In continuing our Social Media Tips for Independent Hoteliers series, we’ve reached the step that operators are always most curious about – Haven't seen any _likes_ in a while_why their fans silent don’t “like” and comment on their social media pages?  We’d love to give you a quick and easy answer, but as we’ve discussed previously, social media growth takes time and effort, so the same applies to building relationships and developing ongoing dialogues.

The motto, “if you build it, they will come,” may have worked in the movies, but this is not the strategy independent hoteliers should follow when building their social media communities. 

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The following article first appeared on Linkedin on April 8th, 2015. We wanted to share the following post, because we felt that client Sherry Beck got “it.” She captures the reason so many of us chose to work in the hospitality industry. Whether it is because you were born into it, fell into it, or simply enjoy the business like Beck does, we can all agree it is a great space to be in, and Beck’s anecdotes prove that nonetheless. Enjoy the following post, and share why you are in the industry below in the comments!

One year ago, I made the move from full service, franchised GM to limited service, non franchised owner. The idea of becoming a property owner in an industry that I love and have thrived in for 20+ years was intriguing. Being my own boss and creating my own reality were certainly something I had thought about over the past few years. So when all the signs pointed to making the move and the stars aligned, my husband and I took the leap. We sold our home, quit our jobs and liquidated as many of our assets as possible, so we could live out our American Dream, purchasing the Bavarian Inn in Custer, SD.

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In many communities, independent hotels serve as “the spoon that stirs the pot” in regards to local business and social activities.  Their restaurants and bars provide an intimate and relaxed environment for meetings and functions.  And Communityamenities, such as lobbies, courtyards and pools, are great for blending guests and members of the community for fun gatherings.  For independent hoteliers, not only is this activity great for driving incremental revenue, it creates a welcoming atmosphere for guests and locals, and ultimately helps drive their business forward.

Here are a few ideas for maximizing your independent hotel’s public space and making it a focal point of your community:

Individual Workspaces
With the rise in the number of people working from home and as independent contractors, many individuals are in need of workspace that allows for meetings, as well as opportunities to simply interact with other professionals.  Independent hotels can help fill this need by renting out their conference rooms and other spaces.  By including access to reliable Wi-Fi, telephones, a photocopier/scanner and snacks, hoteliers can provide a comfortable and collaborate workspace for individuals who prefer to work in busy environments or simply want to get out of their homes.

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For many independent hotel operators, the warm weather and longer days of spring signal the beginning of their annual busy season.  Starting in April during spring break, but kicking into high gear after Memorial Day in late May, tourists INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERStake to the roads and airways to enjoy some much needed fun in the sun.  This year, independent hoteliers will notice a growing number of international tourists who have traveled great distances to explore the great sights and attractions the United States has to offer.

During the first two months of 2015, 30.1 million international air passengers traveled to the U.S., a 6% year-over-year increase.  Air traffic from Europe was up 2%, Asia increased 4%, the Middle East rose 22% and air arrivals from China were up 60%.  As the numbers show, the U.S. is more popular than ever with foreign travelers, so independent hoteliers should view this as a great opportunity to capture new business, increase bookings and generate greater revenue.

Hosting international guests can present challenges for hotel operators, but here are a few tips for making the experience as smooth as possible:

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Independent hotel employeesAs traveler preferences evolve, the tides are changing in the hotel industry’s “sea of sameness.” Across all segments, guests are looking for more than a cookie-cutter lodging experience. They understand that nightly room rates dictate hotels’ level of luxury, but travelers greatly appreciate when operators go above and beyond to ensure their experience is memorable.

Delivering a memorable guest experience does not need to be expensive for independent hoteliers. Many times, displaying a little extra effort is all that is needed to leave a great impression with guests. Here are a few simple ways your hotel employees can enhance the guest experience at your hotel:

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Over the course of a day, hoteliers make hundreds of decisions that impact the flow of operations, team member performance and the guest experience.  With years of experience, as well as established policies and procedures, to lean upon, DATA(1)many decisions can be made without much debate or contemplation.  However, as new consumer behavior trends begin to alter guest expectations, independent hotel managers will need to take a closer look at “the way things have always been done” and gauge whether or not their property is currently set up for long-term, sustainable success.  In doing this, operators should look to gather and analyze useful data and then apply their findings toward the important decisions that will affect their hotel’s future.

Deciding which functional areas, from front desk and back office operations to guestroom renovations, to focus upon is obviously the first hurdle in the process of preparing for the future.  But once specific areas have been identified and their potential return on investment have been discussed, hoteliers should acquire reliable and useful data to back up their ideas.  Here are few places operators can look to find the high-quality data they need:

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In a recent blog post, we outlined a few of the reasons why more travelers are “going local” and opting for “staycations,” vacations that are within easy driving distance of their homes.  Google search data shows that this is more than a passingSTAY IN TOWN trend among travelers.  The popularity of staycations is increasing annually, so their momentum stands to greatly benefit the bottom line of even more independent hotel operators this summer.

To help hoteliers capture the attention of these locally-curious travelers, as well their valuable reservations and revenue dollars, here are a few tips for capitalizing on the staycation trend:

Hyper-localize your marketing plan
One difference between staycationers and those coming from further distances is, due to their locality, staycationers are more likely to know where to look to find “locals only” insight and information.  For example, instead of relying on Starbucks for morning coffee, staycationers may follow a neighborhood food blogger who recommends the best local coffee shops.  It’s with these hyper-local outlets, like blogs, tourism groups and event planners, that independent hoteliers should look to develop relationships and promote their property.

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“Going local” is one of the hottest concepts influencing consumer spending habits.  More and more people are showing interest in eating locally-sourced foods, supporting neighborhood businesses and, STAYCATIONto the benefit of independent hoteliers, spending their travel dollars close to home, otherwise known as taking “staycations.”  And the great news for independent hotel operators is this trend is growing annually.  According to Google Trends, online searches for “staycation” annually in July and were up 10% in 2014, so operators have lots to look forward to as the summer travel months approach.

Taking a closer look at the staycation trend, here are 3 reasons why travelers are opting to vacation closer to home:

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Managing an independent hotel is a challenging, but rewarding endeavor.  Operators get into the hotel business for various reasons – they come from a family of hoteliers, are passionate about delivering hospitality or simply thrive in its fastIncrease Occupancy pace.  But regardless of what brought operators into the industry, a key to career longevity is learning how to successfully manage a hotel’s most important performance metrics: Occupancy Rate, Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR).  A hotel can look great from the outside, but if it’s not performing at a high level, it’s unlikely it or its operator will survive over the long-term.

Let’s look at these three performance metrics in greater detail:

1)    Occupancy Rate
Achieving the “perfect” occupancy rate is like balancing on a circus tightrope.  If occupancy is too high, rates may be too low, so the property is unable to maximize its revenue because it has no inventory to sell.  And on the other hand, if occupancy is too low, rates may be too high for the market or perhaps travelers are failing to see the value in booking with that hotel.  Occupancy rate is impacted by numerous factors, so it’s critical that operators thoroughly understand the conditions that generally affect their property.  To do this, hoteliers can:

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