Hoteliers need to get up to speed with marketing through social media and mobile phone applications or risk being left behind, delegates to the 2010 Annual Hotel Conference were told in Manchester yesterday.
Ashley Bolt, director of Total Media, which helps to increase revenue using digital channels for a number of hotel brands, said that views expressed on social media were now more trusted than experts' reviews that appeared in traditional media.
"It is vital that hoteliers embrace the new social media channels, encourage feedback from customers and tackle complaints straightaway," he said
In highlighting research carried out by Total Media into online reviews, Bolt said that it was the over-45s who were most likely to write travel reviews, flipping just about every perception of social media on its head.
Nic Ray, managing director of Quirk eMarketing, a digital agency which helps hotels to market their business online, said the vehicles for e-marketing were growing all the time. He advised that as well as looking to maximise their presence on Google, hotels should be looking to establish their business on Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Places and Google Images.
He also highlighted other sites such as FourSquare and YouTube, which is the second biggest search engine after Google. "There are enormous opportunities for hotels to feature videos on their properties via YouTube and there are ways to optimise their hit rate."
Ray also said that with smart phones predicted to overtake PC sales by 2013, it was important for hotels to be aware of the potential of mobile phone marketing. "In designing a mobile phone app, hotels should make the layout simple, keep images to a minimum, optimise navigation by using big buttons, ensure the site content is useful and avoid pop-ups."
The 2010 Annual Hotel Conference was hosted by Hammonds, Tri Hospitality Consulting and Colliers International at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate Hotel.
By Janet Harmer
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