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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.

Booking Form App for Facebook

Just over 2 years ago we posted instructions for creating a booking form app for Facebook. That method used Facebook's FBML app as its base. Of course, as some readers have noticed, Facebook later discontinued the FBML app (existing apps based on it continue to work, but no new apps are permitted to use it), so it is time (past time, some might say) to update the steps using newer methods that Facebook allows (at least as of this writing!). The New, Improved, Booking App for Facebook In some respects, this is not too different from the old app - at least the steps should look somewhat familiar. The new Facebook timeline makes things a little different in the details, but basically, you create the basic app (we'll use an app that was created by someone else, to avoid re-inventing it), paste in your booking form code, change the icon and position as desired, and you're in business! Let's get started... As we begin, make sure you are logged in to Facebook as the administrator of the page on which you want the booking app to appear. Then we need to use an app that qualifies for the current Facebook rules. For us, that will mean an iframe-based app. One we like, and have found easy to use, is the Static IFrame Tab from Woobox. It has a variety of options, and allows you to install it multiple times on your page, if you need to create several apps. Once again, we'll use Webervations as an example, but any booking engine that allows you to insert a widget into your page (with some exceptions where the widget relies on JavaScript that Facebook may not allow) should work similarly. Here are the steps: Go to the Static Iframe Tab by clicking…

The Minimalist’s Guide to Facebook’s New Timeline for Brands

Mainstream news and social media blogs have been filled with articles on Facebook's new Timeline for Brands (available now, but mandatory by the end of March, 2012). So why another article? This post is designed to provide a simple guide to the steps you need to take to get ready, and to do a good job of it, without getting bogged down with all the "nice to have" extras, or full feature lists, that others have reviewed. Let's just keep it simple and do a nice, clean job of it. OK? Along the way we'll provide occasional links to other posts with details you might like to try, but we won't re-invent them here. Getting Started You can preview, and experiment a bit with the new timeline by clicking Preview when the opportunity comes up (when you log in as your Brand). Changes you make there will be visible to administrators, but not to anyone else (yet). 1. Cover Photo The first thing to do is to add a "Cover Photo", but before you do, there are a couple of "gotchas" to be aware of. You can upload a photo directly (but don't do that until you read the rest of this paragraph). Most articles get excited about the dimensions of the cover photo (850x315 pixels), but frankly, Facebook will resize it for you, and you can move it around so it is cropped the way you want, so if it looks the way you want, that should take care of size. The more important thing is to NOT upload the photo right away. To get a better looking photo, upload it to one of your photo albums and be sure to mark that it is a high-res image, so you'll get a better quality image. Then when you go…

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Getting the ‘Word of Mouth’ Recommendation

Closing the circle in this series on the process guests use to book lodging properties is what WIHP Hotel Marketing calls the Second Moment of Truth - the arrival of the guest at your property. We have already discussed the four-step booking decision process, how the guest becomes aware of your property (the Discovery or Stimulus step), how guests make the decision to visit your website (the Zero Moment of Truth), and the process of deciding to book with your property (the First Moment of Truth). In this article we consider the guest at your property (and beyond). [caption id="attachment_408" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Ready to share?"][/caption]Just as the process begins with the discovery of a property to be considered, by using "word of mouth" -- review sites, social media, or recommendations from "real" friends and family, the guest will become the recommender. Their reaction at your property (the Second Moment of Truth) will determine whether they recommend your property positively or negatively (or at all). How do you get word of mouth recommendations that will bring more guests? If review sites and social sharing are the sources of discovery, then we definitely want our guests to have a positive experience, and to share that experience. How do we go about doing that? 1. The Positive Experience People usually have a good experience when it meets or exceeds their expectations. Conversely, when the experience falls short of their expectations, it isn't usually a good experience. How are expectations set for prospective guests? Proceeding through the booking process we've been discussing, some expectation is created by the initial recommendations or reviews. These are refined further by the visit to your website and booking process. The Second Moment of Truth is when the guest arrives at your property and learns whether or not those…

How to Provide the Information Guests Want

Our first post in this series provided an overview of how guests find and book a lodging property, based on research from WIHP, a hotel marketing agency. The four step process assumes the future guest has selected a destination area and then proceeds through the steps of (1) discovery of a particular property, (2) seeking information about the property to see if it is a good prospect (the zero moment of truth), (3) the guest on your website (the first moment of truth), and (4) the guest at your property (the second moment of truth). Our second post discussed the process by which a guest "discovers" (or learns of) your property as a possible place to stay. Our topic today, then, is the "Zero Moment of Truth," or the time when the guest has decided on a location to visit, has learned of your property as a possible place to stay, but has not yet seen your website, and wants to find out more about your property. [pullquote]Around 80% of searches for more information are on a search engine. Ignore that at your peril.[/pullquote] The findings from WIHP indicate that nearly three-quarters (72.9%) of all prospective guests will look for your property on a search engine. Another 9.6% will look on a mapping website. Since most (but certainly not all) mapping sites are affiliated with search engines, this amounts to around 80% of all searches for more information going through a search engine. That is a statistic to be ignored at your peril. Another 7.3% seek information from a review site (such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.). After that the numbers fall off radically for travel guides (3%) and social media sites (0.8%). Just a side note - if you're counting on your social media sites (Facebook, Google Plus, etc.) to…

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