I just recently attended Travel Distribution Summit North America 2012. This event was organized by my good friends at EyeforTravel.

The three main aspects I focused on getting more info on was;

  • New and innovative distribution practices to maximize direct bookings
  • Utilizing Smart Devices (Mobile, Smart Phone and Tablet) to drive engagement and ROI from customers
  • How should Hotels move forward with Social Media as part of the mix?

Social Media is part of the Mix – not The Mix!

It was interesting to observe either it was a keynote presentation or a specific topic session they tended to swirl into Social Media. And still we experienced that some of the questions was related to “Is Social Media Important?”.

Now if your Hotel still is asking this question then are facing some challenges. Customers of today are in the driver seat, so we have to look into what are the new wants and needs of Today. We can’t keep up asking yesterdays questions anymore.

It all start with Serve Your Guest through new channels as part of the mix. Social Media is NOT The Equation, it is just part of the equation. You still have to deliver a unique Hotel Experience.

Why Move Forward?

In a previous article I also asked What is it that keep Hotel Decision Makers awake during the night? And I have identified that the answer is not Social Media. In most cases answers are related to measurable metrics like Occupancy and Revenue.

So as the event was moving on, this was a question I found more intriguing and interesting to look into ‘Why Move Forward?’.

The answers I got was very interesting and really gave some interesting aspects on where to put focus when you build your Hotels Social Media Strategy.

  • Personalized Hotel Experiences
  • Last Minute Bookings
  • The Local Mojo

Personalized Hotel Experiences

How can Hotels of Today create a Disney Moment for their customers?

Hotels has to be bold and ask questions that allows them to open the Window Of Opportunity. And here I discovered an example of pure brilliance from Expedia.

What Expedia did was to collaborate with 12 Mommy Bloggers. and launched a blog curated by these bloggers called Kids In The City.

This example illustrate that you can think outside the box, and don’t necessary need to have a huge marketing budget to pull of a Disney Moment.

Travelers today are getting very savvy, and often depend on valuable info shared through their network. And moms often has a strong influence when it comes to finding the ultimate experience for their children. Now I know that AAA ratings, Diamond ratings, Star Ratings, Reviews etc. add great value to Hotels. But what if your Hotel was Mommy Approved?

If your Hotel could pull of a collaboration deal with Champion Advocates one of the many benefits from this is increased Direct Bookings.

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Last Minute Bookings

We learned Last Minute Bookings is traditionally a typical phenomena many Hotels experience in recessions. And that Mobile Device by it self as a channel don’t create this trend.

With that said Mobile Applications like HotelTonight makes last minute deals more accessible.

Max Starkov from HeBS Digital indicated flaws in these types of business models. And that history has show that these channels will not last long.

I agree with Mr Starkov that either we are in recession or good times all Hotels need a robust Online Channel Strategy.

Apps and competitive OTA inventions will come and go either we like it or not. I don’t believe we can disregard these channels, but have to see what can we learn from them.

Hotels can’t just sit on the sideline and believe that the snow that felled yesterday still will be there today. Remember we wanted a Disney Moment for our customers, not a Kodak Moment. Now don’t read me wrong, I actually admire Kodak. And I believe they have a quality team that will be able bring back a brand that many of us used and admired for several years.

The Local Mojo

I an study done by FedEx an Ketchum 85% of the companies who use social media to engage employees reported that employee participation in their organization’s social business efforts increased over the past 12 months. These companies believe they are effectively using these strategies with employees in the social space to:

  • Strengthen relationships (46 percent)
  • Share and tap into expertise (44 percent)
  • Foster collaboration, dialogue and discussion (44 percent)
  • Increase participation in a program or an initiative (38 percent)

New mobile applications is making it easier for Hotels now to detect the locations of their customers. And it makes it easier to design local specific offers and packages. We the values that is identified in the report by FedEx and Kertchum on the rise it important to start collaborate with your Hotels customers in a early stage of their booking decision process.

Because mobile applications will also make it easier to customer to share their experience with their network, and also provide reviews on TripAdvisor.

So when you are moving forward with New Media and Social Media is important to focus on the hole Hotel experience, and what type impact you can make in the different stages of their experience. Seize the Moment. and start personalize the Hotel Experience for guests. And remember it is no longer a Static Process – it is now a Dynamic Process.

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EyeforTravel

EyeforTravel Ltd is a leading global media company specialising in business intelligence for the travel and tourism industry. Founded by Tim Gunstone in 1997, EyeforTravel produces world leading conferences, reports, webinars and news for senior executives of the online travel industry.

Over the years, EyeforTravel have successfully produced conferences, reports and webinars, on a variety of topics including

  • Online Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Mobile
  • Product Development
  • Revenue Management
  • Travel Distribution
  • Travel Technology

Follow @EyeforTravel on Twitter.