52 Business blog post ideas for you

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blog-post-ideasDo you find yourself lacking the time to come up with creative ideas for new content and blog posts? Here are 52 ideas to help get you through the rest of the year.

Fact: We all have the ability to be publishing companies now.

However, as business owners sometimes it can feel as though we’re just too busy to do anything else other than keeping customers and employees happy. Yet, now more than ever, it’s critical to be creating content that helps you reach potential clients.

Most businesses are beginning to realize that the power of blogging is NOT achieved by publishing content that promotes the hard sell of products and services. But rather, the most effective business blog post ideas are centered on helping to connect you and your potential & existing customers on a more human level that builds trust and (hopefully) leads to increased sales.

Blog Post Ideas

During the next year if you find yourself getting stuck creatively, here are 52 content and blog post ideas for you.

  1. Answer three of the most commonly asked questions that customers have about your service or product.
  2. Did you come from a completely different field (like a heart surgeon) to pursue a business passion (like opening a bakery)? What was the journey like?
  3. A day in the life post. What is a typical day, a week, or even a month like at your business?
  4. Who are your customers? Conduct a brief interview with some customers or clients. (Have you seen the success of Humans of New York?!)
  5. What have you done in your life that makes you unique, and how does that translate over to your business and serving customers?
  6. What are the tools of your trade? For example, are you using a piece of software that makes your day easier and perhaps it could help your customers?
  7. Most business owners did not get where they are at on their own — who has inspired or mentored you?
  8. Why did you choose your business location? (Or if your business is online what are some of your favorite spots to work from?)
  9. Have you done something astronomical, such as completing the Hawaii Ironman or climbing Mount Everest? Your clients would love to hear about it…
  10. What allowed you to move beyond fear and pursue business ownership?
  11. How is the reality of running a business different from what you expected?
  12. Interview an industry leader in your business niche.
  13. Do a photo walking tour of your neighborhood.
  14. How did you manage to start your business? (You might focus on practical points such as securing financing, required permits, and so on.)
  15. What causes do you care about? How has your business supported the community or your favorite charity
  16. Where have you visited in your travels? How are the places different?
  17. Do you sell a product (or deliver a service) that’s technically complicated? Boil down a critical but difficult-to understand concept in a resource post.
  18. Define your customer service philosophy in a short manifesto. (Even better if you include real life examples that display your remarkable customer care.)
  19. Conduct a photo or video walking tour of your business.
  20. Highlight the top five or ten blogs in your industry.
  21. How is your business or service conducted in other cultures? For example, are there any differences between carpet cleaners (or whatever your venture is) in New York City and London?
  22. What are the challenges you face on a daily basis?
  23. Write a humorous post about something that occurred at your business. (Remember to change names to protect the innocent.)
  24. Create a compelling challenge for a free giveaway.
  25. Highlight a new product or service that’s proving helpful to customers.
  26. A simple, heartfelt post, on why you love doing what you do.
  27. Highlight some monthly specials, promotions, or clearance items. (Note: use this type of post sparingly!)
  28. Draft a helpful post or tutorial specifically to help others in your industry.
  29. Define the origins and shipping procedure of your product. How did that coffee get to your café? Where is it grown?
  30. Explain the requirements of entry into your line of business. What type of training is required to be a web designer? Do you need certain skills to run a hotel?
  31. What are the top ten mistakes you’ve made while running your venture?
  32. What is your personal history and what are your qualifications?
  33. Why are you located where you are?
  34. What are ten must-have items in your business?
  35. Provide the most convenient routes to get to your business and perhaps list any unique or historic landmarks around you.
  36. Highlight a special customer.
  37. Feature any eco/enviro-friendly products or infrastructure that you have (such as solar panels, or low-flow, high-volume shower heads).
  38. Comparison post – e.g., if you own a restaurant, what’s the most popular dish like when it’s prepared the standard way and/or for someone who is gluten intolerant? Or why might customers want one technology over another?
  39. Describe any improvements or upgrades you have made to your business.
  40. Create a tutorial post specific to your industry, which might be a trivial task for you but could really help the readers (it might be programming an iPhone, or how to make the perfect pizza crust).
  41. What do you do during your time off?
  42. Does your family have a history in the business? For example, was your shoe store, marketing firm, or bike shop started by your grandfather?
  43. Post a survey seeking input from your customers about how you can improve their customer experience.
  44. Write a personal post and invite your customers to comment or provide their thoughts.
  45. Do a real-life product review where you use one of your services or business items for a week and report back on your findings.
  46. Highlight the businesses around you that you support.
  47. Thank every single person who has helped you along your way.
  48. Have an employee do a written or visual diary of what their day is like.
  49. Respond to a critic head-on. Don’t be confrontational, but explain your point of view in a professional manner. For example, if you’ve had a customer service issue, explain what you are doing to remedy the situation.
  50. Surprise an unsuspecting customer/client/guest with an amazing experience — like a gift certificate for a fine meal, a massage, or a shopping spree — and write about the lucky winner and how you went about choosing who would receive the gift.
  51. Ask your customers to take some photos or video of your business and post them. (Making sure to give credit to the photographers.)
  52. If you made it this far, write a year in review post highlighting your successes, failures, and plans for the future.

Whether you post once a month, once a week, or once a day hopefully you found this “content cushion” of blog post ideas helpful! If you have further thoughts or input, I’d love to connect with you on Twitter @mark_hayward or LinkedIn.

image source: Flickr/littlenelly

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A Quick Guide to Content Marketing for Tourism Businesses and Hotels

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(Editor’s note: This post initially appeared as a guest post on Daniel Craig’s Reknown blog)

Do you want to make a commitment to content marketing for your hotel as part of your online strategy but are unsure where to begin? Or perhaps you struggle to maintain consistency with your posting schedule?

As a former hotel owner I truly comprehend the overwhelming feeling caused by the seemingly endless social media options available today. Trying to make sense of it all can feel as though you are standing on the edge of a cliff and staring down into a never-ending abyss.

“Content marketing” has unquestionably been the preeminent buzzword in marketing for a few years now, and for good reason. When done right, it can help you to build credibility and trust among your clients and even brand you as an “expert” for your particular destination or hospitality business niche.

For this post I’m assuming you have some type of online platform to post your content to: a blog, Facebook, YouTube, etc. However, if your blog is sitting dormant or your Facebook feed is “collecting dust,” perhaps you need a little push to get going again. My goal by the end of the article is to inspire you to either start producing content or to resume your efforts.

Content Marketing for Hotels

What is content marketing?
Whether you are responsible for promoting a destination, are the GM of a well-known brand, or own a small B&B, one thing is certain: in today’s online world we all have the power to be publishing companies and public relations firms.

In its simplest form, content marketing can be thought of as information and communication materials that you create (in text format, video, photos, etc.) that are helpful, enlightening and even entertaining for your customers.

Content marketing for your hotel is intended to create value for your customers by answering questions or by helping to solve their pain points. Frequently it comes in the form of customer stories, anecdotes that share your backstory, insider tips, informational videos and engaging photos. If your efforts are successful, your clientele will actively seek you out online,

In direct juxtaposition to traditional advertising, whereby businesses simply broadcast a pushy sales message and do not provide any inherent value, a well thought-out and successfully implemented content strategy will allow you to gain the attention of customers, develop trust and build business connections.

The screengrab below shows a snippet of the Distrikt Hotel’s blog post, “Top 5: Historic Bars.”

distrikt hotel blog

This is a great sample post to get you thinking about articles that you could be creating. Undoubtedly, the hotel is providing beneficial information for their guests and you don’t get that “sales pitch” feeling. In fact, the only mention of the Distrikt comes in the fifth listing where they let you know that the Landmark Tavern is close to them.

Consider the following: if your website is analogous to the front door of your business, then your content posting platforms—blog, Facebook, etc.—are similar to your comfortable lobby area where stories are told, ideas are shared, questions are answered and trust is earned.

Three Content Marketing Quick Start Best Practices
Now let’s look at some best practices to help you to build an enhanced connection with your guests, and ultimately to increase sales and bookings.

1. Know who your ideal customer is
Your content marketing efforts are intended to create value for your customers by educating them and helping them in their decision making process. If you don’t have a solid understanding of who your ideal guest is, then it’s going to be difficult to produce helpful information. (Note: if you have different customers depending on the season or time of year you should keep that in mind and adjust your work accordingly.)

As an example, when I owned my hotel, our ideal guest was an active traveler who liked adventure. Typically, guests were in their twenties to late forties and liked activities such as hiking, snorkeling and bird watching. Many were also interested in experiencing the local culture and trying non-touristy restaurants and out of the way spots.

To help get you going, ask yourself:

  • What do my customers like to do?
  • What are the most frequently asked questions from my guests?
  • What is the most impactful communication I can generate to begin to develop a relationship with clientele who find me online?

Many potential customers will simply mute out overly promotional messaging that screams, “My business/destination is great!” However, if you educate your clientele, or perhaps even entertain them, you will not only grab their attention but may compel them to share your content, thereby exposing you to a whole new network.

2. Build a backlog of content ideas
If you’re ever at a loss as to what to post next, you’ll find my next quick start best practice helpful: build a backlog of ideas that you can refer back to.

Mind mapping is an exceptional technique for coming up with a steady stream of content ideas. The mind mapping method utilizes the creation of a diagram commonly referenced around one key point. For a tourism business or hotel, a mind map could be developed around a topic that might include your destination, your business niche or popular activities.

During my time owning a hotel I frequently would do this exercise so that I could come up with twenty to thirty posting ideas. A mind map for content ideas for my current location, Rincon, Puerto Rico, would look like this:

mind mapping

As you can see, I began by jotting down the name of the destination and then came up with numerous topics and sub-topics that could each be turned into a helpful post for visitors. What would a mind map look like for your destination?

3. Develop a posting schedule
As a hospitality or tourism professional you most certainly have a tremendous amount of daily responsibilities. “Finding the time” seems to be the number one obstacle to developing a content plan and sticking to it.

Having the discipline to consistently create and post quality content requires real focus and a long-term commitment. Your third quick start best practice is to develop an editorial calendar based on how often you think you can post.

Much like exercise, if you do not schedule time to fit your online work into your day, you won’t do it. However, if you can make it a regularly scheduled habit, then you are more likely to stick with it and be successful.

Certainly, hotel staff would never say that they do not have time to check in a guest or to clean rooms. Your online efforts need to be weighted with equal importance or they will always get pushed to the side.

A special quick start content marketing bonus
Here are four types of posts to use while developing your strategy.

List post – people like content that is easily digestible. One of the most popular forms of online posting is what’s known as a “list post.” A sample list for you might include: “Top Five Activities,” “Three Restaurants You Must Experience,” or “Four Great Spots for a Family.” Include your destination name in the title for SEO purposes.

“How to” post – potential customers want answers to questions about your business and destination. The “how to” post provides a convenient way to develop information that is valuable to your guests. Sample titles might include, “How to Experience (Your Destination) Like a Local” or “How to Spend a Long Weekend at (Your Location).”

Customer/guest interview post – whether in text or video format, guest interviews provide a powerful way for you to have an additional touch point with your clientele. They provide a “real” customer experience for those researching your venture online.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specific post – Google offers a very handy and freeKeyword Planner tool. When you type a phrase into the tool, e.g., “Florida beaches”, it provides a list of the average monthly search volume and competition for the keywords. From this information you can create targeted SEO content/posts that provide answers to questions your customers are actively searching for online.

google keyword-content-marketing-hotels

Regardless of the type of content you develop, be sure to optimize it for search by including your destination, business name, activity, tags and hashtags – whichever are appropriate to the platform you are publishing to.

The most powerful aspect of content marketing for hotels is that it allows you to answer the simple question, “How can I best serve my customers?” In order to take advantage of the boundless possibilities that content marketing can provide, you must be willing to put in real energy, real effort and real commitment.

Always remember, the number one rule is it’s not about you. If you start your content from a place of empathy, transparency and an unbridled willingness to be helpful, then you can’t go wrong.

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3 things I would do as Manager of Digital Marketing for the Grand Wailea Resort

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The other day I was on LinkedIn updating my profile to reflect the work that I’d recently done for the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG). While I was logged in I somehow came across the fact that the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui was looking for a Manager of Digital Marketing.

grand-wailea-resort-digital-marketing

I’ve spent a lot of time in the South Pacific — living in Samoa for a bunch of years and traveling through Hawaii — and figured I would investigate further to see what the Grand Wailea Resort was currently doing as an online strategy to better connect and interact with potential guests (and ultimately to increase bookings).

When I visited the Grand Wailea Resort website I quickly noticed that they had all of the requisite links to various social sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) and noted (at the time of writing this article) they had not been too active on any of the various platforms.  In order to serve the hotel best, I thought I would offer them three things I would do immediately if I was their Digital Marketing Manager.

(Note: none of my suggestions are meant as criticism, on the contrary, I want the Grand Wailea to succeed in their digital strategy and to help their guests have an amazing experience!)

1. Conduct a thorough reputation audit

The Grand Wailea is part of the Waldorf Astoria brand, which offers, “5 star luxury travel to top destinations.” Additionally, in one of their YouTube promo videos, the Grand Wailea exclaims that they “offer unsurpassed luxury.” Which is great, and is exactly the perception and expectation I conjure up in my mind when I envision this iconic property. However, after a quick check of TripAdvisor to see what past guests have had to say about the property, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between what’s being sold/offered and what is actually meeting guests upon arrival. To be clear: the Grand Wailea has great reviews but from the one star all the way to the five star an overriding theme was “the rooms are getting tired.”

Below you will notice a four star review (awesome), and even though they had “no complaints” if you read the last line this Senior Reviewer even mentions that “the rooms are outdated.”

Grand Wailea TripAdvisor

I’m not sure if the Gran Wailea has a remodeling project in the works, or what their plans are. However, if they want continued, long-term success with the “hotel review feedback loop” then I would suggest more transparency, and perhaps even a rebranding to state that the rooms are “classically elegant,”  or something along those lines to set expectations early. In all honesty, it does not matter who your digital director is, if guests feel like they’ve been duped on the quality of the rooms, then negative reviews and comments will continue.

It’s important to note that travelers have always had a voice. Social sites like TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Twitter just allow guests the opportunity to magnify how many people can hear their opinion. Previously, it was perhaps ten friends and now (with extended networks and friends of friends) they might be telling ten thousand people or a million about their experience at your hotel.

2. Create remarkable content

The second thing I would do as Manager of Digital Marketing for the Grand Wailea Resort would be to use a keyword tool, such as Google’s Keyword Planner, to discern what potential guests are searching for online when it comes to Maui. From the information provided by the Keyword tool, and via a thorough understanding of the Grand Wailea’s guest demographic, I would develop an editorial calendar of blog, Facebook, and YouTube content that was aimed at helping visitors with useful information. (Note: the graphic below shows the results for a keyword search using the phrase “Maui family activities.”)

maui family activities

As noted in the introduction above, the Grand Wailea’s website lists all of their relevant social media accounts, but they are not updated all that frequently. Some simple posts that I would suggest they create would be “5 Great Beaches for Kids,” “How to Tour Maui with Children Like a Local,” and “10 Rainy Day Activities the Whole Family Can Enjoy.” Potential guests want to interact, engage, and feel connected to brands via their online presence and if social media accounts are just “collecting dust” then the Grand Wailea Resort is probably losing business.

3. Become a social media concierge

The third thing I would do as the Grand Wailea’s Manager of Digital Marketing would be to start using social media channels as an extension of the concierge desk. The best and most effective way to do this is to join online conversations in a non-spammy way. Two simple ways to be incredibly helpful to potential guests would be to answer questions in a destination forum like TripAdvisor’s Maui discussion board and to use Twitter’s simple search tool to communicate with travelers that need assistance.

As you can see from the screengrab below, the TripAdvisor Maui destination forum has over 46,000 discussion topics, questions, and inquiries. The Grand Wailea Resort’s Director of Digital Marketing should be replying to many of the questions as a way to build trust and to build brand recognition.

 maui tripadvisor forum

Similarly, Twitter provides the Grand Wailea Resort an almost never-ending opportunity to be the “Maui Digital Concierge” by simply connecting with those users who are seeking trip guidance and looking for insight on Maui.

grand-wailea-resort-twitter

 Currently, though, their Twitter account does not appear to be updated regularly and the majority of their Tweets are about the hotel itself. This is a common mistake made by tourism businesses and the great thing is that it’s easily remedied by following the rule whereby you are helpful 80% of the time and only promote yourself in 20% of your interactions.

For any hotel out there, simply having social media accounts does not increase business, and if you are struggling with digital marketing I suggest you get started by looking at the 21 Day Hospitality Social Media Challenge. Building trust, being helpful, and providing complete transparency wins with guests every time.

Obviously there is still a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done by the Grand Wailea Resort. The three suggestions mentioned here are meant to be part of an initial digital strategy that can be seamlessly implemented by them today.

I wish the Grand Wailea tremendous success in 2014 and with their search for a capable Digital Marketing Director. (Note to Grand Wailea Resort: If you would like to discuss a more in depth comprehensive digital strategy there’s a good chance I’m going to be in Hawaii in February and feel free to connect with me on Twitter @mark_hayward or via email.)

 

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21 simple and actionable ways to improve your hotels social media strategy today

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hotel-social-mediaHotel social media can be a tremendous time suck! Congratulations and give yourself a big pat on the back if you followed all 21 days of the hotel social media challenge.

I’ve written a lot over the past three weeks on tools, strategies, and best practices to help you, the hospitality professional, get a better handle on social media for your hotel.

For today’s final day — and for those that did not complete the whole challenge — I will give you the abridged version by providing 21 actionable tasks that you can do RIGHT NOW to improve the social media presence of your hotel or hospitality business.

Hotel Social Media for You

Without further ado, here are your hotel social media daily goals for the next three weeks.

Day 1. Conduct a simple reputation audit.

Day 2. Learn how your online presence can separate your hospitality business from the competition.

Day 3. Determine 5 qualities of your ideal guest.

Day 4. Understand how your guests find you online.

Day 5. Discern how your guests perceive your business from what they research online

Day 6. Write a post (Facebook or Blog) that answers one of your most frequently asked questions.

Day 7. Comprehend why your website is critical!

Day 8. Interview one of your guests and post it online.

Day 9. Create a mind map of content ideas.

Day 10. Make a mini-schedule of posts that you can use for your blog or Facebook page.

Day 11. Master how to craft an eye catching headline.

Day 12. Post some photos to Facebook or Instagram.

Day 13. Shoot some video.

Day 14. Improve your Facebook engagement.

Day 15. Realize the number one mistake hoteliers make with Twitter.

Day 16. Educate yourself on the difference between TripAdvisor and YELP?

Day 17. Go to a destination forum and answer some questions about your location.

Day 18. Encourage a departing guest to write a review of your property.

Day 19. Actively respond to negative reviews (a management response template is provided for you).

Day 20. Undertake your hospitality social media strategy in an hour a day.

Day 21. Ask one of your check-ins if they like your page on Facebook, and if the do give them a free upgrade. (It’s all part of the review feedback loop!)

There you have it! Three weeks worth (or 21 days) of simple, yet actionable, tasks you can incorporate to improve the social media presence of your hospitality venture.

If you need help with your hotel social media or have questions, shoot me an email or connect on Twitter.

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How one hotel went from almost dead last on TripAdvisor to number one

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Are you still trying to come to grips with guest reviews and think it’s near impossible to improve your rankings?

A few years ago the San Juan Water & Beach Club in Puerto Rico was in need of a customer service revamp and physical overhaul. With respect to TripAdvisor rankings, at their lowest point the hotel sat almost dead last for their area of San Juan at #13 out of 14 hotels, and the restaurant actually was last. When ranked among all of the 172 hotel properties found in Puerto Rico, the Water & Beach Club was listed down around one hundred and a climb back to the top seemed unlikely, if not impossible.

negative tripadvisor review

As a hospitality professional, you very well know, if you are marketing your property (or any property for that matter) as a boutique hotel you do not want to consistently be reading reviews that have comments like “motel quality,” “not very nice,” and “keep looking!” Statements like the previous comments tend to drive a lot of business and bookings to your competition.

However, the management chose not to close the doors. Instead, according to General Manager, Jose Torres, they decided to regroup and to own their reputation. In addition to a $2.5 million dollar renovation and re-design, they started their new campaign by reading the negative comments and sentiments about the Water & Beach Club online and decided to use the insight to drive real action and change for improvement.

During their discovery phase the management noticed a theme in what the customer reviews had to say about them.

  • The property was not well kept.
  • The staff were not well trained.
  • The pool was always closed.

Armed with the detailed information of how past guests viewed the Water & Beach Club, Jose Torres says that they created a new mission with buy in from all levels at the hotel which would focus on:

  1. Remarkable service for every guest that comes through the door.
  2. Commitment to a well cared for property and clean, comfortable rooms.
  3. Continuous and ongoing training for staff.

You might think that rededicating themselves and creating a new mission might not lead to very much of a change or beg the question, “Why weren’t they just doing that before?”

But the results are unquestionable. In a little over eleven months the Water & Beach Club hotel has climbed the TripAdvisor rankings to claim the number one position in San Juan and the restaurant is in the top spot, as well.

positive-tripadvisor-review

Most importantly, when it comes to bookings and the bottom line, Mr. Torres tells me that the hotel now has the highest occupancy rate of any hotel in San Juan and they currently charge the highest rate in their track class.

The wonderful lesson to be learned from this, and other similar success stories, is that it does not matter if it’s the Industrial Age or the Internet Age, remarkable hospitality and attention to detail never go out of favor. Travelers have always had a voice and new technologies simply provide a way for their message to be amplified whether positive or negative.

If you want guests to say good things about you, then you have to give them a reason to say good things.

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4 Ways to Tactfully Ask Your Guests for a TripAdvisor Review

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Consultant Daniel Craig recently asked an important question in a blog post:

“Should hotels be asking guests for TripAdvisor reviews.”

The undeniable truth is—when formulating an opinion, potential guests are actively seeking to read what former guests are saying about your establishment on TripAdvisor.

And as a hotel owner myself, the question is not, should you be asking for reviews.

But, how do you go about asking guests for reviews in a tactful manner?

Simply stated, whether you own a kayak touring company, or run a hotel—you must get proactive with your reputation management. Furthermore, within TripAdvisor’s terms of service guidelines, it is perfectly acceptable to seek a review from your customers as long as you don’t offer goods and services in exchange.

However, many hotel owners are intimidated by the thought of asking guests for a review, or they don’t quite know how to go about it.

Taking the Leap and Delivering the “Ask”.

Asking customers for reviews can seem overwhelming and daunting at first. Fortunately, there truly is nothing to fear. Your former guests are eager to share their positive (and negative) experiences. (Note: Here’s how to respond to negative reviews.)

Certainly, if you have developed a comprehensive reputation management ecosystem, deliver amazing customer service, and provide a quality product then you should feel confident when asking guests for reviews.

When delivering the “ask” to your customers, understand that most people are extremely busy and don’t have a lot of spare time. Your strategy should make it as easy and uncomplicated as possible for folks to write an assessment, so where relevant include the TripAdvisor link to your profile.

Here are four simple tactics to let guests know that you are actively seeking TripAdvisor reviews:

1. Business card – on the back of your hotel’s business card let your guests know that you would love to hear about their experience and stay. A straightforward, “Thank you for your patronage. We truly value your opinion. Please take a moment to review us on TripAdvisor” will suffice.

2. Email thank you – sending a personalized thank you email to your recent guests is not only a great way to develop fans, but it also allows you the opportunity to seek reviews. At the end of your email, add something similar to the following, “We understand that you have a hectic schedule and a busy life, but if you have a spare moment, we always appreciate an honest review on TripAdvisor.”

3. Ask at checkout – guests who are leaving your hotel during checkout time have their experience fresh in their memory. Smart front desk staff always check to make sure that everything was okay during the departing customers stay. As a reminder, you should also encourage those who are leaving to provide a TripAdvisor review when they reach their final destination.

4. Widget on your website – a great display of your “social proof” is to place TripAdvisor’s review widget directly on your website. Some samples of TripAdvsor’s existing widgets can be seen here -http://www.tripadvisor.com/WidgetEmbed.

If you try any of the approaches above for your hotel, or decide to implement your own TripAdvisor review seeking method, remember to track your success rate. Tracking success will allow you to have an understanding of what works and what doesn’t, which can help you to tweak your “call to action” for best results.

Have you asked for TripAdvisor reviews in the past? What has worked best for you?

image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rooreynolds

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How to respond to a negative TripAdvisor review

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Are you a hotelier or involved in the hospitality industry? Sooner or later chances are you’re going to get a negative TripAdvisor review:

Worst place I’ve ever stayed!

However, if you’re like most tourism business owners you are extremely passionate about your guests and are committed to providing the best experience and customer service possible.

To be sure, there’s nothing more disheartening than checking into TripAdvisor to see what’s being said about your venture only to find someone criticizing your business, your staff, or your service.

Immediately, you get that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach combined with the natural human reaction to defend what you’ve worked so diligently on.

Negative reviews can leave you feeling frustrated, angered, and deflated.

Your initial inclination might be to fire back a response that attacks your online reviewer.  At this point it’s best to take a step back, and take a deep breath, as this will only serve to make the situation much, much worse.

While it might feel good in that moment, the “attack back strategy” does little to uphold and improve upon your reputation management ecosystem.

Step away from the computer, assess the situation, and accept that the review is there.

When the initial shock has subsided, it’s time to craft your response to the TripAdvisor review in a calm and rational voice. As you begin to draft your reply, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Respond in a professional manner.
  • Keep it as brief as possible.
  • Address the complaint(s) directly.
  • Make it positive in tone.

Remember, for whatever reason your guest did not enjoy her stay or experience. At this point, your number one goal should be to minimize the negative impact of the review and to maximize the opportunity to show that you are human, you care, and where applicable, that corrective action has been taken.

As an example of a negative TripAdvisor review, let’s assume that someone gave your business a one star rating and provided a written statement similar to the following:

“Horrible accommodation and dirty rooms.”

Step one – Thank the reviewer.

As difficult as it may be, here is your first opportunity to show future readers of the review that you are human and care. A simple strategy for your first sentence is to write something like the example below:

“Thank you for taking the time to review our property/business. We truly value the opinions of our customers and we apologize that we did not meet your expectations.”

Step two – Respond directly to the criticism.

If the room was dirty, a staff member was rude to the reviewing customer, or other common complaint, do your best to find out what happened. Was your business extremely busy that day? Was the employee involved having a difficult week? Or, if you notice a pattern where rooms are consistently rated as not clean or one employee continues to receive negative feedback, perhaps a larger issue needs to be addressed.

In terms of drafting a response, honesty is the best policy. Make it a point to explain to the customer that service and cleanliness is your number one priority, and state what corrective actions have been taken:

“Providing our guests with the best possible hospitality and service has always been our mission. We have addressed the cleanliness issue, and or, spoken with the employee in question. We want you to know that we truly enjoy sharing our passion for our destination with visitors and want you to walk out the door feeling refreshed.”

Step three – The closing.

Here is your final chance to assuage the situation with the angered reviewer while at the same time letting possible future customers know just how much you care:

“If you come back to our hotel/tourism business/restaurant I would love to have the opportunity to speak with you directly, so please ask for me. We hope to see you again in the future and wish you the very best.”

While the above example is generic in nature, negative TripAdvisor reviews can have a dramatic impact on your business and financial bottom line.

When you find yourself dealing with a similar situation in the future, keep in mind that your reaction to the TripAdvisor review can be more telling than the review itself.

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nal_miami

 

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#140conf Exploring the State of Now – Puerto Rico, Caribbean, & Beyond

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Whether you live in a buzzing metropolis like New York City or London, or if you are located on a Caribbean island or a remote village in Africa, the impact of social media on our daily lives cannot be disputed.

In fact, social media’s influence might be even greater for those of us living in a village or on an island! Those residents now have a voice and a way to connect globally, where it might not have existed before. Certainly, triumphant stories of how the real time web and the ‘State of Now’ are impacting the world are everywhere and include everything from inspiring political revolutions, to aiding in animal rescue, to helping humanitarian aid planes get landing clearance.

######March 27 #140Conf Meetup/Tweetup at the San Juan Mariott######

Do you live in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, or surrounding region? What’s your story? How has the social media revolution impacted YOU and YOUR life?

Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) is the founder & producer of the #140conf event which was created “to provide a platform for the worldwide online community to: listen, connect, share and engage with each other, while collectively exploring the effects of the emerging real-time internet on business. The #140conf creates serendipity in talking to each other, sharing ideas across industries, and exchanging thoughts with people like you and not like you.”

During the coming year, Jeff would like to conduct a #140conf in San Juan for Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and anyone globally who might be interested in sharing their real-time web story and ‘Exploring the State of Now’ with other like minded individuals.

To that end, Jeff and Alan Weinkrantz (@alanweinkrantz) will be conducting a site visit to the San Juan Marriott during March 26-28 to check out the meeting space and to meet with brands or organizations that might be interested in sponsoring the event.

Jeff and Alan’s visit will culminate with a #140conf event meetup/Tweetup on the evening of March 27th at the Marriott. Additionally, during the Tweetup Alan will be looking to conduct brief interviews with 30-40 individuals to find out what makes the Caribbean and Puerto Rico such a special place and to capture the impact that social media is having regionally.

As a final note, bringing the #140conf to Puerto Rico has been an ongoing collaborative process for the past couple of years and I would like to personally thank a few talented people who have been willing to believe in the power of this conference and who’ve had the patience to stay connected to the project.

Raul Colon – @rj_c
Gil Schmidt – @gilthejenius
Joaquin R. Kierce – @jrkierce
Melissa Delgado – @sanjuanmarriott
José Padilla – @jpadilla_
Giovanni Collazo – @gcollazo
Hector Ramos – @hectorramos
Gianpaolo Pietri – @yastapr

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How to backup and save your Facebook information

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Doing a Facebook backup is relatively easy and painless. You might not have thought about backing up your Facebook data, but if you are switching your account from a Profile to a Page then you definitely want to save all of your photos, videos, and media.

Step 1: After you login go to Account and click on Account Settings.

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Step 2: Once your on the Account Settings page scroll down and find the Download Your Information heading and click Learn More.

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Step 3: Before you can continue you need to enter and verify your Facebook password and then click Continue.

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Step 4: The next screen is going to start the download process so click Download. When the download process is complete, Facebook will send you an email to let you know that it’s done.

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Step 5: Depending on how much information you have the download process can be quick (half an  hour) or it can take a while (a day or so). If you don’t have your information in ten minutes DO NOT PANIC! You will get your email link.

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Step 6: Click on the email link and then on the screen you come on Download Now and simply choose to Save the file or Open.

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That’s it. You’re done…

(Note: If you haven’t done so yet, don’t forget to download the FREE blog motivation pdf Possibility Engine and make sure you sign up to  get the email updates.)

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Social media success and the three questions you’re not asking!

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Do you create your blog and social media content for you or for your customers?

The distinction is critical!

The Possibility Engine10 copy

Creating content for your customers or donors can present you with a tricky situation. You know that at the end of the day you need your social media activities to drive more customers but you have also probably heard that you need to give your clients valuable and helpful information if you want to be successful and build a community.

What’s a business owner to do?

You have to change your mindset and start thinking like a customer and not as the business owner or nonprofit manager. Next time you want to create some media for your online presence, instead of focusing on sales, sales, and more sales think about the following three questions

  1. Where do your clients or donors struggle with your business or message?
  2. What are your customers looking to learn?
  3. What are the questions that you get asked on a daily basis?

If you start with those three simple queries that are designed to get  you to think about the helpful material you could be creating, then you are going to be ahead of about 90% of all the other businesses out there that are using social media.

The best part, from the answers to those questions you should have enough blog material for a couple of months. And after you are done crafting helpful and informative blog posts, head on over to Facebook or Twitter and create inquiring updates around the posts you’ve drafted/published to draw people in and get a conversation started.

If you’re ever in doubt just remember – generosity sells and spam repels!

(Note: This post is part of the ongoing Possibility Engine series, click on the link to download the free pdf and make sure you  get the email updates.)

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