Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stolen Customer Data, Might as Well Have the Keys to the Hotel

A Hacker potentially captured the data of millions of guests of Best Western Hotels in EuropeWired covers this story out of Europe where a hacker installed a trojan virus that steals customer data on a Best Western hotel PMS system. Best Western claims that the only customer data lost was for the hotel only and effected only 10 people. Where as the Sunday Herald paper in Scotland is claiming that the hacker potentially stole the personal data of millions of people from the 1,300 plus Best Western hotels in Europe.

Regardless of the exact numbers of lost data, data security concerns have to be at the top of mind of hoteliers. We collect a lot of data when we book reservations. Some people would say that we ask for everything but the name of the guest's first born child. There have been efforts to minimize credit card access in these same reservation and PMS systems. It also goes to show why the IT guys keep a close watch on these systems.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Slowing Economy Got You Down? Use the Internet Dummy!

declining economyWhile many have already come to the conclusion, the economists aren't ready to admit it. We are in a recession. It may not be a "full blown" recession as economists define it, but to the average Joe it feels like things are getting worse not better. To that end, with gas prices going up and the cost of everyday necessities such as food increasing as well - the money left over for travel is way down.

The travel industry and hotels in specific are feeling the pinch. If you haven't been a part of the internet revolution in the travel space - you need to check into the 21st century and get a clue. If you have been, it's now time to reexamine your online strategy and make sure that you are covering the essentials. Lodging Interactive has a good starting point for that internet marketing reevaluation in this blog post.

They claim that. . .
Eighty-three percent of travel planning is booked online. This means that the internet has emerged as the premier distributor of hospitality. Since this is the case, it only makes sense that we work through the internet for the best possible ROI.
The keys to your success can be found in the following areas of your online strategy - website optimization, strategic linking, email and search marketing and web analytics and performance tracking. If you don't have plans in each of these areas, you should reevaluate your strategy. Much of what is covered in these areas are long term strategies for success, but supplemented by the email and search marketing you have powerful tools for filling in need times and building occupancy for terms you can't organically optimize for.

How do you move forward?

  1. Take a look at what has been successful thus far. Keep it or expand on it. If it isn't working and it is costing you ROI - then eliminate it.
  2. Use your hotel web site as an extra person selling 24 hours a day. Is the message consistent with how you sell your hotel in person? What can you learn from your site and change the process on property?
  3. What makes your hotel unique? Location? Facilities? Staffing? Make sure that the message is lound and clear.
  4. Goals are important for everything. Measure. Assess. Change. Constantly be looking for improvement.
  5. Get involved in online conversation. Word of mouth marketing is out there whether you are a part of it or not. Make sure that you know what is being said about your hotels on review sites. Search for your hotel on the search engines and see how you are being sold. Are the images correct? How about the information - when was the last time it was updated?

You may be surprised at what you find. You'll definitely be surprised at the impact that internet marketing can have to your bottom line.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

One of My Favorite Tools: Evernote

I realized today after reading a review on the Inquisitr about Evernote, that I had never told my readers about the great tool. In fact, I think it is so good that you should go out and download it now. I have been using the tool for 3 years now, since it was a stand alone desktop application, and love it even more now that it has the web component.

Evernote is easy to use and has a clean interface. You can split your notes into different notebooks (and even make the notebook public to share with others), tag them to make notes easier to find in the future, they have good editing capability (although there are some limitations).

Not only does the article tell you about Evernote, it makes some suggestions as to how to use it. Personally, it is my one place to keep all notes, article clippings, screen shots, etc. Everything is all in one, place. Not only that, but you can access your notebooks from any computer and keep them synchronized. They have an iPhone application and I understand that they are working for a Blackberry application as well. You can also keep up to date on Evernote by following them on Twitter.

I'd be interested in knowing what you think of Evernote once you download and use it for a while. Keep me informed.

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