5 Types of Hotel Technology You Should Know

The hotel industry is a barometer for the innovation and changes taking place in the world of tech. If you want to see what’s happening with new technology, take a look at hotels.

Virtual Reality? There’s Marriott and Best Western, to name a few. The Internet of Things? Marriott again, as well as Virgin, and Peninsula Hotels. Uber’s ride-sharing app? Try Starwood, Hilton, and IHG.

Even with these innovations at a guest’s fingertips, the sharing economy’s vacation rental model, embodied by AirBnB, is still a threat to hotels. It’s easy for travelers to sidestep the rising rates of hotel rooms and snag a cheap night’s stay at somebody’s house.

Homeowners and renters are motivated to share their space because they can make an easy dollar. Although the ubiquity of the AirBnB model is enabled by technology—in the form of the internet and apps—hi-tech accommodation isn’t the first thing on a vacationer’s mind. People are looking for a good old-fashioned stay in a comfortable place for a minimal price.

One of the advantages to vacation rentals is that booking a stay for a week can cost a third of the price of a hotel. Additionally, guests have more locations to choose from, and houses come with inherent privacy and security.

Guests can take advantage of the amenities—such as laundry and kitchen facilities—at no extra charge. A downside, however, is that guests don’t get the cleaning services provided by maids. And there have been inappropriate incidents at AirBnB homes, which may make travelers uncertain as to what type of situation they’re getting into.

Still, hoteliers need to be equipped with technologies that can give them the upper hand against vacation rentals. The following technologies are changing the conversation, making way for a brand new level of hospitality.

Cloud-based Property Management Software (PMS)  

Also known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), this type of PMS enables guests to check-in through their mobile device, among other conveniences. Guests who have used a vacation rental app in the past (they went straight to the rental property and settled in after arranging it online) will be happy to find out they can go straight to their room without having to check in first.

The Fontainebleau Miami used cloud-based PMS and saw 20-40 percent of guests select mobile check-in. In the first 30 days, the Fontainebleau was also able to achieve 141 percent ROI from late check-out offers.

Mobile PMS also lets guests communicate with staff wherever the staff member is in the facility, and allows the hotel to collect data on guests for personalization during their stay.

Social Listening Software

Guests who frequently use social media are bound to talk about their experience at your hotel. Likewise, potential guests will express their likes and dislikes when it comes to hospitality. NetAffinity offers a list of social media monitoring tools for hotels:

  • Hootsuite: Allows you to manage all your social media accounts in one place via streams
  • Social Mention: A free tool with which you can find out what people are saying about your hotel on over 100 networks
  • Mention: Input keywords related to your offering, and Mention will send you alerts from “billions of sources in more than 40 languages”; this is great if you’d like to make international inroads
  • Curalate: Lets you listen to the image side of social media by filling you in on the images your audience engages with most
  • Sproutsocial: Connect all of your social media accounts in one place with this tool’s ‘Smart Inbox’
  • Tagboard: If your hotel has a branded hashtag, this is the tool for you; also lets you monitor competitor tags
  • Radian6: For enterprise-level hotels, this tool analyzes 650 millions sources and presents you with curated insights
  • Buzzsumo: Find out what the most shared content is on social networks

Through social listening, you’ll understand what your target guests want before they arrive. Paradoxically, if they’re looking for a low-tech, comfortable hotel, you’ll know that because of technology.

Streaming TV

Imagine a guest is pretty much hooked on a Netflix program, and quite frankly, they’d like to be able to continue watching it on the big screen while they’re on vacation. It’s not uncommon to see a WiFi-enabled TV in someone’s home—that includes vacation rentals.

Why can’t this be available in a hotel room? Marriott has already partnered with Netflix for streaming HDTV, while Starwood did it with AppleTV and Amazon. Imagine free WiFi and streaming big-screen TV in all of your hotel rooms. Now that’s a game-changer.

Keyless Entry

If guests can check-in via mobile PMS, why not enable them to sidestep the front desk entirely and access their room with a smartphone? In June of 2016, 160 Starwood Hotels in 30 countries were offering SPG Keyless entry, and chains such as Hilton and IHG have also created their own keyless options.

Three out of four Hilton loyalty members who use mobile check-in also request keyless entry, and Leisure travelers who use Hilton’s Digital Key rate their overall experience 5 percentage points higher than those who don’t.

Texting Concierge Service

When someone stays at a vacation rental, let’s just say their concierge is nonexistent—the closest thing is a personal assistant on a smartphone. With texting concierge you can set yourself apart by giving guests the option to text their questions and room service requests. In Philadelphia, 30 percent of the guests at Four Seasons Philadelphia use Zingle—a “mobile concierge service”—to communicate with staff.

The software routes all texts to a webpage, from which a central dispatcher expedites service. If the dispatcher can’t respond to texts within a set period of time, urgent messages are automatically routed to the manager on duty. This type of technology ups the ante of communication at your hotel by giving guests yet another option to satisfy their needs.

 

It’s important to think like a customer who is deciding between a vacation rental and your hotel. Social listening will help you get into their headspace, while the other tech on this list will help you improve communication with your customer and offer maximum convenience.

In the end, if it’s clear you’re operating on a different level—you’re fully attuned to their needs—it will be tough for any vacation rental to beat your offer.

How To Grow Your Business With a Hyperlocal Website

‘Hyperlocal” may seem like another buzzword, but targeting the local market can be just as essential as marketing to travelers.

With search queries including the words “near me” doubling in the past year and 82% of smartphone users using a search engine when looking for a local business, adopting a localized marketing strategy is imperative.

Here’s everything you need to know about growing your business with a hyperlocal website.

What is Hyperlocal Marketing?

At its core, hyperlocal marketing is finding and keeping your best customers by marketing your business to a location niche: usually a region, city, neighborhood, or zip code.

By creating a hyperlocal website, you can capture the attention of customers who are searching specifically for your region rather than generically for their travel needs.

Why Your Travel Business Should Use a Hyperlocal Approach

The shift towards hyperlocal content is a result of the increase in mobile usage and a consumer push for more targeted and authentic search results.

By focusing on your geographic area and creating content around it, you can join other hyperlocal hospitality websites that are enjoying the benefits of this strategy at a higher rate than anyone else.

Growing Your Business With a Hyperlocal Website

Step 1: Create Content With a Local Focus

The hyperlocal approach benefits both your bottom line and Google. By focusing on the customer and creating quality localized content, you help Google improve the user experience, and in return, your website’s ranking.

To optimize your business for a location, incorporate your proximity to interesting things in the city.

Travelers don’t visit a city because of a hotel; they visit because of what is around the hotel. You can capitalize on this.

How to make the most out of localized content

Create a page or entire blog post that is dedicated to your region or neighborhood.

Integrate high-ranking, travel-orientated keywords in your local area such. Examples include restaurants, street location, nearness to notable landmarks, and proximity to local transportation hubs.

By creating useful localized content, you help travelers get a better picture of where your business is located in context to the places they want to visit.

It also helps them understand how to get around the city from your location.

Local guides provide the opportunity to link to trusted sources that will improve your website’s SEO along with your position as a local expert.

Step 2: Use Your Hyperlocal Website To Highlight Your Key Differentiators

To capture potential customers’ attention, you need to stand out in a saturated market. This is especially true during the evaluation process when travelers are comparing local businesses.

To swing their vote in your favor, create hyperlocal content that highlights what makes your business unique.

These key differentiators will capture travelers’ interests and help you to carve out a unique position in the market.

For example, if you have the highest bungee jump in the area or are the only hotel with a scenic outdoor bath – mention that everywhere in your copy and relevant blog posts.

As it’s one thing to have baths in your hotel, it’s another to have a bath on the edge of a cliff.

Step 3: Network With Your Businesses in Your Area

To create a successful local blog, you need to set aside time to network with like-minded people.

Find people in the local community that have an established following, and partner with them.

Team up with museums, festivals, restaurants and other non-competing local businesses to prove your authenticity in your neighborhood.

You could offer free advertising on your website in exchange for social media promotion on their website and platforms.

Alternatively, offer to pool your resources together to buy bigger advertising spots and run cross-promotional campaigns.

One of the hot trends in the hotel industry is to collaborate with local artists and craftsmen to sell their products on site, offer unique welcome gifts or create local events like an art show.

Step 4: Make Sure You Are On Local Listing Sites

If you don’t have a high advertising budget, local listing sites are a cost-effective way to boost the number of highly-engaged users to your website.

Listing services like Google My Business make it easier for local companies to compete with larger and more established businesses.

Google My Business listings appear on the first page of Google search results which is extremely helpful if your company is struggling to compete with more robust brands and websites.

MAke sure your business name, address, phone number, and website are correct and complete across all local directories.

Thie helps search engines verify your business is legitimate and also helps with SEO.

While it is important to be on big directories such as Google My Business, Google+, Yahoo Locating, Yelp and Bing Places, it’s necessary to spend time researching niche listing sites, too.

For example, it’s a good idea to list on sites like Booking.com as well as regional accommodation sites for your city or country.

In Conclusion

If you want your business to benefit from hyperlocal marketing and be recognized as a trusted local expert, it’s important to start incorporating local marketing into your online marketing mix.

By following these four steps, you can attract engaged consumers who are actively searching for you online.

You will benefit from a boost in bookings or sales, and your customers will benefit from authentic localized content that improves their experience with your brand and city.

Hyperlocal is here to stay. Is your business ready to take advantage of this digital marketing tactic?

10 Mobile Marketing Strategy Ideas for the Travel Industry

Mobile devices are essential elements in our daily lives. Despite starting out as a way to keep in contact, phones have evolved into a key information source.

Conversion rates have increased by 88% on mobile travel sites. A mobile marketing strategy is no longer optional.

Here are ten ways you can innovate your mobile travel marketing strategy in 2017:

  1. Location Based Services

Location data is one of the essential tools for businesses in the travel industry. With 56% of smartphone users making local searches, optimizing your business to be discovered is a must.

Make sure your business is also discoverable on Google, Instagram, or Foursquare. Travelers take advantage of a variety of location-enabled features on social media platforms before and during a trip.

Whether to find the nearest restaurant, read reviews, or take part visual trip inspiration, localized search results play a big part in a consumer’s decision-making process.

  1. Mobile Service

With 40% of millennials preferring online customer service, the way businesses provide their services to consumers needs to evolve.

Guests often no longer want to deal with a person. Instead, they want a self-service experience that allows them to book a tour at midnight or order food directly from their phones without a language barrier.

To take advantage of this trend, think about how to take your offers online and make them more mobile-friendly for consumers.

  1. Mobile SEO Practices

It is essential to have strong SEO practices in place along with a mobile-friendly website to remain relevant and competitive.

Here are some of the most important ways to optimize for a positive mobile experience:

  • Responsive web pages. A responsive site design optimizes the layout of your website for mobile users and prevents a frustrating user experience.
  • Enable dynamic serving. Dynamic serving allows a server to detect the type of device and then loads the appropriate content onto that URL.
  • Keyword and content optimization. Choose keywords that are mobile user-specific and make sure the length of your content is optimized for mobile devices.
  1. Personalisation

In November 2010, KLM Airlines decided to surprise its customers. Using social media, their flight attendants tracked down guests who mentioned they were flying with KLM that day.

Then, using information flyers provided on social media, the flight attendants surprised their guests with a suitable gift.

Creating a personalized experience does not need to be an as in-depth as KLM’s social experiment, but it does show the untapped power of social sleuthing.

Spend time getting to know your customers and making it a priority to form relationships with them.

By doing this, it will help create a personalized experience that will delight your customers and make them want to share their experience with the world.

  1. Problem Solving

To delight our customers, we need to anticipate their needs and provide solutions to unanticipated problems.

Think about your customer’s journey and the problems they might encounter – even if it does not directly relate to your services.

For example, when a traveler lands in a new country, their first obstacle is usually getting to their hotel.

Hotels can provide guests directions in the local language, an interactive list of transport options available or help guests avoid being ripped off with cab fare estimates.

  1. Incentivize with Social Media

With nearly 80% of social media time taking place on mobile, being active on various platforms is an excellent way to stay connected to your customers.

Businesses in the travel industry can use social media use to encourage users to check-in, post photos, or leave reviews. If you are struggling to get organic interaction – incentivise your consumers.

Restaurants, hotels, and tour operators can give discounts if a user leaves a review on Facebook, tags and uploads a photo on Instagram, or retweets a post on Twitter.

  1. Mobile-Friendly Offline Functionality

The need to provide offline functionality on mobile devices has become increasingly more important.

While traveling through a foreign country, Wifi is not always available, and expensive roaming charges leave many mobile devices permanently on airplane mode.

For businesses in the tourism industry, it is important to think about how offline functionality can solve your customer’s problems.

Hotels could provide a detailed offline destination guide or an interactive map of nearby attractions.

By taking the time to assess your guest’s needs, you can come up with a valuable piece of offline content that will enrich their experience.

  1. Mobile AdWords Strategy

If you own a hotel, you might be in a hotly contested battle on Google AdWords for keywords like “hotels in Las Vegas,” and you are probably not seeing any desirable results.

The reason for this is because you are focusing on how people travel instead of why. No one books a vacation because of a hotel; people travel to experience a destination.

By targeting consumers while they are searching for an experience or an event, it will open you up to unique, low competition keywords and it will get you in front of your customer before your competition.

  1. Target Impulse Buyers

Armed with the power of a smartphone, consumers are free to make last-minute bookings any time of day.

According to a study by Phocuswright and Adara, almost 25% of availability searches take place on either the same day or next-day check-in.

This information represents a huge opportunity to businesses in the travel industry to take advantage of the “we want it now” culture.

One of the best ways to do this is to ensure your mobile app or website has online booking functionality.

You want to make it as easy as possible for consumers to make that purchase and give them no reason to leave for a competitor’s website.

  1. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is revolutionizing the travel experience. It gives guests the chance to plan their journey in a seamless, interactive manner straight from their mobile device.

AR allows a user to take a virtual tour of a hotel room, browse menus by interacting with the menu and check out amenities like swimming pools and spa facilities all from the comfort of their own home.

Augmented reality allows consumers to plan in a much more interactive way and gives them a tangible way to experience their vacation before they arrive.
By taking advantage of the mobile marketing tips and innovating your strategy, you can capitalize on unique opportunities and differentiate your brand in one of the most saturated and competitive industries.

 

Author Bio: Shawn Parrotte is a musician, photographer, and digital marketer. He manages all the branding and marketing efforts at Designli, a custom mobile app development agency located in beautiful Greenville, SC.

3 Amazing Examples of Customer Service on Social Media

Group of Business People with Social Media Concept

Social media is no longer merely a platform for socializing.

Its accessibility and open sense of communication provide great ways for customers to engage with their favorite — and even not so favorite — brands.

Whether used for the purposes to promote, complain or admire from afar, social media will continue to soar in use.

With that in mind, companies have an opportunity to build and maintain relationships with customers and prospects alike.

However, there’s also the issue of responding to customer service issues. While this practice can sometimes prove difficult, it must be handled appropriately.

Here are examples of brands that do customer service on social media right.

1. Delta Hotels

Today, there are a number of social platforms where your brand can receive mentions, both positive and negative.

In order to respond to complaints, correct false accusations, and remain aware of what your customers like and dislike, it’s important to monitor discussions.

By using tools like Mention or Google Alerts, brands can easily be notified when and where users, well, mention them and then respond accordingly.

For example, Delta Hotels does a great job addressing both positive and negative feedback.

A Delta hotel customer recently tweeted something not so nice about the view from inside his hotel room.

Even though the guest didn’t tag the hotel or ask for anything, Delta picked up on it and quickly responded.

Not only did Delta provide the guest with a new room, but the Marriott-owned hotel chain also offered him candy and a handwritten card.

From there, the hotel guest shared his positive experience with the brand on social media later that same day.

Through this, Delta was able to turn a seemingly innocuous but negative situation into a positive one, which can be especially important in hospitality.

2. Jet Blue

Today, one of the most common — and effective — ways customers can relay customer service issues is through social media.

Due to the wide reach of social media, this practice can be concerning for companies.

JetBlue failed to provide a functional TV on a passenger’s recent flight. The passenger, in turn, complained about the issue on social media.

JetBlue representatives could have ignored the issue, but had already developed a plan when faced with this type of issue: tweet their apologies and offer a credit for an upcoming flight.

Talk about empathy and a fast, friendly approach. The result? The JetBlue customer tweeted again, praising Jet Blue’s prompt and courteous customer service.

The importance of this pre-set plan can be applied to any industry.

Hospitality, for example, thrives on fast and friendly service that caters to guests’ specific needs.

Thus, formalizing actions and responses to customer service issues can save you time when these issues arise.

3. Starbucks

In business, social media is all about customer engagement — and brands should take advantage of this practice to better appeal to and satisfy their customers.

Starbucks has already made it big. But how can the coffee chain continue to widen its appeal? Well, Starbucks turned to its customers to answer that question.

By rolling out the My Starbucks Idea campaign, which is supported by a dedicated Twitter account, Starbucks encouraged customers to post unique ideas about to make their coffee experience better.

Starbucks collected more than 200,000 ideas — installing solar umbrellas to charge smartphones and introducing morning coffee delivery — and effectively utilized the reach of social media to provide customers with better service.

Social media is a great opportunity for brands to form and build relationships with their customers.

If handled correctly, companies can get to know their customers better, come up with unique experiences, and improve their overall level of service and attention.

Twitter’s New Customer Service Tools Take Hospitality to the Next Level

Providing customer service via Twitter is commonplace for the hospitality industry.

Who can forget when entrepreneur Peter Shankman jokingly tweeted Morton’s Steakhouse requesting they deliver a steak to him at the airport?

Upon landing in Newark, Peter was greeted by a Morton’s server with a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, shrimp, potatoes, and bread.

Pulling something like this off is no small feat – Mortons’ social media manager had to get approval, place the order, and ensure it was prepared in a timely manner then made it to Peter at the airport.

Peter covered this on his website and it immediately went viral. Calling it “the greatest customer service story ever told,” Peter outlined the story and why it was impressive.

Not only was this a win for Morton’s Steakhouse, but it also showcased the sheer power of Twitter and the effect it can have on customers when executed correctly.

According to research conducted by Social Bakers last year, more than 80% of customer service requests on social are happening on Twitter, not to mention there has been a greater than 2.5x increase in the number of tweets to brands and their customer service usernames in the past two years (or had been at the time of the study).

Many large hotel brands already have separate Twitter accounts specifically designated for customer service. For example, in addition to their regular brand channels, Hilton has a @HiltonHelp Twitter account and Hyatt has @HyattConcierge Twitter account.

In an effort to emphasize its position as a critical tool in delivering top-notch customer service, Twitter recently introduced new display options and tools.

Companies can set hours they’re keen to monitoring their accounts (and thus, responding to inquiries) which will help set expectations in terms of when a reply may be received. A profile badge will indicate when they’re available to respond to messages.

Brands will also be able to explicitly note that their profile provides support. The accounts with this option will boast a new, large ‘Message’ prompt displayed on their profile.

This larger Direct Messages button — which takes over the full space where the “Tweet to” and “Message” buttons used to live side-by-side — encourages users to start a private conversation with the business instead of publicly tweeting at them.

Hotels, restaurants, and airlines should most certainly peruse their settings and adjust their support information accordingly.

If you take a look at United’s Twitter account, they already have the feature enabled noting that they’re responsive around the clock:

In an industry plagued by vocal customers (what’s more frustrating than a delayed flight?), the fact that airlines are pro-actively conveying “We’re here, we’re listening, we want to listed, around the clock” says a lot about otherwise “traditional” brands and the shift occurring in the social sphere.

The always-progressive Hotels.com also already has their responsive settings integrated, too:

Although this ‘responsive indicator’ feature is new, Twitter has been pro-actively inching toward being a customer service leader for some time.

In fact, Twitter’s customer service playbook advises business to establish a customer service strategy specifically for their platform.

When developing your strategy, Twitter emphasizes the importance of distinguishing three different stages of customer service that can be delivered on the platform:

  1. The reactive stage occurs when a customer’s tweet directly mentions customer service issues, using phrases such as “@[brand]” and @care.” This invites a direct personal resolution from a customer service representative.
  2. The proactive stage includes messages that describe resolutions for broad customer service issues. This stage might involve sharing a solution to a known software bug, for example.
  3. The final stage has general posts that engage your entire following with relevant content, which anticipates potential customer service issues before they arise.

As an example, airline-related tweets are remarkably common to come across:

jetblue-twitter

In the above example, JetBlue nicely displays an example of the process outlined in steps 1-3 of Twitter’s customer service strategy.

First, a customer aired a grievance regarding his delayed flight. JetBlue then responded in a timely manner to obtain more information, then ultimately provide an update.

Although Ryan’s flight was still delayed, the level of responsiveness and personalization shown by JetBlue undoubtedly altered his negative mindset in that moment, even if only slightly.

@JetBlue is a pristine example of a travel brand that combines friendly customer service with fun travel content, such as its #FlyingItForward initiative to provide fliers with tickets to spread goodwill.

Providing customer service through Twitter isn’t new, but it’s certainly evolving.

It’s inspiring that Twitter is taking steps to make the process more seamless for travel brands to connect with consumers and vice versa.

 

This post was originally written for Maximize Social Business.

5 Emails That Will Generate Hotel Bookings [Infographic]

When it comes to the hotel industry, generating direct bookings and nurturing a base of loyal repeat guests is key to surviving and thriving.

Email marketing is one of the best tools that hotels have within their repertoire for reaching their audience and enticing potential guests with discounted rates, promotions, and packages.

If you’re wondering how to use social media to grow your email list, there are numerous ways to do so.

But once you have the list, what are the best ways to use it?

How can you ensure that your email campaigns will accomplish your objective to generate direct bookings and drive revenue?

The following infographic from Revinate highlights five types of emails that will do just that!

From travel guides to holiday discounts, these emails will remind potential guests why it’s a great time to travel and offer them deals that they can’t pass up.

emails-to-generate-hotel-bookings

Gansevoort Hotel Group Gives Its Elevators a “Lift” with Digital Signage

Even the most luxurious hotels are constantly looking for ways to modernize and enhance the guest experience.

Gansevoort Hotel Group, whose New York City hotels already boast coveted city locations, rooftop pools, bars and lounges, landscaped terraces and huge event spaces, is no exception.

Sometimes the smallest upgrades can make a huge difference, and in Gansevoort’s case it was one that gave their establishment a “lift,” so to speak.

Gansevoort had already been using digital signage in the elevators of their hotels – managed through USB drives – but were looking for a more convenient solution that remained affordable.

CrownTV, whose easy-to-use digital signage software is designed with the user in mind, was the perfect fit.

CrownTV equipped Gansevoort’s two New York City hotels, one in the trendy Meatpacking District and the other on Park Avenue, swapping the USB drives for digital signage players and software.

hotel digital signage, elevator digital signage

Gansevoort uses digital signage primarily to make guests aware of what their hotels have to offer.

They couldn’t have chosen a better location to do so than the elevators – a spot every guest encounters multiple times a day.

“We use CrownTV for promotions, upselling and programming awareness. It allows us to showcase features on the property,” Cutter Lakind, Gansevoort’s Digital Marketing Manager, told CrownTV.

Gansevoort has plenty to promote on its screens, like the Exhale Fitness + Spa, offering spa therapies and fitness classes, and The Drift, a beach-inspired bi-level rooftop bar and lounge.

Promoting these amenities on screens in the elevators – a hard-to-miss spot – ensures guests are aware of what’s available to them and how they can make the best of their stay.

Guests are sure to never miss a party, have to ask about operating hours or even wonder if they’ll need an umbrella outside, as the screens also display the local weather.

The technology “has enabled guests to stay aware of current happenings and promotions on the properties,” Cutter added.

Gansevoort Park Avenue’s rooftop pool, The Drift. The hotel often holds events on the rooftop space and promotes them on its elevator screens.

Printing out static signage to promote one-time happenings is not the most efficient strategy, as it requires a significant amount of time and money for a sign that will only be in use temporarily.

Not to mention, if event details change, updating a printed sign’s content is tricky. Digital signage, on the other hand, makes it easy to both create and update content whenever necessary.

Although Gansevoort had been using USB-operated digital signage before, using a digital signage player and a cloud-based dashboard to manage content has numerous advantages over using USB drives.

For Gansevoort, the primary advantage has been the ability to update their content quickly, remotely and easily.

“We find it very easy to manage our content and settings. The interface is intuitive and well-designed,” Cutter said of CrownTV’s technology.

Digital signage is well suited for time-sensitive content that can change on a whim, like event details or operating hours.

With CrownTV’s interface, all Gansevoort needs to do to update their screens is log into the dashboard and make a few clicks.

To make the operating experience even simpler, Gansevoort heavily utilizes content scheduling, allowing them to program their content in advance and then let it run.

Gansevoort also makes great use of video and slideshows, displaying montages of the hotel’s pristine rooms, rooftop pools and bars, fitness studios, lounge areas and more.

Rave reviews of the hotel from outlets like Yahoo! Travel, Curbed and TravelChannel.com accompany the videos.

Mouth-watering food and beverage photos also grace the screen, enticing guests to try out one of the hotel’s restaurants.

Digital signage has turned Gansevoort Hotel Group’s elevators into information hubs, for the benefit of both the hotel and its guests.

Guests get to see what’s available to them on the properties, and the hotel enjoys increased patronage at its pools, bars, spas, restaurants and events.

It’s a mutually beneficial tool that Gansevoort highly recommends, not just for the hospitality industry but for businesses in general.

“We would definitely recommend CrownTV to other businesses. We look forward to continuing to use it to drive revenue.”

Add digital signage to your hospitality business. Request a demo of CrownTV’s software today.

7 Ways the Hospitality Industry is Embracing Pokémon Go

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Pokémon Go has taken over everyone’s attention spans and news feeds.

Pokémon Go is a virtual reality game that allows users to travel between the real world and the virtual world through their smartphones.

Millions of people are wandering the streets with their eyes glued to their phones trying to find the game’s characters that pop up in a variety of places.

While some have mixed feelings about the game, there’s no question the hospitality industry can benefit from tapping into this popular and vibrant trend, and integrating it into their overall content marketing and social media strategies.

In fact, many restaurants, hotels, attractions, and destinations have already done just that.

hospitality-industry-pokemon-go

Here are a few examples:

Purchasing Lures

L’iniozio, a pizzeria in Queens, paid the $10 daily fee to purchases lures (items that attract users) to lure a dozen Pokémon characters into their establishment.

The restaurant’s manager, Sean Benedetti, told the New York Post that the shop’s business spiked by 75% lately as a result.

Beneditti was quick to recognize the value of investing in a timely pop-culture phenomenon and his business was able to benefit as a result.

Additional restaurants are likely to follow suit in the coming weeks as there is strong ROI involved here with a relatively small investment.

Advertising Offline

Other restaurants are advertising their Pokémon incentives on the street to attract wandering trainers that may be exploring nearby.

Mambo’s Café, a sandwich shop in Glendale, CA, is one such eatery:

Even my local rice and beans joint has been invaded… #pokemon

A photo posted by Rebecca Keegan (@that_rebecca) on

Hopefully, Pokémon hunters don’t accidentally run into the sign while wandering around looking at their phones!

Offering Discounts

CitySen Lounge, a bar at City Flats Hotel in Grand Rapids, MI, also set up a street sign promoting their affinity to the game by offering patrons a discount if they’re part of one of Pokémon Go’s teams.

Consumers are so entranced by businesses embracing the trend, they themselves are spreading the word through their own social networks:

This adds another layer to the social media strategy around this phenomenon in that:

  1. This is non-digital advertising that’s organically translating to the online social sphere when users intrinsically deem it share-worthy
  2. The restaurant itself can certainly share to their own social media channels, but the fact that the users are doing it themselves, without being incentivized to share, is a huge victory in the ever-saturated world of brands doing whatever they can to get consumers to share their messages

In shifting from dining establishments to broader locations, tourist landmarks have jumped on the Pokémon bandwagon, too.

Embracing the Trend

One particular attraction is Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, AKA: Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, VA.

They support the game and posted an image of a character on the grounds on Facebook:

In a few short days, the post has garnered 370 likes, 160 shares, and 40 comments.

Even when someone pokes fun at their embracing of the game, the brand sets a high bar in social media management by responding promptly with good spirit and light humor:

comments

This could be deemed a strategic marketing tactic, too — it may help attract an audience to Monticello that may have otherwise not been as partial to visiting (as sad as that may be).

Advertising Online

Furthermore, the social media team behind The National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, DC, took to Facebook to encourage fans to take selfies while they hunt Pokémon around the grounds (thus merging two popular trends).

“Remember to be respectful of the memorials and other visitors, but share your Pokémon victories with a #pokeselfie at the #nationalmall!”

Destination marketing organizations and regional hotel brands are also finding ways to bring Pokémon to the forefront.

Creating Designated Online Collateral

Travel Portland launched a Pokémon-specific website, “Pokémon Go in Portland,” advising travelers where to “catch them all” in northwestern city including PokéStops, gyms, Pioneer Square, Tom McCall Waterfront, and many more.

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Catching Em All

Starwood Hotels and Resorts in Hawaii decided to “go undercover and begin training to become the next Pokemon Master” themselves when they began noticing numerous guests walking around with their phones, moving from side to side, in deep concentration.

They chronicled their “training” in a blog post, “PokémonGo Fans: Can You “Catch ‘Em All?” which showcases a range of characters setting up shop in various Waikiki hotels.

Contrarily to how Monticello is using Facebook to leverage Pokémon Go to attract new guests, Starwood noticed the opportunity to leverage the interests of current guests and tap into additional opportunities to create customer loyalty.

Since Pokémon Go is still in its infancy, there’s no doubt we’ll continue to see an array of unique integrations by the hospitality industry.

What other businesses have you noticed integrating Pokémon Go?

Four Ways Hotels Can Use Social Media to Grow their Email Lists

Email marketing is a substantial part of marketing for hotels. It allows properties to contact past, present, or potential guests and keep them informed of offers that may be relevant.

Aside from having an email signup form on your website, social media can be an effective tool for capturing your social-savvy audience.

Here are four ways to use social media to grow your email database.

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Create Enticing Social Media Contests

Social media contests are probably the easiest way to capture email addresses.

When executing a campaign on any social network, always make submitting an email address mandatory.

Granted, it’s important to receive consent from a user to opt-in to receiving your emails, but if you make that step part of the barrier to entry, the process becomes effortless.

For example, Starwood Hotels Hawaii executed a “Share Your Aloha” contest last fall that was promoted primarily via social media.

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Entrants were asked to share their own unique interpretation of aloha or any special memories of their experience in Hawaii in addition to providing their name and email address.

This allowed Starwood to be able to capture contact information from interested travelers while offering those travelers an enticing incentive to provide it.

Add a Facebook Call-to-Action

Facebook business pages have a “Call to Action” button next to the “Like” button and (since it’s one of the few free features available on Facebook) it’s wise to take advantage of it!

Designed to bring a business’ most important objective to the forefront of its Facebook presence, call-to-action buttons link to any destination on or off Facebook that aligns with a business’s goals.

There are various CTAs available such as “Contact Us,” “Book Now,” and “Sign Up.”

Most hotels and resorts opt to use the “Book Now” button for obvious reasons.

However, if there is a specific, current need to grow your email database, it could be a good idea to experiment with adjusting the button to “Sign Up” to attract email signups.

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The great thing about Facebook is that they provide an array of valuable insights to make it easy to monitor and track how many people are clicking on the button.

Plus, the button can be promoted similar to a Facebook ad or boosted post, so if you’re trying to grow the audience for a particular segment, you can target the email signup campaign to that distinct group.

For example, you’re trying to grow the database for your spa, you can target local women who are interested in massages, facials, or similar spa-related services.

If you’re trying to grow your meetings and event contacts, you can target meeting planners.

Use a Signup Form

Did you know you can add a custom signup form on your Facebook page? It’s relatively easy to add and set up via Facebook apps.

Facebook’s default apps are categories like “Photos” and “Events.” Brands also have the ability to add custom apps which can be anything they’d like.

The apps can also be organized in any order, so, depending on how many you have, you can make the eclub signup prominent among your top four page links, otherwise it’d be findable under the “More” menu on the right.

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Adding an email signup form directly to Facebook makes it easy for Facebook fans to sign up for your email list without having to leave the social network.

The form can seamlessly be branded, too.

Many email distribution platforms like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, iContact, etc., will provide the code to you to simply drop into the Facebook app you create.

Or, if you worth with an agency, they can provide the embed code as well.

Twitter Lead Generation Cards

Now that we’ve covered some ideas for Facebook, let’s shift to Twitter.

Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards are essentially promoted tweets that allow businesses to capture a name, Twitter handle, and the email address associated with a Twitter account for those who opt in.

Using Twitter Lead Generation Cards makes it easy for people to express interest in your hotel or restaurant without having to fill out a form or leave Twitter.

With a few clicks, users can share their contact information.

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Granted, this option is potentially more expensive than others, but if your Twitter audience is active and well suited, the ROI may be worth it.

Tapping into your social media-active audience has an array of benefits, so utilizing these strategies to attract these users is an effective way to grow your email list as well as future business.

Have any additional tips you’ve successfully used in the past? Share them in the comments.

Four Hotel Amenities Important to Millennial Travelers

Young couple standing at hotel corridor upon arrival, looking for room, holding suitcases

Young travelers require a different style of service than their older counterparts.

The millennial generation is more connected than any generation that precedes them, for instance. This means that wherever they go, their tech comes with them.

If your business isn’t outfitted with not only techy amenities but standard or expected amenities, too, you can say goodbye to millennial business.

Here are four amenities that attract Gen Y customers:

1. Free Wi-Fi

Whether they are traveling for business or leisure, millennials are constantly connected via their smartphones and other devices.

Offering Wi-Fi is a great way to satisfy their needs. And proving Wi-Fi without an additional charge is even better.

Survey research from Hotels.com shows free Wi-Fi is a top factor when travelers are deciding where to stay, and 60% of the survey respondents say that complementary Wi-Fi is a tech amenity they would like to see become the new standard.

2. Gym Access

Having 24/7 access to a gym while traveling is a must for young travelers. Your business needs to provide more than just a few free weights and a single treadmill that dates back to the 1990s, though.

Updating your gym area and outfitting it with tech like TVs and state-of-the-art equipment keeps your hotel guests happy.

You may even want to consider hiring an outside company to run your fitness center so you can focus on other aspects of your business.

Hotels like the The Ritz Carlton Boston Common, The Gansevoort South Beach and Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, which works with Phoenix-based Core Performance, are already doing this.

Additionally, these hotels charge non-hotel guests a small fee to use their facilities or take classes, which directly goes back to the hotel.

With mobile and device-friendly apps such as ClassPass or MindBody growing in popularity, young people are looking for a new trendy place to workout. Your hotel could be the next best thing.

3. Updated Work Centers

Named one of The Coolest New Urban Hotels in the Country by Travel + Leisure magazine, Camby offers amenities like a pool, yoga classes, bar and restaurant as well as a state-of-the-art work center that is outfitted with tech and touchscreens.

Travelers can print boarding passes or upload travel photos to share with friends, family, and followers.

Take note from a nationally-recognized hotel and offer your young guests a place to get things done.

Be sure to offer the latest tech, such as efficient desktops that make it easy for them to check social media, update a blog and video chat with family and friends.

Also provide card readers for travelers that want to upload photos from their phone.

The latest smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 come with microSD memory cards, so millennials may want to transfer their files to make room for more pictures during their trip.

4. Pet-Friendliness

At hotels like Motel 6 and Kimpton, pets always stay free. This simple amenity attracts business, too.

The younger generation owns more pets than any other generation, including baby boomers, according to data obtained by the The American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners Survey.

Rather than pay for kennels or boarding, young travelers are taking their pets along on their adventures.

Don’t turn away potential hotel guests by not accepting pets or charging expensive pet fees.

Make sure to promote that you’re pet-friendly on your website, blog and on social media with photos, posts and customer feedback.

This simple accommodation can mean more business for your hotel.