The Power of Content Marketing, Viral Videos, and Social Platforms

By Brenda Sandoval Valdes Associate Partner, LINKS WorldGroup | November 12, 2017

Savvy hotels now seek sleeker and smarter ways to attain brand loyalty among current and potential customers, according to the leading communications and marketing agency, LINKS WorldGroup. Today's technological innovations create almost limitless ways to share information and engage with the public. Combining this ability with age-old corporate social responsibility initiatives and actions allows for the opportunity to allow customers to feel they are supporting important causes, while simultaneously creating loyalty to brands.

Customer surveys have confirmed that international hotel groups and major names who give back to the community which their property is in, care for the environment with green practices, and implement process and investments that go beyond mere profit, are ultimately more admired through the eyes of customers. Companies must also take into account that today's modern consumer has limitless access to information and is incredibly savvy. This is a key factor for hotels that wish to create long-term brand leverage, as they are able to highlight their role in community development through smart social media presence and content marketing.

According to a recent survey, 75% of respondents revealed that they felt organizations weren't doing enough to increase brand loyalty. While some may argue that sponsored content is not the best way to go about public relations for CSR, there is data to show that in such cases sponsored content is not perceived as advertising. It is still important to identify such content clearly and gain trust for being transparent.

Social media is a platform that is attracting major attention for its ability to bring companies closer to consumers. Buzzwords such as sentiments, engaging content, viral, reach, influencers, quick interaction, feedback, complaint resolution, and regular stream of content can build positive rapport when implemented correctly. Companies in travel have a lot to gain from trust built on social media. It is always, however, important to remember that consumers want to engage with corporations, and companies should use this platform to speak with rather than pander to customers or simply advertise their initiatives. Customers can quickly see this as companies simply wanting to 'do good' for the sake of their bottom line. That is why smart and clever content marketing is key.

It is also possible to measure and quantify the results of social media activities and keep track of how successful any campaign or activity is. It is important for hotel executives to implement strategic marketing consultancy to engage in and track social media initiatives. Through an organized process of content creation for social media and other content marketing efforts that includes research, analysis, data collection, organization, writing, and editing of blogs, newsletters, press releases, brochures and overall collateral, LINKS provides an in-depth approach that results in powerful content for hotel clients. The end goal, LINKS says, is to build long relationships between hotels and their audience through a strategic communication process. This translates into creative and adaptable ways to reach the target audience.

This explosion in content over the last decade has resulted in hotel marketers waxing eloquent on how best to sell content and how to best deliver that all-important message. Quality content has always been important in the travel and hospitality industry, but now it is more essential than ever. Marketers must focus on providing travelers with relevant and share-worthy social media posts and engaging articles. This is a key opportunity to build hotel brands through insightful compelling content and smart delivery. By having consumers share to their own networks and creating traffic through outside sites, the possibilities to reach international feeder markets are wonderfully cost-effective and much more impactful than traditional print advertising.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.