10 Easy Steps to Take Charge of Your On-Line Reputation!

So often I hear one of two stories. Either hoteliers are actually scared about their on-line reputation or they think they have it under control because they check TripAdvisor. There is so much more to both situations!

Monitoring and Managing your on-line reputation is not as difficult as it was initially. Actually with a new awareness of social media and the importance of user generated content and reviews, as well as some simple applications it is easier than ever to take charge of the situation! Here are some simple tips:

  1. Formalize the process! Set up a committee and pick a leader!
  2. Set goals – what are we trying to achieve here? Increase reviews? Increase rankings? Be specific.
  3. Schedule! Who’s going to actually handle the day to day tasks? Make this a seven day a week schedule and write it down.
  4. Get the buy-in from the Executive Committee and/or your corporate office. These reviews can directly affect individual reservations and group bookings, so everyone has a stake in the game.
  5. Respond to all reviews! Good, bad or neutral. Remember, the idea here is to build an engaging reputation as well as attract new and repeat customers. This also helps your Google rankings!
  6. Encourage guests to write reviews. TripAdvisor will even provide the sign-up cards! Create Advocates!
  7. Use the free stuff – there are lots of easy on-line tools, such as Google Analytics, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.
  8. Incorporate your social media. Tell guests about your Twitter and Facebook pages and ask them to participate. This way as they post about your property you have a real-time situation to welcome them, address any concerns and also tell them more about your property as well as events and specials. “Do you need a reservation for dinner tonight?”
  9. Optimize all your sites – make sure pictures and descriptions are up to date.
  10. Consider using an on-line reputation management tool – they are easy to use and very cost effective. It only takes one bad review to lose many potential reservations and revenue

The Lane Marketing Group has years of experience with On-Line Reputation Management for all different sizes of properties. Call or email us about setting up a program for you and your properties. From a basic audit, to building a strategy and monitoring a program, we have the level of service you need to be successful and be in control of your on-line reputation!


Emarketing update! The Preference Page – requires respect!

This week I attended a great webinar by Silverpop – Building a World Class Preference Page.  Now generally this is not an exciting topic but I learned there really is some important and cool things to do with your email preference page!

The three main areas are: the opt-in, the update and finally the opt-out.

The Opt-In Page

Keep it simple and easy to use, yet consistent with your brand and website. Vertical multi-column form is the easiest on the eyes. Naturally our eyes track up and down, not left to right.  Have your customer sign up their email address twice – one to subscribe and one to verify. It is amazing how many people type in the wrong address! Use drop down boxes for ease of use but don’t over use as some mobile applications don’t take kindly to them! Lastly, send a confirmation – a welcome confirmation! Once again, another opportunity to say “thanks” with an offer!

The Update!

Preferences – yes it is very important to get more information about your subscribers. You’ll want to get demographics, interests, list or publication designation, channels of distribution (email, text, mobile) and frequency. But the interesting aspect is that this doesn’t have to happen all at once. And actually can give you another opportunity to reach out to the subscriber.

Known as building a “progressive profile” of your subscriber, invite them back to add more information to their profile. Another great way to re-engage with the customer! Think about rewarding them with a special offer for updating their profile.

Include the email address – the average person changes their email at least once every three years. This is valuable data and needs to be kept current. Companies that don’t give customers a convenient are de-valuing their asset of current data!


No company wants to lose a subscriber and there are ways to help lessen the chance. First make it easy to opt-out – that is part of the can spam laws. But ask them why – too much email, too much frequency? Remind them of what they will lose if they unsubscribe.

It can be time-consuming to build a good database of customers and their interests. And it is really easy and inexpensive to develop and maintain a good preference page. Call us if you need help!

Learning from the Airlines – what not to do!

This morning I read an article that some resorts and hotels are already starting to charge for housekeeping! Or adding a rather hefty housekeeping “gratuity” to the bill. The charge discussed was over $20 per person per room per day. Somehow I don’t think the housekeepers are getting all that money.

Anyway, as an industry, haven’t we learned from the Airline industry that to nickel, dime and now dollar our guests is a quick way to alienate them! When traveling I do my best to never pay for a baggage charge from an airline. And of course it is Southwest Airlines which is doing so well – financially and in the public’s view, because bags fly free!

The traveling public is already a little skeptical of some rates posted, especially on third party sites. Now in addition to “resort fees” we are going to be adding “housekeeping fees”. I hope not!

The Power of Storytelling – For Your Brand and Culture!

Great content at yesterday’s Washington Women in PR Brown Bag lunch program on storytelling. Whether developing a brand or building or in many cases re-building a culture storytelling plans an integral role. A few “take aways” I got from the session were:

–                     Attention! Get listeners attention with a question or challenge. We started with “which character trait are you today” and then a list of 12 traits was presented. This saves the audience from wondering where to begin! The list included traits such as: every person, lover, jester, caregiver, hero, revolutionary, magician, sage, ruler, creator or innocent. I particularly liked the fact that the question was targeted for “today” so that it is not your entire personality! This idea comes from Cindy Atlee of storybranding.com

–                     Three main elements to a good story are simple: challenge, struggle and resolution.  Everyone can relate to this! Adopt a storytelling mind set!

–                     “Start with the Why” – this comes from a TED video – then proceed with the what and the how.

–                     Mood based questions and creation of a mood map – what do you do when you feel happy? Where do you go on a rainy week day when you want to be alone and read a book? All questions that can help marketers determine potential customers like and dislikes!

–                     The Power of One – the power of one person’s story versus the story of many. It is much easier to embed the feelings of one person and create a powerful story that gets the audience’s attention. TV broadcasters use this tool very successfully!

–                     Start at the End! This helps the audience know how they should feel at the end and can then concentrate on the how, when, where and who.

–                     Create a messaging model: 1. Connection 2. Motivation (those two invite the audience into the story) 3. Inform 4. Promote. All too often we pr people focus on the “inform and promote” aspects and neglect the connect and motivate. Excellent advice here!

–                     Lastly a few simple steps to developing successful stories:

  • Keep stories heartfelt and true
  • Keep asking why!
  • Incentivize people to tell their stories (it also helps create relevancy for people in an organization)
  • Remember the power of the unexpected!

Kudos to those of WWPR who develop the ideas and content for these programs as well as get the panelists, speakers and moderators. They do a great job!

Now that is good customer service!

While driving yesterday I heard a great story about simple customer service going beyond the expectations of the customers. On the radio there was much talk about a new study about all the germs on shopping carts. Really nothing new there but lots of details about the nasty bacteria and germs which live on shopping carts. Yes some grocery stores have wipes available to wipe off the handle and the baby seat in the front of the cart. But the independently owned Chevy Chase (MD) Supermarket goes way beyond a simple wipe! They run their carts through a 90 second spray and dry machine each time so every customer always gets a clean and sanitized cart. It is so popular with the customers, especially those bringing their small children to the store that patrons have asked if they can run their stroller through the machine. Not only did the management of the Chevy Chase supermarket say yes, but also do it free of charge. That truly is going beyond the expectation of the customer – and at the same time getting some great and free press for their business. Very smart!

Notes from the webinar – The Evolution of e-Marketing Trends – A Travel Marketer’s Guide to 2011

This week I participated in this TIG Global webinar and there were some good take away notes. Basically nothing startling but definitely a reaffirmation of the existing trends!

2010 – Review of Results

  • Facebook – monumental growth!
  • Twitter – new two column format and promoted tweets (tweet speak for paid advertising!)
  • Geosocial – location based social networking like Foursquare, Gowalla and now Facebook places. It grew in 2010 but will be everywheres in 2011!
  • Groupon – an expensive way to promote and now there are lots of copy cats!
  • International – don’t forget to incorporate into your social networking strategy!

2011 – what is on the horizon! The year of evolution where the 2010 trends will just continue to dominate.

  • Geosocial – 2011 will be the year of rapid adoption by both customers and businesses, by blending location, social networking and e-commerce.
  • Group Buying – the big fish gobbling up the new or smaller fish.             Keep an eye on Amazon!
  • Facebook Commerce – it is easier than ever to incorporate your           booking engine into your Facebook page. Some examples are JC            Penney, Delta and the Harvest Inn. Also there are “apps” to add to your Facebook page to create your own “daily deals”.
  • Social Search –   building your community! Social Media is becoming a key SEO component.
  • Mobile Marketing – big in 2011!

Really if you keep these items in your emarketing plans you will be ahead of the curve, and your competition.

Presidential Speak

While driving today and listening to the Kojo Nnamdi show on AMU radio (NPR) I learned that it was Thomas Jefferson who first coined the phrase ” Public Relations”. Who knew! Thanks you Mr. Jefferson!