Social Media Checks Into Hotels

10 Tips to Raise Your Hotel’s Social Media Profile

Hotels, the quintessential experiential offering, are ripe for social media marketing. Traditionally hotels merchandised themselves through travel guides, targeted glossy magazines, Sunday newspapers’ travel sections, travel agents and old-fashioned word of mouth. Now hotels, the good, the bad and the previously unknown, are described in vivid detail across an array of social media platforms and travel review sites, most notably TripAdvisor, where travelers happily provide feedback and commentary.  These sites are dedicated to comparing your offering to that of your competitors across a broad set of criteria.

4Ps of hotel marketing as a basis for social media

What’s a budget and headcount challenged, hotelier to do? Before jumping head first into social media, assess your offering across the traditional marketing 4Ps since you need to understand which aspects of your hotel are talk-worthy, both positive and negative.

  1. Product. Think broadly about your rooms and related amenities such as the quality of bed, electronics, lighting and bathroom. What other special features do you offer like a pool, sports club, free breakfast, free drinks and snacks, free wifi or other services that will surprise and please guests? What about your public rooms, views and landscaping? Consider why people stay at your hotel: is it for business or vacation? How does this color their expectations?
  2. Price. How is your establishment priced? How does this relate to your rooms and services? Who is paying for this stay? Is it a business stay, holiday or special event? Do you have a frequent visitor program? Do your guests get something extra that surprises them in a positive way?
  3. Place. Where is your hotel located? Is there public transportation, access to airports and highways, and/or parking?  Is it located near tourist sites, convention centers, beaches, mountains or in the middle of nowhere?
  4. Promotion. Are you part of a chain? Do you want your establishment to brand itself separately from the chain it belongs to? What does your establishment’s brand stand for and how does this translate into the experience at your hotel? Are there any types of special offerings that make your hotel stand out? Do you give loyalty rewards?

10 Ways for hotels to use social media

While some hospitality professionals spend an hour or two per week on a Facebook fan page and about one in four spend an average of less than an hour per week on Twitter, based on an unqualified site survey by the Wine and Hospitality Network, social media knowledgeable hoteliers are using social media to extend their reach, improve their occupancy rates, and increase revenue. Most notable is the Roger Smith Hotel with its dedicated Social Hospitality Director, Brian Simpson. This well-located midtown boutique hotel has gained social media credibility through its outreach to social media influencers and by offering hospitality to social media events. Here are ten tactics to help build your hotel’s social media profile.

  1. Create memorable experiences. Since social media, at its core, is about making your offering talk-worthy, what can you do for your guests to make them feel special? Think broadly in terms of your offering. For example, entice people to visit your hotel to listen to a string quartet or a guest lecturer where you can sell drinks and/or snacks while developing some buzz for youself.
  2. Encourage and incent staff to raise the bar on service. Reward staff for providing friendly, helpful service and build community around top service.
  3. Track what’s being said and where. Respond quickly and to the point. Revinate is a new tracking service created specifically for the travel industry.
  4. Acknowledge any issues with your establishment. This translates to vigilant monitoring across a variety of sites in addition to TripAdvisor such as Expedia and Yelp. Employees must be able to determine what’s worth responding to and how. Remember some travelers check the worst reviews first. Provide guidelines and training for these staff members engaging with the review sites.
  5. Follow up with guests to gather input and encourage new reviews on ratings sites. If no one’s added anything new, a two years old negative comment can still get more than its share of attention.
  6. Offer social media only specials. Give travelers a special rate for the use of Facebook or Twitter. The Roger Smith Hotel does this.
  7. Respond directly to travelers chatting on social media. Monitor sites like Twitter by searching on type of services and/or physical location to give consumers advice and help.
  8. Develop a social media event related to your hotel. For example, Joie De Vivre developed a Road Trippin’ California contest, which asked people to submit videos on YouTube that share why they love California. They gathered over 270 videos.
  9. Expand your reach beyond Facebook and Twitter. Consider Flickr and YouTube. Make sure that photographs are labeled and tagged to appear in search results. Remember that travelers always like to share photos with family and friends!
  10. Use location-based services like Foursquare to help raise your visibility locally. Give people a reason to visit your establishment, even if they’re to have a drink or dinner.

While it might not take a lot of investment to have a social media presence on a par with some of your competitors, to do social media really well you need to be actively participating in the social media ecosystem the way the Roger Smith Hotel does.  Bear in mind that social media requires an involved approach. If your establishment can’t spare the manpower and budget to be a player in the social media community, it may be better off not doing anything.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Photo credit: Roger Smith Hotel website

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