Hotel Industry Blog

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Facebook Insights for your Website

Bookassist's Paul Ferry shows how new features in Facebook's Insights tools can be used to monitor your website's performance.

Facebook Insights has been available for some time now, its main function being to record the performance of your Facebook Fan Page. But in early March Facebook released "Insights for your Website" which is an interesting development in their use of the Insights tools.

Insights for your website monitors the performance of your hotel’s website popularity in Facebook. It also monitors the performance of the Facebook plugins installed on your hotel website. Some plugins you may have already installed include the "Like" button and the "Like" box for example.

Here is a simple guide to how you can start monitoring your hotel’s popularity on Facebook and the performance of your hotel website’s Facebook Plugins.

1. Visit this URL: http://www.facebook.com/insights

2. Click on the green button on the top-right of the page:


3. In the pop up, enter the URL of your hotel's website and in the drop down select your hotel's Facebook Page.


4. Copy the <meta property="fb:page_id" content="xxxxxxxxxx" /> code and paste it between the <head></head> tags of your hotel’s website homepage

5. Return to Facebook and click "Get Insights" in the pop-up. Insights For Your Website is now active.

After a day or so you will begin to receive data from your website in Facebook Insights, here is an example of what it looks like, see image below.


Facebook Insights contains a number of graphs and metrics. To find out what they represent simply scroll over the graphs or click the “?”.

If you have any comments on this blog entry please leave a comment below.

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Paul Ferry is Senior Social Media Strategist at Bookassist (bookassist.org), the technology and online strategy partner for hotels.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Facebook Fan Page Upgrade – Latest Changes

Bookassist's Paul Ferry outlines the latest changes to your hotel's Facebook Fan Page after recent Facebook upgrades, and shows how you can take advantage of them.

Since March 10th, 2011 Facebook has globally upgraded how you can use your Fan Page. In this article we detail some of the changes that are important to your hotel and also other changes to note.

Use Facebook as The Hotel
The biggest change in the recent Facebook upgrade is that you can now interact with fans as your hotel’s Fan Page rather than as your personal login. To do this simply go to "Account" in the top right-hand corner of your screen, click on "Use Facebook as Page" and select the relevant Page in the pop up.

 

The advantages of using Facebook as a Page are that you can interact with the hotel's fans and leave comments on other pages as the "hotel" rather than as yourself. Other features include the ability to respond to fan reviews as the "hotel" and also the ability to tag the hotel itself in photos, events and videos.

Notifications
Another great feature is that you can get notifications sent to you when a fan interacts with your hotel's fan page. You can edit notification settings by going to "Edit Page" and selecting notifications from the left hand menu.

 

These recent changes to Facebook Pages represent a step in the right direction to help optimise your ability to interact with your fans.

Fan Page Display Changes
The old Fan Page layout displayed tabs along the top but these have now migrated to the left hand column under the profile picture, see image below.




The effect of this change is yet to be seen as quite a lot of hotels had set up customised tabs which have now taken a less prominent postion on the page, so conversion on these customised pages may be affected. Yet another new feature is that your recent images are displayed just above the wall similar to a personal profile page, see image below. This gives the page a much more inviting feel. You can alter the images by hovering over them and using the checkbox to delete, and another image will be selected from your existing photo albums. (You can also turn off the image strip completely in wall settings.)






Exit Static FBML Pages - enter iFrames
For developers and app users perhaps the most significant change to note since the 10th March upgrade is that Facebook no longer supports the ability to create Static FBML Pages (customised pages) which many service providers had built for enhancing Facebook Pages. Instead it has placed emphasis on embedding external web pages into Facebook using iFrames. This new approach is very flexible and is another move to make Facebook the one-stop shop for all interaction with your customers. Watch this space for some exciting Bookassist announcements relating to Facebook services shortly!

If you have any comments on this blog entry please leave a comment below.

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Paul Ferry is Senior Social Media Strategist at Bookassist (bookassist.org), the technology and online strategy partner for hotels.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

New Google Analytics in Beta

Bookassist's Pasquale Mellone shows how you can try out the new beta of Google Analytics and what improvements it brings


New Look
On March 17, 2011 Google gave people at the Google Analytics User Conference in San Francisco the opportunity to take a look at the new version of Google Analytics. As stated in the official post (http://analytics.blogspot.com/2011/03/looking-towards-future-of-google.html), the main goal of this new version, which is still in beta, is 'to make it easier and faster to get to the data you want'.


Those who want to try out the new Analytics can enter their details on the beta sign-up page. A link to this page is included in the official post published on the Google Analytics blog.

Two important changes of this upgrade are in the main navigation and naming of reports. The main navigation has been changed and it has now the look and feel of the Google navigation bar. Names for reports have been changed too by making them more intuitive (for example, 'Top Content' is now called 'Pages').

Multiple Dashboards
However, probably the most important change concerns the dashboard. The new version of Google analytics allows users to create multiple dashboards showing different sets of graphs.

As noted by Search Engine Land (http://searchengineland.com/google-analytics-v5-unveils-a-new-user-experience-68685), 'this is a much wanted feature, especially for large organizations, where employees have very different needs from the tool. Now dashboards can be set by hierarchy, department, interest or any other rule'.

From what we've seen so far it seems the new Google Analytics delivers an improved user experience together with a more immediate and intuitive interface.

It's probably still too early to see whether all the suggestions and requests received by Google have been applied to the new version. Having said that, it seems that Google has once again taken a step further in improving usability for one of its products.

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Pasquale Mellone is Search Engine Marketer in the Online Marketing Division of Bookassist (bookassist.org), the technology and online strategy partner for hotels.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Facebook Places – What does your hotel need to do?

Bookassist's Paul Ferry discusses Facebook's move into location

Facebook Places has been live in certain countries since late last year, and in Ireland since the start of February 2011. But what exactly is it, and what do you need to do?

Facebook Places uses GPS (satellite location services) so that people can "Check In" on their mobile phones to their current location, letting friends know where they are and what they're up to. It functions similar to Foursquare.

When people use Facebook on mobile to check into their location, they quite often find that there is no "official" Place on Facebook for where they are. They can therefore choose to add a new Place to Facebook's current list of Places. As a result, a lot of hotel Place pages are appearing on Facebook that were not set up by the hotel in the first place, but by some customer at the location who was first to check in, as the image below shows:



So as a service provider at your location, what you need to do first is check if your hotel is already set up as a Place in facebook, and if so you can claim it. If not, you can set it up from scratch. Search for your hotel name in Facebook Search Box or use you mobile phone when you are in the hotel to “Check In” - if your hotel appears on the list, then it has already been added, see the image from iPhone below.




So the next questions you might ask are: How do I take control of this Facebook Places page that represents my business? Or if I don’t have a Facebook Places page, how do I set one up?


How do I take control of this page?

Most of the time you will find that the hotel's information has already been entered on the Facebook Places page, so what you need to do is claim this page. To do this, go to the hotels Facebook Places page and click on “This is your business?” link, see image below.



After you tick the box and agree the terms and conditions you may be prompted with a “Call Me Now” screen, see image below.



If the Places page does not have a phone number already added, you will be prompted with a form that you fill out to add official documentation in order to claim the Places page.

The automated call back will present you with a 4-digit verification number. After you have entered the 4-digit number from Facebook, you will be prompted to merge your current Fan page with your Places Page, see image below.



Facebook will then email you to notify you that they are merging your Facebook Fan page and your Facebook Places page. When the migration is complete, visit your Fan page and click on the “Info” button under the profile picture and you will see that your hotels details have been updated with a map and directions.


I don’t have a Facebook Places page, how do I set one up?

If your Place does not currently exist on Facebook, you will need to add it through your mobile device by clicking on the Places icon in the Facebook App. Tap “Check In” in the top right of your screen, then search for your hotel name. If it’s not there tap on “Find or Add a Place”



Once this is done your hotel will now be available for people to “Check In”. Once you have added the hotel go through the previous section of this blog to claim your Places page and merge with your existing fan page.


The Benefits

The services are slowly rolling out in all countries, but at the moment the real benefits are only in the United States where you can create Facebook Deals for people that “Check In” to your hotel. For more info on this please visit http://www.facebook.com/places

Our advice is to get this set up now, so when Facebook do roll it out in your country, your hotel is already set up to go on Facebook Places. One addition that we have noticed is that when you hover over your hotel name in either the “News Feed” or your “Wall”, a snapshot of your page is generated with directions and info about your friends that “Like” this page, see image below.



If you have any comments on this blog entry please leave a comment below.

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Paul Ferry is Senior Social Media Strategist at Bookassist (bookassist.org), the technology and online strategy partner for hotels.

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