This is a guest post by Marguerite Bravay from SnapShot.Travel – a leader in analytics for the hospitality industry.
Businesses have long since recognized the benefits of using social media, and the hotel industry is no exception. When done right, hotels will be able to reach thousands of potential customers, keep in touch with guests and build a loyal following, resulting in repeat bookings. But how can hotels make the most of social media?
Tap into Visual Appeal
Your hotel’s aesthetics are an integral part of the guest experience. From a lobby with ambiance to rooms with a view, all aspects of your hotel need to suit your brand. The same concept needs to be applied to social media. Social media is, inherently, visual. Your hotel’s accounts should reflect your property’s feel, whether that is chic and sleek or cozy and homey. Ultimately, social media is an extension of your brand.
To start off, pick an enticing, attractive picture of your property for your Facebook and Twitter cover photos. Next, post original content on your social platforms at least once a day. This can be a challenge if you don’t have a marketing department. To decrease the burden, you could get staff members to submit their own photos and use platforms such as Hootsuite to schedule content in advance.
The Ritz-Carlton takes professional shots as cover photos, showcasing what is unique about its hotels.
Use both professional and amateur shots, keeping in mind that content should be of high quality but also friendly and relatable. Post images not just of your property, but also of fun, interesting things to do near your hotel. Not only will this engage local businesses, but it will provide potential guests with inspiration for what to do during their stay. If you post the same photos on several platforms, don’t forget to use different captions. Followers know if something has simply been reposted from another one of your accounts – and that looks unattractive and unimaginative.
These days, guests are likely to look up hotels on social media before booking their stay. The photos you post can help secure their reservations.
Get Guests Involved
Social media began as a means of communication. Use it to connect with your guests – past, present and future. A simple way to get guests talking is to create a hashtag for your hotel. Guests can use it on Instagram or Twitter when they post their vacation photos. Not only will this generate buzz about your hotel, it will also create a rich source of content for you when you are choosing photos to upload to your own social media channels – but do make sure to ask for permission before reposting anyone else’s content!
To further boost guest engagement, schedule regular, themed posts and invite guests to submit their own photos of that theme. This helps to involve followers more regularly in your social media efforts. Even followers who aren’t submitting content are more likely to check your social channels for themed posts that they enjoy. Weekly themes can include city shots, hotel activities, and promotions. Hotels could also run monthly contests, where guests can win a free night or so if they post a photo on their Instagram account, once again using a specific hashtag. Hotel staff can then pick the best shot. This encourages the creation of free, high-quality content, with a little bit of fun for all involved.
The Standard in Miami Beach often runs social media contests engaging followers and using a specific hashtag.
Work with Social Media Influencers
One of the greatest benefits to working with social media influencers is that they already have an audience that is genuinely interested in their opinions and content. It might be tempting to contact every Instagram celebrity with over 100,000 followers, who posts content somewhat related to your brand. However, successful, and even lasting, partnerships, take a bit more time, research and work.
When you’re choosing influencers to reach out to, don’t be fooled by follower count alone. It is no secret that accounts can now purchase thousands of fans. Instead, look at a social media account’s engagement rate. Some influencers have 50,000 followers but only 200 or 300 likes per photo. On the other hand, smaller, niche accounts may only have 10000 followers, but each post gets 800 or 1000 likes. In this scenario, followers are much more engaged with the influencer’s posts. As such, followers are much more likely to head over to your own website or social channels, follow, and even book a stay.
When looking for influencers who represent your brand, use Instagram’s Explore tool, or join Facebook groups where Influencers and brands connect. Travel and lifestyle influencers are usually good bets for hotels. You can also search for specific hashtags on Instagram and target high-quality accounts who use that hashtag. For example, if you run a 5-star resort, look up hashtags such as #luxurytravel on Instagram or Twitter.
To entice influencers, invite them to your property for a few nights’ stay (perhaps with a spa package, dinner for two or activity thrown in). Work out the number of social posts and set deadlines in advance to avoid issues down the line. If things go well, you will be able to develop a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.
Working with the right social media influencers creates instant exposure to your hotel.
Track Your Efforts
To make sure your social media efforts are taking your business in the right direction, you need to track and monitor your efforts. If you’d like an in-depth look at your social media stats, sign up for SnapShot Analytics. This tool, developed for the hotel industry, provides a comprehensive look at all your social activity over time, clearly displayed in an easy-to-use dashboard.