Measuring the Success of Online Marketing

As a follow-up to our recent posts on Evaluating Your Paid Listings and Taking Charge of Your Online Marketing, we presented two sessions on Google Analytics at the recent Innkeeping Conference for the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) at its annual conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. At the conference, time made it necessary to hurry through some of the slides, near the end of the presentations, in particular. As a result, we are posting the slide decks here, so you can revisit them and copy down any necessary information, links, etc. The first of these is the session called "Measuring the Success of Your Online Marketing", and the slides are below. Measuring the Success of Online MarketingView more presentations from Scott Thomas.

Value or Discount? Choose One.

Groupon, Living Social, Woot, SmartBargains, Name Your Own Price, Cheap Fares, Last Minute Deals, Bargain Travel, and the list goes on and on. Whether we like it or not, we're all influenced by things around us, and the loudest voices in marketing at the moment are those screaming "Get [whatever you want] at a discount." [caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Giant Value, photo by Jason Schlachet"][/caption]But is that really what the guest is looking for? The cheapest thing they can find, regardless of quality? Or does value matter? Value vs. Price? We came across an article a few days ago that really brought this home. It was an article by a woman telling of her first visit to a B&B. She intended the article to be a glowing commentary on the website that helped her locate the B&B, but the article drew such telling contrasts between her B&B visit and her "bargain" hotel stay the night before, we couldn't help seeing the difference in value. Traveling on a tight budget, the woman and her daughter looked for places to stay. The first night was in an inexpensive hotel, the second in a similarly priced bed & breakfast. While the hotel price fit the budget, it smelled of cigarette smoke, was tiny and "dingy". When she overslept, the housekeeper awakened her to let her know she had to get out. Fortunately, the next night was an entirely different experience. The B&B was located much closer to the area the woman wanted, was clean and attractive, and she was greeted by a friendly and courteous host. The list of amenities will sound familiar to B&B owners: Free juices and water Entertainment system Free WiFi Cable TV DVD collection Access to the owner's iTunes collection and, of course, breakfast The price? A few dollars…

A Simple Dashboard to Monitor Your Online Reputation

Recently the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) asked me to do a webinar on building a dashboard to aid in online reputation monitoring. I had read a really good article on the topic a year or so ago, so put some of that information to good use, added a bit of my own, and created the presentation. The presentation (slightly adapted) is below. One note from the audio (which isn't included) is that at the time of the presentation the site was not responding. Since I haven't actively used it in a while, I don't know if it is still in operation. Building a reputation management dashboard View more presentations from Scott Thomas.

Reviewing TripAdvisor: Low Marks for Responsibility

In recent weeks others in the travel and tourism industry have been highly critical of review site TripAdvisor for various shortcomings in its administration of its online lodging reviews (and other reviews, as well). The concerns expressed are world-wide, not simply the complaints of a few, in a small part of the world. This post is an attempt to gather and synthesize the concerns, to try to identify the core problem, and to suggest improvement. Recent Complaints About TripAdvisor In the United Kingdom, Paul White's Bed And Breakfast Club blog has taken TripAdvisor to task for allegedly fake reviews that have been maliciously posted to damage a property.  Paul suggests that TripAdvisor could have listed hotels give a code to their guests, that could be entered to validate the authenticity of the review. More recently, Heather Turner, in her Chef Forfeng's Blog, has questioned mysteriously disappearing reviews that were favorable to a property, vanishing from TripAdvisor. In addition on several innkeeping forums, such as the members-only forum for the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII), or the public forum, innkeeper problems with TripAdvisor frequently surface. We have documented some of them here on AboutTheInn, as well, calling for greater responsibility from TripAdvisor, among others. Avoiding Responsibility Unfortunately, TripAdvisor's responses to nearly all of these concerns, whether made via blogs and forums, as mentioned above, TripAdvisor's own Owner's Forum, or efforts to make direct contact by phone or email, all seem to result in one of two standard responses. The first is utter silence - leaving the innkeeper with the clear impressions that (a) there is no procedure to handle problems innkeepers may have with the review process, and (b) TripAdvisor really doesn't care if the reviews are genuine or not. The second "response" is the provide boilerplate statements to…

Want to be scammed? Don’t monitor your reputation!

A few weeks ago, at the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) annual conference in Austin, Texas, we did a presentation called Managing Your Online Reputation. If the ideas expressed there (guests posting video, reviews, photos, etc., on Facebook and other social media sites before even leaving the property) are not enough to motivate you to take some steps toward monitoring what is being said online about your business, perhaps this latest scam will. We recently received an email from Maine Innkeepers Association, detailing the scam. Unlike the email scams with the groups who want to book a 10 day stay at your property, this one appears on a web site and unless you are either the victim of the scam, contacted by an angry guest, or are monitoring your property name, you may not find out about it. So far Craig's List is the only site these scams have been known to appear on, but that could change at any time. In this scam, the scammer creates a listing on Craig's List, for YOUR property (using a description copied from your website), offering a substantial discount on the rooms, asking that the deposit be sent to a P.O. Box (or address) where the scammer can receive the funds. In the version where they offer a group rate, there is a contract for the group reservation. In some versions they also offer transportation to/from the airport. From there, it is easy to see what happens. The guest sends in the contract and deposit, the scammer disappears with the money, and you have an unhappy guest who thinks they have a reservation. These scams have been detected via Google Alerts, and when innkeepers have received inquiries about them over the telephone. When Craig's List has been notified of the violation, the…