Social Touch Marketing
By Richard Walsh Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Travel Marketing Dynamics | April 10, 2011
If you own or manage a hotel or resort and you have not accepted the importance of social media marketing as an integral part of your marketing strategy, it's time you do. Social media marketing is not tomorrow, it is now and it affects all aspects of your business. Not to get ahead of myself, but your time is money and it is important.
Whether you try to manage social media in-house or it is outsourced, effective social marketing will require time, resources and professional skills. My following statements and recommendations are a result of years of working with all categories of hotels and resorts. This includes my personal analysis of industry surveys, daily activities and keeping up with never ending changes in the social websites and networks. The goal is to develop effective social touch marketing plans and initiatives with measured results.
Social touch is all about your written messages and engagement with consumers and past hotel guests online. Talking to consumers is not new, but the popularity of websites like Facebook, Twitter and dozens of others just makes it easier and the value is not so much what is said between you and the individual, but more the fact that hundreds of other people can view your comments and the sentiment you express online relevant to your hotel.
It's all about when, where and how you touch a past guest, prospective guest, meeting planner, wedding planner or group organizer. Chances are the majority of your guests have looked at guest reviews, Googled your location, searched on local demand drivers and used their mobile phone's GPS application to find hotels in your area. Just think about the time and money spent trying to get guests to fill out a comment card, to tell a friend about their experience at your hotel or to visit your booth at a trade show. Now it's a whole lot easier, but there are some serious do and don'ts when answering a question, expressing yourself regarding a guest comment or asking your followers for their opinion or even for their business.
The time has passed for just dabbling in social media, although it still looks like that is where a lot of hotels are. Effective social touch is a lot more than just posting to your Facebook wall about a two for one special at the bar, tonight's menu or the usual weekend package. Your social media marketing is an integral, intertwined and interdependent part of all aspects of your marketing from your printed material to your website to your search marketing.
Social marketing success demands planning, time, persistence and control on how you touch the right prospects with the right message at the right time. To maximize your return on your time and expense, you need a clear plan that connects all of your marketing initiatives. It is also important that everyone in your hotel from the housekeeper to the owner knows how your online reputation is perceived, who your partners are for collaborative promotions, and how you touch consumers everyday through your social engagement initiatives.