Pandora and Spotify playlists
What originally caught Michael’s attention was how the Wanee Music Festival was doing this – creating a custom Pandora playlist for fans of the event. Clearly, this could work just as well for lifestyle hospitality brands as it does for music festivals. I see opportunities for different types of hotel playlists: ones that highlight the best local artists, and ones that reflect the type of ambiance you’re trying to create.
In Europe, Spotify is the music suggestion tool of choice – and Staying Cool has created playlists on the site for their Birmingham property.
Earlier this year, YouTube introduced video playlists. (You can read the tutorial here) This could be helpful for not only a series of videos touring your hotel property and surrounding area, but also for linking a collection of stories.
It seems hotels have yet to really explore the opportunity here. How could you extend your brand experience by curating music and video content?
Share any examples you know in the comments below.
As I alluded to in my Think Mobile 2010 summary post, a highlight of the event was hearing Adam Brotman introduce the Starbucks Digital Network – a collection of content that will debut this fall in the US.
Built on partnerships
The initiative is built through a partnership with Yahoo! – but the real value to the user comes through partnerships that include:
- Wall Street Journal
- New York Times
- Rodale (health publications)
Premium content for free
Through co-sponsorship, the site is able to offer premium content – such as the Wall Street Journal online – for free. The partnership with iTunes will allow Starbucks to make music recommendations and give away free samples.
This is a win/win/win deal for everyone involved. The users get free content, the companies get exposure, and Starbucks plays the role of content curator – building trust and brand value.
Becoming content curators
Starbucks feels their customers trust them as tastemakers, and want them to introduce new content. From their website:
The Starbucks Digital Network is inspired by Starbucks passion for elevating the third place experience to create a unique coffeehouse environment, its heritage of recommending music, books, films and other culturally relevant works to its customers.
That sounds a little too much like a press release, but the opportunities for other lifestyle businesses are clear. Whether that’s through creating a soundtrack like the Opposite House in Beijing or creating a community of artists like the Roger Smith Hotel in New York is doing.
Optimized first for mobile devices
Over 50% of people accessing the Starbucks wifi network do so through a mobile phone or tablet device. From GigaOM:
Brotman explained how the site will be built in HTML5, will respond to touch and swipes, and will be optimized first for iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices. This is a huge change from companies that traditionally optimize their web sites for Safari, Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer and expect users to view them on a PC or laptop.
Having a local neighborhood focus is a key digital trend. Starbucks is doing this several ways.
Patch.com partnership. AOL’s Patch.com provides hyper-local news created by a local editor. It’s sort of like neighborhood gossip rag meets community discussion forum.
Foursquare partnership. Integration with Foursquare will provide the ability to check in on the landing page – without needing their mobile app. (Great if you only have your laptop)
MapMyRun & MapMyRide integration. These two services are incredibly useful if you’re a runner or cyclist in an unfamiliar city. Brotman said many fitness groups meet up at their local Starbucks before heading out, so this is a prime opportunity to serve this community.
Why this is cool (and why it should matter to you)
Starbucks is at the leading edge of content-as-marketing innovation here. What if you followed this model to deliver premium information to your guests and customers?
Most establishments with a wireless internet network use some type of landing page for registration. The Starbucks Digital Network presents a whole new opportunity to engage with and serve your customers.
Who do you need to partner with to create and share content like this?
This week, I’m departing from Hotelier Highlights’ usual format and instead featuring the best hotel marketing sites and the innovators who publish them.
These featured sites:
- Frequently publish, guest-publish, or host free and original digital hotel marketing strategies content.
- Communicate effectively with readers via Twitter, Facebook, online forums, blog comments or though interviews and personal exchanges.
- Prove through their own Google searchability that they know how to create and sustain a visible online presence — lending real-world cred to their digital marketing advice.
Basically, they encourage beginners like me to wrap our heads around a barrage of new digital applications, the hotelier-mindset, the shifting world of social media marketing, and every other development that’s shaking up the hospitality industry.
Even better, they inspire hoteliers and marketers to discuss and develop their own strategies. Haven’t given yours much thought? Eager to become an expert in your own right? There’s no time like the present; dive in!
14 Great Hotel Marketing Websites
Meet and Contact the Blogger: Guillaume Thevenot
Follow Guillaume on Twitter
Recent Highlight: This Week in Hotels #5 (Foursquare, Online Concierge, Hotel Website Review)
Meet the Bloggers: Jitendra Jain (JJ) and Erin O’Neill
Recent Highlight: Hotel Stories: Exceeding Expectations with Exceptional Service
Meet the Blogger:Guido vanden Elshout
Contact Guido vanden Elshout
Follow Guido vanden Elshout on Twitter
Follow Happy Hotelier’s Favorite Hotel Marketing Tweeple
Recent Highlight: Using Tweepml to Manage your Twitter Contacts and do away with #ff and #tt
Meet the Blogger: Daniel Edward Craig
Follow Daniel on Twitter
Recent Highlight: Is the Role of the Hotel Concierge Going Obsolete?
Follow HospitalityeBusiness on Twitter
Recent Highlight: Hospitality eBusiness Strategies (HeBS) to Present during Mobile Technology & Travel Keynote Session at EyeforTravel’s Travel Distribution Summit
Meet the Blogger: Michael Hraba
Recent Highlight: Facebook & TripAdvisor; an issue for Google or Yelp?
Meet the Blogger: Josiah Mackenzie
Follow Josiah on Twitter
Recent Highlight: Top 10 Reports for Hotels to run in Google Analytics
The next two blogs aren’t exclusively hotel marketing focused, but they’re joining the conversation, testing strategies, and producing some great content. Rock on.
I’d love to find, read and share even more great sites. Give your favorites some love in the comments!
Happy Saturday everyone, and welcome to this week’s Hotelier Highlights: the best hotel marketing posts, tech news, and any other inspiring or entertaining stories that we stumbled across. Enjoy!
We received some great entries to our Hotel Design Pool this week; thanks for sharing your beautiful images, everyone. Dublin’s Gibson Hotel submitted our favorite: this beautifully lit internal garden. In their words, “Chic, understated and right in the heart of Dublin’s brand new cultural hub, the gibson hotel captures the essence of a vibrant city with a music pedigree that runs deep. Subtle, yet surprising, understated yet complex too, our hotel takes inspiration from its central location and unique design – the ultimate urban retreat.”
- Not sure if guests are irked by your hotel’s fugly carpet? There’s a Facebook group for that! (Facebook.com)
- Last week, we suggested that you hire a journalist. Mihir (rightly) insisted that “there is nobody who knows your business better than you do. And nobody more passionate. So get writing !!!”. How’s this for a feasible middle ground, hoteliers? (CoulourLovers.com)
- If you’re struggling with grammar, word-use, apostrophe placement, or even just stringing words together coherently, this round-up of blogs devoted to language is for you. (MentalFloss.com)
- Ready to take involvement a step further by supporting your hotel’s fan base? Mashable.com explains how to manage a sustainable online community.
- Can these Lady Gaga-inspired tips make your hotel’s blog more successful? Inspired by her term of endearment for fans, “Little Monsters”, we came up with one for you all; will you be our “Hotel Marketing Strategies Shakers”? (ProBlogger.com)
- Our savvy shakers would never commit these annoying faux-Tweets, but I’m sure you know someone who does. Please help them. (SocialTimes.com)
- Lego’s brand revitalization success illustrates one of my favorite creative principles: “limitations are liberating.” Could focusing your hotel’s marketing strategy liberate you from the excesses of limitless choice? (BusinessWeek.com)
- Bonnie Buckhiester’s explanation of your revenue manager’s social media role is a must-read. And in case you missed it, here’s Josiah’s super-condensed recipe for success. (HospitalityNet.org)
- The Mustafa-saga continues. Last week, we said:
“The web is ablaze with reports that the brand’s body wash sales are actually down 7%. But don’t write off Mustafa just yet. ReelSeo.com reminds us that there are a lot of reasons we shouldn’t automatically trust barely-substantiated or explained statistics. What do you make of all this, hoteliers? Can we even trust these news sources enough to study the long and short-term implications of Old Spice’s social media success? (Mashable.com) (Jezebel.com) (KnowYourMeme.com) (ReelSeo.com)”
- This Friday morning, I was reminded again of the value of mindfully-published print media when Time Magazine reported a 107% increase in Old Spice’s Body Wash sales between May 19th and June 19th, a far cry from the alarmist findings reported on their website last week. They attribute their misleading analysis to having ”been a little too specific with the sales stats. Though Red Zone After Hours sales went down, overall body wash sales actually went up 107 percent, according to PRWeek.” (Time.com)
- If you believe that — in the long (or short) run — consistent, creative and authentic content prevails, head over to HelloMyNameIsBlog.com and learn how to be timeless.
Would you like to be featured here? Upload your best photos to our Hotel Design pool, on Flickr.
Welcome to round three of our hotelier highlights Saturday feature: the week’s best hotel marketing posts, tech news, photos, and any other inspiring or entertaining stories that we stumbled across.
Josiah recently wrote about the importance of recognizing loyal fans and their contributions. Dedicating some space to your favorite photos and hotels is a good start. If you can think of more ways to improve your experience on this site, send us a note!
In their words, “Modern art hangs down from the high ceilings of this dramatic Sao Paulo restaurant, themed like an artist’s studio. Savor the Brazilian-flavored contemporary cuisine, special wines from the 170-label wine cellar or a creative drink from the bar.”
- Love or hate it, you need to see these 10 innovative uses of the iPad for hospitality. (psfk.com)
- Addressing the herbivore’s dilemma: how to travel as a vegetarian. (Aswetravel.com)
- 3 out of 4 consumers don’t trust your message; how can hotels, airlines and online travel companies monetize their social networks? (Travel-tech-trends.blogspot.com)
- Hotelchatter.com wants to know: would you take your family “Glamping”?
- Another outdoorsy option: Safariland Treehouse Resort. (www.besthotelamenities.com)
- Would you book a hotel room one year in advance? Mickey Mouse hopes so. (Hotelchatter.com)
- Followers come and go; here’s why you should be your own biggest fan. (HellomynameisBLOG.com)
- Hospitalitynet.org shares 5 ways travel companies are using social media to add value.
- Want positive hotel reviews? The ever-entertaining and on-the-mark Daniel Edward Craig thinks you should toss the script aside. (Blog.danieledwardcraig.com)
- Seth Godin asks: are you betting on smarter, or betting on dumber? You can probably guess which route he endorses. And because we love us some Seth Godin, check out his take on the difference between fans and participants. How’s your conversion rate?
- Get out your lucky pennies! This month, The Tune Hotel London is offering 200 rooms for 1 cent on a first come first serve basis. Bookings start at 12:01am Tuesday, July 13th. (hotelchatter.com)
- Are you ready to jump the Facebook bandwagon for Google’s oft-rumored social network alternative, Google-Me? Not so fast. First, check out this excellently illustrated post on Mashable.com: Google’s Long History of Forays into Social Media.
- Can’t make it to Isabelle’s Parisian Hotel for Bastille Day? Hotelchatter.com found four more hotels that are “getting all French next Wednesday”. Vive le France!
Would you like to be featured here? Upload your best photos to our Hotel Design pool, on Flickr.
Ever since I started blogging about eight years ago, I’ve been a huge supporter of the WordPress blogging software. I still love it, and think it’s still probably the best all-around platform. If for no other reason, the huge number of 3rd-party themes and plugins make it a very customizable solution.
But as I work with hotels on starting blogging initiatives, the big thing most people lack is the time to write posts. Even though you don’t have to write a 500-word article each time, the thought of having to sit down at a keyboard and write a new post can be intimidating.
So I’ve been looking at some alternatives, and experimented quite a bit with Tumblr recently.
I know it’s not brand-new technology, and many others have been using this for a while.
With the little testing I’ve done so far, what I like about Tumblr is how simple it is. You can get a blog up and running in about 15 minutes, and there’s no cost. Even better, it seems to encourage multimedia publishing, with sharing photos, video, and audio very easy.
It seems that hotels interested in lifestyle blogging would find this a natural fit.
Morgans Hotel Group starts tumbling
The content looks a bit unorganized right now, but I’m interested to watch as this develops.
Blogging can be easy
So maybe this works for you, or maybe it doesn’t – but I just wanted to let you know blogging can be simple. Whichever platform you use, just make sure you get out there and do it!
Has anyone else tried Tumblr? Share your experience in the comments below…
At the end of each week I like to look at a new product or startup in the hospitality technology space, and today we have Greg Murtha walking us through VTour – a virtual tour product. Rich media is becoming increasingly popular on hotel websites, and when done right, can give your site visitors a good idea of what to expect (setting expectations).
What is the big problem you saw that inspired you to create this?
The limitations of existing technology to allow a potential customer to move freely from one location to another and see and be sold on all of the unique attributes of a hotel property in an engaging environment. With our competitors’ technology all you can see are small snippets of one aspect of a property then you have to close that link and open another to go on to the next destination or to see a video or other rich media. Nothing is cohesively linked together. We wanted to create a dynamic environment in which you could move from one destination to another without having to open and close 30 links and wait for them to load in the process.
Explain how your product helps solve this big problem
VTour’s technological platform empowers the consumer with game-like interactivity to explore a hotel and learn about all of a properties unique amenities and offerings.
What key things have you learned as you created this?
In the current economic climate the consumer wants to make sure they are getting the most value possible for their money. Travelers want to see more than a few glamour shots or best of photos of a property. As a hotelier you want an engaged client and you want to show them and tell them why your property is the best possible option.
What surprised you the most during development?
One of the things that surprised us most was that after years of initial development how quickly we were able to fulfill our commitment to becoming the most immersive multi media technology on the web. Our ability to deliver large format high quality transitional imaging, spherical 360’s, integrated audio, video, 3-D animation, still photography, full screen viewing, closed captioning, multi-lingual international marketing and interface with existing on-line reservations systems in a single player environment has quickly made VTour a powerful sales tool.
How does this make money for you? For hotels?
We custom build each clients tour and can connect a hotel to the key attractions in the surrounding community. The modular nature of our technology allows for easy future expansion and revisions as a propery is remodeled or expanded. Our revenue model is based on the initial development of the project and subsequent hosting fees. For hotels the guest is immersed in a dynamic multimedia experience of their property with integrated sales content on everything from rooms and F&B to meeting and convention sales, spa, golf, skiing and other ancillary services. Direct links to a properties existing reservation system close the loop on the sale.
The goal of this blog is to encourage hotels to create memorable experiences for their guests. How does your product assist with this?
VTour engages the consumer in a game-like journey of self-selected discovery. You no longer need to open and close multiple links to see photos, videos, 360’s or other immersive content. The self directed nature of VTour’s technology allows a guest to see the key aspects of a property that are of interest to them personally. The guest is now empowered to discover what interests them. Our new Facebook application will allow guest to share their magical moments with friend and family in their network and will tie people and the places they visit together in a way that has never been done before.
What features do you have planned for the future?
We are working on a new mobile application, webcam integration, incorporating dynamic 3-D modeling for future developments and refinement of our Facebook application.
Can you give us some examples of hotels that have used this successfully?
- Resort at Squaw Creek
- Peppermill Resort Hotel and Casino
- Mammoth Mountain/ Mammoth Mountain Inn
- Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort
If a hotel is interested in your product, how can they begin working with you?
Location-based social networking services such as Foursquare, Gowalla, and Yelp have exploded in popularity recently, and many hotels are still trying to figure out what role they should take in participating. What if it could be combined with a traditional hotel concept: the loyalty rewards program?
Topguest was created around this idea. Users of any of the major location-based services can earn real rewards program points by checking in on their mobile device.
I asked Founder/CEO Geoff Lewis about it….
What is the big problem you saw that inspired you to create this?
The popularity of geolocation “check-in” services has exploded globally over the past few months. Geolocation information has major potential for the hotel industry to drive conversion, increase transactions, and brand affinity. Topguest enables hotels to unlock the power of geolocation by linking your CRM and points/rewards system with the entire universe of geolocation applications.
I write this blog to encourage hotels to create better experiences for their guests. How does your product help with this?
Topguest enables hotels to leverage their existing points and rewards programs to reward their guests and prospective guests active on geolocation check-in apps such as Foursquare, Gowalla, and Google Latitude. Your guests get rewards regardless of which application they use, driving engagement and affinity with your brand. If you don’t have a points program already, Topguest can power one for you!
Can you give us an example of a hotel that has used this successfully?
Andre Balazs’s Standard hotels are Topguest’s “preview launch” exclusive partner. Topguest has powered an out of the box points program for Standard based on geolocation check-ins. When a user earns 10 points, they have a choice of rewards including 25% off room reservations, complimentary Spa access, and gratis rounds of drinks. Thus fair in just 7 days the Topguest-Standard program has enrolled over 3000 people.
If a hotel is interested in this, how can they begin working with you?
Contact Topguest’s Partnership Team at firstname.lastname@example.org . We’ll get back to you within 24 hours
Last week I met with Lawrence Coburn, CEO of San Francisco-based software company RateItAll, and an expert on location-based mobile services. His company is developing a new mobile application – DoubleDutch – that I think could significantly change the way hotels think about mobile marketing.
I frequently receive questions from people asking what their mobile strategy should be. Should they develop their own app? Should they rely on an online travel agency such as Expedia or Travelocity? Usually, neither of these paths is optimal. Creating a brand new application is impractical for the vast majority of hotels, and using another company’s tool doesn’t provide the level of branding and customization needed.
Plus, the principal opportunity I see in mobile is in service and cross-selling – not in new room bookings.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the primary business benefit of a service such as foursquare is that it drives loyalty and repeat customers. Users can check in whenever they visit a location: a new extension of the traditional hotel loyalty model. Management can reward the specific activities they’re trying to promote.
This is where a tool such as DoubleDutch may come in. Designed to be white labeled for individual hotel groups, it could be completely branded and customized to yield the experience you want to provide. Lawrence describes it as “a mix of Yelp and Foursquare.” (Two of the hottest geo-location platforms in US mobile right now.)
Geolocation services are perfect for travel. When I arrive in a new city I want to know which places are best in my neighborhood.
Lawrence envisions the tool being used as a concierge application. Something that people can take around with them as they explore the city. The advantage of DoubleDutch over foursquare is that it is a completely branded experience. It allows you as a hotel to connect with the guests even when they’re not on your property. Relationships could be developed with local businesses for cross promotion. It lets you help guests discover new places, and even connect guests with each other. It’s all about discovery.
Additionally, the hotels could keep info on separate tabs in the application. This might be used to share special promotions, or just updates from your hotel blog.
The application can update Twitter and Facebook, so there is a viral component built in to encourage word-of-mouth buzz.
I guess I like this so much because it combines next-generation technology with my core value: a concierge-approach to marketing. This new service-based style of mobile promotions is the future, and I expect it to go mainstream in the months ahead.
I’d really like to create a case study on this could work for a hotel, and Lawrence has agreed to arrange this. We need a few early adopters to give this a test.
Anyone here want to try this out for your hotels?