5 tips to manage your online reputation on Trip Advisor

By: Emilio Piriz

It would be a dream job if you were the manager of a hotel or restaurant where day-to-operations always ran smoothly. How lovely would it be to walk around your business seeing everyone with big smiles on their faces? However, reality is far from this illusion and running these businesses comes with a price: dealing with unsatisfied and disappointed customers who didn’t receive the treatment they expected.
In that vein, TripAdvisor has gained huge popularity in the hospitality sector, serving as the main platform where users interact, exchanging both positive and negative reviews. Whether a hotelier or restaurant manager, these 5 tips will help you manage your TripAdvisor’s profile efficiently. Let’s jump right into them:

1. Numbers don’t lie

TripAdvisor recently announced the results of a study that underscores how essential online traveller reviews are in the research and booking process. After surveying 12,225 respondents from around the world, 67% of them check this site a few times a month and more than 80% say the site’s reviews help them feel more confident in their travel decisions while making them have a better trip . Therefore, our first advice is plain and simple: give TripAdvisor the credit it deserves; the numbers don’t lie!

2. Be attentive

Respond to ALL reviews, not only the negative ones. Just as you do with negative feedback, you need to take great care in crafting each response to ensure that you don’t come across as artificial; instead sound thoughtful and show a listening ear to your customers. In the study aforementioned, 87% of users agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review, “improves my impression of the hotel”.

3. Handle negative reviews 

First of all, thanking the customer for taking the time to write a review is always a great starting point. While an apology is customary when responding to negative experiences, managers usually leave out a couple important points when crafting their response: provide a specific plan of how the hotel will fix the problem and invite the customer to visit again. While you don’t want to make false promises that can’t be kept, explain a course of action that you truly intend on executing. And of course, always leave the doors of your business open so they can come back and check the improvements for themselves.

4. Earn your badges

How travellers use reviews poses another intriguing question for hoteliers and restaurant managers. When asked how TripAdvisor users view the reviews, a few key points came to the forefront: traveller-submitted photos and TripAdvisor awards have a large impact on a user’s attitude towards a venue. Contrary to that, extreme comments in reviews are generally ignored. Therefore, earn your badges for your online reputation and your customers will do the rest of the work.

5. Timely and professional responses towards reviewers

When browsing profiles on TripAdvisor, users usually focus on recent reviews (both positive and negative) to get the freshest perspective. In the study mentioned earlier, 80% of respondents read at least 6-12 reviews before making their decision; however, they stated that they are most interested in recent reviews that will give them the latest news about the venue.

All in all, TripAdvisor keeps on proving itself as the top platform for response management in the hospitality sector. And they are on the rise as they continuously grow releasing new features such as the Hotel Price Comparison function (Meta search). Responding to customer’s reviews not only shows the public that you are engaged and care, but also helps build loyalty among your more loyal clients and even builds bridges with those who may not have had a positive experience at your venue. For something that doesn’t take a lot of dedication, the return on your efforts is immense.


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5 tips to manage your online reputation on Tripadvisor

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Facebook redesigns business pages with new look

By: Emilio Piriz

Facebook redesigns business pages with new look

After redesigning its news feed personal accounts last week, Facebook announced that it will roll out a new look and feel for business pages. This affects the Online Reputation Management (ORM) service that we at City Pass provide to premium clients in the Travel and Hospitality sector in Vietnam; therefore we should take these changes into consideration to get the best out of the new features.

The remake means good news to all users of this platform. Even Facebook calls this new appearance a more ‘streamlined’ look. The new design includes two columns similar to the old version, but the right column is now the Page’s timeline while the left includes information about the brand or business (e.g., map, business hours, phone number and website URL). Previously, both left and right columns used to display posts as users would scroll down the page.


Facebook New
Two distinct columns in new design

This major rearrangement makes Facebook Business Pages look a lot more like a personal profile. In a post on the official Facebook for Business blog, the company explained, “We’ll begin rolling out a streamlined look for Pages on desktop that will make it easier for people to find the information they want and help Page admins find the tools they use most.”

The redesigned layout comes with several changes for City Pass's Social Media management services – part of our ORM package – as Page admins. Stats such as page likes, the number of ad campaigns, post reach impressions, and notifications will appear in a tool bar in the right column. Therefore, administrators now have this information readily available in one place without having to navigate through numerous menus.

The new appearance actually makes the desktop version look more like the mobile version. This offers a more unified experience for your visitors no matter what device they’re using to follow your feed. Additionally, the ‘face makeover’ comes less than a week after Facebook updated the look for news feeds. This is a fairly minor change that includes larger photos and new icons and fonts.

How do you like Facebook’s latest redesigns? Do you think they will achieve their primary goal in improving the user’s experience?



Posts run on both left and right side in old design

What is the Year of the Pig in Vietnam?

By: Angee the Diva

This is my second year in Saigon for Tet holiday. I love being in the city when it’s quieter and less chaotic. I ride leisurely through District 1 and try to feel the zen of its relative calm instead of annoyance when my favorite places are closed for a few days. No traffic, no queues, no incessant horn-blowing, no crowds. My narcissistic mind just enjoys being the first and only for a brief period in a city that is otherwise basically a hive. But, true to my expat ignorance, it only recently crossed my mind to try to understand what’s happening and why all of my neighbors go away for the biggest holiday in Vietnam.

year of the pigImage source: izwanshahmin.com

Enter the Year of the Pig. The origins of its story lie in the Chinese zodiac. Like eons ago, the Jade Emperor called for a race of 12 animals. The cunning, creative, and uniquely beautiful rat (by the way, apparently, I’m a rat) was first to finish. The other animals arrived at the palace one by one. Just when the Emperor is thinking the pig is never going to make it, in he strolls like whatevs.

Seems the pig got hungry and stopped for a big lunch and a casual nap for a few hours. No big deal. Seriously, it’s a pig, so the Jade Emperor shouldn’t have been that surprised. Honestly, I get it. I’d totally choose a pizza and Netflix binge over a stroll in the Ho Chi Minh City’s humidity any day.

year of the pigImage source: sapo.vn

Anyway, this is where you gotta throw out all those preconceived notions. Kudos for the positive spin on that “lazy pig” fake news, Vietnam. Don’t even think of fat shaming the pig, cause according to the Vietnamese zodiac, pigs are total bosses! A quick look at Vietnamese food proves they hold pigs in high regard. There are no losers here. Pigs like to have full bellies and pockets, so they do what it takes to get the paycheck. They are patient, tolerant and hard-working. It might take them a bit longer to get the job done, but they’ll be rewarded with all the dongs.

year of the pigImage source: sapo.vn

And since they like to eat with others, pigs are the coolest kids at the party. Legendary for a taste for the luxe life and a friendly attitude, people love to be around pigs. Add in optimism, good luck, generosity, and loyalty - sounds like it’s time to find a new bestie!

If you’re lucky enough to be born in the Year of the Pig, get ready to be living your best life in 2019. This year is a good time to start a new business or make important business moves. Try to secure a new bae or get to work on creating a little piglet of your own wink. Even if you’re not a pig, this is supposed to be a prosperous and productive year. Be like the pig - take your time and be aware of obstacles for optimal results.

Maybe you believe all this or maybe you don’t. Either way, remember to be respectful of our host country and its gracious people. It’s always a good year to learn something new about the people around you smile.

Best wishes for long life, health, and wealth to all in the Year of the Pig! Chúc Mừng Năm Mới 2019!

year of the pigImage source: kenh14cdn.com

If you’re staying in Saigon during the Tet Holiday, be sure to check out the Best of the Week: Special Tet Edition for some fun events.

Banner Image source: mspoweruser.com


The East Sea Dispute Cost Vietnam One Million Hotel Nights In Five Months

By: Mark Gwyther

I’ve been asked several times just how badly Vietnam’s hospitality business was affected by problems resulting from the East Sea dispute with China. From the investor’s point of view, it is much worse than most people realize.

Back in April (the anti-Chinese riots occurred mid-May) Vietnam’s inbound international arrivals were up 27% for the year, buoyed by a 47% increase in Chinese visitors. Danang resorts, built in anticipation of these new Chinese tourists, began filling up. The amount of direct flights from China to Hanoi, Danang, and Cam Ranh increased almost weekly. Peter Ryder, the CEO of Indochina Land said, “Right now we’re at an inflection point with supply and demand. But I see demand outstripping supply within the next 12 months.” 1

Vietnam hospitality was poised to have a huge year.

Bull

First Impressions

At first it did not look so bad; at least from an outsider’s perspective. When the tourism numbers were announced at the end of May the Vietnamese media reported the East Sea dispute was not having much of an impact since the number of Chinese arrivals was still up 30% for the month compared to the year before. People in the business handling the thousands of cancellations and seeing the empty rooms didn’t believe the numbers.

But those numbers included the first half of May in which Chinese arrivals were most likely up around 50%, meaning the second half of the month experienced a precipitous drop. Another factor leading to a lack of understanding of the impact was how VNAT reports statistics. Monthly international inbound statistics are released around the 25th of the month-meaning they estimate the final few days using data from the entire month.

China and Vietnam

The Actual Cost

As the summer wore on it became very apparent to everyone that the East Sea dispute had significant implications for tourism. Vietnam’s inbound growth rate began sinking like a ship taking on water; steadily dropping from 27% in April to 10% by the end of September. Still, most media didn’t recognize or didn’t report the real damage of opportunity costs.

China

In 2013, more than a quarter of all international visitors to Vietnam were Chinese. The Chinese market is bigger than the next three countries combined. Of course many of those visitors cross the northern border to trade, but that proportion has been decreasing. China’s burgeoning middle-class’s economic influence on Vietnam is hardly surprising as most countries throughout the world are experiencing large growth in the number of Chinese inbounds. China's government is also aware of the flow of outbound riches and it is well equipped and prepared to stop this flow to meet political objectives.

Chinese Arrivals to Vietnam

Chinese Tourists

What is important to understand and very few people have noticed, is that the growth rate in Chinese arrivals to Vietnam is not only growing, but the growth rate is growing as well. In calculus it’s called the second order derivative; in real life it is called accelerated growth.

When estimating how many tourists Vietnam lost, we must forecast the regular growth plus the additional amount from increasing growth rates. For the first four months of 2014, Chinese increased 48% from the previous year. This growth rate was accelerating at about 1.5% per month, which means if we had forecasted Chinese arrivals back in April, we’d have come up with this prediction.

 May 14June 14July 14Aug 14Sep 144 Month Total
2013 Chinese Visitors 148,606 129,577 173,257 190,358 169,682 811,480
Expected Growth (48%) 71,331 62,197 83,163 91,372 81,447 389,510
Accelerated Growth 2,330 3,887 7,796 11,421 12,726 38,160
Expected Total 222,267 195,661 264,217 293,151 263,856 1,200,990
Actual Total 194,018 136,726 123,442 135,170 148,895 738,251
Difference 28,249 58,925 140,775 157,981 114,961 462,739


That's over 450,000 visitors that should have arrived but didn’t. If the average stay is over 4 nights with double occupancy,we are discussing a million room nights lost in five months.Like rotting fruit, that inventory is lost forever. Developers and investors were anticipating growth in the Chinese outbound market and instead it suddenly shrunk dramatically.

China Back off

What’s Next?

This is not the first time the Chinese Government has used its outbound tourists as an economic weapon against another country. In May 2012, they advised travel agencies (many which are state-owned) to cancel tours to The Philippines because of protests at the Chinese embassy in Manila. They lifted the ban several months later and Chinese arrivals to The Philippines increased by 70% in 20132. That would seem to indicate the Chinese travelers will come back rapidly once relations begin to normalize.


1: http://thedevelopmentadvisor.com/news/vietnam-danang-resort-villa-condominium-market/
2: The Chinese government re-instated its travel warnings to The Philippines last month.


Google's New Update Affects All Hoteliers

By: City Pass Guide

Breaking news: Your online bookings may be at risk

Did you hear that explosion? Google just set off its Mobile nuke. Media's calling the new algorithm update "mobilegeddon."

Basically, if your site is not mobile-friendly, you can expect a significant drop in your search rank. And since 90% of search engine clicks occur on the first page (Chitika), that could spell disaster for many unprepared tourism stakeholders.

Starting today, if you're not toe-to-toe with the search giant's expectations, you just lost a large chunk of bookings.

Yeah it's grim, but Google moves faster than any of us. All we can do is adapt.

Let's take a look at all the warning signs that told us this was inevitable:

1) Last year, mobile bookings rose by over 36%. Almost 21% of booking, 17% of room nights and 15% of revenue came from tablets and mobile devices. 25% of all bookings and revenue came from non-desktop mediums. (HeBS Digital Research).

2) 40% of page views were generated from non-desktop devices in 2014. (Tnooz)

3) In 2014, desktop website bookings declined by 4.4%, while desktop visitors declined by over 13%. (Tnooz)

4) Smartphones saw a surge in purchases in Vietnam in 2014. According to The Giodidong, 52% of all phone users own and use a smartphone.

5) Check out the infographics below, straight from Google. They drive the final nail in the coffin:

How Google's New Update Will Affect Hoteliers

How Google's New Update Will Affect Hoteliers

The warning signs were there: Google told businesses to brace for impact back in February.

So how will this update affect your business?

"Businesses that depend on people finding them through localized search will suffer most. Most of us use Google search engine on our phones and tablets. Imagine what happen when typing "activities in Saigon" or "Italian food in Ho Chi Minh City?" The many non mobile friendly website that relate to these subjects will fall off the screen. It will result in a substantial traffic decrease for them and a loss of sales."
Patrick Gaveau, CEO of Innovo JSC says
"Google has always been about relevancy, and content is king," he says. "But that's changing. Yes, they're saying content is still extremely important, but user experience is just as important. It's not sufficient to have all the right content — if people come to your site and the content is there but it's not readable, that's not good."
Itai Sadan, CEO of Duda, adds

Tnooz concludes that:

"Investing in your property website to maximize revenue from the three screens (desktop, mobile, tablet) is paramount to the very existence of your property. Coupled with a robust, well-funded digital marketing strategy, this will allow you to improve your property’s bottom line and leave the comp set in the dust."


The Four Golf Major Championships

By: Simon Stanley

THE FOUR MAJORS

The golfing season is well under way and already our thoughts are heading towards the four major championships and the excitement and scintillating shot making from the best golfers in the world.
The masters The Four Golf Major Championships The first major of the year is the MASTERS.  Last year, the Australian Adam Scott won his first major after a sudden death playoff against Angel Cabrera, with a birdie on the 1oth hole.  It was magnificent viewing.  Each winner is presented with a coveted green jacket, handed over by the previous year’s winner.  It is also the custom of the winner to host a dinner for past winners two nights before the tournament starts and the host decided the menu, usually food popular in their own country.  Nick Faldo for instance, had fish and chips on the menu (but not eaten out of newspapers with salt and vinegar as it the way in the UK).  


Jack Nicklaus has won the Masters most times –  and Tiger Woods has 4 and will no doubt start favorite to win.  However, he has not won since 2005, so maybe he is due for a win.  The famous Amen Corner – nickname of the difficult water holes 11, 12 and 13, usually determine the winner.  Who ever plays these holes in the lowest score is well in with a chance.  The Master this year will be held from the 10th to the 13th of April.  Golfers in Vietnam will keenly watch this tournament in the early hours of the morning.
The US OPEN will be held this year at the magnificent Pinehurst Golf Resort in North Carolina from the 12th to the 15th of June.  Courses for this tournament are set up in such a way that scoring is very difficult with a premium placed on accurate driving. U.S. Open play is characterized by tight scoring at or around par by the leaders, with the winner usually emerging at around even par.  There are many criteria for qualifying and if a golfer is not on the “automatic qualifying” list, then there are pre-qualifying events held in different countries to gain entry. US Open golf championship


The field is 156 players and about half of the field is made up of players who are fully exempt from qualifying.  Justin Rose of England won this coveted trophy last year and will be trying to retain his title this year. This year is unique as both the men’s and ladies US Open will be held at this venue.
The most famous major tournament is no doubt THE OPEN.  It is never refereed to as The British Open, just “The Open”, such is its prestige.  It is always played on one of nine historic links golf courses in England and Scotland and presents a very different challenge to golfers who have only played on inland golf courses. This year, Royal Liverpool GC at Hoylake will be the host and it will held from the 17th to the 20th of July.  The Open features a four-hole playoff at the end of regulation, and continues into sudden-death if tied after four holes.


The current champion is Phil Mickelson, who won in 2013 at Muirfield in Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland.  The winner is presented with the Claret Jug, as the trophy is known and the leading amateur is awarded the Silver Medal. The first tournament was held at Prestwick Golf Club, Scotland in 1860.  To date, no Vietnamese golfer has qualified for this tournament.
The US PGA ChampionshipThe US PGA Championship is the only major where amateurs are not allowed to play, unless they have previously own a major tournament.  Also, 20 of the 156 spots are reserved for club professionals, determined by the top 20 of the Club Pro Championship held in June.  This year, the players will head to Valhalla GC, Louisville,  Kentucky and compete from the 7th to the 10th of August.  The Jack Nicklaus design has had a major overhaul and will certainly prove to be an immense test for all golfers, especially if they let the rough grow long.  Last years winner was Jason Duffner, who held off all challenges to win the tournament and the Wanamaker trophy.
We have a lot to look forward to this year, including a Ryder Cup late in September  For the keen golfers in Vietnam, this means lots of late nights so if you see red eyed, bleary looking people in Vietnam, then you can be assured they are golfers!

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