Social Media and Hotels: Should Hotels Be on Twitter Anymore?

By Didi Lutz President, Didi Lutz PR | December 26, 2010

By this time all of you know what Twitter is, its capabilities, shortcomings, advantages and disadvantages. Most of you have probably decided by now if you will have a presence on the 140 character mass-marketing social media platform that has enjoyed immense popularity in the past year and a half.

Twitter simplicity and outreach, at zero cost, were very attractive at a time when the economic crisis started sneaking up in the US and took hold by the end of 2008. Throughout 2009, Twitter evolved, attracted even more users, and there were a number of predictions as to what the social network would turn into by the end of 2010.

Meanwhile, multiple businesses - including hotels – incorporated Twitter into their 2010 social media strategy [Side note: of course I think all hotels should have a social media strategy at this point – the trend is not a fad!!]. As a result, we saw hotels on Twitter talking about anything from special rates and menu offerings, to sharing inspiring quotes from the hotel owner or GM, and even talking to guests in the midst of a crisis. The JW Marriott in Indonesia did an excellent job using Twitter as a crisis communications tool to reach out to families, guests, media and the community when it was bombed in July of 2009.

So what have we learned from Twitter so far that can survive the stiff competition of emerging social media platforms that hotels can incorporate in their social media marketing efforts? Many hotels have already a presence on Facebook, which is a must have for businesses these days. When visiting a hotel website, it's common to see the "f" (Facebook) and the "t" (twitter) symbols on the homepage, indicating that the property has embraced rich media via social networking. Hotels tend to use Twitter to push traffic from there on their homepage or Facebook page in order to complete a reservation, book a special deal, or just to browse.

The question now is, where does Twitter rank in importance in your social media strategy, and how should it be used within hotels? I have done some reading about how Twitter has evolved in the past few months and have outlined some suggestions that could be helpful to your approach:

  • Twitter isn't going anywhere. In fact, according to statistics dated March 30th, 2010, Twitter is still growing, and has turned into an integral form of self-publishing, global communication, branding, publishing, PR and marketing this year.
  • Twitter has caught on outside of the US. The platform's popularity is increasing at a faster rate internationally.
  • The longer hotels have been on Twitter the higher the chances they will continue to tweet, probably because they have had more time to monitor the twitter-sphere correctly
  • The more someone tweets, the better the chances they will establish a solid presence
  • Twitter works better when links at added that direct traffic to the desired location, or just for sharing information
  • Twitter lists are good organizational tools when a hotel wants to share messages to a specific group of people.
  • Twitter increases exposure with increased use
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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.