It’s a proven fact that hotels who adopt social media marketing to their broader marketing mix tend to experience significantly more web traffic that those choosing to ignore it. What’s more, if managed well, these visitors typically turn into reservations free from hefty booking agent commissions.
If you’re reading this article thinking that ‘here lies the silver bullet’, you may be sorely disappointed. BUT what it will hopefully do is prove to you that social marketing is an incredibly powerful medium that will only grow in importance and help you increase your occupancy rates.
In addition, social media will also deliver on the following:
- Compete more effectively
- Rank your website more effectively on search engines
- Create an army of loyal fans ready to tell the world about your hotel
- Manage your reputation more effectively
- Provide a unique insight into positive and negative experiences at your hotel.
Now we’re going to explore why social media is so important for the hotel owner/marketer.
The ‘memories’ market
You’re in the ‘market of memories’. Your customer’s experiences count for everything, especially when they decide to start sharing juicy details with their social peers (BTW, the average amount of ‘friends’ we have on Facebook is 150). Social media allows for those memories to be visualised, hopefully leading to warm fuzzy feelings to all those reading about and visualising your customer’s experiences.
In short social media is the most incredible word of mouth marketing vehicle that can very easily promote your brand and hotel(s) to a trusting audience, all throughout the year, at little cost, and to a global market… in a flash!
We’re now at a good point to mention that social media can also have massive negative impact on your hotel. I’d swap a bad review for 10 x good ones ant day! These reviews tend to stick too. The benefit to the consumer is the added pressure on the hotel to maintain standards, not a bad thing. But you’re also not going to please everyone. If you’re going to do just one thing with social media, just keep an eye on it and respond where you need to.
Hotel owners and hotel marketers, the following top 10 tips are for you. Enjoy.
1 – Fail to plan, plan to fail! A social media strategy needn’t be 20 pages that will take you forever to write and is unlikely to be read ever again. Start with a simple 2 -5 page strategy that will help you retain focus on what you want to do/achieve. A good strategy should set out benchmarks, objectives, policies, protocols, content types and how you’re going to achieve those 10,000 social fans!
2 – TripAdvisor is your best friend. Set up your profile and add imagery and clear contact details. Encourage every user to write a review about their stay. Perhaps even offer a monthly prize sweepstake for all those sharing a review that month. Embrace the mighty Trip Advisor with all its good and bad faults, it’s the most trusted online consumer resource when it comes to travel after all. Respond to EVERY post, good or bad, and always with a positive slant. Correct negative responses if justified and apologise for any issues, BUT NEVER join the fight! If the shackles go up, head out for a run before you respond.
3 – Set up a Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest page to start with. At check in or/and check out, encourage your guests to ‘Like’ and ‘follow’ your pages, tempting them in with incentives if need be (e.g. monthly competitions etc). If you have an up to date email database, perhaps start by emailing them and pointing them towards your pages, telling them what you hope to achieve with the pages (e.g. “please share your experiences and pictures with the community to enter a competition to win xxxx”).
4 – A blog is key. Fantastic for your own search engine optimisation, regular posts should detail (for example) hotel news, activities, local area news, new services and unique insight with a little more detail than you’d typically share on your social channels. Remember, your blog can be set up to auto share content onto your social channels too!
5 – Engage, engage, engage! Social channels are becoming a place where the consumer heads to first to ask their question – it’s more convenient and quicker than email in most instances. Try to get back to all enquiries within a few hours. By downloading the various social network apps onto your smartphone which allow you to ‘manage on the move’, this shouldn’t be a problem.
6 – Start your social page growth with an incentive. We as consumers are now recognising good numbers of social followings as a sign of quality and trust, therefore, the quicker you can get to your first milestone of 1,000 Facebook Likes (for example), the more likely your social channels will start working for you. Offer a weekend or perhaps a free dinner for 2 for example, then support with some Facebook advertising to your local area (to start with).
7 – Encourage guests to check in using their Facebook account. The reward, a FREE cocktail/coffee at the bar! You’ll be amazed just how many thousands of people you will get in front of in a short period of time for next to no cost!
8 – Share all your positive feedback across your social channels, even if it’s just been ‘spoken’ to you.
9 – Never be afraid to delegate social media management to one or a couple of younger members of your team. Involving them may just inspire them to work harder and typically, they will be totally connected in a very short period of time.
10 – Identify the hotel’s personality and try to communicate it through all text and imagery. Try to remain consistent with language, retaining professionalism at all times… but don’t be afraid to mix it all up with a sprinkling of soft humour.