Why Customer Service Is The New Marketing
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From: David Wood <email@example.com>
Date: 13 December 2011 10:38:17 GMT
Subject: Tweets are - customer service and/or Emarketing
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Digital marketing for hotels is becoming increasingly complex. Hotel managers need not only to service guests, manage rooms, availabilities and pricing, but now are also expected to compete for guests in new channels and digital communities that emerge every day. Hence, many hotel managers are asking themselves how they can expand their brand online while still having the time to run their business.
The obvious choice has been to hire additional staff, but this tactic is just a temporary solution, because demand for digital marketing is unstoppable and the problem will continue to grow. The breakthrough solution for this complex problem is a digital marketing architecture and tools that provide a consistent multi-channel experience to hotel guests and prepare hotels for future digital marketing demands.
This article provides a quick checklist on five important items hotel managers should consider when defining a digital marketing strategy for their hotels:
Hotel website and booking engine are Number One. This is probably nothing new to you, but your hotel's website is the best opportunity that you have to engage and sell to your guests. On average, guests spend 6 minutes on hotel websites. 6 minutes is ample opportunity to engage your future guests with bold pictures, easy-to-read room descriptions and attractive offers that make the decision to book simple and predictable. One additional important item is to show what guests will experience when they come to your destination: ensure video is part of your web strategy and you will mesmerize your guests. So, when was the last time you updated your website? If the answer is more than 2 years ago, your website could probably be a lot better.
60% of consumers are social travelers.According to Forrester, 60% of guests use one or more social networking platforms during their search, shop and buy process. Hence, it is critical to manage tripadvisor ratings, have a professional-looking presence on facebook, and allow guests to engage over twitter. And to use the social network to amplify your message, ensure that good experiences your guests write about are shared on the different digital communities. For photos we see the best results using Flickr and for videos a dedicated YouTube channel. And don't forget email: it is still the most widely mechanism used to share itineraries and ideas of trips.
Mobile consumers will demand optimized content in 2012. Mobile traffic is the fastest growing category in digital marketing, and to no surprise also in travel. Google research states that 19% of all hotel searches are already executed on a mobile device. If you deployed a mobile solution in 2011, you will realize that mobile consumers have a much more utilitarian behavior - they are looking for the hotel's address, phone number, or want to book a room for tonight or tomorrow night. Hence, the experience to conclude those tasks must be optimized in 2012. While success can be found using mobile as a stand-alone media, it provides the largest rewards when it is used as an integrated, multi-channel engagement platform. If you can provide consistent messages across web, social and mobile, while ensuring that the most relevant offers are prioritized then you truly have provided multi-channel digital marketing.
Diversify online distribution channels.Recent studies indicate that booking.com is driving a whopping 50% of all hotel online bookings in Europe. This dominance is threatening to hotels as they become more dependent on (and therefore vulnerable to) a single channel that is already demanding higher commissions based on results. Therefore, it is critical to diversify your channels. If you are the manager of a boutique property you should consider signing up with tablethotels.com, mrandmrssmith.com or jetsetter.com. One good source of information for the latest trends in accommodation websites you should consider signing up for is tnooz.com's roundup of top travel websites per market.
Innovate with marketing campaigns.Digital marketing is not a one-time project. It is a new discipline that must be embraced by hotel managers. However, digital marketing does not necessarily require learning a lot of new tools and hiring a lot of new staff. Using the appropriate tools, hotel managers can use their existing e-commerce and reservations staff to create campaigns, follow-up and reap the rewards of increased marketing exposure: more and better bookings. So, choose your tools to minimize setup costs and provide maximum flexibility when creating your campaigns.
In conclusion, a successful digital marketing strategy must provide a consistent multi-channel experience to hotel guests. This can be achieved by using a multitude of tools or an all-in-one hotel digital marketing platform. But no matter which tools you select, at the core of your strategy should be a digital marketing architecture that prepares your hotel for future digital marketing demands.
If you want to learn more about what GuestCentric can do to improve your hotel's digital marketing chat to one of our specialists online or sign up for our Coffee with GuestCentric webinar.
According to the self styled experts on Mayan civilisation, their cosmic prophecy predicts an earth shattering experience that will occur on December the 21st, 2012. The experts argue a bit after this on whether it would be a sunspot storm, asteroid, rare line up of the earth, sun, mars and galactic centre or if the Galactic federation will finally come to earth and welcome us into the galactic fraternity.
So, besides suggesting that we all buy and give Christmas presents early, here are our other predictions for 2012.
1. Content marketing to increase – With Google's upcoming Panda update, marketers are going to have to focus more on the quality of content rather than quantity, and creating engaging experiences for their audiences will have a direct impact on their search engine results.
2. Mobile continues its expansion – After years of saying that it was the "year of the mobile", 2010/2011 was the first year it really kicked off thanks to Steve Jobs (RIP) and Apple, with Android following closely behind. Mobile continues its expansion with more and more brands looking for mobile solutions to their business issues while closely watching the rise of tablets.
3. Gamification - the hot topic (more among agencies than brands) of 2011 will start to get more serious and structured and be implemented in more campaigns. Though, by its very nature it will hardly be noticed. You will engage and "play" with a brand but not quite be able to put your finger on exactly why you are enjoying it as you admire your collection of badges and trophies.
4. Games – With the rise of mobile, social media, gamification and the stress on ROI, more marketers will be looking at using games as a tried and tested method of reaching their consumers (adver-games or games for content).
Seeding and promotion of the games will also gain more prominence in order to reach the target market more effectively.
5. Cloud computing – This is a bit like what mobile has been for years. Suppliers of cloud computing are starting to tout it as the big thing of the year but it has not quite taken off and probably won't until late 2012 either.
6. Social media continues expanding – Facebook trundles on with its privacy issues while users and brands wish it would improve its search engine and make finding new content easier. Google+ which has been off to a reasonably good start will allow its platform to settle in a bit and will then start to push and market it from the middle of the year. Expect to see some good celebrity related stories in the press to help this along.
7. Security – Slowly but surely the boffins have been winning the war against hackers making it more and more difficult for them. Unfortunately that is only in the PC world - with the growth of mobiles, tablets, cloud computing and with more employees taking work home with them, whole new areas have opened up to hackers and we will see some embarrassed companies in 2012 as data is stolen on both an enterprise and individual level.
8. Engagement strategies – closely tied with some of the above predictions, brands will realise the importance of developing an engaging and shareable brand. The most engaging brands will have the most brand advocates and will therefore be most liked by search engines. It's a win-win situation if you can get it right.
9. SMO and SEO – Social Media Optimisation will play an increasing part in your overall Search Engine Optimisation where using social activities to support your SEO and the overall effectiveness of all social media marketing.
Think: sharing, engagement, content, recommendations and conversations.
10. Strategy – Surprisingly most brands don't have a digital strategy in place and work on ad hoc projects instead. In 2012 more thought will be given to tying these projects together into a more effective strategy that will produce more gains and be more flexible over the coming years.
And in summary, 2011 was not the greatest of years with all the financial woes of Europe and the US, but 2012 should definitely be better; after all it will be at least one day longer.
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