3 Core Benefits of Social Media for Hotels

Social media text

More than ever, social media marketing is crucial for businesses of all types. With over one billion active users on Facebook alone, social media is more than a passing trend – it is a key way to reach new audiences and engage previous customers. For hotels, in 2011, Starwood found that 36% of people who follow a hotel on social media buy more from that particular chain or hotel – and that percentage is likely growing each year.

At Jacaruso Enterprises, we focus on three core benefits of social media for hotel and hospitality venues: loyalty, direct revenue, and online relationship management.

Creating a Loyal and Attentive Fan Base
Building and maintaining a fan base is reflective of a property’s customer loyalty. A Facebook page “like” or Twitter follow means that person wants to stay in tune with your business, learn about upcoming promotions, and stay in touch with news about the venue. It is much easier to retain a previous customer than gain a new customer, and more and more, customers are using social media as a way to keep up with their favorite businesses, learn more about potential venues, and comb through previous customer reviews.

The key to building a loyal following is twofold: promoting social media channels to gain an audience, and then providing relevant content for the audience to keep them engaged and maintain that following.

Transforming Social Engagement into Sales Leads
Next, social media can convert fans into reservations. More than ever, features like the Facebook Call-to-Action button and Twitter cards are making brand messages stand out in users’ feeds, drawing higher engagement and higher click-through rates. Using top referring domain reports or installing analytics platforms can reveal how many of a hotel’s reservations are driven through social media efforts.

While social media can be used to generate revenue, it is important to keep the “social” in social media. Users tune out if a feed consists of marketing message after marketing message. Maintain a balance between mostly “fun” content, like behind-the-scenes looks at the business, and limited, but extremely targeted, promotional content.

Preventing Negative Sentiment Before it Happens
Finally, managing social media can allow a hotel to monitor its online reputation. By intervening in public spaces when complaints are aired or by replying to private messages quickly, excellent customer service on social media has prevented negative reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and Facebook – and in many cases, transformed a potential negative review into a glowing positive review.

Lead Generation is Your Yellow Brick Road

Gold road

What does the Yellow Brick Road have to do with hotel sales success? We let our own Solicitation List and Lead Generation specialist Christy Tweddle explain:

What do you do, Christy?

I came on board at Jacaruso Enterprises in April 2011. Since that time I have specialized in building lists for lead generation specific to the hotel industry. Basically, I compile raw data about the geographic area surrounding a hotel.  After removing everything that cannot generate room nights for the property I use Internet processing, Chamber of Commerce research and other search tools to create a focused list of sales prospects. This list includes all the area’s major employers on down to the smallest businesses or organizations that would need room nights at some point during the year. Finally, I divide the prospects into categories further defining the lead prospect as to how much business the lead is capable of generating. I call these categories hot, warm, and cold.

Who would need this sales lead service?

New hotels, entering a market for the first time, could definitely use this service and older hotels hoping to ramp up their sales efforts through a targeted sales campaign would benefit greatly from one of our lists.

Who might need this sales lead list service that might not know they need help?

Anyone who is not maintaining or exceeding 80% occupancy could use our help. I mean we’ve all been there. Whether as a new GM moved to a market we are completely unfamiliar with. Or as a DOS taking over an older hotel whose brand we’ve never worked before. Or say a DOS at a hotel with new ownership that is looking to jump-start its sales efforts. The ramp up time it takes could be the difference between success and failure. And I don’t know any salesperson or GM who wouldn’t appreciate a head start in any of these situations.

Is that why you call this lead generation list tool the Yellow Brick Road?

Exactly. I mean Dorothy crash-landed in a strange area with no friends and no one to point her in the right direction. She even had to have help finding the Yellow Brick Road much less all the time it took for her to travel the path to her ultimate destination. With our lists we not only show you where the Yellow Brick Road is we launch you all the way to the Emerald City. The leads are already vetted and it takes valuable time and uncertainty out of the solicitation process. Makes every call a warm call instead of a cold call.

That sounds significant! Anything else you have for us?

Yes. I believe the most significant aspect of our list service is this. Our lists are compiled by hotel sales professionals, like myself, who have been in the hotel business for years. You are not paying thousands of dollars for a list compiled by a college student on summer break who doesn’t know a thing about our industry. Our lists are compiled by hotel sales people for hotel sales people. We have been there, done that. We know what to look for and we separate the wheat from the chaff for you. No ramp up time for our clients. You hit that Yellow Brick Road driving a race car!

 

If you are interested in our list generation service please contact us and get on your Yellow Brick Road to hotel sales success!

 

 

The Wave

Guest Contribution from:  Frank Saitta

Teenager in a Car

Most breakdowns come with some obvious warnings; whether it’s mechanical, physical or even social ones.

Mechanical issues we can remedy before they get too serious because engineers have created warning systems-the “idiot lights” in our cars telling us to change the oil, increase tire pressure or that a headlight is out. We heed those warnings, visit the service department at the dealer or our local mechanic and the problem is solved.

Physical ailments can be addressed before they progress into a debilitating condition because our bodies are designed to tell us something’s not right. You get symptoms- sniffles, coughs, aches and the like; and unless your religious beliefs preclude you from seeking medical attention you take medicine, see a doctor and before you know it you feel better.

I’d like to take a look at one of the warning signs that I’ve noticed that might indicate that our social and societal fabric might be unraveling. I’m a city boy at my core, born and raised in New York, Brooklyn to be specific. Went to undergraduate school in Western New York. Spent the early part of my career working in Manhattan and then transferred to a large Midwestern city where I met my now wife of 28 years. I married the “farmer’s daughter”, her family hailing from a tiny town in western Iowa. An opportunity of a lifetime brought us to Memphis, TN.

My place of work was made up mostly of transplants and I traveled extensively as part of the job so I was only getting a small glimpse of life in the South. My wife and I decided that since we were landlocked in Memphis a house at one of the nearby recreational lakes might be a good way to immerse ourselves in the Southern culture; besides we loved being on and around the water. After a short house hunting trip with a most colorful broker we purchased a weekend lake get away in a sleepy, southern resort town. This is where it happened readers, the cultural phenomenon that is the real hero of this essay-THE WAVE.

The wife and I were driving from the house to the General Store, yep the General Store when the driver in a pickup truck driving towards us raised his arm up and waved at us. Not knowing who he was, then thinking how he could know us, I waved back. Then a little further up the road it happened again, another car, another wave and I waved back. By the time we got to the store this “waving thing” happened two more times.

As I mentioned earlier, I had never lived in a small town, I soon learned that “the wave” is more the norm than the exception in small towns across these United States. I also learned there are many variations of “the wave”, there is the arm out the window wave, the hand at the top of the steering wheel four finger flash, the one finger wag and of course the casual military salute.

This waving thing has been going on for centuries I suspect, I’m certain as people passed on horseback, maybe in carriages and now in motor vehicles and we know motorcyclists have their own “down low” wave to one another.

It didn’t take me long to adopt the wave, I began waving at every car that passed even when I was sitting on our front porch, I became that guy. So I thought why not try that back in Memphis or maybe anywhere outside the sleepy lake town. Well, as you might have guessed the bulk of my waves weren’t returned. Of course my neighbors (those who knew me or my car) returned the wave, the rest, not so much. I even got the occasional one finger salute, which I thought was a bit hostile but then again some stranger with a silly grin waving at you when you’re having a bad day might evoke that kind of response I suppose. After a couple of weeks or so I stopped my experiment and decided the wave was just a small town thing and city dwellers were just too wrapped in traffic, themselves or who knows what to wave at fellow citizens. Kind of sad.

We’ve had our lake house now for over 20 years and for twenty years I have been waving at the other lake dwellers and lately I’ve noticed that there has been less waving going on, a lot less. I’m not sure what all this means, maybe it’s a warning light. I do know that when I wave and the wave is returned something is shared, a moment of “it’s ok”, that we’re in this thing together, right here, right now.

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here- this isn’t any “hippie-wisdom”, I can be as cynical, selfish and prideful as anyone; however I do know that when something as simple as acknowledging another with a simple wave becomes too much of a chore especially if they’ve initiated the exchange I have become something I don’t want to be.

Do us all a favor, wave back or better yet wave at us.

 

 

 

The Genesis of Innovation

InnovationDrivers 

Innovation is often confused with invention. It is highly important to understand the difference between the two in order to see how easily and inexpensively innovation can apply to your hotel.

 

Harold Evans, author of They Made America, writes that, “An innovator’s essential contribution may be to realize the promise of the known.”

John Greathouse, a contributor to Forbes magazine, in a June, 7, 2012 article titledFew Entrepreneurs Are Both Inventors And Innovators — Which Are You?” expanded on Evan’s writing:

A logical extension of Mr. Evans’s supposition is that, “Inventors seek the promise of the unknown, while innovators realize the promise of the known.”

 

The Wright brothers have long been considered the inventors of the airplane. But were they true inventors or incredible innovators? In 1878 Milton Wright gave his sons Wilbur and Orville a toy helicopter based on the design of Alphonsé Penaud. They later pointed to this toy as the spark that ignited their interest in flying. Beyond the spark provided by the toy the most important lesson for the brothers came when the toy broke. The brothers redesigned the toy and built their own, better version.

 

This ability to take the “promise of the known” and improve upon an existing idea carried on into their adult years. From printing presses to bicycles, gliders and motors the Wright Brothers took from the known and in almost every case improved upon the design. When they decided to build a motorized glider they studied and built upon the works of glider pioneers Cayley, Chanute and Lilinethal. In the end it was their study of nature’s most efficient biological flying machine, the bird, coupled with their understanding of bicycles and motors that produced the first workable airplane. Utilizing available technology, building on the work of others and employing their own innovative spirit they managed to produce a motorized glider in four short years. The entire endeavor was funded from the small profits they made from their bicycle shop. The only patent they applied for covered the steering mechanism of the aircraft.

 

Orville and Wilbur Wright may not have been the greatest inventors in history but they are arguably the greatest innovators. One more interesting note about the Wright brothers; neither received a high school diploma or attended college.

 

Hoteliers did not invent the radio but in 1927 the Hotel Statler in Boston became the first hotel to put radio headsets in all hotel rooms.

 

Hoteliers did not invent air-conditioning but in 1934 the Hotel Statler in Detroit is the first to have a central system to “air condition” every room.

 

Hoteliers did not invent television but in 1950 Hilton Hotels installed television in all guestrooms.

 

Hoteliers did not invent the refrigerator but in the early 1960s Siegas introduced the first true minibar.

 

Hoteliers did not invent the cell phone but in 2015 Starwood Hotels introduced the first reservation/keyless entry using only a cell phone app.

 

Forward thinking hotels, building on the promise of the known, have used innovation to build profit, decrease costs, and enhance guest experience for a minimal investment in time and infrastructure. How many dollars is your hotel leaving on the floor because innovation has taken a backseat to, well, everything else?

 

How many innovators exist in your company’s organization? How many Orville and Wilbur Wrights are employed as housekeepers, front desk clerks, dishwashers, sales associates and maintenance people? Have they already figured out and employed successful innovations to help them get through the day faster and more efficiently that no one else knows about? Could these innovations save money companywide? Do you have a way to communicate with them? Do they have a way to communicate with you? What incentives to they have to come forward? Is your company guilty of only listening to degreed experts?

 

The greatest treasure any company possesses in the experience and intellect of the people they employ. Seek out your innovators. Incentivize them. Create a culture of inspiration and reap the rewards. Your guests, your employees and your investors will thank you!

 

The Human Touch

Natale Famiglia_007I recently took friends on a drive to see the Holiday Light Celebration in Old Settlers Park in Round Rock, TX. Before we arrived at the park we toured several neighborhoods to view the holiday decorations. We saw some amazing homes bathed in spectacular light shows, the yards filled with animated deer, blow up Grinches, Santas and Penguins, and hand carved manger scenes. Around every corner, on each new block, some amazing surprises awaited our arrival.

After an hour of gazing at lights we arrived at the park. I was pleasantly surprised to find there was not a line to get into the entrance of the park as it took my husband and I two hours to get through the previous year. The displays dazzled and we thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and appreciated the hard work and creativity that had gone in to putting on this festival of light. But upon leaving I felt as if something had been missing.

We returned to scouring close by neighborhoods for more light shows. Boy did we find some! At many homes we were able to see tall trees extending floor to ceiling in well-lit foyers and banisters hung with garland and light. The houses looked warm and inviting. At several homes we witnessed holiday parties taking place replete with catered outdoor barbecues and backyards as spectacularly lit as the front yards. During this second excursion I realized what had been missing in the park – the human touch. Although the displays in the park were beautiful they were two-dimensional, devoid of the warmth that can only be provided by smiling, welcoming people such as the many homes we saw in the neighborhoods we visited.

This year will be the same as every year. Travelers will be coming to our hotels during this festive season. Some will be visiting family members. Other will be away on business unable to be with loved ones during theses special days. All will have in common the fact that they won’t be in their own homes during this time, surrounded by familiar people and possessions and the comfort associated with all they know.

Each and every one of us has the opportunity to turn our hotels in to warm and welcoming places. I’m not talking about the lights on the building or the holiday tree in the lobby, but the human touch only we can provide. We have the privilege of making this experience as pleasant as possible for those of our guests who travel a long way from home.

We may have to work on a holiday but at the end of the shift we have the pleasure of returning to home and family. Many or our guests won’t have that opportunity. However, we can smile, be of service, offer a kind word, do our jobs to the best of our ability and greet ever guest with holiday cheer.

In short we can be that human touch that will make a profound difference during this time for so many of our guests.

Good Question!

questions mix

You know “that” person? Well, I ran into him today when I was trying to fix my mailbox at 2pm in the middle of a 106-degree heat index. He drove by in his nice, cool, air-conditioned truck, rolled down his window, looked me in my miserable, sweat- soaked face and said, “Hot enough for ya?” Before I could respond, I think he (wisely) thought better of it and drove on his merry way. What a useless, pointless question! What did he expect me to say? “Actually, Person I Have Never Met Before, it could perhaps be a little warmer than my liking, and I would prefer a drier heat.” After a 10-second interaction, I have now officially christened him Annoying Chatty Neighbor. He could be wearing a Nobel Peace Prize around his neck the next time I see him, but I will immediately react to him exclusively as Annoying Chatty Neighbor.

Knowing how and when to ask good questions is key to sales success. Here are some basic guidelines to keep you out of the Annoying Chatty Neighbor category and into more successful bookings:

  • Think about what you are going to do with the information before you ask a question about it. For example, when you call a client, don’t lead with a question about their general well-being. How is asking someone how they are today going to contribute to a conversation about whether or not you can assist with their meeting space or sleeping room needs? If they respond a certain way to that question, will it change your sales approach? It won’t, and admit it – you cringe when someone leads with that when they call you. Best practice, instead, is to be direct – tell them who you are and why you are calling. Never ask a client whether or not they are going to book with you; tell them you want their business instead.
  • When someone calls your hotel and they have never been there before, it’s easy to fall into “feature dumping.” Don’t do it. Rattling off all of the great things about your hotel without finding out which things may be important to your prospect isn’t helpful. Ask what is important specifically to their travelers and respond with how your hotel can accommodate. For example, you don’t want to spend time telling them about your indoor pool and free parking when what is most important to them is proximity to their client’s office and whether or not there are refrigerators and microwaves in the rooms.
  • Always ask for more. Before you end your call with the client, make sure you ask if there are any other areas of the company that have travel needs or future events you can accommodate. This is particularly important when dealing with large companies, universities, teams and associations. There is no better way to get to get through a gatekeeper and right to a decision maker than to find out from someone on the inside.

So, there you have it – great questions get great answers, with no Annoying Chatty Neighbor! ​

Why Hotels are Failing with Social Media

An old sign over old motel in Arizona, USA

 

There are some wonderful displays on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram of vivid imagery that are producing some wonderful engagement. But ask yourself, how many room nights did this generate? If you answered “not many”, “none” or worse, “I don’t know”, then your hotel’s social media campaigns are not optimal. What are you doing wrong? Here are 5 areas where you may want to apply a little more focus.

1. Not involving the sales team in the social media process

When was the last time your sales team spent time with your social media team? If your sales team IS your social media team you have another problem entirely. But in most cases the social team is not in a position to appreciate the impact they could have on the top line. They are more focused on like and engagement, which are good goals, but are they goals that include the sales team? Where is the engagement coming from? By spending time with your sales team, if only once a month, the social team can target potential guests, companies and feeder cities with both organic and paid reach, but only if they know where and who those targets are.

2. Not creating connections with target accounts

How many of your target accounts are following you on social? Do you know? Is it even something you plan? A simple list of your most important accounts is all anyone needs to find the social footprint of those accounts on social channels and begin dialog with them, or at the very least follow them. In some cases reciprocal like or follow will ensue and your messages are now part of your target’s feed. This in turn can prompt an inquiry like “Hey, I’d didn’t realize you guys had so much meeting space!” or “I see you are supporting xyz charity, did you know we are a sponsor? Let’s do something together!” Whatever the interaction, synergy and awareness are the goals, but that can’t happen in a vacuum.

3. No way to get from social media channels to reservation system

Do you have a link for your reservations system displayed? Have you tested it? Can you track it? Does it work on mobile? If these questions catch you off guard you’ll want to make some changes. With no way to book a room from your social feed, guests and more importantly potential guests are primed by your content, then left to do the work to find your online reservation system. Most times they do, but why make them work for it, make sure you have an easy way for them to check availability and book that room if they want it!

4. Not using search to find potential business

Social is a bucket of leads just waiting to be worked. There are all kinds of methods to extract potential new business from your social feeds and feeds not your own. When was the last  time your searched Twitter for conferences in your city? Try it! You’ll be amazed at what you find. This simple search is just an example, with some creative techniques you can find all kinds of events and other sources of potential business. And with a little more effort you can get at least a handful of solid contacts to start contacting to find out more. You social team should be able to help on a regular basis, they know social and if they apply what they know guided by your sales team ( see number 1 ) you’ll be successful in your lead generation from social.

5. Not measuring

Do you know if you are successful with social? If you are like most people you look at the number of likes, you may even go as far as opening insights in Facebook and checking engagement. But how did those numbers track back to your revenue? Are those numbers being generated by the people who can impact your revenue? If you are not measuring more than just a few metrics then you are not really measuring. And if you are not comparing your results to previous results then you are not really measuring. Measure!

If you fall into these categories and want help, contact us today and let’s discuss ways we can help you put social media to work producing revenue for your property.

 

Toni Jacaruso (President Jacaruso Enterprises) Interview: Discusses the company, the team and the clients

Get ready! It’s going to be a great year! Hotel Projections for 2014

Because we are in the business of revenue generation for our clients, we constantly study reports on the industry and projections about future trends. It helps us measure our performance against analysts’ expectations. Here is a quick look at some of the key indicators we watch – which are forecasting good news for us all.

RevPAR Increase

As everyone knows, recovering from 2009 has been a long, slow process, but we saw the recovery sustain itself during 2013. We observed the momentum from previous years continue in 2013. The graph below from Smith Travel Research shows RevPAR back above the highs reached just before the challenges of 2008. This is encouraging news, but we all know RevPAR is only one indicator of the health of our industry.

RevPar2014

Occupancy

Another key metric we watch, of course, is occupancy rates. Smith Travel Research also reports that 2014 occupancy rates are already trending equal to or above what we saw in 2013. Business travel is back; leisure travel is also on a positive trend.

Occupancy2014

Composite View

A composite view of several key metrics published by PFK Hospitality Research shows that all numbers for 2014 are expected to have modest to substantial gains. We are especially encouraged by the ADR trend, which is continuing to build on an upward rise of the last 4 years. That, combined with the projected demand outpacing the supply, should provide opportunities in two forms: leverage on prices and the opportunity for new development in key markets.

Forecast2014

Summary

Overall, we like what we see for 2014. In a December report, hospitality.net noted that for the first time in history, the tourism industry is ahead of the economy. And for the short term at least, demand will outpace supply. HotelNewsResource.com points out that supply growth will be around 0.8% while the long-term average for growth will be above 2%, positioning ADR growth in the upper 5% to 6% range. They also project that the value of hotel properties (HVI) will likely increase by 15% in 2014 and 9% in 2015.

These metrics, coupled with a slow but improving US economy, bode well for the hotel industry. We’re not ready to say that 2014 will be gangbusters, but from our vantage point, things look really good for our clients this year. We couldn’t be more honored to be a part of it!

I’m Glad You’re Here: Why Social Matters To Hotels

Welcome

We talk to hotel owners all the time about social media. Actually, we listen while the owners do the talking.  And most of them say something similar: “I don’t understand how social impacts my business.”

We think that brings to light a very good question. Why does social matter to a hotel?

There are many ways we could answer.  We could tell you 1 out of every 13 people on this planet have a Facebook account.  We could cite the 80 new reviews on TripAdvisor every minute. We could inform you that over 147 million Americans are on Twitter. We could mention that every single Fortune 500 company has executives that use LinkedIn. All of that is based on fact, easily measured.

And while all those numbers are really impressive and do play a critical role in why social matters to hotels, we think there is a more critical reason for hotels to manage their social channels:

Your guests are on social!

More than the other 146,999,999 people on Twitter or the other 1 in 12 on Facebook, that one guest walking in the front door to your property matters.  It always has. We are in the hospitality industry, people. Let’s be hospitable!

Let’s welcome our clientele before they get here. Let’s make them feel at home when they arrive. Let’s thank them for coming as they leave.  Let’s have a conversation with them.  Social provides a new opportunity for talking with our guests. Never before could we have conversations with our guests prior to, during and after their stay like we can today.

We don’t have to talk to every single one on social media, but we can selectively reach out to some. If you have a group coming in from a large target account, mention them on Facebook. If you know the “mayor” of your property, send him/her out a Tweet when they are in house. And most of all, address not only any critical reviews, but also the guests who post flattering ones after they have left. Thank them. Talk to them. They’ll appreciate it.

Having these conversations will definitely help with marketing reach and property awareness.  Yes, you will see your engagement numbers go up. Analytics tell us that this behavior will be rewarded by higher traffic. Recently, Starwood mapped this to over $2 million in bookings from social.

Social matters to a hotel because it allows us to better do our jobs as innkeepers.  It allows us to be the hospitable, welcoming individuals that we all are when we strip away the financials, the headaches of operations and the grind of our schedules.

Most of all, social allows us to stand in front of our inn and say, “Welcome, I’m glad you are here!”