2017’s Top 5 Online Payment Systems

Online shopping is booming, of that there is no doubt. It’s reported that 87% of UK consumers have bought at least one product online in the past 12 months [1], with just over half of all online payments made on a mobile device [2]. With this being the case it’s becoming more vital than ever that hotels, venues and other hospitality businesses which sell products or services online, are using quality payment processing systems.

The following article outlines five of the best ranked online payment processing systems available today. For more advice on which platform offers the best features for your business speak to LeadDigital, contact us today.

Stripe

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As stated on their website, Stripe is very much a payment platform designed for developers. Their robust API allows for easy integrations with minimal code writing, whilst also supporting the latest ecommerce developments, such as social selling on Twitter. Stripe can accept 135+ currencies and all major credit & debit cards.

Pricing: 1.4% + 20p per transaction for European cards, 2.9% + 20p for non-EU cards for ‘pay as you go’. Enterprise edition also available upon request.

PayPal

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As the World’s #1 online payment processing service, we couldn’t exactly miss PayPal off this list – with 197 million active customer accounts, 15 million merchants and over 4.9 billion payments being processed yearly [3]! Its popularly is partially down to how long PayPal has been established, but also how friendly the platform is for its users. They offer a feature rich service that integrates with virtually all online shopping carts, working across all devices.

Pricing: From 3.4% + 20p to 1.9% + 20p per transaction when adding to an existing checkout. Fixed monthly charges when selling through PayPal, based on sales volume.

Amazon Pay

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In 2016 Amazon reported 310 million active customers worldwide [4]. Amazon Pay enables ecommerce businesses to utilise the information held on each Amazon customer, so as to conveniently and securely, speed up payment processing online. The experience for consumers is similar to buying on Amazon, helping maintain trust in transactional security. This is also beneficial to merchants, as a method to validate buyers and prevent fraudulent transactions.

Pricing: 3.4% + 20p to 1.4% + 20p for UK payment processing based on transaction volumes. An additional charge of up-to 1.5% can apply for payments issued outside of the UK.

Authorize.Net

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Authorize.Net have been in the online payments marketplace since 1996, and with over 440,000 merchant customers today, they are often considered the most widely adopted payment platform available. Advanced features like automated recurring billing and their fraud detection suite help Authorize.Net stand out, as does their award winning customer support.

Pricing: 2.49% + 15p per transaction with a monthly fee of £19, all additional services included free of charge.

WooCommerce

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If you’re a WordPress user then you should serious consider WooCommerce – as it’s an ecommerce platform designed specifically for WordPress. They power over 28% of all online stores [5] and have created a range of features that enable tight integration with WordPress, alongside over 300 free and paid extensions! Beyond this they offer secure and trusted payment gateways, and even support businesses with marketing through coupons and reviews.

Pricing: Free model with additional WooCommerce extensions available at varying costs depending on your businesses requirements.

What About Mobile Payments?

Whilst all of the above systems provide features for mobile payment processing, there are some companies who are simply experts on the subject. A few examples of these include SquareQuickBooks GoPayment from Intuit and Google’s own Google Wallet (popular for Android users).

If you’re still not certain which payment processing platform offers the best tools for your hospitality brand, then speak with an expert at LeadDigital. We have a long history of supporting businesses in their ecommerce activities, so know the best ways to get the most from services available!

 

Need Help Taking Payments On Your Website?

Contact Us Today

 

References

[1] https://www.gurufocus.com/news/492058/uk-online-shopping-and-ecommerce-statistics-for-2017
[2] https://www.gurufocus.com/news/492058/uk-online-shopping-and-ecommerce-statistics-for-2017
[3] http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/paypal-statistics/
[4] https://www.statista.com/statistics/476196/number-of-active-amazon-customer-accounts-quarter/
[5] https://woocommerce.com/

British Breweries To Follow On Twitter

Beer Brewing is one of Britains most established crafts, and is massively on the rise in 2017 – with over 1,700 breweries now in the UK! Great brewers have helped soldiers win wars, have created entire working communities and have inspired generations to keep developing new combinations and flavours.

With entrepreneurial microbreweries and craft beer venues popping up across the country, competition for more established breweries has never been higher! Below are five of our favourite brewing companies succeeding in 2017, that you need to be following on Twitter;

Wychwood – Hobgoblin
6,755 Tweets | 15.7k Followers

@Hobgoblin_beer

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“Afraid you might taste something?!”

Wychwood Brewery based in Oxfordshire are famous for fantasy myths and legends-style artwork, and their flagship ‘Hobgoblin’ beer which is the 3rd best selling bottled ale in the UK. Their Twitter account does well to continue this branding as-well-as promote events & causes they’re involved with.

Hall & Woodhouse – Badger Ales
3,488 Tweets | 8,758 Followers

@Badgerales

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“Award-winning beers brewed in the heart of Dorset since 1777 by an independent family brewer Hall & Woodhouse.”

With a long history, Hall & Woodhouse are one of the UK’s most established breweries, under the ‘Badger’ brand. Whilst known for superb flagship beers like ‘Tangle Foot’ and ‘Fursty Ferret’, they are also innovators and always ahead of trends in the industry. Stretching across the country, H&W have over 200 UK pub venues and a modern brewery in Blandford, Dorset.

St Austell Brewery
11.8k Tweets | 25.4k Followers

@StAustellBrew

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“Cornwall’s independent regional family brewer. We run 170 lovely pubs, brew award-winning beer and serve 3,000 free trade businesses”

St Austell dominate pub venues across the UK’s West Country, appearing in 179 hotels & inns. Flagship ales include ‘Proper Job’ a 4.5% India pale and the multi-award winning ‘Tribute’ a 4.2% pale ale. Their social media focuses on promoting real world goings-on with their ales and pubs.

Marston’s | 3,405 Tweets
5,706 Followers

@MarstonsBrewery

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“Proud Burton brewers creating great beers and experimenting with flavours”

Marston’s PLC has been running pub venues and brewing beer for well over 180 years, and own a huge portion of all pubs across the UK. They are behind many leading brands including ‘Marston’s’, ‘Ringwood Brewery’ and ‘Banks’s Beer’, producing over 60 of the top ales in the country today! They have various Twitter accounts but we’re highlighting the core Marston’s brewery page.

Brewhouse & Kitchen
991 Tweets | 1,283 Followers

@BrewhouseUK

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“Having dinner with friends, or learning how to brew beer on our legendary Brewery ‘Experience Days’, we want you to have a great experience.”

Breweries come in all shapes and sizes, from the commercial giants to small independents. Brewhouse & Kitchen have taken the microbrewery idea one step further by incorporating brewing into their actual venues. With 17 pubs across the country, the variety of brews is massive and always being refreshed! They also stock fantastic local beers from across the country, the perfect venue for any craft beer fan!

 


For more insights into the UK Hospitality industry & Digital Marketing Subscribe to the LeadDigital Blog or find us on Twitter @deluxevenues

 

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5 Best Survey & Feedback Platforms 2017

Customer feedback is a vital part of any business. With it a hotel can improve guest services, venues can create better events and sell more tickets, and restaurants can deliver the best tasting menus that keep tables full.

Historically it was difficult to collect and analyse this data, however with modern software and technologies, hospitality brands can now secure this information anytime, anywhere!

The following outlines five of the leading online survey and feedback software platforms, which in 2017 are helping businesses of all sizes satisfy their customers.

GetFeedback | getfeedback.com

Measure Customer Satisfaction In Real Time

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GetFeedback works with over 10,000 companies to gain actionable insights into their customers experiences. Whilst the platform offers some really excellent survey features, their core strength comes from a CRM integration with Salesforce. Feedback results are streamed directly into the CRM, enabling marketers and business professionals to spot trends and increase engagement opportunities instantly.

Pros: Perfect for Salesforce users. Easy to create beautiful drag-and-drop surveys.

Cons: Limited tech support. Designed to integrate only with Salesforce.

Price: Free for up to 20 survey responses per month. Paid plans start from $50/month (£39/mo), billed annually.

SurveyMonkey | surveymonkey.co.uk

Used By 99% Of The Fortune 500 [1]

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SurveyMonkey is the best known online survey software platform in 2017. With over 25 million global users to-date, SurveyMonkey provides features that benefit virtually all industries. As one example for hospitality, SurveyMonkey enables users to collect guest satisfaction data pre, post and during events. For more info, see ‘Why Are Venues Using Survey Software?’

Pros: Highly recommended, huge collection of features, various integrations

Cons: Some surveys can be more complex to create. Customisations only available on paid plans.

Price: Free basic package, limited to 10 questions per survey and 100 responses. Unlimited plan from £25/month billed annually.

SurveyGizmo | surveygizmo.com

Collaborate Across Multiple Survey Projects

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SurveyGizmo offers everything you could need in a survey software platform and more. Like its competitors, building and designing surveys is user friendly and you can collect any kind of data required. Reporting tools are more advanced, and third party integrations are available including social media and Google Analytics.

Pros: Various unique features including custom survey domains. Support resources and an active online community.

Cons: Short trial, one of the more expensive platforms, quite complex to use.

Price: Free for 3 active surveys limited to 100 responses. Basic plan available from $300 (£233) annually.

Survey Anyplace | surveyanyplace.com

Mobile Surveys That Adapt To Every Device

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If you’re looking to collect survey data using a mobile device, take a look at Survey Anyplace. It’s a chameleon – adapting to all devices and enabling you to make branded surveys and quizzes for any occasion. Results can even be collected off-line, so you’ll never be limited by a lack of internet access.

Pros: Mobile friendly, highly customisable, off line capabilities, cool mobile widgets

Cons: Some of the best features only available on the advanced plans. Limited reporting options.

Price: Free basic package, limited to 20 monthly responses. Paid plans from $29/monthly (£22.50/mo).

AskNicely | asknicely.com

One-Click Customer Feedback Integrations

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Ask Nicely has a targeted focus on improving ‘Net Promoter Score’ – the measure of how customers recommend products or services to others. NPS surveys help improve customer experience, and Ask Nicely is able to automate feedback collection, integrating smartly with platforms like Salesforce, Zendesk and Shopify.

Pros: Simple set-up, trusted by big brands, live reporting and real time insights.

Cons: No free plan, only a trial. Not as feature rich as alternatives.

Price: 14 day free trial. Start package from $49/monthly (£38/mo) paid annually.

Conclusion

Many of the survey platforms available offer capable design tools, but differ based on their specialisms – whether that be integrating with Salesforce, focusing on mobile or collaborating with other areas of the business. As with any software purchase it’s important to first consider your hospitality brands actual needs before deciding on only one tool.

LeadDigital are experts in software that benefits hospitality companies, with over 20 years experience and services ranging from digital marketing to customer relationship & experience management.

 

Would You Like to Discuss How Survey Software Can Help Your Business?

Contact Us Today

 

References

[1] https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/mp/customers/

Best UK Wedding Venues On Instagram 2017

Instagram is home to stunning photography and social networking through a photographic medium. To-date over 40 billion photos & videos have been shared on Instagram! [1]

Wedding venues have a unique ability to take advantage of Instagram due to the very nature of their businesses.

Everyday 1,000’s of weddings take place across the UK, resulting in millions of photos that wedding venues can harness. With each wedding comes a unique new take on the location, providing an endless supply of ever-changing photographic content for venues to publish.

Below you’ll find 10 of the top wedding venues to follow on Instagram in 2017!

Aynhoe Park
1,024 Posts | 11,300+ Followers

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“A private family home embodying British eccentricity, just one hour from London.”

Got to be honest, I was won over by the silver tray croc, and that was before I saw the other incredible photos from this curious English wedding venue.

@AynhoePark

Calcot Manor
677 Posts | 2,400+ Followers

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“Celebrated country house hotel with world-class spa, restaurant, pub and meeting rooms set in 220 acres of Cotswolds meadowland.”

Calcot Manor are very active on social media, with beautiful promotional and ‘behind the scenes’ published posts.

@Calcot_Manor

Limewood Hotel
1,304 Posts | 19,500+ Followers

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“5 star luxury country house hotel and spa in the New Forest.”

Limewood Hotel is a fantastic country escape wedding venue that loves to celebrate their incredible culinary expertise. Lots of mouth watering imagery used in their posts.

@LimewoodHotel

Hedsor House
642 Posts | 8,700+ Followers

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“Tatler & Vogue’s dream wedding venue, filming & corporate retreat location.”

Weddings at Hedsor House are magnificent. With spectacular spaces both indoors and out, it’s easy to understand why it’s a dream wedding venue for so many brides.

@Hedsor

Woods’ Silver Fleet
695 Posts | 880+ Followers

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“Luxe river cruisers Silver Sturgeon, Silver Barracuda & Silver Darling.”

Ultimate luxury British wedding venue, a private yacht charter on the River Thames, Laurent-Perrier champagne in hand!

@Woods_Silver_Fleet

St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel
1,505 Posts | 10,100+ Followers

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“Steeped in history, it’s one of London’s most romantic wedding venues.”

This hotel venue is an icon for London luxury. Instagram posts are elegant and artistic, but still with a sense of fun and excitement for this historic wedding venue.

@StPancrasRen

Hotel Café Royal
1,392 Posts | 23,700+ Followers

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“A British institution in the heart of London.”

Continuing the London luxury venue theme, Hotel Café Royal on Regent Street presents Instagram followers with images of high-end luxury, quality, fine food and British elegance.

@HotelCafeRoyal

Tunnels Beaches
72 Posts | 347+ Followers

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“A uniquely designed coastal wedding venue – accessed via a hand carved tunnel through the cliff”

Whilst not the most followed Instagram wedding venue, Tunnels Beaches makes our list simply due to its awe-inspiring location and photographic content.

@TunnelsBeaches

Great Fosters
602 Posts | 2,400+ Followers

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“A luxury hotel with 2 restaurants in a Grade One listed building set in 50 acres of stunning gardens.”

Hugely romanticised, this historic wedding venue gardens provide an idyllic backdrop for Brides & Grooms, even including a Japanese bridge.

@GreatFosters

Blenheim Palace
326 Posts | 35,400+ Followers

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“The Palace is surrounded by over 90 acres of Formal Gardens including the Water Terraces, Rose Garden and the Duke’s Italian Garden, which provide a romantic and charming backdrop for your special occasion.”

Who wouldn’t want to get married in a palace! Much of this wedding venue’s Instagram posts depict the stunning grounds upon which Blenheim Palace is found.

@BlenheimPalace

This is just a handful of the fantastic UK wedding venues using Instagram in 2017. For information on more locations take a look at Instagram accounts like:

TheWeddingVenueGroupRusticBarnWeddingWedding_VenuesUKWeddingVenues & ElegantWeddingVenues – or search #WeddingVenueon Instagram (618,000+ public posts, May 2017).


Does your Wedding venue use Instagram or other social media platforms to engage with potential Brides? If not, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to be seen by young Brides & Grooms who are making their wedding location decisions online!

LeadDigital support wedding venues and hospitality brands with their digital marketing, across social and paid channels. We can help you devise the perfect strategy and support its implementation for maximum results!

 

Need Help Increasing Your Wedding Venue Bookings?

Contact Us Today

 

References

[1] http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-networks/139-facts-and-stats-about-instagram-you-should-be-aware-2017-infographic

Top 5 Landing Page Software 2017

What is a landing page? Any page on a website is technically a landing page in the literal sense, as it’s a page visitors ‘land’ on when arriving at your venue or hotels website. However, more commonly the phrase ‘landing page’ correlates with standalone web pages used for online marketing and advertising.

Landing pages give hospitality marketers the ability to remove distractions and tightly control the message presented to the visitor. For example, a person looking to book a winter event is more likely to make an enquiry when shown a webpage only about winter events, rather than having to review your whole website.

In 2017, online software platforms enable us to quickly create fantastic, highly custom and bespoke landing pages – perfect for long term marketing aims, as-well-as limited run promotions, such as for a ticketed event or seasonal booking special offer. Below LeadDigital review five of the top landing page software tools available today:-

Pagewiz | pagewiz.com

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Pagewiz is a platform created for marketers and business owners who want to get landing pages built and live fast. The WYSIWYG style drag and drop software means you don’t need to be a web designer to create basic landing pages, and there’s even a collection of pre-designed templates available. You won’t win any awards for incredible web design using Pagewiz, but it’s great for quick production.

Pros: Drag & drop designing, integrations with popular software like Salesforce and MailChimp, quick for everyone to get ‘up and running’.

Cons: Template designs aren’t overly inspiring, limit on number of page visitors and domains, simplified builder compared to alternatives.

Cost: Free 30 day trial, then from $25 (£19) per month for the basic package when paying annually. Four plans available, structured on the number of page visitors and custom domains.

Lander | landerapp.com

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Along the same lines as Pagewiz, Lander is another drag & drop, non-technical landing page builder, ideal for beginners. The editor is modern and easy to use, you are able to create great pages fast and A/B testing features help you test up to three different versions of your landing page at any time. You can also integrate closely with Facebook, adding tabs to your new landing pages in just four steps. Other integrations are available, but most are premium features.

Pros: No technical knowledge required, superb collection of integrations with other tools, templates built by designers to achieve conversions, powerful analytics included. Well rounded.

Cons: Some integrations only available as premium features, technical support only available on ‘Pro Plus’ package, limits on custom domains.

Cost: 14 day free trial. Then from $16 (£12) per month for the basic package when paying annually. ‘Professional’ package required to use integrations and for more than 3 custom domains.

Instapage | instapage.com

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Instapage are ranked highly, not just because of the software but also the customer support they provide. Whilst offering a simple and easy to use landing page builder similar to other, Instapage also have a huge collection of resources available to help optimize landing page results. They are also one of the only companies to give unlimited pages, visitors and domains on a basic price plan.

Pros: One of the only companies offering unlimited pages, visitors and domains on their basic package. User friendly interface, high quality selection of conversion tested templates.

Cons: No A/B testing on basic package and limits on integrations.

Cost: 14 day free trial. Then from $29 (£22) per month for the basic package when paying annually.

Leadpages | Leadpages.net

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Leadpages takes landing page creation to the next level. Built specifically with conversions in mind, everything about this platform is focused on converting traffic into buyers. You have next level landing page design tools, all the integrations you could want and an incredible collection of templates – plus lead capture forms and subscriber tools, powerful analytics and AB Testing features. All of this and the basic package offers unlimited traffic, leads and responsive pages!

Pros: All of the above, plus a huge library of resources including guides, certifications, tutorials and an active community of users.

Cons: This is a more complex, feature-rich software platform so may be overkill for some companies. A/B testing and advanced integrations only available on ‘Pro’ and ‘Advanced’ plans.

Cost: 30 day money back guarantee. From $25 (£19) per month for the basic package when paying annually.

Unbounce | Unbounce.com

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Last but not least is Unbounce. As with Leadpages this is an advanced landing page development tool, and whilst you don’t need to be a qualified designer to use it, the features are more complex. Yes they have all the landing page building abilities you’d expect, but Unbounce’s true strengths lie in the testing and optimization of each page to achieve industry leading conversion results. This is the most expensive of the software tools we’ve reviewed, however its next level features help make the investment worthwhile.

Pros: Advanced features but still easily usable without a technical background. Powerful optimization and testing capacities. Always releasing new services, including ‘Unbounce Convertables’, targeted overlays for any web page.

Cons: An expensive investment and less integrations than some alternatives.

Cost: 30 free trial. Then from $79 (£61) per month for the basic ‘Essentials’ package when paying annually.

Conclusion

As with any new software purchase your primary concern should be ‘what do I actually need’, rather than simply buying from the industry leaders. The landing page software tools reviewed above are just a handful of whats available today, but all provide those core functionalities needed to create web pages that look good and convert sales.

If you’re still not sure which landing page software best fits your venue or hotels needs then have a chat with us anytime. LeadDigital have over 20 years experience in hospitality marketing and have designed hundreds of landing pages, so can advise on the best fit for your hospitality business.

 

Interested in Landing Page Software for Your Company?

Contact Us Today

 

Why are Venues Using Survey Software?

It’s 7am Monday morning. You wake up, grab a coffee and read an email from your senior events planner telling you how Saturday’s event at your venue was an incredible success.

At this point it would be very easy to think “job done” and go about the rest of your day. Instead you pause and ask yourself – how does my team actually know the event was successful?

In our experience, most venues get event feedback from just one source, the event organiser. Of course they’re going to give good feedback, it was their event, they planned it and unless something went dramatically wrong, it was always going to be how they wanted it. However, let’s say this was a corporate event for 300 people, what did the other 299 guests think of the experience?

For all you know, the food could have been cold for half the guests and one of your waitresses could have been incredibly rude – but if this isn’t being fed back, it won’t be corrected.

So what’s the solution? Our recommendation is the use of online survey software, and our preferred solution is SurveyMonkey. Below I’ll explain why, and how it can benefit your venue.

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Guest feedback is vitally important. It’s the key to understanding your target market, their wants, needs and expectations, and it can provide insights that shape future business and marketing plans.

Typically for venues there are three stages of event survey: Planning, Real-Time & Post Event

Stage 1 – Event Planning

Survey software helps decision making become quick and (reasonably) painless. Rather than lots of back and forth questioning over email or phone, you can obtain all the event information you need in a single form. This can be as simple or complex as required, from just confirming headcount to gathering info on dietary restrictions or individual requests.

Event planning surveys give you a head start on guest expectations. Used as a research tool, surveys provide insights that enable you to plan the perfect occasion. Collected data can also be saved for future sales and marketing efforts, such as finding out where they originally saw your venue.

Stage 2 – Real-Time Surveys

Also known as “mid-event” or “during-event” surveys, this stage is about two things, encouraging engagement and gaining immediate feedback. Here are a few examples:

  • An event includes a meal. Between the starter and main course, have servers use a tablet to conduct a short and sweet survey. This way, you can immediately make corrections there and then before the meal’s second half begins.
  • You’re running a corporate conference. Between speakers, ask attendees to quickly complete a live survey on their mobiles about the event so-far. This feedback can then be shared with upcoming speakers who can adapt their talk accordingly.
  • Guests want to access your free wifi during an event. When they try to connect ask them first to complete a poll including their email address. This way you’ll get live feedback and a possible future sales lead!

More often than not, venues only ever have contact details for the event planner. We 100% recommend obtaining contact details for all attendees whenever possible, and real-time surveys provide the perfect opportunity to collect this info.

Stage 3 – Post Event Surveys

Of all the stages, post event surveys are the most important to action. This is because, using a well considered email strategy you can reach event goers just a day or two after the occasion, and get fresh feedback on their overall experience.

If you only did one survey, we’d recommend this option, as information collected will encompass the entire event from start to finish. It is also the perfect opportunity to build a relationship with each event guest individually, which if incentivised, could lead to future bookings.

Why SurveyMonkey?

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SurveyMonkey report over 25+ million business customers worldwide, with 99% of the Fortune 500 using this survey platform and over 3 million survey responses collected every day [1]. Their mission states:

“We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get at the knowledge you need to make smart, informed choices” [2]

There are five dominant reasons we love SurveyMonkey:

  1. Ease of use. SurveyMonkey is a very accessible and user friendly platform. Whilst it can be made more complex, it’s not overly complicated to get up and running with a new survey. Their survey builder is logically laid out and offers many design features, although you need a paid plan to take advantage of all options available.
  2. Templates. They provide over 200 expertly written surveys covering pretty much every subject you could imagine. So whether time is limited or imagination is lacking, there’s probably a template available to help get you started.
  3. Tips & Advice. SurveyMonkey offer a massive amount of online support, with tips and best practices on everything from the dos and don’ts of question writing, to help analysing survey results and next best steps.
  4. Integrations. In this digital world it’s becoming vital that software can talk to other platforms, and SurveyMonkey does this brilliantly. For example: Integrate with MailChimp for your email marketing, Eventbrite to contact event attendees, SalesForce for enriched CRM data or select one of the many other integrations available.
  5. Reporting. SurveyMonkey provide advanced but understandable analytics data for every survey you create; meaning that not only can you share stunning surveys, you can also discover exactly how to use data gathered wisely.

Conclusion

So why are venues using survey software? It’s because they can collect vital information about their venue and organised events otherwise unavailable, that can assist in decision making across all areas of a hospitality business. It also enables greater greater levels of guest satisfaction, which can lead to retention, referrals and brand loyalty.

At LeadDigital we can help with all your venues survey requirements. Starting with an initial consultation to develop a strategy plan, we support survey designs, implementation, integrations with other platforms and results reporting.

 

Want to Speak to us About Survey Software?

Contact Us Today

 

References

[1] https://www.surveymonkey.com/mp/event-planning-surveys/?ut_source=header
[2] https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/mp/aboutus/

Top Hospitality News Resources 2017

It’s not hard in 2017 to find information online about the hospitality industry. In fact, with content blogging sites such as WordPress quoting 84.3 million new content posts each month [1], we’re now entering an age of information overload!

With this being the case, finding reliable resources online that can provide the latest news related to hotels, restaurants, events venues and hospitality in general, can be difficult.

To help, LeadDigital have complied a list of eight news and learning resources that hospitality professionals should be using in 2017. Let us know your thoughts on these and any other resources in the comments section below.

BigHospitality

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“BigHospitality is an on-line resource for those working in, and interested in, the hospitality industry.” [2]

A great ‘all rounder’ website for UK hospitality news, they feature sector specific news, expert advice articles, interviews and much more. Check the website regularly, or sign up to their free newsletter.

www.bighospitality.co.uk

Event Magazine

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“Event is the UK’s leading brand for the event industry, focusing on brand experiences and the channel of experiential.” [3]

Event is a fantastic website for brand marketers and event professionals. It does provide news articles, but also has a large knowledge data base to help inspire memorable events and experiences for venues.

www.eventmagazine.co.uk

Event Industry News

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“Event Industry News (EIN) is an online event magazine that provides the latest news to the events industry.” [4]

With 49,000 unique readers viewing 683,000 pages each month, it’s no surprise EIN is considered a leader in news for the event industry. With guest blogs, Podcasts and even TV video pages, this is a website you could easily spend many hours exploring!

www.eventindustrynews.com

Event Manager Blog

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EventMB has become the go-to online resource for Trends, Technology, Innovation and Education for the event industry.” [5]

Compared to the above websites, EventMB is a much simpler, easy to navigate resource specifically for trends and technology. A great site for hospitality professionals interested in the rise of AI, virtual reality, drone videos and similar technological changes in the industry.

www.eventmanagerblog.com

Hospitality Net

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It’s massive. As resources go, Hospitality Net is huge and if you can’t find the information you need here, good luck finding it anywhere else. However, keep in mind it’s a global resource, and although you can do some filtering, finding information purely for the UK market is difficult. Londoners, check out their ‘London Hot Spot’ page here.

www.hospitalitynet.org

The Hotel Marketing Association

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“The Hotel Marketing Association is the leading professional body for hotel marketers and advocates for best marketing practices within the hospitality sector.” [6]

If you are a hotel owner or marketer, you’ve probably come across the HMA in your travels. Whilst their news section is normally only about HMA specific stories, their blog pages are particularly good sources of information for those interested in hotel marketing best practices.

www.hotelmarketingassociation.com

HotelMarketing.Com

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Where Hospitality Net mentioned above can be somewhat overwhelming, HotelMarketing.com is the polar opposite. Simple, clean, easily digestible news articles designed for hoteliers and marketing professionals. If this sounds like you, join 45,000+ subscribers in receiving their daily news roundup.

hotelmarketing.com

The Caterer

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“We offer the most valuable content, the best jobs and the most sophisticated digital platform available to hotel, restaurant, foodservice and pub and bar operators across the country.” [7]

As you can probably guess from a name like ‘The Caterer’, whilst they discuss news from the whole hospitality industry, there is certainly a focus towards food and drink. This is most obvious when viewing the ‘Chef’ pages, with articles like “Best Chef of March 2017”, “Menuwatch” and “Chef Revelations”.

www.thecaterer.com


LeadDigital are a passionate team of digital marketing experts, specialising in best practices and marketing technologies for UK hotels, venues, restaurants and hospitality businesses. We help brands attract, convert and retain customers, looking to blur lines between the physical and digital worlds!

 

Ready to See What LeadDigital Can Do for You?

Contact Us Today

 

References

[1] https://wordpress.com/activity/
[2] http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/Info/About-us
[3] http://www.eventmagazine.co.uk/about-event
[4] https://www.eventindustrynews.com/event-magazine-event-management/
[5] http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/about-me
[6] http://www.hotelmarketingassociation.com/what-is-the-hma.html
[7] https://www.thecaterer.com/s/aboutus

Top 5 Marketing Automation Tools 2017

Marketing automation platforms are designed to manage and automate repetitive tasks for marketing professionals and organisations. As a hospitality business owner or marketing employee, we know that correctly structured marketing plans require forethought and a long term strategy. Much of this can be planned, scheduled and actioned using a marketing automation software tool.

Common capabilities include management of social media and scheduled posts, email marketing, digital adverts, lead generation tools and insightful analytical reporting systems.

Below are five of LeadDigital’s preferred marketing automation software platforms in 2017:

Pardot by Salesforce | Pardot.com

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Pardot is the popular B2B marketing platform brought to us from the huge CRM provider Salesforce. Pardot focuses on the lead generation side of marketing automation, and is structured towards creating more meaningful conversations with existing and new clients. Going beyond features, if you’re a Salesforce CRM user, this platform is ideal given its air-tight integration with the CRM.

Pro: All the features you could need. Tight integration with Salesforce.

Con: Doesn’t play well with others, few additional integrations. At the higher price end for a marketing automation platform (standard £800/mo).

ActiveCampaign | Activecampaign.com

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ActiveCampaign are a much more affordable marketing automation provider, perfect for small hotels or events venues. They may be less known than some other platforms, but it’s very hard to critique AC. They have a huge feature collection including the ability to create automated workflows and the various integration possibilities.

Pro: Cost effective, from around £15/mo for their basic package. Lots of features and a strong focus on email marketing.

Con: Some areas of the tool feel outdated, such as the email builder, when compared to alternatives available.

Act-On | Act-on.com

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Act-on believe their niche comes in the form of “outstanding experiences for customers“. Much of their marketing automation capabilities are around lead nurturing, and their support for clients is very highly rated. We would like to see some improvements to their reporting features, but otherwise this is a strong, easy to use contender.

Pro: Flexible platform, built for marketing teams not developers/engineers.

Con: Reporting is somewhat limited, some tools can be quite basic.

Marketo | uk.Marketo.com

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If you’re somewhere between the small hotel and enterprise-sized corporate events company, then Marketo could be the right tool for you. It’s not for the faint hearted, but is very intuitive and offers solutions that go much deeper than many of its competitors. We particularly like how current they are, regularly developing new services to match the digital landscape.

Pro: An industry leader, huge range of solutions, always updating services.

Con: In the higher price bracket, considered to have limited reporting & analytics abilities.

HubSpot | Hubspot.com/Marketing

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HubSpot is very features rich. It’s a platform that can do basically everything, and in our opinion, does it all to an incredibly high standard. Although they do offer HubSpot Marketing as a separate platform, when combined with their CRM and Sales tools this software becomes an all-in-one tool for complete business management.

Pro: Easy to use, designed for small businesses, lots of support and educational learning facilities available. Always trying to help clients get the most from the platform.

Con: Expensive compared to alternatives. Some features only available at additional costs, and often there are lower cost software options that provide the same functionality.

Conclusion

Whilst we only name five platforms here, there are various other tools available online today which can serve the same or similar marketing automation tasks. The important thing to consider is what your hospitality business actually needs, what you will actually use, and choosing a platform that fits.

At LeadDigital we have experience working with a wide range of marketing automation software tools for various clients, so understand the best ways to get more from the software.

 

Would You Like to Speak to LeadDigital About Marketing Automation?

Contact Us Today

 

 

Ten of 2017’s Best Hotel & Venue Blogs

Blogging is Brilliant!

It’s not easy, and certainly takes a great deal of time management, careful planning and content organisation to get right. However, when successfully crafted, blogs can inspire customer engagement and loyalty, they can provide insights into your hotel or venue for prospective guests, and are fantastic for inbound marketing.

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On WordPress alone 87.6 million new blog posts are produced each month [1]. With so much new content being shared in 2017, hospitality businesses need to be relevant, niche and overall interesting to keep the attention of blog subscribers. The following overviews 10 of our favourite blogs, from hotels and venues across the UK.

The Grove
blog.thegrove.co.uk

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The Grove is a luxury 5 star country estate hotel, located in Watford, Hertfordshire. Their blog makes our list for two reasons: 1. they don’t shy away from longer articles, and 2. they have a clear sense of brand personality (particularly suitable for golf lovers). When writing blog articles it’s important to think about word count, as longer content tends to perform better in search engines.

Andrew Brownsword Hotels
brownswordhotels.co.uk/blog

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“A renowned collection of privately owned properties situated in some of Great Britain’s most memorable locations.” – This hospitality blog strikes a chord with us because of its use of very high quality photography. In 2017 photos and videos dominate content marketing [2], so it’s important to be optimizing these wherever possible.

Ace Hotel
blog.acehotel.com

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The Shoreditch London Ace Hotel is home to creatives, artists and theatrics. Their blog highlights this wonderfully, talking about the resident artists that stay with them and the creations they produce, whilst continuing to promote the location. This develops an impression and sense of expectation about the hotel to potential guests, before they even book a room.

Eden Hotel Collection
edenhotelcollection.com/eden-life

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Each hotel we review approaches blogging differently, and in the case of Eden Hotel Collection their blog titled ‘Eden Life’ looks to engage readers with an honest insight into hotel life. A stand out for us was their use of guest bloggers, as this not only promotes the Eden Hotel Collection, but also opens the door for guests to equally promote new articles in their social circles, leading to additional influencer associated marketing.

The Admirable Crichton
admirable-crichton.co.uk/blog

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Also known as ‘The AC’ this events company is known for producing some of the world’s most stunning and creative events – from intimate occasions to huge parties! When it comes to their blog, for one we enjoy their use of tiled photos on the top page. Another business not afraid to use photography, their blog articles are visually rich but also have engaging written content that you don’t just want to skim read.

Beds on Board
blog.bedsonboard.com

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Ever wanted to sleep aboard a Sunseeker yacht? Meet Beds on Board, the boat hotel company. The written content within their blog is very good, but we were impressed more by their approach to readers – with two separate blog options, one for guests, the other for boat owners. It’s vital to understand the different demographics within your audience and produce content that appeals to them uniquely!

Watergate Bay Hotel
watergatebay.co.uk/blog

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“An inspiring group of foodies, surfers, cyclists, music-lovers, beach dwellers, equestrians, creators & friends.” – If this sounds like you, then you’ll love Watergate Bay Hotel in Cornwall. Their blog is all about telling the hotels story, whether thats by highlighting their stunning beach location, talking BBQ’s or showing off their fantastic cocktail range!

The Idle Rocks
idlerocks.com/blog

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Consistency can be the life and death of a good blog. Post too little or too much and you’ll lose your readers interest pretty quick. The Idle Rocks have this down to an art, with regular, consistant posts that are wonderfully relevant to the hotel. They also score points for separating out their blog articles into specific groups e.g. ‘Cocktail of the Month’.

Bourne & Hollingsworth
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Bourne & Hollingsworth take a unique approach to their core blog, treating it more like a social media platform, with polaroid-style images and text snippets that give you the reader, a brief glance into their venues and events. Whilst we generally recommend more written content, this approach may be better suited to 2017’s visually driven subscriber / event goer.

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Castle Howard
castlehoward.co.uk/news-room/blog

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Finally, Castle Howard in York. We love a castle at LeadDigital, and being set within 1,000 acres of country landscape, it’s understandable they’d have a lot to talk about! Their blog is promoted across the Castle Howard website, and covers everything from horticulture, to bird watching and gift guides. We rate them highly based on how they personalise each writer on the team, so a clear range of personalities can be enjoyed.


Do you need support improving how readers engage with your hotel or venues current blog?

Looking to start blogging but not sure where to start, or how to get a subscriber list in the first place?

Speak to LeadDigital today. We can help guide and structure your digital marketing, ensuring you reach the right people, at the right time, with the best content marketing designed around increasing bookings & event sales.

 

Contact Us Today

 

References

[1] https://wordpress.com/activity/
[2] https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-marketing-strategy#sm.000010dglkdknbd6tvkb1ahqiboih

Top 5 CRM Systems of 2017

Starting to use a CRM system for your hotel, bar, restaurant or venue, could be a decision that completely changes your business. A CRM system when correctly implemented, can help with business transparencyefficiencyorganisation, custom retention and importantly, it can help you to close more sales.

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Needless to say there are many CRM systems in the marketplace today, so in this blog post I’m going to give an overview of LeadDigital’s Top 5 recommended CRM systems of 2017.

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Salesforce

The World’s #1 CRM”

Founded in 1999 by Marc Benioff, Parker Harris, Dave Moellenhoff and Frank Dominguez, Salesforce is now the most used CRM Worldwide.

With around 4 million users and over 10,000 employees globally, Salesforce has the infrastructure to support hospitality businesses of any size. Salesforce is constantly being improved, with around $150m research & development budget per year. See our recent ‘Is SalesForce Right For You?’ article for more information.

Pros: Salesforce will support any company size. Their ‘AppExchange’ marketplace boasts thousands of add-on applications which cover a variety of different niches; everything from Event Management to Booking Engines and Surveys.

Cons: The basic versions can be very restrictive if you wish to do any customisation, such as to workflows or custom coding.

Cost: All versions are billed annually, per user. SalesforceIQ (small business CRM solution) starts at £20/user/month for the starter package, up to £240/user/month for unlimited with all features.

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HubSpot CRM

“Grow and manage your pipeline for free”

HubSpot’s CRM solution is relatively new when compared to Salesforce, as the latest addition to HubSpot’s existing collection of inbound marketing services, which they’ve been developing since 2006!

By adding a CRM to the existing tools that HubSpot offers, users can capture the whole lifecycle of a lead, from the inbound marketing source, through into the CRM. Users can then track all results gathered, entirely within one system.

Pros: Free for up to 1 million contacts. Able to track the whole lifecycle of a lead from capture to completion, when using other HubSpot products, such as HubSpot Marketing.

Cons: Very limited when compared to a complete CRM, such as Salesforce or Zoho. Small list of third party applications, when compared to other platforms.

Cost: Free – however, you will need other modules such as HubSpot Marketing & Sales, which are at an additional cost.

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Zoho CRM

“Get ready to sell Smarter, Better, Faster.”

Zoho CRM was one of the first products in the ‘Zoho Suite’, introduced in 2005. Since then Zoho has grown in size, with 25 million [1] users across its whole product range in 2017.

Zoho have recently introduced AI into their CRM, in the form of ‘Zia’. The AI is able to learn how each person uses the CRM, and can master data intelligence to interpret how your business works, analyse what you’re trying to achieve and predict unexpected incidents before they even happen!

Pros: Long list of integrations and excellent customer support. Very competitive pricing for an enterprise CRM, highly customisable Cloud-based platform.

Cons: Zoho CRM can be very complex to customise and the user interface is not quite as intuitive as other platforms.

Cost: When billed annually, the standard package is $10/user/month, Professional $20/user/month, Enterprise, $35/user/month and Ultimate is $100/user/month.

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Microsoft Dynamics

“Drive your digital transformation with Dynamics 365”

Microsoft Dynamics is part of the Microsoft Business Solutions platform, which covers ERP and CRM. Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be run on-premise or online, via Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Microsoft Dynamics focusses on the industries of retail, service, manufacturing, financial services, and the public sector, but it can be adapted to work in any industry including hospitality, and for any size of company.

Microsoft Dynamics is a modular system, which means it’s possible to only use the modules required, which can make it very cost effective.

Pros: Microsoft Dynamics has the potential to be the only system you need, as it can be configured to cover CRM and ERP. Very configurable, with lots of integrations available. A ‘light’ version is offered for smaller teams.

Cons: The pricing structure is quite complicated, with lots of options on modules.

Cost: The most popular plan, is £86.70/user/month. Light edition starts at £7.50/user/month.

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Pipedrive

“Pipedrive gets your sales organised”

Pipedrive was founded in 2010 and has around 240 employees Worldwide. As of 2017, Pipedrive has around 50,000 customers [2] all around the world, with a focus on small to medium size businesses.

Pipedrive was built by sales people, for sales people, and aims to simplify the sales process and provide an intuitive user interface to do so.

Pros: Pipedrives ‘Pipeline’ view is perfect to see all the current opportunity deals and their progress. The intuitive user interface is great and simple to use.

Cons: As Pipedrive is aimed at small companies, it can be overly simple. The list of integrations is short compared to other platforms.

Cost: Pipedrive offer annual and monthly costs. When billed annually, the Silver package is $10/user/month, Gold $21/user/month and Platinum, $63/user/month.

In Summary

There is a huge range of CRM systems to choose from in 2017 and this list only scratches the surface, with other services like ‘Insightly’, ‘Nutshell’, ‘Freshsales’, ‘Freshdesk’ etc… equally deserving of mention.

So how do you choose? Think about these questions; what problems can a CRM system solve and what issues can it improve?

The right software is vital, but so is installing it for the right reasons. Moving to a CRM system will take time, so thought needs to be put into the process.

At this point you should talk to us at LeadDigital. We have over 20 years experience in Martech and have successfully implemented CRM systems for various UK hospitality businesses, which have proved vital and in turn have increased revenues!

 

Need Help Choosing Your CRM?

Contact Us Today

 

References

[1] https://www.zoho.com/aboutus.html
[2] https://blog.pipedrive.com/2017/03/50000-customers-taught-us-sales/