Using Instagram Direct To Market Your Hotel

Many members of the hotel industry have always been quite progressive–hopping on board the newest social media platforms and adding them to their repertoire of marketing tools. Well, there is a new player in town and it may just shake up the way the travel industry engages with its online followers and fans. Its name is Instagram Direct and it is already changing the way that some brands interact with their potential customers.

 

Instagram Standouts

Travellers love Instagram and, over the years, many hoteliers have used this fascination to their advantage with some clever hospitality marketing programs. Starwood Hotels, a global conglomerate that owns popular brands like Sheraton, Westin, and St. Regis, boasts a network of guests that share approximately 40,000 images of their properties each month.

The 1888 Hotel in Sydney, Australia holds the title as “the world’s first Instagram hotel.” With a snapshot friendly decor that includes a “selfie space,” a guide to the city’s most Instagram-friendly spots, and screens at reception that display the hotel’s Instagram feed, this is a dream destination for Instagrammers the world over. They reward users who have 10,000 followers or more with a complimentary night’s stay and reward guests who post the best shots of the premises each month.

Introducing Instagram Direct

Instagram Direct builds on the traditional Instagram platform by adding the ability to share photos, videos, and messages with specific people. You can send them to your “followers” in general or to selected individuals. Recipients will be able to see your message immediately and respond. And, as an added bonus, you will be able to find out who has viewed your picture or video and who has “liked” it.

Practical Applications in the Hotel Business

Hyatt Hotels was one of the earliest adopters of Instagram Direct. The company nurtured its relationship with its customers by sending out personal Christmas card to its followers. Not only did they manage to tie their brand name to the warm and fuzzy feelings associated with the holiday season, but they also managed to attract followers to the rest of their Instagram content.

Experts in both the fields of travel and social media marketing cite several potential ways to add Instagram Direct to their hotel social media marketing mixes and the benefits of doing so.

Appeal to a hip, young audience. As Facebook and Pinterest become more and more popular among multiple generations, younger audiences seek a place of their own. Instagram is increasingly becoming their “go-to” destination. Early adapters will also be attracted to Instagram Direct. By adding this new feature to your marketing mix, you will be able to attract the next generation of travelers to your brand.

  • Deepen customer relationships. By engaging with customers on a personalized basis, brands will be better able to foster consumer loyalty. This is especially important for large corporate-owned hotels as they are often perceived as more impersonal than their “ma and pa” counterparts.
  • Offer rewards. Everyone loves a company that rewards them for their loyalty–and Instagram Direct enables hoteliers to do exactly that. A great way to do this is to send a snapshot to select followers and offer them a coupon code or special deal at your premises.
  • Conduct a contest. Your followers will love the chance to win a contest. Again, you can invite select followers to either comment on one of your company photos or submit a photo of their own in order to win a free night’s stay or a complimentary meal. Whether the winner is chosen based on the best photo or through a random selection like “the twelfth person to comment,” this will increase goodwill towards your brand and create a valuable buzz.
  • Create an “insiders’ circle.” Customers love to feel that they are valued. Offering your followers a preview of a new hotel, a sneak peak at refurbishments, or some other “insiders only” information will deepen the relationship immensely. You can also ask for customer input when it comes to your hotel’s client services. One great idea is to ask followers to submit a picture of a dish that you could add to the restaurant’s menu or for suggestions for a new animal to be introduced to the guest towel origami repertoire. You could, then, select the best ideas and have followers vote for a winner.
  • Personalized customer service. Instagram Direct also enables your customer service department to handle customer queries and complaints on a private one-to-one basis.

Yes, Instagram Direct’s applications for your hotel business are as unlimited as your social media marketers’ imaginations. So get creative and invite your Instagram followers to rest their weary heads in your Egyptian cotton-laden beds. And make sure that your “no vacancy” sign is close at hand.

How do you feel about Instagram Direct? In what ways do you think it will benefit the hotel industry?

This article was contributed by Kimberley Laws. Kimberly is a freelance writer and avid blogger who has a wondering spirit and a love for content marketing and hotel swimming pools.

Images courtesy of photos.com.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Among First to Feature Instagram on All Property Websites

Guests of Starwood’s more than 1,150 hotels capture and share an average of 40,000 images per month on Instagram, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. recently announced an industry-leading integration with Instagram on all of its websites worldwide.

New Guest Galleries from Instagram showcase the explosion of social sharing through Instagram photos and videos geo-tagged by Starwood’s digitally-savvy guests.

From unique hotel amenities to eye-catching local sites, the enhanced Guest Galleries from Instagram offer a fun, new way for travelers to explore their next Starwood destination – all from the perspective of fellow guests.

For each hotel and resort across Starwood’s nine design-led brands, visitors can view photos and videos geo-tagged by guests who have experienced that Starwood hotel.

Starwood Instagram

The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, Miami Beach, Florida

Guest Galleries from Instagram give travelers the opportunity to view an authentic representation of each distinctive brand by exploring brand-specific categories including: Family Traditions for St. Regis, Fashion for W Hotels, UnLock Art for Le Méridien, Move Well for Westin, and a special category for Instagrams tagged with #SPGLife.

The volume of Starwood guests’ Instagrams speaks to the passion they have for sharing their unique travel experiences – including pictures of a gorgeous beachscape, poolside view, an SPG member’s room upgrade or special amenity, one of Starwood’s award-winning restaurants, and more.

These images serve as a visual seal of approval direct from Starwood’s discerning, digitally-savvy guests for other travelers looking for inspiration.

“A ‘picture is worth a thousand words’ and a picture shared is worth even more to our guests. Starwood’s mobile bookings are growing five times faster than the annual growth rate of the web channel 10 years ago. With an increasingly mobile, digital traveler we expect social sharing in places like our Instagram Guest Gallery pages will continue to change how our guests book travel and explore and interact with our hotels.” – Chris Holdren, Senior Vice President, Starwood Preferred Guest & Digital.

Through their suite of digital properties, Starwood provides today’s connected traveler a visually rich, personalized experience on every step of their journey from imaginative destination exploration to the details of their trip before, during, and after a visit.

As an early adopter of social networks like Instagram, Facebook, and Foursquare, Starwood continuously leverages mobile and social in new ways transforming the travel experience by connecting with guests and delivering more personalized service.

HootSuite Now Monitors Yelp, Google+ Local, TripAdvisor

Effective this week, HootSuite can now monitor reviews on all major review sites.  The review feed in HootSuite will be powered by a new app called Reputology.

Built by a startup run by MIT grads, the Reputology app not only monitors reviews on all the major business directories, but it will also track industry specific review sites in hospitality, restaurants, retail, health/medicine, auto dealers, weddings and career/workplace.

If you represent a multi-location organization, Reputology lets you monitor activity for all your locations.  The economy hotel Red Roof Inn, for example, monitors about 350 locations nationwide using Reputology.

You can customize each stream by rating, review site, location or status. The status is something the user assigns to a review as a way to keep tabs on how a review is being followed up on. NOTE the list of directories displayed in that screenshot is not a comprehensive list of all the sites Reputology monitors.

The reason businesses should monitor their reviews is that they impact sales and even SEO.  Studies at Harvard and UC Berkeley have shown that reviews can impact sales by as much as 9%.  And just a couple weeks ago, a new study found that Google’s search algorithm weighs review volume and rating over other factors.  In other words, reviews play a significant role in how high a business will rank when someone does a Google search.

But by monitoring reviews, businesses have the chance to respond quickly and even reverse a reviewer’s opinion.  Reputology users have said they can get unhappy reviewers to change their mind about 70% of the time.

If you run multiple locations, you can create a stream for each one. Or if you are a consultant with many clients, you can create a stream for each client. Or you can aggregate everything into one stream.

Here are some links that allow you to monitor reviews in HootSuite:

  • Already a HootSuite user?  Use this link to Install Reputology now.
  • If you don’t have HootSuite account, sign up here to install Reputology.

Let us know what you think of the new app once you try it!

 

 

When In Hospitality, Do As Retailers Do

Hotel receptionAs more and more Americans climb out of the recession, latch onto more profitable careers, and have extra time and cash for vacations, no industry will feel the boom like hotels and motels.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association suggests the good times have already hit, with 2012 showing a 14% growth in income compared to the prior year. For a hotel owner, however, every empty room represents a loss.

How can the hospitality industry learn from retail’s successes of social media?

Optimize Social Standards

The raw numbers of social media and hospitality e-business paint a promising picture for the hospitality industry. Hotel owners save money, reports Buuteeq, whenever they get a booking from a website rather than a travel agent.

Mobile bookings provide the highest profit margin, and hotels with an active social presence get more online bookings than those that go without. Retailers have long since made their operations social-savvy by creating Web content specifically for social platforms. They have even gone so far as to build apps for mobile devices.

Create Content To Be Shared

The greatest value in social media comes from followers sharing and re-Tweeting. Yet you need to frame updates, posts, polls, or questions carefully to encourage sharing.

Constant Contact recommends taking at least one of three angles for every update you want to be shared: make it funny, make it interesting, or make it agreeable — these three metrics by and large determine a post’s share rate.

Promote E-Coupons

Whenever a customer logs onto Facebook and sees an offer that saves them money, they are not only a potential sale but also a surefire way to connect to new networks for hotel managers. Knowledge Network reports that digital coupons bring in new customers at a 33 percent higher rate than their paper predecessors.

Take a page from Black Friday-focused retailers like Macy’s that offer customers and followers a better deal on their favorites in exchange for liking a page or sharing a post. Retailers promote coupons on the busiest shopping days of the year to boost customer satisfaction, so consider giving out coupons during the heights of tourist season to enhance your hotel’s reputation.

Show Off Your Scenery

Remember that social media encompasses more than just the 140 characters on Twitter. The rise of micro-video, suggests Forbes Magazine, will dominate and perhaps even replace short updates as users can put a lot more information into a 6-second Vine video than they could in a status update.

Hotels can capitalize on short video updates by showing individual rooms, views of a beach from the window, or showcase a chef in the kitchen. Remember that short videos work better for promotions, since attention span wanes quickly in the digital age.

 

Four Seasons Among First Brands to Launch Pinterest’s Place Pins

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is among the first companies to receive early launch access to Pinterest’s Place Pins, a new Pinterest feature that encourages exploration by adding details such as the address of the place and phone number to Pins associated with locations.

According to Pinterest’s official blog:

Place Pins were designed to combine the beautiful imagery of a travel magazine with the utility of a map online so you can share it with friends. You can access them from anywhere on your smartphone, too, which means you can find new places on the go and even get directions!

Place Pins also include extra details like the address and phone number right on the Pin so you can easily pull up useful info on a weekend adventure or before a night out.

Pinners can enjoy four map-enabled Pinterest boards on Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Pinterest page, including Gastronomic Travel, Concierge Recommends: Europe Uncovered, Extraordinary Honeymoons and Around the World by Private Jet.

Pinterest’s new Place Pins better assist in trip planning and uncovering local content. Pinners can Pin locations to create virtual maps, perfect for planning those next getaways.

“Innovation has always been part of Four Seasons brand DNA, and social media is no exception,” says Sorya Gaulin, director, corporate PR and social media, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “Social media allows our guests to better understand the unique Four Seasons experience. By working collaboratively with Pinterest, the new Place Pins will complement Four Seasons online trip planning service, Pin.Pack.Go, which connects guests with Four Seasons local experts worldwide through collaborative boards on Pinterest.”

Four Seasons Pinterest Places

Launched in August, Pin.Pack.Go enables users to utilize the expertise of Four Seasons concierges around the world to plan their upcoming trips, making Four Seasons a part of the adventure from the very first Pin. With the new Place Pins feature, guests will be able to view their boards as a map, making planning and exploration easy. Place Pins will also be available on mobile, perfect for discovering places on the go.

In addition to being the first luxury hotel company to offer a trip planning service on Pinterest, Four Seasons has a strong presence on the platform with a primary Four Seasons page, a Four Seasons Bridal page and accommodating wedding Pinterest contests, plus more than 70 active property pages across all regions – from Los Angeles to Paris, Bangkok, Bora Bora and beyond.

Four Seasons continues to set the bar in social media engagement, leading the industry with continuous evolution and innovation.

In 2013, Four Seasons received three Travel + Leisure Social Media in Travel and Tourism (SMITTY) Awards, including Best Hotel Chain, and three Social Hotel Awards from HOTELS, including Best Use of Visual/Photographic Social Networks By Brand.

With a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google+, Vine, Weibo, Youku, and more, Four Seasons continues to meet guests where they already are, embracing the power of social media to deepen guest engagement in meaningful and relevant ways.

Place Pins is another example of the brand’s commitment to innovation in the social space.

Are you looking forward to utilizing Places Pins?

 

 

Five Ways Social Media Can Enhance Guest Experience

Competition in the hospitality industry is pretty fierce. If developing a repeat customer base is important to your establishment, an excellent guest experience is a must. Some hotels and restaurants operate under the false assumption that the guest experience begins when the guest arrives.

But these companies are sadly mistaken and tend to lose potential guests to those establishments who realize that they must make an impact from the moment the guest starts searching for hotels or restaurants to long after they’ve enjoyed their stay.

Savvy, creative marketing in the hospitality industry is what sets you apart from the competition.

Although traditional marketing methods, such as commercials and print advertisements, are still important, the use of social media marketing can expand your reach and allow you to enhance your guests’ experiences early on in the process.

Incorporate these effective strategies into your marketing plan for short- and long-term results.

Positive Guest Experiences from Start to Finish with these Creative Strategies

  1. Host a Tweetup. Invite locals and those who will be in town to come to your location for a Tweetup. Provide music or activities appropriate to your setting, as well as a complimentary snack or drink and have guests Tweet about their experience.
  2. Encourage Facebook Use with Social Media Bonuses. Offer a reward, such as a small discount, free drink or free activity to guests who post on Facebook about their upcoming visit at your establishment. The guest’s experience will be enhanced with excitement and anticipation of a reward for a simple gesture, while providing you with free advertising.
  3. Expand Your Reach with Pinterest and Twitter. Scavenger hunts are fun ways to advertise and enhance the guest experience with a fun activity. Provide guests with a scavenger hunt that takes place in or around your business and encourage them to post at least one picture or comment on Pinterest or Twitter.
  4. Incorporate Gift Marketing. Gift marketing is the offering of small gifts, such as discounts on future stays or meals, as a “thank you” to your guests. Use this method with email to turn first-time guests into repeat guests.
  5. Use Guest Bloggers. Invite guests who’ve stayed at your hotel or dined at your restaurant to be guest bloggers. People love to write about their experiences and you’ll benefit from the testimony. Naturally, you want to review blog posts before they’re published on your website blog.

Effective Planning and Research Set You Up for Success

To get the most out of your next social media marketing campaign, it’s critical that you know who you’re gearing the campaign toward. Unlike many mainstream businesses, those in the hospitality industry generally have several different client bases.

With the exception of hotels and restaurants geared toward a specific clientele, you likely entertain families, singles, corporate guests and other large groups.

The marketing campaign you develop to encourage more families to visit you won’t be as effective with singles or large corporations. Therefore, it’s important to research each demographics group individually, and plan your campaigns with a tight focus.

Over the course of your social media marketing experience, you’re likely to alternate between several different plans. As you do this, it would also be to your company’s benefit to develop one ongoing campaign that helps guests single you out from the competition, such as a reward program for meeting and convention planners that donates X amount of money to the charity of choice for a specific number of bookings.

Likewise, you can host regular Tweetups to attract locals or visitors to your establishment while reaping the benefits of worldwide advertising from your guests’ tweets.

However you choose to use social media marketing, remember that consistency is the key. Followers will quickly lose interest if you post, Tweet or pin less than twice weekly. Use your social media campaigns to enhance the guests’ experience from the first moment they conduct a search to long after they’ve walked out your door.

This post was contributed by Mary Ylisela. Mary is from Touchpoint Digital, a digital marketing and social media campaigns agency.

 

Five Ways Travel is Going Green

According to the International Energy Agency, the rapid development of renewable power means that it is set to become the world’s second most common energy source by 2016. These methods of power generation are the fastest growing in the industry, and it’s been forecasted that the use of such sources will grow by 40 percent within five years.

In the last year, renewable power accounted for 12 percent of the United States’ energy consumption. However, this is expected to increase dramatically as more industries, particularly the travel industry, start thinking about sustainability.

Wind Energy

Many hotels in the United States have begun harnessing the wind as an energy source. This is a valuable practice, and the fact that hotels are realizing the importance of sustainable energy is worthy of celebration. Fort Lauderdale’s Hilton has just finished putting turbines atop the building, which has garnered them much attention.

These six wind turbines say a lot about their willingness to become more environmentally friendly. Furthermore, if the hotel sees considerable decreases in their costs of operation, this certainly won’t be the last sustainable change they adopt.

Solar Energy

Recently, Starwood Hotels and Resorts announced a new global partnership aimed at increasing the presence of green energy on all of their properties. This will start with three of their locations, which includes a 1.3MW solar power setup on one of is Virgin Island buildings. Starwood says it is committed to cutting its electricity use by 30 percent and its water use by 20 percent by 2020.

Biofuel Energy

The Hilton Americas-Houston, Houston’s biggest hotel and the first in the state to acquire certification by Green Seal, has taken additional steps toward sustainability by adopting biodiesel energy. The hotel accepted its first delivery of the biofuel in July in the hopes of minimizing their impact on the planet. By adopting this practice, greenhouse gases have been reduced by up to 78 percent.

Geothermal Energy

The Peppermill Resort, Spa and Casino, located in Reno, Nevada, get its heat in a very special way. Using a geothermal aquifer nearly 4,500 feet beneath the surface, the Peppermill is able to provide all of its own hot water and heat.

Water measuring 174 degrees is drawn from the ground below at around 1,200 gallons every minute. The resort saves about $2 million each year using this method as opposed to the natural gas it was using.

According to Dr. Jim Combes from Geo Hills Associated, the Peppermill Resort, Spa and Casino is the only establishment in the United States that gets its heat and hot water exclusively from geothermal sources that are located directly on the property. This area seems to be at the forefront of green innovation.

With millions of travelers each year visiting the strip, the number of people that can take advantage and utilize the various green features is truly exciting.

Reuse

Stratton’s Hotel in the United Kingdom realized that when they provided guests with small 25ml bottles of shampoo, conditioner and other toiletries, only around one-third of the contents were used. Meanwhile, rather than taking the rest home and using it, guests simple threw them away. In an effort to combat needless waste and improve efficiency, the hotel has begun providing shampoos and soaps in convenient dispensers.

The number of eco-friendly facilities continues to increase. As of March 2011, 91 lodging properties have achieved LEED certification. An additional 1,100 lodging projects have registered with LEED and are working towards certification. In addition, the number of facilities pursuing certification continues to grow as well. This is especially encouraging news.


This article was contributed by Sam Marquit. Sam is an entrepreneurial independent contractor and home renovation/remodeling expert in New York. He makes a point to share with readers a day in the life of sustainable building. Forecasting the possible application and implementation of new green building materials and technologies is a small part of his effort to reduce everyone’s carbon footprint.

 

 

Top Five Trends in Hospitality for 2014 [Infographic]

Kendall’s School of Hospitality Management, ranked by an ORC International– 2013 Survey as the No. 1 program in Chicago for preparing students for hospitality careers, has released its trends outlook for the hospitality industry in 2014.

According to their faculty experts, the number one hospitality industry trend for 2014 is…

  • Global Going Strong: International Knowledge in Demand

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the Travel and Tourism industry is currently among the largest and fastest-growing industries worldwide, forecasted to support 328 million jobs, or 10% of the workforce, by 2022.1

A top 10 industry in the U.S., Travel and Tourism provides one out of eight jobs, with that number increasing at an exponential rate, adding approximately 55,000 jobs per month in 2013.2,3

Check out all of the hospitality industry trends in their new infographic (click on the image to enlarge):

What else is on deck for the hospitality industry for 2014?

  • Rankings Mean Business

Never has a user-generated online rating meant as much as it does now. The 21st Century is the age of digital referrals, and the power of what’s posted on the web via user-generated review sites – digital word of mouth – can drastically impact a business’ revenue.

  •  Back At The Bar – Traditional Gets A Twist

What’s currently on tap? Classic is the new contemporary, with bars serving up a renaissance of classic and pre-prohibition cocktails.

  • Sustainability is The New Standard

In the U.S. alone, hotels represent more than five billion square feet of space, nearly five million guest rooms and close to $4 billion in annual energy use, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.4

  •  Room Service Reinvented

With room service revenue drastically decreasing – and some hotels like The New York Hilton who are forgoing the amenity later this year – the majority of hotels are dedicated to reinventing the concept, contributing to an 8% increase in the number of hotels offering room service from 2011-2012.5

  1. World Travel & Tourism Council: Economic Impact 2012 http://www.wttc.org/site_media/uploads/downloads/world2012.pdf
  2. US Travel Association: US Travel Answer Sheet, March 2013 http://www.ustravel.org/sites/default/files/page/2009/11/US_Travel_Answer_Sheet_March_2013.pdf
  3. http://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/ceshighlights.pdf
  4. U.S. Green Building Council “Hospitality” http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=2119
  5. Chicago Tribune: “The End of Room Service? Not so Fast.” June 19, 2013.

Innovative Ways That Hotels Are Using Social Media to Attract More Customers

The whole world has gone social. With social media platforms becoming increasingly crowded, companies must come up with novel ways to draw attention to themselves. The hotel industry has been particularly creative in devising innovative and engaging methods to make their voices heard and their brands stand out.

Invite them to play

With a loyal legion of virtual farmers and Candy Crush addicts, Facebook’s gaming community reaches far and wide. Marriott Hotels has cleverly decided to harness the power of play by creating a Facebook game of their very own. Entitled “My Marriott Hotel,” players are invited to operate all facets of their own computer-generated kitchen. When their cyber-restaurant manages to turn a profit, they are then able to move on to running other aspects of the hotel.

This game not only helps to make the brand “Marriott” a household name, but players will also associate the brand with fun and leisure. “My Marriott Hotel” also strives to attract talent to the company’s career section and provide valuable educational information on the inner workings of the hotel industry–making it both a marketing and a recruitment tool.

Become an authority

In a competitive marketplace, it is important to find your niche–something that sets you apart from the competition–and Sheraton Hotels have decided to do exactly that. The introduction of their “Social Hour” program has been hugely successful in the hotels, themselves, and on social media platforms. A joint venture with Wine Spectator magazine, Sheraton Hotels’ “Social Hour” is a weekly tasting event boasting over 90 wines that have been Wine Spectator-rated. And it has drawn a massive social media following.

Sheraton Hotels’ weekly Facebook installments entitled “Wine Wednesdays” offer wine-related tips from the highly respected Wine Spectator magazine, itself,–generating a buzz and solidifying the hotel chain’s reputation as the place to go to enjoy the finer things in life.

And, when they launched the program in May, 2013 they invited participants and followers from across the globe to share their own “toast-worthy moments” at #SheratonToast–many of which are now posted on the corporate website.

Offer rewards

New York City’s The Distrikt Hotel has put Foursquare to work–winning new clientele and rewarding guests for their custom. With both the hotel and its restaurant, College Bistro, set up as venues, Foursquare users are given the chance to win a free drink or loyalty points. These prizes generate good will towards the brand and lure potential clients through the doors.

Furthermore, when a guest of the hotel checks in on Foursquare, they are presented with a reward which can range from an upgrade in their accommodations to a thank you note.

Run a contest

One of the key reasons for creating a social media presence is to develop a stellar online reputation. A great way to do this is to collect and showcase positive feedback. And the Holiday Inn has found a clever way to make people want to say great things about them.

In a recent Facebook campaign, the hotelier invited its Canadian followers to “like” their Facebook page and post a review. Participants will be entered into a draw to win prepaid American express cards.

This campaign not only creates positive feelings towards the Holiday Inn brand, but it also enables them to reap a healthy harvest of glowing reviews. Clever.

As these hotel chains have demonstrated, it is possible to rise above the social media noise and make an online audience take notice and hear what you have to say. Your brand can stand out from the competition–and social media is the perfect place to make it happen.

What social media marketing campaigns stick out the most in your mind? Why?

This post was contributed by Kimberley Laws. Kimberly is a freelance writer and avid blogger. She has written on a wide range of topics including social media marketing, online reputation management, and great deals at cheap hotels.

Image courtesy of photos.com.

Conrad Hotels & Resorts Introduces Comprehensive Pre Check-In Feature

Conrad Hotels & Resorts just debuted the luxury hospitality segment’s first comprehensive pre check-in feature to its award-winning travel mobile application, Conrad Concierge.

All guests at each of the Conrad brand’s 24 hotels worldwide can now find greater customization and convenience at the touch of a button – from selecting pre-arrival amenities to ordering in room dining and enjoying mobile check-out.

Since Conrad introduced the platform with check out and amenity pre-selection functionality in November 2012, the app has been downloaded more than 100,000 times.

Conrad Hotels & Resorts Introduces Luxury Segment’s First Comprehensive Pre Check-In Feature through its Conrad Concierge App

Award-Winning App Enables Guests to Customize and Share Hotel Stays Digitally

“Use of our Conrad Concierge app among global luxury travelers is on the rise, especially as more guests manage travel accommodations when and how they want through mobile devices,” said John T. A. Vanderslice, global head, luxury and lifestyle brands, Hilton Worldwide.

“With these enhancements, Conrad strengthens its position as a leader within the luxury category by creating an expectation of tailored and customized services for guests, to the point that features like our app become a natural extension of their stay with us.”

In 2012 Conrad Concierge began giving guests the ability to choose from bespoke bath amenities, pre-select the types of pillows they would like, use mobile check out to bypass the front desk at departure and ensure their favorite newspaper will be delivered the morning of their stay.

These intuitive features and others are designed to deliver the brand’s promise of offering the greatest luxury of all – The Luxury of Being Yourself.  Expanded capabilities of Conrad Concierge include:

  • Pre Check-In – All guests can pre check-in to the hotel through Conrad Concierge and provide their estimated time of arrival any time after completing their booking.  The pre check-in feature expands a Conrad service provided to Gold and Diamond Hilton HHonors members since 2005.  Additionally, guests can order special requests to be ready upon arrival.  This new functionality expedites the check-in process at the hotel, as travelers can forego traditional check-in and pick up room keys at their convenience.
  • Socially Integrated – Users can link their Facebook and Twitter feeds to Conrad Concierge to easily share their own updates with their social network directly from the app;
  • Seamless Log-In Experience – Users are able to log-in with their Hilton HHonors username/password. Intuitive enhancements eliminate the need to login each time the app is launched;
  • Custom SMS Notifications – Users can now opt-in to receive SMS notifications regarding their personal service requests and needs directly to their mobile phone;
  • Improved User Functionality – Several enhancements have been made to the landing pages and subsequent screens to improve user functionality and delivery content more directly to users.

Conrad Hotels & Resorts was awarded the 2013 Hotel Visionary Award by Hospitality Technology for best Customer-Facing/In-Room Technology Innovator for the development of Conrad Concierge.

The app is an example of Hilton Worldwide’s ongoing commitment to providing guests greater choice and control with offerings that meet ever-changing customer expectations.  In 2005, Hilton Worldwide was the first hotel company to launch online room selection across all of its brands.

This feature enabled Hilton HHonors Gold and Diamond members to pre-select their rooms prior to arrival through a variety of channels, including a member’s HHonors profile, HHonors mobile app or pre-arrival email.

What do you think of the new app?

Expedia & Egencia Future of Travel Study

“Millennial” travelers – defined as those between 18 and 30 years old – have sharply different business and leisure travel habits and expectations than do their older peers, according to a global study released by Expedia.com® and Egencia®.

The Future of Travel study was conducted across five continents, asking 8,535 employed adults in 24 countries about how they conduct business and leisure travel – their likes, dislikes, preferences and pet peeves. The study aims to discover how millennials will impact the travel landscape as they gain decision-making power at work and purchase power in their personal lives.

The Future of Travel Study was conducted online between August 20 and September 12, 2013 by Harris Interactive on behalf of Expedia. Full details on the Future of Travel Study can be found on the Expedia® Viewfinder Blog here: viewfinder.expedia.com.

Future of Travel Study

Sharp differences emerged in the Future of Travel analysis, particularly the differing value that younger travelers place on mobile and on loyalty. Millennials are far likelier to embrace loyalty programs while en route; half of millennials find loyalty programs important when booking flights (48%) or hotels (51%), versus only three in ten of travelers aged 46-65 (31% & 30% respectively).

Mobile and other form factors are clearly important to the future of travel. In fact, for booking business travel, 32% of those 30 and under report using a smartphone and 20% report booking on a tablet. That’s compared to just 12% for smartphone and 9% for tablet for those over 45. And 18-30 year-olds are far likelier than 46-65 year-olds to use mobile devices to enhance their travel experience.

The study found that younger travelers were freer with their company’s money when traveling. Globally, business travelers aged 18-30 more frequently report that they will spend more of their company’s money on high-end meals (42%) than they would their own money compared to those aged 46-65 (26%). Millennials are also fans of room service: 37% would spend more of their company’s money on room service, versus only 21% of 46-65 year-olds.

Younger Americans (34 and under) are slightly more likely to spend company money on a flight upgrade to business- or first-class than are their older peers (35 and older). They are also slightly more likely to spend company money on high-end meals, room service and wine/alcohol, although not significant.

Millennials have more opportunities to order room service than any other age demographic, because they travel slightly more on business. Worldwide, 30-and-unders report traveling 4.7 times per year on business, versus 3.6 times per year among 30-45 year-olds, and 4.2 times per year among 46-65 year-olds. Millennials take more leisure trips as well, at 4.2 trips a year, versus 2.9 for 31-45 year-olds and 3.2 for 46-65 year-olds.

Among Americans, 45% of respondents aged 34 and younger claim to work fewer hours when they travel than they do at the office, versus 24% of Americans aged 35 and older.

American and Canadian millennials travel more frequently of any age group across any nation, reporting that they take a full 7.8 leisure trips per year. On the contrary, European respondents aged 31-45 take 2.7 leisure trips per year.

“Together, Expedia.com and Egencia help many millions of business travelers book travel each year,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive officer, Expedia Inc., of which Expedia.com and Egencia are a part. “As millennials increase their decision-making power at work and at home, they’ll be increasingly disruptive in both areas of travel and our aim is to have the right mix of technology, supply and programs to make the most of every trip they take.”

Business travelers are early adopters of technology—millennial travelers even faster—and all on the move from device-to-device, from online to offline and back again,” said Rob Greyber, president of Egencia. “We realize that keeping pace with millennials and future generations of corporate travelers demands significant focus on mobile in order to sustainably engage them with the right information.”

Greyber added that with the company’s upcoming global launch of Egencia® TripNavigator, a smart travel companion iPhone app, corporate travelers of today and tomorrow will be well equipped when on the road. The app helps travelers better navigate their in-trip experience by displaying a contextual, actionable view of the itinerary and integrating real-time trip alerts to reduce agony as travel plans change, expectedly or unexpectedly.

On the whole, the study found that:

  • Millennials are more comfortable mixing business with pleasure. They are more likely to extend a business trip into a personal vacation than older employees are. 62% of 18-30 year olds have done so, vs. 51% of 31-45 year olds and 37% of 46-65 year olds. Younger Americans and Canadians are more likely to do this (70%), than those age 31-45 (50%) or 46+ (31%).
  • 39% of all business travelers report that they work more hours when they travel than they do at the office. Europeans (45%) are more likely than Asia-Pacific (35%) and North American (32%) travelers to say that they work more hours than normal when traveling.
  • Millennials are also more likely to voice their displeasure. 18-30 year old business travelers are likeliest to post a negative review online, as it relates to their experience with hotels, restaurants, flights, public transportation, taxis and rental cars. Negative reviews are still relatively rare, however; 67% of travelers worldwide have never done so. Reviews themselves are considered highly important for both business and leisure travel, particularly among Millennials as; eight in ten (77% and 82% respectively) 18-30 year olds worldwide consider travel reviews to be “very important” or “somewhat important.” This sentiment holds true across a majority of all age groups and regions.
  • Americans under the age of 34 more frequently posted negative reviews of hotels (26%) within the last year, versus 14% of their older peers. Hotels received the most negative reviews among American business travelers, narrowly edging out restaurants. 66% of older Americans would not expect a response from the business they had negatively reviewed online, a skepticism shared by 65% of their younger peers.
  • Mobile devices are nearing ubiquity for business travelers across all regions and all demographics, but more so for millennials than any other group, unsurprisingly. 75% of travelers surveyed worldwide use smartphones and tablets for both personal and business reasons when traveling.
  • Location, location, location. Location matters over everything when business travelers book hotels, with travelers most frequently citing it as the most important feature (53%). The price of the hotel room (44%) narrowly edged out travel time to the city in question (42%) as next most-important features. Airfare price, at 36%, ranked fourth. In-flight Wi-Fi was not a high priority among business travelers worldwide, though in every region, the importance of in-flight Wi-Fi declines as travelers aged.
  • For leisure travelers, hotel room price was among the top three most important features (63%).Hotel location and air fare price were tied, at 50%. On-board Wi-Fi was less important for leisure travelers than for business travelers, across all age groups and regions.
  • When traveling on business, 83% of respondents worldwide feel that they should be personally entitled to travel reward points. Globally, workers under the age of 45 surveyed tend to feel more entitled to their points than older employees.
  • A majority (68%) of employees are compensated for their business trips on nights and weekends, either with extra money or with additional compensation days. Across all regions surveyed, 18-30 year olds are more likely to be compensated with either money or added vacation time (78%).
  • A majority of employees (67%) do tend to save some type of personal information online to streamline the booking process, however, one-third (33%) still prefer not to save any personal data online. Of the majority of respondents who save personal information online, millennial employees tend to be more comfortable doing so than their older counterparts.

Survey Methodology

This Expedia survey was conducted online from August 20, 2013 to September 12, 2013 across Europe, North America, South America and Asia Pacific by Harris Interactive among 8,535 respondents over the age of 18. In order to qualify to take the full survey, respondents had to be employed full time, part time or self-employed. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact: expediapr@hlgrp.com.

The survey examined business and leisure travel attitudes and behaviors among the residents of Europe (United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway), Asia Pacific (India, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand), North America (United States, Canada, and Mexico), and Brazil.