Marketing To Millenials on Social Media

The baby boomers have ruled the roost for decades. Armed with tidy pensions, financial security, and sheer power in numbers, this generation’s custom has been coveted by businesses in every sector–including the hospitality industry.

Generation X, with its job instability and paltry numbers barely registered on anyone’s radar–and surely posed no threat to the reign of the boomers. But that is all about to change. There is a new generation taking over.

With over 80 million members in the United States alone, the Millennials–a.k.a Generation Y–are the most rapidly growing consumer segment. And marketers are taking notice.

So how does one go about marketing to a millennial?

First you must understand a bit about this generation’s characteristics.

Meet the Millennials
While each individual member of every generation possesses unique qualities, there are a few traits that are said to characterize the Millennials as a whole.

  • Highly social, both online and off.
  • Tech-savvy and require real-time information.
  • Fearful of missing out.
  • Conscious of social and civic responsibility.
  • Attracted to highly interactive sites.

As a marketer, it is important to select the best platform to reach this influential consumer group. Since the Millennial is plugged in more than any other generation, the best way to attract their attention is to meet them where they’re at–social media.

Here are a few examples of clever companies capitalizing on social media to attract this promising group of travelers.

TRYP Hotel
This Times Square Hotel has developed a social network lounge, cleverly named “Lobby Friend” to appeal to the Millennial’s desire for up-to-date information and social interaction.

Guests are afforded the opportunity to join Lobby Friend and access it over the course of their stay. This membership gives the guest online access to the concierge, staff members, and other guests who have also joined.

Members are kept abreast of events and special deals, provided with help finding NYC attractions, and made aware of get-togethers organized by other guests. And, if a member finds themselves lost in the Big Apple, help is just a message away.

If you’re considering creating your own version of “Lobby Friend,” check out Turning Your Website Into a Hospitality Hub.

Aurora Expeditions
Known for adventurous expeditions to far-flung destinations like Antarctica, Papua New Guinea, or the Kimberley Coast, Aurora Expeditions has found the way to let their tech-savvy millennials share their experiences with loved ones back home.

Using TrekTraka, a social network marketing system, clients are able to share their trek with followers via their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.

Followers can then monitor their friend’s progress and view other engaging information generated by Aurora about this adventure–information that potential can lead to new bookings later.

Azul Airlines
The Millennial generation prefers to deal with companies that possess a strong sense of social responsibility. Brazil’s Azul Airlines “Pink” campaign earned the company a reputation for exactly that.

Unlike the many other airlines that jumped on the “pink planes for breast cancer” initiative, Azul took it a step further and invited the public to name its pink plane–a move that garnered a massive social media following.
The crew was outfitted in hot pink uniforms and the hashtag #OtubroRosaNaAzul was introduced, which translates to “Pink October with Azul.”

Air Asia
Air Asia, a company renowned for mastering the art of social media marketing, appealed to the millennial’s interactive nature through the “Where’s Johno?” campaign.

Using Google Streetview, visitors were invited to partake in five different online games–each based on an actual attraction found on Australia’s Gold Coast.

To make the games even more appealing, players were asked to locate “Johno” at each location, collect five different stamps from him, and enter for a chance to win a free trip to this Queensland destination.

While each generation has much in common with the preceding one, there are also distinct differences. The Millennials are the first group to grow up with Google at their fingertips, a collection of Facebook friends, and a cell phone glued to their hands. And the best way to win their business is through a clever social media campaign.

How do you market to millennials? What traits have you noticed are unique to this generation?

This post was contributed by Kimberley Laws. She is a freelance writer, Mediashower blogger, and proud member of Generation X. You can follow her neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.

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Turning Social Media Into A Career

Do you log onto your Facebook account first thing in the morning–before you’ve even wiped the crust from your eyes?

Have you nearly stepped out into traffic because you couldn’t pull your eyes away from your Twitter feed?

Well, my friend. It sounds like you have may suffer from a social media addiction. But don’t panic. There are jobs for that.

Yes, the hospitality industry needs social-media savvy, slightly “obsessed” individuals just like you. If this sounds like a dream job come true, fight the allure of your Google+ page, and read on.

Here are just a few of the ways that your…um…”passion” can benefit a quality hotel near you.

The Concierge
Many top hotel brands like Hyatt and Tune have introduced Twitter-based concierge services–enabling their guests to access instantaneous assistance no matter where they may be. If you are a tenacious tweeter who knows your city better the back of your own cell phone hand, this may be the perfect project for you.

Whether you’re called upon to recommend a great sushi restaurant, the best spot for designer knock-offs, or you simply want to thank a patron for posting a glowing review, this online concierge service is sure to keep the hotel social media crew hopping.

The Promoter
No one knows the power of social media marketing better than the social media addict. If a company wants their marketing endeavors to succeed, they have to include the hottest social media platforms in their marketing mix.

The hospitality industry has proven itself to be exceptionally adept at this–and as someone with a fanatical Facebook fetish, you are uniquely equipped for the task.

For instance, Virgin Airlines is renowned for its creative social media campaigns and online omnipresence, using a multitude of platforms and tools including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Groupon, and Hootsuite.

The Blogger
Several hotels have added a blog to their traditional website offerings, enabling them to share quality content, upcoming events, and more with current and prospective patrons.

Bewley’s Hotels of Dublin, Leeds, and Manchester, for example, uses their blog to celebrate events like a Beyonce concert, the Dino Jaws exhibit, and a giant Room Sale. If generating share-worthy content is your forte, you may be ideal as a top hotel’s resident blogger.

The Fixer
If you possess both a flare for customer service and an ability to locate the proverbial online needle in the internet haystack, this next job may be perfect for you.

Most social media savvy hotels and airlines now have at least one employee dedicated to keeping an eye out for and addressing negative customer reviews on social media and review sites.

The Landmark London hotel, for instance, regularly monitors and responds to comments on TripAdvisor, enabling them to maintain their reputation as a topnotch facility.

The Secret Shopper
Imagine being able to satisfy both your social media addiction and your shopaholic tendencies simultaneously.

Well, more and more hospitality companies are keeping an eye on their competition’s exclusive deals, special events, and new offerings through social media.

Yes, you could get paid to search Twellow for awesome room rates at a competitor near you.
The Paparazzi
Is you cell phone perpetually set to “camera” mode? Do you keep your fellow “pinners” satisfied with a steady supply of original pictures? Are you a maven of Instagram?

Now imagine yourself taking pictures of the hotel’s beautiful properties, guests celebrating the party room, and happy diners enjoying a five star meal–images that will grace your company’s website and social media pages.

You could be involved in developing a lavish Pinterest board like that operated by Four Seasons, for example.

If you’d like to learn more about how mastering social media can turn into a career move.

Your social media addiction may not be a bad thing after all–no matter what your mother tells you. Instead, embrace who you are–Foursquare fixation and all–and turn that monkey on your back to into money in your pocket.

In what other ways could a social media savvy individual benefit a company within the hospitality industry?

This post was contributed by Kimberley Laws, a freelance writer, avid blogger, and illustrator. You can follow her neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.

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Social Media The New PR For Hospitality Industry

As communication and media have increased in type and complexity, traditional disciplines like Public Relations are faced with the reality of a new set of rules. Where once all a business had to worry about was television, radio, and print, now there’s the Internet and social media to contend with in addition.

With the Internet, the old maxim of “Everyone’s a critic!” becomes truer than ever. All you need is a computer, an Internet connection, and the ability to string words together coherently (though there are plenty of examples out there that cast doubt on that third qualification!), and suddenly you can become a reviewer, posting your experiences online for all to read, for better or for worse.

So how does the hospitality industry navigate these new, churning waters?

New technology means new ways of conducting public relations in the hospitality industry

What Is Public Relations?
Let’s start with the fundamentals here. Public relations is the art of maintaining one’s image and reputation, with the intent of swaying people to understand and support you, and thereby influencing their opinions and behavior.

In other words, PR makes you look good, makes people like you, and makes people act towards you in the manner you want them to. For a business, that means having people frequent it, for instance.

Social Media Rewrites The Rules
Once upon a time, public relations manipulated the three traditional media into giving their clients the coverage they wanted, in order to fulfill the above-mentioned PR goals. Nowadays, the Internet has taken media and split it up into countless little islands or fiefdoms (and in some extreme cases, insane delusional dictatorships), each with its own voice and target audience.

And yet, according to a recent Nielsen survey, editorial (e.g. print) coverage is the fourth most trusted ad source. Clearly, old media’s day isn’t over yet, and there needs to be a balance between the traditional and the modern.

Getting A Social Media Presence
Whether it’s a bar, restaurant, club, or hotel, having not only a website but also a presence on social networks such as Facebook is key. This lets people sign up or like a business’ page, and opens them up to receiving updated information of interest.

By having a website and social network pages (which also link to each other!), a hospitality business has the perfect platform to launch all manner of public relations campaigns, be it promotions, giveaways, or contests. It’s also a good way to keep people informed on new changes; perhaps a hotel has opened a new restaurant, or a casino is featuring a special guest for entertainment.

Closer Contact With Customers
Thanks to social media, a disgruntled hotel or restaurant guest can vent their outrage out onto the Internet with reckless abandon. Hospitality industries that assign someone (perhaps from Marketing or PR proper?) to monitor social networks can find these problems and reach out to the offended party in the hopes of not only making things right, but also of changing their opinion of the establishment and consequently giving a more favorable public review.

This may sound like a lot of work, but this is the reality that businesses find themselves in today. A quick look, maybe twice a day, on various social networks to see what’s being said can really head off problems and bring businesses closer to customers, which in turn increases the likelihood of repeat visits.

But this close contact is not only good for dealing with complaints, but also for adding a personal dimension to communications between host and guest. Some hotel chains use Twitter as a virtual concierge, for instance.

Changing With The Times
Social media has opened up all new possibilities. You can become a hospitality industry innovator like Andrew Sasson by embracing the new technology while still maintaining ties with the traditional ways. Hospitality is at its best when there’s more of a human touch. With social media, that degree of warmth can be met with less effort than you think.

This post was contributed by John Terra who has been a freelance writer since 1985. He is a staunch believer in the power of social media to bring people together.

Photo Credit: wbeem

Does Your Social Media Manager Need A Degree?

It seems like every time you turn around, another college or university is unveiling a program in Digital Marketing and Social Media. Someone thinks these courses are a great idea. But does that mean that your company should require its Social Media Manager to hold one of these degrees? The buzz among proven social media experts offers up a resounding “no.”

The vast majority of these industry movers and shakers achieved success without the benefit of a Social Media Degree–a fact which, in itself, seems to support their claims. Their own successes aside, however, these experts do offer up a barrage of other reasons in support of their stance.

The Problems with Social Media Degrees

Here are a handful of the problems associated with a Degree in Social Media.

• Lack of clout. While these courses are becoming more prevalent, they do not carry the same prestige as other degrees such as an MBA. Plus, they require a significant investment of time and money.

• Expiration date. One of the biggest flaws of these degree programs is the speed at which a formal education will become outdated. Social Media changes at a “blink and you’ll miss it” pace, which means that much of your employee’s knowledge will become obsolete before they even graduate.

• The field is results-driven. While it is nice to have some theoretical knowledge, the fact remains that employers need Social Media Managers that have real-world experience. When presented with two applicants–one with a fancy degree and another with actual experience at achieving goals–you are best to choose the one who has proven that they can do the job.

• Many skills are innate. Social Media Managers must possess some innate qualities that cannot be taught. Ideally, he or she should be a people person with a healthy sense of humor, a high level of creativity, the ability to think on his or her feet, a relatively thick skin, and natural leadership skills. While these qualities can be cultivated and improved upon, they are largely traits that people are born with.

Alternative Courses of Study

Industry leaders do, however, recognize the value of learning and offer up several substitutes for a degree in Social Media.

• Timeless Education. Rather than pursue a degree that focuses on knowledge that becomes stale-dated, you may wish to have your employee pursue a program that imparts skills that don’t expire. Courses in accounting, finance, and business strategies will always be relevant, for example.

• Internships. The experts all agree that the best way to learn is to get down in the mud and do the job. An internship–even an unpaid one–will give potential employees valuable experience, beef up their resumes, and you may even find the candidate of your dreams. If you don’t offer internships, enable interested parties to volunteer.

• Condensed programs. Some educational institutions now offer short programs of study that lead to certification in the Social Media field. A few prime examples include the University of San Francisco’s Online Master Certificate in Internet Marketing; Rutgers University’s Social Media Marketing Certificate program; and UC Irvine Extension’s social media certification program at which Debbie is an instructor.

• Self-teaching. The internet is a wealth of information. With e-books, blogs, articles, YouTube videos, iTunes U, and much more, an employee can teach themselves a great deal about social media and marketing. Gaining mastery over social media platforms is free–not to mention fun.

And, thanks to mobile devices, they can engage in learning anywhere, anytime. If you’d like to learn how to use mobile devices to study check out Mobile Devices: The Next Step in Online Learning.

The truth is that not all degree are created equal. Some are greatly coveted, while others aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. According to the majority of the industry’s experts, a Social Media degree is the latter. You want a Social Media Manager who will roll up their sleeves, get down and dirty, and get the job done.

How did you prepare for your job as a Social Media Manager?

This post was contributed by Kimberley Laws, a  freelance writer, illustrator, and avid blogger. You can follow her neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.

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Sifting Through Social Media Signals

Have you ever tried to take part in more than one conversation at the same time? Before long, you confuse who said what, make a few verbal missteps, and wind up with your foot jammed firmly in your mouth.

Imagine how hard it is sifting through social media signals for information that will benefit your business. Thanks to Big Data and the new technologies designed to make sense of it all, the hospitality industry can do exactly that–extract valuable bytes of info, helping them move their business in the right direction.

Here are a few examples of how hospitality leaders have mined valuable nuggets of customer information from social media conversations–enabling them to improve their standing in this competitive marketplace.

1. Wendy’s Restaurants

Fast food chains have come under harsh criticism lately due to fat-laden menus that pack a hefty caloric punch. Wendy’s made an important discovery, simply through social listening. When office workers contemplate going to Wendy’s for lunch, one of their top queries is “How can I go there and not break my diet?”

If this question is left unaddressed, the restaurant runs the risk of losing the client to a perceived healthier venue. Instead, Wendy’s took this nugget of info and created an interactive app that allows users to build their own menus based on nutritional information.

2. Hilton

World renowned Hilton Hotels & Resorts has learned to quarry hot leads on Twitter. By monitoring the social media platform for tweets involving cities that have a Hilton Hotel, they are able to dialogue with potential clientele–fostering a positive brand image. Someone may tweet something like “Anyone know where to get great mojitos in Philly?” This tweet would, then, be funneled to the appropriate Hilton Hotel Employee in Philadelphia who would help the tweeter find a great place to quench that mojito craving.

By providing this type of assistance, the Hilton Hotels chain is able to create a positive reputation as a company who cares–resulting in great word of mouth on social media channels and face-to-face, and the potential for new clientele.

Not sure how to utilize Big Data in your business? Check out How to Unlock Big Data’s Potential.

3. Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts

Large hotel chains that conduct business all around the globe have to navigate a variety of political climates. And, sometimes, they find themselves–and their guests–in dangerous situations. The Shangri-La chain of hotels has found a way to use social media listening to glean valuable information during times of unrest.

After the October 15, 2013 bombing of the chain’s “Traders Hotel” in Yangon, Myanmar, the company was able to monitor social media using Radian6 for chatter about the situation. As a result, they were able to manage the mayhem, ensure the safety of their staff and clientele, and receive information in real-time.

4. KLM

The Dutch Airline, KLM, has employed Radian6 to keep an ear on social media and Chatter to communicate data back to their social media hub, which consists of over 100 staff.

KLM’s sizeable social media hub was born in 2010, when the airline found itself grounded due to the Icelandic ash cloud. This highly successful program now sifts through over 30,000 messages each week, sorts them by language, and assigns them to the appropriate social media agent. This is done around the clock, every day of the week. The company promises to respond within an hour–a vow that has earned them a reputation for stellar customer service.

KLM is not the only airline that is putting social listening to good use. Learn how Qantas is using it to improve the service in their airport lounges.

It is imperative that members of the hospitality industry learn to manage and decipher Big Data. After all, when it comes to customer data, there is no such thing as too much. You can never know your clientele too well. And you can never dig up too much dirt on the competition.

Which social media platform do you think would yield the most useful data? Why?

This post was contributed by Kimberley Laws, a freelance writer, avid blogger, and social media addict. You can follow her neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.

Image courtesy of: [jscreationzs] /

Airlines Have Highest Levels Of Social Engagement

The world becomes a tad bit smaller with every passing year. Yes, thanks to international trade, the internet, and greater human mobility, the miles between Kathmandu and Montevideo have never seemed shorter. Airlines have always been at the forefront of making the globe much easier to circumnavigate physically. And they are now doing their part to bring together people from across the world online as well.

Yes, airlines are engaging more people through social media than any other sector within the travel industry. eDigitalResearch’s “Travel Social Media Benchmark” measures how well brands within the travel industry perform on Facebook, Google+, and other popular social media venues. The results are in and they show that airlines are making better use of these tools than any of the other players in the travel realm, including hotels.

How, exactly, are the world’s largest airlines capitalizing on social media’s popularity? Well, here are a few prime examples of top-notch social media campaigns generated by airline companies.

Name the plane. Paint the plane.

When Air Asia purchased a fleet of A330 planes, they invited the public to join them in the celebration by running two consecutive contests on their blog, Facebook pages, and Twitter feed. The first contest invited fans to name a plane. After the winning moniker was announced, the public was provided with the chance to design a paint job for the newly named craft to sport. The winner was awarded a trip to Toulouse, France to tour the Airbus factory.

Social Media meets GPS.

Australia’s Qantas has recently introduced technology that allows them to track social media conversations that take place within any of their ten Qantas airport lounges. This enables them to identify where feedback originates from, providing them with a better idea of which areas are working well and which are not. For example, a customer who tweeted his disappointment over not being able to order his favorite cereal brand was pleasantly surprised to discover that it had been added to the menu upon his next visit.

It’s gone to the dogs.

Virgin America launched its Operation Chihuahua and the hashtag, #VXBark, with great success. The airline transfers Chihuahuas from places that have too many to other locations to expedite their adoptions every year. Each dog is featured in a Facebook bio and trip updates are shared continuously on social media feeds. Plus, for every flight booked during the Operation Chihuahua, Virgin American pledges a donation.

Not just a “fair weather” friend.

One major criticism that has been aimed at the airlines’ social media presence is that many of them fall silent on the weekend–a time when air travel is bustling. American Airlines, however, have proven to be socially present 24/7. During a recent bout of Arctic-like weather in the United States and Canada, several airlines and their passengers found themselves grounded. And everyone was tweeting about it. On a particularly frosty Sunday, American Airlines generated the most tweets by far and earned themselves the title as the fastest responders with an average response time of twelve minutes.

Get social onboard.

KLM has always led the pack when it comes to social media marketing. Yes, the airline that brought you the world’s “highest in the sky” dance party has recently introduced its latest social media venture–Meet & Seat. Passengers can share details from their LinkedIn or Facebook profiles with one another and choose seats based on shared interests.

These marketing-savvy airlines have managed to market their brand, win new customers, and fill their seats simply by tapping into the potential of social media. If your company has been dodging Facebook, evading Twitter, or pooh-poohing Pinterest, you may want to rethink your strategy. If you want the public to embrace your brand, you need to first embrace the public. And the public’s on social media.

What airline’s social media campaign stands out in your mind the most? Why?

This article was contributed by Kimberley Laws, a freelance writer and avid blogger. She has composed a countless array of articles on social media marketing, blogging, travel destinations, VoIP, and hosted pbx. You can follow her neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.

Turning Your Website Into A Hospitality Hub

Your website is the internet face of your hotel. Yes, it is the place where potential customers go to check out your amenities, your room rates, and your availability.

And, once they’re finished, they flit off to another site–perhaps a competitors–and, unfortunately, you may never see them again. You had them. They were there one minute, but gone the next–taking their travel plans and wallets with them.

How do you hold their attention, keep them engaged, and dissuade them from checking out someone else? Simple. You provide them with a reason to stay. And one great way to do this is to turn your site into a social hospitality hub–a place where potential customers can check out your accounts on their favorite social media sites and keep in contact with theirs. After all, your business is hospitality. Shouldn’t your website be as welcoming and user-friendly as your hotel?

What does a hospitality hub look like?

Your hotel likely has a presence on the most popular social media platforms–and if it doesn’t it should. It also has a website. To make the most of these marketing tools, they should be working in tandem to create a seamless online experience for your customers. This will keep your customers engaged on your site longer, enable them to discuss your brand with their friends and followers, and increase your brand’s exposure.

Furthermore, by ensuring that your website and social media accounts are linked together, you will also ensure that your traffic is winding up where you want it to–on your website, booking rooms.

How can you create a hospitality hub?

Creating an online hospitality hub is much easier than it sounds. No, you don’t have to be a Bill Gates, Bob Parsons, or Mark Zuckerberg to turn your hotel’s website into the place to hang out. Here are a few simple steps to get you started.

1. Add Social Media Buttons

Social media users can spot buttons that link to their favorite platforms in an instant, but it is recommended that you place them in an uncluttered spot along the top, bottom, or side of your page. Don’t try to include every social media platform on the planet. It will involve far too much work for your social media team, plus it will make your webpage look horrific. Try to stick with the most popular venues like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and/or Instagram.

2. Encourage Sharing

One of your primary goals is to encourage visitors to share your brand with their social media audience–and, in order to do this, you have to add “share” buttons to your website. Share buttons enable your visitor to remain on your site, while sharing your fabulous content and photos. Remember, however, to keep these share buttons in easy-to-find places without them being obtrusive.

3. Allow Social Login

When visitors sign in to your site to set up an account, give them the option of logging in using one of their social media accounts. Not only is it convenient for your customer, but it can also provide them with opportunity to share moments throughout the reservation process. If they are excited about the fact that they have booked a weekend at your luxury spa, they may want to tell their Facebook friends, for instance.

4. Do Some Sharing of Your Own

A great way to spread positive vibes relating to your hotel is to share the awesome photos and comments generated by your fans. If happy guests post glowing reviews or beautiful images of their stay on your property, make sure to share these on your site. It will make the customer feel appreciated and enable you to post awesome content.

If you’re not sure what a stellar hospitality hub looks like, check out Salamander Resort and Spa’s “Social Lounge,” and other visual social lounges here.

Don’t let your site’s visitors pull a “vanishing act.” Instead, keep them engaged and away from the competition. Create an online hospitality hub that reflects exactly what your hotel is–a great place to come and stay awhile.

What social media platforms would you like to see included in a hotel’s social media hospitality hub? Why?

This post was contributed by Kimberley Laws, a freelance writer and avid blogger. If you are planning a vacation to a sunny destination, she offers her services as your luggage handler. She is tired of enduring this never-ending Canadian winter and would rather haul heavy cargo than lift another shovel of snow. You can follow her neurotic and OCD ramblings at The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss.

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Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Shares Growth Plans

With more hotels, resorts and private residences being added to its robust pipeline, Four Seasons continues to expand its influence and global footprint.

The luxury hospitality brand has consistently set a high bar in regard to hotel social media, and they are consistently getting recognized for other reasons as well. Recent accolades include Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Hotel Awards, which included 18 Four Seasons properties, 22 AAA Five Diamond Awards, the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List, which named 40 Four Seasons properties; and the Travel + Leisure T+L 500 list, which included 44.

18 Four Seasons Spas were recognized on the Condé Nast Traveler Top Spas list; 32 were US News & World Report Gold and Silver Badge Winners; and the company was the winner of the Best Hotel Group in the Telegraph’s 2013 Travel Awards. The brand is also one of Robb Report’s Luxury’s 25 Most Innovative Brands.

“The success of Four Seasons has been built on our unwavering dedication to the highest standards of hospitality, and that overarching principle remains at the forefront of our growth plans,” says J. Allen Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

“The foundation of our development strategy is to identify the right locations, and to work with the right partners.  As a management company, it is critical that we find owners and investors who share our long term vision and values, and who will grow with us,” continues Smith, noting that about one quarter of its investor/developer partners owns more than one Four Seasons.

In the past three years, Four Seasons has unveiled a dozen new hotels and resorts in locations as diverse as Baku, Shenzhen, Baltimore and the Serengeti.   In the coming year, new properties will open in Moscow, Johannesburg, Orlando, and Dubai, among other destinations.

“Our strategy is multifaceted: we are targeting destinations where our guests want to go, as well as those markets where we want to establish a local presence to raise awareness and introduce travelers to Four Seasons,” explains Scott Woroch, Executive Vice President Worldwide Development.  “At the same time, we continually explore options to enhance our position in destinations where we currently operate.”

New openings in the near future include a luxury resort inside Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida; a strategic foothold in the African subcontinent; a second location in Russia following the brand’s highly anticipated opening in St. Petersburg last year; increased presence in the Middle East with new locations in Bahrain and United Arab Emirates; new locations in India and the first in Korea; plus continued expansion into China’s major business and leisure destinations.

A key source of growth opportunities is to reflag hotels that are currently established under another brand.  In 2012, Four Seasons converted the historic Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe, and this year the company will raise its flag above The Westcliff in Johannesburg.

Another dimension to the company’s plans is the continued focus on residential opportunities.  Two thirds of projects currently in development include a residential component, whether primary or secondary homes or vacation properties.

“Working with our owners, we are also looking at our existing locations with an eye to improving our market position, whether it’s extensive renovations as we recently completed in Buenos Aires, Riyadh and Las Vegas; or the creation of destination-specific restaurant and spa concepts,” says Woroch.

Which new Four Seasons resort are you most looking forward to visiting?

Social Media Key Priority For Travel Technology Professionals

A recent survey conducted by Travel Technology Europe showed that 71% of the people who responded believe that social media, specifically sites like Facebook and Twitter was essential to their business. One in ten believe that social media is a waste of time.

Social Media Rules!
The surprising statistic of the survey isn’t the 71%. The surprise is that there’s even one respondent in ten that would actually feel that way. That’s ten percent of the people surveyed, and though that’s not a significant percentage, it’s still a noticeable amount. Frankly, if I ran a travel-related business and I caught wind that one of my employees was in that ten percent, I’d fire their clueless butts.

Seriously now; ten percent of the people surveyed think social media is a waste of time in the travel industry? Travel is a leisure pastime (well, at least recreational travel is), and if anything screams “leisure time”, it’s social media. People who think social media has no place in travel need to go off and herd sheep in the Falklands.

Any business that wants to increase its visibility in the 21st century needs to go where the people are, and the people are online, using social media. Some businesses are even getting creative with it, as the next section shows.

The Idea Behind Social Lounges
Certain businesses in the travel industry have taken to adding a more visual element to their websites as it pertains to social media. Rather than just having a list of social media platforms and some cliched “Like us on Facebook!” entreaty, hotels are putting together social lounges that provide a visual library of each hotel’s social media presences.

Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Virginia offers a good example of this trend. Consider it a virtual hangout where people can browse around and see images of the location along with relevant posts broken down by social media platform. This brings together two very key parts of marketing: images (the whole thing about pictures being worth a thousand words), and testimonials (in the form of posts). Nothing but good can come from this approach.

Bringing Technology Into The Picture
Social media works hand in hand with mobile technology, and increasing numbers of travel professionals are using tablets and other mobile devices in order to better engage customers and increase their online presence.

As more people turn to their mobile devices, hospitality professionals benefit from the flexibility and immediacy that smart phones and tablets so they can provide constant, timely communication between themselves and their customers.

According to a November 2013 survey conducted by TripAdvisor, almost two-thirds of all American travelers use social media while on vacation. So much for dropping off the grid and putting the daily grind behind you while on vacation, eh? This means that travel professionals need to make sure that they meet customers on their own terms.

Airlines And Social Media
Qantas and KLM have brought in staff and technology that allows them to monitor social media traffic based on customers’ GPS co-ordinates, and rush to rectify problems experiences by travelers at the respective airports. If other airlines follow suit, and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t, this means that customer service reps, troubleshooters, and other travel professionals will have to make sure that mobile devices are part of their standard tools.

Adapt Or Perish
Like it or not, concepts like smart phones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter are here to stay. Businesses who jump on board the bandwagon will ride it to success. Those who don’t will be left in the dust.

This post was contributed by John Terra. John has been a freelance writer since 1985. He writes about everything from running 5K’s to SEO optimization.

Photo credit: TaylorMiles

Digital Trends Driving Hotel Marketing In 2014

With people turning increasingly to their smart phones to conduct all manner of business, it comes as no surprise that the hospitality industry is getting its share of mobile e-commerce traffic. Here are some of the hot digital trends for hotel marketing in 2014.

Time to combine the elegance of yesteryear with the digital trends of today

Social Media
Whether it’s Facebook, GooglePlus, Twitter, or any of the other platforms out there, there’s little argument that many people out there have some association with social media. This is a good time to focus some marketing efforts at social media, and that includes creating profile pages for hotels.

More Video
A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video enhances that value. According to one source, 81% of online travel bookers checked out videos before committing to a purchase. Fact is, if you have a good product, video shows it off better (think walk-through tours!), and makes potential customers more inclined to buy.

Mobile Usage Trends Upward
Daily Travel News predicts that by 2017 half of direct online bookings will be done by mobile devices such as smart phones. Strong growth is predicted for 2014 as smart phones and tablets supplant the PC has the go-to way of accessing the Internet.

Website Load Speeds
Google is using load speeds as one way of determining search rank results, and it’s in your best interest to have your hotel’s website show up at the top of the page. Furthermore, visitors expect faster load times, and if your website can’t keep up, they will simply leave and find one that is faster.

While some critics say that GooglePlus’ rollout has not snared as many people away from other social sites as expected, it’s a cold hard fact that Google favors GooglePlus when it comes to search engine results. Therefore, expect GooglePlus’ role in SEO to increase in 2014. If your hospitality business doesn’t have a page there yet, you’d better get moving.

The Importance of Remarketing
Remarketing is the process of targeting those people who visit a website without converting into a sale, and bringing them back. It’s a staggering truth that 96% of people who visit a website leave without buying anything. This includes featuring ads that people would see when they conduct a search or use mobile apps.

A Lot More Not Provided Keywords
A not provided keyword means that Google is not sharing some search information with you, namely the key words or phrases that the searcher used to find you in the first place. This is being done to protect the users’ privacy, but it also puts a big dent if your analytics are based on keywords. As it stands now, about 80% of Google searches come back as “keyword not provided”. Expect this to reach one hundred percent by the end of Q1.

Direct Bookings Over Online Travel Agencies
The travel industry has sure changed from the days of schlepping down to the local travel agent and booking a trip. With the explosion of the Internet, agencies brought their act online as a means of evolving, but even this measure may not be enough as meta-searches, strongly branded websites, and social media make it easier to simply do direct bookings.

The Rise of Meta Search
Metasearches allow users to search over multiple search engines at once. Hotels that want to take advantage of this function need to adjust their marketing to work with meta searches, therefore pulling traffic away from OTAs and bringing visitors directly to their sites.

This one’s a natural for the hospitality industry. With geo-targeting, you determine the location of a website visitor and offer them content and deals that are tailor-made for their particular locale. For instance, if someone is in Detroit and they are traveling to Boston, having a deal for Red Sox tickets or duckboat tours would be a valuable asset, whereas it would be totally useless to a customer who’s in Seattle and is traveling to San Francisco. Geo-targeting lets you focus your ads on the right demographic, and prevents time (and money) wasting mistakes.

There are other trends to keep in mind of, but the above list is a good start. With the continued hotness of mobile computing, 2014 should prove to be an interesting year full of change. Those businesses that stay on top of those changes will be the ones that emerge successful.

This post was contributed by John Terra, who has been a freelance writer since 1985. He writes about everything from SEO tips to smart phones. He’s fond of checking out content on sites like

Photo Credit: marcp_dmoz