Jason got a firsthand look at the early stages of our creative process. A longtime destination marketer, he gave his take on the importance of understanding a traveler’s intent in order to connect with them.
“One of the challenges we have is recognizing what the intent of the visitor is on their customer journey.
Are they just looking for inspiration? Are they committed to the destination? Where do we fall on their journey? Do they already know they’re coming to Central Florida or are they in that in-between stage? Or do they just want to know what else there is to do or where to stay? That’s the challenge: figuring out where they are on that path.
As destination marketers, we really need to figure out their place in that journey and also what their level of intent is in order to serve up the content that is most likely going to resonate with them further down that path until they ultimately convert and visit us.”
Zach brought his 15+ years of experience in visual storytelling to the mix. On top of being unofficially awarded “Most Authentic Lederhosen,” he shared examples of compelling imagery that helps properties tell a better story.
“[Hotels] need to keep their own stories in mind so they can connect with the appropriate guest for them.
A good story is cohesive, has a solid start, weaves through the whole story process, keeps the reader or the viewer engaged, all the way to the end. It’s all about setting the scene and making it dramatic.
I think it’s important that resorts and hotels use that in all of their marketing.
When they use people to support their marketing, then they can speak more to their ideal guest and they can interact with your brand.”
Dr. Dan shared a historical on how hospitality has changed digitally over the last two decades along with some real-world challenges hoteliers face—and tied all of it back to why. (It’s not his first rodeo here at Flip.to.)
“I was inspired by Simon Sinek’s book, “Start With Why.” I focused on this when talking to hoteliers about their business.
Why are you in the hospitality business? What drives you? What is your motivation when you come to work?
We also looked at our personal why. For me, it was digital media. Things are constantly changing and improving from a digital marketing standpoint.
We would discuss this approach with everyone from top level staff to services. We all wanted the same thing: to serve the guest. And the way each and every hotel does that is different.”
Christina and the team chatted all things travel marketing, from guest storytelling to content marketing, and from the big picture down to the day-to-day application.
“When I first arrived, we were very real estate focused, using a lot of room and interior shots that weren’t resonating with the audience. Almost immediately, we decided to flip the switch to marketing around the experiential—what people are doing while they are on property, around the area, and in the city they are visiting.
By doing that, our audiences have grown exponentially. Our click through rate and revenue have increased as well. Being able to highlight the experiences helps us not only sell the place—it helps us sell the story.”
Behind really great product is a lot of collaboration, dynamic teamwork, and, of course, a bit of fun.
And this meeting of the minds was just the start. We’re excited to unveil more in the coming weeks, so be sure to follow us for the big reveal.
The lessons learned from DMA West were many. Aside from being introduced to the truly incredible city of Spokane (seriously, there is something for everyone, from great wine to arts & the outdoors—it’s on my radar for another visit!), the event brought together destination marketers on the front lines of where travel and tech are headed.
One presentation in particular stood out, from David Bratton over at Destination Analysts. He had a really interesting approach on how to improve your site, from content to context, through the eyes of your visitors.
Reaching & inspiring quality audiences has always been a cornerstone of any effective travel marketing strategy. But now, more than ever, there are more factors to consider—from demographic, to conversion, to even the realness of the audience (all thanks to bots and “follower factories”).
Plus once found, how do you find and speak to those audiences in meaningful ways? Today, we cover this and more with our take on understanding your target audience and sparking authentic conversations.
In the last few days, news (fake or real) has become a focus thanks to a little event we call the presidential election.
The impact that social media had in the outcome is beginning to come to light, especially as it relates to the distribution of fake news stories.
You may be reading this wondering, “Why isn’t more being done about this?” The truth is handling the situation is a pretty tricky line to walk. Much of the focus has been on just how different liberal and conservative people saw content. So, why is this?
We can break what you see in your news feed down into two categories:
Organic News Feed posts
Paid News Feed posts (advertising)
Let’s start with organic posts.
You may have heard a reference to the echo chamber effect. This is something we at Flip.to are very familiar with. It’s the core reason advocacy is an effective means to influence travelers. Let’s look at why.
Social Media sites like Facebook allow users to self-select friends and sites they find interesting. The result? We’re friends with and follow sites that have strong similarities with our own views and backgrounds. Naturally, we’re presented with content in our news feed from these sources that is very narrow in scope and tends to be in line with what we already believe.
This is not algorithmic witchcraft. It’s actually common sense. We collect friends along the way, and we’re friends with those people because of some like-minded similarities.
Unlike real life, social media allows us to stop following friends who post things we don’t like. People are more likely to do this on social sites than they are during live in-person interactions.
Why? The other person generally has no idea you stopped following them (so we don’t feel so bad doing it). So in our social media lives as least, this creates a laser-focused set of people with similar beliefs and interests continuously feeding related content to each other.
It falls into an ethical gray area to ask companies like Facebook or Google to intervene with content shared organically. This quickly gets into big-brother-type censorship that (left or right)—we all want to avoid.
It falls into an ethical gray area to ask companies like Facebook or Google to intervene with content shared organically. This quickly gets into big-brother-type censorship that (left or right)—we all want to avoid. We’re all responsible for understanding that just because something is on the internet, it’s not necessarily based on fact.
Now let’s switch gears to paid News Feed posts, or in other words—advertising.
Here is where companies like Facebook and Google can make an impact. They’ve created an environment where advertisers target audiences through very specific data points. (Say, things we’ve liked or searched for.) This puts content in front of us that we are likely to find relevant or positive.
This actually makes the bubble we live in even smaller since we’re only exposed to paid content that is based on our own self-selection and is likely to appeal to us. Coupled with the content we’re already seeing organically as explained above, and—well you get the picture.
Moderating these posts will not be an easy task. Any action in restricting advertisers due to content will be a challenging balancing act. Lets face it, most news these days has a strong amount of point of view or opinion interlaced with facts. So who is to judge what is real news and fake news?
You can actually see this firsthand by looking at this article by the Wall Street Journal. It illustrates the stark contrast of how information on the same topic is presented by different sources to different audiences. It’s easy to see the side-by-side difference between News Feed articles shared by different “blue” and “red” followers. Depicted posts are sorted based on if they are shared more by those with liberal or conservative behaviors.
Facebook has stepped up to the task, announcing several steps they’re testing to battle misinformation both to provide more accurate information as well as protect the integrity of the platform. Facebook’s CEO outlined a plan of stronger detection, news verification and user warnings in an announcement made on his personal Facebook page:
So what does all of this mean to a hotel? Opportunity!
For one thing, we’ve learned from the echo chamber effect that you should speak to the friends & family of your guests the same way you speak to your existing guests. They share similar social and economic status, making them a targeted audience who are likely to make similar decisions (like booking your hotel). Do this right and ultimately it will lead to higher conversion for your hotel.
The bottom line? Authenticity matters, as does relevancy and truth in advertising.
The bottom line? Authenticity matters, as does relevancy and truth in advertising. The best marketing combines the three and gets the right content in front of the right people. Do that and everyone wins (Facebook and Google will love you for it too).
If you follow our blog, you may recall a piece I wrote a few months back where I dug into the numbers behind advocacy on social networks and what it means for hotels. Two of the primary takeaways from that analysis were that 1) Facebook is really important to your overall online marketing strategy and 2) that relevant content is crucial.
Taking this a step further, if we isolate Facebook, the role that relevant content plays cannot be understated. How and why Facebook presents content the way it does is something every hotel marketer should understand. With that knowledge, you can craft a highly effective content strategy for your property’s presence on the largest social network on the planet.
Why hotels need a new strategy for Facebook
2011 marked a major shift in how Facebook’s News Feed (official name) operated. The original algorithm was replaced with a more “intelligent” one that adapts based on your feedback to content you engaged with previously. For instance, if you showed more interest in posts with photos you would start to see more photo posts higher in your News Feed.
Fast-forward to 2015 and the algorithm has changed—a lot. While still adaptive, it now takes into account over 1,000 different variables when deciding the order of content.
Today’s version may even decide some content just simply isn’t worth your time and push it so far down into your News Feed that there’s little chance you ever see it. According to Facebook there are about 1,500 posts on average a user could see at any given moment, so the task of deciding what you see is big.
Ultimately, Facebook cares about keeping its platform engaging to its users. When it ceases to engage with users, it loses relevancy and people drift away (think MySpace). This means that Facebook has to filter some content from your News Feed so that you’re not inundated with stories and so that you don’t feel like you’re being spammed.
For this reason, organic reach has declined and is getting ever closer to zero. From early 2012 to 2014, organic reach dropped from 16% to just over 6%, and since then it’s diminished even more.
And so the question is this: as a business, how do I get my message in front of the most people possible on Facebook?
The new content strategy: tapping into the right audiences on Facebook
There are two audiences you can tap into on Facebook that will allow you to work within the boundaries of Facebook’s News Feed while also leveraging its rules to your benefit: your own and your guests’. We’ll start with your homegrown audience—those that have “liked” your Facebook brand Page.
5,000 likes does not mean you have 5,000 engaged audience members. As part of your digital strategy it’s important to take this into consideration.
Other considerations (Facebook looks at over 1,000 variables) include some of the following:
Is the viewer interested in the content creator?
How has this post performed amongst other users?
How has this creator’s content performed in the past?
What types of posts does this viewer prefer? (e.g. image rich, posts with links, etc.)
How new is the post?
As a hotel, this means that you should always strive to have relevant, timely, and engaging content. No more Turbinado Tuesdays or Shar Pei Sundays. Stop doing that.
If TripAdvisor has taught us anything, it’s that people like to hear and see what other people’s experiences were like at your hotel. If you’re capturing guest feedback and pictures from their stay then that’s the sort of content that you should be sharing on Facebook. Let your audience see what other travelers just like them are doing at your property.
They’ll imagine themselves enjoying an amazing dinner on the waterfront, or a cocktail on the rooftop with an amazing view of the skyline. It’s one thing for you to say it’s great. It’s something entirely different for your guests to show others how great it was for them.
Relevant content amplifies your reach in two ways. First, more people will see your content if the people that first see it also interact with it. This means that every like on a guest photo you’ve shared boosts that post’s News Feed value.
Second is that with interaction comes sharing. Your reach grows tremendously when your audience shares that photo you’ve posted. When a photo is shared by one of your followers, it will rank more highly in the News Feed because it’s coming from a person and not a brand, as well as because it’s demonstrated that it has value. As you’ll soon see, quality content has a powerful ripple effect that works in harmony with News Feed’s algorithm. Spammy and unengaging content will do the opposite for your brand which is why I can’t stress enough the importance of distancing your hotel from those sort of posts.
Your Guests’ Network
Every person that comes across your brand has an audience of their own. Collectively these people represent a massive opportunity for exposure to your brand.
For hotels, this underscores an opportunity to incorporate advocacy.
By encouraging your guests to share their experience with your brand over Facebook, you enhance your own reach in a way that leverages the News Feed algorithm. For one, we now know that brand content is deprioritized in the News Feed and content from close friends is pushed higher. In addition, based on what we’ve seen on the Flip.to platform, each guest represents about 225 social connections.
Now, take the number of people coming through your door to stay with you on a given day. Do the math. A 100 room hotel running at 80% occupancy has an opportunity to reach 18,000 people on a given day.
How does this compare to the number of likes you have on Facebook right now? Then consider that your own content is only reaching a small percentage of your own audience. It’s like swimming upstream.
For a hotel, the right audience can truly mean like-minded individuals connected to the guests who’ve booked a room. With the competition for News Feed space increasing so rapidly, it’s crucial that hotels reach a wider audience who are more inclined to engage with their content.
Encouraging guests to share their stories not only gives hotels that reach, it makes a more trusted introduction to the brand. This is a far more harmonious interaction with the News Feed and a stronger long-term strategy for social marketing.
Over time, take note of which types of posts performed the best in terms of overall engagement. A digital strategy should and must evolve over time to adapt to a rapidly changing dynamic. Does your audience favor images over text? Do guest reviews tend to drive more comments? Do guest pictures of your swimming pool result in more shares and likes?
Don’t be afraid to experiment when it comes to user-generated content because on the whole your customers have more influence than you do which is exactly what the News Feed is looking for.
Hoteliers can benefit from engaging potential future guests with social media to help foster loyal brand communities, and even reach new audiences. In fact, hotels have some of the most to gain from this channel since users already love to share their travel experiences with friends and family, and their social networks are the vehicle to do so.
Below you’ll find some key elements that will bolster your digital strategy across all of your guests, and why social use is an important channel when it comes to influencing travel decisions early on in the travel planning process, regardless of age or demographic.
Social media–spanning the ages
In the dawn of modern social media, (circa 2006) users between the ages of 18-29 dominated social media adoption. Even though they still lead the pack, the age gap is quickly closing for other groups. In fact, the largest growth in the past 5 years is a tie between users 30-49 and 65+ years old. Today, 75% of adults between the ages of 30 and 49 use social media sites, and 50% between the ages of 50 and 64.
This points to social media as a top channel hotels should be using to reach potential guests. A single person is connected to hundreds of friends & family across the world, and one person’s story travels further to that audience than ever before. Use this to your advantage to introduce your hotel to an audience of like-minded travelers who are the perfect guest for your hotel.
Affluent travelers and social media
The best luxury brands tell the best brand stories. They’ve established their guests’ personas—understanding who they are, what they care about, and how to reach them with the right message.
Affluent travelers equally value the internet and word of mouth as the most important sources for inspiring personal travel. With this information, social media is a compelling, targeted and cost effective avenue for brands to tell stories and inspire potential future guests.
Hoteliers cannot ignore social media for any age group or demographic, especially when considering the impact it has on potential future guests’ travel decisions, and the fact that nearly 70% of the population uses social media.
The friends, relatives & colleagues of your guests are the perfect demographic for your hotel to reach. Whether your hotel fits in business, leisure, resort, limited service or luxury, start making trusted introductions to entirely new audiences of future guests. Hotels worldwide use Flip.to to do just that.
Flip.to helps hotels engage future travelers with Photo Advocacy
ORLANDO, FL – June 3, 2015 – As Flip.to continues to unveil new layers of the advocacy platform for hotels, its impact is changing the landscape of social for hotels worldwide. As social media matures, challenges in the ability to see measurable results and the limitations implemented by many of the large networks have made it even more difficult for hotels to stay relevant. Flip.to is helping hotels be “social” in a way that’s natural, with significant, measurable ROI.
Being “social” revolves around the idea of people sharing personal experiences with friends and family- travel conversations that hotels have long tried to join. “Social media” has seemingly adopted the term “social,” but in fact is neither personal nor between friends, and is quickly starting to resemble another paid advertising channel for hotels. A core concept of Flip.to is that “social media” is a way to reach global audiences and spark conversations about travel between friends. Social media should be a point of distribution for hotels, rather than a destination where staff sink large amounts of time posting streams of uninspired content.
Advocacy gets people talking about your brand. When guests share brand experiences with their friends and colleagues, it is a more trusted and natural engagement than any form of paid marketing. With the launch of their new site, Flip.to unveils how hotels can tap into advocacy and do “social” and “social media” correctly, helping hotels earn direct bookings through their massive, untapped marketing force-their existing guests.
In addition to Pre-stay and Post-stay Advocacy, the new site, http://www.flip.to, debuts Photo Advocacy, which encourages guests to share memorable experiences. Perpetual photo contests provide the hotel with real, sharable content, customer quotes, and valuable insights from guests about their stay. This content is curated in just a few clicks, creating an ongoing stream of marketing material designed specifically for social use.
“Advocacy is completely revolutionizing the way hotels approach social media. Guests are already talking about their travels-Flip.to works with hotels to get their guests talking about where they are staying, too.” said Ed St.Onge, President of Global Sales and Marketing for Flip.to.
“A single guest can reach hundreds. The combined reach of your guests eclipses your existing fan base and their voice is far more authentic. Hotels need to start engaging new audiences in a more natural way, as ever growing social media sites create new hurdles for brands, and organic reach nears zero,” added St.Onge.
Flip.to creates a new channel of revenue by harnessing the excitement of travel, encouraging guests to advocate on the hotel’s behalf. From their new headquarters, Flip.to continues to hone in on their mission to help hotels earn new guests. The team is now also fueled by an amazing new touch screen, bean-to-cup coffee machine “… but are woefully lacking a ping pong table,” noted Jeff Weibel, Chief Marketing Officer.
The Sedona Rouge Hotel has felt a significant impact from turning their guests into a powerful extension of their marketing team
Orlando – March 18, 2015 – With a world-class spa and red rock views, the Sedona Rouge Hotel in Arizona has felt a significant impact from turning their guests into a powerful extension of their marketing team. Flip.to has turned a full third of Sedona Rouge’s guests into advocates.
In just the first 3 months of switching Flip.to live, the 33% of guests who have spread the word about their upcoming trip have introduced the Sedona Rouge to over 54,000 of their friends, relatives & colleagues, which has led to 84 direct bookings.
“We have always known that our guests love our unique experience, but having guests share that experience with their friends and family at a rate of 33% is what surprised us,” said Ed Conway, GM of the Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa. “It is such a natural experience for the guest that it is easy to see why we saw immediate results from the Flip.to platform. Working with Flip.to gave us an elegant way to help our guests spread the word at multiple touch points, in the right way, while making it really simple for me and my staff.”
The Flip.to advocacy platform encourages guests to share their excitement about their upcoming trip and where they’re staying with their social connections, ” said Raul Vega, Senior Director of Sales at Flip.to. “Flip.to then drives the guests’ friends and family back to the hotel’s website and serves up a unique, trusted experience that is proven to convert friends of guests into new guests. If you can do that while being simple, fun and visually compelling, it leads to huge results for hotels, as it has for Sedona Rouge.
Guest stories pave way for huge marketing reach for The Shores Resort and Spa
ORLANDO, FL – JANUARY 2015 – The Shores Resort and Spa has recently switched on an entirely new marketing channel as guests compete to fill the resort’s amazing library of authentic photos. After The Shores Resort launched Photo Advocacy, guests have shared photos of their favorite vacation moments with hundreds of thousands of friends and family.
Flip.to Photo Advocacy encourages hotel guests to enter into photo contests that The Shores uses to turn memorable moments into amazing brand connections around the world. Guests share their photos of The Shores Resort to their social networks as they compete for votes in the contest. Contestants get competitive as they share to win.
“The reach of Photo Advocacy can be astounding. One entrant was a travel blogger with 428,000 followers who sought out votes through her social media – sending her voters (and potential guests) directly to the hotel’s website,” said Debi Moses, Senior Director of Sales for Flip.to. “No amount of marketing can have the kind of trusted reach that your guests have combined.”
The Flip.to platform makes it easy for The Shores’ marketing team to curate a hotel’s brand story through the creativity and the authentic voice of their guests. Photo Advocacy helps turn social connections into new guests.
Unlike traditional hashtag photo contests, guest photos are chosen and approved by the resort, linked to the brand and carry full copyright permissions. This allows the hotel to repurpose and reuse the photos in all of their social media channels. Photo Advocacy photo contests run perpetually so there is always a stream of new photos to choose from, vote on and share to promote The Shores Resort.
“Flip.to’s first Photo Advocacy contest, ‘The Shores Outdoors,’ allowed our guests to embrace their inner photographer and resulted in sharing amazing scenic shots that I can honestly say would rival a professional. It is no wonder so many went viral!” said David Rijos, General Manager of The Shores Resort & Spa.
The Shores Resort & Spa is an AAA Four-Diamond luxury beachfront hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida, and one of the first hotels to launch Photo Advocacy. Guests submitted photos that included beautiful sunrises, children playing on the beach, messages in the sand and striking ocean views from hotel balconies.
“Flip.to continues to amaze us with their innovative approach to harnessing the power of our happy hotel guests and turning them into our property’s brand ambassadors. Everything we do with them is a big win-win!” Rijos added.
To find out more about how Flip.to can help you tap into an entirely new marketing channel and earn new guests, please get in touch with Debi Moses at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.flip.to.
The Oliver Hotel joined forces in 2012 with Flip.to to help spread the word about its updated Southern charm, sophistication and amenities
ORLANDO, FL – DECEMBER 2014 – The Oliver Hotel, a historic, boutique hotel in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, underwent renovation and renaming in 2011. The hotel joined forces in 2012 with Flip.to, the brand advocate platform, to help spread the word about its updated Southern charm, sophistication and amenities.
The partnership has been so successful that the 28-room hotel booked an astounding 430 room nights through Flip.to’s guest advocacy in the past year.
“Flip.to is The Oliver Hotel’s secret sauce. We hate to give away the recipe but Flip.to is the future of hotel social media,” said Mike Riley, GM of The Oliver Hotel. “Our engagement rate is off the charts, and Flip.to has lead to at least a direct 5% increase in total annual room sales, not to mention the word of mouth it creates down the line.
“Furthermore, Flip.to gives us an easy way to immediately gauge guest feedback the moment they step out the front door. If you don’t believe me, check out the front page of our website – it’s like our very own TripAdvisor,” added Riley.
Right at the time of booking, Flip.to encourages guests to share their upcoming trip to The Oliver Hotel with their social connections around the world. This drives friends and relatives to a uniquely personalized hotel website experience and leads them down the path of becoming future guests.
“When guests love a hotel, they want to let everyone know,” said Debi Moses, Senior Director of Sales for Flip.to. “And The Oliver Hotel is a hotel guests love. Flip.to offers a way to share that excitement in a way where everybody wins – guests, friends, and the hotel’s bottom line.”
To find out more about how Flip.to can help create a significant, measurable impact for your hotel, please get in touch with Debi Moses at email@example.com or visit www.flip.to.