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WordPress Lodging Websites – The Secret to Our Not so Secret Sauce

One of the most important decisions hotel and resort owners face is how to choose the infrastructure for building their websites. For the best success, we recommend sites be WordPress lodging websites. WordPress is a content management system (CMS) which allows people to create websites and blogs on an easy to manage platform and integrates with many online services like e-Newsletters, Google Analytics, online forms, etc. Simply put, WordPress is the ‘not so secret sauce’ that you need in your recipe for success. Wordpress logo

What is WordPress? 

WordPress is a relatively easy way where users themselves can blog and post content. Think carefully here; the Internet is a global phenomenon that is never ending. WordPress powers over 27% of the entire Internet, from Fortune 500 companies to celebrities and social media influencers. If that hasn’t won you over yet, the features and benefits of WordPress are, like the Internet, never ending.

What we find works best is when lodging property owners team with us to create their properties’ websites. As WordPress-skilled designers, we understand the tools and have the expertise to create a site that functions well, represents your property in it’s best light and converts lookers to bookers!

The flexible WordPress platform allows a team approach with each party performing the needed tasks to build a successful site. From strong content about a given property and it’s many recreational assets to top notch attention-getting design, the build can be performed well with an all-hands-on-deck approach. Or you can just leave most of it to us. The choice is yours.

Custom features like simple forms for users to fill out like Concierge requests and special requests help ease guest management. A few simple forms that allow property staff to publish blogs, specials and reviews can also work well to ease the time constraints that hoteliers all face. Why fight a system when you can just fill out a targeted form for this type of repeatable entry?

The CMS allows users to connect social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to their website to increase engagement with potential guests. Many other integrated services help ease the steps in publishing fresh content consistently and is limited only by the imagination. With WordPress, even the smallest of businesses can create websites that can compare to multi-billion dollar organizations. Wordpress connectivity

But Why?

To put it in simple terms, WordPress is the key to our success at Social Energizer, LLC. The WordPress open-source platform allows us to build beautifully designed websites that can be affordably hosted and managed. WordPress sites are assets to business owners and live on in perpetuity supporting their businesses. Instead of recreating the wheel every few years, WordPress sites can be simply redesigned, updated and the foundation built upon, strengthening the site as years go by. In contrast, other website builders often become obsolete and are not ‘Real’ (as in real estate) investments. The value of your WordPress site can be factored into the value of your property upon sale (really). You ‘own’ it.

Now the technical stuff. WordPress is a huge success because it is optimized for SEO or search engine optimization. This means that WordPress helps you make your website easier to be found by search engines like Google, an absolute necessity when constructing and maintaining a successful website. In our blog, Google Mobile, Goodbye Desktop – Hello Mobile Ranking, we discuss the importance of businesses being found on mobile optimized websites or websites that your customers can use on their cell phones or tablets. WordPress is making our lives easier and creates responsive websites that work on desktop computers, smartphones, and everything in between. Another win for WordPress!

Fun for the Hotelier

Clearly, WordPress is beneficial and something that every business should be utilizing for the websites. For hoteliers, reaching Wordpress graphpotential guests and being able to integrate social media onto your websites is an absolute must. WordPress can do this for you, and so much more. Property Management Systems can be integrated into WordPress that allow for consumers to book stays at your hotels and lodges right on your website, just the way it should be. The tourism industry is booming and to stay in the game and to be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, websites are necessary, and WordPress is key. If you have questions about WordPress or would like to convert your hotel or lodging website to a WordPress site, contact us at Social Energizer, LLC., we would love to help!

Five Reasons to Create a Strong Lodging Website

Your Website your world1. Online Channel Conversion

 

2. Reduce Risk of 3rd Party Channels

 

3. A Strong ‘Virtual’ Presence

 

 4. Controlled Marketing Environment

 

5. A Measurable Financial Asset

 

Over 80% of travel is now booked online, with 51.8% booked on mobile devices. These statistics are rising daily. It is vital that lodging owners understand the structure they need for successful online marketing. That online structure is your website.

Online Channel Conversion

Online bookings begin with your potential visitor starting an online search for where they want to go or stay. Your business’s online presence might include digital media channels like TripAdvisor, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Expedia, FlipKey, and Instagram. If setup correctly, all channels will move the online visitor to your website where they might learn more about your property and then ultimately book a room.

Reduce Risk of Dependence on 3rd Party Marketing Channels

It is important to understand that while Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, and Expedia might bring you valuable bookings, they do not necessarily have your best interest in mind. In fact, the opposite is true. Quite simply, when a guest books on your website you make the most money. All of those channels want a piece of that, and they are all getting better at figuring out how to get a piece of the pie. Your pie.

Resist the urge to let them do all the marketing for you. You need to fight for the control, not relinquish it. No matter what changes with social media channels or OTAs, if your strategy is to have a strong website and bring everyone to that website from all channels consistently, you limit your dependence and minimize the risk.

Create a Strong ‘Virtual’ Presence

Your website is the virtual representation of your property. It needs the same thought, care, and attention that your physical property receives. Your goal is to get that same delighted response from your website as you receive when someone walks in your door. You also want your newly arriving guests to feel that they have already become acquainted with your lodge or hotel online and that what they’ve gleaned from your website matches their physical impression and experience.awesome hotel experience

A Safe Place to Experiment with Marketing

You’ve seen offers like, “Get your free review widget from TripAdvisor” when working online. This trend is growing with all 3rd party channels employing a strategy to outfox lodging owners by convincing them to embed links to their websites. I’ve seen many lodging owners use these widgets, with the good intention of being proactive in their marketing. But little do they know, that once those links are clicked by a web visitor, the forwarding website takes the opportunity to market directly to that web visitor. They often do that by cross marketing to your competitors. Why do that? Keep them at your secure basecamp.

If you employ the strategy of keeping your web visitors on your site, then instead of sending them to unsafe places where they might get lost, you can test new ways of attracting and securing their attention and creating a personal connection. Evolve the web customer experience, right on your website. Then hone your messaging to convince these visitors that, in fact, your place IS the best place to stay.

A Measurable Financial Asset

While having a presence on the 3rd party channels is important, you do not own these profiles. A well-developed website has a measurable value that can be included in your property’s list of financial assets when selling or assessing the value of your lodging business. You own it. Creating a marketing presence online is a time-consuming, expensive investment. Why not invest in something you own? For this reason, alone, it makes sense to put 80-90% of your online efforts and money into your website. Don’t skimp here. Pay yourself first.

At each step of the relationship with your hotel and potential visitors, your website must strategically provide the information they desire, offer an opportunity for you to engage with them and finally persuade them to stay at your property. Then come back on future travels. Yes, a strong website should also engage post-stay guests, but that’s for a different blog, different day.

Updated from the original post published: Sept 12, 2015

 

Google Mobile, Goodbye Desktop – Hello Mobile Ranking

As hoteliers, how often do you seriously consider the path guests take to find your hotel online?  Is it an easy path for them? One that quickly allows them to find what they need and ultimately book their stay? Does it differ depending on which devices they prefer?

Well if you haven’t considered this process, now is the time to do so. This month Google announced that they are changing how Google Search will function. Quite simply, in the world of ’Just Google it’, preference will soon be given to the mobile experience over the desktop one.

So what does this mean?  Right now Google ranks websites based on how your websites look on desktop and laptop computers, and then they rank your mobile websites.  As more users begin using mobile devices over traditional desktops to do online searches, the major search engine is now going to make mobile websites its primary focus for ranking.

Google G

For hoteliers big and small, why should we care? Well an article by eMarketer shows that over 52% of hotel reservations are being made on mobile websites in the year 2016, up nearly 44% just from this time last year! That means over half of your guests are booking their stays in your hotels on their phones and tablets instead of on a desktop or laptop computer. The simplicity and accessibility that mobile booking provides to travelers will only make these numbers increase faster and faster. So what should we do?

Here are a few helpful hints to be sure your mobile website is the best that it can be. How visually appealing and user friendly is your site when viewed on a smartphone? The easier it is to navigate for your guests, the higher you will rank! Hoteliers need to ensure that your mobile sites are free of broken links or unwieldy images that don’t properly translate from the desktop to mobile. The next thing to do is to make sure that your mobile and desktop pages are as similar as possible. Social Energizer uses only responsive design so that our mobile and desktop sites are the same by default. We “turn off” or substitute any images that do not display well on your mobile site to help keep your rating high and user experience at it’s optimum.

With Google switching the way that webpages are ranked, mobile websites need to be as similar to the desktop sites as possible to keep your rank high. Remember that Google likes links! Your desktop website should have links between your pages and links outside of your website to build credibility, and the same principle must occur on the mobile website!

At the end of the day the most important take away from the announcement made by Google is that hotel guests are using mobile devices to view and book at your hotels, they aren’t using computers like they were five or six years ago. Mobile websites are the new desktop websites, make sure your mobile website is navigable and easy to use, you never know, you might see an increase of heads in beds!

Information in this post was obtained by eMarketer, a credible ecommerce resource.

New Website at Social Energizer!

We’ve been working hard to update our website and it’s finally finished -and Live! Announcing a new website at Social Energizer!

For the past few weeks, we’ve worked on describing who we are and what we do a little better. Content has been significantly revised. Our complex list of services have been simplified to make our descriptions more clear. We’ve gone into a great deal more detail on the types of clients we work for and the type of result one might expect when working with us.

Responsive design lets visitors view our website on any device. Once again, this site was built using the WordPress platform, on open-source platform, that offers a stable, portable, timeless CMS. We stand behind our recommendations and continue to recommend WordPress to all our clients.

So… take a peak, poke around and let us know if we got it right. We hope so. We’d love to hear your comments.

New Website at Social Energizer

DNS Changer Malware Alert

You may not know this, but while you were surfing the net you may have downloaded a piece of malware called DNS Changer. If so, then tomorrow you may not be able to log onto the Internet.

Here is an article from KVUE.com that explains why and how this happened quite well. Basically, there are some hackers that figured out a way to hijack those browsing the Internet. This malware changes the DNS settings in the infected computer. The FBI created some temporary servers to allow users time to safely remove the malware. As KVUE says, “time runs out on Monday, July 9. (There isn’t a planned attack this Monday that will shut down the Internet; those whose computers are already infected will lose the Band-Aid the FBI put on the problem more than a year ago.)”

How can you detect if your computer has been violated and infected with DNS Changer?

DCWG.org has an easy and effective way to see if your computer is infected with the DNS Changer virus. Simply go to the DCWG site and click on the link per the instructions.

An industry wide team has developed easy “are you infected” web sites.  They are a quick way to determine if you are infected with DNS Changer. Each site is designed for any normal computer user to browse to a link, follow the instructions, and see if they might be infected. Each site has instructions in their local languages on the next steps to clean up possible infections.

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!

Interest in Pinterest

Are women leading the growth of the next big Internet thing? The answer is an enthusiastic ‘yes’.  Pinterest is catching on fast among women. And why not? Haven’t women always been the ones to cut recipes out of magazines, save pictures for wedding planning, and pass on their favorite sayings? Internet sensations all have one thing in common. They take advantage of long-standing habits and interests of things that people do offline and find a way to automate it online -in a very appealing, often addictive way. With a good setup and a lot of luck, it turns viral. Facebook used this simple formula, now Pinterest has, too.Pinterest Pinning Image

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is self-described as a virtual pin-up board. While surfing the Internet, users can ‘pin’ images that catch their attention and save them to their personal boards. It’s a great way of keeping track of the flooding impressions made every time one searches the net. How many times, while looking for something specific, do you come across an image or an idea that answers a different question you were wondering about? Pinterest makes it easy to keep track; just ‘pin it’ for later examination.Kissing Couple on framed wall

By virtue of its design, Pinterest piggybacks on Facebook. You need to have, and be logged in, to a Facebook account, then you enter Pinterest. Joining this way brings along all your Facebook friends, who see that you’re on Pinterest, and then of course they join, too. This social networking engine creates opportunities for sharing at a more intimate level than Facebook, which tends to be a bit more broadcasting-like. Pinterest is like inviting someone into your home. See the difference?

Is Pinterest Only for Women?

Will Pinterest interest men? So far, men have been slow at adapting, but I think that’s because the current content appeals mostly to women. To see my point, search on Pinterest for ‘fish’ or ‘trophy deer’. You’ll see that it’s not exactly ‘Man land’. Maybe that’s ok. But as men begin to use Pinterest, if they do, and ‘pin’ their interests, we’ll see more pics of trophy deer, monster fish and skimpy bikinis. Pinterest has lots of potential of becoming a classic man’s bragging wall, complete with pics of themselves with their latest kill or catch.

Pinterest for Travel

Watch for travel to become a hot topic on Pinterest. The largest buying demographic for travel is women. Imagery and social networking aspects have proven to be the strongest driver of travel purchases. It all adds up to a new powerful promotion tool for hotels and leisure-focused businesses. I’ve started pinning images from travel sites I’ve created, Posada Yum Kin and RelaxWisconsin.com on my board (full-disclosure). They are getting attention thanks to Pinterest.

Invitation Only

Like Google+, Pinterest new users need to be ‘invited’.  So, how do you get an invitiation? Leave a comment on this post and I will send you an invite. For a great ‘How to’ on signing up for Pinterest, check out Megan Tietz’ blog on Sorta Crunchy.

Pinner Beware

I’m not sure anyone really cares, but it’s good to know that Pinterest has been receiving a little heat for “non-transparent advertising methods”- gasp. Hey, everyone needs to make money, but it’s becoming more and more important that users know when ‘their content’ is being commercialized. How does that happen? After a user pins an image, Pinterest tags the images with links to marketing affiliates like eBay, Amazon and so on. If someone clicks on the image (which now in effect has become an ‘ad’), then they will be sent to the linking site. Pinterest makes money when people click and/or buy product. Read more on that at LLSocial.com.

This has been Social Energizer’s Saturday Morning Post, a less business oriented, more personally related edition than our blog that is offered during the week. Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you. Are you venturing into online marketing? Give us a call!

A Tour- The Backend of the Internet

SwitchboardPlaced in non-descript buildings, evolved from early communication companies- these are the physical things that make up the Internet. Here is a fascinating look at the backend of the Internet.
 

This video by Ben Mendelsohn, a documentary filmaker, starts out in New York and expands across the globe to take you on a tour that shows you what makes up the Internet.
 

After watching this video mystic words like “cyber-space” will lose some of their mystique and concepts that seemed awesome, will now be almost ordinary. Enjoy!
 
Infrastructure

This has been Social Energizer’s Saturday Morning Post, a less business oriented, more personally related edition than our blog that is offered during the week. Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you. Are you venturing into online marketing? Give us a call!

StringHub –Where Educators, Students and Startups Meet

Article first published as StringHub –Where Educators, Students and Startups Meet on Technorati.

As a guest writer, Technorati published my first article last week, which is shown below. I found it a great compliment to be asked to write for Tehnorati. After all, Technorati, the very first search engine for blogs, is considered the gold standard, with an index of more than one million blogs. Let me know what you think…

I always get excited about finding cool new ways to help small and medium-sized businesses solve one of their greatest challenges – lack of resources. Introducing… StringHub.StringHub graphic

StringHub is attempting to tackle this resource challenge by linking instructors and professors with businesses via student projects. In fact, this equation promises to help everyone including our sagging economy. Businesses will receive valuable help they need from inspiring artists and professionals and students will receive the opportunity to take part in ‘real-life’ business situations.

I recently met Adam Hoeksema, co-founder of StringHub, online and found his passion and insights to be inspiring. Adam’s innovative thinking promises to drive educational institutions everywhere to adapting Internet technologies to create a more meaningful, far-reaching impact, while introducing their students to the art of entrepreneurship. The concept was Adam’s brainchild, but taking it online required a team effort. Adam is the business, marketing and finance guy in this partnership. The Internet technology, namely their website StringHub.com, was created by his brother and co-founder, Brandon, who is actually still in high school. A self-taught programmer, Brandon has done a remarkable job with the website. It’s a simple, clean interface that allows educators to submit class projects to be matched with businesses in need.

I asked Adam about the background and details surrounding StringHub.com and here’s what he had to say:

Adam, how and why did the idea of StringHub.com occur to you?
“I graduated from Taylor University in May of 2010 with a degree in accounting. In June, I started as Client Services Manager at the Flagship Enterprise Center, a business incubator in Anderson, Indiana. As I worked with our clients at the Flagship Enterprise Center, I realized that startup companies need a lot of help. They need help with graphic and web design, social media, video production, public relations, web application development, and the list could go on. There are college students working on class projects in all of these areas, but typically the projects have no real world application. The projects simply go to waste; they are just for practice. We thought if we could unlock the real world value of student class projects we could create a win-win situation for both businesses and students.”

What is StringHub’s mission?
“I want StringHub to fundamentally change the way that college and university class projects work. I believe that the best way for students to learn something is to try and fail in the real world. You can’t do that through case studies, or projects for imaginary businesses. So first and foremost we want to help improve the educational experience for students. At the same time, we want to help small businesses flourish, add jobs, and create wealth. Those are lofty goals, but we believe it is possible.”

What type of projects would StringHub.com participate in?
“Currently there are millions of student class projects in areas like:
▪ Marketing
▪ Public Relations
▪ Business Management
▪ Graphic Design
▪ Web Development
▪ Social Media
▪ Finance
And many more subjects

Typically these projects just go to waste. They are ‘practice.’ http://stringhub.com is attempting to create a platform that unlocks the real world value of these student class projects in order to help support entrepreneurs.

Many of these class projects could be free to the entrepreneur. We believe that a focused approach can really accelerate a startup. Imagine an army of students all supporting an innovative, world changing startup company.”

What do students gain from this?
By connecting student projects with real world applications students are gaining:
▪ Real world experience
▪ A professional portfolio of completed work
▪ Relationships with a network of potential employers

For example, Adam refers to an integrated marketing plan created for HeatMax, Inc. at the University of Arizona. Four University of Arizona students helped to create a new product line called Toastie Toes that helps women keep their feet warm in cold weather. Their professor, Hope Jensen Schau matches student teams with companies to work on projects like packaging, distribution, advertising and public relations. The four students in question have earned local fame and have also been contracted to continue their work with HeatMax, Inc.

Overall, the University of Arizona example is the same model that StringHub.com will employ. It is a web-based platform that allows tech schools, colleges and universities to unlock the real world value of student class projects, by connecting student projects with opportunities, and managing the entire project through an online workroom.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

5 Cool Sites To Help You Get Close To Your Inner Planet

It’s sunrise on a Saturday. Get your coffee, sit on your deck and watch the sun come up. Too cold? No deck? Here you go…


First Light by *SoberDreamer on deviantART

2- Looking out over the vast sunrise leads one to consider the stars. Here’s the picture of the day from NASA. Cool new pictures from the solar system and galaxies near you, everyday.

3- From our friends at Stumbleupon, we bring you an interactive image of the earth. What’s so cool about that? Check it out! Moving around it is addictive.

4- Time to get your geek on? I found this cool little CSS3 modeled solar system, clearly an example where web design is going.

5- For the designers in all of us, this is breathtaking. The Wishes Greenhouse. It takes a bit to load, but sit back and doodle with it a bit. Let me know what you think of it.

Clair-et-net interactive

Click on The Wishes Greenhouse link above

This has been Social Energizer’s Saturday Morning Post, a less business oriented, more personally related edition than our blog that is offered during the week. Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you. Are you venturing into online marketing? Give us a call!