Learn How to Grow Your Fan Base on Social Networking Sites

By Ryan Bifulco Founder & CEO, Travel Spike | July 24, 2011

Everybody likes to be popular. Whether it is having lots of friends in high school or going to a bar "where everyone knows your name," we all like to feel a part of something larger. That is really what social networking is all about. You want to be a part of a group with common interests or a community that shares like ideas.

The same sentiments above apply to hotel marketing principles. Everything that your hotel does on Facebook or Twitter needs to play into this paradigm which centers on the connections within the community. As a result, make sure your property remembers these principles as you attempt to stand out on Facebook and Twitter. Understand that users are not logging on to Facebook to learn about your hotel's breakfast package (Though we all know your Eggs Benedict are fantastic!) Most of them do not care. What does excite them is content related to their interests. Users like to create relationships with brands and with other users on social networking sites. Many of them are actually trying to "network" and grow professionally. Users want to rub elbows online with industry heavy hitters and with other social networkers that can help with this growth. Fans and followers also enjoy chatting online about a certain passion or hobby whether it is the Chicago Bears or fly-fishing.

So, what do you, as an hotelier, need to do? Offer value and don't just post about your own hotel all-day long. That adds absolutely nothing to the social networking community. Let's not forget that social networking is also a two-way communication platform meaning you must interact and engage with your fans if you want to keep them. You should not treat your fans simply as new customers similar to how you view a web visitor. Instead you (yes you, the hotel) need to connect with them as equals and maintain conversations with them.

Your hotel can pose questions to your fan base to help get the conversation started. You can also answer questions that your fans post to your hotel Facebook or Twitter page. If your hotel is a true resource, you are much more likely to be recommended to friends. This concept might include posting local event information or tips for traveling in your community. Your hotel might post expert advice on a certain topic. For example instead of saying "We have a spa with amazing treatments". You might say "Did you know that 75% of people that get a massage once a month live longer". This nugget or tip is something that users will retweet or comment on.

The main idea here is to NOT just sell like a used car salesman. Just by offering advice and positioning yourself as a resource with real tips, you will be way ahead of the game. Users gravitate toward people that add value without simply selling constantly.

One of your main goals should be to get retweeted so that you can gain exposure beyond your own fan base. Tweets that are a bit less than the maximum 140 characters have a much greater chance of getting retweeted. So whatever you have to say, say it quickly to increase your hotel's exposure.

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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.