Eight Covid-Era Social Media Practices That Are Here to Stay

What to Expect in 2021 and Beyond

By Florence Quinn President & Founder, Quinn PR | February 21, 2021

This article was co-authored by Cassandra Small, Senior Vice President, Quinn

March 11, 2020. Little did we know that this spring day would be the last time many of us would see the inside of our offices for the rest of the year and that it marked the start of the COVID-19 lockdown that would bring the travel industry to its knees. Little did we know how it would significantly change and impact our lives – both professionally and personally.

In a matter of weeks, hundreds, if not thousands, of hotel, resort and travel bookings were canceled. Hotels were shuttered. People's beloved travel experiences were put on hold. At first, we were in a state of disbelief. Then we went into our bunkers to make tough decisions, including some that adversely affected people's livelihoods. After that, hoteliers got back to the business of hospitality and connecting to travelers, including on social media.

Hotels wanted to know how to "be" in social media. How do we address COVID and safety? Should we pause? Should we go dark? Do we address people's new state-of-mind and concerns? The cry for help was loud and clear: What should we do??

What they did was pivot and change how they showed up in social media. They got real. They got funny. They got creative. And they got emotional. They let people into their hearts via social media. And when travelers could no longer come to them, they went to them, into their homes. They did such a phenomenal job that we will continue to practice out of choice what was started out of necessity.

"They let people into their hearts via social media. And when travelers could no longer come to them, they went to them, into their homes. They did such a phenomenal job that we will continue to practice out of choice what was started out of necessity."

Here's the 8 things hoteliers did in social media and the 8 takeaways that we will keep. They are the hard-earned lessons of COVID.

1. Used Humor to Keep Us from Crying

Deer Path Inn, a Tudor-style inn that sits along Chicago's North Shore in one of the wealthiest zip codes in America, taught us that it was okay for a luxury property to be funny in social media. Deer Path Inn used its Instagram account to provide the world with light-hearted posts -- all while keeping us updated on COVID protocols and events. Funny ended up being better than okay; it warmed people and made folks like them even more.

Some of the entertainment included: staff members racing down the street in empty luggage carts (video was key here); the General Manager and Innkeeper going "camping" with Winston, the hotel's Rubber Ducky mascot, and being serenaded with a violin performance (also video). Forbes covered Deer Path Inn's COVID antics in an article entitled: "This Midwest Hotel's Hilarious Instagram Feed Is What We All Need Right Now."

Forbes covered Deer Path Inn's COVID antics in an article entitled: "This Midwest Hotel's Hilarious Instagram Feed Is What We All Need Right Now."

Deer Path Inn's GM fireside during COVID

Takeaway: Keep us laughing and smiling!

Deer Path Inn kept the laughs flowing through the holidays. They hopped on the latest Christmas craze, Elf on the Shelf, by creating their very own pixie, Elfie, who could be found throughout the hotel. Hanging from a chandelier and in the wine cooler were a few of Elfie's hot spots.

2. Made Social Media the Go-To for News and Updates

COVID hyped up our response time on social media. For some brands it became the go-to outlet to  announce updates, trumping media as the first platform for communicating news for the first time for some brands. Zemi Beach House in Anguilla added FAQ around traveling to the resort and the island to its Instagram via a story and kept it on as an Instagram highlight.  

FAQ highlight courtesy of Zemi Beach House.

Takeaway: Continue to use social media as a key communicator of news

Sharing news via social media first is a trend that is here to stay. And if not the first line of communication, it will most definitely further spread the message.

3. Employed Social Media as an Amplifier

Many hotels used their Instagram to amplify a media win, help with voting efforts and/or contests, as well as help drive traffic to their websites with apps like Linktree, a social-media reference landing page that is often found in a person or brand's Instagram bio section.

Takeaway: Keep using social media as a megaphone

Social media is a powerful way to amplify your other marketing work, such as media placements, news, updates and awards.

4. Some Hotels Truly Inspired and Touched People's Hearts

Many hotels, resorts and destinations shifted from promotional Instagram and Facebook posts that, let's face it, can get generic and predicable pretty fast, to being truly fresh and inspirational by directly addressing the devastation of the pandemic on them and people's lives. Many hotels let down their guard of perfection for the first time and expressed heartfelt emotions. In return, people responded by sharing the posts among family, friends and colleagues, while the media covered it.

For example, Study Hotels was not afraid to show empty buildings. On the contrary, it lit up the windows of vacant guestrooms to create beckons of hope, gratitude and solidarity. The Study at Yale, New Haven created a larger-than-life heart to honor the community and healthcare workers. The Study at University City, Philadelphia beamed the Red Cross symbol of hope and aid to a world in need. The Philadelphia Citizen (@thephiladelphiacitizen) shared it on Instagram : "it's the little things during times like these, amiright?"

The Study at Yale, New Haven (left), and The Study University City, Philadelphia (right)

We saw similar gestures of kindness, understanding and appreciation from Standard Hotels, The Dewberry in Charleston, S.C., throughout the Vegas Strip and as far away as the Atlantis the Palm, Dubai, to name only a few.

Takeaway: Keep inspiring! Keep making it creative, heartfelt and about people

The takeaway is to keep being creative, heartfelt and to make it about people. Study Hotels has continued to use the façade of its buildings to flash messages that are meaningful to its university-related audiences. Study Hotel properties in New Haven and Philadelphia are giving a shout out to the Yale, Drexel and University of Pennsylvania communities by displaying and spelling out the letters "Y" for Yale, "D" for Drexel and "P" for Penn during each school's designated college days.

5. Harnessed Social Platforms of Traditional Media to Reach Travelers

As media outlets increased their content on their social-media platforms, more and more hotels turned to them to share updates and news. For instance, to get people thinking about travel to Hawaii while it was still banned, Merriman's Hawaii Restaurants and Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club in Honolulu, hosted Instagram takeovers with Travel + Leisure.

Takeaway: Keep utilizing the social platforms of media outlets

By communicating via the media's social-media feeds, you are reaching enormous numbers of potential customers. Travel + Leisure alone has 5.6 million followers on Instagram. Takeovers should continue to fill your feeds. Good news on this front is that LinkedIn is now offering LinkedIn Live.

6. Provided a Way to Get Through This Together by Shifting to Virtual Events

When the citizens of the world were told to stay at home, hotels went to them, providing people with a way to stay in touch with travel and their favorite brands and places. Hotels started hosting online, virtual events that would never have happened pre-COVID. In doing so, they reached and connected with people live in real time in their homes perhaps for the first time ever. It was go live or go home!

For example, sbe hosted "Taste of sbe", one of the hottest annual events in Miami, online for the first time. Viewers paid $50 to watch a rock star line-up of celebrities, including Nick Jonas, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, cook alongside culinary icons Dani Garcia, Masaharu Morimoto, Dario Cecchini and Jose Icardi from their homes in a series of five cooking sessions. The online platform enabled people to tune in from anywhere in the world while giving everyone an intimate glimpse into the stars' kitchens.

Nick Jonas (left), and Aaron Paul & Bryan Cranston (right) appeared on Virtual Taste of sbe

AKA, a hotel residences brand, offered Live Instagram sessions with FitKit co-founder and internationally recognized fitness expert, Amie Hoff. Once a week, AKA's followers were able to participate in free workout sessions led by a buff and motivational Hoff. 

Fitness expert Amie Hoff led live fitness sessions on AKA's Instagram

When coral reef safe sunscreen brand Raw Elements shifted its World Reef Day campaign in June to be virtual, they did so with a series of Live takeovers and Q+As with brand ambassadors, influencers and partners including Ocean Ramsey (@oceanramsey with over one million followers), big wave surfer Garrett McNamara (@mcnamara with over 160,000 followers), environmentalist Elana Jadallah (@elanaloo with nearly 45,000 followers) and Kate Williams.

Takeaway: Live content will continue to be a great way to connect

Live content will continue to be a great way to connect with existing and potential customers. It's another reason to make sure you have a robust and ever-expanding email lists. Ambassadors, influencers and partners will continue to play key roles in marketing and PR.

7. Used the Time to Reassess What's Working and What's Not Working

COVID gave hotels the opportunity to pause and reassess what's working and not working in social media. For Charlestowne Hotels (Charlestowne), a leading hospitality management company, that meant conducting an audit of its LinkedIn page. After reviewing what posts performed best and what had the lowest performing content, the recommendation was to:

  • Share Charlestowne news including what the brand was/is doing during COVID.
  • Share media coverage to keep the brand fresh and current.
  • Start a monthly "Employee Spotlight" to honor frontline staffers while humanizing the brand for future travelers.
  • Refrain from sharing industry insight since these posts weren't performing as well.

Takeaway: Keep reassessing and refining

Assess the effectiveness of your posts on a regular basis. If you can't be objective – perhaps because you created the strategy and posts – ask someone you trust to provide honest feedback. Posts need to resonate with followers. Don't post for the sake of posting. Ask yourself, will this help my followers? Are they going to learn from it? If not, don't do it. Less is more in the world of social media, including LinkedIn.

8. TikTok Grew Significantly

One social-media platform that grew significantly during COVID was TikTok, where users make and post short-form videos from genres like dance, comedy, and education that have a duration from three seconds to one minute and are shared via reels.

According to Music Business Worldwide, during the week of March 16, the video app was downloaded two million times (an 18 percent increase in downloads from the previous week).

While previously thought of as an app used primarily by teens and 20 somethings, team members and peers well into their 30s and 40s have started downloading it. They are now uploading their own challenges and videos even though they said they never would.

Tal Dekel-Daks, former social-media and audience-engagement editor of Departures.com, said "TikTok is here to stay…hotels should embrace the platform and use it as that is where a majority of their target audience is."

"TikTok is here to stay…hotels should embrace the platform and use it as that is where a majority of their target audience is." - Tal Dekel-Daks, former social-media and audience-engagement editor of Departures.com

Final Takeaway: Make TikTok your new bestie

More hospitality brands will join TikTok. They will strengthen their relationships with influencers and ambassadors that will help make challenges go viral and bleed into Instagram reels (since you can now reshare TikTok reels on Instagram). With the amount of reach and engagement TikTok users can garner per video, it's a no-brainer.

TikTok, here I come!

Ms. SmallThis article was co-authored by Cassandra Small. Quinn staffers clamber to work for Cassie Small. No wonder she was the number one choice in our mentoring program. "Don't be afraid to disagree," advises Ms. Small who one day wants to teach PR and social because she loves it so much.  To her clients Ms. Small is a leader who excels at strategy, securing partnerships and creating events while seeing stories others miss. When delivering communications plans, including digital and social media, her expectation to exceed goals. Previously she was managing director at Hundred Stories PR, where she worked with the founder on client accounts, business development and talent.  

Ms. Quinn Florence Quinn has a near-clairvoyant ability to anticipate trends, cut to what is important and seemingly pull creative ideas out of a hat. Her marketing intelligence has sparked some of the most effective hotel and travel PR ideas and campaigns of our time. An artist at heart, Ms. Quinn believes that great work has simplicity, inspiration and form. "Like the grid beneath a Jackson Pollock painting." Her vision and work ethic have nurtured and shaped her into a strategic powerhouse of brand storytelling that builds audiences, produces revenue and transforms brands. "We apply CMO thinking and a 360° approach to operate at the intersection of magic and math," says Ms. Quinn. "Our guiding principle is attraction over 'selling.'" As a heavily decorated winner of nearly every award available to PR professionals and having appeared on a number of magazine covers, Ms. Quinn coaches and inspires her team to find the best strategic and creative solutions then measure them against the client's brand and goals. Florence Quinn can be contacted at +1 212-868-1900 or fquinn@quinn.pr Please visit http://www.quinn.pr for more information. Extended Biography

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Any and all disputes or controversies of any kind, including but not limited to any performance, duty, obligation or liability arising under or related to this Agreement which are not first resolved informally, shall be determined by binding arbitration in San Francisco, California, in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association. The final award in any such arbitration proceeding shall be subject to entry as a judgment by any court or competent jurisdiction, provided that such judgment does not conflict with the terms and provisions hereof. The jurisdiction of the arbiter (or arbiters) with respect to legal matters shall be limited only by the statutory and common law of the State of California and the United States.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, any and all disputes, which the parties cannot informally resolve, regarding the scope of issues or matter with the jurisdiction of the arbitrator, shall be resolved by a separate dispute resolution process whereby HotelExecutive, in its sole discretion shall elect the dispute to be resolved by either (1) a court of competent jurisdiction in the State of California or (2) a panel of three new arbitrators.

This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of California notwithstanding any conflict of laws provisions. You and HotelExecutive agree that the venue for all legal disputes, controversies, actions of any kind arising under or related to this Agreement shall be San Francisco, California. You and HotelExecutive further agree that in case of any litigation regarding this Agreement, you irrevocably and unconditionally (i) consent to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the state and federal courts in the County of San Francisco, California for any litigation or dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement, (ii) agree not to commence any litigation arising out of or relating to this Agreement except in the California Courts, (iii) agree not to plead or claim that such litigation brought therein has been brought in an inconvenient forum, and (iv) agree the California Courts represent the exclusive jurisdiction for all litigation relating to this Agreement.

11. MEMBERSHIP FEES

Hotel Business Review Subscriptions

If you choose to purchase a subscription, member subscription payments can be made in U.S. Dollars, as well as a variety of international currencies. Membership terms are Annual Recurring, and Monthly Recurring. The Annual Recurring subscription is an annual commitment and subscribers will be charged each consecutive billing cycle. Annual Recurring subscriptions can be cancelled after the first billing cycle and within 30-days of the billing date for a full refund. Monthly Recurring subscriptions are ongoing and subscribers will be charged each consecutive monthly billing cycle. Monthly Recurring subscriptions can be cancelled after the first month and within 7 days of the monthly billing cycle for a full refund.

12. PAYMENT AUTHORIZATION

Payment for the services provided to you in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive may be made by automatic credit card, debit card, direct debit, bankwire or Paypal and other approved payment means offered in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive, and you hereby authorize HotelExecutive and its agents to transact such payments on your behalf.

You hereby authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card to pay for your membership to HotelExecutive. You further authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card for any and all purchases of products, services in association with HotelExecutive. You agree to be personally liable for all charges incurred by you in association with your access or other use of any content provided by HotelExecutive or any third party in association with HotelExecutive. You acknowledge and agree that your liability for all such charges shall continue after termination of your access or any type of membership arrangement with HotelExecutive.

In the event that you have chosen to have your membership automatically rebilled, unless and until you notify HotelExecutive that you wish to cancel or terminate your membership to HotelExecutive, you hereby agree and authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to automatically renew your membership to HotelExecutive on a continuing basis and to charge your credit card (or other payment means you have selected) to pay for the ongoing cost of your membership. You hereby further authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card (or other approved payment means you have selected) for any and all purchases of products, services and entertainment provided to in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive.

13. PRIVACY POLICY

The following is the Privacy Policy for HotelExecutive

We can be reached via telephone, email, or online at our contact page. When you visit our site we do not log any information regarding your domain or email address. Information Sharing: We do not share user information with any third parties other than via press release distribution as described below.

Hotel Newswire is a newswire service that distributes press releases on behalf of our users. If you decide to submit a press release for distribution through our system we will transmit your entire press release including any personal information therein contained to our media contacts and online distribution points including search engines. This is the only redistribution of your information that we engage in. Your submission of press releases through our system indicates consent with this policy. The information we collect during your registration process is used to notify users about updates to our service and inform users of any special events hosted by Hotel Newswire. This information is not shared with other organizations for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Cookies: Our system requires the use of cookies to enable the user to log back into our website to access information from the newswire, without having to log in each time using the required username and password.

If you do not want to receive email from us in the future, please let us know by following instructions included in our communication with you. Users who supply us with telephone numbers online may receive telephone contact from us regarding their account, or informing them of new products and services available on the HotelExecutive website. If you do not wish to receive such telephone calls, please edit your account and remove your phone number from your account profile. This can be done from your user account menu.

Ad Servers: We do not partner with or have any relationship with any ad server companies. From time to time, we may use customer information for new uses not previously disclosed in our privacy notice. If our information practices change at any time, we will post the policy changes to our website to notify you of these changes and provide you with the ability to opt out of these new uses. If you are concerned about how your information is used, you should check back at our website periodically.

Upon request we provide site visitors with access to all information (including proprietary information) that we maintain about them. Users can access this information by logging in to their account.

Security: We always use industry-standard encryption technologies while transferring and receiving user data exchanged with our site. We have appropriate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of information that we have collected from you on our site. We do not store credit card information in our systems.

If you feel that this site is not following its stated information policy, you may contact us.

Susie Ross
Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Nina Curtis
James Downey
Jerry Tarasofsky
Mark Heymann
Benu Aggarwal
Mike Kistner
Kalen Willis
Kelly McGuire
Coming up in April 2021...

Guest Service: Health and Safety First

Though expectations are that hotels will return to some semblance of normalcy in 2021, their highest priority must continue to be the health and safety of guests and employees. To that end, hotels are training their guest service personnel in enhanced cleaning routines, which include the following practices - bathrooms, elevator buttons, remote controls and other high-touch items, are disinfected and cleaned with a higher frequency; all tables, chairs and menus in restaurants are cleaned at a much higher frequency, and after each seating; floor markers in public areas to remind guests and team members to maintain physical distance; hand alcohol stations and disposable gloves in lobbies and restaurants; loose items such as pens, note pads and information material removed from rooms and meeting rooms; limiting the number of seats in restaurants and public areas; and revised food & beverage offerings. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will review how guest service personnel are being trained to maintain health and safety protocols in their operations.