Don’t abandon hope – guaranteed ways to increase checkout rates and decrease abandonment

For marketers, managers and hoteliers, abandonment at the checkout stage can be a real hassle. According to a research, around 81% of online visitors abandon the process at the booking stage in the travel industry. At a time when hoteliers are under pressure to increase direct revenue, this is a real thorn.

But don’t lose hope yet – a lot of these visitors do intend to return. You just have to turn that intention to a decision.

Here’s how you can do that.

Issue no. 1 – Just browsing

More than half of website visitors don’t even have a fixed destination in mind when they’re browsing your page. They’re just looking for their idea of a dream vacation. They passively browse through photos, prices, and deals.

Solution

Just because visitors are passive doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be active. There are still plenty ways you can inspire visitors to plan their next vacation.

Take the lead by using amazing visuals. Like I’ve said in my previous blogs, tell, or rather show your hotel’s story on the website. Know more about your target guests, and tailor content and imagery accordingly. You can show a story about the great location of your property, the emphasis on a comfortable stay, etc.

Convince them that NOW is the time to travel, that they deserve that break from their busy schedule. This can help the visitor take the decision to travel – and if he does, yours will be the property of choice.

Issue no. 2 – Price

Not surprising, is it? Most of the visitors abandon the booking process when they reach the billing stage. They may find it too expensive or low value, or may be put off by the final tax-inclusive cost.

Solution

I’ve 3 ideas to avoid this abandonment cause –

  1. Don’t shy away from heavily advertising your special offers. Visitors are always on the lookout for a great deal, so display whatever promotional deals or loyalty programs you have clearly.
  2. Show all inclusive prices, such as taxes and other charges. Nobody likes bad surprises, so display such costs upfront.
  3. Include a currency converter widget or link in your website. Many of your guests will be from foreign countries (hopefully!), and may find conversion of costs inconvenient. Don’t let this situation arise!

Issue no. 3 – Forms, surveys and too many questions (It’s like exam time again for visitors!)

Asking guests and visitors to fill in some information in forms and surveys is a great idea – I agree. But the process doesn’t have to be so long, complicated, and intrusive!

Solution

First of all – stay clear of asking any personal information. Also, make the process short and simple, and do away with any unnecessary question. Lastly, make sure the questionnaire appears AFTER the booking is complete. The idea is to ensure that the booking process requires the minimum number of clicks.

Issue no. 4 – Bad website design

This one seems the obvious problem, yet it’s frustratingly the most common. How will you encourage guests to book with you, especially the millennials, when your first impression has glaring errors?

Solution

The first thing I want you to do is check your mobile website. The number of users visiting your mobile website is increasing day by day, and it makes no sense to not invest in it. The common problem I see is the excruciatingly long amount of time it takes to load the website. Invest in a visually appealing mobile optimized website with a seamless booking process. As I’ve written before, Google’s algorithm now also prefers mobile optimized websites, so look forward to improved organic search results as well. Browse through http://m.lemontreehotels.com/ to take inspiration.

I’d written a blog on the website crimes that should result in capital punishment; you can check it out here – https://goo.gl/jNxD5d

Guys, just some small, quick fixes can go a long way in improving your booking process. As a hotelier, you should do everything in your power to make the process as seamless as possible. Strive to create a visually appealing, fast, and mobile optimized website. Get on it ASAP, and check out the #AskAviArya show after that – https://goo.gl/8fuoy2

How to ‘getta’ grip on ‘Meta’ search?

Let me get this straight – Google is the new OTA. Ever since it added the instant booking option on its metasearch engine, hotels have the opportunity to increase their direct revenue at lower costs. According to a study, 54% travellers in China, 42% in Germany, 38% in France, 45% in the UK and 48% in the USA use metasearch engines to find the best hotel prices while booking. The bottom line is, you will be missing on a whole lot of potential guests if you don’t advertise on metasearch engines like Google and TripAdvisor. I’m writing this blog this fine evening to give you some tips to do exactly that.

In my experience, to be successful in digital you’ve to spend smartly, not more. Let’s dive in and see how you can put your money to good use.

  1. Make hotel rates lower than OTAs

OTAs dominate search rankings with their huge marketing spends. It’s rare to see a hotel on top in search results. Since they have very high Cost Per Click (CPC), it is tough to leapfrog them. But if there isn’t a lot of difference between the CPC, you can rise in rankings by lowering your room rates. Since the algorithm is designed to put lowest rates at the top, your hotel can be given preference – and that might give you the clicks you deserve.

  1. Customize strategies for different metasearch sites

Every metasearch engine has its own process of functioning. Let’s go through 2 major ones.

Google – I believe it is going to be the biggest player in travel search in the near future. Since the guest actually starts his or her journey on Google, it is a blunder to not advertise on the platform. While CPC model has been notoriously high, the recent commission based pricing (on confirmed bookings) is perfect for small hotels.

TripAdvisor –   The existing dominant player, over 70% of travellers use this platform to compare and consult before making bookings. It acts more like an information avenue – guests don’t yet have the intention to book. The platform is ideal for brand awareness.

  1. Be mindful of changing designs

Metasearch platforms keep experimenting with their designs, schemes, algorithms, structure, etc. For example, the Google Hotel Ads blurb box has been shifted to the right from the left. Don’t take them lightly – they can have an impact on your clicks and conversions.

Such platforms may keep testing different ways to display hotel prices. Such changes will definitely impact your CPC. Also, make sure that the correct and updated information is available on the site.

  1. Make it a marketing channel

Viewing the platform as a marketing channel will help you get more direct bookings at a lower cost. It is an opportunity to position you on a level playing field with OTAs. Reviews are extremely important on a metasearch site. They are often pulled in from different sites and sources to offer an overall view of the hotel to the viewer. Make sure you have a strategy to keep improving such reviews.

  1. Experiment yourself!

As with all things digital, you can’t simply run an ad and just forget about it. Not just room availability checks and bid management, regular tests to maximize return on investment must be conducted. Such tests can include Return On Ad Spend (ROAS), monitoring conversion rates and trying different variations in CPC.

In the direct bookings war, you need to get all the weapons you can in your arsenal. Small hotels do not enjoy the same budgets as big chains and OTAs, but if you spend smartly online you can achieve more direct revenue. Since commissions are usually lesser than what you have to pay OTAs, it is more cost efficient as well at present. Make hay while the sun shines!

Share this blog with someone you think needs it. And if you haven’t caught up with the latest episode of the #AskAviArya show, click here – http://bit.ly/2qElPa6

5 Ways to Get Hired as a Social Media Professional in the Hotel Industry in 2018

Today I’m going to talk about how to get hired as a social media marketer in the hospitality industry. The whole world is exploding on social media – every hotel wants a professional to handle their SM platforms. Millions now want to join the digital bandwagon. A lot of young people ask me – can I shift my career and become a social media manager in a hotel? Of course you can! If you have the flair and keenness, there’s nothing that can stop you. I’ll tell you the most important things for getting hired as a SM manager. Read on!

Today I’m going to talk about how to get hired as a social media marketer in the hospitality industry. The whole world is exploding on social media – every hotel wants a professional to handle their SM platforms. Millions now want to join the digital bandwagon. A lot of young people ask me – can I shift my career and become a social media manager in a hotel? Of course you can! If you have the flair and keenness, there’s nothing that can stop you. I’ll tell you the most important things for getting hired as a SM manager. Read on!

  1. Jack of all trades, master of one niche

The umbrella of SM covers everything from UI/UX design, email marketing, podcasts to Search Engine Optimisation. What is it that you want to manage? As an SM manager, you’ll obviously need to have some knowledge of as many domains as possible. But I strongly advise to you try and become the best in your sub-niche. Being an expert, the number of people in your pool will be less. For example, you’ll not find a lot of PPC ninjas in the industry. Become a champion in one specialty – you’ll get hired in a snap!

  • Learn, learn and learn.

There is no shortcut to learning! There is so much information being dropped on the internet – every, single, day. You need to keep being on this information treadmill. I’ve thrived in this industry for so many years by learning something new every day. The nature of SM is fickle, with trends, features and users changing constantly. Yesterday it was Snapchat, today it’s all about Insta Stories. It’ll be your job to ensure that your hotel is making the right noise on the right platform. You stop running, and you’ll miss the bus.

What’s great is that there are so many people online that you can follow and learn from. My personal favourites are Gary Vaynerchuck and Michael Stelzner among others.

  • Out with old, irrelevant CVs

I feel like throwing most of the CVs I receive in to the garbage. I would suggest this – before going to apply, study the hotel, the type of guests it attracts. Why not create an attractive post or hashtags related to the hotel, and even tag the GM or HR! Bland, irrelevant CVs won’t do any more. If you want to become a rockstar Social Media Manager, write about, or show what you can do for the hotel’s SM profile.

  • Share your knowledge on SM platforms

Before even working in the hospitality industry, work on your marketing skills on online platforms at a personal level. For example, if you love watching football, create a blog post on your favourite player, or a review of Manchester United vs. Liverpool. Network with other fans and bloggers to see if they can feature your post on their site. Your personal brand is going to help you get sold! Invest in your personal brand.

  • Get a grip on behavioural psychology

Now you don’t need to have a degree in psychology for this. But there should be some keenness to understand guest behaviours and the ‘why’ behind any action. As I said earlier, there’s a wide range of domains under SM – reputation management, newsletter marketing, graphic designing, etc. Now if you don’t know what appeals to the potential guests, how will you design an awesome creative? How will you write a brilliant newsletter that will help the hotel get clicks? It is a must have skill for any social media marketer.

10 years back, a social media manager wasn’t even a proper profession. But today, every hotel is involved with SM in one way or the other. If you want to learn more about the powerful digital world, do checkout the #AskAviArya show – https://www.youtube.com/user/askavijitarya

2018 Digital Marketing Trends for Hospitality Industry

A warm hello to everyone! It’s that time of the year again – when you look back at the successes of the year that’s about to end, and plan for the upcoming one. 2017 has been a very exciting year for me, with the release of my first book with my two daughters, aged 7 and 11 as co-authors. As I look forward to welcoming 2018, I want to continue helping hotels embrace hospitality digital marketing trends.

Most aspects of human society now incorporate digital in some way or another, so hotels that haven’t yet made the digital transformation already risk falling behind. I’ve a habit of iterating that if you invest time and money in digital marketing, then you’ve the opportunity sitting in your room to connect with audiences all over the world. If you’re not ready to invest, it’s time to pack up.

Here are the digital marketing trends for 2018 which will transform your hotel –

  • Big data gets huge

Big data gets huge Companies that change the world and the face of business are tapping into Big Data, but one industry has been reluctant to grab hold of the craze – and that’s the hospitality industry. It’s more valuable than you imagine, and can even revolutionize the industry. It’s the most important digital marketing trend for hospitality industry.

A guest checks in to your hotel and posts a review on Facebook.  This is valuable feedback, but mining for each and every review is impossible. But Big Data will help you see the Big Picture, and have an honest look into the kind of experience you offer your guests. What did you do right? What did you do wrong? Now you don’t need to be afraid of a mistake getting viral on social media before you nip it in the bud!

That’s not all. The future has spoiled us – we want instant service, that too perfectly tailored and before we even know we want it. Big data lets you gather information on our tastes, habits, and shopping trends to paint a more accurate picture of what we’re looking for. Imagine walking into a hotel room where your favourite TV shows, air temperature and other preferences are already in place. Smartphones are past; Big Data will help you welcome smart rooms!

• The real power of virtual reality

The real power of virtual reality I’ve written about this before, but I can’t tell you enough how awesome Virtual Reality is. Don’t believe this? Consider this –

Sight and smell can dramatically alter a dining experience. This study even showed that visual displays even affected the taste of whisky – https://goo.gl/o2vxu1

It may not be very long before guests are transported via a VR headset to an all-encompassing environment with all the associated smells and aromas.

For hotels, the limits are endless. You can display your hotel’s features like never before. Silver Chef, a specialist hospitality equipment funder, introduced a VR setup enables customers to walk into a real life restaurant or café and view a selection of equipment tailored to their start-up.

Use events on your property to immerse users in an entertainment experience that adds excitement, by watching 360 degree immersive video.

The digital marketing trends for hospitality industry are incomplete without VR. Make it a reality today!

• You’ll miss out if you don’t do this in 2018

You’ll miss out if you don’t do this in 2018 Say goodbye to big budget, showy video productions. These will be replaced by immersive storytelling style videos. Here’s an example – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0VIjaYcbrY

I’m thrilled to see that the trend has already started. Create soft, clean promotional videos which revolve around your property. Video marketing has been around for a while, but the dynamics are constantly changing. Here are some statistics to shape hotel digital marketing for 2018 –

  • Facebook generates 8 billion video views on average per day
  • YouTube reports that mobile video consumption increases by 100% year-on-year
  • Snapchat users watch 10 billion videos per day
  • Including a video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%

I’ve a few ideas for you to create engaging, social video.

  • Show customer stories and testimonials
  • Broadcast live video of events.
  • Share user generated videos
  • Create short “Thank you” videos from your team to new guests or guests that you upsell.

• Rise of Google Rich Answers

I’ve always said that the aim of your website’s blog post is to rank No.1. But with Google Rich Answers, you can rank even higher than number one. Rich answers are those snippets at the top of the Google search page, which provide direct answers to queries.

But they are constantly evolving from answering quick queries and definitions to descriptive solutions. Hotel digital marketing for 2018 will revolve around ranking higher on Google, and the rise of Rich Answers will help you achieve that. Try to find questions that travellers are asking, like “How to plan a trip to Goa” or “What places to see in Santorini”.

I recommend forming the question, query, or key phrase in the blog title, then answering within the first couple of paragraphs before sprinkling keyword or search question variations throughout the content.

The results will be absolutely amazing.

• Google Questions and Answers for local businesses

A few days back I was using Google Maps, and noticed a new feature – it allows users to ask questions to a business directly from the search results page. This gives hoteliers the opportunity to interact with their guests, like Facebook’s direct messages feature. All you need to do is ensure you have a Google My Business location setup and verified. Then download the Google Maps for Android app and link it to the Google account used to manage your business listing. Your hotel can then set up the app to receive notifications when a user asks a question. After that you just need to make sure you reply on time!

While the feature is still in a test phase, I’m certain it’ll gain prominence come 2018. Prepare in time and stay ahead of the race.

These are the top 5 digital marketing trends for 2018 which will influence the industry in a huge way. Follow the #AskAviArya show, and stay ahead of the curve always! Subscribe here – https://goo.gl/g5wTEZ

New Year Resolution 2018 – 5 must-haves for your hotel website

Hi,
Another year has come and gone, and we at Internet Moguls are blessed to have made another year successful for our clients. A lot of people ask me the reason behind this success. But the path to success is simple – you hustle every morning and put in the extra effort. Along with this, you’ve to stay ahead of the times. It’s the era of social media guys! Following the same beaten down tricks is just so…2017!
So here’s my 2018’s New Year resolution for you – I want you to focus on your hotel website for the next year. In this blog, I’ll tell you the necessary ingredients that will help you get more bookings, and you’ve to make it a point to incorporate that.
Here we go!

1. Your hotel website is lifeless without a BLOG

It’s no secret that search engines place a premium on dynamic and fresh content. They find websites which continuously add new and relevant content on the website. And it’s so easy to do that with a hotel website! There’s so much to talk about – your F&B, your pool, your locality, the events near your hotel and what not.

It’s as easy as writing an email. Honestly. In short, just try to become an online concierge for your hotel. It will also give you original content to share on social media websites. I look forward to seeing some interesting blogs on your website soon!

2. Track your best sources – integrate Google Analytics

I’m sure you’re curious where your bookings exactly come from. It could be Facebook, metasearch or any other website for that matter. And it is really important to track your sources, because that is how you’ll know where to focus on and how to distribute the inventory effectively. In my experience, Google Analytics integration is the best method. Integrate it with your hotel website and booking engine, and monitor visitor rates effortlessly. You can also compare them with the system generated visitor stats.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Use it to analyse the booking behaviour, the visitors, their interests, demographics, etc. This will help you create a more effective strategy which revolves around your best selling points.

3. AMP up your site with Accelerated Mobile Pages

AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages will be crucial in 2018 to drive mobile visitors. It is an open source initiative that provides mobile optimized content, which can load easily on all devices. Slow loading websites are really frustrating. In fact, you’ll lose more than half your bookings if your pages take more than 3 seconds to load!

Although AMP is still pretty new and is being tried and tested by developers, it is already being used by leading news publishers like BBC, CBS, CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal among others.  I highly recommend you to at least start getting acquainted with it. If you have an active blog page, experiment with that first.

4. Want instant revenue hike? Recapture abandoned bookings

Hoteliers spend millions of dollars every year to attract visitors to their website, yet more than 80% of them leave without completing their bookings. Studies show that about 30% of website visitors start the booking process, but only 2% are converted. With this abysmally low conversion rate, you shouldn’t let go of interested visitors. But don’t abandon hope, I’ll tell you how to target these potential guests.

  • Once the visitor searches for dates and selects the room type, request the email ID as the first field in booking process.
  • If the visitor abandons the booking, send out personalised mails thanking them and giving them a gentle reminder to book. Make sure there’s a link that redirects them to where they left off. You can also offer them a time-limited promotion to entice them.

5. Social media tags for rich sharing experience

Lastly, I want you to incorporate this simple but often ignored step. Social media tags are lines of code in a website’s <head> section which tell the SM platforms how to display the page when shared on such platforms. It will make sure that when anyone shares your hotel webpage on their profile, the site URL is included with a customised line of text or description, along with an image.

With social media playing such an important role in a traveller’s booking journey, you want to put your best virtual face forward!

Follow these 5 simple tactics, and your website’s health will improve in the coming year. If you liked reading this blog, I’ve another NY resolution for you – follow the #AskAviArya show!

Click here to subscribe – https://www.youtube.com/aviarya?sub_confirmation=1

Forming a Digital Marketing Strategy for Opening a New Hotel: Tips and Tricks

Opening a new hotel requires a full headspace, apart from the actual physical space for your property.  It’s not the actual physical property and the material things that go inside it, that form the crux of your brand image and selling point. The online presence of your hotel, that usually gets ignored in the bustling process of building a hotel from ground up, ensures your future prosperity, as a hotelier.

It is absolutely out of the question for you to ignore your digital marketing plan and strategy as a budding hotelier, that is if you want your venture to flourish. In today’s day, having an existing strategy will get you group business and revenue, not only for the first few opening months, but it will also help you avoid setting the hotel up for over-reliance on online travel agencies such as TripAdvisor, in the long term. Getting more direct business from the very beginning ensures that the property will build a transient audience base, while also engaging and successfully retaining past guests.

Due to an abundance of new hotels cropping up daily, there is an increase in supply of available hotel rooms, especially in metropolitan cities. There is increased competition for every hotel, on a ratio basis; hence, having a social media strategy/marketing strategy is of the utmost importance.  The allure of a new and shiny hotel is just not enough, in the current market situation.

Here are a few questions you should be asking yourself, way before the actual construction starts.

  • What must be included in the pre-opening digital strategy?
  • What is my brand idea?
  • What are my goals for market positioning and profit extraction, without relying on third parties?

Here are the answers to your questions…

Brand yourself!

Before you start to build your online presence, you must solidify what your vision for your brand is. More often than not, upon addition of new investors, the vision for your hotel might change. Each new individual brings some suggestions to the table and slowly, starting from point A, your idea jumps to point D. It is a good idea to have one, unidirectional plan, so as to avoid confusion of ideas and clutter.

Knowing your target audience is one place you could start from. Your marketing strategy will change as the progress on the hotel evolves. Different stages will require different ways of tackling marketing needs. A marketing agency will build your marketing plan, as close to your brand identity as possible. Hence, it is advisable to have clarity on the same.

SEM (search engine marketing) ad copy and GDN (Google display network) banners are your best bet, for marketing your hotel in the initial stages.

Goals and Bars for creating digital awareness.

  1. Focus on KPIs (Key Performance Index) like impressions, website visitors, domain building, and generating a social following, over social media platforms and email.
  2. Closely monitor website traffic, with metrics like the bounce rate, rate of initiated bookings, time spent by a prospective client on site, and the ultimate conversion rate.

This strategy might not give return to investments in the initial time period, but creating a buzz for your brand will ultimately generate revenue in the long run. It all boils down to educating the target audience about the future hotel’s existence.

What are your brand’s unique selling points?

There is a dire need to identify that distinguishing factor, which separates an up and coming hotel from pre-existing hotels in the market. This aspect is important for building an effective website, which generates revenue. Start by making a list of ten or so unique selling points that will resonate with your customer base and their liking.

You must think beyond the obvious promotion of “luxurious amenities” or “based in a locality with tourist attractions”. If all the rooms on the property feature a balcony and outdoor seating; mentioning this on your website is a more viable option.

These features will form the crux of all your future marketing undertakings, merchandising on the website and a means for you to craft special offers and discounts.

Have a landing page for your venture, ready as soon as you decide what your brand stands for.

To create a buzz for your hotel, have a landing page ready on your website. A pre-opening website will enable you to excite future guests, provide information on the brand’s mission and career opportunities, as well as recent news on the development/progress on the hotel. Hoteliers must ensure that they have a digital presence for their hotel the moment the domain URL is obtained and brand guidelines have been decided upon.

Your landing page must also be backed up by a content management system (CMS), which will serve by quickly and easily updating information on your website. Adjust the website’s content as and when required, generally for informing your guests about the available amenities, names of various rooms/suites, and more.

From a technical point of view, the pre-opening website begins to gain ranking on the search engine results pages, which will build the foundation for the main website for your hotel.

Generating Awareness

The goal is to generate awareness for the hotel, and reach the right consumer circle. Now is the time to put all of your information, out there; like details about the destination etc.

  • Search Engine Marketing: In the case of a hotel that has no current brand awareness, will enable information to reach a wider spectrum of users, at the top of the purchase pyramid. This will create interest for people to initiate a stay in the future and circulate the name and brand of the new hotel.
  • Google Display Network: Use HTML5 banners over other ad types to spread your reach. Go for in-market audience targeting. These banners are better accepted by ad servers, readability is better, and cannot be blocked by ad-blockers. You must use these banners to highlight a unique selling point that would have mass appeal.
  • Gmail Ads: Email advertising has its benefits in the fact that your reach expands too non-interest target groups. It also enables you to target users with emails from competitors.

These steps must be taken six to eight months prior to the actual opening of the hotel.

Give special offers, discounts and packages.

Introduce a Grand Opening Special Offer/Package and promote it via the pre-opening website, SEM, Social Media, etc. Always aim for 3- 5 offers live at a moment because too many and too few offers, both, cause users to lose interest.

Special membership rates (e.g. student, govt. & military, senior citizens etc.) are good to have.

Having the option for advanced purchase packages and discounts can also prove helpful.

Use the awareness you just generated for your brand.

While continuing all of your initial marketing strategies, an hotelier should merge the changing demands of his venture as and when required. There will be a shift in targeting and messaging according to the offers or packages your company is providing.

  • Smart Data Marketing: First party data from airlines and travel partners is used to reach users who intend to travel to the destination of your establishment. Promote direct booking and flaunt your selling points through these third parties.
  • TripAdvisor: Put yourself on this platform and run ads based on location, property images etc. Utilize the advertisement opportunities OTAs provide.
  • Native Ads: These ads are to blend into the website, alongside editorial content that gives information about when the hotel is opening, its accommodation and locality.

As evolution is a process, with the development taking heed, digital marketing will be a time of learning and optimizations. Slowly you will begin to understand the type of user who is on the receiving end of your advertisements.

It is required of you to have openness, to run new things and recognize redundancy. Mold your approach when changes arrive.

The grand opening.

Your digital marketing strategy has done its required bit. Now, you must add that extra oomph, to take your venture and your expectations, up a notch.

Create a multi-channel grand opening campaign, having the support of an offer that is hard to resist. This should hold true for you prime audience, be it local or foreign. Throw a party, pick a theme, and show your culture and luxury, together.

Opening a hotel is no easy task, but one must do it right, if on the path to opening one. Hoteliers need to have a well thought out digital marketing strategy, along with strong incentive to promote their venture properly. Without proper planning or the launch of the right campaigns, a new hotel will open with minimal occupancy and reach, ultimately, ending up dependent upon online travel agencies for bookings.

If you want to learn and grow your hotel business with the help of social media, join this thriving community for interesting discussions: 
https://www.facebook.com/internetnetarchive/ h

How to Effectively Respond To Negative Reviews?

If there’s anything that a guest never wants to hear from a hotel is that he’s wrong. Negative reviews can be genuine or judgemental, situational or temperamental, but how you respond to them is what determines customer retention and brand reputation. So before you lock horns or hammer away some harsh words, here’s what you must read first.

No matter what the situation or complaint, a quick response from your end goes from nice to necessary. Another thing you can never discount on is responding in a professional manner. Keep it brief and directly addressed to the complaint, while maintaining a positive tone. But is that all enough? It’s important but not really enough! Cap off your response with the most suited reaction for each situation. This will help you turn a negative review into retention gold and sound out all the negative impact. You just need to pull it off right.

Negative reviews can be pretty daunting, because an unhappy customer has all the right and might to use the tone and stance that he wants. Here are a few examples and suggestions for some of the most common negative reviews.

Genuine Grievance – Mistakes do happen, and when you know your staff or management goofed up big time, own up your mistake. That will take you a long way.  Don’t just be apologetic, go an extra mile to resolve the issue. If the guest hasn’t checked out yet, capitalize on the opportunity and do everything to please and appease them before they leave. In case they have checked out, offer compensation, give away discount voucher or give out whatever it takes, but earn back a smile from them.

Personal attack– Sometimes grieving customers turn furious and get as low as making personal attacks and calling names. Count to three, stay calm and type down an apologetic response. Remember professionalism comes with maturity and at times calls for absorbing a lot more than reflecting. So go ahead and pull it off like a pro.

Professional assault– A customer is always right, but when he tries to publicly malign your brand reputation, you slightly need to defend your brand. Explain the situation, talk about your brand values and wrap up with a promise to look into the matter.

Much ado about nothing– Sometimes people want to create fuss over nothing at all. These are basically the pamper seekers. Give away what they ask for and they’ll be pleased. You might not even need to offer compensation in these cases, just a humble dose of humility is more than it takes to calm them down. Stay humble, apologetic and grateful.

Lost Cause– No matter whose fault is was, if you see it as a lost cause and nothing can be done to make things better, keep your tone friendly yet professional. Address the guest by their name to make them feel important, thank them for taking time out to write a feedback and express a blend of sympathy and apology.

Responding based on specific complaints

Mistake

Big or small, mistakes have no room in hospitality. From front desk to kitchen, most mistakes are irreversible. Sincerely apologize and assure them extra care and attention on their next visit.

Unclean rooms

Express regret that you couldn’t come up to their expectation level and assure them that you have already spoken to the housekeeping department about it to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Food

Apologize and assure that the food may not have tasted best, but it was fresh and healthy. In case the complaint is about stale food, you’ve already committed a blunder. Swallow the pride and apologize deeply.

Maintenance complaint

Greeting and apologizing remain the opening points in the response format but also do assure them that most maintenance tasks are carried out for customers’ safety and convenience. The elevators weren’t functional because they needed a repair job, or the bathroom facility in question is already being upgraded – just a couple of examples.

Customers may not always be right, but then again, they are never wrong. They demand and deserve to be treated with extra care and respect. The day you lose the respect for your customers is the day you start losing them. That’s hospitality industry round-up.

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Want to monetize your services? Facebook Ads to the rescue!

Being in the industry I am and the work that we do at Internet Moguls, I have the privilege of meeting with and picking the brain of game changers like Gary Vaynerchuck and Patt Flynn and getting access to the latest updates and trends from the digital world. One of my favourite topics that I love discussing is Facebook marketing. It’s absolutely brilliant what Facebook can do for you today. In the last 2-3 months, it has been rolling out updates like a machine gun. In this blog, I’m going to show some simple ways to monetize your hotel services.

As an hotelier, there are many opportunities you can take advantage of – you want to sell your hotel rooms, you want to sell your spa, you want to get bookings for your banquet service, and other facilities like Food & Beverage.

Sell your rooms with Facebook specific offers 

We know that booking engine conversion rates hover around 0.5%. So the leads that you’re generating already will have very low chances of getting converted and monetised. Don’t send your Facebook traffic over there! Here’s what you can do instead.

Advertise a time sensitive package on your Facebook page, with a special landing page that has a reservation option for these warm leads. If you have decent reservation team, 10-15% of these leads can be converted!

Click to chat option

Sometimes a potential guest may be busy, or may not be in the commitment mode just yet. At that time, you cannot initiate booking or reservation conversation right away. What you can do is, add a chat or message option in your Facebook post.  You can either have bots or actual humans answering questions on chat.

Leverage Food & Beverage

F&B services are great source of revenue for your hotel. There might be a lot of corporate offices in your vicinity .You can have time sensitive offers for local audiences – you can advertise messages for lunch hours like offering a free beverage with meals on showing a particular coupon. This will help you generate revenue like never before.

While this was for local audiences, you should also create and target ads for Lookalike Audiences on Facebook. You can upload a database or excel of previous guests on Facebook using data from your CRS. Facebook will create similar audiences who are as likely to be interested in your services as your best guests.

These people will get to know special lunch offers that you may have coming up or a theme night in your restaurant. You are likely to get much more traction from these guests.

Sell affiliate services like never before  

I always say – yes, you can definitely generate revenue from your gym, spa, etc. using Facebook. Suppose you want to sell more gym memberships to the people living in your vicinity. Create an event on Facebook, and promote offers like “Give the gift of health to your sister this Rakhi!” The best way is to hold Meet & Greet sort of events and invite people for a demo session, or a free BMI evaluation, etc. You can promote this on the basis of location, or even on the basis of companies. So why not create special offers for employees of companies near your office and sell you services to them. This will generate a lot of footfall which you can convert to revenue.

As you can see, Facebook can be a highly profitable marketing tool for hotels. By following these simple tweaks to Facebook advertising over a long term, you will see a dramatic increase in your ROI – and a boost to your bottom line!

Share this blog with someone who’s been having trouble monetizing his business on social media. Don’t forget to check out the latest episode of the #AskAviArya show!

Smart rooms in the age of smartphones – Hospitality of Things

I was amazed a few days back when I saw Hilton’s newly opened Innovation Gallery – an incubator and foreshadower of future hospitality and guest experience technologies. It houses a variety of technologies and features, like the noise masking Nightingale and Meural; a customizable digital art display. A lot of products on display have been developed with partnerships between the hotel and tech like IBM, Amazon and Tesla. Doesn’t this fact alone go on to show how much the face of hospitality has changed? I’ve been harping about the use of internet and smart rooms in improving guest experience since long. It looks like that future is here now! Not only big chains, but independent hotels will also adopt these technologies in the coming years.

Let me show you how the Internet of Things (IoT) will herald a new future for hotels.

  • Predictive maintenance

The days of preventive maintenance are gone! Predictive maintenance goes one step further by using sensor data to anticipate damaging trends and notify the relevant response personnel, before the matter escalates. Let me give you a real life example. Suppose a room air conditioning system isn’t working rightly. A predictive maintenance system will notify the team while the guest is away, and before the problem is recognized.

  • On cloud 9

One of my friends travelled to Seychelles recently. On returning back, he couldn’t stop gushing about the extremely comfortable stay. I encouraged him to post some pictures on Instagram as well. Once the hotel property saw the overwhelming engagement, they reposted it as User Generated Content. I got in touch with them, and they told me that the traffic generated from this marketing technique, helped them to create a cloud based database which could be accessible to them anytime they wanted. Using Customer Data Management (CDM), they were able to combine as well as process all customer data. By simply resorting to this technology, they could address the clients’ needs and get their feedback quickly. And it did help them in acquiring new customers.

I myself have started using cloud for storing personal information and feel the hospitality industry will benefit greatly by utilizing their public cloud space. There is also the option of using Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) which can further be used for creating one’s own virtual Private Network Connection. This should have an immense benefit to chains, by simply making all their properties and facilities available to all, thus leading to an increased footfall.

  • Super personalization

There’s an increasing amount of personal information being shared over online platforms, even as I write this blog. This allows for content personalization, which is already being used in the online advertising industry. Facebook and Google offer highly targeted ads to a particular interest group based on their search history.  This same data can be used to highly personalize the guest experience.

For example, Samsung’s Hospitality business partnered with Telkonet’s Ecosmart platform to create a smart room that showcased a welcome with light, temperature and shades controls, along with a welcome message with the guest’s name on the in-room TV. The scene looks like it’s out of a movie!

I’ll also make it a point to talk about the Smart Rooms platform, which allows resources to be managed from diverse services and across networks. This definitely gives a structured functionality to the hospitality industry. Their REST service, I will point out particularly is very helpful in managing client queries, registration of visitors and aiding in their operations. This is one of the most innovative ways of handling visitors and reaching out to the prospective ones. This is a resource useful for those interested in availing the services of the hospitality industry. Smart Rooms offers a P type service that can do audio visual processing, which can bring a visually enriching experience to its customers.

Want some more digital gyaan? I’ve been putting some really helpful content on my YouTube channel. Do checkout my #AskAviArya show here – https://www.youtube.com/aviarya?sub_confirmation=1

Checking into September – Facebook Advertising and More

There was plenty of activity this August which kept hospitality aficionados like us on toes. As the summer travel season draws to a close in the northern hemisphere, I’ll take you through the major industry news and research of the last month. Read on and stay updated!

Can Google search results predict room occupancy?

Google and STR recently joined hands to show how searches for accommodation in New York and London are related to occupancy rates in those markets. Not surprisingly, higher Google search volumes were correlated with higher demand levels.

How can hotels increase occupancy rates?

I think it’s a goldmine of information for hotels.

As I have said since long, seasonality plays a big role in travel and having access to the latest data is crucial to ensure occupancy levels are as high as they can be. You can make use of Google’s research into ‘micro-moments’ to understand what travellers want and when. If your bookings are down, is it because your approach isn’t effective, or is it an industry wide trend? You’ll find the answers to such questions in data. By analysing it, you can learn how to measure hotel demand.

Eye on the Future – Voice Powered Rooms

One type of hotel technology that I’ve been keeping an eye is voice-powered rooms. 2017 has been all about testing voice activated rooms, with devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo. Hotels like Marriott aren’t the only ones to test this feature. In 2018, the technology will further evolve and do a lot more to make the guests’ stay more comfortable. Not only can you keep a wake-up call or control the music, but can order room service or report something that’s not working. Even your staff can use it.

Advertising your hotel on Facebook

In the last 2 to 3 months, Facebook has really added to its hoard of personalized targeting features. But it’s disappointing for me to see that a lot of advertising on Facebook is still not targeted well. A recent study by AdEspresso on travel advertising confirms this. According to it, 57% of the ads were categorised as general branding exercises, while 37% were destination or route specific.

The lack of personalization and tailoring the ad according to it is what bugs me the most. It will be a lot easier for you to capture the interest of the potential guests because the audience on Facebook actively engage and interact with the content on the platform. Also, most of the Facebook advertising simply redirected to the home page of the website. You’ve to understand that your guest needs nurturing; they take a considerable time to book and need a lot of convincing. A longer sales funnel and lead generation campaigns will help you here.

These are some of the trends that are shaping and will continue to shape the hospitality industry. Check out the #AskAviArya show for more – https://goo.gl/bM22gT