Tag Archives: Social Media

Google Plus Marketing

Google Plus (Google+) is the newest elephant in the room that many hospitality professionals are choosing to ignore due to their “lack of time” to manage another social network. Many are choosing to simply disregard it, while some choose to make fun of it saying it will be another technology that Google will eventually kill off. The question is not should I have a Google+ page but why does my property not have one yet? This blog entry is my attempt to help you choose to create a Google+ page for your property and to encourage you to become active with it.

Circles

One of the first shapes I drew as a child was a circle, simple, connected, and fun. Many business plans and brainstorming techniques start with circles and grow from there. Google+ also starts with circles. If you can’t quite wrap your brain around what a Google+ circle is, think of your Facebook page and all the followers you have. Imagine if you could drag certain followers into a VIP subset, and employees into another, and people from the USA into another. Instead of posting a status of “Tonight’s special is Maine Lobster Macaroni and Cheese” that goes out to everyone (shot gun affect), imagine being able to post very specifically to just your VIP’s something like “Book a suite by April 1st, and receive a complimentary bottle of wine.” You see, one group might not care about the same content the other group cares for. Perhaps you define a VIP as someone who stays at your property 15 nights or more a year – if this is the case perhaps it makes sense to market your city events to this circle, as opposed to more general status updates that you would post to regular guests.

Google+ allows you to personalize your updates in a very one-on-one way. Are you a fine dining establishment? Perhaps your want to draw in more business from out of town guests so you offer a “book a dinner reservation for a party of four or more by 9pm and receive a free appetizer.” You can target this message to only the people in your “Out of Town” circles. This way the “Locals” circle doesn’t get upset about the special.

Pictures

Pictures you upload to your Google+ feed show up brilliant and large in the news feed. Your snapshots don’t have to be professional or photoshopped. Just be personal and interesting. Are you near the coast? How about a picture of today’s fresh catch. In the city? How about a picture of that new sky scraper or city wide concert? Remember, your followers follow you so they can feel connected. The pictures you load offer another look behind the scenes of the personality of the property your represent.

I cannot stress enough how much foodies love to look at food. If you are a chef, or restaurateur and are not loading pictures of your food, before and after photo’s, and even video’s of food being created – you are missing out on interaction with your patrons. Remember followers follow for a chance to connect with you more, the more connected a follower is, the most okay it becomes for you to sell them something periodically. Remember the theme is, “You earn my trust, now, you earn my money.”

Business Profile Page

There a few fun features on the Google+ Business Profile Pages that I really appreciate. One is that you can link directly to your business website. So, remember, when creating your page – every time you mention your establishment make that name a link so patrons can simply click and end up at your website.

The Google+ Business Page also offers a video tab. I wonder why that is there? Perhaps to promote you as a business owner to take advantage of the opportunity to share video’s with your fans! Video is where most of your marketing will be headed; take advantage of this opportunity to show the action behind the curtain.

Your Google+ Business Page also offers a “photo” tab. This is where the photo’s you add will end up. Check out some of the business pages I will link to for some idea’s on pictures that look amazing on Google+.

Search

I am not an SEO guy so I am not going to try and explain to you how amazing Google+ is for SEO reasons. What I will tell you is that your Google+ page offers a search feature. Is your business in Summerville, South Carolina and you want to know what users of Google+ are saying about your city on the network? Use the search feature. I have also found this effective when operating under my personal account to find possible customers, and tons of prospects.

My final thoughts on Google+ is that it is not going to go away and you need to stop making excuses as to why you should avoid the constant changes that the internet is going to continue to bring. If you want to learn at the speed of light about Google+ I recommend you subscribe to Chris Brogan’s Blog. Chris is a Google+ guru and recently wrote a book on Google+ “Google+ for Business” (affiliate link).

Below are a few links to great Google+ brand pages and please tell me, what did I miss?

Portland Harbor Hotel

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

ThinkGeek

If you want to connect with me you can do so on these networks:

Google+

Twitter

Facebook

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10 Blog Idea’s for your Hotel

A blog is where it all begins and where a deep customer connection can be made with your customer. Below are 10 idea’s that might spur your brain into action to start writing some fun blogs for your hotel website. Limiting myself to just 10 is a chore so whatever I leave out, feel free to add!

  1. The history of your hotel. Guests love to know the history of the hotel they are staying in, and what the building used to be, who used to own it, and any major renovations that have happened. You may be asking yourself, I am in a brand new hotel – this building has NO history!! I would beg to differ. What is the history of the land you built upon? How fast was the structure built? Was there any major weather events during construction? Get creative, your guests want something to talk about when they arrive.
  2. Famous people who have stayed with you. Nothing excites a guest more than knowing that Simon Cowell, Lady Gaga, or Elvis have slept in the same building they are sleeping in. It provides the guest a bit of hope that they may see someone famous too! A client of mine recently had Bruce Springsteen staying in their property while he was on tour. A guest was in the hotel restaurant eating lunch and sharing with the bartender how much he loved Bruce Springsteen and how he traveled just to see the show that night. Little did the guest know, Bruce was standing behind him, and tapped him on the shoulder to ask “Mind if I grab a burger with you?” That my friends, is blog material.
  3. Weekly concierge updates. Your concierge is the key to your city. He or she knows what is going on, and where it is happening. Allow them to have a weekly “concierge corner” where they can write about what is going on in the city and what restaurants not to miss.
  4. Video of anything behind the scenes. Your guests love to feel like they have been given a behind the scenes pass to anything doing with your hotel. What about a quick 30 second video blog entry about your valet staff where they describe the best car they have ever parked? How about a video of your chef making his famous lobster macaroni and cheese? Perhaps your bartender making a tasty Old Fashioned. Keep them short, informal, and fun!
  5. Hotel etiquette training. We have all been through hotel etiquette training, why not blog about it? Talk about the more proper things in life, the people skills training your staff receives, and who does a great job with it.
  6. Local restaurant stars. Living in Portland, Maine – I am lucky. The old port district offers a vast array of restaurant scene rock stars. (Here are few links for you to check out: 5 Portland Chefs, Food Across America) Perhaps your city does too. Do a showcase of the best chef’s within walking distance. It is great exposure for that chef’s restaurant and great value added information for your guests.
  7. How to’s. What does everyone love about going on a cruise? Is it the food, the drinks, or the giraffe made out of towels waiting for you on your bed? In my opinion…the giraffe. 24 hour pizza follows with a close second. Show your guests how to fold napkins properly, with pictures. Do you use napkin art? Show your guests how to do if for their Christmas dinner! All of this adds value to the relationship you have with a potential guest and builds connection. Remember the connection starts at their head, moves to their heart, and then their wallet.
  8. Housekeeping profiles. Does your staff increase in the summer’s with some very talented citizens of Jamaica or other area’s? Your guests would love to know their story, pictures, and something about what they love about their home. Make your guests feel connected, and make your staff realize how special they are.
  9. Guest Blog. Have a local celebrity do a guest blog and you write one for them. This provides great cross promotional opportunities and also will give your readers a touch of zest to their everyday reading.
  10. Decorating secrets. Who does the decorating during Christmas or other major holidays? Interview them, and show a picture slide show around your property. Guests love to see hotels all dressed up and they love to gain idea’s for their own home.

One final note about all this blogging. Have fun! Have personality with your writing and realize that the people reading your blog are potential customers who are not looking to read a QVC sales pitch. Relax, take a deep breath, and write!

What did I miss? What do you like to blog about for your property?

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Social Media, Christmas, and Hospitality

It is the most wonderful time of the year for hospitality professionals! This is the time of year when our budgets get filled with holiday parties, Thanksgiving Dinners, and Christmas cocktail hours! From mid-November until December 26th, let the dollars fall from Santa’s sleigh! This is also the most wonderful time of year to utilize your social media to the best of your abilities. Below are a few idea’s and example of fun social media things to do, Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

 

Facebook

Since by now your property/restaurant definitely has an active Facebook page that you post to at least 5 times a week (riiiiight??), it is time to start using it to promote how beautiful your establishment looks for the holiday season! Why not take a few before and after shots of a function space before a holiday party set-up and after? Your followers will love to see the changes and don’t forget those pictures are larger in size now than they used to be!

Has your lobby decked the halls? Take some pictures and share it with your network, let your followers feel like they are getting a look behind the curtain. Now may be a great time to ask what their favorite holiday toddy is. Why not do a survey question?

Colorful Lobby Shot of the Portland Harbor Hotel

Twitter

Planning on some great holiday events? Why not create a custom Hashtag (#) so all of your Twitter followers can keep up to date? The hotel I work for has an event every year called “Ice Bar.” During this event we bring in over 2,000 pounds of ice and create bars out of ice, vodka louge, and scupltures. Since this event is very well known, and brings in roughly 9,000 people over the last weekend of January – we created a hashtag of  #IceBarME (The ME stands for Maine). Go ahead and check it out on Twitter, follow our fun and keep up to date. We plan to announce when the new vodka arrives for the Ice Bar, when the ice sculptures arrive, and of course up to date info while the party is happening. We also gave our Twitter followers first notice of when the tickets went on sale. What events do you have that could benefit from a Hashtag?

Google+

First off, do you have a Google+ business page yet? I really hope so! For the sake of the length of this article I’m going to operate on the assumption that you do. Google+ offers you a fantastic platform for sharing photo’s and video’s. With Google+ your photo’s appear larger in the feed than they do on Facebook.

Notice the brightness and size of this great Google+ photo

 

I hope some of these examples give you some fun idea’s for your property! What establishments do you follow that do a great job with Social Media? Would love to hear from you and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

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American Idol 2011

I have had one crazy week so far. It began with running into Scotty McCreery (American Idol winner of the 2011 season), on the streets of Portland, Maine. At the time of our connection I was on the phone with my wife and Scotty cheerfully agreed to say “Good Morning” to her.

My wife Erin, and I, with Scotty McCreery.

He’s a great guy. From there the week got even crazier when I found out that a friend of mine had left me comp tickets for the American Idol show and backstage passes for my wife and I! Jealous yet?

Last night my wife and I picked up the tickets and from the very beginning we were impressed with the social marketing that was happening right from the start. Out front was a skinny guy, hooting out for folks to sign his petition for something political that I won’t address here. Yelling in a crowd of people…now that’s good old fashioned street marketing.  In fact, yelling in a crowd is many large business’s approach to Social Media also. :0)

While walking into the Cumberland County Civic Center we checked in on FourSquare. We were greeted with a screen that said “Here for an event?” We promptly told the app that we were and pressed our finger on the “American Idol” option. Very cool. The next screen showed me a list of other FourSquare users who had checked in – I didn’t see anyone I knew, but thought it was neat to know other addicts were in the same building.

Shortly after taking our seats (in the friends and family section!!!! woot woot!!), we were greeted with a screen at the front of the hall that said “Want to win backstage passes? Text #### to #### and win!” This ad was sponsored by Coke. Interesting I thought, around me hundreds of people ripped their cell phones out of their pocket and began texting.

Around 7:15 the show started with another video commercial sponsored by Coke. This time it was asking us to tell them what our favorite American Idol commercial was. “Cast your vote by texting #### to #### and win a chance to meet the Idols.” The crowd erupted with participation.

Then the show started. James Durbin rocked the house, Haley sexed things up, and Scotty McCreery was, well, Scotty McCreery. I’m jealous that his voice can make seats vibrate as it slides low into those basement tones. Ironic that James’ voice can shatter the helicopter glass on your iPhone 4.

From there things got even better as the whole cast sounded 100% better than I expected and even though those poor kids had been singing for almost two months now…they sounded fresh.

During the show my wife was quick to snap photo’s and immediately upload them to Facebook, anxious to make her friends jealous. More mobile.

The end of show reluctantly came and my wife and slipped on our backstage passes. Soon we were hugging and chatting with the contestants, all had such class. I had a quick chat with Haley who claims she is not dating Casey…I disagree and thing there’s something going on their with her and the bearded wonder.

Casey Abrhams...just as nice in person as on TV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had a chance to see Paul’s super-white teeth up close and personal…and let me tell you, they are white!

While talking with Paul I asked him if he has a ton of endorsement deals lined up with Crest – he said he didn’t. Being the salesman I am I gave him my card and said I can help with that. He seemed excited at the idea and placed my card in his wallet, we said we’ll connect on Twitter. – More Mobile. –

Overall, the American Idol concert was amazing…we had such a blast thanks to my generous friend and it really capped of last season for us quite nicely. While driving home I tweeted to Paul (more mobile) about our conversation, and then tweeted to Scotty (more mobile) telling him it was great to meet him and was glad he could put my wife’s face to the voice he spoke with Monday. I have high hopes I’ll hear back and soon be hooking up my famous friends with a comp bean factory tour with B&M.

My major take away from the night was – More Mobile. Everywhere I turned was something asking me to text, or tweet about the event – and guess what? I did! Is your mobile marketing up to snuff? What are you doing to get a hold of your prospective customer’s phone numbers?

As of 8pm I have not heard from any of my Idol buddies, but I am believing that I made some new friends at the event. I’m sure when Paul is looking for some marketing advice he will reach out to me…on his mobile.

 

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Facebook is bad for business…

Facebook is bad for business – when your business doesn’t allow interactivity. Let me introduce you to a recent negative experience and let’s see what could have happend.

Meet the As Seen on TV Eggie. You know what I’m talking about. They appear on TV around

An eggie with an egg inside

11pm right when your munchies are kicking in and you’re really thinking about eating something fairly healthy before bed. BUT WAIT, there’s more – they will double your order if you buy right now! So, my loving wife – did. My wife is pretty awesome – did your wife buy you a set of eggies? Didn’t think so.

Anyhow, we were really pumped when our Eggies arrived. So much so that we started taking pictures of the Eggie process and posting them on Facebook. We even Liked Eggies on Facebook and had every intention of tagging them on our Facebook Page so our Friend’s could go and Like Eggies too. BUT WAIT, there’s more – Eggies wouldn’t let us tag them…or write on their wall. Apparently they can’t manage the comments they might get so instead of all 600+ of my Facebook friends being able to check out Eggies page, they only got to see my page.

Facebook is bad for business when a business doesn’t believe enough in it’s product and won’t allow their customer’s to brag about how great the product is.

The question you are all wondering – are Eggies as cool As Seen on TV? YEP! They sure are! I will include a few more picture of them and would love to include a link to their Facebook page but I am not going to…I don’t think Eggie really cares about me, or you.

Facebook is bad for business when a company launches a page and sets their permissions to make the page totally unreachable by it’s clients. Eggies, I am so disappointed in you. I wonder if you have a key word alert so that at least you can thank me for endorsing your product? We shall soon see.

There's my shell-less hardboiled egg.

In closing I encourage every business owner out there to make your page and your company accessible to folks like me, who love to brag about great products. I take pictures of my food, free stuff from Klout (that’s a future blog), and even the random soda can or dog in the park. Us humans love to share with our friends, that’s why Social Media is…social. Please, come be social with us. If you would like to see more of the photo’s you’re welcome to friend me on Facebook. My Facebook

Not boobies...Eggies.

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10 Rules for a successful Facebook Business Page

I often hear business owners say  “I have a Facebook Business Page but I don’t know what to do or more importantly – what not to do. Help!” Below you will find 10 Rules for a successful Facebook Business Page, please let me know what I leave out, there’s so many great rules to follow! (I am breaking this into two shorter 5 rule blogs for the sake of brevity. The Brain can only absorb what the buns can endure.)

  1. Be Human. Your Facebook page is an area where your customers get an opportunity to see behind the curtain, not read an extended piece of sales literature. Have fun with your customers, use a human voice and don’t be afraid to ease up. Remember, people like your page because they want to hear from you and want to interact. Looking for a great example? Check out Pepto Bismol’s Facebook  page – they do a super job.
  2. Have Fun! Having fun is one of those things that most business’s claim to know how to do – only to find out they really suck at it. Dale Carnegie said “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” That same thing applies to your Social Media Marketing campaign. Have fun, make people smile – don’t be afraid to loosen the tie ~ no matter what your brand is.
  3. Don’t just sell. Everyone loves to buy…no one likes to be sold. Why do you hate to buy a car? Because you know as soon as you walk onto the lot some shark dressed in a cheap suit that is two sizes too small for him, is going to try and sell you a vehicle is that is $100 more than what you had planned for a monthly payment. Do not make your Facebook page a used car lot — be more like Little Caesar’s – $5.00 for a whole box of goodness…quick and easy. We know what you make, just let us buy it when we’re ready.
  4. Respond. How many times did your mother say to you..”Do you hear me?! Respond to your mother!!!” This is the same thing when it comes to Facebook. If a follower writes on your wall or tags you in a comment ~ consider that an invitation to talk back. They wouldn’t include you in the conversation if they didn’t want to hear from you. *Key Point* Your response makes that person feel special. – People feeling special = more customer loyalty.
  5. Share. You’re a pet store who just heard about a product recall? Post the link to your page. Does that help your business directly? No. But it does help you to stand out as the expert in the field. Take a look at some of the fun things a local shop here in Maine does – Paws Applause.

Check out Tuesdays entry for the final 5 Rules to a Successful Facebook Business Page.

What would you add?

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Social Media and Hospitality

 

Would you like to increase customer loyalty, customer connection and brand recognition? If not, you need to find a new job. If you would like to do these things then understanding, utilizing and capitalizing on social media for your property is a must.

As many general managers are finding out, gaining fans and followers isn’t as easy as just posting a sales pitch onto their Facebook page and sitting around waiting for the “likes” and “shares” to come barreling in. There is an art to social media and it does not consist of the same old techniques you used for your most recent magazine or newspaper advertisement.

Social media marketing consists of three main components that eventually branch off into infinium. The first thing you must do is to decide on your brand’s voice. Are you a large 4-star full-service hotel who has a brand already? Or are you a small boutique property who can make changes fast and reply with the freedom of not running it by corporate officers? Either way, a decision must be made.

Let’s start with this piece of advice: No matter what voice you choose to use, don’t be a salesman. No one likes to be sold, especially on Facebook and Twitter. If a client or potential guest has taken the time to follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook take that as a sign that they already know what you do. There is no need to try and sell them on your services again.

Think of it like this: When you get home from a long day at work and your significant other is waiting for you do you walk in and re-introduce yourself again? Do you tell your significant other all about who you are, why you’re the best choice and why they should be glad they didn’t choose someone else? The better question is this: What would happen if you did?! I’m fairly certain your partner would either slap you, ask you to leave, or tell you to get lost!

Why then would you start a Facebook page, gather a decent following and then abuse everyone by stroking your ego and telling them about your amazing pool, beds or workout center? Guess what, they already know!!

Am I saying that you should never share your property’s features and benefits? No. I am saying to do it in a fun way. Instead of saying, “Come stay at XYZ Hotel and enjoy our amazing salt water pool.” Why not say, “While staying with XYZ Hotel take a dip in our salt water pool; we promise, there won’t be any sharks!”

Your objective is to gain attention, trust and conversation. If you pitch your followers in the same way you pitch a client you will loose the people you worked so hard to gain. By deciding on the voice of your hotel you will know how to say the cute things to the prospects you want to say it to.

Your second task is a very important one. Decide who will speak for your property. For instance, if you have decided your voice is going to be a fun loving 4-star property who enjoys teasing and playing with your followers you must decide who will do the typing.

I am a huge fan of having just one social media expert on staff. This guarantees having a solitary voice that never changes. If your hotel is too large and has so much activity on your networks that you need to have more than one staff member man the gates, just be sure they are on the same page and work out a system to reply to ALL comments.

I do not recommend farming-out your social media commitments to an available intern or just any available front desk employee. One of the many reasons why people love social media is to hear the many voices of the various companies they follow. If you allow your intern to do it, (who may do it well) you could be setting yourself up for failure. How long is your intern supposed to be with your property? Is social media the best thing they can be doing for your hotel? This all comes back to deciding on your voice – the voice of your property must be steadfast and friendly. Choose wisely.

Once you have decided on a voice, and who is going to be that voice, you must also decide on what your social media policy is going to be. It is important to meet weekly with the employee who is doing your tweets, Facebook and whatever other mediums you decide to use. Talk about what the week ahead holds, who interacted with your property, and who your new followers are. Remember that social media is not just about “likes” and “followers,” it is about interaction and eventually turning those interactions into profit!

Facebook offers a great tool to measure your interactions and see where in the world your followers are interacting with you from. This tool is called “Insights.” It is easy to convert the statistics into an Excel sheet and definitely worth going over every week with your social media manager.

A common concern is what to do if an unhappy guest posts something negative on your page for all your other guests to see. The easy answer to this is a fun phrase commonly tossed about on the Internet: “Do not feed the trolls.” A troll is someone who posts negative comments on your website or Facebook wall just to get a reaction from you. I recommend one of two simple solutions:

First ask yourself is this negative criticism possible? Perhaps the comment has some validity and you may even have a record of it from your night auditor or security personnel. If the negative comment is valid, I recommend responding on your page publicly with a simple apology and asking the guest to call you on your office phone or to email you, and let them know you will fix the issue if at all possible. Do not take time to react, rebut or pass the blame. Remember, all of the other people who follow your page will see your response. The best response they can see is your confident and competent ability to handle the issue and fix it.

The second case scenario is someone is posting inflammatory remarks on your page that are totally unfounded. If this is on Facebook it is quite easy to delete a comment before many people have seen it. You have the option on Twitter to mark a tweet as SPAM. Only do these types of actions when you are certain the poster is leaving untrue statements about your property.

In some cases a post may be trying to raise controversy about an event at your hotel. If this is the case, do not feed the troll. Let the post stand but do not add gasoline to the fire. In some cases, the best response is no response. Use your best judgment and, again, cover these situations with your social media manager so that he or she knows how to react.

The final step to having a successful social media marketing push is to never stop learning, and be prepared for change. The Internet changes every minute, and it was not too long ago that everyone was raving about MySpace and AIM. As of right now the newest technology is Google+ (which does not allow business accounts yet).

Change is inevitable and that is why it is vital to have a member of your team with open eyes and an open mind to the new changes coming to your property. The fact is, social media will not go away — it is only going to change. Be ready for the changes, embrace them, and above all else, have fun.

This article was written by David A. Pride, owner of this blog and originally published on hotelsmag.com.

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