5 ways to improve your social media strategy

social media strategy in 5 steps

With 7.7 billion people in the world – 3.5 billion of us are online and with the digital and social media landscape continuously changing it can be a challenge managing your business whilst keeping your eye on social media. Some businesses in Tourism choose to opt-out of investing resources into social media, however, it should remain an integral part of an overall marketing strategy to see any return on investment and to see tons of guests walking through your doors.

digital global stats
Digital around the world in 2019

To be successful on social media you need to rely more on a clear strategy than just random postings and hashtags.

In this post you will learn the 5 ways to turn your business from zero to hero on social media:

Step 1: Audit your current platforms

The mention of the word ‘audit’ can run chills down anyone’s spine, however, a social media audit can be a quick and painless process provided that you understand its purpose, to identify what’s working and what’s not. 

Create a spreadsheet to help with your research and findings. It just makes it easier whenever you need a quick reference.

Some detective work is required during the process, and so here are some guidelines to assist you:

  • Identify all your platforms that your brand is currently represented on.
  • Investigate any fake accounts set up under your business name and report them. At the same time verify your business. Why? Because verification makes your brand look genuine and at the same time helps improve customer loyalty.
  • Determine your social media mission statement for each platform. Bear in mind your audience, and later we will look at how to identify your audience so we will have to jump in-between the 5 steps to fine-tune the strategy. Your mission statement will look different from platform to platform, for example, our approach on Facebook is to share our culture and any product or industry-related news that’s relevant to our audience on facebook, and on Instagram – to share our culture but in a fun quirky way. Your approach could be different. 

Step 2: Identify your Goals

If you were to reach a target, set your sights, take aim, and fire. Having no goals and nothing to work towards to market your business reflects poorly on your brand. 

As this phase/step will have a direct impact on your ROI, you should ask yourself:

  • What are your objectives and what are you wanting to achieve?
  • What are your social media goals? Awareness, engagement, conversions?
  • How will measure success? Followers, likes, comments, click-throughs?

Step 3: Create a persona

In this step, you create your most ideal persona based on information from your social media insights and your google analytics. Try and be as specific as possible, the more you define your persona the better. 

For example, if you have identified your target market as singles who travel – it would be okay. However, if you have taken it a step further and identified your target market as singles, who live in England, between 25 – 34 years of age and earn over $60 000, primarily uses Facebook and have interests in outdoor activities you will have much more success.

Answer the following questions when creating your persona:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Job title
  • Salary
  • Interests
  • Most active social media platform

Step 4: Competition Analysis

A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace.”  – Ovid

Well said, Ovid! Sometimes a competitive analysis is never fun because your competition could be way ahead but at the same time, it helps put things in perspective and helps you finetune your strategy and see where you rank amongst your competitors.

Important points to consider when conducting a competition analysis:

  • Find out what platforms your competition uses
  • The number of followers on each platform
  • Strengths and weaknesses on each platform – you will see here that you could adopt a strategy that your competition implements and fine-tune it to be ahead of your competition

This process should never be overlooked and requires continuous monitoring to make sure that you don’t lose sight of your competition.

Step 5: Using all your findings create a content calendar

A content calendar is usually in a spreadsheet format (although there are other platforms to schedule content like Hootsuite), it is used to schedule content across all your social media platforms.

Why is a social media content calendar important? Because it provides an overview of your content over months, weeks and days. It allows you to visualize how your content according to your overall strategy. The other benefit is to allow you to prepare content around specific days that are important to your brand, public holidays, etc.

This is just the beginning! To be relevant and on top of your competition, it does require you to continuously re-evaluate these steps to be a success. Having a rock-solid strategy now in place, imagine the impact your reach could have on your business!

social media strategy recap

Why we love automated testing

Automated-Testing-VS-Manual-testing

Why we love automated testing?

As a business that follows the Software as a Service model, ResRequest’s team is mainly made up of Developers and Customer Support consultants and we use many tools to help provide a great service for our customers.

Our Dev’s are in their element when nestled in front of multiple screens and have cool tools on hand to work with…

In this article our Dev team share what tools they use to test the product that they build and maintain.

Manual Testing vs Automated Testing

Manual testing is performed by a person carefully executing the test steps on computer software. Automation/automated testing means using an automation tool to execute your test case suite. This way, the actual outcomes of the tests can be compared with that of the predicted outcomes, to help identify issues, bugs, anomalies or limitations.

At ResRequest, we continually strive to improve our awesome suite of products. A lot goes into researching, developing, and delivering a great product. Automated testing is only one of a  myriad of ways that we strive to deliver the best product we can.

You might ask: “Surely manual testing is sufficient to deliver a product to the end-user?”. In many cases that’s true, but in today’s competitive world, filled with changing technologies and demanding user requirements, it is imperative to ensure stability. 

At ResRequest, we understand that developing quality takes time, and so, we recognise strategies need to be put in place to help keep us ahead of today’s break-neck pace. One of the many strategies we use to help us, in this regard, is automated testing.

Rationale

ResRequest values automated testing over manual testing, because:

  • Manual testing of every possible workflow, field, and scenario takes time and money.
  • It is difficult to manually test all different themes, layouts, setups, currencies, etc.
  • It does not require human intervention and can be run unattended.
  • Executing automated tests can be quicker than doing the same testing manually.
  • Automation helps cover bigger areas of an application, which prevents any unforeseen regression issues from occurring.
  • Even though we, at ResRequest, love testing and using our products, manual testing can sometimes be tedious and repetitive, and as a result, error-prone.

 

Benefits

 

Why spend time and money on automated testing? 

It brings the following to the table:

  • Can be a lot faster than manual testing.
  • Ensures consistency.
  • Improves accuracy.
  • Reusable test scripts.
  • Helps ensure stability of the final product.

What should be tested with automated tests?

Ideally, it should focus on:

  • High risk and/or business-critical areas.
  • Test cases that need to be repeatedly/regularly executed are also great candidates to be automated, as their scope should be well understood.
  • Testing that is very tedious or difficult to perform manually can also greatly benefit from being automated – computers don’t get bored.
  • Testing that is time-consuming should be automated, if it can be done reliably. This helps us focus manual testing on areas that would benefit more from having a little more human touch.

Disadvantages

Though automated testing has many advantages, it also has some disadvantages:

  • Proficiency in programming and some level of technical knowledge is required to write the automation test scripts.
  • Debugging automated test scripts is quite involved. Identifying limitations in the test script requires an in-depth understanding of the technologies used, as well as the application/software being tested.
  • Test maintenance is costly, as each update/improvement/feature may require an updated or new test case.
  • Automated tests cannot (and should not) entirely understand the end user’s use-case/requirements. The automated test case will simply execute a number of instructions and will not know if the end user’s experience can be improved, by changing the overall workflow of the software it is testing.
  • Automated tests can never beat a human tester’s expertise and knowledge of the application it is testing, and should, therefore, be used alongside manual testing and only where needed.

Selenium

There are many tools and applications that can help with automated testing of a system or software. At ResRequest, we have chosen Selenium for this task.

What is Selenium?

From the Selenium website: “Selenium automates browsers. That’s it! What you do with that power is entirely up to you. Primarily, it is for automating web applications for testing purposes, but is certainly not limited to just that. Boring web-based administration tasks can (and should!) be automated as well.

Selenium has the support of some of the largest browser vendors who have taken (or are taking) steps to make Selenium a native part of their browser. It is also the core technology in countless other browser automation tools, APIs and frameworks.

Selenium’s primary purpose is automating web applications for testing, web-based administration tasks can also be automated as well. Selenium has the backing of large browser vendors who have ensured that it is a crucial part of their browser. Browser automation tools, APIs and frameworks are just some of the platforms using selenium at its core.”

How does it work?

Selenium interfaces to a web browser’s driver, that driver then connects to the web browser to control it. The next step is to instruct Selenium on what to do, and it will take care of explaining it to the chosen web browser, in a way that would make sense to the relevant web browser.

What’s ahead?

Currently, we use Selenium and automated testing on some of our core products, but we plan to roll this out to as many ResRequest products as possible, in the future. All hail our robot overlords!

Our embarrassing travel moments!

We’ve all had them – those cringe-worthy moments when we want to laugh and crawl into a hole at the same time. Somehow these moments are more embarrassing when we are travelling, maybe because we don’t always know who’s watching!

 

We asked our team for some of their top most embarrassing moments. Put your coffee aside because you may spill it, and see if you can relate to any of these stories.

 

“I had a connection through Abu Dhabi in the early hours of the morning. Half asleep, I disembarked the plane in Abu Dhabi and sleepily followed the other passengers into the airport. It was only when I found myself being asked by taxi drivers where I was staying that I realised that something wasn’t right! I was in arrivals and not transit! The surprise gave way to panic as I only had an hour before my next flight. I started trying to find an official to ask how to get to the transfer lounge but it was 1am in the morning and the airport was empty. Finally, I ran into some flight crew and I tried to explain what had happened, they looked confused and pointed further down the hall. I raced off, heart pounding and arrived at immigration. This could not be happening. I had no visa but I was asking to leave the country! I stammered out the story to the gruff immigration officer and he called another officer ove. ‘No visa’, his colleague barked. I tried again to explain what had happened and begged them to let me through as my flight would be boarding by now. Together they started talking fast in Arabic and I wondered how bad the Arabic prison system was. Suddenly I was handed my passport and told ‘Go on. Your flight is boarding’. My legs felt shaky and I felt dizzy with relief that I had made it through. I arrived at the boarding gate just as they were finishing and collapsed into my seat, exhausted. It had been both the longest and shortest hour of my life ever!”

 

Another flight story on a very different aircraft and an even more nail-biting experience.

 

“We were travelling to a remote part of Africa from Joburg and were waiting for the plane from the lodge to collect us. The airport was full of commercial planes and a few large charter planes. We then noticed a small, unbelievably small, plane bobbing through between the bigger planes. We had a sinking feeling. Surely not? Could people even fit in that? The miniature plane came to halt and we got a phone call that our charter was ready. We went out to meet our pilot, and of course, he led us to the plane that we had been observing, which seemed even smaller close-up. Trying to suppress our nervousness, we loaded our bags and prepared for take off. The little plane seemed to take forever to lift off and sounded like the engine was taking strain. Finally we were in the air and the pilot tried to engage us in conversation but we were on the edge of our seats, unable to speak. It seemed like every breeze tossed the plane around. Throwing up probably wasn’t the best first impression to make, but it felt very likely! The two hour flight felt like a lifetime and we finally arrived at our destination, white-faced and shaking. ‘How was the flight?’, the lodge manager asked as we disembarked. We smiled weakly, ‘We’re so happy to be here’.”

 

Off to Europe for a train ride, a long day and some luck.

 

“Ten years ago, I was returning to London from a small town in Germany called Ahrensburg, and because money was tight, my travelling time was dragged out over 24 hours (2 flights, 2 trains rides, 1 hitchhiked lift and a bus ride) with lots of waiting around in-between them all. By the time I landed in London, I was extremely tired and as soon as I had jumped onto the tube out of Heathrow airport, I fell asleep. When I woke up, I realised that I had missed my stop and travelled to the opposite side of London! Thankfully I still had my luggage, but my chance for a hot shower and a proper bed would have to wait as I had to double back on the tube ride, and this time I made sure I didn’t close my eyes!”

 

How would you like to be without your luggage for three weeks while you travel around East Africa? This is what happened on one of our team members, and let’s just say, he now always triple checks his flight time.

 

“I arrived at the airport confident that I had plenty of time before departure. I was travelling to East Africa for three weeks and had quite a hefty bag to check in. I ambled over to check-in and thought I may as well check-in early and then grab a leisurely coffee to pass the time. However, that plan changed quickly as I was told that my flight was leaving in 20 minutes and it was too late to check in luggage. My cries fell on deaf ears and I tried to explain that I had read the flight time wrong. Now, not only was I having to sprint to get to boarding, but I had to leave my bag with everything I needed behind. Needless to say, the first thing I did on landing was to buy some clothes and deodorant. I learnt a stressful lesson and this drama is never to be repeated.”

 

Travel is exciting and always a big adventure but sometimes there are unpredictable hiccups that make these trips even more eventful. These dramas sometimes make the best stories with valuable lessons attached. What are your most memorable travel adventures?

Keep it clean

In computer science, garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) describes the concept that flawed, or messy input data produces poor, unrecognisable output or “garbage”.

 

Essentially, a system is only as good as the data you put into it. This may seem like a basic principle, but if not followed, it can be a massive exercise to try and clean up the data in your system at a later stage.

 

From ResRequest’s perspective, “garbage data” can be found in areas such as duplicate contacts, reservations info and poor housekeeping of agent/guest CRM etc. The “garbage data” becomes very apparent when you want to start reporting on this information. If the data being inserted into the system is not “clean”, you will not be happy with the results when you try and use the data.

 

Here’s an example of data that was not maintained well, on a Standard Reservations Report, compared to managed clean data:

     VS

 

 

 

 

Why would you want to keep the data in the same format?

Not only will your reports look so much better, searching for reservations in your system will be so much easier if the information follows the same format.

 

Let’s compare how a well-maintained guest contact record compares to an incomplete one on a Guest CRM report:

If you decide to run a mail campaign, to target guests from the USA, the guests who don’t have this info attached to their contact would be left out of the campaign so you would lose potential business due to the information not reaching the right people.

 

Overall, the benefits of inputting and maintaining neat data in your system are so worthwhile and will save you a lot of time in future!

 

What tools are available in ResRequest to help keep your data clean?

Replace contact: Deleting contacts isn’t so simple once the contact has been used on a reservation so we’ve given you the functionality to replace a contact with another contact. This means that all the relevant links (for reservations and financial folios) of the replaced contact will transfer to the remaining contact.

Duplicate contact check: When adding a new contact to your system, ResRequest prompts you to check if the contact you’re adding is a duplicate of an existing contact. For example, when inserting the name “John” while adding a new contact, the ResRequest system will display all existing contacts’ named “John”, so the user can determine if it is an existing contact or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although it would be great for the system to prompt you in all areas where data is inserted, at the end of the day, you are the owner of your data and it is up to you to keep the data in your system in good order.

Looking good with GuestRevu

GuestRevu surveys help establishments get insight from customised, branded surveys and proactively drives reviews to TripAdvisor and Google to improve rankings.

The best part of direct feedback is that you have a chance to resolve any potentially harmful situations before they become reviews on public platforms. By providing your guests with the opportunity to address concerns with you directly, they will often feel that their feedback is being taken to heart, and feel less inclined to vent on social platforms like Facebook and TripAdvisor. Another great benefit is that you can fix problems when you get direct feedback. As they say — prevention is better than cure.

How does it work?
Save time and know what your guests are saying about you publicly by having all your online reviews collected and analysed in your GuestRevu dashboard.

Our integration to GuestRevu is automated so all you need to do is add your guests and their email addresses in ResRequest and GuestRevu will do the rest. For more info on this marketing tool, see our Guest Survey guide.

Now I want GuestRevu!
Sign up with GuestRevu here and GuestRevu and ResRequest consultants will be in touch to get you set up.

A once-off ResRequest setup fee of approximately 1 hour is billed at our standard data set up rate, but if you sign up before 30 June 2019 we’ll do the set up for FREE!

New scam alert!

Scamming is becoming increasingly sophisticated and so have to be more alert and find out how we protect ourselves.

 

Beware of the latest scam

 

One of the newest ways that scammers are targeting people is to intercept invoices, edit banking details and send it to “customers” for payment. Recipients of the emails think it is legitimate and pay the money into the scammer’s account.

 

How can you prevent this happening to you?

 

Investec recently published an article on this kind of fraud with tips on how to protect yourself.                   

 

  • Let your current and new clients know that if they even receive any correspondence announcing a change in bank details, advise them to contact you and verify you are banking details before they pay.

 

  • You can also consider leaving your bank details off your invoices and call clients to give them this information instead.

 

  • If you are an individual who is supplying banking details, do not email invoices with bank details. Rather give your banking information directly over the telephone.
  • Watch out for phishing scams. What is a phishing email and how to spot it?
  • Setup checks on your email like two factor login verification.

 

We hope that this information is helpful and will be useful in protecting yourself against scammers.

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.

Navigating ResRequest like a pro

 

Are you a wizard on ResRequest? How many tricks do you know?

Many users are not always aware of all our handy features and top tips so we’ve highlighted a few of our snazzy features from frequently asked questions and noted some helpful hints from our support consultants.

Here are some of our most popular features. Are you using them?

Tips

 

1. Ops Chart

Our Ops chart is by far the most customisable and useful report for lodges to help with all parts of your operations on the ground.

Examples where teams will benefit the most from using the Ops Chart report are:

  • Logistics and transfers

Display logistical arrangements such as arrival and departure times of flights and which guests require transfers each day. Run this report every Sunday for the week ahead to streamline your planning.

  • Housekeeping

View which rooms are occupied or available per day and reference the internal notes for guest preferences or special arrangements for the room and what times the guests will be arriving or departing.

  • Kitchen team and catering

Generate a report for the kitchen crew to calculate how many breakfasts, lunches and dinners are required that day/week and how many adults and children to cater for.

  • Front of house (view which guests have paid, along with pax, res notes etc.)

This is really useful for the meet & greet team to know exactly who they are expecting, what nationality the guests are and how many people are in the group. The report can be set up to include special memos, such as a guest’s birthday so that the team can create an extra special experience for them.

These are just a few examples and there are many more possibilities. Get in touch with our team to help customise the chart to your liking.

Working with the Ops Chart: Here’s a tip

If you’re not interested in viewing rooming and just want to know basic details about which guests are arriving, their names or what extras have been booked, then deselect your Accommodation Chart in the report filter section.


2. Rooming calendar

The Rooming calendar is your hub for Property Management as most of the lodge processes are governed from here.

Navigate to the Rooming calendar through Property > Rooming Calendar or even set the Rooming calendar as your landing page.

Unallocated bookings

The Rooming calendar lists ‘Unallocated Reservations’ in a table below the calendar. These are bookings that have not been allocated rooms. Bookings that have been allocated to rooms are displayed as coloured blocks in the calendar in the row of the allocated room. As soon as new bookings are made they will automatically appear in the ‘Unallocated’ list. Each booking has a ‘Res Details’ option where you are able to have a quick view of the Guests contact details and the Financial information of the booking.

Functions

To activate any of the functionality, the bookings (either allocated or unallocated) must be selected (highlighted in green), the buttons in the tab above the calendar then become active for use on the selected reservation.

Reports

Within the Rooming calendar there are multiple day reports you are able to pull to help with daily logistics and planning at the property.

  • Day Sheet – Here you can see the breakdown of the Pax Analysis, Reservation Summary, Rooming Plan, Request and Extras for a particular day. This report may be used to track transfers too.
  • PAX Report – Here you can see a breakdown of how many guests are arriving, departing or in-house on a specific day.
  • Extras Report – Here you can see all Extras booked for that day. This report may be used to track transfers.
  • Arrival Folios Report – This report lists all folios of guests arriving on the selected day.
  • Departure Folios Report – This report lists all folios of guests departing on the selected day.

But wait, there’s more…We have a new and improved rooming calendar coming soon, so watch this space!


3. ResNova on mobile

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 a calendar matrix or a quick search…or both! You have the option of just showing availability, or enabling bookings, and even linking up to a payment gateway to enable payments during the booking process. All of this is seamlessly integrated to your ResRequest system.

Mobile compatibility for ResNova is also now here! Whether your customer uses a mobile or desktop, booking your hotel is now super easy. Your ResNova widget will automatically adjust to your user’s device! PayGate can be used as a payment gateway for ResNova bookings.


Tricks

 

Do you have your special ResRequest tricks that you use all the time or a few quick shortcuts that make you a master of ResRequest? We’ve asked our support consultants for their top handy hints. How many of them do you already use?

1. Filter for email addresses

Add *@* to your Guest History report email filter to “find all your guests with email addresses, great for mailing lists.


2. Hide the financials from a Reservation Summary document

You can do this by using the document show/hide options if you want to use the document as a voucher for guests/agents.

 

This is what your Res Summary will look like with the Financial set to hide:

3. Insert keywords

Add keywords such as “lodge”, “safari, “luxury accommodation” into the Keywords field, on the Internet Marketing tab of your system defaults (Admin > Setup > Defaults) to increase your footprint on online searches.

4. Save time when creating large group bookings

By using the “different config” option, in your itinerary creation popup. You can add multiple combinations to a single itinerary, all from a single popup screen.

5. Narrow your search for contacts by using an *.

Example: You want to search for an agent with “African” in the name. Go to Contacts > Find contact > in the organization field, type in: *African*. You will then see a list of all the results, showing “African” in the name.

If you can’t get enough of these helpful tips, we have some more in our quick tips and tricks blog. Remember if you are ever stuck or need a hand, head over to our Learn Online support site available and our functional support call centre crew are only a request away.

We hope that these tips will save you time and help you get the most out of your ResRequest system!

 

Your guests digital guide

 

Smartphone technology is advancing at incredible pace and you can do more and more with your device. Travellers now use their mobiles to book flights, accomodation 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!