Independent Hotels & Resorts Promote Direct Website Bookings, Boost Loyalty Using Social Media and E-Marketing

| March 18, 2010

For independent hotels and resorts, the era of social media, internet marketing, and fully-integrated direct website online booking software are providing new revenue generating strategies that reach travelers with a message of unique guest experiences and personal service. Independent properties are more effective with social media strategies than large chains burdened with corporate guidelines. Creative independent operators are responding quickly to the evolving needs of guests who are traveling less frequently. The result is guest loyalty, valuable word of mouth referrals, and higher revenues. Maestro PMS by NORTHWIND offers a complete suite of online revenue-generating tools including ResWave integrated booking engine with real-time guest-driven booking of rooms, spa, and other activities complemented by expert internet marketing services for social media and email marketing.

Social media = hundreds of room nights
The Gainey Suites Hotel in Scottsdale has a strong Twitter following along with videos on YouTube and attractive property shots on its Flickr photo sharing site. The high-end destination uses Facebook to feature hotel special events and promotions that leverage its current number-one TripAdvisor ranking. "Social media gives our hotel freedom to do creative things online we cannot do on our website," says Rich Newman, general manager of the Gainey Suites Hotel. "We use Maestro's ResWave booking engine on our website with links to our social media pages. Our link to YouTube videos on the ResWave page drives business because guests can see rich-media hotel presentations and book rooms immediately. Our social media strategy generates hundreds of room-nights and adds to our F&B business."
Gainey Suites links its Maestro ResWave booking page to property photos, floor plans and enhanced room descriptions. "Chain have corporate social media programs, but are constrained by policy guidelines. Independents like Gainey Suites can respond to market changes and promote their hotels with a creative style that builds an image of a unique, personalized, destination that people respond to by making reservations," says Newman.

Independents boost occupancy & referrals with more personal touch online
"Independent operators do a better job of engaging the public online than chains," says Arthur Morrissey, marketing manager for Morrissey Hospitality Companies, Inc. which operates the Saint Paul Hotel in Minnesota. With much success using email marketing, Morrissey recently began a social media program using the talents of front-line staff. "We wanted to create honest, authenticate communication with shoppers that engaged them at The Saint Paul Hotel brand level. Our goal is to show better ROI metrics to demonstrate performance and we have seen more than 100 percent growth in our engagement numbers each month." Morrissey tracks reservation origins and ties revenue to its online marketing to see where shoppers are going on their site before they book rooms on The Saint Paul Hotel's Maestro ResWave booking engine. "We built codes on our website and Maestro ResWave that track reservations from Twitter, Facebook and other social media sources," Morrissey says.

Social media channels drive ROI, referrals and direct website bookings for lower cost
Michael Hraba, CEO of Hraba Hospitality Consulting in San Francisco, agrees. "The problem with flag thinking on social media is their preoccupation with ROI; the fact is there are social media conversations taking place online continuously that drive business to hotels." Hraba Consulting provides social media counsel for hotel operators.

"ROI is very important to independent operators. We track rooms and revenue generated by social media programs in the Maestro PMS Front Office hotel software used at the Allison Inn & Spa, and at our Cavallo Point Lodge at Golden Gate properties. When you listen to social media conversations about your property, you learn creative ways to reach paying guests that generate revenue. We recommend to clients that they use a fully-integrated booking engine like Maestro ResWave and link their websites to Twitter, Facebook and Flickr pages that engage visitors. When you engage guests with social media it develops online customer advocates that impact how your hotel is perceived, drives referrals, and can create a great deal of new business."

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