The Answer: How TripAdvisor Rankings Are Calculated

Given the popularity of TripAdvisor and the impact of hotel reviews on ADR and RevPar, hoteliers and guests want to know the answer to one pressing question: How are TripAdvisor Rankings calculated?

TripAdvisor RankingsTake New York City, for example. A recent ranking of hotels by TripAdvisor found the Best Western Herald Square to be among the top hotels in Manhattan.

No disrespect to the Best Western, but many travelers may be asking just how this limited service property is ranked higher in New York City than the Trump International, Four Seasons New York, and – of course – The Ritz-Carlton, New York Central Park. (There's also a pretty good chance that hotel owners and managers are asking the same thing!)

The answer, according to TripAdvisor, is that hotel rankings are determined by the following:

TripAdvisory Hotel Ranking Criteria

  • Number of Reviews per Hotel
  • Recency of TripAdvisor Reviews
  • Rating given to Hotel by Reviewers

TripAdvisor takes these three core elements – quantity, quality, and recency – and runs them through their proprietary algorithm to determine the rankings for hotels in each city.

The more highly rated reviews a hotel receives in a short-period, the higher their ranking will be on TripAdvisor.

It's worth noting that TripAdvisor rankings are updated for each city are updated approximately once per week, to incorporate new reviews and ratings.

So, there you have it… the "secret" to how TripAdvisor calculates rankings for every city.

Source: TripAdvsor Help Center

How to Convert Social Media Followers to Buyers

Since the rocket-like launches of Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest years ago, organizations have been asking the million dollar question in regards to social media, "How can we convert fans into buyers?"

Social MediaCountless books, seminars, blogs have been devoted to the topic of social media ROI, but (sadly) most seem to miss the most obvious point.

While I don't proclaim to have all of the answers, the answer to the question of converting social media followers to customers seems a rather obvious one:  The same way you converted your existing customers.  

From my perspective, there's too much status placed on 'fans' and 'fan counts' by most social media "experts". The people who "like" your brand are essentially giving your company a virtual high five. Click to Tweet They appreciate something you've done or a perception you've created about your products. They may or may not be your current customers. And – unless you work to convert your followers into buyer – they may or may not be your future customers.

In a traditional sense, your Facebook fans and Twitter followers are the digital equivalent of window shoppers. Click to Tweet Some of them know your brand well, they enjoy your products  and actively share their experiences with their friends.

But some  of your fans – a large majority – are standing on the sidewalk.  They like your window display, but it hasn't compelled them to open the door and try your brand. And this is where your business acumen and experience – more so than your social networking skills – come into play.

Social media is a tool for increasing your sales, not the solution. Click to Tweet

So ask yourself and your team: What do you do as a brand that brings potential customers in off the sidewalk?

If you can answer that question, then you can convert social media followers into buyers.

How To Make Press Releases "Twitter Friendly"

PRNewser had an interesting read this week on the importance of making your press releases Twitter friendly. Why should you tailor a press release to be easily distributed via Twitter, you ask? Simple. Twitter drives more traffic to press releases than any other top-level social media resource.

So, how do you make your press release "twitter friendly"? PRNewser has some obvious steps as well as some a-ha steps that can greatly impact how your release gets distributed via social networks.  

“It starts with the headline,” says Sarah Skerik, PRNewswire’s VP of social media. “The press releases that got the most shares and views were those that had headlines that were in the range of 120 characters, which makes them the perfect tweetable link.”

twitter logoObviously good headlines are important, but it's equally important to monitor the length of the headline. Since Twitter users will want to retweet your post and (potentially) add comments, you need to leave enogh characters to support the "RT @[yourusername]" device, at a minimum. A good rule of thumb would be to limit the length of your tweet to 110-120 characters maximum. 

Using twitter best practices is also important in making your press release twitter friendly and ensuring that you are hitting your core audience. One obvious device is through the use of appropriate hashtags. Hashtags make your content easy to find through twitter search, lists, and dedicated industry feeds. 

Another great tip is to make your pullquotes tweet-able. 

Why not make the quote more interesting and substantive? “If I knew my audience was active on Twitter, I would make sure that quote is tweet-able, and include the brand’s or person’s Twitter handle….”

Including a twitter handle within your press release (or within the pullquote itself) is a really clever idea that could pay off in many ways. Not only will it get your important themes noticed and retweeted, but it could help to gain followers for your internal twitter accounts, further enhancing your brand's credibility in the marketplace. 

For more ways to make your press releases twitter friendly, check out the rest at PRNewser.

The Unparalleled Importance of a Crisis Management Plan

As the stories of the Casa Monica Hotel firing an employee for wearing a US flag pin began to break this weekend, I was struck by just how unprepared the hotel and Kessler Collection were for the public relations firestorm which erupted in response to the media coverage. 

(DISCLOSURE: I once worked in Sales & Marketing for the Kessler Collection and, as I said on Twitter this weekend, it was troubling to see former colleagues in such a position.) 

Instead of arguing the merits of uniform policy versus patriotism versus two-year history of wearing the pin, it's important for hoteliers (and businesses in general) to take note of how this incident escalated from a policy decision to an immeasurable public relations incident.

Buoyed by (literally) tens of thousands of tweets, facebook posts, and hotel reviews through social media channels, the story grew from a local Jacksonville story on Thursday into a top five feature on nearly every broadcast and cable news channel in just two days time.

As this groundswell grew against the Casa Monica Hotel's decision, the Kessler Collection was notably silent on the issue. Neither the hotel nor the company responded to requests for comment by the local and national media. Neither the company nor the hotel made any posts to their official websites or social media pages to address the questions. In fact, the only tangible response the company seemed to undertake was to attempt to delete a number of strongly worded posts and comments from the hotel's Facebook page.

The Casa Monica Hotel finds itself at the center of a textbook public relations crisis – albeit one that it should have reasonably anticipated and managed – that threatens to damage its brand. The lack of preparedness and response beg the question: Does the hotel or company have a crisis management plan? 

Crisis management is not and never should be an extemporaneous endeavor. It involves forethought, resources, planning and practice. There are thousands of books, blogs, degree programs, etc to pull from but to briefly summarize, there are three active stages in a crisis – all of which need management:

  1. Before all hell breaks loose
  2. All hell breaks loose
  3. After the crisis

Before all hell breaks loose is the "simple" phase, although it is the one that requires the most work. The "voice" of the company must to be defined. Rules around when different members of the organization will be made available to the media must be written. Responses to reasonably anticipated situations (accidents, acts of God, etc) should be drafted. The channels by which the responses will be routed should be tested. And – most importantly – the entire act of responding to a crisis must be simulated and practiced by the entire organization. 

Once all hell breaks loose, which is where the Casa Monica currently finds itself, the work investing in stage one will begin to bear fruit. The most critical elements are the seemingly contradictory goals of speed and calm. Timely statements and media responses must be effectively managed to turn (and eventually tame) the crisis. 

After the crisis, there are two parallel, urgent paths – reputation management and response review. The company must review the root cause of the crisis and how it was responded to by the public relations team. Efforts must be undertaken to repair the brand's image both internally and externally. 

 

For those of us who are not involved in the Casa Monica / Flag Pin debate, it's important that use this opportunity to learn the unparalleled importance of having an effective crisis management plan. The inability to deliver timely statements and respond to requests for comment can do immeasurable harm to your business.

We will all have crises to face. The key is to remember the old Boy Scout motto: "Be Prepared."

 

 

Study: 61% of smartphone users would book travel on mobile devices

A new Mojiva study being reported by EyeforTravel reveals that 61% of smartphone users would be comforable booking travel on their iPhone or Android.

 

Purchasing_travel_on_mobile

The study, which was based on responses from almost 200 mobile users on the Mojiva network, shows that while 64% of users would be comfortable spending up to $500 dollars via their phones for travel, nearly forty percent of smartphone users would be comfortable booking travel in excess of $500. 

 

Source: Eyefortravel

 

 

5 words that generate the most likes on Facebook

In this era of social media, many companies are looking to increase guest and fan engagement on their Facebook pages. According to a new study from Buddy Media, increasing the number of "likes" your posts and updates receive may be easier than you thought.

After evaluating posts and status updates, the report found these five keywords that generate the most likes for posts on Facebook:

  1. Like
  2. Take
  3. Submit
  4. Watch
  5. Post

The success of these key words indicates that messages with "soft engagement" can be an extremely successful strategy in social media. 

Study: Facebook "Likes" mean less than you think

FastCompany details a new social media analysis by Dan Zarella that has some surprising results. Contrary to popular thought, Facebook likes do not mean that more people will read your posts. In fact, posts that are viewed more tend to get fewer likes.

Zarella's study looked at the correlation between impressions per post (essentially the number of page views a post gets) and feedback per post (a tacit measure of how interested the public is in the post material, measured in comments and "likes"). Using Facebook Insights data, which is only accessible to page admins, he looked at 12 months of data and found merely a "weak negative correlation." In other words, the posts that get slightly more views actually have fewer likes and comments.

This study, if it pans out in broader review, knocks a sizeable whole in the social engagement metrics that many companies are using. It will be interesting to see if this report reflects a blip or an actual trend.

Luxury brands are big fans of Facebook, other social media sites

High-end brands have woken up awakened to the power of social media because of some compelling statistics. "Households earning over $100,000 a year are on the Internet 23 hours a week and on Facebook six hours a week," said Bernie Brennan, co-author with Lori Schafer of "Branded: How Retailers Engage Consumers with Social Media and Mobility." And 80 percent of households with annual incomes of more than $240,000 use social networking, primarily Facebook, said Brennan. Luxury brands now realize "there's a new way to communicate and if retailers or brands are not engaging in social media, they're missing an enormous market opportunity," he said.

Some of the world's most exclusive names are quickly becoming the world's most engaging brands. Why? It's simple really. Facebook is the social media home to millions of affluents.

These statistics are the sirens song to luxury brands:

– Households earning more than $100,000 spend 6+ hours per week on Facebook

– 80% of households earning more than $240,000 use social media, primarily Facebook

Luxury brands are realizing the intrinsic value of having both affluents and aspirational customers interact with their brand and products at a time and place of their choosing.

So it's little wonder that BMW, Gucci, Chanel, Ritz-Carlton and Louis Vuitton have jumped headfirst into social media, particularly through Facebook.

Burberry has used direct engagement – such as asking Facebook users to submit photos and videos of themselves carrying the signature raincoats and handbags – to boost "likes" to more than 6 million.

One facet of social media metrics that is vastly underappreciated, however, is influence. When a user "likes" a brand, they broaden the degree of influence for that brand.

Even if the user themselves is aspirational and cannot yet afford the brand, generally users will have another 10-20 Facebook users within their network that can afford the brand. By "likeing" the brand, they are spreading the luxury brands influence directly to all of the users within their network. When that "like" shows up on their wall or stream, it serves as a call to action for other users to engage with the brand.

For example, if I "like" a new car from BMW, it will post to my wall. It will be seen by my entire network and the peer influence fundamental will prompt my friends to "like" that BMW and engage with the brand. If the average Facebook user has 130 friends, then Burberry's 6 million fans potentially influence tens of millions of Facebook users.

Luxury brands, with historically smaller traditional footprints and touch points, are finding a home on social media. And with 83% of affluents now making purchases online, Facebook and social websites have truly become the new showcase for the world's premiere brands.