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Free webinar: Best practices in hotel reputation management

The impact of online reviews and user-generated content has significantly impacted the travel industry, and it has never been more important to monitor and manage your reputation online. The hospitality industry needs to adjust the way they do business in order to benefit from this trend. In our next online seminar, we will cover a range of topics related to running an effective reputation management program for your hotels. We hope you will be able to join us.

Guest Presenter

Josiah MacKenzie, founder publisher of www.hotelmarketingstrategies.com now works with ReviewPro to provide customer insights and business intelligence to hotel managers through online reviews and social media analytics. ReviewPro reporting provides insight for action in the areas of marketing & PR, quality & operations, sales, revenue & distribution. By moving social media engagement from a marketing tactic to an operational tool, they are changing the way the hospitality industry can use and profit from the social web.

 

This webinar is suitable for hospitality professionals seeking up-to-date information on reputation management and the impact this has on your business.

What we’ll cover:

1. The overall impact of online reviews

2. Key changes and trends

3. Overview of top review sites

4. Basics tips for better listening on the social web

5. How to use semantic analysis to understand the sentiment behind reviews

6. Basics of responding to reviews

7. What you need to know about international reputation management

8. How to help your whole team understand what they can do to improve online reputation

9. Steps for putting together a reputation management program

The Benefits of a Webinar:

It’s free and there is no travel involved so you can attend from the convenience of your own property. All you will need to participate is access: to the internet, a PC or laptop, a telephone and a quiet space.

To register:

Just send an email to training@avvio.com with your name and contact details and we will send you the login details for the webinar. This webinar will run from 9am–9.45am(PDT) on Tuesday 1st of November 2011.

 

For more information on Avvio’s previous webinars on both Facebook, Twitter and Google’s marketing tools:

Check out www.facebook.com/avvio

For slides www.slideshare.net/avvio

Join the conversation www.twitter.com/avviotweets

For recordings of previous webinars please contact training@avvio.com

- Written and contributed by: The training team at Avvio

 

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2012 and mobile marketing: What are my options?

The importance of having a mobile website and mobile strategy for your hotel cannot be stressed enough as this is a huge growth area in 2011, 85% of new handsets will have access to the mobile web and this figure is growing all the time. By 2015 it is predicted that there will be 3.5 billion mobile users globally, growing from 500 million in 2010. (Ericsson, Mobile Broadband World, Nov 2010).

 

Ian Carrington, Google’s Director of mobile, recently told the Travolution Summit that firms without a mobile strategy do not have a future strategy. If you are not on mobile the chances your competitors and the third party agencies you use are; and they will capitalize on this opportunity if you do not. This heightens the need for your hotel’s website to be mobile compatible.

 

Here are two options for your hotel to explore if you haven’t already done so.

 

1. Develop a mobile enabled website, which will work across all mobile phones old and new.

2. Develop a mobile App which can appeal to loyal guests and corporates and ensure it is optimized for key smart phone devices e.g. iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

 

It is also important to note the distinct behavior of consumers using the mobile web to search and book hotels. Mobile is immediate with 82% of people booking a room within one day of arrival as opposed to 45% on Desktop. 58% of people are within 20 miles of their hotel when they perform searches for it on their mobile device. (Source: Google)

 

Key considerations for your mobile strategy should include:

 

1.  Focus on the core messages – the user has limited time and a small screen. Show them the most important elements of your website    and include the following:

a. Up/Down navigation only

b. Large buttons

c. Easy to use drop-down

d. Site should have one main purpose

e. Easy to book process & prominent phone number, address display

2.  Mobile offers unique possibilities which should be taken advantage of such as:

i.  touch screens

ii. voice

iii. location aware

iv. click to call functionality

3.  Auto-detect which device a user is coming from and provide a mobile friendly experience.

4.  Promote the fact your have an app or a mobile friendly site through offline channels

 

Ensure you explore your mobile advertising opportunities through mediums like Google AdWords. Mobile CPC’s are currently far more competitive than Desktop/Laptop and can be 20-40% cheaper.

 

There are five options for mobile advertising with Google:

 

1. Normal mobile ads

2. Location Extensions – where you merge your Google Places listing with AdWords. Also shows the phone number of your hotel.

3. Click to Call – adding a click-to-call business phone number in ads that appear on mobile devices with full internet browsers.

4. Mobile Sitelinks – add 2 links to your mobile ad to send people to other parts of your mobile website.

5. Hyper Local – a location pin in your ad which shows the user’s distance from your hotel.

 
Written and contributed by Cara Callaghan, Avvio

 

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Ten tips to help maximize the potential of your email campaigns

Over the past few years e-mail has taken a backseat role to social media in many instances but it is still a very powerful and important marketing tool when used correctly. It is, after all, the cornerstone of permission-based relationship marketing.

The importance cannot be under estimated for three main reasons:

 

1. A well executed email campaign affects brand attitudes.

 
2. The quality of your email campaign affects brand perception.

 
3. The expectation for well known brands is higher.

Things you need to consider for email marketing are:

1. The legislation governing the area for the countries of recipients you are targeting.

 
2. Initiatives to grow your database.

 
3. The different types of email communication and how effective these are e.g. short promotional, long promotional, short editorial, long editorial etc.

 
4. Testing – small changes can make a big difference to results.

Top ten tips for effective email marketing:

1. You must create your lists organically with the explicit permission of your prospects.

 
2. Build an effective plan – how often to send communications and plan what content to use. Be sure your content is timely and relative.

 
3. Always provide a strong benefit for the person signing up to your list. Receiving updates alone is not usually a very strong offer. Exclusive discounts are more compelling.

 
4. Choose a publishing frequency that works for you. Send communications too often and people will unsubscribe; not frequently enough and they will forget you. If possible, ask your subscribers how often they want to hear from you.

 
5. Test, test, test. Email marketing success comes through continuous testing and making changes based on your findings. Ideas for areas to test in your e-mail campaigns, include: the day and time of your mail shot, frequency, personalization, subject line and contents, prices, and call to action.

 
6. Segment your list to deliver relevant messages.

 
7. Think outside the box; compliment your e-mail campaigns with news on events in your locality and special offers from transport providers.

 
8. Ensure that you integrate e-mail with your Social Media campaign.

 
9. Personalize the message with the recipient’s name.

 
10. Track all actions – bookings, purchases, inquiries etc. And, measure the ROI from each email campaign.

 

 
Contributed by Stephen Williams, Commerical Director for North America, Avvio

 

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Get to grips with the recent update to Google Analytics

The latest version of Google Analytics has some additional reporting and updates which will benefit your hotel. While the old Google Analytic’s reports are still available to you, the new version should now be the default when you log into your account. So if you haven’t already had a chance to familiarize yourself with the new features, now would be a good time to.

 

The new layout has been a focus of the updates and there are more to come. The most recent of these include:

1. Real-time site analytics

2. Analytics Premium is launched

3. Flow Visualization – allows you to analyze site insights graphically, and understand how visitors flow across pages on your site.

 

1. Real Time Analytics

Previously with Google Analytics there was no real way to track same-day stats.. To see these newly available stats you must be logged in to the ‘New Version’ of Google Analytics as illustrated below. You will have access to Real-Time reports if you are an Administrator on your Analytics account, or if you have access to a profile without profile filters. Real-Time does not support profile filters.

 

To access the Real Time reports and see activity on your site as it happens go to the ‘Home’ tab at the top of the page and ‘Real Time’ on the left hand menu.

Real Time Analysis is very useful is to measure the impact of social media sending visitors to your site. If your hotel goes out with an important tweet or Facebook post, for example, you can immediately see the impact it has on traffic to your website. If you add campaign tagging to the links you use, it is possible to see how much traffic each channel is driving.

 

‘Real Time’ reports also provides the ability to check if campaign tracking is working properly before you launch a campaign.

 

There are some great reports available including:

1. Number of active visitors on your site at any current moment

2. New versus returning visitors

3. Top referring sites

4. Top active pages

5. Geographic location of visitors

6. Page views and much more

2. Google Analytics Premium

This new service was launched by Google at the end of September ’11. Google said they learned from some of their largest customers ‘that they had some specific needs that the current version of Google Analytics couldn’t meet in its entirety.’

 

Therefore, this new service covers the following areas:

•  Extra processing power – increased data collection, more custom variables and downloadable, unsampled reports.

•  Advanced analysis – attribution modelling tools that allow you to test different models for assigning credit to conversions.

•  Service and support – experts to guide customized installation, dedicated on call account management and backed by 24/7 support.

•  Guarantees – service level agreements for data collection, processing and reporting.

 

Currently Google Analytics Premium is available for a fixed annual fee of $150k in the United States, Canada, and the UK so it is really only aimed at sites that need a huge level of detail that can’t be achieved with the free version. You can get it directly from Google or through Google Analytics Premium Authorized Resellers. Premium Analytics may pose a very serious threat to tools like Webtrends, Omniture and Coremetrics.

3. Flow Visualization in Google Analytics

In mid October at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Google announced that it is releasing tools that will help narrow the advertising conundrum even further. Google showcased a new analytics tool called “Flow Visualization” that can track the path users take when navigating a website.

 

We have always been able to see where visitors come from, the % of first time visitors, and the amount of time visitors spend on the site but now it will be possible to see what visitors do on the site in a graphical format. Due to difficulties users have experienced when using traditional path analysis tools, Google have made these changes.

 

Flow Visualization takes the data Google collects and then creates an interactive visual map. We will now see the path visitors take on their journey: entering through the home page, clicking on any internal links and viewing ads along the way.

Nodes are automatically clustered according to an intelligence algorithm that groups together the most likely visitor flow through a site.

 

Goal flow provides a graphical representation of how visitors flow through your goal steps and where they drop off.

 

Flow Visualization is available in the free version of Google Analytics, although it is currently in beta, and will be available to all Google Analytics users in Q4 of this year.

 

The changes are likely to keep coming so do keep an eye on Google’s blog to get the latest information as it happens.

 

 

Contributed by Cara Callaghan, Online Marketing Training Manager, Avvio

 

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Hotels & Social Media: The trends, obstacles and 2012

Social media is now impacting on search, and competition within the social space has just become more intense with the arrival of Google Plus. So what is 2012 going to look like? And what trends and obstacles will our industry face? As marketeers, we need to understand the social media landscape, decide which platforms are best to focus our efforts on, measure our achievements to date and put a strategy in place for the future. To help you with planning, here are eight of the key trends and obstacles that we have encountered over the course of the past year and some of our thoughts for the future.

Social media solutions by Avvio

 

1.Hotels are still new to Social

 

Believe it or not, it’s true. Some hotels are only setting up their Facebook page and Twitter accounts now. Why? Because until recently they have beensitting on the fence and adopting a wait and see approach. Now, convinced of the impact of social will have on their website traffic and its ability to increase intent to purchasefrom fans and followers; hotels are keen to engage with their communities , are busy planning for the future and want to do things the right way.

2. Focused on the ‘big 5’

 

A recent survey completed by Hubspot found that most marketeers are focused on the ‘big 5′, – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Blogs and YouTube. This is set to change as the launch of the Google Plus project is predicted to displace Twitter from the number two position in next year’s social media platform rankings. However, in my experience, most hoteliers and marketeers in the hotel and lodging sector are using Facebook and Twitter exclusively. There is definitely curiosity about the potential of Linkedin from a business development perspective, , blogs forthe positive SEO and content benefits they bring, and YouTube for its rich media offering.. However, hoteliers are finding it difficult to find the time and appropriate resources to be able to expand their social media presence and activity across all the social channels. 2012 will see this change as hoteliers become more focused, apply strategies and allocate appropriate budgets.

3. Two year confidence mark

 

For some properties it may have been one of the front office team who persuaded the general manager to start a Facebook page or a general manager who saw the potential and decided to take a first mover approach to social media. Whoever the champion was for your hotel’s social media activity, there is definitely a sense of confidence and maturity that comes with the two year mark of engaging with your audience and trying and testing out different contents and campaigns.. This type of experienced user will now want to build a more sophisticated and integrated approach to social media marketing, considering: customized or seasonal designs, application builds and complimentary multi media campaigns to compliment their social media activity.

4. Hotels are broadcasting not connecting

 

Have you ever considered how many fans ‘like’ a post or comment on one of your status updates? If the answer is no, then it is likely that you are broadcasting and not engaging with your fans. But don’t worry, you are not alone. The industry average is between 10-15% fan engagement. You have worked hard to grow your fans and followers so it is important to keep them engaged. One tip is to always make sure you welcome new fans and tell them what to expect from your page . It sounds simple but it works.. Broadcasting is appropriate for certain information and messages, however, to get the most out of your community and increase their intent to purchase, engagement needs to be at the forefront of your messaging.

5. Reluctance to seek support from agencies

In the past, hoteliers and marketeers have had a reluctance to seek third party support for social media. However, this has changed and now hoteliers are planning their activity for the year ahead and asking, ‘How much should I allocate for social media in my 2012 budget?’. They want to get their strategy right and the want to start turning those connections into customers. Where third party support is being considered includes; training, social media policy guidelines, strategy development, campaign planning, advertising management, customized design and application build.

6. Social Media Adoption Obstacles

 

These can originate at senior management or owner level, perhaps where individuals are baby boomers and do not understand the millennials ‘sharing’ and ‘I want to be found’ culture. Fear of the unknown and the uncontrollable tendency to air on the side of caution create a limited and highly controlled social media presence, or in some cases, none at all. If this sounds like you or your boss, there is an excellent video I would recommend called the’Social Media Revolution’ by Eric Qualman. I think it puts social media into perspective for people who are still cautious and need to be convinced.

7. Lack of Measurement

 

2011 is the year of measurement and 2012 will be the year of Google Plus v Facebook, case studies and integrated campaigns. There is still lack of clarity for hoteliers and marketeers surrounding what should be measured. Before measuring anything, questions need to be asked. What do you hope to achieve? What are the goals and targets?Then again for of each campaign, promotion, or contest…what do we hope to achieve?How are we going to track this and what does success look like? It’s not all about the numbers of fans and followers . You can also measure the number of visits to your website, the time spent on your website, the offers that convert, the increase in subscribers to your mailing list and numerous other metrics.

8. No Policy or Strategy in place

 

The most worrying observation (and perhaps the most important of all) is the number of hotels who still do not have a social media policy in place . If you have no guidelines for staff acting as your brand ambassadors, no standard operating procedures for complaints, and no strategy to align your marketing with your business plans; then you are heading for some social media fires in the future. Putting these measures in place will give you the confidence to grow your community online and involve your team more. Policy and strategy give you the support and structure to make quick decisions. So with a social media policy in place, you can react to an ever changing environment and stay ahead of the competition with an engaged audience of committed customers and brand advocates.

Useful resources:

Mastering the Facebook opportunity for your hotel

Twitter: The how, why and what your hotel can expect from participating

 

Google marketing tools for your hotel

 

Written and contributed by Michelle Conaghan, Avvio

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5 Tips to increase your revenue through Facebook

 

Facebook has 155 million users in the US alone. Facebook penetration in the United States is over 50% of the population and over 65% of the total online population, so it is a channel that is getting more attention from hoteliers and rightly so.

 

Generating revenue through your Facebook page does not happen automatically, creating an effective strategy to use the channel, is a terrific starting point. A lot of energy and expense has gone into building your fan base, and to retain them, you will need to have high levels of engagement. Considering why someone should become a fan, the benefits and point of difference  you wish to use for this channel will assist you to create a compelling proposition.

 

Fan engagement on average on hotel pages varies between 10-50% and 10-15% is the average. The challenge is to maintain a constant stream of engaging and value driven content flowing to your fans, as well as,  maintaining momentum of activity. Activity takes time, and planning will go a long way to save time longer term by proactive actions rather than reactive engagement and activity.

 

Fans like two way conversation, advantages to being part of this community and to see what’s happening in your property.

 

Here are our five tips, to help you increase your revenue through the Facebook channel:

 

1. Allow users to book directly from Facebook through a customized Facebook application.

 

Create a distinction between fan and non fan offers and develop this as one of the benefits of becoming a fan. These offers do not always have to be discounted  rates, they can be value add and exclusive to the channel. Distinguish your fan and non fan bookings and traffic through this new channel.

 

 

 

 

2. Create content that keeps  fans engaged.

 

Start by creating a three month plan and consolidating your activity with your marketing plan,. Consider creating integrated marketing campaigns with social activity that compliments it. Responsibility should be assigned for monitoring, engaging and reacting as well as planning your proactive messages and campaigns.

 

3. Promote ‘Exclusive Facebook Offers’ that will attract and retain fans.

 

This should be a key strategy to attract new fans, engage existing ones and ultimately convert these connections into paying customers. Remember to measure your activity and results on each offer. If you are using a booking application ensure you have can access reports on bookings and traffic. If you are promoting an offer that is not linked to your booking engine assign a promotional code or QR code to allow you to track redemption. It is important to have visibility over the success of each offer.

 

4. Create a custom URL for your Facebook page which makes it easy for people to find you if they’re not already a fan.

 

This can customize your page URL, once you have at least 25 fans. This can be accessed either from your ‘basic settings’ on your page or directly via http://www.facebook.com/username. When choosing a name for your page, choose wisely and assess your name in the same way you would consider search. Your name can only be customized once, so verify it is a name you are happy with and that works for search and marketing collateral.

 

5. Create buzz around your campaigns and benefits.

 

Building excitement around campaigns or offers will help you have committed fans who are intrigued and willing to act or buy. This is provided that it is an exclusive offer or campaign to the  Facebook channel. Campaigns with time restrictions tend to be highly effective. Post in advance of holidays to give people plenty of time and let them know what packages you have on offer.

 

Written and contributed by  Cara Callaghan, Avvio

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Travel and Search Engine Optimization: What’s new?

 

Google’s algorithm at work

For those of you who have often wondered how Google’s algorithm works and what goes on behind the scenes, then this excellent video sums it all up nicely.

 

The importance of Social for Search

 

Social is becoming even more important in the SEO arena. Until recently real-time results from Twitter appeared in Google search results. Then Google’s introduction of  the +1 button, allowing for e web pages, articles, images etc to be +1’d by users and collected by Google, has enabled the  search engine to understand the popularity and value individuals attribute to sites and their content. In July, the Google+ social network was launched in an attempt to rival Facebook , and has already accumulated 10 million users. With great features including Circles, Sparks and Hangouts it has a lot of appeal to users who value their privacy.

Social Media is revolutionizing the web and is already having an impact on your rankings with more emphasis to come on this area. The integration of ‘Live Feeds’ in to search results has a direct impact on rankings and placements. Therefore, the  emphasis given by Google to social results will ensure the +1 will change the search results landscape.

Expanded and improved Sitelinks on Google

 

Sitelinks on Google have been around for a while but until recently they consisted of a single row of  four links. This has all changed recently and sitelinks are now full-size links with a URL and one line of snippet text—similar to regular results—making it even easier for users to find the section of the site they want. Google has also increased the maximum number of sitelinks per query from 8 to 12 as shown in the screenshot below.

All results from the top-ranked site will be nested within the first result as sitelinks, and all results from other sites will appear below them.

 

 

Google hotel pricing in Google search results

 

This has been around for a few months but some of you may not have noticed it until now. Google is displaying hotel price ads with booking functionality within organic search results as well as on Google Maps. You can book a hotel room via any of the engines that appear in the drop down menu as highlighted below. You will always see the hotel’s own website at the bottom of the list. This is charged for on a cost per click (CPC) basis and is also based on the price of the proposed stay in the hotel.


 

 

 

 Written and contributed by Cara Callaghan, Avvio

 

 

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Google Plus: What you need to know!

Google launched the “+1” button back in March 2011 so search could become more social and has already seen 10 million sign ups. YouGov projects that Google+ will become the number two network after Facebook, “in the next year.” It is based around the premise and statistics that show we like to get recommendations from our family and friends:

 

“90% of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know”

And

“71% say reviews from family members or friends influence purchase decisions”

 

Profiles are currently now available for individuals as of late last week. The ground work is being laid for business profiles with Ford and GM acting as beta testers, so unfortunately hotels cannot set up a profile right now. However, Google engineers are promising to build a business experience that will exceed that of consumer profiles.

 

In order to ‘+1’ things online, you first need a public Google profile and you need to be signed in. You can create one at Google Profiles

 

Once you are signed in, go to www.google.com and enter your search phrase. On the search results page you will see a small +1 link beside each entry.

 

 

Your +1’s are stored in a new tab within your Google profile. You can opt to show your +1’s tab to the world or keep your tab private, using it to personally manage the ever-expanding record of things you love.

How does it work?

 

1. When you ‘+1’ an ad, organic result or website page, you are +1ing the final landing page URL associated with that item.

2. Which leads to your ‘+1’ being included in the annotations for the ads and organic results associated with that URL.

3. Searchers will see personalized annotations from:

4. Their Gmail chat buddies

5. Their Google contacts in the My Contacts group

6. People they are following in Reader & Buzz

 

Adding the ‘+1’ button to your website gives users even more opportunities to endorse your brand and is something we strongly recommend you do. These personal recommendations have the potential to drive more and better qualified traffic.

 

Why it’s important for Search:

 

1. +1 is one of many social signals used for search ranking.

2. +1s may affect search ranking and is likely to be a positive thing for high quality sites.

3. Google has said it believes that +1s will increase CTR for your Google AdWords ads, which would positively affect high quality sites and ads.

+1 metrics are now available in Google Webmaster tools, which provide you with  an idea of how +1‘s affect your organic search traffic. The metrics also show you how many times your pages have been +1’d.  and  aggregate geographic and demographic information about the Google users who’ve +1’d your pages  - which is very interesting.

 

What you need to do:

 

1. Ensure your site is useful, engaging and includes content that people will want to recommend to their family and friends.

2. Think about the pages where you want to add +1 buttons first (wedding, spa, conference etc as well as your main pages like home page, special offers etc.)

3. Work with your digital marketing agency or webmaster to implement the +1 buttons

 

 Written and contributed by Cara Callaghan, Avvio

 

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Facebook changes: A positive for hoteliers who engage their fans

An extremely excited Mark Zuckerburg revealed the latest evolution of the Facebook platform – Timeline at the recent Facebook developers conference F8. In recent weeks, there have been a number of changes to profiles, including: prompts for recommendations, highlighting of top stories and a new activity feed on the top right of the profile page. Facebook users have taken to the comment boxes and tweeting to either vent their anger over changes or show their happiness with the new additions.

Although Facebook continues to make significant changes and numerous improvements, which often result in a sentiment backlash from users, their continued dominance is not in  question right now. Facebook users will not defect to Google’s plus project due to the time and personal equity users  have invested into their profiles. However, Google’s latest and serious challenge to Facebook; Google plus went live on Thursday for all internet users, so the social media world will move at the speed of light over the next six months. Flexibility in your approach, staying educated of the changes in the social space, and adapting to these change will mean the difference between staying ahead of the curve in your social media strategy or fighting to keep up.

 

I have taken a look at five of the most recent changes and how they are likely to affect hospitality marketeers.

 

1. Timeline


Timeline is a new Facebook profile which allows users to view the story of their life on one page. Timeline is a different type of profile with an exceptionally engaging and interactive interface. Users can add milestones, experiences, applications, photos and life events easily to their timeline. ‘Older posts’  will no longer be hidden behind the dull grey box instead, the activity throughout your life will be displayed for your connections to view, discovery and learn from. The aim; to encourage more sharing, discover and engagement between connections. What does this mean for pages? Will they get the same treatment as profiles? Not yet it appears. News from Facebook’s press site reveals they intend to make pages more consistent with Timeline. Currently there is no estimate of when that might be. Hotel’s will need to ensure they engage their audience, post quality content and use the right applications to make sure they benefit from Timeline.

To view Facebook’s video introduction to Timeline click here


2. Ticker


Ticker is a new activity stream which appears on the top right hand side of your profile and is quite similar to a Twitter feed. This addition Ticker is fantastic news for hoteliers and their pages as Ticker allows users to view real-time posts from your page and gives you an opportunity to re-engage fans who have become inactive. This was previously possible through the news feed, but a change made by Facebook to profiles a couple of months back, resulted in your fans only seeing activity or updates from friends and pages they had recently engaged with. This meant on average only 10-15% of your fan base would see your wall updates in their news stream. To see all your hotel’s updates a fan would need to access their wall settings and undo this option. However as most users didn’t realize this change had taken place in the first instance, few were likely to make the change.

 

3. Applications

 

Timeline’s arrival places a large importance on applications.  Zuckerberg highlighted the potential possible through the  next version of Open Graph for Facebook and developers to create a’frictionless experience’ and real-time serendipity’ through more integrated applications. The change in the Open Graph means a redesign to the traditional permission pop up you normally receive when accessing an application or trying to perform a share action. No more pop ups or prompts means light wait activity, such as shares, will be a seamless experience. Zuckerberg remarked on the more the simplified developer platform that has been created, which makes identifying patterns in application user behaviour and Open Graph statistics easier for developers. Timeline’s potential reach is to make the connection between users and applications more visible and help new users discover applications through their connections. The key to success is using social applications that suit your industry.

 

4. Say goodbye to ‘Send an update to fan’


From the 30th of September, you will no longer be able to send an update to fans from your page. This message would normally sit in the folder marked ‘other’ in a Facebook users inbox. Users widely regarded these messages as spam, so for the most part these updates trigger little or no engagement. According to Facebook’s site, they are working on ways to help you connect as effectively as possible with your fans. Their advice is to post to your wall or used their advertising platform to reach existing and new fans.

Facebook - Send an update to fans

 

5. Recommendations

 

When a Facebook user clicks the ‘Like’ button for the first time on your Facebook page, they will be asked if they would like to write a recommendations for that page. The power of the social graph comes into play here when they write a recommendation, as this will be seen by their entire network. These recommendations are visible on the right hand side of your page so it is important to monitor and respond accordingly. I expect more developments will emerge on recommendations and reviews over the coming months as we know the importance that is placed on peer to peer recommendations. Google’s recent move  replacing third party reviews with its own may be another catalyst.

Recommendations on Facebook

 

 

In summary, what do these changes to profiles mean for marketeers?

Page engagement is paramount and central to your success on the platform. Marketeers need to concentrate on creating engaging andhigh quality content, use applications that drive growth and interactions , and most of all, be adaptable to change.

 

Written and contributed by Michelle Conaghan, Avvio

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2012 Digital trends: What lies ahead for the hotel and lodging industry

The past year has seen the growth of all things digital in the hotel industry as we have become ever more social online, developed an addiction to the group buying  concept  of Groupon and Living Social, seen the emergence of the personalized web, and we continue to watch and wait for mobile commerce to truly take off.

 

With the pace of digital change more accelerated than ever before, so too has  our behavior  and expectations as online consumers. The challenge for today’s hoteliers will be possessing the flexibility to change and adapt quickly as well as the ability to constantly learn and apply new found knowledge. Avvio’s focus is  continuous innovation to exploit these new platforms as opportunities for growing hotels’ direct business. Information, exploration and strategy are the key to unlocking the potential of what these new digital developments have to offer the hotel industry.

 

I’ve noted a few areas for hoteliers to consider for the year ahead.

 

1.       eCommerce on Social (Social Commerce )

 

The introduction of iframes within Facebook has made fully integrated e-commerce (or Social Commerce) common place. This development has given the Facebook user  the comfort, confidence and security to purchase within the Facebook environment. The opportunity in Facebook alone reaches over 155 million in the United States. Social commerce is now a reality and the hotels that invest in growing their communities and keeping them engaged will triumph as the winners in the social hospitality world.

It’s essential to create a social media policy for your business before you create your social strategy, which should be implemented in phases; measuring your successes at each step. See conversions from social by adopting a ‘sharable-content’ philosophy and encourage interaction and bookings through  social channels.

 

2.       The science of user experience and conversion.

 

A recent study by iPerceptions reports that while web visitors still find price important when booking accommodation, they place a growing value on website effectiveness and a seamless booking experience. Google too are moving towards measuring engagement and penalizing poor usability and high bounce rates with lower search rankings. Usability and conversion is a science to the OTA’s who spend huge sums in this area to study test and monitor their conversion progress.

 

Therefore, creating a website and booking experience that is intuitive from start to finish needs to be a priority. A usability audit on your hotel’s brand site and booking process is as a good place to start.

 

3.       Mobile Commerce

 

According to Comscore, over 5 million use mobile for travel services which is up 46% since March 2010, this means your hospitality business needs to optimize for this customer . It is also widely speculated that Google will soon rank mobile optimized sites higher to users searching on mobile devices.

On-the-go mobile users want information that is fast, bite-sized, relevant  to their needs and easily found through search.  Consider what information you provide and the usability of this for the customer as well as where mobile advertising sits in your online marketing budget. While booking volumes still remain low,some channel shift is expected and mobile is now a part of a hotel’s marketing plan.

 

4.       Group Buying Sites

 

The strength and rapid growth of group buying sites over the last year has seen the likes of Groupon make an average of $3.5 million every three days. The average group buying site consumer is incredibly deal hungry, they are flexible on date and location, and they don’t have a preference over their location or the hotel.

This customer typically has low brand loyalty and is price-focused so caution is required if hotels venture into offering deals. The key being to to capitalize on the new audience, encourage reviews and entice them into your social media community; ultimately to encourage them to visit you again.

 

5.       Google tools are becoming a dominant force in travel.

 

Google tools are fast becoming a dominant force in travel, with the newest addition, Google Hotel Finder, currently in experiential mode and  only available to US hotels. Google Hotel Finder gives users a clean, uncluttered and intuitive tool to search , group and book hotels in a Google Maps based format.

For more information on how to optimize your Google Hotel Finder listing please read our recent recent blog post: Google Hotel Finder and what it means for your hotel

Google +1 is a serious attempt by Google to break into social media and spells interesting times ahead in the area of Search and Social. The anticipation of Google’s business profiles this autumn, promises to bring advantages to business that are found wanting in Facebook and will certainly impact search.

 

Right now, your hotel should add the +1 button  to your website and  the person responsible for your social media should become familiar with a Google +1 personal account to ensure you are ready for the arrival of the business profile.  Read our recent blog for more information on Google plus and what you should know.

 

 Written and contributed by Frank Reeves, Co-Founder, Avvio

 

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