’t want to post so often that people see nothing but your company in their news feeds. That’s a fast way to get your page un-liked.

Instead, opt for quality posts over quantity. Make sure that when you post something to Facebook, it will add value for your followers in some way. The same advice applies for when you’re using hashtags on Facebook—post them strategically and sparingly.

Don’t Patronize Your Audience

Talking down to your Facebook followers is a sure path to disengagement. For some great examples on what not to do, check out the Condescending Corporate Brand Page, a parody Facebook business page that gathers, posts, and comments (sarcastically) on social media blunders from big corporations.

Along the same lines, avoid the appearance of capitalizing on national or global tragedies by not posting about your “sympathy” or “thoughts and prayers” on Facebook. It’s better to either completely avoid the mention on your business page (save it for your personal page), or instead of thin sentiments of sympathy, post a link that gives your audience a way to help, such as donations or official support websites.

Don’t Say “Thanks”

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t show gratitude to your audience for engaging with you. Rather, it means that when people take the time to offer thoughtful comments or suggestions, it’s dismissive and rude to respond with a single word. Just saying “thanks” makes it seem like you’re too important to bother thinking about their comment.

When you take the few extra seconds to offer a personal response to commenters on your Facebook page, you’re creating fans for life. So don’t simply go down the list and click “Like” next to your comments, or add “thanks, everyone” at the end—engage your audience, and keep them coming back for more.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

About the Author:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Image credit: Image courtesy of birgerking via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Tim Peter

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August 16, 2013

Facebook Isn't Offering a Mobile Payments Platform. But What They Are Offering is Far More Interesting.

August 16, 2013 | By | No Comments

Facebook moving into commerceOn yesterday’s podcast, I mentioned that Facebook was launching a PayPal competitor as reported by AllThingsD. Turns out, not so much.

But, what they are doing is really interesting all the same.

TechCrunch clears up the confusion noting Facebook’s payments test is a companion that fills in billing info. Key story highlight:

” The feature pre-fills credit card and billing info for making easier purchases through PayPal, Stripe, Braintree or other payment processors in third-party mobile apps. It’s not a payment processor itself, but could help Facebook prove the ROI of its ads.” [Emphasis mine]

Now, clearly there’s a need for this kind of app. I’ve mentioned before how poor usability hurts the growth of mobile.

But the bigger trend, one I’ve mentioned in the past is that “he who owns the data, owns the customer.” (You can read more about that in my presentation on where marketing and online distribution are headed below):

Companies like Facebook, and its AGFAM brethren—Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, plus eBay who deserves an honorable mention—recognize the value of customer data.

You’d think Facebook would love to get a piece of the highly profitable payments pie. But this move shows where they believe the real value lies.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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June 18, 2013

When More is More: Upselling as a Sales & Marketing Tactic (Travel Tuesday)

June 18, 2013 | By | No Comments

Incredible growth onine imageHere’s a staggering statistic about the hospitality industry: On average, roughly 30%-40% of all room inventory goes unsold most nights (obviously, the number varies depending on seasonality and the like).

The thing is, this isn’t news. According the AH&LA, hotel occupancy has ranged between 63% and 70% since the 1960′s. This, despite loads of new distribution models, shifting industry alliances, consolidation among suppliers and distributors, and on and on and on.

So, here’s a thought: Why bother? I’m serious (at least to a degree). Instead of working like crazy to drive increases in occupancy, why not look to improve revenues from existing customers?

That’s the premise behind a new whitepaper sponsored by Nor1 that I’ve written for HSMAI, “When More is More: Upselling as a Sales & Marketing Tactic.”

Upselling offers hotel marketers and revenue managers the opportunity to increase their share of wallet from existing guests by providing these guests valuable options following their reservation. It’s all about understanding what your guests value and anticipating their needs. And it’s a great example of offering your guests more value throughout their purchase path.

The paper examines best practices for making upselling work in your business, highlighting the importance of:

  • Process. This includes identifying all products available for upsell; reviewing amenities in the hotel, including room types and views, to offer your guests the greatest value; and determining the appropriate time and at what price to offer these amenities.
  • Data. Including tracking your guests’ preferences following their stays and using predictive analytics to suggest offers, timing and pricing based on guest behavior.
  • Technology. Making best use of the tools available to hotel marketing teams to help track your guests’ changing needs and offering the right value to guests at the right time to capture the sale.
  • Personnel. Getting every member of the hotel team to work together to provide your guests a great experience during the reservation process, and providing guests the best offer at the right time such as via pre-arrival email blasts, at check-in, during the stay and following the stay to ensure both repeat visits and increased satisfaction.

Of course, upselling isn’t a “silver bullet.” When seeking to initiate an upselling program, make sure you avoid the following mistakes:

  • Upselling before closing the initial sale. Don’t present an upsell offer too early in the process or you’ll risk the overall sale. You must first sell something to the guest before you can upsell them.
  • Worrying about guests ‘gaming’ the system. Properties avoid upselling in fear that the guest will request and receive free upgrades on subsequent stays after enjoying premium amenities. However, selling upgrades can enlighten the guest to what all the hotel has to offer, and once they experience a premium service, they are likely to request it again.
  • Improperly valuing the upgrade. Consumers focus on the relative value of one thing compared to another, and price upgrades should come accordingly. Guests are unlikely to pay for a service that costs twice as much as their hotel room but may be enticed by an upgrade to a suite for a diminutive cost.
  • Not investing in the appropriate tools. It’s difficult to anticipate a guest’s needs without having known his or her purchase history and preferences. The correct tools can lead to better guest experiences, retention and recommendation.

The paper covers these topics and a whole lot more in much greater detail. You can read HSMAI’s press release here or register with HSMAI and Nor1 to receive your copy here.

Interested in learning more about the future of marketing? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including: