Let’s start with something we can all agree on: the hotel industry is incredibly competitive. With new-age solutions like Airbnb, Trip Advisor and third-party price comparison websites, hotels are being extensively scrutinised by consumers before they book their stay. It makes sense that more and more hotels are looking to social media to help influence their target audience’s buying decisions and those getting it right are winning the online battle.
Let’s find out how they’re doing it.
Social media for hotels
Each and every sector requires at least a subtly different approach to social media. Hospitality is no different and the social media strategy and tactics will vary wildly between hotels too. Why? Two reasons:
1. Because social media is about creating a unique personality for a brand and a venue, and
2. The target audience and, therefore, the approach to actually getting in front of them and influencing their decisions, will differ.
The approach taken for a one of a large chain of budget hotels located near an international airport will be totally different to a high-end independent hotel in the Cotswolds that serves local real ale and boasts an award-winning restaurant. The audience is different, the service is different and the brand is different.
So here’s the thing:
What appeals to these two audiences is completely different. What’s more is that how these people signal that they are in the market for these two different genres of hotels is different. This is why some kind of ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach simply doesn’t work and each brand and each hotel needs bespoke social media management.
Facebook for hotels
Facebook is a vital platform for hotels because the vast majority of their target audience is on Facebook; they’re easy to target and they’re easy to please. Hotels promoting their services like afternoon teas, spa treatments, and weddings are targeting people in their locality and these people will often already be familiar with the venue. This makes for high post interaction and reach amongst local audiences. Facebook competitions are great ways to supercharge engagement.
High-end hotels are actually one of the few types of business that get away with more self-promotional style content. Why? Because they’re aspirational venues – people love associating themselves with nice hotels. These venues typically have some very sharable features, especially images of their food, gardens, the building and weddings etc.
Essentially, a hotel’s Facebook page should act as a dynamic, interactive microsite that showcases its brand and services and gives patrons the opportunity to get involved. But Facebook isn’t the most exciting element of social for hotels…
Twitter for hotels
Twitter can be utilised to promote hotel services (see next section) but is a very useful way to book up rooms. I know this sounds too good to be true but it’s simply because most hotels still aren’t using the platform to its fullest. People are constantly telling the world where they’re off to, which sporting events and shows they’re seeing and which cities they’d like to visit. This stuff is gold. Almost by definition, each of these individuals is in your target audience and they’re out there to be found – if you know how.
So this is the really important part:
TripAdvisor and community management for hotels
As a marketer of a hotel you naturally want to build a well-known brand but genuine ROI is the most important element of any marketing campaign. Whilst we’ve focussed on lead-generating Facebook and Twitter tactics, you know how influential online review platforms like TripAdvisor are to any hospitality business. Just a handful of ranking places on TripAdvisor can make thousands of pounds difference each month – let alone getting on the first page for hotels in your region.
Creating a funnel through which to generate positive reviews across multiple review sites and being able to minimise negative reviews makes the world of difference to your online presence. TripAdvisor is paramount to winning the Zero Moment of Truth battle – essentially convincing people searching online for hotels in your region to choose you! Why do we have so many hospitality clients? Because these results matter! And they’re only going to increase in importance.
Promoting hotel services through social media
This can, in fact, be one of the best ways to generate return on investment from social media for hotels. This is because finding potential customers for spa treatments and the hotel bar and restaurant is relatively straight-forward over Twitter. By using a simple geocode and radius for the hotel and then a handful of carefully selected conversation drivers, Twitter creates a stream of potential customers for your services.
Weddings are other perfect events to sell over social media. As well as showcasing the wedding packages on offer, both Facebook and Twitter can be used to accurately find and engage with (“engage” – see what we did there?) potential wedding clients. This can often be the number one priority for venues as wedding are such high-value bookings.
So, what might you need from a social media agency anyway?
Our experience in hospitality
We’ve been fortunate to work with some fantastic hotels, both independents and chains. We’ve built credible and loyal social followings for hotels and their services whether an existing household name like Marriott Hotels or more bespoke, individual venues.
So where do you go from here?
By doing your own research and reading around social media in the hospitality sector (see our blog and our book) you should be able to create a strong online presence and start generating sales and lead for stays and services. We have delivered social media training to a number of hotels and restaurants who want to keep social media management in-house but also have a number of hospitality clients on our books who we look after day-to-day.