Social Media Dos and Don’ts: A Hoteliers’ Guide

Social media has become an unparalleled marketing force—and is showing no signs of slowing down. It’s doubtful any business owner in this day and age needs to be convinced of the importance of social media marketing. But acknowledging the need to be on social media platforms isn’t enough. You need to make sure you’re doing it right. Here are the most important social media do’s and don’ts to get you on the right track:

Accounts

DO be consistent across accounts. This is (of course) essential for profile information like your address, phone number, and website URL, but it’s just as necessary for branding and messaging. Maintaining common color schemes, profile pictures and style will improve brand recognition and inspire credibility.

DON’T get passive. Creating an account and then failing to post regularly is worse than having no account at all. Social media is a dynamic medium that requires regular attention to be effective. Make sure posting becomes part of your regular routine. Neglected accounts do not leave a good first impression.

DO use analytics. Like any marketing strategy, you should constantly be evaluating the performance of your content. Whether you’re utilizing the features offered by social media platforms—like Twitter analytics and Facebook Insights—or third party tools, paying attention to analytics can help you get the most out of the platform. Identifying key information about your demographic, highlighting content that is the most effective and determining the best time of day to post are just a few insights to be gained from the practice.

DON’T forget to leave your mark. You spend a lot of time and energy on your social media pages so don’t miss an opportunity to promote them. Be sure to include social media marks on your website, newsletters, and other marketing collateral.

Content

DO keep it concise. The key to a good post is brevity. People don’t visit their favorite brand’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter page to read an essay. They’re looking for palatable content that gets to the point. Keep your posts and captions short and sweet and your viewers will be much more likely to engage.

DON’T always sell. Social media is a personal space for which traditional marketing is ill-fit. Constant, overt advertisements will not be well received in this arena. Of course, you want to use it for some self-promotion (that’s the entire objective after all), but it needs to be mixed in with other content. A good rule of thumb is to limit promotional material to about 20% of all posts.

DO take advantage of UGC. One of the greatest aspects of social media is the unlimited potential to expand marketing reach with little to no cost. And one of the best ways to do that is leveraging user-generated content.  Implement social media campaigns with a unique hashtag to encourage users to share their content (perhaps even host a contest) and don’t forget to like and share when they do!

Engagement

DO encourage engagement. As already mentioned, social media is a dynamic and personal medium. To find success on the platform, you need to use your account to have a dialogue with your followers. Post content that encourages users to engage and make sure to respond and interact with them when they do.

DON’T ignore bad comments. Negative reviews are part of the hospitality game. Everyone gets them. To mitigate the repercussions, it’s essential you respond. Offer your apologies and provide contact information for further concerns and communication. It’ll earn your property a much stronger online reputation than simply ignoring (or deleting) them.

Social media is a critical part of marketing today. And it’s already significant influence will only continue to grow. It’s a medium with unparalleled potential, so do everything you can to make it work for you!

It’s Time to Start Taking Bookings Directly on Facebook

It’s news to no one that Facebook is the place to be on the internet. With almost two billion monthly users, the social media giant cannot be ignored by a business that wants to be successful. Chances are you’ve already invested significant time and energy into cultivating your property’s Facebook presence, and we think that’s great! Now it’s time to get an even bigger return on those efforts by taking bookings through your Facebook page via a booking widget. This addition (made simple with WebRezPro) is sure to boost direct bookings and cut down on booking abandonment while creating a seamless online experience that consumers have come to expect.

Create a Seamless Online Experience

The boundaries that used to exist online are fading away. With consumers shopping on Instagram and Twitter, retail and social sites are no longer separate arenas. There is a new expectation of fluidity online and having a disconnection between your Facebook page and booking engine could make you appear behind the times. Not only will Facebook booking capabilities help your property remain relevant, but they are sure to have a significant impact on your bottom line as well!

Increase Direct Bookings

Facebook has always been a place where people share their travel experiences—uploading photos, posting stories and highlighting the activities they enjoyed. But now, with the recent introduction of Facebook’s City Guides, the social site is making moves to become a go-to for trip planning (not just trip-envy!). Moving forward, potential guests will be searching Facebook in a more intentional manner, and this is an excellent opportunity for properties to boost direct bookings.

Increasing direct bookings is a priority for properties both big and (perhaps especially) small. While Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) bring in a significant number of reservations, they also take a substantial cut of your revenue and reduce the direct contact that you have with your guests. Integrating booking capability into your Facebook page allows you to score direct bookings from customers that prefer browsing on a third-party site (almost like an OTA without the commission!).

Reduce Booking Abandonment

In a world of mobile apps and the Internet of Things, people have come to expect efficiency and immediacy. These days, if something isn’t easy to use it is quickly abandoned, and making online bookings is no exception.  While it may sound silly, requiring a potential customer to leave Facebook in order to search for availability at your property, could very well be a deal-breaker—resulting in reduced sales conversion. People are on Facebook for a reason so don’t make them leave it.

Even if a customer does navigate to your property’s page, any extra steps in the browsing to booking process is an opportunity for something to go awry, and for the customer to give up. The hospitality industry is a competitive one, and it’s important to do everything you can to mitigate abandoned bookings.  Integrate a booking form into your Facebook page, so you won’t have to settle for lost sales.

The advent of social media was a game-changer for the hospitality industry.  Any good marketing strategy places emphasis on establishing a relevant online presence and Facebook is a major piece of that puzzle. Between curating photos, writing status updates and engaging with followers, a significant investment of time and energy goes into the maintenance of your profile. You work hard to get potential guests on your Facebook page! Add a booking widget directly to your property’s profile to capitalize on that hard-earned traffic. Contact us for more information or a free demo today!

How to Inspire Guests on Social Media

Over the last few years, social media has changed the marketing game when it comes to reaching the modern traveler. Always connected, today’s travelers consider their smartphones an indispensable travel companion and, according to one study, 97 percent of millennials post to social media at least once while traveling.

This is especially important to hotel marketers, considering the rapidly growing influence of other people’s vacation photos and selfies on travel plans.

Today, most brands incorporate social media into their marketing strategies to amplify reach and connect with customers. The key to success is harnessing the power of user-generated content to inspire customers to book your property and, in turn, share their experiences.

Selfies Sell

Recent research by Blitz Agency revealed that 84 percent of millennials and 73 percent of non-millennials are likely to plan a trip based on someone else’s vacation photos or social media updates. And while traditional word of mouth is still the winning source of travel inspiration, Facebook and Instagram follow closely behind, well ahead of traditional sources of travel inspiration, including magazines, TV and movies. When it comes to inspiring travelers, user-generated content beats professionally generated content hands down.

User-generated content resonates with travelers more than professional advertising because it represents the brand in a more authentic way — from the customer’s point of view. Some big brands are already leveraging user-generated content through hashtag campaigns with great success, for example, Starwood Hotels’ #SPGLife, Fairmont’s #FairmontMoments, and Loews Hotels’ #TravelForReal. Such campaigns motivate travelers to share their own experience of a brand, especially if tied to a competition or giveaway.

So, how can independent properties capitalize on user-generated content? The first step is connecting with your guests on the social media platforms they use. Facebook and Instagram are good bets for connecting with customers that like to post and view visual content.

  • Let your guests know where to find you on social media. Promote your property’s social media pages and handles on your website, in email communications, online ads and even in print (advertising, business cards, front desk/lobby signage, in-room folders, etc.).
  • Engage with customers on social media. Respond directly to customers who post about your property, whether they are sharing a selfie, a comment or asking a question. Re-share their photos (be sure to tag them), thank them for positive feedback, and address their questions or complaints in a timely and helpful manner.
  • Encourage guests to share. Motivate your customers to share their positive experiences of your property on social media by creating fun hashtag campaigns that can be further incentivized by running a contest. Surprising and delighting guests with thoughtful in-room extras or other special touches and maintaining photo-worthy spaces and amenities (or even “selfie spots”) also works well to inspire guests to share the moment (and make their peers jealous) on social media.
  • Re-share their love. When a guest shares a great photo or video of their experience at your property, don’t be afraid to spread those good vibes by re-sharing the content on your own pages (always giving credit to/tagging the creator), incorporating it into your property’s story and encouraging other customers to engage. Add a personal comment of your own, such as thanking them for their stay, wishing them well on the next leg of their journey, or inviting them to come back soon. Curated user-generated content from social media can even be shared on your property’s website via earned content platforms like Olapic.

Top Hotel Experiences Shared on Social Media

Interesting research by Local Measure, a customer intelligence platform for tourism and hospitality, recently revealed the hotel features guests most frequently post about on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. According to the study, the top five subjects guests post about on social media are:

  1. The restaurant and meals
  2. The bar and drinks
  3. Views from the property/room
  4. The hotel room
  5. The pool

While online hotel reviews are filled with comments about staff, customer service, guestroom condition and standard property amenities, it seems that on social media — now a highly visual platform — guests are compelled to share more “photogenic” experiences that will make their peers jealous.

Lodging operators can leverage this knowledge by paying special attention to such areas on their own property to ensure that the guest experience is a great one. Whether or not your property has a restaurant or a pool, focus on providing delightful (and photo-worthy) experiences by enhancing the features you do have, be it a peaceful garden area, a breakfast nook, or by providing unexpected in-room treats (which could be as simple as a personal welcome note).

Encouraging and sharing user-generated content on social media is key to inspiring prospective guests to choose your property. And it’s a powerful strategy; the more your guests engage with your property on social media, the more you learn about them too, allowing you to personalize the guest experience even further to create stronger customer relationships that result in loyal brand ambassadors.

One last tip: 80 percent of time spent on social media is via mobile devices, so your social media channels are driving a significant amount of mobile traffic to your property’s website. Be ready for mobile customers by ensuring your website and website booking engine are mobile friendly.

7 Smart Social Media Practices for Hotels in 2017

Social media is an important part of an overall marketing strategy for most businesses these days — and just like any other digital application, it’s always evolving. To stay competitive on social media, lodging operators need to keep up with their platforms’ latest tools and trends and test new strategies to stand out.

Here are seven smart social media practices that will help lead to success in the year ahead.

Pay to Boost Content

Gaining organic reach on social media is becoming more and more difficult for businesses as networks such as Facebook prioritize posts from users’ friends and families. That may explain why between 2014 and 2016 (a mere two years), social media ad spending doubled worldwide from US$16 billion to US$31 billion, and analysts predict a further 26.3% global increase on social media ad spending in 2017.

All the major social media platforms now offer powerful targeting tools like custom audiences, which allow businesses to reach customers who are more likely to convert. Social media advertising offers an excellent ROI, attaining high reach at a relatively low cost. We recommend testing posts organically first and boosting the most popular ones (those that gain higher organic reach) through paid advertising.

Experiment with New Video Formats

Video has taken the social media world by storm. It’s no secret that Facebook prioritizes video over other types of posts with video driving much more engagement.

Recently, new video formats are gaining popularity, such as live (real-time) video and 360-degree video (and photos), and are now available across platforms like Facebook (Facebook Live), Instagram (within Instagram Stories) and Twitter. Live video in particular allows brands to create engaging content without requiring all the time and resources that go into more polished productions. Live video is great for giving audiences a glimpse behind-the-scenes or sharing a live event experience — authentic, real content that really resonates with audiences.

Lodging operators have a wealth of video subjects to choose from, including the property, staff, location/destination, events, guest feedback, etc., so this year have fun with different video formats to see what resonates with your audience.

Take Advantage of Instagram

Instagram just keeps growing. From June 2016 to December 2016, the number of monthly active Instagram users increased by 100 million from 500 million to 600 million! With last year’s launch of Instagram’s business profiles and tools, the recent release of Instagram Stories (a Snapchat-like feature that lets users post ephemeral photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours), and the upcoming shopping feature, exciting things are happening on the platform — especially for businesses.

After Facebook, Instagram boasts one of the best engagement levels across social media platforms and is a great discovery tool for brands. Because advertising is relatively new to Instagram (2015) there are still lots of opportunities for brands to stand out, so if you haven’t looked into this social channel yet, now’s the time.

Share User-Generated Content

The feedback and opinions of real guests tend to be trusted by potential customers over the property’s own marketing efforts, which is why it makes a lot of sense to capture and promote positive user-generated content (UGC).

Your guests’ experiences form an engaging part of your story, so be proactive in encouraging your guests to create content relevant to your property through social media contests and custom hashtag campaigns that inspire guests to share photos, videos and their own stories. Provide share-worthy on-property experiences such as thoughtful in-room surprises (like personalized welcome notes or a small gift) or special events. Make sure guests know where to find you on social media by promoting your social media handles and hashtags on your website, on-property and in advertising campaigns.

Respond to and share positive UGC through your property’s own accounts (and even on your website or in marketing campaigns with the user’s permission) to amplify reach. Of course, any negative feedback should also be dealt with appropriately.

Augment Customer Service through Messaging Apps

Messaging apps (such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Viber) are used by over 4 billion users worldwide. From email to SMS text messaging and social media to mobile messaging apps, digital has fast become the world’s preferred method of communication.

In our mobile age, the widespread use of mobile messaging apps and the quest to personalize the customer experience is leading the customer-brand relationship further toward one-to-one communication via channels that offer more instant and more convenient service. It makes sense for hotels to be accessible through the channels their customers prefer.

Mobile messaging offers many advantages as a customer service channel: it’s cost-effective and easy to implement and it provides an avenue for less vocal (or confrontational) guests to voice complaints and make requests — both valuable opportunities for properties to provide a level of customer service that earns loyal customers.

Make it Easy to Book through Social Media

Social media has typically been considered a channel through which to increase brand awareness and engagement, but with ecommerce features rolling out across platforms, social media is increasingly becoming a direct sales channel.

Offer your social media audience the convenience of booking with you direct through social media in an unobtrusive way. Lodging operators can add a “book now” button to their property’s Facebook page, which can take customers directly to the bookings page on the property’s own website. “Buy now” and other call-to-action buttons (like “Learn more”) can be added to Instagram ads that link to specific pages on your website.

Use Micro-Moments to Guide Content

It can be hard to keep things fresh when it comes to creating social media content, but keeping Google’s micro-moments in mind (the dreaming, planning, booking and experiencing moments) will help point your posts in the right direction.

Social media is particularly popular with travelers during the dreaming and experiencing stages but can be relevant during the planning and booking stages too. For example, posts recommending local hotspots, sharing travel tips or highlighting activities and events can be very helpful to guests in their planning stages, and information about special packages is obviously relevant to the booking stage.

Using micro-moments to guide your content strategy can help keep your posts focused on what resonates with your audience, is relevant to their needs and drives engagement. It can also help to maintain the right balance of personal and promotional content (of which the former should largely outweigh the latter).

As part of your overall marketing strategy, social media works best when integrated with other marketing channels and campaigns, such as your property’s website, email campaigns, online advertising and offline campaigns, and even customer service. As you plan your strategy for the year ahead, keep these smart social media practices in mind for an engaging and successful 2017.

Social Media Tune Up: 5 Tips for Hoteliers

One thing is certain about social media: while various channels evolve and new ones surface, social media is here to stay. Now almost a third of the world’s population is active on social media, so it’s certainly worthwhile for hoteliers to work on improving social media habits.

Here are our top five tips for tuning up social media practices to increase guest engagement.

Be a Good Listener

You may not have time to post engaging content every day, but never stop listening. With social media rapidly becoming travelers’ go-to place for customer service, you need to be there for them. Customers are turning to social media both for service and to voice their opinions because of the instant gratification it provides — they expect to get a fast response. Always reply to direct comments, and respond in a timely manner, to nurture rewarding guest relationships.

Social media management platforms like Hootsuite and reputation management platforms like Revinate’s Guest Feedback Suite feature social listening tools that automatically monitor various social media channels and review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp for both direct and indirect comments about your property. Log in to your social media management platform or manually check your social media accounts and review sites at least once a day to ensure no customers are ignored.

Encourage Guests to Share Their Experience

Social media and review sites are today’s supercharged version of “word-of-mouth.” If chatter about your property is a bit quiet, there are practical things you can do to encourage your guests to share their experience.

Post-stay surveys are an effective way to drum up reviews that can be posted online; Revinate Post-Stay Surveys, for example, can be directly published to TripAdvisor. And exceptional reviews can be highlighted on your social media pages. You can encourage your guests to post selfies and braggies on social media by providing photo-worthy experiences like unexpected in-room treats and amenities. An article by hospitality training expert Doug Kennedy suggests setting up a “selfie station” in the lobby… why not? Of course, by simply providing outstanding service you are motivating guests to share their positive experience with the world. Plug your Twitter handle and other social media pages on your website, check-out receipts and in-room cards so your guests know where they can reach you.

Re-sharing and retweeting your guests’ positive thoughts and experiences on your property’s own social media pages also helps to spread the word, boost engagement and build lasting property-guest relationships.

Post More Videos

You’ve probably noticed the increase of video in your Facebook feed. Video is taking the socialsphere by storm! It’s compelling and eye-catching (especially on auto play, as it is on Facebook and Instagram) and very sharable — in other words, video is a great way to engage audiences. You can post video directly to various social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter (via the mobile app), Instagram (15-second limit) and even Pinterest. Or you can upload videos to your YouTube channel and share them on your social media pages from there. Promotional videos for your property, guest testimonials and clips about your local destination all make for great video content to share on your social pages. Catch that spectacular sunset with a single panning shot that shows off your view and share it — that’s the kind of stuff your followers want to see!

Try Out Paid Ad Placement

Social networks are making organic (free) reach more difficult for businesses as they move toward a paid advertising model. With such a deluge of content flowing through social media feeds, networks like Facebook are reducing the organic reach of promotional posts in favour of content engaging more followers. Organic reach is still attainable, you may just have to work a little harder to come up with quality content that your audience responds to. So while we’re not suggesting to give up on free reach, it is worthwhile to test paid placement for those posts or tweets that are specifically trying to sell something. Most of your content isn’t (or shouldn’t be) sales-y, so paying a few dollars to boost a promotional post here and there isn’t going to break the bank.

Paid placement gets your less engaging, promotional content seen by your audience and allows you to target the most relevant subset of followers for greater conversion — which can be tracked so you can measure your ROI.

Start That Blog

If you haven’t started blogging yet (or perhaps you did but now it’s just gathering dust), there are a number of excellent reasons why you (or someone else on your team) should get writing. Google loves fresh content and frequent blog posts are an effective way to get your property’s website to the top of search results. The more updated pages of relevant content you create, the more online visibility your website will receive.

Blogs are an ideal venue for highlighting your property’s personality through sharing the latest goings-on at and near your hotel, like amenity upgrades, new menu items, hotel events, specials and packages, local events, nearby attractions and that hot new restaurant that opened up down the street. You don’t have to write a novel, but try to include a photo in most posts. Best of all, your blog posts provide a wealth of engaging content to easily share on your social media channels.

Remember: the key word in social media is “social.” Unlike traditional forms of media (TV, radio, print), social media empowers hoteliers to build relationships with customers, and you can learn a lot about their travel interests and preferences by what they liked, shared, commented and clicked on. Use this invaluable information to build rich guest profiles in your property management system to further personalize future stays and increase loyalty.