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A New Year Calls For New Ways Of Reaching Guests!
By Feature Writer Shail Barot
Over the years, technology has witnessed a revolutionary change with regard to the way customers interact with each other, as well as with products, brands and services. This very dynamic change was a driver for my article -New Year Calls For 7 New Ways Of Reaching Guests!
Social media and mobile technology are taking the lead in this revolution, and hotels and restaurants are assessing how these technological trends and cultural changes can influence their organisations. It has been observed that in the hospitality sector, contributors also face a challenge to constantly improve the way they promote themselves, sell inventory and service their guests. As a hotelier I am constantly on the search for new tools to increase and facilitate interaction with guests and with advertisers switching budgets from traditional advertising to "new media", it is clear that the future of reaching out to your target audience is ready to evolve.
1. Social Media
Social media has provided hotel companies with a number of marketing tools to construct stronger customer relations and deepen engagement. Today, major hotel brands use Facebook, TripAdvisor, Twitter and LinkedIn to communicate with guests. Hotels are incorporating social media into hotel operations to boost customer relationships and to analyze guest satisfaction and brand reputation by tracking and resolving guest complaints presented on social media outlets. Some hoteliers are also combining the power of social media sites with customer relationship management (CRM) technology to develop guest profiles that are used to provide superior service to their guests.
2. Word of Mouth
Hotel companies measure consumers' social media influence to identify influential customers. Some hotels engage guests to conduct word-of-mouth marketing, providing incentives such as upgrades upon check-in. Restaurants brands too begun integrating social media into their rewards programs, awarding loyalty points to guests who check into a location via Foursquare, for example.
3. Online Reviews
There is often a correlation found between the social media reputation and pricing power of hotels, particularly as it relates to the popular hotel review site, TripAdvisor. A study conducted by Ernst & Young suggests that if a hotel enhances its review score by one point on TripAdvisor's five-point scale, it can increase its rate by 11.2%, while maintaining the same occupancy or market share. Not surprisingly, 53% of respondents would not book a hotel if it did not have any TripAdvisor reviews, and 87% agreed that TripAdvisor reviews increased their confidence in the selection of a property.
4. Mobile Technology
Mobile technology is transforming the way hotels interact with guests, given the fact that global smartphone ownership exceeded one billion in the year 2012. A number of hotels today, offer a mobile app allowing guests to view or cancel existing reservations, check in, use location-based technology to find and book rooms, download directions to its properties and collect information about a destination, including local time, weather and area maps. Additionally, as an example of inventory distribution via mobile technology, some hotels offer a mobile booking app, providing discounts and promotions exclusive to mobile bookers, an intelligent strategy aimed at capturing incremental demand while avoiding cannibalization of other distribution channels.
5. Content Marketing
A number of restaurant and hotel decision makers today, have not yet abandoned the old ways of thinking about marketing. Creating a lot of content and distributing it on as many channels as possible just does not work anymore. The old rules no longer apply to the new ways of content marketing. Guest blogging is a new and powerful way to reach target buyers. This type of marketing suggests involving a set of bloggers that are influencing buyers, who not only write articles and create content but are also starting conversations, which is the most powerful way to influence your audience.
6. Proximity Marketing
Proximity marketing is one of the most effective advertising tools available for hoteliers. It's not a sign or a text-based advertisement but are promotions sent to guests after check-in, directly onto their mobile phone, at moments of maximum influence. The messages are automatically delivered to the guest's cell phone whenever they approach a certain distance of the TV in their room, or any digital signage in the hotel property. Proximity marketing provides a new opportunity for hoteliers to increase revenues by advertising to a captive audience that craves information and interaction without leaving their hotel room or the property.
7. Programmatic Marketing
A practice through which hotel companies can reach customers with ads based on the site pages they visited, the content they've consumed, and even the search terms they've entered into sites like Google. Search Retargeting, a practice that lets you target people with display ads based on the keywords they enter into Google, Bing, Yahoo! and other search engines. As a result, you can target users who searched on Google for "Hotel in Amritsar", with display ads around the web, featuring various creative that offer sales and other incentives for users to click and book room nights. Best of all, these are truly new customers; they don't need to have heard of you or visited your site before.
Social media, mobile distribution and in-hotel service technology have been known to affect guest satisfaction, guest loyalty, brand value and, thus, financial performance. Nonetheless, the impact of these technologies is not universal. Instead of assuming a more-is-better mentality, hotel companies would benefit more by an in-depth review of their technology needs by gauging the investment strictures, ROIs and benefits. If executed well, technology has the potential to substantially augment the value pathway for hotel brands, operators and properties.
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