The Future of Residential Tourism – Part 2


In the Linkedin Group “Residential Resorts International”, an interaction on the article “What is the Future of Residential Tourism” took place and it was remarked that my question was somewhat rhetorical.

True in part, as the intent was to start a discussion, upon which I intended to convey my opinion. That exchange with some inputs on the Linkedin Q&A section is the basis of this article “The Future of Residential Tourism – Part 2”, with some more specific detail on the various challenges.

Surely, luxury residential resorts will continue to be developed although currently having come to a virtual standstill here in Portugal – and most probably in some other (European?) countries.

Unfortunately, developers do not have the best of track records acting as hotel manager. They did not tend to ringfence real estate sales returns or provide sufficient working capital for the hotel/condo operator, whilst customer issues are considered a circumstantial concern. These situations at times only get resolved in by banks stepping in and taking control in situations of financing / mortgaging or by seeking receivership and so being forced or have the opportunity to re-structure. During the earlier mentioned exchange, the comment was made that “…most developers are clueless in resort operation and by the same token hoteliers are equally poor developers and the carnage is everywhere to prove it” and I cannot entirely disagree.

Seeing the different current economic circumstances since the flight of residential tourism some 10 years ago, I would remark the following to make the model of residential resort developments sustainable for the long term:

1) Development Concept Mix; In Portugal quite some developments are made up by a full property concept in a rental scheme with full 5-star hotel services. Unfortunately, considerable units remained unsold and make part of the rental inventory on behalf of the developer / hotel manager; with issues of perceived unfair competition by the individual owners even when independently audited.

It is clear though that due to the change economic circumstances that the “ideal” product mix needs some serious reconsideration. The once (short term?) gain of merely a full property development, might not sustain the operations and so consequently the individual owner investments long term. A variety of products based on different owner usage and exchange schemes provide the necessary “footfall” and referral base and so reduction of risk, whilst brand associations might create further value.

Therefore, I would foresee that more “entry product” is created, supported by upgrade incentive schemes from the various shared to full property ownership concepts. Having said this, in Europe timeshare is not considered property and shared ownership schemes have not really caught on ….

2) Responsibilities; The use of an independent asset manager liaising between individual owners and developer/rental manager, might facilitate aligning communication and so ultimately understanding and different stakeholder interests. An independent asset manager would provide the needed external perspective to the hotel results and can act as the bridge between individual asset owners and developer /operator. In independently monitoring the various aspects of asset management, such as monitoring the operational performance, reviewing budgets and capex, assessing compliance with operating agreements and reviewing industry trends that may affect the project – a strategic guidance, but moreover transparency is created with the ultimate goal of minimally sustaining or even better – exceeding fair market value.

Besides the above appointment, I would also advocate that in order to avoid an inkling of bias in allocating costs, that not just condominium reserve funds and cash streams, but also the financial administration of the condominium is outsourced and so clearly separated from the “hotel” operations accounts.

 
3) Marketing & Communications: Product positioning would need to focus on the lifestyle purchaser rather than investor. Reality has shown that due to a destination’s seasonality, a net cash flow is only feasible for 3 or 4 months of the year.  Educating individual owners on yield/revenue and channel management and consequences of owning in a residential condominium resorts are a constant, arduous task. Individual owners tend to focus largely on and query about their net rates. It is not an easy task to explain principles of revenue management, the net rate differences in segments, markets and on channels – even under a rate parity or integrity approach – , and not to mention the build-up hotel packages to compete and serve segments effectively, house-use or marketing rates. An owner just sees his net rate dwindle, whilst at times keenly aware of the gross selling rate out there in the market. In addition residential resorts in “generalistic” terms do compete on a product level with normal hotels within their rating classification, but are marketing the product with half the disposable return, which either forces them to be quicker on their feet and spend their marketing dollar at least twice as smart or owners need to accept that growth and so returns develop at a slower pace.

4) Rental Management Agreement: From the start management needs to create a strong case for the reinvestment of funds and to align it with the non-financial wants and needs of owners and initially driving occupancy rather than rate to create momentum and direct value in the asset. Easier from the on sought than in hind sight though. Terms need to consider for instance a 10 year horizon, instead of on-request or annual, 3 or 5 year contracts, with the related uncertainty on the size of the rental inventory.

Here, rental managers are compensated through a straight rental revenue share. However, similar to modern hotel management agreements compensation should be linked to GOP, benchmarked RevPAR (more difficult to obtain, as benchmark data just tend to be available for hotels) and possibly even cash flow result.

In addition, both the “hotel” and condominium P&L need to merge, as interests are largely intertwined – also facilitating the collection of outstanding condominium dues – a common issue in most resort developments- affecting maintenance, operational returns and asset value. Sufficient working capital needs to be provided by the individual owners upon approval of the various budgets in the Annual Assembly, whilst pay-out to the individual owners only occurs when particular cashflow levels are met in order not to risk sustainable growth of the project, whilst reversly short falls also need to be met by the owners of the rental assets.

Feel free to comment underneath and connect on LinkedIn.

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Posted in Real Estate, Residential Tourism | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What will be the Future of Residential Tourism?


Leisure Real Estate | Residential Tourism – What will be the Relationship Management Model of the Future?

Residential tourism developments – also known as condohotels or mixed use resorts -, were in vogue until recently in the tourism and real estate industry, with some of the most famous brands developing or managing this type of product all over the world.

Now that that those once seemingly excellent investment opportunities – mostly at start-up properties – are affected by the current Real Estate slump and so cash flow generation, what will be for instance the effects on the Rental / Lease Back schemes – which at times even guaranteed a fixed annual return, but most commonly shared a percentage of the rental return for an initial limited term of time; currently running out?

On one hand individual Owners aim for an equitable return on their investment and a net payout after condominium charges from the start-up onwards, whilst on the other hand the management arguably ought to re-invest their returns in positioning the property for long term success and effectively compete in the market place with similar properties, that do not share their revenues. 

Similarly to the discussion on Hotel Management Contracts favouring Hotel operators will asset management with a fractioned base of owners and differing investment objectives and horizons – be the answer in aligning interests of operator and individual owners, whilst resort developers for instance in Portugal in most cases wear 3 different hats; the one of developer, condominium and rental manager?

So my question is, “What will the Relationship Management Model of the Future be for Residential Tourism creating a win-win situation for all stakeholders and aligning their interests?

Comments appreciated underneath or at Linkedin in the Q&A section. Feel free to connect.

 
Posted in Real Estate, Residential Tourism | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Facebook Top 50 of Hotels in the Algarve – week 9


Greetings!

It has been about a month that I posted my last post, for which I apologise. I have no other excuse than I had to dedicate myself to some other priorities and as I was receiving queries when the next blog post would come up; I could not turn my back on my loyal followers.

Today’s post is somewhat different; although a month has past, the ranking was hardly newsworthy – with little change to show for.

What has changed though, is how Facebook has changed its format of the fanpages. If you are a regular follower, you remember that I indicated that some hotels / resorts would come in trouble when reaching their limit of 5.000 fans.

This has now become even clearer when looking up the links of the hotels in the Top 50 – Fcebook now separates in its search results Pages from People. Due to this change, for instance Hoteis Real dropped from a 9th to a 42nd position; contributing in large to reducing the total fan base of the Top 50, which in total saw 1.200 fans disappear. [MS: Please continue reading underneath the table!]

Rank Rank  wk 4 Week 9 Facebook Fans 21/02/11 Klout Score  
1 1 Vila Galé Hotels     24.966   5 vilagalehotels
2 2 Longevity Wellness Resort Monchique     16.582      
3 3 Lagrimas Hotels     11.942    10 lagrimas_hotels
4 5 Tivoli Hotels & Resorts      7.409   30 tivolihotels
5 4 Villa Termal Caldas de Monchique      7.103   5 VillaTermal
6 6 As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa      6.553   32 ascascatas
7 7 Pedras da Rainha      6.318      
8 10 Grande Real Santa Eulália Resort & Hotel Spa      5.083      
9 8 Pedras d’ El Rei      5.041      
10 11 Adriana Beach Club      5.001     resortalbufeira
11 14 Dom Pedro Hotels      4.777      
12 12 CS Hotels, Golf & Resorts      4.582   17 cshotels
13 15 Vista Marina      4.091     VistaMarina
14 18 Porto Bay Hotels & resorts      4.017   42 Portobay
15 17 Real Marina Hotel & Spa      3.987      
16 13 Monica Isabel Beach Club      3.956   10 monicaisabelres
17 20 Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel      3.486   15 MartinhalResort
18 22 Prainha Alvor      3.410      
19 19 Hoteís Baia      3.274      
20 23 Eden Resort      3.085   13 Eden_resort
21 21 Hotel Faro      3.062   37 Hotelfaro
22 26 Pestana Hotels & Resorts      2.698      
23 24 Sheraton Algarve      2.640   10 sheratonalgarve
24 25 Encosta do Lago      2.552      
25 28 Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa      2.516   11 vilavitaparc
26 27 Terrace Club      2.344      
27 30 Balaia Golf Village      2.340   13 Balaia
28 16 Memmo Baleeiro Hotel      2.310   17 memmobaleeira
29 29 Monte Santo Resort      2.254   32 monte_santo
30 31 Cabanas Park resort      1.862   10 Cabanaspark
31 32 Vigia Resorts      1.630   5 vigiaresorts
32 33 Vale do Lobo      1.527   5 Vale_do_Lobo
33 39 Vila Joya      1.503      
34 34 Suites Alba Resort & Spa      1.447     suites_alba
35 35 Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa      1.283     HiltonVilamoura
36 38 Vila Valverde Design Hotel      1.231   10 vilavalverde
37 36 Real Bellavista Hotel & Spa      1.177      
38 37 Ponta Grande      1.163      Pgresort
39 40 Le Méridien Penina Golf & Resort      1.119      
40 41 Hotel Oriental      1.032      
41 42 Browns         956      
42 9 Hoteis Real         941   5 HotelsReal
43 44 Pine Cliffs Resort         910      
44 45 Água Hotels Vale Da Lapa         884     ValedaLapa
45 43 Hotel Eva         865      
46 46 Holiday Inn Algarve         797   25 HolidayInnAlg
47 47 Hotel Quinta do Lago         781      
48 48 Monte da Quinta Resort         682     MQresort
49 49 Praia Verde Suite hotel         591   5 Praiaverde
50 50 Algarve Casino Hotel         536     Algarvecasino
        180.296      

So what is different this week? Recently, I noted that quite some Algarve hotels were entering the twittersphere and I thought of re-assessing again if hotels are actively pursuing Facebook, Twitter or both in building their relationships.

In order to do so, I again used the Klout score to assess their engagement. You might remember that in week 52 I had done similar and at the time 7 hotels had a Klout score of higher than 10. Today however, there are 11.

 Although the order changed a little, the 5 most engaging hotels in the Algarve on Facebook and Twitter – read the highest Klout score – remained the same with the exception that As Cascatas now newly entered; (1) Portobay Hotels from 44 to 42, (2) Hotel Faro from 22 to 37, (3) Monte Santo from 35 to 32, (4) As Cascatas from 0 to 32 (5) Tivoli Hotels from 31 to 30 and (6) Holiday Inn Algarve from 10 to 25; the latter and Hotel Faro having improved their engagement score considerably.

You might ask me now: “What does this mean in practical terms?” When turning to Google Analytics, As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa “behaves” differently from our Monte Santo Resort for data from 1st of January.

  As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa Monte Santo Resort
Facebook Fans 6.553 2.254
Twitter Followers 590 858
Facebook referral traffic #1 #2
Twitter referral traffic #6 #14
New Visitors Facebook or Twitter 80% 42%
Bounce Rate Facebook or Twitter Less than 30% Up to 60%

 Before trying to analyse the above table, both resorts of course have a different “character”, not to say location and different product – although with the same management. I would argue that As Cascatas in Vilamoura is more internationally orientated than the Monte Santo Resort, whilst As Cascatas is one year longer active in the market than Monte Santo. On the other hand both resorts have the same Klout score, substantiating that the engagement of both resorts is equal, whilst post frequency on both Facebook and Twitter or languages used for the various streams to reach fans and followers are relatively similar.

Back to the previous table. As Cascatas shows for better online results, knowing it has far more Facebook Fans, whilst Monte Santo has more Twitter followers. When digging deeper through Twitteranalyzer, I found some interesting differences – unfortunately at times contradicting:

  • Our mobile websites m.ascascatasvilamoura.com and m.montesantoalgarve.com do not show for improved stats due to these Social Media initiatives
  • 83% of the As Cascatas followers were active on Twitter in the last 10 days versus 76% in Monte Santo.
  • 59% of the geo-location of followers of Monte Santo pertain to relevant feeder markets, whilst 45% in As Cascatas – strange!

In conclusion, I am not certain how to take these numbers yet, but it seems clear that Facebook and Twitter are more relevant for As Cascatas, whilst Facebook more relevant than Twitter for either resort. What do you feel? As always – comments appreciated underneath!

Posted in Hospitality Social Media, Top 50 Algarve Hotels on Facebook | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Is Twitter worthwhile for your Hotel?


Greetings!

At times it is hard to convince people to use Twitter as a marketing vehicle or even Social Media as a whole, although we have surpassed that phase on the latter. Lately, we have been dedicating considerable time in cleaning up our Twitter accounts in line with my previous posts e.g. improving our bios, automating daily posts, unfollowing masses of irrelevant tweeple, following back those that show promise and creating dedicated Twitter handles for our Brand Advocates. During this process of refocusing the following question was asked me again: “Is Twitter worthwhile for our Hotels?”

Regular readers of this blog know my scepticism towards the added value of Twitter for the Hotel Industry. Effective Twitter usage necessarily involves dedication, and an investment in time and attention. There is a value in using Twitter as a marketing vehicle and it has nothing to do with numbers followers… or direct sales. It is about brand development. Who follows you matters a great deal because powerful Twitter marketing involves not just link-blasting, but networking and relationship development.

Here, are some questions that spring to mind:

  • Who is reading your tweets? Are your followers interested in your hotel?  Do you know them as guests or member from your hotel loyalty program?
  • Are your followers active? Active users share your links, they give you feedback. Automated or semi-automated users are not active users that will interact with you.

 

So, how can we place the aforementioned in perspective? In the Algarve, we know that the hotels mentioned in the underneath tables are leading in the Twittersphere [I removed Pestana Hotels & Resorts, as they merely focus on Brazil.] How engaged are they really? How often is their content re-tweeted. What is the hotel’s effective reach? To assess this, I again turned to Tweetreach

  Reach Regular

Tweets

Replies Retweets
Portobay 12.139 46 1 1
Hotelfaro 75.179 19 19 4
HolidayInnAlg 1.862 2 0 0

The above data leads to conclude that Hotel Faro is the most interactive, whilst also having the most contributors (11), whilst the Holiday Inn Algarve has become relatively silent.

In digging deeper, I used Twitteranalyzer and evaluated the origin of followers and their relevance for the principle Algarve feeder markets. For all 3 hotels those markets were the UK, Portugal Spain and Germany; in those particular order.

  Followers UK PT ES DE %
Portobay 2.189 612 43 65 65 36%
Hotelfaro 2.265 543 203 113 90 42%
HolidayInnAlg 1.466 527 73 58 73 50%
  5.920 1.682 319 236 228 42%
    28% 5% 4% 4%  

From the above table you can conclude that the Hotel Faro has the most balanced number of followers, while with 50% the Holiday Inn Algarve seems to cover relatively the most of the main Algarve feeder markets. A surprise is though, that Portobay has relatively little Portuguese followers….

Back to the original question. It may just not be worthwhile for some hotels to focus their online marketing efforts on Twitter. In explaining it might be easier to address that question reversely: “When should you stay away from Twitter?”

  1. If your hotel does not have a mobile strategy or presence. There is a strong tie between Twitter and mobile, including SMS text messages. Do your guests use mobile, android or iphones?
  2. If your hotel does not have a significant online or social media presence. How much have you invested lately in marketing, re-vamping your website or used e-commerce to sell your services. How regular are you using email for marketing?

Before your hotel jumps on the Twitter bandwagon you might be far better off to focus on these previously mentioned online marketing tools first. If these questions are covered, then we are getting somewhere and aiming for (brand) tracking, loyalty and directing attention through Twitter. Twitter marketing is a task that involves two-way audience engagement, on the part of the hotel marketer creating opportunity to:

  1. Track Brand and Reputation. See one of my previous posts “Improving your Hotel’s Guest Service with Social Media.
  2. Get Feedback. Need an alternative perspective on your hotel services or its website? Blast out a tweet asking for advice
  3. Drive Traffic. Twitter can be used to get traffic to your websites. Include links in your Tweets to your website, while it has some SEO benefit – even your short links.
  4. Find Prospects. Make an effort to add active users you find interesting or fitting your market segments. Do a search for keywords related to your hotel on Twitter Search and then follow users. However, interacting with each and every prospect takes a lot of time and energy. As a lead acquisition tool, it does not always reach the audience you want; it is extremely difficult to target a specific subset of the general demographic and determine their level of potential interest. You could prefer networking with influencers who can promote your hotel brand. Which celebrity recently stayed in your Hotel?
  5. Notify Your Customers. Set up a Twitter feed for the specific purpose of notifying customers when new promotions are launched or inform on-resort happenings.

In conclusion, you should use Twitter as a relationship building tool. After you have created the trust and have built the relationships you will find your sales increasing. Although I remain skeptical of Twitter – creating relationships is the most valuable attribute of all. Whether it will remain part of our daily activities when we are done giving it a trial run remains to be seen, but for now we will give it a good shot.

And yes…please do follow me on Twitter!

Is Twitter worthwhile for your Hotel? Comments underneath!

Posted in Hospitality Social Media | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Facebook Top 50 of Hotels in the Algarve – week 4


Greetings!

Which hotels are the fast movers? Did your hotel make the cut for this week’s Top 50?

Apologies for not having posted over the last week or so, but I simply could not find the time.

This week’s Facebook’s Top 50 of Algarve hotel saw the following happening:

  • Fan Base Increase: The list saw the total fanbase increase by 4.671 fans or an average of 93 (previous average was 90), although only 14 hotels added more than fans than this average. The Top 7 remained unchanged, whilst the Top 10 saw its relative weight drop from 55 to 52%. Those hotels adding the most fans, did this time not pertain to the Top 10. Most fans were added by Dom Pedro Hotels (+683) and Adriana Beach Club (+603). On the other hand 4 hotels reduced their number of fans; Hotels Baia losing the most (-75). The 10 brands representing various hotels, were responsible for 47% of the fan increase, while holding 38% of the total fans – concluding that chains are adding relatively more fans than stand-alones.
  • Market Share: 20  hotels increased their relative market share, led by the 2 earlier mentioned hotels: Hotels Dom Pedro (+14,3%), Adriana Beach Club (+10,8%) and 2 other hotels saw their market share not alter.
  • Ranking: Unfortunately, also on this list I did not register any new entrants and a total of 9 hotels have moved up the table. Vila Galé remains unchallenged for the first spot on the table, holding that position firmly since the beginning. Fastest Mover of this week’s top 50 is Vila Joya jumping 3 positions to 36th, while Monica Isabel Beach Club, Hoteis Baia, Real Bellavista and Ponto Grande Resort all drop 2 positions.

As with all lists, I have tried to include all hotels to my best of knowledge. In case you feel I have missed out one, feel free to comment or to Tweet me with a DM at @marcsontag. Do not forget, comments underneath! Have a great read and check out the rank of your hotel!

      Facebook Fans 19/01/11 “Market Share” Absolute Increase
1 = Vila Galé Hotels     24.208   13,3% 547
2 = Longevity Wellness Resort Monchique     16.489   9,1% 99
3 = Lagrimas Hotels     11.740   6,5% 123
4 = Villa Termal Caldas de Monchique      7.016   3,9% 88
5 = Tivoli Hotels & Resorts      6.925   3,8% 423
6 = As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa      6.521   3,6% 57
7 = Pedras da Rainha      6.319   3,5% 40
8 +2 Grande Real Santa Eulália Resort & Hotel Spa      5.042   2,8% 68
9 -1 Pedras d’ El Rei      5.034   2,8% 30
10 -1 Hoteis Real      5.001   2,8% 2
11 = Adriana Beach Club      4.990   2,7% 603
12 +2 Dom Pedro Hotels      4.630   2,6% 683
13 -1 CS Hotels, Golf & Resorts      4.308   2,4% 226
14 +1 Vista Marina      4.089   2,3% 166
15 -2 Monica Isabel Beach Club      4.027   2,2% -19
16 = Memmo Baleeiro Hotel      3.939   2,2% 107
17 = Real Marina Hotel & Spa      3.834   2,1% 15
18 = Porto Bay Hotels & resorts      3.727   2,1% 97
19 +1 Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel      3.379   1,9% 230
20 +2 Prainha Alvor      3.210   1,8% 199
21 -2 Hoteís Baia      3.209   1,8% -75
22 -1 Hotel Faro      3.069   1,7% 35
23 = Eden Resort      2.994   1,6% 50
24 = Sheraton Algarve      2.581   1,4% 44
25 +1 Pestana Hotels & Resorts      2.454   1,4% 106
26 -1 Encosta do Lago      2.422   1,3% 69
27 +1 Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa      2.376   1,3% 81
28 -1 Terrace Club      2.341   1,3% 11
29 = Monte Santo Resort      2.219    1,2% 27
30 = Balaia Golf Village      2.170   1,2% 5
31 = Cabanas Park resort      1.835   1,0% 50
32 = Vigia Resorts      1.612   0,9% 41
33 = Vale do Lobo      1.486   0,8% 12
34 = Suites Alba Resort & Spa      1.436   0,8% 14
35 = Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa      1.227   0,7% 47
36 +2 Vila Valverde Design Hotel      1.189   0,7% 56
36 +3 Vila Joya      1.189   0,7% 109
38 -2 Real Bellavista Hotel & Spa      1.170   0,6% 1
39 -2 Ponta Grande      1.162   0,6% -5
40 = Le Méridien Penina Golf & Resort      1.091   0,6% 27
41 = Hotel Oriental      1.042   0,6% 12
42 = Browns         947   0,5% 32
43 = Hotel Eva         870   0,5% 1
44 = Pine Cliffs Resort         857   0,5% 30
45 = Água Hotels Vale Da Lapa         846   0,5% 21
46 = Holiday Inn Algarve         798   0,4% 27
47 = Hotel Quinta do Lago         726   0,4% 34
48 = Monte da Quinta Resort         690    0,4% -1
49 = Praia Verde Suite hotel         574   0,3% 17
50 = Algarve Casino Hotel         525   0,3% 9
        181.535        4.671  
Posted in Top 50 Algarve Hotels on Facebook | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Improving your Hotel’s Guest Service with Social Media


Greetings!

One of the blog readers left a couple a days ago a comment on the post Twitter Top 10 of Hotels in the Algarve – Is Twitter Underestimated or Misunderstood? Questioning if there is any proof out there that Social Media can improve a hotel’s competitive position? Having already posted on Return on Engagement and its related advantages, social media objectives and tactics, this post will address how you might create a competitive advantage in using Social Media as a tool to improve your Guest Service.

Social Media – but mostly Twitter – can be a mysterious beast and much misunderstood. Many hotel marketers are sceptical about opening a Twitter account; some think they do not need it, other think it will add more work, whilst many just do not know how to use it. Then you have the hotels that send Tweets on a regular basis. They instantly update their followers about events, announce special offers and promptly answer questions. I feel that in using Twitter hotels have nothing to little to lose and everything to gain.

Consider the following events. Every hotel or resort has experienced getting small complaints from their guests one time or another, because of an awful view or the concierge was not very friendly today. Such matters are usually easily addressed, but when they are blasted out on Twitter or Facebook that is something different all together.

I would argue that guests only use Social Media as a last resort to vent their frustration of a bad experience or lack of consideration related to that experience. Some of your guests [do you know which of your guests have a Twitter or Facebook account?] might just have hundreds or even thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook giving complaints a big audience; a virtual megaphone you need to take seriously and take as an opportunity to improve and so gaining competitive advantage.

Unfortunately, at times guests do not use their real name for their Social Media accounts so a hotel cannot find them in their reservation system and sort out the complaint or offer additional perks. Therefore, cosnider asking for those social media contacts during the reservation process.

In some hotels headquarters’ staff, hotel employees and top executives monitor the company’s Facebook pages and online reviews as part of their jobs and I personally use the free version of ReviewPro to keep track of our online reputation and have organised our various social media streams neatly in columns in Hootsuite.

As in the offline world you will not be able please everyone – also not inline. Complainers do not go away, but you can choose how you deal with them. Some of them will be legitimate complaints from reasonable people that will be touched when you reach out quickly and sincerely show you want to help them.

Therefore, some practical advice in making the most in servicing your guests through Social Media:

  1. Start monitoring Conversations NOW. When having good experiences we like to share those with our friends. When having a bad experience we also involve others. Social media makes it easy for us to share these types of information, especially Twitter because of its ease of use on a mobile phone. When your hotel is in Vilamoura use in your “Twitter Searches” the same keywords as you use for your website and adword campaigns: e.g. “Vilamoura”, “Hotel Algarve” and your “Hotel Name” to track conversations or even source potential guests.
  2. Listen, respond swiftly and take the Conversation offline. Response time makes even more the difference for guests who have complaints on Social Media and (un)fortunately for us hoteliers, guests almost expect an immediate response through these channels, turning it into a 24/7 operation. It makes them feel that you care for their feedback and mostly for them. Then, after the hotel’s @Reply or Facebook post, ask for the email address e.g: via a DM. This is an excellent way of taking a conversation offline and away from the crowd. Apologise, point out recent improvements made at the hotel and ask the guest to contact staff over email or phone to privately solve the problem. Ask the guests what happened to calm them down. Guests feel better when someone is actually listening. The GM should email within 24 hours with an apology and an offer to make up for the bad experience.

All aforementioned is not only important for negative experiences! Some of your guests might post a comment on your hotel’s Facebook page or send a tweet saying they are looking forward to their stay and some engaged hotels will could respond with some value adds, whilst the most engaged hotels might use the arriving guest’s Twitter account as a prestay, in-house and post-stay concierge service and if not an email and/or SMS messaging sequence might just do the trick too. Think of the underneath sequence of DM’s – you can suit it to any online and mobile channel:

  • Upon reservation: @marcsontag Thank you for your reservation, we look forward to welcoming you to As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa. If we can help with car hire: [shortlink to dedicated landing page]
  • Back home followup: @marcsontag Thank you for having stayed with us. We look forward to welcoming you again shortly. Please review us on Tripadvisor. [short link to dedicated Tripadvisor landing page of the Hotel]

The above samples of a pre- and post-stay (DM) message can easily be complemented with anything varying from wishing a safe trip on the guest’s departure day, informing on spa/golf arrangements or the weather, that the airport pickup is ready at the gate, that tonight you host a BBQ night, sharing the cultural program, reminding about check-out time and wishing a safe journey home.

Similar to phone and email, social media are a really great medium for communicating with your guests and your hotel’s online community in general. How you use them will set you apart from your competition and without a doubt affect your returns positively.

How do you use Social Media in your Hotel to improve Guest Service? Comments and suggestions underneath!

Posted in Hospitality Social Media | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

HOW TO automate your Hotel’s Messages on Twitter


Greetings!

If you have been following this Blog over the last few days – thank you if you did -, you have noted that recent posts were mainly dedicated to Twitter. As this Blog is not solely meant to Twitter, I wanted to clarify that this is merely the result of my relative inexperience with this channel. I only have been an active Twitterer since the first week of last month. I have expressed my scepticism about the added value to the hotel industry of Twitter and during these 6 weeks I have been trying to grasp the dynamics of the medium in learning by doing, while I am the first to admit that not even all of my suggestions are implemented in our own resorts (yet), due to holidays and other (marketing) priorities. In practicing, I wanted to share my experiences.

I argue that Twitter is the least understood, but hottest social network right now. Chances are good it will be around for some time and here in the Algarve we still have a long way to go, creating some competitive advantage when done well from the beginning.

Twitter –as any other Social Media channel for that matter- is about building a 2-way relationship and automation of Twitter can be instrumental in this process. Having said this, automation is rather controversial; social media is about personal contact, discussion and sharing, while automation typically is associated with auto-response messages and messaging clutter. Even more, there are Tweepl out there that say to hate automated DM responses – even if they automatically alternate over time – and will just not follow you back. Part of automation might be that on regular intervals you repeat a particular message during a day and I do not particularily object to that, certainly if you have clients in different timezones. 

In addition you can make it seem less repetitive in using different copy for the same message. When posting yesterday’s “Twitter Tactics for Hotels to grow their Following I tested the messages in the table underneath with varying results: 

  ReTweeted Follow-up Interactions
1. Twitter Tactics for Hotels to grow their Following 3  
2. What are the #Twitter Tactics of your #Hotel    
3. Would you follow your own #Hotel 1 1
4. #Twitter Strategies to grow your #Hotel’s following 1  
5. HOW TO grow your #Hotel’s Following 1  
6. Is your #Hotel follow worthy 3 1
7. Why does your #Hotel not have a quality following 2  

It is time-consuming to write live tweets all day long and then be available to post them and Twitter marketing automation is surely not about pursuing a sheer volume of followers. At the end of the day – within your strategy and (time) commitment – the quality of your followers and how engaged they are with what you have to say is what makes or breaks Twitter’s effectiveness for marketing your hotel. Althought the above 7 sample messages were not automated, automation tools give hotel marketers the ability, without having to go back through the creative process, to manipulate and test different messages and to get fresh content out there.

There are many (free) automatic tools that can help with managing your hotel’s Twitter marketing campaigns, such as Tweetadder, while e.g. Socialoomph for me personally just works fine with respect to scheduling various tweets and DMs.

However, if you want to take this a step further, there are some compelling reasons automation can be useful; you can search by keywords in profile data, location, followers of another user, followed by another user etc. If applied correctly for some routine tasks, while maintaining your personal touch, an automated tweet stream sets you free to deal with your hotel guests.

When you have gained the trust of your followers, you can weave in a sales within the scope of your other hotel Tweets. For inspiration see the post: What does your Hotel Tweet about? Some practical Examples”. I would think that a sales message every 1 in 10 would do you no harm, but you will need to check those that unfollow you and see what kind of messages triggered such action. You might just try to win them back with a followup incentive message in retaining them  – certainly if this was a past guest or a member of your Hotel’s Loyalty Program.

I have said it before, Social Media and also automation cannot replace your human interaction with (potential) customers. Sharing a set of automated emails, photos, videos and promos will not magically generate your hotel business – although compelling content will provide value and a basis for engagement.

Has your hotel automated your Twitter messages? Share your experiences and comments underneath!

Posted in Hospitality Social Media | Tagged , , | 3 Comments