Travel and tourism marketing: 6 resources to help you improve your online review rankings

August 24, 2012

If guests like you, ask them to share that love with other travelers.

How to ask for reviews, get more and better reviews, improve your rankings on review sites, and more

Last week I wrote about the importance of paying attention to your rankings in online review sites.

This week I’ve assembled some of my favorite content explaining the value of online reviews, how they work and how to improve yours. Here goes…

1. Why hotels should encourage guests to leave more online reviews

Anil Aggarwal, CEO, Milestone Internet Marketing explains the importance of online reviews to a hotel property’s success, and how to use online reviews to benchmark how you’re doing versus competitors.

2. Five Basic Guidelines for managing your hotel’s online reputation

This post in Hotelier is one of the most succinct overviews of the subject of online reviews, and offers some good suggestions for developing a systematic approach to responding to online reviews.

3. How to respond to online reviews

Explains the dos and don’ts of responding to online reviews, is comprehensive in its approach, and provides some unconventional ideas on how you can respond to negative reviews.

4. How to improve your hotel rankings in TripAdvisor

If you want a good explanation of how TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index works, and how you can affect your Popularity Index scores, read this post.

5. Increasing direct hotel bookings with social media

Joshua McKenzie from ReviewPro focuses on how online reviews can help your search rankings and increasing sales conversion rates by increasing consumer confidence.

In particular, Joshua offers a number of novel suggestions for using online reviews to keep people on your website longer.

6. How hotels can increase the volume of their reviews

If you’ve always wondered how and when to ask guests for reviews, read this ReviewPro report.

It also offers excellent case studies on how hotels have successfully increased their reviews using some of the recommended techniques.

What have you learned about online review sites, and how to manage your online reputation? Share your experience with us.


Travel and leisure marketing: And the best day to send your email blast is….

August 6, 2012

Many travel and leisure brands send out their email blasts on Mondays. But a leading expert in the field says Mondays rank 5th or 6th for open rates.

If you’re the CMO of a travel or leisure brand doing email marketing, the best time and day to send your emails may be a moving target.

Exact Target cites a study that stated the best day was Monday. But since that study appeared, Mondays have consistently ranked 5th or 6th for open rates.

Content sharing site Gather posted an excellent summary of the latest thinking on when to send your email blasts:

  • Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays are all optimal days to send emails because people have organized their work week and email inboxes.
  • Every day has its pros and cons. You should decide on the best time and day depending on your circumstances.
  • Monday pros and cons: Pro: After the weekend, many people make it a priority to organize their inboxes. Con: They erase many emails to get organized.
  • Best approach for Mondays: Late in the morning just before lunch, when people have time to check their inboxes and have already cleaned out their weekend dumps.
  • Tuesday pros and cons: Pro: People have organized their work week and have time to check their inboxes. Con: It’s too early to send campaigns geared to trigger action on the weekend.
  • Best approach for Tuesdays: Campaigns that aim for recipients to take action during the week.
  • Wednesday and Thursday pros and cons: Pros:  More time for emails.  Planning for the weekend. Cons:  Only 2 days left in the work week, and no time left for emails.
  • Best approach for Wednesday, Thursday: Keep your messages lighter and not as pushy.
  • Friday pros and cons: Pro:  There’s not as much email in their inbox. Con:  Many people are so busy they don’t check emails on Friday.
  • Weekends: Pros:  Very little email is sent on weekends, but people do read their emails. Cons:  Can look like you’re too pushy and intrusive.
  • Best approach for weekends: Don’t send any, unless your message will be most valued if received on weekends.

Travel marketing: 5 simple questions to ask yourself before starting your retargeting campaign.

July 12, 2012

Aim your retargeting campaign at visitors who love something specific on your site.

Retargeting is all the rage among travel and leisure marketing pros. Ask these 5 questions to make sure you aim before you fire.

Anil Batra, VP of Search & Analytics at the hot interactive shop POP offered an insightful post on his blog to help you think through your retargeting strategy.

All CMOs of travel and leisure marketing brands should read this.  Here’s a summary:

5 questions to ask yourself before you begin:

  • Retargeting is a way to put your online ad in front of people who have been on your site and who are likely to respond to your offers.
  • But contrary to the advice of Google Remarketing, Anil says you should not target every visitor to your site. For better results, ask these questions:

1: What is the purpose of my retargeting campaign?

It’s easier to measure success if you  know what you’re trying to accomplish. So establish campaign goals up front.

2. Who am I trying to target?

  • Segment your visitor base by needs.
  • For example you have a better chance of success if you target a shopping cart abandoner with an offer for the product he or she almost bought than all visitors with a generic message.

3. What is my message?

Let’s say you’re a travel marketing pro and you want to target all the people who downloaded the video on the latest update to your property. But they didn’t respond to the free screen saver offer at the end of your video.

You would retarget them with an offer for the free screen saver. But if you want to retarget visitors who didn’t watch the video, you would probably drive them to download the video.

4.  Where will  my customers land?

Once you’ve identified who your  campaign is targeting, the next goal is to make sure you direct them to a page that gives them relevant information and a clear call to action about your leisure brand.

5.  How will I know my retargeting campaign is a success?

Define your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) up front, so you can measure the effectiveness of your campaign on the back-end.

Done right,  retargeting can help dramatically increase the ROI of your online travel and leisure marketing campaign.

What are you doing to remarker to visitors

A closer look at why Expedia introduced verified reviews after spinning off TripAdvisor

April 20, 2012

Reports of widespread use of fake reviews has hurt TripAdvisor’s image.

Is Expedia’s latest move an attempt to combat the negative image of its former brand?

As complaints about fake reviews rise, Expedia tries to distance itself from the problem.

As travelers are doing more and more of their research online, hotels and resorts are relying on online reviews to entice new guests to stay at their properties.

In the process, critics have complained that an entire cottage industry of paid reviewers has sprung up, calling into question the validity of reviews found on booking sites like Orbitz, Travelocity and

Review site TripAdvisor has received its share of those complaints.

The New York Times reported recently that the average review on TripAdvisor receives 3.7 stars, thanks no doubt in part to the rise in fake reviews on the site.

According to the New York Times, a team of researchers from Cornell University has developed an algorithm for identifying fake reviews.

As Expedia spins off TripAdvisor, it has also announced a new service to combat this growing problem.

They call it Expedia Verified Reviews.  And only guests who stay at the property will be able to submit a review, using a form emailed to the guest after he or she has completed their trip.

Expedia says consumers in Australia and New Zealand are already using the new feedback loop and it’s expected they will launch the program in more markets soon.

Although Expedia has spun off TripAdvisor, its users will still be able to click on the TripAdvisor logo and be directed to the corresponding hotel page on TripAdvisor.

Certainly, the concept of verified reviews is not new. But the announcement does seem timely.

The travel blog Tnooz found it interesting that Expedia would announce this new service shortly after it had spun off TripAdvisor, which is receiving a lot of complaints about the number of false reviews on its sites.

What do you think? Is Expedia trying to distance itself from TripAdvisor? What do you recommend the industry do to combat the problem of fake reviews? Share your thoughts with us.

Travel and tourism marketing: New research confirms importance of online reviews

March 16, 2012

6 in 10 travelers now rely on online reviews to help make their travel decisions.

More and more Americans are factoring in other travelers’ online reviews, and the more money they make the more they pay attention.

According to the third annual Access America Vacation Confidence Index recently released by Mondial Assistance USA,  6 in 10 travelers now factor in other traveler’s online reviews when deciding where to book a vacation.

With vacation spending expected to be up in the coming year, the Index predicts traffic at popular travel review and social media websites will be up as well.

So it’s important you stay on top of what people are saying about your travel and tourism brand online. And to work to influence what people write about you online. Here are the survey results:

8 in 10 people with HH incomes of $75K+ are influenced by online reviews

  • Travelers under 35 are most likely to say that online travel reviews influence their travel plans (74 percent) while those 55 and over are least likely to be influenced by reviews (44 percent).
  • Nearly 79 percent of respondents with a household income of $75,000 or more factor other travelers’ reviews into their own plans, while less than half of those with an income of under $25,000 do so (46 percent).

2 in 3 people trust other travelers’ reviews

  • Nearly two thirds of respondents (63 percent) find other travelers’ reviews to be trustworthy, while 29 percent are less trusting.
    • Travelers under 35 are more likely than those who are older to trust the travel reviews they read (70 percent vs. 54 percent).
    • Over three quarters of respondents with a household income of $75,000 or more (77 percent) find travel reviews to be trustworthy compared to just half of those with an income of under $25,000 (50 percent).

1 in 5 share their travel experiences on social networks

  • Among travelers who share reviews of their travel experiences online (24 percent of respondents), social networking sites such as Facebook are most popular.
  • Nearly one in five (18 percent) say that they share their travel experiences on social networks, more than double the proportion of those who post on travel review sites (eight percent).

The younger and wealthier you are, the more you share on social sites

  • Adults under 35 are more likely than those who are 35+ to share their travel experiences online (35 percent vs. 20 percent), particularly on social media sites (29 percent vs. six percent).
  • More affluent adults are also more likely to share about their travels.  More than a third of those with a household income of $75,000 or more (36 percent) share their travel reviews online
  • Compare that to 15 percent of those with a household income of less than $25,000, and they are twice as likely to use social networks to do so (24 percent vs. 12 percent).

Next week, I’ll post my top 10 favorite articles on how to improve the volume and quality of your online reviews.

In the meantime, tell us how these findings match up with your experience.

Travel and leisure marketing to the post-recession traveler.

October 31, 2011

Frugal travelers are looking for new ways to get off the ground.

If your travel brand is targeted to the leisure traveler, several reports have come out recently that identify trends and tips for marketing to consumers in the post-recession economy.

A report from E-Marketer identifies six trends that will dictate the winners and losers in the post-recession economy.

  1. Value is now the mantra of the day. Many travelers are cutting back, and are seeking a better balance between quality and price.
  2. Social media is creating new ways of sharing information. Online reviews and user-generated content are being connected to social networking,and increasing their influence on travel-buying decisions.
  3. Mobile devices are allowing more travel planning on the go. Many travelers are using mobile phones to plan and book trips and to access location-specific content.
  4. Personalized micro-niche travel is taking off. A growing dissatisfaction with one-size-fits-all travel is driving demand for customized offerings.
  5. Online travel is reaching in new directions. The growth in online booking is shifting overseas, while US travelers who book online are looking for more international options.
  6. Sustainable travel is growing in popularity. Consumers are favoring travel suppliers who deploy green practices.

You can order the report here.

The latest edition of PhoCusWright’s  Consumer Travel Report identifies five key findings:

  1. 11% fewer people traveled last year and they spent 15% less than the year before.
  2. Although people took fewer trips, their trips were longer.  6 in 10 trips were of 4 or more nights.
  3. the recovery this year will be restrained, as the number of travelers will remain flat.
  4. Travelers 45 or older pulled back on travel sooner, and were less likely to travel.
  5. Travelers under 35 had a significantly higher incidence of travel, but showed larger year over year declines in travel.

Carol Rheem, Director of Research at PhoCusWright, offers some interesting insights in this video.

Carol talks about what we can expect from various travel demographics this year and beyond.

You can order the full report at PhoCusWright’s website.

What trends are you seeing among your customers?  What are you doing to appeal to this new kind of traveler? Share with us your successes and learning experiences in this post-recession economy.

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