February FOCUS: Social Media

February, 2020

Social Media: Social Listening Tools

The reach and influence of social media is staggering. Nearly 3 billion people use social media daily, posting a range of messages, selfies, images, and everything in-between. According to HubSpot, almost 4 million posts are uploaded to the major social networks every single minute! That's an astounding amount of content and it is crucial for hotels to skillfully use social media in order to effectively compete. From establishing a suitable brand identity and voice to creating content across all the major networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), the goal is to actively engage consumers and to eventually convert them to customers. Some hotels are initiating online contests as a way to attract new customers, while others are rewarding customers with discounts who subscribe to the their email lists or follow their social media pages. Another recent strategy is to employ social media listening tools that track what people are posting online about their businesses. These tools allow hotels to monitor - or listen to - what's being said about a brand across the entire social web, and this can prove to be very valuable, unfiltered information. Social listening permits hotels to be aware of people's opinions about their business, industry or competitors, and some of these tools even listen beyond social media platforms. They also monitor publicly available information on blogs, forums, news outlets and websites. Some listening tools are more focused on gathering and analyzing data, while others offer more engagement-oriented features, which allow hotels to interact with people right from the platform. Often the information that is gleaned from these listening tools ends up being the most authentic, unbiased insights a business can get. The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to successfully integrate social media strategies into their operations.

This month's feature articles...

Theresa van Greunen

According to a recent 2018 GSMA Report, mobile technology is rapidly expanding around the world and emerging in all economies with over 5 billion smartphone owners. This global leap towards smart technology in recent years has prompted a shift in brand digital engagement to further reach the masses and expand into a more personal vertical and connect directly with consumers. By taking a deeper look at the most prominent social media trends and utilizing discoveries from properly executed social listening tools, brands are able to identify and understand how to continue elevating brand-presence ahead of the 2020 advances. READ MORE

Matthew Babiarz

Since the dawn of social media, hotel owners and operators have challenged their marketing executives and agencies to demonstrate ROI on the investment in engaging with them. And yet social media is outpacing advertising and public relations as a preferred way to reach customers and prospects. As platforms become more sophisticated, along with those responsible organic community management and paid initiatives, it is becoming ever more possible to prove ROI, but you have to have the right approach. This article offers insights and best practices for ensuring that social media is on target and measurable. The ROI question is solvable. READ MORE

Michael Kessler

People have always shared their experiences with one another, but in the last decade, the method of communication has completely transformed. Technology is developing fast, and hotels have to keep up to protect their reputation on social media and OTAs. Luckily, hoteliers have access to the right tools and processes that allow them to not only maintain control but thrive in this competitive environment. From responding to reviews to selecting the right online influencer, there are many things a hotelier can do right now to harness the power of social media. READ MORE

Brandon  Billings

Social listening helps uncover key observations and insights based on how a visitor is talking about a destination or hotel brand across social. This firsthand social voice of traveler data is critical in not only helping set a strategic foundation but also continue to drive improvements across marketing initiatives. The following article provides a base-level understanding of social listening and service providers in the space as well as how listening data can be used to drive success for local, national and global hotel brands. READ MORE

Laura Guitar

While coronavirus is a serious health threat, the risks go beyond wellbeing – with misinformation spreading more quickly than the disease itself. The current media landscape capitalizes on public fear, and communicators must navigate ways to share important information in a way that will get through to stakeholders while clarifying the facts. In an age of click-bait, there are several key factors to consider when tackling communication around a topic as complex and fear-inducing as a new virus strain. READ MORE

Babs S. Harrison

The hot concept in 2020 hotel and resort marketing is influencers - you know you want to do it. But you also must know that there are many ways to do influencer marketing wrong. There are plenty of reasons to want to do this right - notably the popularity of social media channels (think Instagram and Facebook) and their increasing importance as places where consumers search for travel information. Which can mean inspiring pictures, for instance. Also brief, punchy write-ups that make the reader want to pack and go. Resolution for 2020: learn to succeed with influencers. READ MORE

Dean Minett

For many hoteliers, 'attending to social media' means dutifully responding to comments and guest reviews. In truth, it means far more than that. Hotels can no longer afford a languid approach to social media. A vivid presence on relevant channels – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, Google – is a basic requirement for survival in a hyper-competitive landscape. What do we stand to lose by adopting an unsuccessful strategy, or no strategy at all? By understanding the cost of mediocrity in the digital world, hotels can navigate toward better engagement and stronger balance sheets. READ MORE

Lance Concannon

Over the past decade the unstoppable rise of social media has impacted almost every industry in some way, but the hospitality business has been especially affected. Online customer reviews, real-time feedback through social channels, and the rise of travel-influencers are just a few of the side effects from social media that have had a profound effect on hospitality. But social never stands still and, for marketers in all industries, a process of constant evolution and learning is necessary in order to stay in ahead of the game and take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the channel. READ MORE

Janelle Schwartz

If managed strategically, social media can serve as an early warning system, alerting hotel managers of guest concerns and dissatisfactions before such guest discontent mushrooms to the point where it can seriously damage a hotel's reputation and eventually its profitability. To help prevent such a scenario from occurring, hotel managers can turn to technology known as social listening tools. These are applications that search the web for posts and comments about particular hotels. Once such tools are put in place, hotel managers can begin to analyze the results and then take remedial steps to quickly and effectively minimize any damage that might have occurred to the hotel. READ MORE

Peter O'Connor

Online user reviews, on TripAdvisor, Online Travel Agency sites or Google, have become incredibly influential in terms of influencing where the customer books. Most people agree that they send a clear, unbiased signal to the marketplace about the quality of the hotel, and are much appreciated by customers as a valuable and powerful input into their decision making process. However reviews also have a deeper, more hidden value. Properly analysed, reviews can give you deep and meaningful real-time insights into what is important to customers in your marketplace and your relative strengths and weaknesses compared to the competition. READ MORE

Arielle Rubenstein

A day in the life of a social media manager is anything but slow. But, it can be routine, stale, and tiresome. When that happens, a social media audit is a perfect opportunity to uncover hidden gems and rededicate your efforts to connecting with your audience. Whether you've got a dedicated social media team on-site, liaise with a contractor for social media management, employ an agency for campaign creation, or haven't touched your Facebook page in months - a social media audit can inject some inspiration and strategy into your social. For hospitality brands, there are a few specific boxes you must check to have the whole picture READ MORE

Clara  Rose

With the start of a new year, customer acquisition and employee retention are both topics of conversation around many board rooms. Brands that understand the challenges are; hiring consultants to educate them, creating strategic plans to implement, or holding annual planning retreats, to find new solutions. Everyone is looking for the secret to brand loyalty. It is no longer enough to attract the ideal customer; brands must find a way to connect with them emotionally, to turn them into raving fans. Not surprising, it seems the same is true for employee retention. Staff turnover, beyond natural attrition, can be largely attributed to a lack of appreciation or a toxic culture. READ MORE

Stephanie  Hilger

Once your hotel has mastered social media monitoring, it is time to take your efforts to the next level. Social media listening is a proactive approach that allows your team to analyze what others are saying about your brand and your market. Effective social media listening can improve your hotel's social media account performance and enhance your entire marketing strategy as a whole while helping your marketing team make educated decisions that yield optimal results. Investing in social listening will help your hotel be in tune with how past, present, and future/ potential customers truly feel about your brand. READ MORE

Gio Palatucci

In the world of hospitality marketing, nothing emphasizes a faster change in popularity or trends than social media. When brands strategize to secure business with a wide range of consumers, those who implement comprehensive social media strategies with newly launched, lesser-known or up-and-coming platforms are rewarded, while those sticking to traditional organic posts may earn a reputation as less hip and less accepting of a growing younger audience of travelers. Understanding the sleeping giants of social media - Reddit, Twitch, TikTok and GIPHY - will help the hospitality industry grow their social media savvy to keep and win customers in the social media age. READ MORE

Jan Sammeck

Messenger services such as WhatsApp have become deeply integrated into most people's lives, being integral tools for communication and coordination. Given the widespread use of such apps, it is time to take a closer look at the possible impact this may have on the hotel industry. This article intends to lay out possible benefits and costs for hotels that are attached to integrating messenger services into daily hotel operations: although there exists a lot of opportunity in offering messenger communication to guests, the associated risks are not to be underestimated. READ MORE

Stephanie Smith

With over 2 billion active users on Facebook, it is a mistake for hotels to not include Facebook advertisement in their marketing strategy. This article, Running Facebook Ads for Hotels, is a detailed step by step instructional guide written specifically for hotels to help even beginners to create ads. Branded hotels as well as independent hotels will learn brainstorming ideas on how to determine marketing objectives, targeting options of customers based on interests, geographic locations, and demographics, as well as budgeting for ads. After reading this article, hoteliers will know how to use Facebook ads to tap into the right audience to increase brand awareness, engagement, and direct bookings. READ MORE

Rod Clough, MAI

Although legislation is working its way through Congress to raise the bar on how resort fees are communicated to consumers, these fees are unlikely to go away anytime soon. As consumer awareness evolves regarding these fees and the amenities included, it behooves a hotel owner and management team to be on the forefront of communicating the charges in the most direct way possible and to offer the best array of benefits for the dollars spent. We recently surveyed 50 resorts to uncover not only what their resort fee currently is, but what they offer to the consumer for this fee. READ MORE

Mario Candeias

Even amidst sanctions and geopolitical challenges, entrepreneurship and fearless economic savviness play a role. Espinas Hotel Group has been consistently redefining the shape of Iranian hospitality ever since inception, two decades ago. Experiencing multiple development phases, it is now positioned and poised for growth, both domestically and abroad, ready to expand the worldwide famous Iranian authentic and secular hospitality values. The development growth rate will accelerate, with the professionalization of management and branding. It took Hilton 20 years to grow out of Texas, its birth State. It will take Espinas less to exponentiate its local and global footprint. READ MORE

Jeff Crabiel

Looking for a way to break out of business as usual during meetings and events? The Westin Nashville's General Manager Jeff Crabiel illustrates how breakout sessions don't have to be energy-draining, cliche-ridden exercises. From meditation sessions to immersive activities, creative partnerships can rescue a meeting from the ordinary, transforming the overall experience into something unforgettable. These fresh and unique approaches won't just improve your events – they'll attract more events as well. Crabiel also shows how these partnerships don't necessarily require heavy lifting on the part of the planner. Often, the best partners can be found right in your own backyard. READ MORE

Jessica Blotter

Sustainability has become a deciding factor for individuals purchasing travel and accommodation and travel companies are adapting their offerings to meet their needs as reflected in the recently released 2019 Amadeus study: Making a Positive Impact on Travel. From reducing plastic in hotels, decarbonizing, and creating strategic partnerships that generate a positive community impact, Jessica Blotter, the founder of California-based KindTraveler explores 10 adoptable strategies today's hotelier can employ right away to not only advance sustainable travel in 2020, but also create marketing opportunities as well as reduce operating costs. READ MORE

Kristi White

Taking a page out of Gary Chapman's bestselling book, The 5 Love Languages, The Secret to Love that Lasts, Kristi White, VP Product Management at Knowland, takes a look at how the various hotel stakeholders – from Owners and Operations Teams to Group Sales Managers and Revenue Managers communicate and connect. And what better month to do this than in February - the month of love. In this edition, Kristi explores the "love language" of a revenue manager. Is it Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time or Physical Touch? Read this compelling take on how to better connect, work and align with your revenue manager for achieve a long, healthy and profitable relationship. READ MORE

Hicham Jaddoud

Hospitality organizations may spend tremendous amounts on improving the guest experience, but they still have ways to go in improving their employee turnover and training. The hospitality industry has a culture of high turnover and lack of training due to different internal and external factors. Experiential learning and customized training programs may not only support employee retention and improve morale, but ultimately provide a positive guest experience, drive repeat visits and increase profitability. From an employee's perspective, there is the added benefit of creating a pipeline of promotable employees. From the guest perspective, better-trained employees are going to deliver better on the company mission statement as well as the brand standard. READ MORE

Brad LeBlanc

A major part of Best Western® Hotels & Resorts' (BWHR) evolution has been the emergence of hip and energetic boutique brands under its corporate umbrella, including, among others, GLō®. These new additions have played a critical role in contemporizing the BWHR brand and broadening its reach from economy to upscale with unique boutique offerings. The GLō brand has allowed BWHR to appeal across generations and tap into a demographic that they were previously missing. With a stylish, convenient and technology-driven design, GLō holds a powerful new place in the affordably priced, broad-midscale hotel market. READ MORE

Daniel Moon

Sam Moon Group's latest hotel development is the JW Marriott Dallas Arts District hotel in downtown Dallas, which will be the first JW Marriott hotel in Dallas. The 267-key hotel will be located at 2000 Ross Avenue and will join the Dallas Arts District, the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation. The hotel's resort-style amenities, food and beverage options and luxurious rooms with sweeping views will draw visitors and residents to the new destination. The JW Marriott Dallas Arts District hotel is projected to open February 2022. READ MORE

Nate Lane

Hotel operators may consider it wise to sign contracts with multiple vendor partners, but who benefits from this strategy? Hoteliers who are juggling conflicting relationships and a tangled web of tools? Vendors who lack access to each other's data, only seeing a piece of the operations puzzle? Or travelers, whose needs are ever-changing? The reality is that a strategy tapping the tools of multiple vendor partners may provide peace of mind for hotel operators, but it also creates an environment that often hampers growth rife with inefficiency. In order to remain competitive, hotels need to reflect on existing partnerships now. READ MORE

Chuck Kelley

Running a successful bar or lounge operation certainly has its challenges and pitfalls. Putting the right elements together in a package that appeals to your target audience and has longevity is in itself a huge challenge. If you can get this right, just enjoy the fruits of your labors and don't over think things. Chuck Kelley Partner, Cayuga Hospitality Consultants opines on experiences from his early days as a Lounge Manager and provides examples of what can make the operation successful in the eyes of all stakeholders and what are some of the pitfalls that can derail a successful operation. READ MORE

Mostafa Sayyadi

This article offers practical contributions for hotel executives at all levels of the hotel. Hotel executives will see how hotel leadership not only can directly support financial performance, but it can also cultivate effective technological initiatives, which will enable organizational processes within hotels. I also present hotel executives with a new idea in that when change becomes increasingly valuable, hotel leadership manifests as a catalyst to implement effective changes in hotels' internal resources. Hotel executives leverage positive effects on information technology. Thus, I provide evidence that hotel leadership is used in corporate infrastructure for technological decision-making. READ MORE

Frank Passanante

Year after year, companies invest in off-site meetings and events to better enable their employees to build in-person connections. Face-to-face interaction has consistently been identified as a critical component to company growth, employee success and overall productivity. In my role at Hilton, I am consistently asking for feedback from my team of sales professionals and our customers. From those conversations, we see several trending themes across the meeting and events industry that we expect will continue to grow in importance in 2020. Let's take a look at what these important trends are... READ MORE

S. Lakshmi Narasimhan

Does it make sense to adopt outsourcing as a strategy? Does it have a future? With asset management becoming a critical stakeholder driven role in business performance, outsourcing has been given a dose of steroids. By marrying key asset management strategies in the execution of an outsourcing exercise, predications of success have become better. Thus, the way forward looks bright for outsourcing and other asset management strengthened strategies as they seek to deliver the year on year growth that stakeholders seem to be obsessed about. Stakeholders could be laughing all the way to the bank with this approach to return on investment delivery. READ MORE

John Tess

Sage Hospitality, founded in 1984, is one of the more innovative hospitality companies when it comes to the historic boutique hotel market. Though Sage also does ground-up new construction, the historic properties that have been developed by the company are iconic. Examples include the Blackstone Hotel, situated overlooking Grant Park in Chicago and host to American presidents and gangsters alike, and Crawford Hotel at Union Station in Denver, which lights up downtown with its neon "Union Station – Travel by Train" sign, among others. READ MORE

Phil Hugh

At Red Roof, change and profitable growth are imbedded in the company's DNA. It is a brand committed to listening to consumers, and using the information they share to adapt and change. Travelers know they can rely on Red Roof for a consistent experience, no matter where they travel. Their relationships with franchisees are stronger than ever – because they are all aligned on the one goal… being, "All In"; being the best at what they do together. Phil Hugh, Chief Development Officer of Red Roof Hotels provides an insight of the culture behind building strong franchise relationships and how it has led to a happy and satisfied system of franchisees. READ MORE

Coming up in February 2022...

Social Media: Essential Interaction

As important as social media has been to hotels as a way to engage guests and drive direct bookings, it is becoming even more essential for hotels to implement a comprehensive social media strategy. All the major platforms have users numbering in the hundreds of millions - and in some cases, billions of users - so it is imperative for hotels to have an established presence on those massive channels. The goals of social media outreach are relatively clear-cut - identify and interact with current and prospective guests; create a brand voice that resonates with your target demographic; promote products, services, special offers, and contests; and acquire market data to support your business analytics. This is accomplished by creating imaginative and shareable content in order to give your brand maximum visibility, generate bookings, and keep guests interacting with your business throughout the entire customer journey. The February Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are successfully executing social media strategies for the benefit of their operations.