January 07, 2012

Evolution of e-marketing: Using viral marketing to maximize Hotel Profit

E-Newsletter kicked-in in hospitality industry nearly 12 years ago, when hoteliers realized the importance of communicating to their clients using an electronic newsletter sent to an email database.

The email data collection was an effort from a good clean sales department database along with great steps in your Property Management System (PMS) to ensure that the data field is filled accordingly by the front office or guest relation agents. All those data will be merge by your IT department, creating a FREE clean databank to communicate to your clients.

E-Newsletters Advantages:
- Recurring promotional offers from the hotel,
- Public Relation opportunities,
- Low cost implementation,

Then came Online Review Websites, first powered by Online Travel Agencies (HRN, Expedia...) and then Travel websites such asTripAdvisor.com, Trivago.com, VirtualTourist.com, posting reviews and opinions of travel-related content and engaging in interactive travel forums.

Online Reviews Challenges:
- Did you know that when one person has a good online experience, he or she will turn around and tell 12 more people? By the same token, if that person has a bad experience, 12 others will also know about it.
- Nowadays, Hoteliers are not comfortable to enter into a discussion online through social media. Even though we are in the hospitality industry, we are not afraid to talk to a stranger in the lobby, reception, restaurants, reservations of the hotel, as soon as it goes online, we are afraid.
- While we see great investment in Internet Booking Engine, we do not see the same trends for online communicative tools.
Is it fear for Taking Responsibility? Is it fear for Technology?

To overcome those fears, we recommend hotels to start reviewing their reviews on a daily basis, and start engaging with their existing guests through those sites or using their own Facebook hotel page.
- Collect the Favorite Reviews: probably a GM secretary or a marketing executive could perform those tasks on a daily basis,
- Share reviews in GM morning meeting and with your employees,
- Select the best reviews and apply to Facebook: you could copy the best phrase and page urls for an individual review, and paste it in your Facebook page.
- On the review website, respond to the review by thanking the guest for his compliment. Mention that you posted the review on your FaceBook page and that he should check it out.
- Your VIRAL MARKETING has just started.
- Ensure that someone qualified is monitoring your Facebook Page.

Many Hoteliers, Directors of Marketing or Revenue Managers have the misconception that effective viral marketing requires a huge budget.

But this is not necessarily the case as tourism authority for Hamilton Island, Queensland demonstrated. Basically, their campaign is simple: hire a blogger to talk about the island. The job, “Best Job in the World” was conceptualized. In January 2009, Tourism Queensland hosted a somewhat unorthodox contest, the winner of which would be put up in a posh hotel, their only responsibility being to tour the islands of the Great Barrier Reef and blog about it for six months. Oh, and also they would pay $150,000. You read that right.

Click on the Video link of "The Best Job in the World".

Billed as “The Best Job in the World”, the campaign generated massive amounts of attention and thousands of applicants. All the blogger needs to do is tour around Queensland, blog about his experiences, and get paid. The results of the campaign was astonishing, aside from the 7 million visitors recorded on the site, 34,000 people submitted their video application.

Eventually a 34-year old Brit named Ben Southall landed the coveted position. Going off the latest numbers, he now makes $149,998.00 (AED 550,492) more than the average blogger.

Tangible results of the viral marketing campaign are already being seen. Virgin Blue is not flying direct between Hamilton Island and Sydney. In addition, large Australian firms are also looking into the area for their events and conferences. There are some parallels between this tourism strategy and the hotel revenue management. And there are a few lessons that hotel revenue managers can use to increase RevPAR and boost profitability.

The most important aspect that should be recognized in this campaign is not the fact that they were marketing, but the fact that they were using social channels to achieve this level of success. Some tips to increase hotel profits using social media remembering that it’s not about the amount of budget you set aside – a big benefit of viral marketing is that it can create a big impact on a limited budget. In short, there’s no need to pay much to get the desired result. The main thing you need to remember is to have something worthwhile to share so people will talk about it.

Speaking about content, it can be in any form:
* Article,
* Video,
* Press Release,
* E-book,
* An entry or comment on a social media,

Viral marketing should be in daily jargon of hotelier so as like RevPAR, G.O.P.

Also, focus on content rather than traffic. The ultimate goal of most hotel revenue managers is to increase their site traffic, and hope that this will increase hotel sales. But to encourage people to share your products and services with their friends, content is more important.

It is the quickest method to reach out huge market.

For more information, please contact:
RSVP Hospitality - UAE Office

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