Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Twitter for Hoteliers

Three simple Twitter tips PLUS the number one mistake hoteliers make with Twitter

There is an old saying that if a person is happy they tell three people. If a person is unhappy the will tell ten people.

Social media, and particularly Twitter, simply allows people to amplify their message, so instead of telling ten people, perhaps they are telling 10,000 or more about the experience they had at your business.

For you, the hospitality professional, if you are having trouble coming to terms with Twitter, try to think of it as the largest cocktail party or hotel lobby you’ve ever been invited to where you don’t know a single soul. As an example, if you walked into this “lobby of strangers” where you were trying to make a good impression, would you simply start handing out your business card to everyone and telling them how great you are? Certainly not!

For numerous companies who are new to Twitter, and social media in general, there appears to be a common misconception that as soon as you sign up, customers are going to fall from the sky in droves and you will immediately be inundated with more business than you can handle. Unfortunately, this is not the case. But, as a means of assisting you in your Twitter interaction, below are three simple tips.

1. Listen – If you do not subscribe to an online monitoring service like ReviewPro or Revinate, Twitter has a handy search tool that can be used in numerous ways to help the hospitality professional get a better idea of what is being said about their destination, their hotel, and their competition. For the example below, I just entered “Puerto Rico” in the search box to see what people were saying at the time of writing this article.

Out of the five tweets captured above there are at least four referencing trips to Puerto Rico (where conversations could be started!). You can do the exact same thing for your particular destination and property, or you could even follow the competition. Truly, this “listening” technique works for whatever you would like to track.

2. Participate in conversations – Brands and businesses that are successful on Twitter go beyond spamming followers with how great they are. The next example below comes from a Twitter user named the @productpoet. This person was seeking accommodation in downtown Omaha and they said that they would stay with the first hotel that responded (more in the image below).

As you can see above, because Hilton was paying attention (listening!) they were able to reply and book the stay. What did the @productpoet think of the stay? Well, below is what they tweeted to their over 117,000 followers.

3. Be a concierge first (and sell second) – Your potential guests have a never-ending stream of questions and you are the expert at your destination. Think of Twitter as an amazing extension of your concierge to help, educate, and take care of your patrons.

A quick search on Twitter for “London activities” brought up many instances of folks seeking help. Below is a perfect example for you to jump in as hospitality professional and offer guidance to this person looking for a place to see Christmas lights.

If you follow the general rule of interacting and having conversations 90% of the time and selling only 10% you should be able to have real success with Twitter.

The number ONE mistake hoteliers make with Twitter

Interestingly, you can now book a room using Twitter but where many hospitality ventures fail to succeed is that they do not collect @ usernames either during the booking process or while a guest is checking in.

If you are an active Twitter user how good would you feel if a hotel tweeted you wishing you a great stay. Or, if after you checked in, by the time you got to your room there was a tweet from the hotel just checking with you and making sure all is ok. Hospitality professionals, start collecting those @ names and engaging with your guests for maximum impact!

Task of the day: Ask every guest that checks in today if they are on Twitter. If they are, get their @ name and tweet them a welcome!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Wellness Tourism and the Hospitality Industry

The tourism industry is thriving. Therefore, it seems there has never been a more exciting time to enter this market for a rewarding career in this industry. The hospitality sector is expanding and with it the list of vocations is growing too.  Training in this area can cover a huge range of fields, as evidenced by the variety of courses offered by the Alpine Center. There is much more expansion on just the standard ‘travel & tourism’ courses.
How is the industry shifting?
Despite the recent stretch on the economy, it seems the hospitality and tourism industry is still booming. This could be because the industry is meeting the needs of the evolving consumer demands. With the recent fascination and drive on healthy living, it seems that there has been a development in something now widely known as ‘wellness tourism.’ According to statistics produced by the Global Wellness Tourism Economy report this trend is now worth $US438.6 billion dollars and is set to continue growing.

What is Wellness Tourism?
Wellness tourism is any trip or holiday that results in taking direct action to be beneficial to the health and well-being of the traveller. This includes yoga retreats in Turkey, and fasting at an ashram in India. It could also be anything from a fitness boot camp in Ibiza, to a juice fasting cleanse in Nicaragua. There are so many niche markets cropping up, in order to cater to everyone’s needs. This is a new breed of travel, and it is big business. It is no longer just about boozy week-long holidays where the person returns with burnt skin and a damaged liver. Wellness tourism is about enhancing someone’s life whilst on holiday, so they return feeling refreshed and revitalised.

The Global Wellness Tourism Report indicates that some of the associations with Wellness Travel are authentic experiences, disease prevention and management, relaxation and healthy living. This is the opposite end of the spectrum to a typical lads’ holiday, which constitutes ‘unwell travel’ and includes some of the factors, such as excessive drinking, travel stress, unhealthy eating and lack of sleep.

How the Tourist Industry Can Support the Increase in Wellness Tourism
It is important for businesses in this industry to understand that there is a shift in this area, and that wellness tourism is a growing sector. It helps businesses to be flexible. It doesn’t matter if your business is not a yoga retreat, or a health spa. It is about tailoring your trip to meet all customers’ needs, and recognising that catering for wellness tourism could increase your customer base.  It is helpful to see what kinds of services your business can offer in addition to what you already cover. Could your business focus on health cuisine? Maybe you are a ski lodge; could you extend your customer base and products by adding a spa? Could you continue developing your menu to a high standard to attract different clientele? Could you personalise your customer experience a little more, by offering tips about the holiday, sent by email beforehand, or offer an online resource such as Iglu Ski’s dedicated "first ski trip checklist" . This gives your guests a little added service to show them you care, even before they arrive. You have the opportunity to tempt them with your nutritious menu and pampering services.

How Businesses can Meet these Demands
A study from the Global Wellness Tourism report showed that lodgings alone amounted to $93.4 billion dollars of the global market, with food and beverages contributing to about $71.9 billion. The report suggested that people interested in wellness tourism were typically middle aged, wealthy, educated and from western backgrounds.

People are becoming more refined in their choices, they want to eat at quality restaurants, they wish to visit spas and health resorts, and they want to incorporate sports and activities such as yoga and skiing into their vacations. That is why it is essential to have high class professionally trained staff working at your business. The experience begins the moment the customer steps from their front door to begin their journey to their travel destination.

Therefore, it isn’t all about changing the entire structure of the business, simply building on what is already there. In most cases, the trend can be accommodated by the business, which enhances the customer stay and adds value to the business.
by Melissa Moram 
exclusively for Alpine Center