Flip.to launches Operation Bark-away-from-the-trophies

Brian J. Kent

CEO & Co-founder
July 3, 2014

Duncan, a nearly two-year-old American Foxhound Beagle mix, has joined the team to diligently guard the awards Flip.to has won.

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Duncan came highly recommended by his housemate, Richard Dunbar, who also recently joined the Flip.to team. They’re both confident that working in the same office will not interfere with their home life.

An early 2014 hotel marketing compass for the social landscape

Kristi White

Vice President Global Sales Strategy
March 13, 2014

The ever-changing landscape of social networking means that sales and marketing efforts need to tweak their focus on a pretty regular basis to stay effective. So where should you focus your time and efforts? The infographic below provides a nice breakdown of the more popular sites and the sweet spot for each.

SM Infographic

  • Facebook is still leading the pack with 1 billion users. In a relatively young space, they are the granddaddy. What makes their user base interesting is that 50% of their users fall into the 35-64 year age bracket. For most hotels that is their demographic sweet spot.
  • Twitter has the next highest user base. The average Twitter user has 208 followers. This site has the best gender equality of all of the sites with a roughly 50/50 breakdown of male/female users. However, women tweet more frequently than men.
  • Google+ is adding a significant number of users on a daily basis. However, the stat that speaks the loudest is how much time their users actually spend on the site. The average G+ user only spends 3 minutes per month on the site. Compare that to the average 405 minutes per month a Facebook user spends and the value of the network is greatly diminished.
  • LinkedIn is still the largest business networking site out there. What makes their fan base so interesting is that they tend to be early adopters and over 60% of their members have high personal incomes and 79% are 35 or older. Members are represented in 200 different countries with Latin and South American countries realizing the largest growth in recent years. There is even one member who lists their profession as “Martini Whisperer” and no, it’s not me.
  • Pinterest seems to be catching everyone’s eye these days, or at least female eyes. 68% of their users are female. This site allows people to discover more about their passions and connect with others that share those passions. On the down side, the networks are somewhat skewed. The average user has 229 followers but only follows 20 people.
  • Instagram has become more and more powerful, especially now with the Facebook checkbook backing it. It is a great way for brands to create an image that connects with its followers where they control the content. It’s a mobile app with a distinct user demographic. Over 90% of its user base falls into the 18-34 category so if that isn’t your target demographic, this site may not be as powerful for you.

What’s the conclusion of all of this? The obvious one is you need to have a social presence. But if you are trying to decide where to allocate limited resources, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What is my target demographic?
  2. Does the average age of the user in the social network fit my target demographic?
  3. Can I deliver content that is appealing for that channel?

Each of these networks have specific audiences. Making sure that you are active in the ones that best fit your target demographic will provide you with a better presence and long term, a higher ROI on your efforts.

8 questions for the newest team member

Wendy Couch

Business Development Manager
November 12, 2013

I’m Wendy Couch, the newest member of the Flip.to team! I joined in September and was just recently unchained from my training desk by somehow correctly answering 8 entirely subjective questions.

Tell us one of your deepest, darkest secrets (or a fun family fact!)I am a second-generation sales person. My dad was a sales person and has sold everything from fruits to pharmaceutical supplies to cigars. So, the apple didn’t fall far from that tree. I got a few other traits from him as well but this is the one that helps pay the bills.

Was there anything that made you want to work in the travel industry?

When I was in high school, my parents had a friend that was a travel agent. She always told the best stories about places she traveled and her customer. So I grew up thinking that it was the coolest job ever and that it was what I wanted to do. My parents told me absolutely not. They said there was absolutely no way to make money in the travel industry. Of course, they didn’t propose an alternative, just anything but that.

And yet, here you are?

Exactly, what’s even funnier, I begged for the first job I had in hospitality. I applied for this small want ad in the paper. It was for a small internet company, long before people really knew what the internet was. I went into their office with no hotel experience and begged them to hire me. They did and a career was born.

What was it about Flip.to that you liked (other than the completely awesome people who work here)?

I only came to work here for the people. I worked with Ed & Debi in the past and this was an opportunity to put the band back together.

Well, Ed & Debi are pretty awesome (editors note, they paid me in chocolate and caffeine to say that), but what really drew you to Flip.to?

When Ed first walked me through the product, I really liked how natural it felt. It really does seem like an extension of the booking process and what people are already doing with social networking.

What else jumped out at you?

I like that it is something that will be benefit every hotel. It helps push their message to more people, it drives people to their website and, more importantly, it creates bookings. And it all starts at the point a guest makes a reservation.

So you have been calling hotels for a few weeks now, what kind of feedback are you getting?

Everything has been very positive. The hotels I have talked with can’t believe how simple it is. They really understand how this augments what they are already trying to do from a social networking perspective. They are really beginning to embrace the concept of social advocacy.

OK, we have time for one more question. Tell us something funny about your hospitality career?

Not really sure if this counts as hospitality, but, I once worked for my husband as a beer cart girl at the golf course. The only problem is I always got confused on the course; when I was supposed to be on the front nine I was on the back nine. He always got annoyed with me because I was never where I was supposed to be. My parents probably feel the same way about my career in the travel industry, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The first European team member!

Alfredo Moreno de la Santa

Senior Director of Sales, Europe
October 21, 2013

I recently joined the Flip.to team, and being based out of Madrid, I’m very excited to be the first European team member! With that said, here’s a little bit about my past (and future!)…

Tell us one of your favorite memories from childhood?

I grew up in a large family. I was one of 5 kids. Once we were a bit older my dad created a family tradition. Each weekend he would take one of us on a weekend trip. We traveled all over Spain and Portugal. Each weekend was a mini holiday alone with our parents in hotels both good and bad.

How did that influence you as a grown up?

It gave me a great love of hotels and travel. I knew then that I wanted to do something that let me travel and stay in amazing hotels.

So, is that what drew you to the hospitality industry?

Oddly, that is not how it started. In the 1980′s, I moved to the United States and got a job with the Tourist Office for Spain in Chicago. It was my job to represent Spain to cities in the midwest. It was while doing this that the hospitality bug bit me.

What was your favorite part of that job?

As the junior employee, I had to do the trade shows in smaller cities. I would hop into my old station wagon and drive to places like St. Louis, Minneapolis, and other cities in the midwest. I really enjoyed seeing the US by car.

And you got hooked and stayed in hospitality forever?

Not quite, when I moved back to Spain, I applied for a job with Hertz. Alas, it wasn’t the car rental divisions it was the heavy equipment rental division. I got the job and was the operations manager for a couple of years. But, ultimately, I missed the hospitality industry and I found my way back.

Where else have you worked in the hospitality business?

I worked at an OTA back before they were big. Ultimately, I moved onto EZ Yield and helped hotels better learn how to manage OTAs.

Alfredo, you’ve been around the industry for a while, and you’ve been on the ground floor of some interesting products. What was it about Flip.to that you liked (other than the completely awesome people who work here)?

Over the past 2 years, I’ve seen hotels do more and more on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. However, when I have asked them about it, there were two things that always seemed to be an issue for them.

What’s the first one?

The amount of time it takes to properly manage the social networks. For most hotels this takes hours per week. However, the Flip.to platform isn’t something that needs to be managed constantly. It’s designed so that hotels can turn it on and almost walk away. So, the hotel reaps the benefits of reaching more people via the social networks without having to invest a lot of man hours to do it.

And, the second thing?

The tracking, the platform tracks multiple different metrics for hotels. In the blink of an eye, a hotel can see how many people shared a message, how many social connections were reached and how many people visited their website as a result of their posts. Beyond that, they can tie that to room nights booked.

So, ease of use and tracking, was there anything else that made you excited about Flip.to?

I love that there wasn’t anything else out there like it. Most social networking depends on using another brand to market your brand. Flip.to uses your guests’ networks as a new marketing channel and points their friends over to your hotel’s website in a way that feels personal. So you get to broaden your reach but ultimately drive traffic to your own site. No one else is doing that. I really like being a trailblazer.

When being contagious is good

Kristi White

Vice President Global Sales Strategy
September 6, 2013

In the Flip.to family, I’m the reader. And I don’t simply mean that I know how to, I mean I read at least two books a week. Right now, I am reading a young adult book (with my son), an historical book about medics caught behind enemy lines in WWII and for fun, the most recent Jack Reacher novel.

So even though adding a fourth book into this schizophrenic mix seemed like a stretch, I couldn’t resist. The description for Contagious: Why Things Catch by Jonah Berger, happened to match up with a conversation about how ineffective advertising can be and that consumers usually just listen to their peers.  The book discusses why some things go viral regardless of how mundane they might be (blenders eating an iPhone) and other inherently cool things never catch fire. It suggests six basic ingredients for being contagious, whether for messages, products or ideas.

As I read it, I thought about how Flip.to naturally fits into each of these ingredients. I will save you a few bucks and share the principles (with the added bonus of how it fits with Flip.to).

Social Currency – People talk about things to make them look, cool, smart, rich, etc.

Let’s face it, your guests telling their friends they are staying at your hotel makes them look really cool, exceptionally smart and depending on your rate, perhaps even rich.

Triggers – These are the stimuli that make people talk about your product.

Flip.to creates top of mind awareness during your booking process and entices your guests to share into their social networks with a small incentive.

Emotion – People share something when they feel emotion so we have to craft messages that make people feel something.

As part of the Advocate process the hotel creates a branding message for the guest. We can help you kindle a fire that embraces this emotion.

Public – Letting people see when others are using your products.

Every time one of your guests becomes an Advocate, they publicly show their friends they are using your product.

Practical Value – Put simply, people like to help other people.

The Advocate includes an incentive for their family and friends. And, they exclusively get it because they are friends with your guest.

Stories – People like to share their stories. If we can make our products part of those stories, we can be viral.

Our post stay process can help your hotel capture and curate those stories in a way that you can use them to market your hotel.

Clearly, I only covered the highlights. So, you might still need to spend $18.99 (and I highly recommend that you do). However, whether you do or not, Flip.to can definitely help your hotel become a bit more contagious.

Home sweet home

Kristi White

Vice President Global Sales Strategy
August 16, 2013

One of our newest components is absolutely killing it for our customers. It helps convert those website visitors who are just browsing around on your website into guests- turning them from lookers into bookers.

The Flip.to homepage component drives more bookings and grows a hotel’s reach. Here’s how:

  • First, it uses a short, curated quote from a guest. Words that are timely, glance-able and straight from someone who just stayed at your hotel are really compelling.
  • Second, Flip.to pairs that quote with a new call-to-action for hotels. The homepage component drives folks to book now but if they’re not ready at that moment, rather than just wandering away, they can lock in the incentive in two clicks. Your hotel learns who that anonymous website visitor is and now has a placeholder in their inbox (the Flip.to certificate that is emailed to them).

Well, that’s swell but the numbers are what get me excited. Hotels that use this component get 300% more sign-ups across the platform. That’s 300% more email addresses and a 300% larger reach for your hotel.

Even more impressive, on average 10.5% of website visitors to your site who engage with the homepage component end up booking a room (6.5% click book now and 4% sign up for an incentive and come back to book later).

It’s incredibly simple to curate quotes and get the homepage component going (if you’re not already). Plus it’s currently included with your subscription at no extra cost! Get in touch if you’d like to learn more.

homepage-component

New profile images

Brian J. Kent

CEO & Co-founder
August 5, 2013

We’ve rolled out our very own profile silhouettes and kicking the stock profile images provided by the social networks to the curb. But first, an intro to the artist…

Doug is the latest to join the Flip.to team as our art director (having been part of the team for some time but in more of a designer-at-large role). He’s an artist, designer and mango-eater, who recently escaped from Zynga. We’re excited to have his considerable talent applied to Flip.to.

New Profile Silhouettes

Flip.to now uses its own set of profile silhouettes, which automatically take the place of each social network’s default image. You can also switch to using our silhouettes entirely (in place of using a guest’s custom profile image).

Here’s a look at a few of our profile silhouettes. Flip.to pairs a gender (if known, otherwise a random unisex silhouette is used) with a color for each guest.

Profile Silhouettes

It may be a small detail but it’s a detail that will make your Flip.to components more compelling and your advocates that much more effective.

Fresh insights from the Flip.to team

Brian J. Kent

CEO & Co-founder
August 1, 2013

Today is the launch of the new Flip.to blog. With lots happening, we thought it would be helpful to have a place to casually write about new stuff- so here goes.

There’ll be posts from me about shiny new features & the product roadmap; neat customer stories & hospitality thoughts from Kristi; and all sorts of randomness from the rest of the team.

(If not insightful, it’ll at least be interesting.)