Tech Savvy Innkeeper
I read a post the other day about your online score, or Klout.

"Klout is a measure of one’s online influence measured by Twitter and Facebook interaction. Some companies (like Starbucks or Virgin America) have begun to use Klout to determine who should or shouldn’t be getting special perks at their establishment (like a room upgrade a hotel for instance). Today Disney has entered the fray with a deal combining Walt Disney Animation Studios next feature film Tangled with Klout to provide perks for those with the most influence."

So let's think about how this can apply to the hospitality industry. Can it become more reliable than TripAdvisor or Yelp? After all, Twitter and Facebook allow for you to interact one on one with your guests or potential guests, when the review sites are very controversial and not always fair. Perhaps this is another way to let your potential guests get a feel for your property by your online personality. I think this is more important of smaller inns and bed and breakfasts where there is more personal interaction between owner or innkeeper and guest. I think Social Media Klout could be a very good thing for the hospitality industry. It provides another level of customer service too.

So you decide you want to offer an online discount and broadcast it via Twitter and Facebook, rather than post it on your website for everyone; this should offer some insight into just how much interest you create from your Social Media followers and track your ROI. You decide to use a QR code embedded with the information. We could take this one step further and assume we (someone more tech savvy than myself) could integrate the QR code into the reservation system. 

A very interesting question just came up from one of my current aspiring innkeeper buyers on the subject: "I wonder what's the easiest way of tracking and logging responses?"...

We all want to know where our business comes from and what means of advertising is most successful. So let's think about this - you could obviously track them manually (which is not a bad idea, any tracking is better than no tracking). For the tech savvy traveler using a Smartphone, you could create the coupon with a QR code and track the downloads. You could provide the QR code at the time they mention the code to ensure it wasn't downloaded and just not used. Or ask them to email the code (image file) back to you to complete the reservation. Any way I consider it, there's some degree of manual tracking. 

Below are four codes generated with Zxing Project; two for Facebook, two for Twitter. The two left codes (Zxing) allow the scanner to capture the code as I've embedded as text. But Zxing doesn't provide tracking. does. So I've then taken the url from the codes below and shortened them in as shown in the two right codes. This would allow me to track the number of scan downloads. However, when I create the QR code in, the embedded text doesn't appear, so the user can't read anything, only the scanner can "read". On my end, I can "read" the embedded text through my account in, but that to me doesn't seem as user friendly as providing the code for the user.

If anyone can think of a way to completely automate this, I'm all ears! In the meantime, I'm going to think about how this could be accomplished...

It's been very interesting to watch as social media molds the way we all do business. What it undoubtedly has done has made the media much more accessible to us all. The information you provide for the media to peruse gives your property the exposure and possible chance to be noted for a review, write-up, story, etc. A static website just isn't enough anymore. Get your recipes, photos, sunrises, etc. out there! Blog, photo-blog, etc. You never know who is watching...
Quite frequently now I am seeing hotels, large and small, offering discounts "mention Twitter code #abc123". I've recently tweeted "anyone recommend a Boston area hotel/inn under $200?" and several area lodging establishments tweeted me directly with offers and discount codes not available on their websites. This enables the establishment to know exactly where their business is coming from. You can't ask for a more convenient and free method of advertising providing the capability of tracking your ROI. If you don't want to publicly offer discount rates on your website, this is a way to be selective when you see the demand pop up on your Twitter stream. Set up a column for relevant key phrases pertaining to your business and location and watch that stream for that opportunity. From Hootsuite (or your preferred Twitter client) post it to Twitter and Facebook. But I'd create one for Twitter and one for Facebook, enabling you track the ROI from each, separately.
I've just created this site as a tool for the hospitality industry to keep up with web marketing trends. So much of the marketing I do as a REALTOR can be applied to the way hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, restaurants and other recreational businesses perform their marketing too. We're both selling something - what I'm selling is just longer term! We both try to showcase the real estate or property but as important or even more important is the area surrounding the property. So over the past couple years, as I transitioned from Innkeeper to Lodging Broker, the time I've spent in online marketing research has been an invaluable learning tool that I wanted to share with those already in the hospitality business or those looking to get into it. Besides, it's easier to point someone to my website than to explain on a regular basis :)

I welcome comments and suggestions, since I fully believe in engaging, networking and building and maintaining relationships.