Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.

Library Archives

 
R.J. Friedlander

All communication available on the web - whether feature length article, tweet, or guest review - is classed as content, and it is a powerful tool. Leverage this tool to your advantage and you have the possibility to enhance your brand reputation, increase revenue and grow your business. As the quantity of web information has increased, so has the search for authenticity. People are savvy to advertising and marketing strategies, and want to hear real voices, and real guest feedback. To really harness this, every hotel marketer needs to know about this one thing: ‘earned' or ‘user-generated' content. READ MORE

Amanda Hitchcock

As the appeal of unique experiences continues to drive the success of the Travel-Tourism industry, hotels and hospitality brands must adapt to defend the current trend of industry success, engage with consumers by using a visual, personalized, experience-oriented language, and connect with 2018 audiences across a social media spectrum over-saturated by industry growth. With experience surpassing product as a driving factor, hotel and hospitality brands must address the change in consumer perspective by highlighting the personalized experiences of their brand and property. Perhaps the most successful tool available to hotels to convey and market these new, 2018 “destination” brands is the highly visual, image-sharing platform, Instagram. READ MORE

Patrick Ahler

Social media has become the new norm for hotels when it comes to free marketing. It's easily accessible, there is no acquisition cost, and almost everyone uses some form of social media on a daily basis. Yet now, with the added competition of influencers, ads, and the high standards that have been set, this once “free” marketing tool has become anything but that. It can be difficult to quantify how much money you should budget for your social media platforms to market your hotel, but there are some methods that make it possible to get a reasonable estimate of your social media ROI. READ MORE

Sherry Heyl

With 59% of marketers increasing their budget to work with social media influencers, Influencer Marketing is going to continue to grow. We will see hotels getting feature stories on top blogs and/or highlights on influential social profiles. There are a variety of reasons influencer marketing is taking over, including more compelling and entertaining stories told to a targeted audience as well as the increased ability to measure the impact and affect behavior and drive conversions. Whether or not you can increase your budget, here are a number ways you can increase the value of your influencer marketing strategy. READ MORE

Tim Sullivan

Social media has been ingrained into the fabric of our lives. For travelers, it has become an integral part of the guest journey during their research and decision-making as they book hotels. A typical consumer, when making a purchasing decision about booking travel, will have hundreds of touchpoints across multiple websites and social media platforms. Prospective guests use a hotel's video and imagery to get a deeper sense of what it would be like to experience a location, and they use the interpersonal aspect of social media to get feedback from others who've been there. READ MORE

Leslie Wilkins

There is no doubt that marketing for hotels has evolved over the years. Hoteliers have more options than ever to spend advertising dollars in both traditional forms and digital forms, so how do you choose? While there is a need for advertising methods through specific channels like billboards, Google AdWords, and TripAdvisor, none of these channels can simultaneously maximize your hotel's digital presence in the three important ways that social media can: by managing your reputation, marketing your property by telling your story, and targeting your ideal guest. READ MORE

Anne Sandoval

For a hotel property, appearance in search results has long been a vital strategy for increased bookings. Hoteliers must stay competitive in search results on online travel agency (OTA) websites and TripAdvisor, along with traditional search engines like Google and Bing. However, there's a new frontier in traveler search behavior. Social networks are some of the most frequently used search engines online. When marketing hotels, traditional SEO practices are not enough to reach travelers. By participating in social networking, hoteliers can take advantage of some of the most used search engines and appear in the most engaging search results online. READ MORE

Holly Zoba

Changes in technology and the unlimited availability of information has changed the way group buyers purchase travel. Yet in many hotel sales offices, expected sales behaviors have remained unchanged - make cold calls, develop relationships, try to close more deals. This article explores a new look at the hotel group sales process and suggests unique strategies and tools to ensure your sellers are positioning themselves best for today's buyers. While we all know how much technology has changed, pinpointing exactly how it has changed our group buyers has been a little bit trickier to process. READ MORE

Mary Gendron

The importance of influencers in social media has evolved to the point that fans and followers are not only going where they go, or where they say to go, but they are taking trips with them. How can hotels, resorts and spas tap into what is becoming its own distinct market segment? This article addresses this relatively new phenomenon, cites examples of influencers who are organizing their own trips, and provides tips for hotels and resorts for gaining business through strategic partnerships. READ MORE

Emily Venugopal

Cast your mind back to a time in the hotel industry, that in order to register a complaint or a concern, a swift call downstairs to reception was all that was required, as opposed to requesting clean towels or apparent lack of via a terse Tweet directed at head office, to rectify the solution. Hotels now not only have to monitor social platforms and review sites such as TripAdvisor 24/7 for the opportunity to instantly smooth over an issue in real-time, but also are tasked with how to ingrain social media usage into the property itself in order to be more consumer-friendly. READ MORE

Stephanie Miller

Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria recently made names for themselves in the Caribbean and along the southern and eastern coasts of the U.S. As hotels were unfortunately pummeled with Category 5 hurricanes, many people turned to social media. Facebook quickly became a dominant outlet to express well wishes, request updates on guest/staff safety, seek the hotel's condition and check the status of upcoming reservations. During a weather-related crisis, followers and concerned parties want - and expect - timely updates. While challenges are unavoidable, a hotel's ability (or lack thereof) to effectively communicate can significantly affect its brand reputation, guest relationships and long-term revenue. READ MORE

Gaurav Varma

Marketing on social media has come a long way. It's no longer optional for hotels. They must be actively managing and growing their social media presence to positively impact customer engagement. The last two years have been particularly interesting with 71 % of internet users also using social media and more than 81% of the US population having a social media profile. Many people are using social media as their primary source of news and information. This article explores the key trends impacting social media in 2018 and some actionable takeaways for hotel managers to implement in the coming year. READ MORE

Stephanie Hilger

How do you measure social media success? Which metric is even more important than how many likes your Facebook Page has or how many followers your Twitter or Instagram accounts boast? Engagement! After all, what good are thousands and thousands of followers if they are not reacting to your content? Quality over quantity is an important rule to follow in social media. It is far better to have a few engaged followers than thousands of followers who do not care about the content you are publishing on a day to day basis. The same can be said in regards to content READ MORE

Renu Hanegreefs-Snehi

In the era of information and digitization soon we will be spending more time online than sleeping. Today's travelers are always-on and stressed-out, and as a result a new trend has emerged: seeking moments of simplicity and calm - online and offline - in order to cope with the day. So what does this mean for the hotel industry, which is no longer about simply providing beds in which to sleep, but providing guest experiences? It means new opportunities to engage in a highly relevant way to provide the sanctuaries that guests are craving. READ MORE

Peter O'Connor

An estimated nine out of ten travelers searching for a hotel online now proactively consult peer-generated user generated reviews before committing to a booking. User reviews are now perceived to be more credible, topical and useful than practically any other source of travel information, making them highly influential. Hotels therefore need to invest in protecting and enhancing their reputation in the user review space. In this highly practical article I outline a tried and trusted approach to systematically managing user reviews, providing practical advice as to how to convert a potential threat into a powerful sales and marketing tool. READ MORE

Benjamin Jost

It is a well-known fact that social media plays an important role in a hotel's brand awareness strategy. But what else can social media presence do for a hotel? Let's see what the numbers tell us. Facebook has been ranked #1 and the most widely used. Twitter has 317 million monthly users. Instagram ads continue to provoke their users to action by visiting websites for one example. These facts alone should be enough of an incentive for your hotel to take a hard look at engaging with social media. READ MORE

Coming up in June 2018...

Sales & Marketing: Opinions Matter

Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors manage a complex mix of strategies to attract and convert customers into guests. Part of their expertise includes an awareness of customer behavior during the reservation process, so they can make sure their hotel is favorably positioned. One such trend is the growing popularity of travel review sites. According to one recent survey, 61% of prospective customers consult online reviews in order to validate information about the hotel before making a purchasing decision. Another survey found that the average hotel customer reads between 6-12 reviews across 4-10 properties before making a final decision on where to stay. Similarly, other studies have shown that consumer reviews are a more trusted source of information for prospective customers than other kinds of marketing messaging. In fact, reviews are often considered to be as influential as price regarding whether a customer decides to complete a purchase or not. Plus, travel sites with the most reviews - including recent reviews from satisfied customers and thoughtful responses from staff - were also found to be the most appealing. So having positive reviews on a travel website is essential and can help to increase a hotel's conversion rates dramatically. Of course, there are all kinds of additional marketing strategies for sales and marketing directors to consider - the importance of video and the emergence of live streaming; the implementation of voice search; the proliferation of travel bots; and the development of Instagram as an e-commerce platform. 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.