Friday, February 25, 2011

72% of U.S. hotel owners plan to respond to both positive & negative online guest reviews in 2011

On February 17th, TripAdvisor announced the findings of its first "Accommodation Owners Survey"  of more than 1,000 U.S. accommodation owners -- hoteliers, B&B owners and innkeepers -- who revealed their plans to attract travelers in 2011 and increase repeat customers.

As per the social-media related findings:

A. Responding to Online Guest Reviews in 2011
  • 72 percent will respond to both positive and negative reviews.
  • 14 percent will respond only to negative reviews.
  • 13 percent will respond only to positive reviews.
  • One percent have no plans to respond to reviews.

B. Getting Noticed Online with Photos
  • According to the survey, 10 percent of respondents said they posted 11-20 photos of each of their properties on TripAdvisor last year.
  • Many accommodation owners are planning to increase the number of photos per property in 2011, as the number of respondents planning to post 11-20 photos per property on TripAdvisor in 2011 rose to 26 percent. Still, the majority of owners (67 percent) said they will post 1-10 photos per property this year.

C. Social media budget

Most owners also appear to be embracing online engagement with consumers, as 57 percent expect their social media marketing budgets to increase this year versus last year. Thirty-seven percent with social media budgets expect them to stay the same, and only six percent anticipate social media budget cuts. Meanwhile, virtually all owners surveyed (99 percent) plan to respond to online guest reviews.
Survey respondents also offered insights into a range of other hospitality industry trends, from mobile marketing to plans to implement green programs this year.

Other interesting findings include:
D. Most Accommodations Offering Free In-Room Internet Access
Accommodation owners seem to be meeting a key consumer demand—staying connected while traveling:
  • 91 percent of respondents said that they will offer in-room Internet access as a free amenity in 2011.
  • Five percent of respondents will offer in-room Internet access for a fee this year.
  • Four percent said they had no plans to offer in-room Internet access.

E. Mobile Marketing is a Growing Trend
  • 27 percent of survey respondents plan to launch programs, for the first time in 2011, to engage with travelers using mobile devices.
  • Another 27 percent indicated that they had offered such programs last year and will continue to do so this year.
  • 46 percent have no plans to offer programs to engage travelers using mobile devices in 2011.

F. Deals Owners Plan to Use Most Often This Year to Attract Guests
  • Discounts on rooms – 61%
  • Special amenities – 36%
  • Rewards points – 29%
  • Deals on nearby attractions – 23%
  • Free night's stay with booking – 16%

G. Few Planning to Charge Consumers Additional Fees
  • According to the survey, 94 percent have no plans to charge consumers additional fees for amenities.
  • Six percent, however, do plan to add fees for such items.

H. Eco-Friendly Programs on the Rise in 2011
  • 47 percent of travelers take eco-friendly factors into consideration when making travel plans.
  • Environmental concerns are also an important factor for owners, as 70 percent of survey respondents plan to offer programs in 2011 to reduce their impact on the environment.
  • By contrast, 30 percent of accommodation owners have no plans to implement such programs.

"TripAdvisor's first annual Accommodation Owners Survey suggests that the hotel industry is still being affected by a slow economy, as the majority of respondents don't foresee room rate increases this year," said Christine Petersen, president of TripAdvisor for Business. "Yet, savvy hoteliers are attempting to stand apart from the crowd by embracing social media, launching mobile marketing features and offering the programs consumers demand most."
Source: TripAdvisor 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Top 25 Online Travel Marketing and PR Influencers

Although the KLOUT influence score system has received some criticism, it is still considered by many as an indicator of influence in the online world.
The Influencers in Travel website use the KLOUT API to track influencers in the travel industry. Here are their categories and rankings and here are the the top 25 online travel marketing & PR influencers

Monday, February 7, 2011

Facebook Deals: Location based advertising knocks hotels' entrance! Sol Melia goes for it!!

On January 31st Facebook introduced, in the UK, its new location based advertising service called "Deals".  The Guardian offers a good analysis of the strategy behind Deals, in relation to competing services from Groupon, Google, Foursquare and SCVNGR .
As EyeForTravel announced today, Sol Melia already has chosen to participate in the platform that is already available in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

In their website EyeForTravel states: "Launched in the US last November, Facebook Deals lets users 'check in' to venues via the Places feature on its mobile app for iPhone, Android and through on some smartphones.
For its part, Sol Meliá has shared that this new platform is one outcome of its 2011 strategy to increase its visibility and positioning in the 2.0 environment.
The showcased Deals from Sol Meliá include discounts of up to 50% in Spanish Meliá, Gran Meliá and ME by Meliá properties.
To access these offers, individuals must register their visit via “Facebook Places” and look for the yellow ticket, showing offers at local stores. Facebook Places and the associates Deals have been made available for iPhone, Android and via the site for other smartphones.
“The wisdom of friends has taken over from the wisdom of crowds, through a highly personal experience in the real world, and Facebook local enables users to take that Facebook identity out and about with them as they experience the real world – likewise using that to inform that Facebook identity,” said Emily White, Facebook’s director of local, according to a report filed “Places is the 'where' to 'what am I doing' and 'who am I with'. And it allows businesses to start joining the conversation.”
The publication also mentioned that Groupon, Google, Foursquare and SCVNGR all have something new to worry about with the advent of the giant social network’s latest move into local - and free – advertising.
“Facebook Places certainly challenges Foursquare, not least because Deals places it firmly along the commercial lines of rival SCVNGR, which claims to have had some success building a location-based game around business from the outset, rather than starting out with early adopter gamers. Again, it is scale that is Facebook's main advantage,” added the publication.
The Independent highlighted that the launch of Facebook Deals is likely to bring location-based services into the mainstream, according to experts who warned that companies, including Foursquare, will be looking over their shoulders."

Facebook welcome to the hospitality industry!!! 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Visualizing Facebook Connections: My two worlds!!

Inspired by the work of Nicholas Christakis I persuaded myself to take an “introductory look” into a data visualization of my Facebook network.  Although very basic, the Facebook application TouchGraph  seemed appropriate.
After some experimentation with the basic adjustments, (i.e. move zoom slidebar to minimum, and spacing  to maximum, then tick both “Show all self edges” and “Tick edges” in the advanced pull-down menu), the application plotted my 528 friends and their inter-connections. Also have in mind that TouchGraph by default shows Top 50 or Top 100 friends. Use that box and write the total number of friends. 
Although not as impressive as Butler’s Visualizing Friendships Graph , I should admit that the outcome surprisingly reveals my ...two worlds!!!   

The up-right part depicts my connections in my homeland (the island of Rhodes), where 4 segments can be easily identified: The Chamber of Commerce of the Dodecanese, Rodos College, Hotel & Tourism Professionals, and of course people whom I know and consider as friends (hm... traditional and Facebook ones!!)

The bottom – left part consists of the Academia part: In the massive green area I found my ENTER Conference network.  Interestingly enough a sub-segment with this year ENTER’s friends has been identified.  Towards the bottom right side there is Bournemouth University: Academics and stuff (light green) but also my students:  See how clearly my students are divided to my January cohort (pink) and October cohort (sky blue).
Interesting enough somewhere in the middle you can see friends located at Athens.

Implications for marketing? Apart from the profound ones, imagine if instead of such segments (calculated in terms of friendship connections), companies (via their Facebook pages) can see segments with customers that share “Like” on common things or even their common interests and activities, therefore being able to customize offerings, services and promotional messages according to same preferences!!!   

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Social media and the end of ...demographics as segmentation tools

From TED: Media and advertising companies still use the same old demographics to understand audiences, but they're becoming increasingly harder to track online, says media researcher Johanna Blakley. As social media outgrows traditional media, and women users outnumber men, Blakley explains what changes are in store for the future of media.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Google Art Project: Museums virtual visits redefined !!!

Google managed (...once again) to impress us by using its Street View technology into a new context: Museums. The new platform, called Google Art Project, redefines the "Museums Virtual Visit" experience setting new standards for further developers: Easy to use intuitive navigation using features from Google Maps and Google Earth, seamless transition and flow, but more than that: 3D mode (mouse right click - put on your glasses and go!!!), incredible zoom - at least in one per museum painting (gigapixel shot enabling access to microscopic details), and of course sharing features via social media platforms and ability so that users create their own collections.
However, for the other side of the coin read Alastair Sooke's opinion at The Telegraph.
What are your ideas about the new platform implications for leisure travel?