In today’s business environment, there’s no denying the power of social media. More than 2 billion people are active on social media and the number increases daily. Hoteliers should no longer view a social media presence as optional, but rather focus on utilizing the various platforms to enhance the experience for guests and value for hotels.
When establishing a social media plan, it is important to adhere to both the guidelines of the hotel brands with which one works and also incorporate one’s own brand and ideas. Most hotels are dependent on word of mouth and positive reviews from loyal guests, which is what makes social media a natural marketing and branding tool.
Below are four lessons to consider when navigating social media in order to market individual hotels as well as a hospitality company.
1. Respond, Respond, Respond
When a hospitality firm’s properties fall under different brands, the company is expected to adhere to each specific brand’s social media requirements. Some brands prefer Twitter and ask to post five times weekly, while others leave the decision about frequency and usage to the owner.
At all times, hoteliers are expected to respond and serve as communicators for the brands, which means attending to every review that comes in, taking on the responsibility of directing guests to correct sources, and serving past and potential customers.
It is essential in hospitality to respond to messages within a certain time frame–usually, within the first few hours. Communication in this format should be viewed in the same way one would treat a guest standing at the front desk.
2. Treat TripAdvisor Like Any Other Social Media Platform
TripAdvisor should be included in any hospitality social media plan. As hoteliers know, it is a huge source of information to potential guests. TripAdvisor ranks hotels based on three factors: recently posted reviews, quantity of reviews, and quality of reviews. Trends report that people are more apt to post about a negative experience than a positive one. However, hotels can implement systems to help improve the frequency of guest feedback. For example, staff can hand out Google and TripAdvisor review cards to guests to increase the likelihood of on-the-spot posts.
Overall, it is essential that all general managers are aware of any and all reviews–especially the less favorable ones. This can be one of the most useful tools for improving service.
3. Improve Guest Engagement Through Campaigns
Campaigns can be an effective tool for encouraging Facebook “likes” on a page. Simply running a month-long competition offering a chance for bonus hotel points can greatly enhance the page’s social media presence. Points are coveted by guests and are an inexpensive incentive for hotels to purchase.
Holidays provide another opportunity to launch a social media campaign. Many hotel restaurants already plan Thanksgiving buffets. Why not promote the event on social media? Hotels may be surprised by the interest from those seeking to spend the holiday out of their homes. This is an opportunity to reach an audience beyond guests already familiar with the hotel.
To have the biggest impact, it is important to budget for advertising boosts to the campaign posts. This will significantly extend the reach of the posts, and ad dollars stretch far on social media.
4. Consider the Overall Guest Experience
People don’t necessarily care about the hotel they’re staying at, especially if it mimics others within the same brand. However, they do care about what they can do during their stay and around the hotel.
Posting videos is an easy way to engage audiences with the hotel. Content about events hosted on the property help to personalize the property. Posting about employees also helps to humanize a hotel and its culture.
Share information on things to do in the area and connect with local businesses that could advise guests on the hotel’s accommodation offerings. Is there a local landmark, attraction, or tourist hotspot near the hotel? Follow these pages and promote their services to followers. People will repay the favor.
About the Author
Jordan Jones is the social media manager of Stonebridge Companies, a privately owned hotel owner, operator, and developer headquartered in Denver.