Have You Scheduled Your Digital Wellness Checkup?
By Leora H Lanz and Sachin Suri
Thursday, 20th January 2011
You may benefit from an annual checkup, but have you also considered one for your hotels?

It's a new year, a new you, but it's also flu season, and we're all trying to stay healthy by getting regular checkups, enough rest, and keeping our New Year's resolutions.

You may benefit from an annual checkup, but have you also considered one for your hotels? Don't get left behind! Now is the perfect time for a digital wellness checkup to inject new life into your properties and understand how they are projected online.

Travel has always been the most dynamic and fastest-growing segment of the online marketplace and will continue to experience similar growth rates. The direct online channel, in particular, has been providing hoteliers with the only viable option for growth during struggling times; using the direct online channel, hoteliers can measure Return On Investment (ROI) accurately and be flexible with budgets and spending.

Successful hoteliers in 2011 will mesh on- and off-line marketing activities to open up new opportunities and increase their bottom line. Whether it's growing a Facebook fan base, responding to a scathing TripAdvisor review, engaging in social media, or recreating a website to build an online community, smart hoteliers will formulate strategies, set goals, and monitor progress.

Have you ever "googled" your hotel? Do you know what guests are saying about your property?

Have you "googled" what people are saying about your hotel? Do you like what you see? User-generated social media reviews continue to increase, and TripAdvisor – the travel review site – has a significant impact on hotel revenues and ROI.

Don't ignore the need to respond to these reviews – listen and address them head on. This is one of the top things you can do to improve customer service scores. If the reviews are good, engage your audience and encourage conversation. If not so good, still respond and turn the negative into positive opportunities by considering what the guests have to say.

"Everyone else is getting 'social' so I'm doing it too"

This approach doesn't work. Growth of social media has led to its zealous adaptation by brands across different industries, some spending huge amounts of money and still getting lost in the crowd. At many levels, these are chaotic times with brands in a mad dash to get a piece of the pie.

With a plethora of social networking platforms, a good fit for one may not be good for all. For example, some businesses quickly cover the entire gamut of social media marketing – Facebook page for their business, Twitter account, YouTube channel, and Flickr photo stream. In fact, having a presence on multiple channels without a strategic plan to manage the content is worse than having no social media presence at all. Many Facebook pages and Twitter handles haven't seen activity in months, with fan posts and room inquiries going unattended and potentially damaging your hotel's reputation.

Do you want to enhance your online visibility?

As Internet marketing rapidly evolves, smart marketers have moved from ‘push' to ‘pull' marketing, giving way to more synergy between conventional ‘search' (Internet) and social media marketing.

Content in search marketing has taken on new life with such avenues of distribution as live video applications, podcasts, web documentaries, blogs and micro blogs, mobile media, and live audio and video streams. These emerging media are powerful tools that enable you to reach your target demographics in ways that traditional media cannot. Here, content creatively promotes your properties and services directly to your audience wherever they may be – on smart phones, online, on the road, or in theaters.

Have you scheduled your digital wellness checkup?

If your website and Facebook pages simply exist, an online audit will evaluate your website and page rankings and make recommendations to liven up your pages to improve online and SEO (search engine optimization) presence – with keywords, metatags, link building, and the like. They cover the efficacy of growing your online community via landing pages, website design, video content, blogs and forums, and live chat and click-to-call features.

Audits also guide properties through the all-important but sometimes daunting task of setting up a social media strategy to communicate with potential guests, bloggers, and other online influencers on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr. For example, LinkedIn has been shown to have innumerable value for sales teams and to generate quality leads and valuable meetings business.

HVS Sales & Marketing Services and HVS' Web Strategies division are pleased to introduce Online Audits and Social Networking Content & Production services. We boost your hotel's image, reputation, and ROI with comprehensive online assessments and build your online presence via websites, review sites, and social and emerging media. We also help you understand shortcomings in your existing online strategy and evaluate the same with industry benchmarks and best practices to make appropriate and calculated investments.

HVS helps managers and owners analyze the hotel's existing cyber-strategy by reviewing:
  • Website usability and structure
  • Search engine penetration on Google, Yahoo, Bing
  • Presence on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr
  • Impact of other important drivers, such as email marketing campaigns, social bookmarking, and web directories
We will also work with you to compare and evaluate your hotel's existing online presence with best practices and industry benchmarks. We will also highlight critical areas for improvement. Then we can create and execute a well-planned strategy based on our findings and help you create the text and/or audiovisual content.

To schedule your digital wellness check up, contact Leora Lanz at llanz@hvs.com (+1-516-248-8828 x 278) or Sachin Suri at ssuri@hvs.com (+91 (124) 461-6000 ext. 22).

HVS would like to acknowledge Barbara Fischhof of HVS Sales & Marketing Services and Deepti Sappal of HVS Web Strategies for their major contributions to this article.

About Leora H Lanz
HVS is pleased to announce that in 2010 Leora Halpern Lanz was named Sales & Marketing Executive of the Year - Tourism, by the Greater New York chapter of the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI). Leora Halpern Lanz joined HVS in February 1999. She is responsible for coordinating the global marketing and external promotion of HVS' worldwide office network and comprehensive hospitality services. Additionally, she coordinates the internal communications for the firm as well as contributes to the production of the firm's weekly e-newsletter, website and intranet. Her efforts have earned her Awards from the prestigious Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) as well as awards from within HVS itself.

About Sachin Suri
Sachin, Associated Director - HVS Web Strategies, joined HVS in November 2003. Before joining HVS, he had a stint with India's media powerhouses, Hindustan Times and Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. Subsequently, he joined SpectraNet - India's 1st broadband convergent services provider. He then went on to work with Microsoft Corporation as its official International IT Vendor for India, developing and maintaining its websites and IT applications.

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