In 1999, when knoodle was born, there was no way of foreseeing the impact that social media would have on the industry. Presently, 3.48 billion people are active on social media, and that number increases daily. There should no longer debate for companies having a social media presence but rather HOW to utilize the various platforms to increase the experience for your guests and value for your hotels or hospitality organization.
With our work in hospitality, we know the importance of implementing our social media plan adhering to both the guidelines of the hotel brands we work with, as well as, our own ideas about what makes social media successful in the hospitality industry. We found with working with the Saguaro Hotelback in 2013, that it is always a collaborative effort to investigate the evolving social media trends, new platform features, and stay aligned with what our client’s guests hope to experience from following their hotels on social media.
Social media. It’s a repetitive exercise for anyone that is handling it for a business. It becomes easy to get caught up in the hamster wheel and forget why we are doing these tasks. As a hotel operator, it can become challenging to maintain a high level of quality, when your time is stretched so thin.
Most hotels are dependent on word of mouth and good reviews from loyal guests, which is what makes social media a natural marketing and branding tool. The use of social media platforms has become widespread, and travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their experiences. Whether it is used intentionally or inadvertently, the leaders within the hospitality industry cannot ignore the impact of the social media paradigm on their businesses.
Like all aspects of operating a hotel, there are also best practices for social media, and they are effective. But amidst all the tips and strategies that agencies like knoodle explain to hoteliers, there is an underlying role for social media that is often missed. It is often missed because hoteliers are busy with so little time that they often forget about why they are doing something; they just do it properly and quickly, then move on to the next task — the life of running a 24/7 business serving the public.
Conversion is a reservation. The purpose of social media is not to drive traffic to your website to foster a conversion. It’s about the reservation. Acquiring reservations is a function of or a wishful reaction by hoteliers, but it’s not the primary purpose of social media. Social media is where you communicate with your customers in a casual place when they are not at your hotel, and that is a wonderful thing. It is also a place where you can attract new customers, so you better act like you do at a cocktail party where you don’t know anybody. Be fun, charming, informative and, above all, be polite.
It’s often the digital and content teams at agencies that are changing the way hoteliers view and use social media. This is mostly because the agencies are doing the work, writing the articles and have a different goal: increase revenue to protect their engagement. Lost in the process are the wonderful aspects of communicating with your guests in a casual environment with engaging imagery. Gaining followers and increasing direct bookings is not the goal; it is a byproduct. The goal is to create the cocktail party that everybody wants to come to and nobody wants to leave. That should be the goal of every hotelier’s social media strategy. Direct bookings will follow.
Think about social media as an opportunity to pull, rather than push, guests. Social media is not a place to constantly shove your specials and rates on your followers. You wouldn’t do that in the lobby of your hotel and you shouldn’t do it on social media. If you were constantly reading your resume at a cocktail party, you would soon find yourself alone in a room. You want to use social media to attract followers and guests with your charm, imagery and wit. Think of it as more of an invitation than an advertising billboard. Create the cool persona that your hotel embodies and rock it on social media as often as possible.
This might all sound easy, but we know it’s not. Here’s some tips to improve your hotel’s social media game:
- Always use quality images.
- Your posts should often contain imagery that’s been staged.
- Social media. It’s important. Make the effort.
- Video; Do it. Four to five seconds of video is fun.
- Don’t always push specials — pull followers.
- People in photos are good. People like people.
- Use effective hashtags.
As another part of your social media plan, make an effort to share updated information on things to do in the local area, and connect with the local businesses nearby that could advise your guests your accommodation offerings. Is there a local landmark, attraction or tourist hotspot near the hotel? Follow their pages and promote their services to your followers. People will repay the favor.