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Creating Your Social Media & Reputation Management Action Plan for 2014 [Revinate eBook]

Creating Your Social Media & Reputation Management Action Plan for 2014 [Revinate eBook]



At the end of 2012, the hospitality industry saw the first empirical proof of a correlation between online reviews and revenue. A groundbreaking Cornell University Study, The Impact of Social Media on ...

At the end of 2012, the hospitality industry saw the first empirical proof of a correlation between online reviews and revenue. A groundbreaking Cornell University Study, The Impact of Social Media on Lodging Performance, gave many hoteliers the evidence they needed to dedicate time and resources to managing online reviews and social media. That consumer feedback is helping properties and brands increase revenue, market share, guest satisfaction and loyalty.

But if your hotel or restaurant hasn’t yet created its social media and reputation management action plan -- and the standard operating procedures to support it -- make sure you spend 2014 understanding how to put the right programs in place and how to measure the impact of social media and online reviews on your property’s performance, bookings and guest satisfaction. Learn what metrics matter most to different departments and how to establish operational guidelines that guarantee success.

In this guide we will help you create your social media and reputation management action plan and standard operating procedures that will ensure it is executed properly. We will share our frameworks for social media action and ensure you know all the rewards and pitfalls, based on our experience working with 23,000 hotels and restaurants across the world.



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    Creating Your Social Media & Reputation Management Action Plan for 2014 [Revinate eBook] Creating Your Social Media & Reputation Management Action Plan for 2014 [Revinate eBook] Document Transcript

    • Creating a Social Media & Reputation Management Action Plan
    • TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction 3 a. Social Media: The New Measure of Guest Satisfaction b. Who should read this? Four Categories to Social Media & Reputation Management Action 5 a. Public Guest Satisfaction Analysis & Operationalizing Feedback b. Competitive Intelligence from Public Guest Satisfaction c. Social Media Engagement d. Portfolio Management Building Your Own Plan 7 Creating Your Own Standard Operating Procedures 14 Strategic Plan Checklist 16 Additional Resources For Building Your Plan 23 The ROI of Social 57 DIY or Agency? 59 Implementation Considerations 60 2
    • INTRODUCTION At the end of 2012, the hospitality industry saw the first empirical proof of a correlation between online reviews and revenue. A groundbreaking Cornell University Study, The Impact of Social Media on Lodging Performance, gave many hoteliers the evidence they needed to dedicate time and resources to managing online reviews and social media. That consumer feedback is helping properties and brands increase revenue, market share, guest satisfaction and loyalty. But if your hotel or restaurant hasn’t yet created its social media and reputation management action plan -- and the standard operating procedures to support it -- make sure you go into 2014 understanding how to put the right programs in place and how to measure the impact of social media and online reviews on your property’s performance, bookings and guest satisfaction. Learn what metrics matter most to different departments and how to establish operational guidelines that guarantee success. In this guide we will help you create your social media and reputation management action plan and standard operating procedures that will ensure it is executed properly. We will share our frameworks for social media action and ensure you know all the rewards and pitfalls, based on our experience working with 23,000 hotels and restaurants across the world. Social Media: The New Measure of Guest Satisfaction A monumental shift in the hospitality industry has occurred over the last few years. Whether you’re listening or not, consumers are using reviews and social media to publicly discuss your hotel. This word-of-mouth marketing is happening right now and it is having an impact on your bookings. In fact, according to TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer Report published in 2013, 93% of travelers worldwide say that online reviews impact their booking decisions and identify online reviews as a top three booking factor along with price and location. Hoteliers are no longer ignoring this new reality, as 96% of hoteliers worldwide agree that online reviews are important. Hoteliers understand that the game has changed, and they need to get with the new program. Traditional measures of guest satisfaction, such as comment cards and post-stay surveys, are still valuable. In fact, Revinate offers both an on-site surveys solution and a post-stay surveys solution as part as our 360 degree guest feedback offering. But remember that private guest feedback does nothing to drive bookings so you must use traditional methods as part of a holistic program that aims to drive people to share public feedback. Before Revinate, it was tough to harness all your guest feedback in one place to allow you to turn reviews and social media into actionable business intelligence. Today, the hard part isn’t collecting and analyzing the data. The hard part is making sure everyone across your organization is aligned as to its importance and working together to create a culture of seeking and listening to guest feedback. 3
    • Who Should Read This? If you care about improving your hotel business, this guide will prove invaluable, whether you are a General Manager, Director of Sales & Marketing, Director of Revenue, Operations Manager, Social Media Manager, part of a Public Relations team or executive in charge of guest service, satisfaction and loyalty. We also provide specific information for everyone involved with portfolios of properties, including all executives at brands, management companies and ownership groups. The Virtuous Cycle Before creating your plan, it’s helpful to consider how social media and online reviews will integrate into your operations. Your guests will share their opinions during various phases of their stay – whether they surfaces on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter or online review sites and OTAs. A well-executed social media strategy and reputation management plan will seriously transform your business. To fully harness the power of social media you’ll need to monitor feedback and also make continuous improvements to your service, operations and facilities based on what you learn from your guests. In many ways this concept is nothing new. Successful hoteliers have always made improvements based on guest feedback. But today, if any part of your offering is sub-par, guests have the power and motivation to quickly spread the news far and wide using social media and online review sites. So it’s more important than ever to not only monitor social media, but to respond quickly to let your guests know that you are listening, and share the feedback internally to drive improvements to your hotel. With continuous dedication, this new guest-controlled feedback loop will build upon itself into a virtuous cycle, resulting in increased bookings, guest satisfaction and market share. Here’s how: 4
    • FOUR CATEGORIES OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND REPUTATION MANAGEMENT ACTION Through our work with tens of thousands of hoteliers and restaurateurs who have achieved great success with online reputation management, we’ve developed the following framework that should prove helpful as you create your own strategic plan and standard operating procedures for the year ahead. We organize social media actions into four main categories. 1: Public Guest Satisfaction Analysis and Operationalizing Feedback What: Monitor everything being said about your property across review sites, blogs, forums and social networks. Analyze public guest satisfaction to improve your property’s customer service and operations. Share feedback analysis with your entire staff and engage department leaders to make necessary changes. Respond to reviews. Why: Gain invaluable new insight. Protect your reputation. Learn what guests truly love about your hotel or restaurant and what they would rather do without so you can improve your operations and drive revenue. Result: Improved operational performance. Increased satisfaction and loyalty. Incremental bookings. Prioritized facility improvements. 2: Competitive Intelligence from Public Guest Satisfaction What: “Spy” on your competitors’ guest feedback. Leverage sentiment analysis to finitely identify your competitors’ operational strengths and weaknesses based on voice of the customer feedback. Why: Harness this social media feedback to discover what guests love and dislike about your competitors’ hotels. Result: Identify competitive advantages and eliminate disadvantages. Discover new marketing channels, tactics and best practices. Optimize your marketing and public relations. 5
    • Revinate users have access to a powerful sentiment analysis solution that measures how positively or negatively guests feel about aspects of their stays. 3: Social Media Engagement What: Develop a strategic plan with tactics that will help your property listen to and interact with your past guests and brand enthusiasts across numerous social channels. Why: Surprise and delight your loyal fans and potential guests. Add any learned social media insight into existing guest profiles in your property management systems. Result: Build fans and new marketing channels. Develop stronger loyalty, and share the unique value and personality of your property with the world. Drive incremental bookings. 4: Portfolio Management (For Brands and Corporate Groups) What: Monitor the performance of each property in your portfolio. Determine best and worst performers across key public guest satisfaction and social media metrics. Set goals around guest satisfaction and offer incentives top performers. Why: Unparalleled insight into guest satisfaction and competitive positioning at the corporate portfolio level. Result: Improved performance across your entire portfolio, and identification and dissemination of best practices across properties.  6
    • BUILDING YOUR OWN PLAN With this framework in mind, it’s time to start thinking about the critical aspects of your own plan and the standard operating procedures that make sense for your hotel. 1: Public Guest Satisfaction Analysis & Operationalizing Feedback Action You Will Take: Benefits: Analyze Guest Satisfaction Feedback • Learn what guests really love and hate about your hotel • Read all your hotel’s reviews from the top online review site communities and OTAs • Identify what’s important to guests • Track key online reputation metrics such as average review rating and volume and recency • Identify highest-priority areas for improvement • Leverage sentiment analysis to measure satisfaction tied to facilities and service levels • Ensure you rank high on TripAdvisor and other OTAs Engage the Entire Team • Accountability and closed-loop reporting • Assign responsibility to colleagues based on feedback in reviews • Ensure small issues don’t become persistent problems • Prioritize investment in capital improvements • Set usage goals to ensure department leaders are reviewing data consistently Respond to Online Reviews • Influence brand perception • Publicly respond to concerns and issues • Increase market rankings and exposure • Amplify and express gratitude for positive feedback • Show the world that you listen • Exploit new marketing channel • Improved staff performance • More closely aligned performance and incentives awards Measure Staff Performance Using Guest Satisfaction • Evaluate staff performance by setting sentiment analysis score goals around topics relevant to key operational functions • Improved staff performance • More closely aligned performance and incentives awards 7
    • GET INSPIRED: To ensure that its hotel portfolio is staying committed to online reputation management, Inn Development Management (IDM) Group, LLC uses a monthly Revinate Usage Report Card to engage each property. The Usage Report Card is prepared by the company’s Corporate Marketing Assistant and disseminated to the primary Revinate user at each hotel property. The Report Card pulls in key metrics and offers recommendations on how staff members can more efficiently utilize the platform. 8
    • 2: Competitive Intelligence from Public Guest Feedback Action You Will Take: Benefits: Monitor Competitor Guest Satisfaction • Unparalleled competitive intelligence • Analyze competitors’ reviews by leveraging sentiment analysis to benchmark your property against the competitive set • Learn what your guests love, and hate, about your competitors’ hotels. Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. • Determine how you stack up against your competitive set when it comes to review sentiment scores, average review rating, frequency and TripAdvisor Popularity Index • Determine competitive advantages and disadvantages • Monitor the social web for mentions of competitors Monitor Competitor Social Media Engagement • Discover best practices • Monitor competitor review responses • Optimize marketing, PR messages, tactics and positioning • Create automated searches for mentions of your competitors online • Identify new marketing channels • Monitor Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Foursquare and Instagram activity The Analysis tab within the Revinate dashboard provides insight into competitors’ guest satisfaction. 9
    • 3: Social Media Engagement Action You Will Take: Benefits: Monitor Social Mentions • Protect your reputation / early warning system for failures in service or facilities • Monitor specific mentions of your hotel(s) on every website and social network • Monitor mentions of your restaurant, club, spa, etc. • Improved SEO and SEM from keyword analysis • Help determining optimal advertising channels • Drive new business by setting up searches Engage on Twitter and Facebook • Build fans and increase loyalty • Respond to guest inquiries • Create new marketing channels • Influence potential guests • Increase service levels • Share info on your property and local area • Entertain followers • Provide new window into your hotel’s unique personality • Distribute special offers • Influence brand positioning Comment on Forums, Articles and Blogs • Increase your hotel’s exposure • Engage in discussions about your property and local area • Drive incremental bookings • Promote your property in relevant stories • Provide helpful information where relevant • “Give back” to influencers and communities of loyal fans Encourage More Guest Reviews • Increase market rankings • Prompt guests at front desk (and across hotel) to write reviews • Increase exposure • Add links to write a review on all emails (signatures, newsletter, etc.) • Reduce potential impact of negative reviews • Increase loyalty • Drive incremental bookings • Send Surveys that are submitted to TripAdvisor for syndication • Promote on web site and social networks Maintain Content on 3rd Party Sites • Increase exposure • Keep your description and photos up to date on all OTAs, review sites, meta-search sites and travel guides • Influence researchers to choose your hotel over the competition 10
    • Action You Will Take: Benefits: Consider engagement opportunities on other social media platforms • More efficient and effective marketing and PR campaigns • Presence on Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Foursquare • Build fans and increase loyalty • Influence brand positioning • Use user-generated content across channels to optimize marketing and PR Did you know? Bain & Company reported that customers who interact with companies using social media spend between 20 to 40% more money at those companies than other customers. These customers didn’t spend more because they were bombarded with sales-oriented posts, but rather were inclined to because they were engaged by the brand. GET INSPIRED: Through active social media monitoring and engagement, Grupo Sunset, a six-property group in Riviera Maya, was able to bring a unique moment of special delight to a guest. While monitoring its Facebook page, they learned that a guest’s daughter was very disappointed to not find the chocolate dipped strawberries that were mentioned in the hotel’s marketing materials. Seeing this comment, the GM immediately requested that the property chef send a special plate of strawberries to the young girl. Jim Wehrle, E Business Director explains, “I don’t know how much this sort of advertising would cost, but the little girl’s mother was so pleased that she bought a time share for our resort the next day.” 11
    • 4: Portfolio Management (For Brands, Management Companies and Groups of all Sizes) Action You Will Take: Benefits: Monitor Reviews for all Properties • Unparalleled guest satisfaction insightAs • Read reviews for the entire portfolio from across all top review sites Rank Properties Based on Online Reputation Metrics • Discover hotels that need attention • Identify the best and worst performers, ranked by all key PGS metrics • Identify and share best practices Track Review and Social Media Goals • Systematically improve the performance of all properties • Set and track goals for each property • Reward best performers
 • Metrics can include review ratings, review response coverage, Twitter fans and more • Reduce costs
 Track brand/group level performance • Analyze the performance of entire portfolios • Incremental bookings & revenue • Analyze social media and PGS metrics aggregated at the corporate portfolio level Compare Sets of Properties • Identify areas of weakness and strength • Compare social media & PGS (public guest satisfaction) metrics across sets of properties • Identify opportunities for expansion and investment • Organized by geography, class or brand Brand-Level Social Media Monitoring • Brand Protection / Early Warning • Monitor every mention of your brand(s) on every web site and social network • Determine Optimal Advertising Channels 12
    • GET INSPIRED: Hotelis Deville, a nine-property group in Brazil, quickly learned the value of using sentiment analysis with Revinate to protect its brand. Corporate Relationship Manager Everton Lucas Raganhan says, “One of our properties was receiving an unusual amount of 3 star reviews. We believed the property was utilizing the same guest satisfaction guidelines as our properties, but with Revinate’s sentiment analysis reporting, we realized there was a dip in service performance. We decided to carry out a refresher training for the property, and since then, the incidence of three-star reviews has stopped.” 13
    • CREATING YOUR STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES FOR 2014 Now we’re ready to apply our framework of social media and reputation management actions to the creation of your own strategic plan. Your plan will evolve over time and excitement will build as you begin to hit your goals. Remember that the only way to improve is to get started. So let’s begin. Your plan shouldn’t be overly complex. The more complicated your plan, the more likely that it won’t be adopted across your organization. So keep it simple. To create your plan, simply follow these steps: Step 1: Determine social media and reputation management actions to undertake from the framework on the previous pages Step 2: Assign responsibilities
 Step 3: Operationalize your plan Step 1: Determine Actions to Undertake The first step is to determine which social media actions you’ll undertake. Our framework of actions should help a great deal in this process. We recommend that you begin by prioritizing your most important high-level goals. This will help you decide which actions will help you achieve those goals. Here are some examples of high-level goals to spur your thinking: • Drive incremental bookings and increase revenue
 • Improve ranking on TripAdvisor • Better communicate the unique advantages of your hotel directly to consumers • Gain market share
 • Determine your competitive advantages and disadvantages
 • Generate more reviews
 • Learn what consumers think about the competition • Measure the performance of staff responsible for guest satisfaction and loyalty
 • Increase guest satisfaction and loyalty • Provide additional feedback channels for guest to increase service levels Improve operations • Identify what’s important to your loyal guests • Influence and engage in online conversations about your hotel Once you’ve prioritized your goals, you’re ready to choose the actions you’ll undertake. Success requires continuous dedication, and of course, results will build over time. 14
    • Step 2: Assign Responsibilities Once you’ve determined which actions you’ll undertake, the next step is to decide who will be responsible for each action. The size of your staff will inform your decisions. For smaller teams, a single person may cover everything; larger teams may have a different person responsible for each action. For example, the person in charge of Guest Satisfaction could monitor reviews and social media, while the Operations Manager could drive internal improvements based on PGS analysis. A member of the Marketing/ PR team could handle social media engagement. Your optimal setup will be unique to your team. Step 3: Operationalize Your Plan The next step is to operationalize your plan. This is a critical requirement to take care of from the start. Your likelihood of success will be significantly higher if you clearly set up the internal processes necessary to implement, manage and measure the progress of your plan. To begin this process, we suggest setting up a regular meeting involving everyone. These regular check-ins will be instrumental in sharing information, measuring success and maintaining motivation and momentum. At your initial meetings, we suggest that each team member come up with specific goals and metrics that they will track over time. Remember: What gets measured gets done (Revinate makes it easy to set goals around social media and online reviews, identify important metrics, and track the performance of those metrics over time). After you set your initial goals, your regular meetings will be invaluable in sharing results and updating the team about key learning. It is through these regular meetings that you will be able to really crank the “Virtuous Cycle” into gear. 15
    • STRATEGIC PLAN CHECKLIST PRIORITY PUBLIC GUEST SATISFACTION (PGS) ANALYSIS RESPONSIBILITY METRICS/GOALS Analyze Guest Satisfaction Feedback Engage the Entire Team Respond to Online Reviews Measure Staff Performance Using Guest Satisfaction COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE Monitor Competitor Guest Satisfaction Monitor Competitor Social Media Engagement SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT Monitor Social Mentions Engage on Twitter and Facebook Comment on Forums, Articles & Blogs Encourage More Guest Reviews Maintain Content on 3rd Party Sites Consider engagement opportunities on other social media platforms PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT Monitor Reviews for All Properties 16
    • Rank Properties Using Social Media Metrics Track Review and Social Media Goals for Properties Track Brand/Group Level Performance Compare Sets of Properties Brand Level Social Media Monitoring Sample Hotel Standard Operating Procedures for Q1 ‘14 Since there’s much to learn from your colleagues, we wanted to share an example of one hotel’s standard operating procedures around social media. Feel free to use this plan to create your own guidelines for 2014.   Hotel XYZ – SAMPLE Social Media and Online Reviews Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) Introduction In this new age of public reviews and social media, hotel guests now own a critical piece of key hospitality marketing channels. The ever-growing list of social media platforms and online travel communities available to consumers has created a shift in how companies manage their image. Traditional marketing and public relations strategies, which disseminate carefully crafted messages, must now be complemented by the use of tools that put the hotel in the middle of conversations in the digital sphere. In other words, the communication of marketing messages, which once required hefty media buys, has now in part been naturally outsourced to guests as they turn more and more to social media to share their experiences. This shift presents incredible opportunities for Hotel XYZ because word of mouth marketing is now more powerful and viral than ever. A hotel property that excels at quality and service will drive new business organically. And hotels that can create special experiences that get guests talking will be especially rewarded. A guest’s moment of joy can be written about on online review sites, tweeted on Twitter and shared on Facebook or Google+ in just seconds for thousands of people to see. Accordingly, Hotel XYZ is strengthening its commitment to social media and online reputation management in order to foster relationships in the online community and increase visibility across these channels. 17
    • Below are social media and online reviews standard operating procedures (SOPs). Please note that, given the everchanging nature of the social space, these operating procedures are flexible and will change from time to time. Social Media Hotel XYZ will be engaging in a number of social media initiatives. The primary contact for social media management at the property will be our Marketing Coordinator, INSERT NAME. He will be responsible for ensuring that Hotel XYZ’s presence across all social media channels is maintained. He can be reached at INSERT EMAIL. Look for The Hotel XYZ presence on the following social platforms: For your information, here is what the social media community will hear from us on these platforms: • Facebook: Individuals who “Like” the page will get a sense of our hotel’s offerings and personality through photos shared by our property, community partners, past guests and brand enthusiasts. Example posts will highlight F&B offerings, concierge services, etc. • Twitter: Individuals who “follow” the account will hear about hotel and neighborhood news/events in real-time. Example tweets will offer travel tips, answer guest questions, etc. • YouTube: Individuals who follow our hotel channel will enjoy rich media that increases interest in not only the hotel and its offerings but also our destination. Content on the channel will come from hotel as well as partners. • Foursquare: Individuals who check-in on Foursquare will receive tips from the hotel as well as a special offer to repeat visitors. • Google+: Individuals who engage with us on Google+ will enjoy a blend of photo-driven content that is similar to our Facebook page. • Pinterest: Individuals who engage with us on Pinterest will see collections of photos cultivates our hotel’s lifestyle brand and its fashion, design, culinary, and artistic partners. Roles and Responsibilities The Marketing and Communications team (consisting of Director of Sales and Marketing, Digital Marketing Manager, PR Manager, Marketing Coordinator) will be responsible for developing the social media strategic plan and coming up with posting strategies for each of the above channels. These communication channels are real-time in nature and demand fresh, authentic content – hotel news, photographs, interesting events happening, videos, etc. Because much of this content is related to operational 18
    • departments, Hotel XYZ has identified a number of “social media champions that will serve as the primary contacts for collecting content for social media communications.These social media champions will be: • Front Office Manager • Chef Concierge • Spa Services Manager • Human Resources Manager • Director of Food and Beverage • Housekeeping Manager • Conference Services Manager • Guest Relations Manager As a social media champion, your responsibility is to submit any content (e.g. menu updates, new offerings, photos, colleague achievements, etc.) that fits in with the hotel’s social media content strategy to the Marketing Coordinator via e-mail. To better understand what kind of content is relevant, take a look at our existing Facebook and Twitter profiles as well as the content conversation calendar that the marketing team developed (Appendix A). Personal Use of Social Media – A Reminder Colleagues at Hotel XYZ are encouraged to get involved and follow the hotel’s presence on all aforementioned sites. Please ask friends, clients and guests to do the same. You may share the links with your networks to help promote our presence. We will also be sending out a communication that addresses how to add these links to your e-mail signatures. Personal participation in social media should not involve participation in conversations that place colleagues in a position to speak on behalf of the hotel. While all employees are encouraged to contribute content ideas to your department’s social media champion as well as participate in social media in your personal time, please be reminded that company specific questions should be sent to our Marketing and Communications team. Service Delivery & Recovery with Social Media Hotel XYZ will receive many fan and follower questions, concerns, mentions and comments across social media sites, often times in real-time. The Marketing and Communications team will handle this feedback accordingly: • Facebook fan comments received on hotel page will be responded to within 4 hours and feedback to be routed to relevant department social media champion. • Twitter mentions about property will be responded to within 2 hours and feedback to be routed to relevant department social media champion. • Patrons who share their Foursquare check-ins on Twitter will be responded to immediately and feedback to be routed to relevant department social media champion (Real-time e-mail alerts have been set up within Revinate). • If guest is on site, front office should be alerted and advised how to surprise and delight or rectify situation. If comment is received prior to check-in, note should be placed in guest profile and should be acknowledged at check-in. • Social media mentions that reference guest preferences will be sent to front office social media champion to be added to guest profile in PMS. • All social media mentions that acknowledge staff members/departments will be shared with relevant champion 19
    • via e-mail (ticketing option within Revinate). Q1 2014 Social Media Goals • Monitor Facebook insights on a weekly basis and increase post reach by 20%. • Increase number of mentions on Twitter by 20% and improve Klout score by two points. • Garner 25% more direct traffic from YouTube channel to website. • Monitor Foursquare check-ins to offer surprise and delight moments and quantify these – goal to ‘delight’ 12 guests in quarter (one per week). • Monitor Google+ analytics on monthly basis and increase traffic to website by 25%. • Add to Pinterest boards twice per month and track traffic from website – goal to increase by 10%. Online Reviews In order to proactively manage our reputation management across review sites, we are using Revinate to create a welldefined workflow structure that ensures that our property-level managers understand their roles and responsibilities when it comes to managing online reviews. Here is how the process will work. Revinate Access: All department heads as well as social media champions should have access to Revinate. Revinate Usage: The primary Revinate user will be the Marketing Coordinator. However, every colleague with access to Revinate will review Revinate reports at least once a month. Responsibilities & Duties As primary user of Revinate, the Marketing Coordinator will: 1: Log in to Revinate each morning to monitor reviews for the hotel, 7 days a week. 2: Create tickets for reviews that require attention of department heads and additional clarifying details from department(s) for management responses (e.g. figure out what went wrong, what service recovery action was taken, etc.). 3: Assign tickets to appropriate Revinate users – users must respond within 24 hours. 4: Respond to reviews on behalf of the hotel if no additional details from departments are required. 5: Use response templates created by PR Manager to assist with responding process (responses will still be customized and pre-approved by PR Manager). 6: Close tickets once feedback has been shared and management response has been posted on review site. 7: Share sentiment, benchmark and competitors reports on a weekly basis . Q1 2014 Review Goals • Receive more reviews than Comp Set Average (Use Review Frequency Report in Revinate to measure results). • Improve average online review rating to 4.25 (currently 4.15). 20
    • • Reach the Top 100 on TripAdvisor Popularity Index (current rank #108). • Online Review Response Rates/Timing - Respond to 100% of negative reviews within 24 hours. - Respond to 50% of 3 Star Reviews within 2 days. - Respond to 25% of positive reviews within 2 days. Process for Responding to Reviews • Response templates pre-approved by PR Manager • Marketing Coordinator needs to create log-ins for individual review sites to ensure can respond to the sites that allow management responses: Sites you can respond to + count in your Revinate GSS Index Sites you CANNOT reply to TripAdvisor Priceline Expedia Orbitz Hotels.com Travel Post Google Yahoo Travelocity Booking.com Yelp Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Quarter Reviews • Daily: During morning line-up any review that requires all departments’ attention (can be negative…or positive!) will be shared. • Weekly: Revinate weekly report with all reviews of property, average ratings and how property is trending against competition will be reviewed during weekly Revenue/STR report meeting. • Monthly: All department heads and social media champions will review Revinate monthly report that includes sentiment analysis data, management response rates, etc. • Quarterly: GM and Hotel Manager will review Revinate sentiment and competitive reports with the corporate revenue, operations and franchise departments. Each department will make Revinate a key part of their property evaluation processes to support strategies, budget allocation and determine capital investments. Asking for Reviews Policy If appropriate in your interaction with guests, you can discuss travel review sites and encourage them to post their experience and share it with others. In addition, friends and family bookings are an excellent opportunity to get good content posted – you’ve done a favor for someone, now let them return it. Department social media champions will be holding a training session in Q1 to review protocols around this. 21
    • Appendix A Sample Conversation Calendar 22
    • ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR BUILDING YOUR PLAN By this point, you are well on your way to building a social media and reputation management plan that is specific and actionable. Now that you have some frameworks and tools to work with, we wanted to provide you with additional resources that will help you optimize your strategic planning and execution efforts. The following section includes a wealth of social media best practices, ideas for inspiration and insights that we’ve learned from our experience working with leading hotels and restaurants around the world. There’s a lot to digest here, so feel free to jump around and use the index below to guide your perusing! In This Section: Part I: Reputation Management • Unlocking The Power Of Sentiment Analysis • Best Practices In Responding To Reviews • How To Generate More Positive Reviews Part 2: Social Media • • • • • • • How To Set The Right Social Media Goals Facebook Publishing Insights For Hotels Best Days For Hospitality Industry To Post On Facebook Twitter Tips For Hotels & Restaurants Instagram Tips For Hotels & Restaurants Pinterest Tips For Hotels & Restaurants Google+ Tips For Hotels & Restaurants Part 3: Emerging Trends   • Hotel Searches Now Included In Google Knowledge Graphs • How Hotels Can Benefit From Vine 23
    • Unlocking The Power Of Sentiment Analysis Online review feedback has become critical to the success of hotels and resorts. Users’ reviews are not only influencing other travelers’ booking decisions but are now informing management practices at the property level. While negative feedback is being leveraged for training and retraining programs, positive feedback is feeding into employee recognition programs. In fact, guest reviews might be the most powerful data a hotel has at its disposal, yet it’s often not utilized to its fullest potential. If you are already a Revinate client, you have access to one of the most powerful solutions for understanding guest sentiment; it’s called Sentiment Analysis. Here’s a screenshot of Revinate’s Sentiment Analysis solution. Sentiment analysis assigns a positive, neutral or negative score to everything that your guests have written about you. The analysis not only shows you your property’s overall sentiment scores - which include numerous drilled down categories of feedback, as seen in this example - but also offers insight into how each of your competitive set hotels are faring when it comes to online reviews. You can imagine then why this tool is so important. By having the ability to report quantitatively about feedback that is unequivocally qualitative, you eliminate the impossibly unapproachable property-level task of manually digesting countless reviews and then telling your boss, without a sliver of doubt, what percentage of people think positively about your beds or check-out process, for example.   24
    • Best Practices In Responding To Reviews In September of 2012, TripAdvisor and PhoCusWright reported a series of notable statistics that emphasized the importance of responding to online reviews. Most notably, the survey of nearly 2,800 respondents showed that: • 57% of users agree that seeing hotel management responses to reviews generally “makes me more likely to book it” (versus a comparable hotel that didn’t respond to travelers). • 84% of users agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review “improves my impression of the hotel.” • 78% of users agree that seeing a hotel management response to reviews “makes me believe that it cares more about its guests.” • 64% of users agree that an aggressive/defensive management response to a bad review “makes me less likely to book that hotel.” While the message is clear that hoteliers need to respond to reviews, there is much being said about how to respond to them. Many hoteliers assume that online reviews are either entirely positive or negative in nature; the reality is that many reviews are mixed. When hotel or restaurant guests write reviews, they often have both something good and bad to say about their experience. Misinformed hoteliers will either submit a mixed review management response that glosses over the less-glowing feedback or will post no response at all. When review responses ignore challenging feedback in reviews, it is easy to see which hotels and restaurants are closely reading and absorbing feedback and which are posting canned responses. Guests want to feel heard, so if you don’t address constructive feedback in reviews, it may seem that management isn’t really listening to customers. Here’s a screenshot of the Revinate dashboard showing all reviews over a set date range for a property. Analysis of a few hotels and restaurants shows how prevalent these mixed reviews are. In one week of reviews about 65 to 75% of good reviews (three or five stars) also contained cutting comments such as poor service, rude staff, high prices, facility issues, etc. Review forms on Expedia even ask for both good and bad feedback from each reviewer. It is important to remember that potential customers are reading these reviews and learning some unflattering things about your business, even though a review may seem complimentary based upon the number of stars awarded. How should I respond to reviews? Regardless of review sentiment, the question remains - what is the best way to craft a response? The following best practices will guide your efforts to create effective management responses for each kind of online review, whether it contains positive, mixed or negative sentiment. 25
    • Positive Reviews Many hoteliers miss out on the opportunity to harness the power of positive reviews. By responding to them, you can keep the conversation going with your audience and use your brand personality to drive loyalty. To do so, you will need to follow a few key steps when crafting your response: 1. Lead off the response with a “Thank You.” Acknowledging positive feedback encourages other happy guests to write reviews too. 2. Be specific in your response. Allude to any details (e.g. purpose of trip, specific colleagues mentioned, etc.) in your reply to demonstrate that your response is customized. 3. Acknowledge any constructive criticism if it’s a big part of the positive review and will affect other guests. As many four and five-star reviews will contain mixed sentiment, it is important to address any concerns the guest had and offer to take the conversation off-line for a follow-up if necessary. We will explain what techniques to use when responding to mixed reviews next. Mixed Reviews When responding to each type of review, reputation managers must respond to multiple points made in the review in a succinct way. A study from Hamburg, Germany showed that it takes the average reader about 28 seconds to read 100 words on the web. Often readers are scanning for keywords and the general gist of a block of text such as a management response. It’s important to remember that you might only have 28 to 40 seconds to influence a reader. Therefore, always start your management response with statements that accentuate the positive. However, you may need to address some of the negative comments if they address issues that will affect other guests. If the average reader allots 28 to 45 seconds to comprehension, then you should keep your responses between 100 and 150 words. Revinate customer, The Mark Hotel in New York City, does an exceptional job at keeping their responses detailed, specific and concise: By sandwiching your responses to the negative remarks with positive statements, you will decrease the importance of the negative messages. It has been shown that reading comprehension follows an F pattern; readers absorb full comprehension in the first few lines of text but then less information as they move down a text block. Using the sandwich method will meet the F pattern guidelines, and give detailed readers more information about positive features. Using this approach will prove that you internalized guest feedback and truly care what your customers report in reviews. Leaving readers with this impression is more likely to win you the booking than any operational details in the original review The Royal Sonesta Hotel Boston does this effectively with every mixed review management response: 26
    • While the average star rating for reviews on TripAdvisor is 3.9 stars, the majority of four and five-star reviews will have mixed sentiment in them. Use mixed reviews to your advantage by downplaying the writer’s negative comments and highlighting the positive,. Remarks such as poor service and slow check-in can make a reader feel that a mixed review is actually a poor review, but if you point out the original reviewer’s high score then you can downplay the importance of these negative comments. The Hyatt Regency San Francisco does an excellent job at spotlighting the star score in their management responses: Negative Reviews Similar to positive reviews, the first step when responding to a negative review is to thank the reviewer for contributing. Next, you should apologize for the poor experience, remembering that an apology is not necessarily an admission of guilt or wrongdoing. Finally, you should consider the type of negative review closely by asking the following questions: 1. Is this a systemic problem that each customer could face? 2. Is there an easy fix to the problem that can be referred offline? a. Is the problem unfounded, or not likely to be repeated and just requires appeasement? b. Is the problem linked to something that you cannot easily change such as infrastructure, design, etc.? Systemic Problems When systemic problems are mentioned in reviews, the central response objective is to consider the feedback, thank the reviewer and address his/her concerns online. A systemic problem in a review may look like this: “Call times to the desk and operator were HORRENDOUS. I have never come across a resort facility where I was put on hold nearly every time I called down to the front desk. Wait times on the phone were UNACCEPTABLE!” When problems like this are pointed out, the best response will acknowledge the problem, thank the writer for bringing the issue to your attention and describe the actions that have been taken to resolve the problem. 27
    • Appeasement Problems Appeasement problems require a response that brings the reviewer to a state of peace, calm, or contentment. An appeasement problem in a review looks something like this: “We had an 8:15 pm reservation and didn’t actually get seated until right before 9:00 pm. After we were seated the waiter checked in and got our drink orders. Those were promptly delivered 10 minutes later.” When appeasement issues are brought up, the best management response will acknowledge the problem, offer an apology to the reviewer, thank the writer for bringing the issue to your attention and request to speak with the writer offline to further address the issue. While appeasement problems may sometimes be remedied with a form of compensation, it is imperative that this is discussed offline so to prevent a precedent being set. Infrastructure Problems These kinds of problems require a response that acknowledges the problem, thanks the reviewer for his/her contribution and mentions what action will be taken to fix the issue. An infrastructure problem in a review may look like this: “The hot tub was frothy as was mentioned in reviews, but the kids loved it and that is what was important. Then it happened, where are the bathrooms? Are you kidding? No restroom in the pool area. Good thing our kids can hold it.” The most important part of the management response is to speak to how you will resolve the issue both immediately and in the future. While the problem may not be easily remedied immediately, communicating future plans to remedy the problem will diffuse any concerns that site visitors may have about your property. Which reviews should I respond to? While it’s ideal to respond to every review you are able to, we are mindful that time is a premium that not everyone has an abundance of. Therefore, we recommend that your hotel: • Responds to all one- and two-star reviews • Respond to as many three-, four- and five-star reviews that you can, as long as you can personalize them • If you detect fraud, respond and petition the site to remove the review In January 2013, TripAdvisor announced a tool that allows hoteliers to proactively report potential blackmailing reviewers before their slanderous reviews ever reach the site. TripAdvisor says: 28
    • “We hear from owners that potential ‘blackmail’ – when a guest threatens to write a negative review unless a demand for a refund, upgrade, or other request is met – is an occasional concern. We now have a way for you to proactively report these threats before a corresponding review is submitted.” TripAdvisor not only provides hoteliers with a list of step-by-step directions that walks you through how to report this blackmail, but it also provides users with a handy two-page, easy-to-print PDF that offers some more detail on the subject. While this TripAdvisor tool will undoubtedly help reputation managers combat disgruntled and unethical guests, there is a reality here that ought to give dismayed hoteliers a bit of hope. As the number of contributors to sites such as TripAdvisor grows, so too has the savvy of the review readership. A scathing one- or two-star review from a vehemently unhappy guest who clearly did not get what he or she wanted, is a contribution many prospective readers will digest with a skeptical eye, especially when surrounded by great reviews. While the bad review may slightly impact your overall TripAdvisor score in the short-term, hoteliers should not expect a fatal dent in their properties’ overall online reputation. Delivering proactive, exemplary guest service is the cornerstone of a high TripAdvisor ranking, and this narrative will be played out on your hotel’s TripAdvisor page in the end. TripAdvisor’s helpful tool will help hoteliers to tell their superlative guest satisfaction narrative with more clarity and conviction than ever before, and will make proactive online reputation management even easier to achieve. The Bottom Line Online reviews are the best sources of free, readily accessible, nearly real time data about your hotel. One of the biggest benefits is that a solid understanding of what will delight your customers can translate into more profit. TripAdvisor’s 2013 Trip Barometer reported that: • 62% of managers addressed the contents of reviews with staff. • 45% have invested in staff training as a result of receiving a negative online review. • 41% have reviewed/changed operations due to review data. Simply put, paying attention to reviews can show management the best places to allocate investment resources to have the largest impact on guest satisfaction. Smarter spending leads to greater profits. When you put a program in place to respond to reviews, you will naturally begin to pay more attention to your guest feedback, and your service levels are sure to improve, which will increase your review scores, driving more guests to stay with you.   29
    • How To Generate More Reviews With more and more hotel and management group KPIs including goals around online reputation many hotel General Managers are actively looking for ways to generate more positive reviews. TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index takes review scores in addition to both freshness of reviews and quantity of reviews into account when determining a hotel’s ranking on its Popularity Index. As a result, plentiful positive reviews have gone from a nice-to-have outcome to a primary objective. So how do you go about generating more positive reviews for your hotel? Follow these tips and you will be well on your way: Deliver exemplary guest service. While it may sound obvious to focus on service, you would be surprised how many hoteliers lose sight of this fact when desperately chasing a higher TripAdvisor ranking. With the power of social media at your disposal, it is now easier than ever to surprise-and-delight your guests immediately upon check-in, whether that means offering a complimentary welcome amenity with a hand-written note or just a friendly thank you for their social media pre-stay mention. Paying attention to the smallest details will motivate your customers to contribute to a review site, as guests typically share their experience with others if it was memorable or extraordinary. Yes, you may encounter guests that, no matter how hard you try to impress them, will leave dissatisfied due to circumstances beyond your control and may share their disappointment on a travel review site. The key here is to focus on the circumstance you can control and empower your staff to go above-and-beyond by delivering personal, attentive service to your customers. Pay attention to customer feedback. Revinate customers receive higher average review scores than non-customers. Why? By actively using Revinate, our customers initiate a cycle of positivity that leads to more positive reviews. With access to all consumer sentiment about their hotels, our customers are immediately able to see ways to improve the guest experience and they do so. As a result of these operational changes, guests notice the improvements and author more positive reviews. New potential guests see these reviews and, as a result, your property will achieve a higher review rank and more business. Ask guests for reviews. Some hoteliers may be hesitant to ask for reviews, as they fear it is too pushy. Others fear that soliciting positive feedback goes against their brand culture of asking guests to do something for them. And their fears aren’t totally unfounded, as asking a guest for a review needs to be done politely and at the appropriate time. All hotel colleagues, from front desk managers to housekeepers should be encouraged to ask guests to write reviews, but only when guidelines have been introduced and some training has been completed. This training should include role-playing exercises that cover a wide variety of guest interaction scenarios. You may also consider drafting a script, which should be tailored for each department, for your staff to follow when asking a guest for a review contribution. Groveling and harassing guests to write on your behalf will only turn customers off. But, asking guests to write reviews after they have expressed positive sentiment towards the hotel will reap big rewards. Recognize and reward staff. We see Human Resource departments at hotels frequently offering incentives and/or recognition of individual colleagues or departments that have been mentioned in customer reviews. This creates a hotel-wide culture of listening 30
    • to guest feedback, a key component of proactive online reputation management. Paying attention to and analyzing guest reviews is not a one-person job and should not be a task reserved only for public relations, marketing or the hotel GM. Rather, by creating awareness of this consumer feedback and rewarding staff for delivering exemplary performance, you are creating a positive work environment that your guests will notice. Remember, better guest service leads to more positive reviews. Respond immediately to negative reviews. In 2012, TripAdvisor reported that 84% of travelers surveyed agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review “improves my impression of the hotel,” and that 78% of travelers agree that seeing a hotel management response to reviews “makes me believe that it cares more about its guests.” Given the importance of responding quickly, we created templates in Revinate that you can use to make review response process more efficient. Faster response times will quell the fears of potential bookers and will make immediate positive impressions even before they check-in to your hotel. Utilize Revinate Surveys to increase volume. Deploying Revinate Surveys is a great way to immediately capture more guest reviews. Soon, hotels that choose to use this solution for post-stay feedback will also be able to publish these reviews straight to TripAdvisor, thus directly answering every GM’s question on how to generate more reviews on the #1 travel review website. These post-stay surveys allow the guest to write whatever he/she felt was most important about his/her stay and, accordingly, will provide you with even more insight into what your customers truly like and dislike about your hotel.   31
    • How To Set The Right Social Media Goals Figure L2 ThinkTank Digital IQ Index®: Hotels study In this digital age, putting together a strong social media marketing plan that works for your brand is a top-of-mind priority for hotels and restaurants alike. The percentage of brands and properties engaging on various social platforms continues to increase as evidenced by L2 ThinkTank Digital IQ Index®: Hotels study. Nevertheless, the task of creating a strategic social plan can be a daunting and overwhelming one, particularly for properties that have limited resources or are uncertain about which tactics to deploy when looking to reach their social media goals. The Content Marketing Institute reported that the most common, and often most effective, social media objectives are to: • Engage new customers / prospects • Raise brand awareness • Improve brand perception • Increase traffic to site • Increase sales After you outline what these high-level social media goals are, the next step is to choose the right social media tactics. The following addresses which social media tools in your toolkit are most effective for hitting your various objectives. 32
    • Social Media Goal #1: Improve your guest communications As the world’s largest social network, it is not surprising that Facebook is an effective way to obtain guest feedback and extend the reach of your brand’s message in a personal -- and, when done right -- unobtrusive way. The same logic holds true for the world’s largest micro-blogging platform, Twitter, as the platforms allows for cultivating a two-way customer service dialogue between your hotel or restaurant and your customer. An often-overlooked channel to help you improve your guest communications is YouTube. While active channel management does requires more time, savvy and resources than Facebook or Twitter, videos that respond to guest inquiries, introduce new property features and showcase destination expertise can be extremely powerful ways to build a stronger guest relationship. Google+ has the potential to be an excellent customer service channel, with Google Circles allowing you to segment your message to individuals in a way that is not as intuitively achieved by the former social communities. While the social layer has just hit its 250 million unique user milestone, customer engagement across the platform remains significantly lower (only 100 of these 250 million are active users) than other social sites. Finally, there are several tools within Revinate that can assist with your guest communication management. By setting up social media searches for your hotel or restaurant, you are able to receive important social media feedback about your brand through a daily, weekly or real-time digest. Moreover, Revinate’s Social Buzz and Twitter tools make the time consuming-process of responding to and sharing excellent customer feedback more efficient and painless. Social Media Goal #2: Increase your brand’s exposure Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all too have the ability to assist with augmenting your hotel or restaurant brand’s exposure in a way that is uniquely social and complementary to your company’s website. Just as consistently compelling Facebook posts can help get your brand’s message into users’ news feeds, proactive social listening on Twitter affords an excellent opportunity to crowdsource unique user-generated content about your hotel or restaurant. From a personal branding perspective, an up-to-date LinkedIn company profile is an excellent way to showcase your brand for recruitment purposes and to encourage your own employees to actively manage their own personal profiles. If time and resources permit, Tumblr has for some time been considered an ideal blogging platform for branding, as its strikingly visual layout and increasingly important sharing capabilities have allowed it to ratchet up a considerable Generation Y following. Social Media Goal #3: Generate more website traffic Before the emergence of Google+ and the rampant buzz around Pinterest, discovery engines like StumbleUpon and Digg were thought to offer the best social traffic generation means. It is true that StumbleUpon still can offer intermittent spikes in traffic to your website and Digg similarly remains capable of producing viral traffic to individual posts once and again. However, if generating more website traffic to your site through social is the paramount priority, optimizing your Google+ presence should be #1 on your To-Do list. Managing an active presence on Pinterest, where your brand content is ready to be re-pinned and shared by others, should be second on your list, particularly if you are targeting a female audience. Social Media Goal #4: Support your search engine optimization (SEO) Similar to the previous goal above, your Google+ presence will have the biggest long-term impact on improving your search engine optimization through social media. With Google+ pages embedded in primary search results, adding a Google+ button or badge to your website’s homepage will improve your search engine ranking page (SERP) rank and offer you a valuable backlink to your website. Both StumbleUpon and Digg are useful as well for supporting SEO efforts 33
    • if your brand’s story becomes popular. Finally, YouTube has the unique strength of adding high search ranking video content to your search strategy effort and affords an excellent opportunity to visually give your hotel or restaurant increased exposure.   34
    • Facebook Publishing Insights For Hotels Facebook published an advertorial that, in addition to highlighting several of their product’s features, shared some enlightening stats on how to optimize your brand page’s posting strategy. While following these guidelines won’t guarantee exponential fan engagement growth in the short-term, putting these frameworks into practice will undoubtedly improve your overall approach to sharing Facebook content on behalf of your hotel. Here are a few key points to consider: • Posts between 100 and 250 characters (less than three lines of text) see about 60% more likes, comments and shares than posts greater than 250 characters • Posts including a photo album, a picture or a video generate about 180%, 120%, and 100% more engagement than the average post, respectively. • Fill-in-the-blank posts generate about 90% more engagement than the average post. • Posts about top-of-mind topics, such as current events, holidays or news, will receive higher engagement levels. For example, posts mentioning Independence Day on July Fourth generated about 90% more engagement than all posts published on that day. Here are some excellent examples of hotel Facebook pages that really get it: 35
    • Post with less than three lines of text and inclusion of a visually stunning image. Posts with photo galleries that promote the brand authentically. 36
    • Posts that effectively use the “fill in the blank” approach to encourage fan engagement. Posts about top-of-mind topics that will be more relevant to fans. 37
    • Best Days For Hospitality Industry To Post On Facebook Here’s a look at Revinate’s social media scheduling functionality. Knowing when to share brand-related content on your Facebook page can be a messy guessing game for even the most experienced marketer. Each brand page’s audience is unique and Facebook’s continual tinkering of its news feed algorithm makes the job of staying relevant all the more challenging. Even with these obstacles, it is still useful to possess a general understanding of what days of the week see the highest level of engagement. Fortunately, LinchpinSEO has put together a handy infographic that highlights this information, segmenting the days that have brands have the most Facebook engagement. This information is based on data that was compiled earlier last year by Buddy Media, who analyzed more than 1,800 brand Facebook pages over a two-month span to come up with their findings. Below are some general findings from the study. Interactions here are defined as a like, comment or share that a post receives. • Posts published between 8 pm and 7 am received 14% higher interaction than posts published between 8 am and 7 pm. • Brands that post once a day see 19% higher interaction rates. • Pages that most more than 7 times per week see a 25% decrease in interaction rates. • Interaction rate for weekend posts is 14.5% higher than weekday posts, yet only 14% of posts are published on weekends. How is this relevant for hoteliers and restaurateurs? Well, the data on hospitality-related industries further informs the fact that higher page interaction rates can be achieved by making sure your brand is publishing towards the end of the week and especially on the weekend. If you manage a restaurant’s Facebook page or have a food and beverage operation on-property, it would be wise to incorporate this kind of content when planning your posting schedule in advance. 38
    • Findings from Linchpin SEO and Buddy Media The data related to travel and leisure fan pages confirm higher levels of fan interaction on days leading up to and including the weekend. Interaction levels begin to increase on Thursdays and peak on Sundays, when page liking, commenting and sharing is 19% higher than average levels. Even if your hotel or restaurant does not have the resources to man your social media operation 24/7 by posting on the weekend in real-time, take advantage of Facebook’s scheduling option - which is accessible in your Revinate dashboard - and queue up your posts before leaving the office for the weekend. An engagement opportunity like this is too good to pass up on.   39
    • Twitter Tips For Hotels & Restaurants With over 218 million active users as of June 2013, Twitter has firmly established itself as the leading microblog platform. For the traveler, Twitter can play a useful part at each phase of the guest experience. It can be used as a tool to learn more about the destination pre-stay, a means to discover ongoing specials and events during his/her time on-property and an opportunity to stay connected with and informed by the property long after the visit has ended. Accordingly, Twitter has truly emerged as an integral marketing tool in the social media toolbox that can extend both the reach of your brand’s message and authenticity of your reputation. Once you have mastered the Twitter basics, and, it may be worthwhile to consider leveraging some other ways to maximize your Twitter engagement. Here’s a round up of tips that have direct application for hoteliers and restaurateurs alike: Schedule Your Tweets Revinate’s Twitter integration allows you to schedule your tweets in case you don’t want to be tied to your screen in the evenings and on weekends. Of course, Revinate will monitor and track all your Twitter activity, regardless of the Twitter client you use, so in addition, low-cost applications like HootSuite, TweetDeck and Buffer App may be worth a trial, as they provide auto-scheduling functionality (allow for scheduling your tweets at optimal engagement times) and are convenient for tweeting on-the-go from a mobile device. These features are especially important when you’re looking to visually capture behind-the-scenes looks at your hotel or restaurant’s operation in real-time or, more importantly, maintaining an active social media presence on the weekends when social media activity remains significant. Utilize #hashtag Searches Twitter.com, in addition to the services mentioned above, allows you to search for and save hashtags from both your desktop and mobile application. As a hospitality professional, you may want to do a hashtag search when attending a conference or event (so your tweets are tracked as part of a conversation) or include them in your hotel or restaurant’s tweets when speaking about a particular topic (#amenities), neighborhood (#UpperEastSide) or interest (#dessert). Try out Advanced Search Twitter’s revamped search function can further assist you with identifying users and content that may be relevant for your hotel or restaurant to engage with. The search feature allows you to filter results by specific words, accounts or locations, which may provide useful if you are looking to engage with similar users that follow, for example, your local destination management company (DMC) or convention visitors bureau (CVB). Visit the Discover Page The microblog’s Discover page offers a helpful way to uncover compelling re-tweetable content that you may have missed by showing you what content your followers have shared, favorited and re-tweeted. The discover section also allows you to explore the browse category, which is extremely helpful when looking to follow travel-related brands, thought-leaders and small businesses. Limit Your Tweet’s Length To ensure that your content is most shareable, limit your tweet’s length to 100 to120 characters. Nothing is more annoying to an active tweeter than when a message is not easily re-tweetable (RT) due to its maxed-out length. By limiting this length, you allow your user to share the content easily, add a comment to your message and ultimately give your content the best chance at maximizing its reach. 40
    • Love the URL Shortener Building on of the previous tip, it is imperative that you utilize a URL shortener when creating your tweets to ensure you maximize the limited Twitter message real estate. Each of the tools in Step #1 also provide some handy click data information on each of your tweets, which can help you identify as a marketer which kind of content your audience is most interested in. For example, you may find after analyzing a month’s worth of tweets that a list of your concierge’s area recommendations was more popular than a photo of a new menu item. This kind of intelligence will be useful when putting together your content strategy in future months. Organize with Lists In addition to Twitter’s discover page, creating lists on Twitter is a handy, if a bit time consuming, way to organize and segment your followers that have specific areas of focus. In the hotel and restaurant context, this could mean putting together specific lists of followers that you would like your brand to engage with (e.g. food bloggers, past guests, travel writers) and can be used to optimize engagement with each focus group. Maintain a Balance While it’s important to engage in real-time on Twitter, inundating your followers with a barrage of tweets consecutively is a sure-fire way to diminish your influence. By scheduling some tweets in advance and incorporating some public replies into the mix, you will maintain an ideal conversation balance that is compelling yet not annoying to your network. Stick To Only a Few Hashtags While hashtag use has become a pervasive phenomenon across all media channels, overusing them in your tweets will result in lower engagement. New York Times editor Daniel Victor says that hashtags fail to attract new audiences. Nevertheless, a report from Twitter states that tweets with up to two hashtags receive nearly 50 percent more engagement. Mix Up Your Content As mentioned previously, the best rule-of-thumb with Twitter is finding a balance. This applies not only to the frequency of your posts, but also in terms of the kind of content that you decide to share. While there is no finite formula that will yield you optimal engagement levels, visual posts - whether that means sharing photos or video - typically receives higher levels of shares. With the emergence of Instagram as a tremendous photo-sharing application, a marriage between the two is a perfect union in the travel space where photos are paramount. Avoid truncated automated tweets from Facebook Nothing is more annoying to users than to see an automated, “bot-like” message flow through your newsfeed that is either too long to read in full or sends you to a Facebook page that requires you to log in to your account. Use appropriate punctuation and formatting The biggest misperception about tweeting is that audiences do not care about style or formatting. Social media scientist, Dan Zarrella, reports that retweets consistently contain correct punctuation than non retweets. Moreover, it has been shown that the tweets most often retweeted follow proper formatting. That is, each tweet should begin with a capital letter, utilize proper grammar, and avoid any semblance of text message-like abbreviations. Optimization Will Lead to More Followers Once you consistently commit to the above practices, you will be prepared to grow your follower base. In addition, 41
    • Twitter recommends that you share a heavy dose of visual media (e.g. photos and video), respond to mentions and feedback and participate in live, real-time Twitter conversations to extend your reach. Fusework Studios and Buddy Media report that real-time engagement will have a maximum reach during the following days and times: • Tweets sent on Saturdays and Sundays see a 17% higher engagement level compared to weekdays. • Wednesdays and Thursdays are the days with the lowest rate of engagement. • Tweets that are published between 8 am and 7 pm in your time zone see a 30% increase in engagement throughout the week. By following the above recommendations and taking advantage of a helpful social media dashboard, your brand will be headed toward higher Twitter engagement and audience reach. 42
    • Instagram Tips For Hotels & Restaurants Long before Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of the company, Instagram has existed as a mobile photo-sharing application, allowing users to enhance their photos and disseminate the content across an array of social networks. The app’s rampant adoption growth, coupled with the inherent photo-friendly nature of the travel experience, cements Instagram as an essential tool to utilize in building your hotel or restaurant’s social media content strategy. Here are some steps to take and tips to action when creating and managing your hotel or restaurant’s presence on Instagram: Step #1: Create an Account Even if you are unsure what kind of content you want to post using the application, creating an account will allow you to survey the landscape and source usergenerated content that has likely already been tagged about your brand. When signing up for an account – which you can only do by downloading the free app on a mobile device through the Apple Store or Google Play – make sure to: 1: Register with an email address that is already the default login for other social media sites (e.g. hotelXYZsocialmedia@gmail.com). 2: Select a Username that is easily recognizable and consistent with your branding across other social sites (e.g. if your Twitter handle is @HotelXYZ, your Instagram name should follow suit). 3: Upload a recognizable hotel or restaurant photo as your default Picture. After signing-up, you will be brought to your Instagram account’s home page. Before you jump in and start exploring the various tabs, be sure to Edit Your Profile by clicking on the button furthest to the right on the app to ensure that your: 1: Bio section describes your brand and utilizes as much of the 150 characters of text real estate. 2: Website is listed to ensure users can find you on their mobile device. Step #2: Survey the Landscape Before you begin posting through the application, it is a good idea to learn what kind of user-generated content (UGC) has already been shared about your brand. By using websites like Webstagram, Statigram or Pinstagram, you can easily discover posts from other users that pertain to your hotel or restaurant brand. This gives you the opportunity to: 43
    • 1: Identify and start following other Instagram users that are interested in you. 2: Discover which hashtags (#) are most associated with your brand. 3: Determine what kind of content most resonates with those users. It’s worth noting that you can also search for you brand by using the Explore > Hashtags feature that is accessible via the mobile application directly. Step #3: Get Inspired by Others By utilizing the same websites as listed above, begin to formulate a content strategy based on what kind of photos are most engaging on the platform. While your hotel or restaurant’s content should be wholly unique to your brand’s identity, there is often much to be learned from companies that are more experienced in the space. As we pointed out in our social media state of the union webinar, hotels like the Fontainebleau Miami, Beverly Wilshire and W Hotels in New York City are all utilizing the application extremely effectively. Use these examples as a jumping-off point when determining what kind of content you will want to share. You will also want to consider following Instagram users that are interested in your destination or local neighborhood. You can search for these users by searching for the same hashtags that you may be following on Twitter and are associated loosely with your brand (e.g. #NYC #UpperEastSide, #hotel, #vacation). Instagram also last month released a 3.0 upgrade that – in addition to updating users’ profiles – brought in a photo map feature that allows users to search and discover previously posted photos by the location they were posted at. From a destination hotel perspective, this rollout marks a huge opportunity for the hotelier to tag his/her photos to specific locations (e.g. restaurants, local attractions) and, more importantly, bring historical photos to the front of the fold. Says CEO Kevin Systrom, “Up until now we made it too difficult to access [those old photos], you had to scroll back pages and pages. We want to let you browse those photos in a fast and efficient manner, and we realized that the way to organize them wasn’t time, but [location].” Step #4: Start Snapping Photos Once you’ve identified what kind of content fits best with you brand’s identity, begin posting from the application. Remember that you can only post photos via Instagram through the iPhone or Android mobile application. Similar to Twitter, utilizing hashtags (#) when posting your content will allow your photos to be seen more prominently. As far as what kind of content is most appropriate to share, remember the golden rule of social: stay true to your brand while remaining real. This means sharing behind-the-scenes looks of your chef preparing a signature dish or your bellman playing with the dog outside the lobby, and not simply adding a filter to a professionally shot website photo. 44
    • For more examples of brands that are leveraging Instagram effectively, have a look at this list published by Business Insider. Step #5: Share Your Content Perhaps the best feature of Instagram is its sharing capabilities. As social marketers have less and less time to devote to managing social media, one might assume that Instagram is just another consideration that will absorb even more time. On the contrary, Instagram is a tremendous timesaving tool that, in reality, will make your social media outreach both more engaging and efficient. With photos driving the most engagement on Facebook and Twitter, it is imperative that you give permissions to your hotel or restaurant’s respective social media accounts (Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr and Foursquare) to the application to achieve the maximum social reach of your message. At the time of this writing, you are only able to directly share an Instagram photo to a personal Facebook page (associated with an individual) and not a brand page. That said, it is absolutely worth using an Instagram photo or compiling an album of photos as part of your Facebook content strategy. Final Thoughts Once you’ve gotten into your groove on Instagram, start to think about other ways you can engage and excite your customer. Holding an Instagram contest to encourage your customer to share, for example, proved very successful for this Los Angeles-based restaurant and can be similarly effective for your hospitality brand.   45
    • Pinterest Tips For Hotels & Restaurants Pinterest launched an analytics dashboard for businesses, which gives brands the ability to more closely monitor their presence on the platform. If you haven’t started using Pinterest, it is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, hobbies and interests. Users can browse other pinboards for images, “re-pin” images to their own pinboards, or “like” photos. Hotels and restaurants can have their own boards where they can “pin” images, track which users have re-pinned their images, and identify followers. Best Practice Pinterest Tips for Hotels If you are just starting out with Pinterest, we recommend the following best practices tips for hotels and restaurants: • Start off strong with a visually striking profile. Choose your brand logo as your profile photo on the website (160x165 pixels in size) to maintain brand consistency across all social media platforms. If you haven’t done so already, take a few minutes and make sure that you are using the same high-quality image on all your different social media profiles. This consistency will increase your brand recognition and will alert followers that the profile is the official one. • Organize boards that make sense for you. Pinterest gives your brand the ability to tell a highly visual story that drives real website traffic. Pinterest users can choose which pinboards they want to follow, so not every one of your boards has to appeal to the broadest of audiences. That said, each of your boards should consist of at least 10 photos so that it’s substantial enough for a user to follow. Also, when naming your board, make sure that your title reflects the content accurately and is 20 characters or less. • Get creative with your pinning. Similar to photos you share on Facebook or Instagram, the photos you share on Pinterest should reflect the fun and personal side of your brand and ought to tell a story that you couldn’t otherwise tell on your traditional website or OTA profile. Focus on seasonal events, specific hotel offerings and amenities, vacation themes and quirky destination tips from the hotel or restaurant. Here’s a great example from the Four Seasons Austin. • Spread the wealth and stay active. In addition to pinning your own images, your hotel or restaurant should also re-pin photos from others to add to your boards. This will allow you to tell a richer brand or destination story. Also, you will want to keep your pin descriptions as concise as your board descriptions. Pinterest suggests identifying the location of the image and the kinds of things you can do there. Keep it to no more than a few 46
    • sentences in length. • Activity is rewarded. Pinterest is similar to many other social platforms in that its home feed feature is how users discover and share new content. If you hotel is serious about managing a Pinterest account, you should commit to pinning new imagery at least a few times a week if not once a day. Doing so gives your brand a better chance of being discovered. Once you have established an active presence, make it easy for people to pin your content by adding Pinterest’s follow and pin it buttons to your website and adding a Pinterest link in your emails. Measure Your Pinterest Activity Pinterest’s new dashboard gives business owners the ability to see all of their Pinterest traffic activity in an intuitive, cleanly laid out display. If you are a Revinate customer, you can now start tracking these Pinterest metrics alongside your Facebook and Twitter traffic in the same singular dashboard. Your Pinterest data can be found in both our scorecard and GS2 reports and will show your pins/week, repins/week and followers. To get started, all you have to do is link your Pinterest account to Revinate. In closing, it’s never been more apparent that Pinterest has become a major social media platform that can effectively augment your overall social media strategy.   47
    • Google+ Tips For Hotels & Restaurants There are many reasons why hotels and restaurants should engage on Google+. The platform has unique features that have direct hospitality application and can improve your business’s search performance with its social layer. That said, there is often times a lot of confusion about the differences between a Google+ local and a brand page and how to merge the two. The following questions and answers section is based on a webinar we held here at Revinate. Q: How many Google+ Local Business pages can be created under a single e-mail? We work with a multi-unit business and we would like to create pages for them but we don’t want to create multiple profiles. You can create a maximum of 50 + Pages under a single profile. For step-by-step instructions on how to create a Google+ Local listing, here’s a great how-to resource for you to follow. Q: If we’ve already claimed our business through Google Places (now known as local Google+ page) does that mean we already have claimed it as a Google+ page too? The difference between a Google+ local listing and a Google+ page with social features is confusing. If you had already claimed your business through Google Places (which is a process that verifies your business’s contact information, Google map location, etc.) then your page was automatically converted to a local Google+ listing. While this listing looks very similar to a Google+ page, it does not include any of the social functionality of a Google+ page (i.e. doesn’t allow your hotel or restaurant to post updates, share photos, upload video, etc). In short, you will need to create a separate Google+ page first, and then - once this step is complete - merge your local profile and page together. Q: So again, if we have claimed our local Google business listing, do we need to create a Google+ page? Yes. You will need to create a Google+ page first and then you can merge your local Google+ listing with it. For more information, Google has spelled out the difference between the two types of pages here. Q: Any other tips to growing your circles beyond adding a Google+ button to your website? Similar to other social communities, growing your audience with Google+ will require time and patience. Nonetheless, here are some great tips to get started with. Q: Can you tell us again where you click to merge a Google+ page? To merge your page, click on Verify now on the right side of the page. You’ll need to verify that you’re representing your business by having a postcard sent, even if you’re a verified business owner on Google Places for Business. Also note that verification will only work for pages created in the “Local Business or Place” category in Google+. Google has also published step-by-step instructions on how to go about this. Q: Can we use the same pin from merging our Google Business page to our Google local page? You should first try to use the same PIN. If using this PIN does not work, however, you will need to submit a request for another one to verify. Another good resource to check out on the step-by-step verification process can be found here. Q: Can you reply to local Google+ reviews as a business? Yes. You’ll still be able to publicly respond to reviews, and now you can respond directly from your local Google+ page. To do so, sign in to your Google Places for Business account, click See your listing on Google Maps by the business that has a review you want to respond to (which will take you to the corresponding local Google+ page), and click Respond next to the review and write your response. 48
    • Q: Do all Google+ reviews pull into Revinate? Yes. Revinate pulls your Google+ reviews into your Revinate dashboard under the Reviews tab in our dashboard and can be responded to directly. Google+ social mentions of your brand will appear in the Social Media Searches tab of your dashboard. Q: Is it possible to create more than one Google+ page? For example, a brand page and then one additional for each property? You can create more than one page. A good example of how to differentiate your brand versus property Google+ pages would be the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts brand profile. Q: Is there a reason/benefit to have more than one page? If you are asking whether or not your hotel or resort should also have a separate page(s) created for your restaurants, spa or nightlife, think about the following. When it comes to managing multiple Google+ brand pages, consider the time and resources that are available to you. While proactively cared for pages can yield search and enterprise benefits to your online presence, ones that are left without compelling content on a consistent basis will have little impact. Moreover, many pages even at the brand level are still looking to gain a critical mass in following. With this in mind, we would advise beginning with one page and evaluate its progress after a certain amount of time has passed. Q: If you mark your post as Public, can people see it if they are not using Google+? When you post publicly, only people who’ve added you to one of their circles will see your update on their Home page. Your public posts will be displayed on the Posts tab of your profile and are viewable by anyone who wishes to see them. They also may appear in search results. Q: Does the Google+ badge have the same impact on search results when integrated into a website with AddThis? Yes. By adding a Google+ badge to your site, you will find a similar impact on search, whether its integrated with your AddThis toolbox or on its own. This badge’s core purpose of allowing visitors to your website to directly follow your Google+ page, +1 your site, share your site with their circles, see which of their friends have +1’d your site, and click through to visit your Google+ page will remain the same. Q: So we have to create an individual account before we can claim a business, similar to Facebook? Is it better to create a gmail account for your business? Yes. You will have to have access to a gmail account as an individual user before claiming a business. Typically, it’s a smart idea to have a general gmail account for your business so that you can use the same uniformed login across managing multiple social channels.  49
    • Hotel Searches Now Included In Google Knowledge Graphs Google’s Knowledge Graph is important because it impacts the way search results appear on Google. The Knowledge Graph is a new technology aimed at offering a new way to display search results that matches search words with entities or concepts instead of web pages. Google launched the Knowledge Graph a year ago but has now expanded it to include far more queries, including many different hospitality-related and local searches. Upon conducting a search, the Knowledge Graph will appear in a horizontal bar, or carousel as Google refers to it, at the top of the screen. After clicking on one of the images, you will be directed to a search for the unique property. The good news here is that, unlike traditional search, your hotel will not have to compete with OTAs, metasearch engines and directories for top page placement, as the hotel’s direct website will appear at the top of the organic results, just below any paid advertising related to the hotel. One thing to note here is that the Knowledge Graph carousel that was introduced last year is different than the Local Graph carousel introduced this week. Unlike the Knowledge Graph carousel, the Local Graph carousel doesn’t show logos and instead displays photographs. The Knowledge Graph did not display Zagat ratings or total reviews either. After you click on an individual property, the Local Graph carousel uniquely brings in information from Google+, including a link to the hotel’s Google+ Local page, shows the phone number more prominently and gives visitors the chance to write a review. Finally, the Local Graph pulls in reviews from across the web and Google+ recommendations from your personal network. 50
    • At this time, the Knowledge and Local Graphs are only available in North America and only in English. They are not available in other languages. However, if there are less than 5 local listings that would be featured in the results, there will be no carousels appearing. Another interesting thing to remember is that when conducting hotel-specific local searches, Google Hotel Finder will play a key factor in the way the hotels are ranked. That said, it’s important for all hoteliers to be aware of how this all works as a global rollout is coming soon. To optimize your presence for search now that Graphs have been integrated, consider the following tips: 1. Make sure your Google+ Local page is up-to-date. The Local Graph carousel pulls in information from your Google+ Local page as well as your Google hotel reviews. Therefore, make sure that you first have a Google+ Local page and also have it completely refreshed with accurate and visually appealing content. 2. Your Local Graph rank works the same as local SEO. While the local search landscape is changing, don’t think that you will need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to optimizing for searches. Key factors that play into Local Graph visibility include the same website domain authority and relevance to user queries as before. Nevertheless, Google+ Local page quality and completeness now has become a big influencer as to how your hotel ranks, reiterating the importance of focusing on your Google+ Local page. 3. Strongly consider PPC advertising if you haven’t already. Now that the Graph carousels have pushed down all other search results, pay-per-click advertising will be even more valuable to the hotel looking for more prominent page placement and visibility. To sum up, PPC can help you drive more direct traffic to your site while you reap the natural search benefits of the Knowledge and Local Graph carousels.   51
    • How Hotels Can Benefit From Vine In early 2013, Twitter announced the launch of its new videosharing mobile application, Vine. Currently available to iPhone and iPod Touch owners, Vine positions the platform as a way “to see and share life in motion.” Like Foursquare, Vine is a standalone application, accessible only through your mobile device. With a very minimalist design and user-friendly interface, the application is fairly simple to get comfortable with. Getting Started Before we get into how hotels (and their respective guests) are already sharing hotel-related content on Vine, let’s have a brief orientation of the infant platform: • Creating an Account: To get started, simply sign up by entering an email address. If your hotel already has a designated email for social media initiatives, it would be a good idea to use it for Vine. Once you’ve created your account, you can simply sign in through your property’s Twitter account, which you will be asked to synch up with Vine during the set-up process. • Acquiring a Following: In order to find and add followers on the platform, you can search by username, personal email import or, most helpfully, by importing your Twitter followers and see who has adopted Vine. Following users will allow you to view their most recently published content on your account’s home page. • Creating Video: Content can be created by simply using your phone’s camera and pressing the app’s record button. You can start and stop recording to create a segmented video of many different shots, which is currently the most popular way of filming. However, videos are limited to six looping seconds in length, so keep this in mind when getting creative. • Sharing Video: At the moment, the only social channels users can share their videos are on Facebook and Twitter. Keep in mind that giving Vine permission to share via Facebook will target your personal account - not your hotel’s brand page - so you will only want to sync your property’s Twitter account when setting up a business profile. Users do have the ability to tag their videos at locations via foursquare, but unfortunately cannot share them on the platform. Hopefully, Vine will soon permit users to share their videos on foursquare, which will make the process of finding relevant, brand-related content far easier. • Finding Content: Despite its simple interface, Vine is not, at this point, an easy platform in which to locate content. Similar to navigating a Twitter or Instagram feed, hashtags are extremely helpful at sifting through the clutter to find content that is most relevant to your interests. Users can search for specific content in the “Explore” field by entering in keywords or hashtags or by sorting through Vine-created categories. Currently, the two loosely hotel-related categories are #travel and #food. 52
    • How Guests Are Already Using Vine Despite the newness of the platform, travelers have been quick to create and share a wealth of content while on the road, most often of the hotels where they are staying. After doing a quick search on the app by using the #hotel hashtag, I discovered a variety of different types of hotel-related videos, from clips that toured you around hotels’ rooms, public spaces, exteriors and nearby attractions. This kind of authentic, user-generated content (UGC) is gold for the social media manager, as it provides you with another opportunity to share a unique look at your hotel with your fan community. That’s all well and good, you may be thinking, but how truly accessible is this content? Here are a few things to consider when doing your search: • While using the #hotel hashtag was useful for the purpose of writing this post, it obviously will not be the only term you’ll want to use when searching for content about your specific hotel or restaurant. Try including terms related to your destination to better hone in on relevant content. • As previously mentioned, users frequently tag their posts with their location via foursquare. This does not, at this point, mean that this content will show up on your venue’s profile, which can be a source of frustration. Hopefully this will change soon, making the process of sourcing this content a far easier task. • Travelers staying at your property will likely tag their post with words similar to, but not exactly, your unique hotel’s name. Just as we advise our clients when setting up social media searches, include variations of your hotel’s name (e.g. Twitter handle, brand designation) when looking for content. • Remember, users can, and regularly do, share their videos on Twitter. Therefore, setting up searches in your social media client that match same key terms as above will only increase your chances of discovering UGC. 53
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    • How Hotels Can Leverage the Platform After searching the platform for content about your hotel, it’s time to create videos for yourself. Not only is this process far less time-intensive, it is very easy to execute - even for the most novice of iPhone users. Here are a few examples of Revinate customer hotels that are already putting Vine to effective use: Hyatt 48 Lex This Midtown Manhattan property has used Vine to offer fans quick glimpses of the hotel’s many appealing features, from a cozy look at the lounge’s fireplace to a glance at the fully-equipped Hyatt Fit fitness room. The clip below showcases a panoramic view of the hotel’s studio suite, giving guests a good sense of the room’s size and amenities. Hotel Andaluz While this luxury downtown Albuquerque hotel is just getting started on Vine, their first video is worth mentioning, as it is a highly effective clip showcasing a live music event going on in the lobby. Tweeting about your hotel lobby’s live jazz certainly is good practice, but being able to tweet it and preview it for your fans makes the content all the more effective. The Roger Smith Hotel Routinely recognized in the industry for their social media dedication, it’s unsurprising to see the Roger Smith Hotel has already created over 60 Vine posts, that span from capturing behind-the-scenes interactions with colleagues, to promoting their hotel’s own radio station, to giving a tour of the hotel’s neighborhood buildings. There are also several endearing videos featuring Henry the dog, an (apparently) frequent patron of the hotel. Looking Ahead Although it’s certainly unclear whether or not Vine has staying-power potential or is just another social outlet that will fade away, it’s a platform that hotels can certainly benefit from. That said, before jumping in and creating a thousand Vine videos at once, remember to consider the same questions you (hopefully) asked yourself before creating that Facebook page or Twitter account, which are: • “Would creating content on this channel fit well with my brand’s voice?” • “Are there meaningful objectives that could be achieved by engaging on this channel?” • “Do I have the human capital to regularly maintain a presence this channel?” 55
    • If you can answer “yes” to the questions above and are interested in finding a new way to engage your hotel’s fans and future customers, then give Vine a try!   56
    • THE ROI OF SOCIAL MEDIA Everyone is interested in the return on investment (ROI) of social media. It’s an important topic. Social media is evolving quickly, and the potential to measure its impact on your business is also improving. By now, most sophisticated hoteliers have incorporated public guest feedback into their decision-making processes and are looking to connect it to revenue performance metrics. When operationalizing social media across your organization, it is important to have the correct mindset regarding the ROI of social media. Due to its breadth, a single comprehensive measurement of Social Media ROI shouldn’t be the goal. Instead you’ll want to focus on individual aspects of your strategy. In some cases, ROI can be directly measured while in others, the results will come even though the specific gains can’t be pinpointed. It is a truism that online reviews drive bookings. Numerous studies and reports have made this correlation. Yet, the conversation surrounding the relationship between reviews and revenue is still very young. In November 2012, Cornell published a study “The Impact of Social Media on Lodging Performance” by Chris Anderson. In the study we learn that 26.5% of TripAdvisor visits occur in the last five days prior to the reservation. The close proximity of visits to TripAdvisor to purchase indicates that user reviews are some of the final and pivotal criteria in the hotel selection process. And when it comes to the correlation between ranking on TripAdvisor and revenue, we learn: There is an 11.5% decrease in a property’s chances of being selected for every position it drops • Increasing one point on a five-point scale increases odds of being selected by 14.2 %. • For each new review a hotel adds, it increases its odds of being selected by 0.2%. Hence, the first step in establishing a relationship between reviews and revenues is to focus on the transparent metrics that hoteliers do know and can improve. They should look at review site ranking, review rating and review frequency. TripAdvisor Popularity Index ……………………………………………………………………………………………….   Room Nights “The closer a property is to a Number 1 ranking on TripAdvisor for its given market, the greater its direct online bookings.” 180   160   140   120   100   80   60   40   20   0   Adjusted Ranking 80   Source:  Study  by  Micros  Ecommerce,  April  2013     15 60   40   Instead of focusing on black box metrics or indices, hoteliers should depend on transparent metrics that they can easily track. More importantly, these transparent metrics are critical because it is well understand how to improve across all of them. 20   0   Further proof about the correlation between online reviews and bookings comes from a 2013 study by Micros. The study found that “the closer a property is to a number one ranking on TripAdvisor for its given market, the greater its direct online bookings.” One of the biggest benefits of TripAdvisor for hoteliers is its ability to drive awareness and direct bookings to a hotel’s website, avoiding costly commission fees from OTAs. Getting users to your website is one thing, but getting 57
    • them to complete a booking is another. To reap maximum benefits from TripAdvisor’s inbound traffic, it is important that your website is transparent and features user reviews. L2’s 2012 Digital Report found that “brands with reviews sent 39% less traffic to OTAs.” Using a simple widget, like Revinate’s Social Buzz, will allow you to select and automatically publish reviews to your website, thus improving your booking rates. 58
    • DIY OR WORK WITH AGENCIES? To get the most value from social media it needs to be tightly integrated into your daily operations. There are many reasons why it’s important to engage executives at the property. The invaluable insight provided by public guest feedback must be completely absorbed by internal teams in order to fully capitalize on it. Also, outbound social media engagement is incredibly time-sensitive and demands intimate, up-to-the- minute knowledge of what is happening onsite. Finally, today’s savvy consumers can smell inauthenticity a mile away, so the details and tone of outbound social media engagement need to be accurate and genuine (it’s also a reason why you should never use “canned” responses). For these and many other reasons, social media demands close internal attention. Many of our clients manage social media internally using Revinate, while many others use Revinate in conjunction with an outside agency. We’ve partnered with a number of very talented agencies that do an incredible job helping hotels and brands with social media. These agencies can help with social media strategy and processes, and in some cases can handle outbound social media engagement. Clients who work with agencies need to make sure they select the right partner, and we’re happy to help guide you. The bottom line: whether you work with an outside agency or not, Revinate’s solution will prove invaluable. The open, public, real-time dialogue between your hotel and the rest of the world will increasingly become the core foundation of your reputation, driving demand and guest satisfaction.   59
    • IMPLEMENTATION CONSIDERATIONS Additional Detail and Guidance As you begin to implement your plan you’ll likely have a number of questions on the details. Revinate is here to help. Our support & training resources are fully at our clients’ disposal, including detailed guides to help you with all aspects of your social media strategy. Measurement and Goals As your plan comes together and you begin setting responsibilities it’s important to consider how you will measure success. Prior to Revinate, identifying and tracking key social media metrics was tough. Revinate makes it easy. While you are working out your plan, begin thinking about what metrics you’d like to track to measure your progress. (Chances are, Revinate already tracks them). For example, to track reviews you’d likely be interested in the number of reviews you receive in a day/week/month, your average review rating, and the top sources of your reviews. To measure public guest satisfaction, you’ll want to know detailed ratings (Location, Value, Service, etc.) and how your ratings compare with your historical performance and your competition. Refine and Improve After your plan comes together, start implementing right away. By following the prioritized actions laid out in your plan and measuring your results, you’ll soon be able to figure out what works best for you. With ongoing dedication and refinement of your plan based on measurable results, over time you’ll be amazed at how social media will begin transforming your entire operation. Final Thoughts We hope this guide has helped you on your way toward creating a strategic social media plan for your hotel and has helped inspire and organize your thinking about the ways in which social media can transform your business. This overview is a high-level framework aimed at helping you clarifies your plan of attack. The real magic behind your success will be in the details. Your strategic plan is just a start - executing on your plan is where the fun begins. Results won’t come immediately, but over time and with dedication we hope that your hotel will become our next great success story. We also realize that the training of your team is a critical step in your implementation. We’re here to help every step of the way, and we’re looking forward to sharing our experiences with thousands of hoteliers. Contact Us Today We would be happy to provide you with further details on our company, our experience, and our social media solution designed exclusively for hotels. Our goal is your success. Please contact us at info@revinate.com. 60