How Facebook is Adapting to be More Competitive for Hotels

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Sharing content on a hotel’s Facebook page without paying to promote doesn’t typically generate much of a return—if any—for hoteliers. That’s thanks to the ever-dwindling rate of organic reach—the rate of Facebook users that a company can reach for free on the social network. Just as Google changes its search algorithm, Facebook does the same with its users’ newsfeeds, and organic reach has been declining on the social network since 2014. While quality, branded content marketing has helped combat the decline, the writing has been on the wall for some time now. The social network, which now includes Instagram, has been labeled by many marketers as a “pay to play” space.

Historically, hotels haven’t had much success with Facebook Ads. Most digital marketers will agree that it’s cheaper to advertise on Facebook than through ad programs like Google’s. But while Google can show clear intent in its users’ searches and a direct return on ad spend, hoteliers have found it tough to get clear results from Facebook in the past. At the same time, the network can’t be neglected—especially when 87 percent of Millennials use Facebook for travel information. The reality is that huge opportunities exist on Facebook and the network has shown that it’s working towards becoming more attractive to hotels.

 

Dynamic Creative

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Testing is an important step in successful social media campaigns, but it takes time and effort. Facebook’s “Dynamic Creative” feature allows advertisers to test enormous amounts of ad variants, then take actions such as allocate budget to only the best performing ads.

Consider the variables that go into an ad campaign: titles, images, videos, text, calls to action, destination URLs, audiences, device type, and more. Hotels can generate thousands of ad variations after uploading dozens of variables, allowing hotels to save time and budget dollars.

 

Custom and Lookalike Audiences

Custom audiences aren’t new, but their match rate continues to improve. Through this feature, hotels can upload information for a custom audience (such as names, locations, and email addresses) and Facebook is able to identify and match a portion of those users. With an audience in the system, hotels can advertise return visits, upsell on future visits, or exclude users from campaigns. That kind of targeting allows hotels to reach the right users and improve a campaign’s effectiveness.

Though they’ve been around since 2013, Lookalike audiences are finally on hoteliers’ radars. Lookalike audiences allow hotels to advertise to people who closely resemble an existing small “seed audience”—such as an uploaded custom audience.

 

Dynamic Ads for Hotels

Dynamic Ads for Hotels allow hoteliers to “re-target” custom audiences. This feature is most commonly used to reach people with more specific purchase intent, demonstrated by actions they have taken on a hotel’s website. Though it isn’t revolutionary, Dynamic Ads for Hotels enables advertisers to upload an inventory “catalog” and encourage people to “book now” based on their online behavior or demographic information.

 

Offline Conversions

When it comes time to report on the effectiveness of a social media campaign, marketers need to show results. Facebook can show how many people booked a room through a campaign ad, but what happens if users pick up a phone, book on another website, or simply walk into the hotel after seeing an ad? By importing PMS data, hotels can match up Facebook users who made a transaction with the hotel, showing a much clearer link between social media marketing and real-world revenue.

 

About the Author
Jase Rodley is a principal at Otium Boutique.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Great article, and a fair summation of Facebook marketing for hotels in my opinion.

    I would add though that there may be some benefits in posting to content to the Facebook page. It does provide the perfect place for many hotels to add news articles, updates and “whats happening” posts that can be of interest not to just prospective guests but guests staying at the hotel.

    Guests considering booking a hotel (especially a resort) may visit the Facebook page to see what is really happening, and to view behind the scenes photos and videos.

    This can have the effect of that hotel appearing to be more social, up to the minute and current than other hotels, especially if more personal or human oriented content is posted rather than the usual specials and promotions.

    Also, it has been said for sometime that Google factors in social media engagement into its organic search results. It is not unreasonable to think that the Google algorithm may consider the number of likes on a page, and the activity and engagement related to that hotel (and perhaps the review score) as being at least a partial organic ranking factor.

    For most hotels with a solid content strategy, it is relatively easy to funnel and repurpose content from their website blog (for example the News category) onto Facebook.

    But I agree that spending dedicated resources on posting to Facebook is probably not going to yield a return for the hotel by itself, if bookings are expected as a direct result.

    Finally, Facebook Events are a great way to encourage guests to attend special events happening at the hotel and get the word out on social media. This cannot be achieved through the marketing website alone with any ease. This of course, depends on how sophisticated the hotel is, and whether they have the potential to run events through their restaurants, bars and other facilities.

    • I agree with you there Chris – it’s not that there is NO value in posting to your page, it’s just that it’s becoming more of a “branding play” – similar to running a print ad in a magazine. There’s some value there, but it’s probably not significant or accurately measurable. From my point of view this all comes back to time/money – almost every hotel marketer I know is time poor with a limited budget.

      In regards to whether or not social signals are a ranking factor, the official word from the Google gods is “the short version is, no” (https://twitter.com/methode/status/740017738446344192). However as I note in this rather lengthy SEO post (https://otiumboutique.com/hotel-seo/), it’s not as cut and dry as that.

      Thanks for commenting.

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