Travel 2.0: Power Tools to Build Your Business

By Kristi White Director of Revenue Optimization, TravelCLICK, Inc. | September 02, 2010

In Travel 2.0, additional sites such as TripAdvisor, Google Maps, Virtual Tourist, and TravelPost empower consumers with interactive tools to research hotels and plan their trips, comment on their recent stays, and interact with other like-minded consumers. Savvy hospitality operators are embracing all aspects of Travel 2.0-and beyond-because of its ability to drive business, build community, and empower guests.

The power of Travel 2.0 to grow your business is enormous, especially in today's digital economy. A recent survey by Forrester Research found that, when faced with a recession, more than 40 percent of marketers would increase spending on strategies that help make personal connections with customers. Travel 2.0 does exactly that.

What are the best ways to leverage it? Here are five strategies:

1. See yourself as others see you.

Over 70 percent of shoppers today are influenced by consumer comments and ratings when purchasing; hoteliers can use the power of user-generated content (UGC) to their advantage. Provide a forum for guests to post comments or "trip sharing" ideas directly to your website. Turn the chatter into marketing intelligence. Find out what guests are saying about your hotel on travel sites, chat rooms, and blogs-and how you can respond effectively to their comments, positive and negative. Many options are available to post guest reviews. Some consumer review sites offer a 'widget' that enables you to pull content on your hotel and link it back to the third-party site. Keep in mind that these tools will link to all comments, which could be problematic if your hotel receives any negative reviews. A better option is to use a tool that lets you receive guest reviews from multiple sites and gives you the power to serve as a publisher, selecting the reviews you want to post. Again, positive reviews on your site will build consumers' confidence as they weigh the option to book with you. At the same time, including some select not-so-glowing reviews is recommended to build your site's credibility.

In addition to providing insight about your own properties, have you thought of the competitive information you can gain from consumer reviews? Read your competitors' reviews from the vantage point of how to use their shortcomings to your advantage. An ongoing S.W.O.T. analysis will provide insight for your marketing plan, service culture, and capital planning, enabling you to compete more aggressively. Tools are now available to track public comments across multiple sites and make the analysis a part of your normal business process.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.