Social Media 101 - Part I: A Hotelier's Guide to Social Media Marketing

By Michael McKean CEO, The Knowland Group | December 26, 2010

More than 60 million status updates are posted on Facebook every day. Twenty hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. A new Twitter account is created every three seconds and over 1,500 articles are posted on Wikipedia every hour. Blogs have become so prevalent that statisticians stopped counting them after 200,000,000.

Social media is not just a passing fad. According to a Harris poll conducted in April of this year, 34 percent of Americans have used social media as an outlet to rant or rave about a company, brand, or product. Why does this matter for your hotel? Because peer recommendations, from friends or virtual strangers, are the most trusted forms of advertising, according to a Nielson Global Online Consumer Survey.

"The world is evolving, people are connecting in a different way," says Colleen Parnell, director of sales and marketing at the Crowne Plaza Orlando-Universal. "I don't really know where it's going to go but if we don't get comfortable with it on the front side it's going to be up and gone before we get the chance. We grow as it grows."

Social media web sites have triggered an ever-growing global conversation on every topic imaginable. The question is not whether your hotel should be using social media to start a conversation about your property; that conversation is already happening. The question is, are you going to be a part of it?

For hotel executives, it's even more crucial. A well-executed social media strategy can easily accomplish two of the most important goals for any hotel: get people talking about their property and inspire customer loyalty. This leads to a more recognized and well-respected brand and, most importantly, an increase in transient and group business.

"In the last two and a half years Facebook and Twitter have really taken off," says Al Luciano, director of sales and marketing at La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa. "It's a low cost way of reaching people and I think it's the way the new generation of buyers want to buy."

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.