How to engage with your guests on social media?

Did you know that 4.48 billion people use social media worldwide? So it’s fundamental to have a social media presence for your hotel because of the huge potential in this space.

Guests today not only use search engines but also troll social media to make informed decisions about their next vacation. Looking through online reviews and posts from other travelers to help guide their decision as to whether or not they will book with your accommodation or not. Hence it’s essential that you have a solid social media marketing strategy that will entice guests to frequent your accommodation and also recommend you on social media.

So just posting random content and pictures will surely do the trick, right? The answer to this question is an emphatic, NO! Managing your accommodation’s social media is beyond ‘just posting’.

If this is your first time creating a strategy for social media or perhaps you want to rethink your approach, then you can read our previous blog post that guides you through 5 ways to improve your social media strategy.

This blog post will help you discover ways that you can better engage with your audience and help you increase your exposure through social media.

Engagement is key

Have you ever felt ignored? Right or wrong, it creates a negative association that stays with you, and chances are you are reminded of it when you see that person again or even hear their name. The same applies when guests leave a comment on your social platforms and there’s no response.

A golden rule that all social media marketers should follow and never break is, ‘you must respond to all comments made on your page’. Even if you have a few hundred followers, never break this rule. Engagement is key, and if you want to position your brand positively, respond to all comments, but also ensure that your response time is quick.

Use high-quality images

This is often the most overlooked aspect of social media marketing. Make use of high-quality photos across all your social media platforms because this will convey consistency, professionalism and sets a good reputation for your brand. Highlight your guestrooms, restaurant decor, food, wildlife, show pictures of your guests enjoying their experience (make sure to get consent from your guests before posting), and perhaps even tagging your guests on social media, this will increase your exposure and family and friends of the guests will take notice and hopefully plan a trip to your accommodation in the new future.

Stay engaged on your platforms, and use high-quality photos to accurately depict local attractions and essential features your accommodation may offer, which will in turn easily influence search results.

Make use of #hashtags

Hashtags play an important role in improving your brand’s visibility and help grab attention on your social media platforms. A hashtag helps to highlight the social media post to the audience. Hashtags have no boundaries, so people from all over can connect to you without any barrier.

Reach out to travel influencers

Influencer marketing is a profound way to reach new audiences and boost your brand awareness. Most travellers in this era are young and tech-savvy, and leveraging partnerships with travel influencers can help hoteliers reach a wider audience and boost engagement and bookings. 

Research shows that today’s consumers trust peer recommendations over and above all other forms of marketing, so making use of social media influencers can be of great benefit to your brand.

The added benefits are that most influencers are on highly visual platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, and these are excellent sources for compelling and engaging content. Partnering with an influencer can be a cost-effective method to boost your content creation thereby having a direct impact on your online social presence.

There are many ways to skin this cat, and there’s no holy grail when it comes to social media marketing and each approach and strategy will differ from brand to brand within the same industry. So finding the right strategy will involve trial and error, but the most important thing to remember is to be consistent and follow through with all interactions on your platforms.

Increase your direct bookings with ResNova 3

Meet Bob, an extreme “hodophile” (One who loves to travel). After his most recent trip to Africa, enthralled by the beautiful landscapes and captivated by the majestic “Big 5”, he couldn’t help himself but trawl to your website to plan his next trip to Africa.

However, his booking experience has left a bitter taste in his mouth, after finding the process to be slow, and difficult to view on mobile – as a result, Bob, unfortunately, decides to abandon his booking.

Just like Bob, there are many users/customers who experience the dissatisfaction of a poor booking experience. One thing that is crucial to note, is that your guests’ first experience of your business begins with the success of their booking experience.

So just how can you tap into this opportunity and turn it into a success for your lodge?

The place to start is with our booking widget, ResNova.

What is ResNova?

ResNova is our booking widget, which enables you to embed your ResRequest availability and rates anywhere on your website. It offers two formats so you can show your information in either a calendar matrix or a quick search…or both!

You have choices when it comes to deciding how you would like to set your widget up. You have the option of simply showing availability, or enabling the full booking process.

You even have a list of payment gateways that you can choose from, to ensure your guests can make payments during the booking process.

Why ResNova?

Remind your incoming guests thOur most recent development on ResNova, means that it is now built with technologies that provide a sleek and stable booking experience. Just like Bob, most of your guests will access the internet using their mobile devices and with our latest development, we wanted to ensure that their user journey is optimal and user-friendly.

Our new features include:

  • Let your users make bookings in a few quick and easy steps from any device.
  • Customise the buttons, colours, and hover states to align with your website branding.
  • Now includes an integration to DPO payment gateway.
  • Payment plans are now accessible to users making bookings from your ResNova widget.
  • Track where your bookings are coming from by selecting a source per widget.
  • Extended search functionality allows the guest to select and filter properties.
  • Back-office live chat to stay connected to our team, for any ResNova queries that might pop up.

To learn more about ResNova, and our latest features, contact our support team or visit our Learn Online site.

Pay with Pesapal

How often do you use your credit card to pay? Most people use their card to pay for almost all transactions, however, many remote locations to do have access to card machines.

Pesapal, is a mobile point of pay system which started in Kenya and today operates in Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

ResRequest has recently partnered with Pesapal to allow ResRequest properties the opportunity to process credit card payments through this gateway, regardless of their location or the type of credit card. Pesapal accepts mobile money (M-Pesa, Tigo Pesa, Airtel Money) and Visa and MasterCard, American Express debit and credit cards and has the the ability to process payments in USD as well 15 other African currencies including the Kenya Shilling (KES)  and the South African Rand (ZAR). Pesapal also lowers the cost of collecting money for businesses by offering an easily accessible, reliable and cost effective way of collecting money via mobile money or debit and credit cards and remitting directly to their banks accounts.

ResRequest properties’ using the Pesapal integration will now be able to offer international and local guests credit card payment option and save them the hassle of having to carry local currency.

Additionally, Pesapal also has a mobile point-of-sale system, Sabi, which will allow businesses to process payments onsite in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

For more info on how to use payment gateways, visit our Support site.

Your guests digital guide

Smartphone technology is advancing at an incredible pace and you can do more and more with your device. Travellers now use their mobiles to book flights, accommodation, and make travel plans.

HandiGo has further enhanced the travel experience by developing a new app to cater for the needs of guests when they  arrive at their destination.

Inspired by their founder’s increasing frustrations with language barriers that were inhibiting his hotel’s customer service, Pete Poolsawad decided to make a change. His vision was for a simple and effective way for hotels to engage with guests using the latest technology.

HandiGo, is a digital pocket concierge, catering to all a hotel’s services and facilities, all at guest’s fingertips anytime, anywhere. An internet connection and their mobile phone is all that a guest requires to use this this service.

What does the app offer?

Information and photos

Using HandiGo, guests can learn about nearby attractions or get information about game reserves without needing to carry around guidebooks to ask lodge staff, thus reducing the workload of the staff.

Menu highlights 

Guests can access in-house menus and order room service directly from their phone and lodges can gather information about their guests’ preferences.

Booking forms

Guests can book tours, activities and facilities instantly on the application (i.e. Room Service, Spa Reservations etc.) making it easy for guests to arrange and purchase services and also for lodges to upsell.

Live chat

Manage language barriers between guests and lodge staff with this feature that automatically translates conversations, where everyone can chat in their mother tongue.

Voice calls

The roaming costs of using the phone networks in foreign countries can be an unnecessary costly expense for tourists. HandiGo provides a free two-way calling tool for guests and staff to talk for free.

Broadcast notifications

Contact all guests directly or individually with promotions or urgent messages. You can even contact them in their own language.

Review scores

Pick and choose which guests you send review prompts to as they check out and link these reviews to your preferred hotel rating websites such as Tripadvisor.

As app downloads increase year-on-year and the digitalisation of all industries continues, lodges will have to join the trend to keep on top of their guests’ travel expectations and HandiGo is one way to do this.

If you’d like to trial this product, scan the QR code below to download the app then scan the code with the app for a demo.

HandiGo is offering ResRequest customers an exclusive promotional rate of $99 USD per month, before December 31st 2018.

Get in touch with Ben at HandiGo if you’d like to take up this offer and give it a go!

Top travel trends

 

The hospitality industry has changed rapidly over the past few years, largely due to the increasing digitisation of all aspects of life. Let’s look at some of the trends these changes are bringing to the industry.

 

Data-driven

Data is all the information you can collect about a person or activity. Data analytics uses all this information to show trends, forecasts and build reports. Hotels and lodges are starting to collect this data on their guests, potential guests and the preferences of both so they can offer a tailored service and more personalised approach. For example, you can use data analytics to personalise your summer sales campaigns to target guests who like to travel in summer. This more personalised campaign is more likely to get a positive response.

 

Tech

Technology is driving the trends in most industries, and the hospitality one is no different. From apps on your phone to unlock your room door to choosing your own entertainment, lighting, meals and pillows from your phone! Hotel management is also shifting to cloud-based services and reducing the number of IT experts needed. Customer service has also gone online and allowing real-time feedback is far more important to management than hearing about complaints weeks after the guest has left. Collecting all the customer service feedback into a single space accessible by all staff is also part of tech’s influence on the industry.

 

Millennial

The millennial market (people aged between 18-34) is a fast-growing travel market. They are tech savvy, like personalised services and flexibility. Hotels and lodges that offer a seamless check-in using a mobile, or offer gourmet ‘Instagram’ meals and a fast wifi will be top of the list for most millenials!

 

Wellness

Health and wellness is another trend that is impacting multiple industries. Guests are increasingly more health-conscious and want to maintain a healthy lifestyle while travelling. Thus the need for gyms, in-room equipment, healthy food options and spas are becoming a standard requirement for many hotels and lodges.

 

Environment

The green trend is growing globally and more and more guests are aware of the negative environmental impact that travelling has and want to offset some of that where they can by choosing environmentally friendly places to stay. Hotels and lodges that recycle water, grow their own produce, use solar energy and energy efficient lighting are some of the features that guests are looking for.

 

Quirkiness

Standard, chain-type of hotels and lodges will find themselves behind the trend if they offer the same experience whichever location one visits. Guests like hotels and lodges to have quirky/unique touches such as themed bathrooms or roomed names. This can extend into the personalization discussed under data, such as providing custom music lists.  

 

These are just some of the emerging trends changing the hospitality industry. If you have experienced something new or interesting on your travels, comment below and let us know! You could be on to a new trend!

 

References

Bizcommunity

Site-minder

Millennial travel

 

 

You’ve seen them. You’ve heard about them. You’ve read about them. A group of people, probably in their early twenties to mid thirties, all with a mobile phone in hand and busy trying to get the perfect photo or selfie. These people are probably what society would term millennials, people aged between 18 and 37, and they are becoming increasingly significant as the fastest growing travel market globally.

 

This new and expanding market is influencing the travel industry in many ways. Let’s explore some of these trends.

 

Apps

App downloads are on the rise and are a particularly popular choice for millennials when travelling to a new city. Apps such as Google Maps provide real-time guided navigation and is free to download.

 

Social media counts

Social media drives the millennial’s travel choices and is a large part of their experience while on holiday. Make sure your social media efforts reflect the strongest points of your destination, especially any special features of your property or your services, which will stand out to followers and their sphere of influence. Millennials like to express their identity through travel so unique experiences will draw their attention.

 

Specialised travel

Millennials also like travel experiences that cater to specific interests such as yoga or hiking. They want to be able to tailor their trips to their interests and create a personalised travel trip. Adventure travel is also growing in popularity for this reason. It offers a trip focused on a particular activity.

 

Online

Millennials are online for the majority of the day and the internet is their go-two option for researching, communication and purchasing. Millennials use the internet for booking flights and accommodation and the industry will need to move a lot of their services online.

 

Since Millennials are an ever-growing market it’s increasingly important for industries to cater for their preferences. Are you keeping up with the demands of the markets that you target? How do these trends affect your business and how you strategically market your product? We hope this article has helped provide some clarity on how you can do this.

Read more Forbes

 

Kilifair 2018

 

Kilifair 2018 was the next trade show on our sales and marketing agenda and Ntando made his way to the show for the second time.

 

Kilifair was held in Moshi, Tanzania at the Ushirika Sports Stadium, an outdoor venue, and as luck would have it, it started to rain just as the show started and, while rain is a blessing in African culture, it did mean getting wet whilst queuing to get in. Luckily the rain didn’t last long and the sun came out to dry out everyone out and shine on the show but it was a mixed blessing as some of the exhibitors decided that it was now too hot and left the show, so appointments had to be rescheduled.

 

Ntando was registered as an international buyer and enjoyed the complimentary coffee in the buyers’ lounge and respite from the baking sun. While cooling off inside, a passerby mentioned that the organisers should host the show in winter and Ntando pointed out that it was in fact already winter!

 

On the evening of the first day, Ntando attended the Kilifair networking event at the Ameg Lodge in Moshi. It took awhile for the event to get started as people arrived slowly but it turned out to be a fun event and he met new people which led onto the next day being filled with more meetings with prospective customers.

 

He returned exhausted but happy to bring back news of a new client and a host of new experiences, including some of his airport drama stories!

Making memories

Africa’s Travel Indaba 2018 was a fantastic show. It drew in a huge list of exhibitors and visitors from all over the globe. ResRequest was represented at Indaba within the SATSA stand again this year – and we enjoyed the vibe of sharing in the show buzz with our industry partners. We met with a record number of new prospects as well as our valued customers.

The Functional support team attended the show for the first time to share some love and connect with our customers and provide on-the-ground support and this is what they had to say about their experience. 

It was awesome to meet some of our clients in person. Many conversations started with a handshake and ended with a hug. Just a great reminder for me that the connections we have with people are a vital part of what we do.

Having a face to a name certainly adds a more personal dynamic to the support we provide, and I think our clients were happy to see the faces of the people they often chat to on the phone or over email. One thing that stood out to me the most was the recognition and thanks that we received from our clients for always being able to contact us and having access to a friendly voice on the phone.  I’m already looking forward to next year!Angie 

It was great to meet some of the ‘voices’ I have been speaking to for the past two years and to be able to ‘picture’ the person behind the voice. We hope that we blew them away with the reassurances of our future support and they felt that our support team truly cares.” Luzelle 

The best part of Indaba for me was to be able to meet our clients, putting faces to names and getting to know them just that little bit better.” Cheri 

Being at Indaba was the highlight of my year so far. It was a blessing being able to meet the clients that we have worked so closely with over the years.” Alex

It was a great experience to have interactions with our clients when they weren’t contacting us for support. It was also amazing to see just the tip of the iceberg at the conference and to see just how big the industry is and how much more we can tap into.” Chantel 

 

 

 

The Marketing & Brand team also joined in to witness the activity and build the presence that we had.

Simone hits up Spiderman with some of our branded mints.

‘This was my second time at Indaba and I enjoyed going back again. It is always a mind-blowing experience with huge, elaborate stands, the bright colours, different languages and seeing all the incredible destinations Africa has to offer.’ Kristen 

Our new consultant partners, Pomerol Partners also participated in the event and met with business owners who were interested in reaping the benefits of using ResInsite, our business intelligence tool.

‘I found the show to be lively and worth attending even though it was frustrating trying to find exhibitors who had their stands changed at the last minute. I enjoyed meeting clients who I hadn’t met before.’ Ntando 

As always we find Indaba to be a worthwhile show for us, as it’s on home soil, and where we can have a greater presence and impact our market.

 

Around the world at WTM

It was that time of the year again and time for WTM Africa 2018 in Cape Town. As has become tradition, Natasha and Ntando took our ‘Flavour your day’ mints, brochures and ResRover, our newly appointed mascot.

On arrival in Cape Town, it was clear that they were no longer in Durban. The chilly Cape weather greeted them and Ntando realised that he hadn’t packed enough warm clothes! Driving to the hotel in Cape Town became a tour of the city as finding the hotel was more complicated than anticipated, and with the hotel tucked away in a small lane, walking there was the best way to reach it!

WTM Africa runs for three days and attracts some of the biggest names in the hospitality industry. Our Sales & Marketing team wore their boldly branded shirts ensuring that they could always be found! They thoroughly enjoyed the show with plenty of people to chat to and met up with some great prospective customers and our technology partners, Wetu, Expedia and Tourplan. It was a full 3 days of talking and meeting friendly travel professionals. Meeting up with our customers at these travel trade shows is a great way to check in with them and to put some names to faces. They found the exhibitors to be very hospitable and open to business opportunities. On the first day, certain exhibitors hosted festivals on their stands – sharing local flavours and showing off their hospitality skills. This created a fun and festive vibe of music, traditional dancing and tasty titbits.

ResRover stole the spotlight with clients oohing and aahing over him but we had even more to share as we recently launched our ResInsite product. A business intelligence platform created by ResRequest and Pomerol Partners. Our customers were excited to chat about how using this tool can help them make better business decisions.

 

Overall the show was a fantastic event to meet with clients, especially the very new clients like Serengeti Acacia Camps and Kenzan Luxury Mobile Camps who have recently implemented ResRequest. It was also great seeing clients who have been using ResRequest for a long time and to share with them about ResInsite.

The ResRequest team love having the opportunity to visit the Mother City – even if there isn’t time to enjoy all that the city has to offer and despite the water shortage, Cape Town never ceases to disappoint. Even rush hour traffic around the mountain can’t even dampen your spirits. Luckily the next time that we get to visit is just a few weeks away – for FUSE, We Are Africa’s Un-Conference.