Facebook Business Page Rollout – version 2014

Facebook is once again updating their interface. This time it’s for their Business Listings. This updated Facebook Business Page Rollout will include many things that affect Independent Lodging Properties.

Facebook Biz Page -new 2014

New Facebook Business Page style – 2014

Here’s a short summary…

  1. Sometime soon when you log in, you will be ‘invited’ to join the waitlist.
  2. Later you will be ‘welcomed’ in with an Update Now button.
  3. You will notice that custom tabs have moved into the ‘More’ drop down, effectively burying your custom links like Email signups, and ‘Book Now’ buttons.
  4. The Admin panel will have a new look and some new features.
  5. Pre-scheduling is now done under the Activity Tab.
  6. Reviews cannot be removed as in the past.
  7. Highlighting Posts will no longer stretch them across your page.
  8. The first picture in photo albums is how the ‘featured image’ by default.
  9. Photo sizing in albums has changed dramatically. Once sizes are determined you will find them here. More explanation & detail is found below in the excerpt.

    PYK Facebook example

    ‘Old Style’ Facebook Business Page for Posada Yum Kin Hotel, Tulum, Mexico – 2014

  10. The Banner style has changed. It is smaller vertically and the name of your property will now lay on top of your banner image squeezing things even more and covering your image in specific areas.

You can read it directly from Facebook here.

Facebook says the key new features are:

  • Updated Page timeline design
  • Easier Access to key admin tools
  • Ability to Watch Pages

Utlimately, Facebook users will be the judge. Users include you and your future guests. While Facebook is obviously stepping up it’s monitization efforts, it’s important that they do not continue to send hoteliers away or cause them to minimize their exposure on Facebook. There many reasons to potentially do this; one of them being the building presence of Google and their entrance into the OTA space. 

One of my favorite blogs is Heather Turner’s Chef Forfeng’s Weblog. Heather a chef and consultant to B&Bs, is a key advisor on issues relating to restaurants and B&Bs. Below is the link to her entire blog and below that are some excerpts, I’d like to share on the upcoming changes.

When your page has the option to convert, you will see this (below) the first time you login. BEFORE you click update now for Fans, take a look and see if you have any tabs that are really important to you FIRST! (more on this in few screenshots down)


Heather on Albums…

Albums sizes are 518 X 518 (pixels)

  1. The other major change is photo sizing. If you post photos on your business wall, the new sizing is approximate 415W X 557H for vertical photos and 555W X 308H for horizontal photos. Sizes are approximate because I had to use a photo snipper, I could not find where the actual size is listed yet, (but this is close to what it will be).

Photos posted on your business wall are going to become somewhat smaller on the internal page viewer of someone’s feed. The sizing becomes 511H X 344W for vertical photos and 320W X 437H for horizontal photos*

I’ll correct the sizes when the official sizes are made public.

Because of the new photo size changes, where it previously was better to post horizontal photos, it now may be beneficial to try more verticals, as it’s taking up more visual timeline space or even albums in groups of 4 photos.  Albums 518 X 518 (pixels)  gives you more advertising eyes on space then single pictures now.

Heather on the Banner..

The biggest annoyance B&Bs will probably have is the new banner layout, Like, Follow, etc and the name of the business now overlays the banner itself, If you have a long description it brings the text up even further.
Essentially you’re losing almost ½ of the banner in terms of visual usage and if you have text in there now currently, you will have to revisit what it looks like when it converts. It also appears that the square avatar image has moved over very slightly more to the left hand side.

New Facebook Business Page changes Bed and Breakfasts should be aware of.

The Influence of Mobile Purchasing on Travel

The infographic below summarizes the behavior of mobile purchasing on Travel based on mobile users in the UK. This demonstrates why lodging managers should be checking to see how their websites and online booking engines appear on mobile devices -particularly tablets.

Here are the key findings on mobile travel purchases from Tnooz.

“The study also shows how key pricing is, with price comparison sites coming top in mobile travel activity and a quarter saying they make a purchase based on price.

Brand preference and price were given as the top two reasons for making a purchase with a third saying they already had a brand in mind.

More details are handily displayed in the infographic below but here are a few highlights:

  • Almost half of mobile travel searchers make a purchase with about a third completing it on their mobile device
  • 31% say they plan to purchase within a day while 60% say within a month or longer
  • Most mobile travel searches are conducted for flights (81%) followed by hotels (67%)
  • 55% of travel searchers say they are researching a planned purchase
  • More mobile travel research is conducted while at home – 83% for tablets and 46% for smartphones”

Mobile Infographic for travel

Nielsen surveyed 1,500 smartphone and tablet users for the study as well as drawing intelligence from its Smartphone Analytics Panel of 6000 Apple and Android users.

And just for fun, I’ll add this infographic in from last fall on mobile purchases within the US  from Business Wire.

Infographic for mobile travel purchases

New Trip Advisor Blackmail Tool for Lodging Managers

Real help for Hotel Reputation Management, Trip Advisor Blackmail Tool for Lodging, Hotels, Inns and B&Bs

Ever have a guest tell you that if you don’t do ‘x, y or z’ that they will write a bad review about you or your property? Now there is help for hoteliers, it’s the Trip Advisor Blackmail Tool for lodging owners and managers! While helping small hotels manage their online reviews, this question has been asked more than once during Social Energizer’s lodging-specific social media coaching sessions. Trip Advisor is finally addressing these concerns of property owners by providing a proactive means of reporting them –smart idea! We applaud Trip Advisor for taking action on what can easily be the downside of living in this review dependent world.

The power of Trip Advisor is obvious. Travelers now read on online reviews 81% of the time while planning travel. This trend is growing every day. With Facebook now entering the travel review arena, this percentage is likely to increase even more.

Here is what Trip Advisor had to say about their new tool, “We hear from owners that potential “blackmail” –when a guest threatens to write a negative review unless a demand for a refund, upgrade, or other request is met – is an occasional concern. We now have a way for you to proactively report these threats more easily, before a corresponding review is potentially submitted. Immediate reporting of blackmail threats can supplement our investigative procedure and help us keep blackmail reviews from ever reaching the site.

Trip Advisor Support Page

Trip Advisor says that blackmail threats are taken seriously and in some countries may be illegal. The process for reporting a potential blackmail threat is to log in to your property’s Management Center. Go to “Manage your reviews” and click on the link under “Dispute a review”. Use the drop down where it says, “Please tell us what the issue is:” and select “Report blackmail”. This brings up a form that allows you to provide the following: Reviewers Name (potential blackmailer), Email, Origin, Stay dates (month & year), and a Comment with as many details as possible about the incident.

The trick is to report this as soon as the blackmail type remarks are made. Be very proactive. That way Trip Advisor will have it on file and it will match to any subsequent review before it is posted online. Trip Advisor may follow up with you for further information, so you should keep all documentation and notes in regard to the incident.

If a review is posted before you can report it, then the procedure is a little different, and likely may be less successful. Instead of selecting “Report Blackmail” from the drop down, you will need to select “Report a problem with a review” and “Review is Suspicious” as the problem, add the details to the “Other” section.

In neither case, does Trip Advisor guarantee a removal of the review. They put them under review, with the more proactive “report blackmail” claim having more credibility. While under review, they suggest you post a response using their tips and videos for guidance.

I found this a bit ominous. “Please note: property managers who abuse this new tool will be penalized.” It’s Trip Advisors’ warning at the bottom of their policy page, but I wonder what penalty could be worse than getting a poor, undeserved review? Nevermind, I really don’t want to find out. Do you?

Source: Trip Advisor

15 Trending Travel Terms

Moving your hotel to an automated, online integrated system is a big step.

Here are 15 Trending Travel Terms to help you with some of the new lingo.Reception

Property Management System (PMS)

The application used by the hotel to control onsite property activities such as check in/out, folios, guest profiles, room status, requests, etc. PMSs can have interfaces between other applications such as the hotel point-of-sale (POS) or central reservations system (CRS)

Central Reservation System (CRS)

The application used to manage a hotel’s distribution and hotel room bookings. Typically will be used to reach guests via multiple distribution channels such as travel agencies (via GDS), online travel agencies (such as Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline and others), direct to the hotel website, and telephone (either via call center, direct to property or both).

GDS (Global Distribution System)

Reaches 300,000+ IATA registered travel agents powered by four networks: Sabre, Amadeus, Worldspan and Galileo. Agents use one of these systems to book airline, car, hotel and other travel arrangements for their customers. OTAs also use one or more GDS to power some or all of their content on their site. Partner hotels easily keep up-to-date GDS / ODD room inventory and rates, and any travel agent or online customer can retrieve real time rates and room inventory and book instantly via GDS and ODD networks. Alternatively, Pegasus ODD (Online Distribution Database) connects 100’s of Internet travel portals or OTA’s (online travel agents) such as Orbitz, TravelNow, Expedia, and Hotwire.

Online Travel Agencies (OTA)

Websites offering comprehensive travel shopping and Reservations Solutions to consumers. Examples include Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline, and many local and regional sites.

Review Sites

A travel website that assists customers in gathering travel information, posting reviews and opinions of travel-related content and engaging in interactive travel forums.

TripAdvisor was an early adopter of user-generated content. The website services are free to users, who provide most of the content, and the website is supported by an advertising business model. Other popular review sites are IgoUgo,

Rate Parity

The strategy that all distribution channels of a hotel should reflect the same rate for the same conditions for a particular room type. Rate parity strengthens customer loyalty and encourages guests to book directly with the hotel where terms/policies may be more flexible, given the same pricing as in other channels.

Smart Hotel Website

A collection of well-designed web pages that communicate the essence of the hotel –online. Used as the focal point for guest information and holding the Web Booking Engine (WBE), it is the core of a hotel’s online presence. Smart websites pull in visitors through search engine marketing (SEO) that book directly with the hotel, potentially reducing commissions to OTAs and GDS channels.

Web Booking Engine (WBE)

An application residing on a hotel’s website, which allows prospective guests to shop for rooms and complete reservations.

Domain Name

A domain name is simply a website address, e.g. www.mycompany.com is a domain name. This is also sometimes called a URL.

Web Analytics

The process of analyzing visitor activity on a website. Web analytics also includes the measurement of metrics to determine site effectiveness.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)SEOProcess

The process of increasing the amount of visitors to website or page by ranking high in the search results of a search engine. The higher a Website ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user. SEO helps to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engine users.

Balanced Distribution Strategy

Determining when and through what channels to sell rooms based upon the cost of acquisition of the individual channel. By driving business to lower cost acquisition channels during high demand periods, hotels can maximize their profitability.


“Fill” measure of a hotel calculated by dividing the total number of rooms occupied by the total number of rooms available times 100, e.g. 75% occupancy.


Return On Investment is the measurement of costs minus income for a particular investment item.


The people who pay your salary. Your customer, the reason you do what you do.

Today’s Travel Decision Cycle [TRAVEL INFOGRAPHIC]

Today, we look at how travelers increasingly use online media and mobile technology throughout the various stages of travel. The art of travel has changed and the Travel Decision Cycle has evolved. The former model that usually included a travel agent and resources like the OAG (Official Airline Guide) no longer fits. Today’s model includes much more depth and social interaction in the ‘Planning’ stage, more automaton of the transactional ‘Booking’ stage and once again, more depth and social interaction in the after-travel phase of ‘Sharing’.Travel Decision Cycle

Travel Decision Cycle 

The stages of the Travel Decision Cycle are:  Dreaming, Planning, Research, Travel Reviews, Booking, Experiencing and Sharing. The travel infographic below shows some of the online companies that support this market. Some companies, like Trip Advisor, Facebook and Pinterest have services that support more than one stage.

Top Online Travel Companies

As of this writing, these are the big players in travel: TrippyPinterestGogobot, Citybot, Tripline, TouristEye, Worldmate, Tripit, RelaxWisconsin (a product of SocialEnergizer.com), Momando, Virtual Tourist, Facebook, Fodor’s, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google Places, IgoUgo, Yahoo Local, Kayak, Hotwire, Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline, CheapOAir, Hotels.com, Hipmunk, Booking.com, Orbitz, Hotel Website Booking Engines, FlipKey, AirBNB, HomeAway, VRBO, Foursquare, Tripwolf, and Flickr.

Watch for future articles on each of these providers and the roles they play in each part of the travel cycle. Do you know of some we’ve missed? Please add them in the comments and we’ll add and update the infographic.

Is Your Hotel Facebook Nearby Ready?

Facebook Nearby is picking up momentum. It raises some important questions for hoteliers.

  1. Does your hotel have a Facebook Page optimized for business?
  2. Can people ‘check-in’ to your hotel on Facebook?
  3. How important are guest reviews to your business?
  4. Do you actively manage your reviews? And seek new ones?
  5. Will Facebook ‘Nearby’ be able to pick up your location?
  6. Is your site mobile ready?

Below are a couple of excerpts on a post from Revinate (via Are Morch) on new features from Facebook that will be vital for hotels.

“What Hotels & Restaurants Should Know About Facebook Nearby Upgrade

Photo (1)Yesterday, Facebook announced upgrades to their mobile application’s Nearby functionality for both the iPhone and Android. This upgrade now positions Facebook’s mobile app much closer to Foursquare’s recent local recommendation terrain, as users can search and find local businesses to visit, based on their proximity, by name or category. In addition to enhancing the application’s local discovery functions, Facebook’s Nearby also now comes with a 5 star ratings system for local businesses that is noticeably comparable to both Yelp‘s 5 point scale as well as Foursquare’s recent 10 point rating system.”

“Action Items for Hotels & Restaurants

PhotoWith about one out of four Facebook users worldwide tagging at least one of their posts each month by location, the now two-year old ability to share your mobile check-in with others has clearly reached a critical mass. With half of Nearby visits coming from mobile users, Facebook has additionally overhauled the Places Pages design for mobile as well, which means more changes to pay attention to that have direct hospitality implications. Accordingly, here are some action items to tick off when conducting your audit of your hotel or restaurant’s Facebook Places page.

  1. Update Your About SectionFor hotels, this section must include all of your basic information (phone number, physical address, email address, description of your property and general facility information) as well as the all important website link. Be sure that this website link direct users to your mobilly-optimized website so that you don’t miss the opportunity to capture more mobile traffic to your site. For restaurants, the same basic information from above applies, as well as ensuring hours of operation, price range, specialties, attire, services, and payment options are all up-to-date. While these categories do not differ from your desktop-accessible Facebook Business Page, they’re important to review as the likelihood of receiving a positive rating may be contingent on these basic pieces of information.
  2. Update Your CategoryThis may sound self-explanatory, but particularly in the case of restauranteurs, categorizing your business can have a huge impact on the foot-traffic your dining establishment may receive. With over 20 subcategory options to choose from, make sure you’re accurately representing the restaurant cuisine experience so not to disappoint the customer.
  3. Encourage Ratings & Reviews: As is the case with every social media and online reputation management practice, the best way to generate more interest in your business is simply by asking. Don’t shy away from encouraging your consumers to like, check into, rate, and recommend your place. Like Yelp, these ratings can have a significant impact on the consumer’s likelihood to visit your establishment, as they are prominently displayed directly on the landing page of the business listing.

If you find your hotel or restaurant is on Facebook Nearby but has not been merged with your brand’s Facebook Business Page, OR is simply not showing up on Nearby at all, do not fear! To remedy this dilemma, Facebook offers a great couple of resources to help assist with this issue.”

Click here to read the full article at Revinate.


Additional Revenue Model for Hotels

Catalin calls this hotel strategy The Catwalk Concept. It is fundamentally an additional revenue model for hotels that uses the concept of sponsoring brands that may be used within the hotel.Catwalk

Excerpt from Catalin at Cain:

“A branded hotel can take three specific steps to capitalise on this opportunity:

  • First, conduct research to identify specific brands of other products and services that appeal to their guests, for example, one such brand could be a particular type of flat-screen television whose design and price tag has been targeted to a specific type of customer.
  • Second, explain to the companies identified the benefits of gaining access to their guests; the hotel could build guest market profiles to support the claims that its guests fit the profile of the flat-screen television’s target audience.
  • Third, find inconspicuous ways to grant these companies access to the guests, for example, the hotel could agree to display the flat-screen televisions in its rooms so that the guests interact freely with the product, without ever feeling part of a marketing campaign.”

Just like pro-fisherman and Nascar racers, who rely heavily on sponsorships, hotels are in the position to heighten the visibility of certain branded products that they use. Presenting an even better opportunity, is the ability to actually put that brand in a potential customer’s hands. Need a new mattress? Try it out at a sponsored hotel. Love the sheets? Buy them directly from the hotel.

Some of the larger hotel chains, like Hampton Inns, have been selling their bedding for a while now. How could this work for small to medium-sized hotels? Is anyone doing this now?

Here’s a shout out to brands that supply hotels -is this an attractive proposition for you? What would a hotel need to do to begin this partnership? I’m thinking that for a brand there is great potential here for some very valuable social media interaction.

Find the full article at Cain, a Strategy and Innovation Agency located in the United Arab Emirates.

5 Stages of Choosing Travel

The travel outlook is positive, and with the rise of mobile, social and video behaviors, we are now seeing seeing travelers move through five key stages of travel. Here are some insights within each stage:
  • Dreaming: 68% of business travelers watch travel-related online videos. Among them, 68% are thinking about a trip.
  • Planning: The average traveler visits ~22 travel related sites during 9.5 research sessions prior to booking.
  • Booking: 37% of leisure travelers report that the internet prompted them to book, up from 28% two years ago.
  • Experiencing: 70% of business travelers check into their flights/hotel with their mobile device. Almost 1 in 4 hotel queries come from a mobile phone.
  • Sharing: About 1 in 3 business travelers have posted reviews online of places they’ve been.

Naked truth about online hotel reviews [INFOGRAPHIC]

A great article and infographic on the nature of online hotel reviews. I find these statistics interesting and feel likely that they are accurate.Traveler review graphic

The most interesting points here are that 81% of travelers find reviews important and 49% of travelers won’t book a hotel without reviews. This means that an important part of any hotels marketing strategy needs to pay attention to the amount and quality of incoming reviews and have a plan in place to keep reviews positive and accurate.

It came as no surprise for me that women were the most likely to leave a review (53% over men at 47%), because women are also most likely to plan the trip and complete the reservations.

What I’d like to see is information on how reviews increase sales. We find that our clients’ sales increase remarkably as their review rankings increase. When managed well, reviews can be a controllable sales factor and I urge hoteliers to put a strategy in place to maximize good reviews and address any negative reviews positively and quickly because, as they say, this is the ‘Naked Truth about hotel reviews’.

Naked truth about online hotel reviews [INFOGRAPHIC] | Tnooz.

Keeping Your Website Real

Recently, Chris, from Design4Real.net, and I ventured down to Posada Yum Kin Hotel in Tulum, Mexico to work on their next web update. It has been a little over a year since images and content throughout the website have been updated, so once again, it is time to refresh everything.

Our trip went smoothly with a nice flight down, easy transfer over to our rental car and a fun, but relaxing 2-hour ride to Tulum, Mexico. Chris and I love working with Dan and Balvina, the owner’s of Posada Yum Kin. They are creative entrepreneurs that have stuck their heart and souls into this little piece of heaven and it is slowly, but surely paying off for them. Posada Yum Kin in the last year has consistently ranked at number 7 or above in Trip Advisor in the Tulum area.

The hotel, as always, was pristine and perfect. As a special treat, Dan, the owner, had placed us in their best suite, The Kinah (#7). It is a huge, oversized-suite with 1 king-size and 1 queen-size bed. It is the perfect room to be able to ‘live’ and work at the same time. Chris and I were happy to make it our ‘office’.The Kinah -Suite # 7

One of my favorite things to do while staying at PYK, is to visit with the guests. Besides great conversation, I always discover new insights from them. While chatting with recent visitors, Bob and Susan, from Whidbey Island in Washington State, Bob commented that our website images ‘fairly represented the hotel’. Well, of course, I thought “Shouldn’t they always?” What his comment pointed out to me though was that this should be a main focus, as it is a major concern for all travelers buying online. As Bob said “It’s disappointing to get to a hotel only to find that the images are either far out of date or perhaps appear a bit fake.”

As always, working onsite at any hotel is a fast-paced, multi-tasking challenge.  As Chris got comfortable with some initial shots of the property, I worked with Dan and the hotel staff on some issues like property management system implementation, training and work coordination.  As a small hotel, working efficiently takes a team coordinated effort to meet and track guest requests and keep things running smoothly. Our time went quickly.Jennifer and Manuel

With a small hotel like Posada Yum Kin, making every single peso count is key. One of our greatest challenges has been creating professional-quality images. How could we find models that fit our budget? Could social media help? I thought so and decided to test out the theory. I’ve been reading and writing on several of the local Riviera Mayan forums and found a very active online community. Starting with a simple post on a forum looking for people that would be happy to be included in our photoshoot for a very nominal fee, I was delighted to find travel blogger, Jennifer and, professional portrait photographer, Manual Salazar to sit as models –just for fun.

Jennifer and Manual, two ex-TV professionals, have a great story, which can be found on Jennifer’s blog “Bi-Coastal Living“. Describing themselves as a combination of expats and vacationers to the Riviera Maya area, they are a light-hearted, inspiring photographic and content-creating team that is bound to thrive in this entrepreneurial area. Their portrait portfolio quality far exceeds any that we have seen. Art Director, Chris Schudy from Design4Real.net said “Manuel and Jennifer’s work is some of the best I’ve seen. It beats some of the portfolio’s of the Fortune 100 companies that are out there right now.”

The day of the DIY photoshoot with Jennifer, Manuel and several guests was beautiful and went off without a hitch. Chris got some great shots that included ‘real-life’ pool shots with Jennifer, Posada Yum Kin’s massage therapist, Elvira and even the personal taxi driver, Artemio. Our goal of updated images was realized with Chris’ great new perspective.

The next day, we headed home and are working now to select the best images, ready them for online viewing and insert them in the site. It’ll be a week or so, but PYKTulum.com will have a facelift very soon. Watch for it!