Category: Social Media

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Ignore the Gorilla at Your Own Risk

[caption id="attachment_968" align="alignright" width="200"] Image courtesy Justin on Flickr[/caption] Among small lodging properties it has been common to refer to TripAdvisor ("TA") as "the 600 pound gorilla." While this term recognizes the enormous influence of the review site with prospective guests, it is not usually intended as a compliment. Instead it is meant critically, implying some measure of unfair treatment by TripAdvisor (B&B's have historically been difficult to find on the site) and sometimes by reviewers (differences of opinion, sometimes remarkably so, can be readily seen by scanning the reviews of many properties). As a result of the distaste innkeepers have for the negative side of this, many refuse to pay for TA's Business Listings, or participate in its booking program, TripConnect. But is distaste for the site a good business reason not to work with TripAdvisor? Certainly without data to back it up, any answer is inadequate. While a few years ago we were very critical of TripAdvisor's own business practices toward its paying customers (lodging properties), TA has made many changes since then. It has a dedicated fraud unit to enforce anti-fraud policies, and has significantly increased its support capabilities for paid properties. While undoubtedly far from perfect, the improvements are significant. Examining the Business Case [caption id="attachment_970" align="alignright" width="300"] WIHP's 2014 Booking Sources Results[/caption]The chart at right is WIHP's 2014 study of booking sources (these are direct bookings to the propetry website, so where bookings mention OTA's -- online travel agencies, such as Expedia, Booking.com, etc. - this is only an indication that the guest found the property on the OTA, not that they booked through them). For 2013 this study showed TripAdvisor (in green) to be the number one source of bookings. For all other years it has been in second place, behind only family and…

Finally! A Facebook Booking Button for Everyone

One of the most popular posts on About the Inn over the years has been a post on how to add a booking form to your Facebook page. However, this has frustrated many, as it requires a bit of cut-and-paste code, and only works for some booking engines. Finally, Facebook has made a move in the right direction, adding a booking button for everyone! Our friends over at Acorn Internet Services have a blog post with step-by-step instructions and screenshots. Head on over there and get yourself a direct link from Facebook to your booking engine.

Maximum Return on Limited Marketing Resources

It's the classic conundrum, isn't it? We know we need to market to raise awareness of our brand, or to simply be found by those searching for lodging in your area. But resources are very limited, so you need to get the maximum return on limited marketing resources. Time and Money [caption id="attachment_896" align="alignright" width="300"] Vacancy on the loop by C X 2 on flickr[/caption]But it isn't only about limited financial resources. It is about time, too. You can hear the advice to do dozens of things to be sure you show up well in search engines - keep your content fresh, use the right keywords, update your titles, write weekly blog posts, etc., etc., etc.! Then there is social media. You have a Facebook page and you post frequently and interact with guests (if anyone ever responds!). You have a Twitter account. And an Instagram account. You sometimes post there, too. You have a YouTube channel, but who knows how to post videos? That's not to mention all the usual B&B directories where you've paid to be listed. Ordinary Results Is it enough? What do your Google Analytics (or Intell-A-Keeper, or, or, or...) statistics show? They usually show that your number one source of bookings is Google, then TripAdvisor and/or some of the paid B&B directories. What else? Where is the result of all that effort? Where is your blog? Where is Social Media? Typically they are almost invisible. I saw an innkeeper post (with great excitement!) on a forum in the past few weeks that they had finally received their very first booking from Facebook. This after years of being involved. So, let's see, several years of effort yields a night or two booking. Is that the "maximum return on limited marketing resources" you were looking for? Changing…

More changes to Google+ Local Business Pages

Earlier today Mike Blumenthal posted on his Local Search blog about the latest changes to Google+ Local Business pages and Google+ Pages (I know, half the problem is that they named them so similarly!). After sharing Mike's Google+ post about the Google announcement, there have been a few questions about what, if anything, innkeepers need to do next. What has been the status quo? There has been a long series of changes, big and small, in Google's listings for Local Businesses - name changes, function changes, merging pages, and more. Without delving into all the details, a business ideally should have a business listing (currently this is the Google+ Local Business page - used, among other things, on Google Maps and, it appears, in mobile search results). With the advent of Google+ there became a possibility to have a Google+ page for your Business (your G+ Business page - not the same as your Local Business listing). Eventually, the G+ Local Business page got a Dashboard to provide analytics (called Insights), and other information about visitors to the page. What is Google announcing? The announcement is that social posts will now be reported in the Dashboard. The way the announcement, and reports about it, are worded, it sounds like the G+ Local Business Page is being merged with the G+ Business page. There is a clarification that this is coming, but is not what is being announced now. For now, it is just that social posts will be in the Dashboard. What do I have to do now? What to do now is up to you, and may depend on what you have done previously. Anyone creating/claiming a new Google Places for Business page will automatically get the upgrade. If you have a Google Places for Business Page, and it…

A Consistent Marketing Message – How Often Should I …

Most innkeepers seem to have an awareness of a need to present a consistent marketing message. They want their website to appear uniform from page-to-page. They want their blog to look like their website - even if it is hosted separately. They want the style of their newsletters or their booking engine to match the style of their website. Going a bit farther, maybe they even want their Facebook page, Google+ page, or other social media pages to resemble their website theme. [pullquote]Think of it from the perspective of your guests...[/pullquote]If you have done all (or most) of these things, you have presented a consistent marketing message in one sense - a consistent appearance. Some refer to this as "branding". But today we will be looking at a different type of consistency in the marketing message - one which is not often mentioned in the B&B world - the frequency with which it is delivered. In doing so we'll step back a bit from the technical, and look into the murky uncertainty of the psychology of the guest, to consider the impact of our choices. When we build our website, we may update it with new photos, a new recipe from time-to-time, etc., but for the most part it remains static. Whether we like to think so or not, it is essentially an online brochure for our business (and yes, it is possible to feed changing content to the website from the blog, Facebook page, etc., to keep it current - but that is not our topic for today). Let's look, instead, at things that require repetitive publication: blogs, newsletters, and social media. In previous posts, we've discussed ways to automate posting of blog posts to social media - there are many tools for that (including plug-ins for your blogging…

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