Chains of hotels come in many forms so it’s important that we don’t generalise them too much when it comes to their marketing strategy. However, by definition, hotel chains have more than one venue and this adds a clear dilemma to social media management: does each hotel have its own set of social media accounts and who manages them? Of course, this depends on a lot of factors; there’s no right or wrong answer, but there are effective and ineffective ways to do it.Let’s have a look at the considerations.
Let’s have a look at the considerations.
Social media for hotel chains
Chains of hotels differ in their internal management and marketing structures. Some have strict brand guidelines others give a good level of autonomy to each venue. Some chains want people to know hotels are part of a family, others would rather not have customer believe the venues are centrally owned and operated. From a social media point of view, this doesn’t really matter – we’re looking at things from the customer’s point of view and the journey they go on before booking a hotel.
Here’s the thing:
Most hotels are now in an online war with their competitors and with price comparison websites and even industry changing companies like AirBnB growing rapidly, it’s really hotting up. But in reality, most hotel chains are not mastering the online battle; they’re not influencing customers at the Zero Moment of Truth.
Let’s take a look at two different types of chains for a better understanding of how social media can play a role.
Budget hotel chains
Okay, so we use the term “budget” loosely, here. I guess it’s more of a way of describing large chains of hotels that are household names and you pretty much know what you’re going to get when you visit one (you know the types!). Of course, this is their greatest selling point – customers now what to expect from a Holiday Inn Express, Premier Inn or Travelodge.
So where does social media management entail for hotel chains like these?
With these types of hotels, offers, rates, menus, pretty much everything is dictated on a central, national level. Customers who travel often or have their favourite hotel brand will probably follow and like their respective profiles for the latest updates. It makes sense for these brand to have heavyweight central social media accounts and attempt to accrue as much influence from here as possible. Due to the size of the chain, it would also be advisable to set up a national customer service Twitter account to deal with queries and complaints.
In terms of content, these brands should look to add value to their audience by posting interesting content relevant to their hotels and locations. Utilising hotel news, endorsements and events are good for more self-promotional content. As for an interaction strategy, from a central level, the focus will be getting involved in fun conversations and replying to interesting tweets.
Let’s look at the similarities and differences with a different type of hotel. For certain hotels, even in large chains, the techniques below will be valuable.
High-end and luxury chains
Higher-end hotels have more scope when it comes to social media management. Even if the hotels are very similar in nature, because of the higher ticket price and the expected level of customer care, the return on social media and community management is simply higher. With smaller chains of luxury hotels or boutique hotels, each venue tends to have its own style and personality. Not only does this lend itself well to likable social media profiles but this individual character should be one of the hotel’s USPs – social media is the perfect place to accentuate these differences.
With each individual hotel having its own social media presence, they can focus on their nuances and share local deals. In fact, these kinds of hotels are more likely to have a range of services such as spa treatments, afternoon teas, and wedding packages. These are of interest to local people. Having a prominent local presence can only be great for business.
But this is the really interesting bit…
And it can only really be done for individuals venues. Conversation drivers are very powerful for hotels because they highlight people who might be visiting your area and local people who might be interested in your other services. This is all done over Twitter. People share a lot of personal information over Twitter including how they’re feeling, which shows they’re going to, whether they need a spa day or if they’ve got a birthday present to buy. These are all opportunities to get talking to potential customers.
Now, you should be able to see why this doesn’t really work from a national level. A centralised account for a chain of 200 hotels is not going to be able to use this feature effectively – it would need each venue to have its own Twitter account.
So what’s the bottom line?
It’s clear that large chains of hotels, however upmarket they are should have prominent national social media accounts (unless the chain doesn’t want to be known as a chain!). For higher end, more boutique style hotels which provide services to both local and traveling patrons they should also have autonomous, decentralised social media accounts; Facebook and Twitter at least.
For large, budget chains, it will depend…
There’s not much point in a budget hotel right next to an airport with no spa or other facilities having a Facebook page – that’s not how it’s going to get its business. However, it could use a Twitter account. Setting up searches for anyone who mentions said airport and sending friendly approaches asking if they need a bed beforehand would create a great stream of potential customers. All this take is someone with the right skills to monitor social software and approach in the right way.
Pro tip: It is far easier to manage your hotel’s TripAdvisor rating from a localised Twitter account. Read more about TripAdvisor and community management for hotels on this page.
Each case will be different. Every brand, every hotel, and every marketing approach will call for a certain approach over social media. We’ve managed accounts for a number of hotels who want to outsource social media management whilst many prefer training at a national and local level to empower the in-house team to carry out their content and interaction strategy.
If you’d like to find out how we could help your hotel chain’s social media, get in touch via the contact page.