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How can Social Media be utilised by Hotels?

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Social Media is an ideal marketing and communication channel for the hospitality industry. Online reputation management has become the front runner for any hotel’s PR policy. It’s not a question of whether hotels use social media but how effectively these networks are being utilised to improve brand recognition, loyalty and bookings. . . .

Social Media is an ideal marketing and communication channel for the hospitality industry.  Online reputation management has become the front runner for any hotel’s PR policy. It’s not a question of whether hotels use social media but how effectively these networks are being utilised to improve brand recognition, loyalty and bookings.

Prior to diving head first into social media, hotels need to identity their online marketing goals and strategise around them.  With the boom in social networks, simply pumping information is not enough to get the attention of the customer. Popular brands online stay popular by engaging meaningful conversations with the entire community and not just the direct stakeholders.

Fig 1: Uses of Social Media – Evision’s Social Media for Hotels white paper

Apart from gaining customer loyalty, boosting conversations and building online reputation; one of the key reasons that hotels now maintain a consistent social media presence is for online bookings.  In general hotels are not focused on online revenue generation channels in particular direct bookings. This is where Facebook and the hotel websites play a pivotal role.

Therefore the main goal of social media networks should be to increase direct bookings and to manage online reputation.

Bearing this in mind, your social media sites should be created with a consistent branding theme that reflects the corporate image of your hotel.  Once the sites are created, you need to own your URL. Now you are ready to start communicating with your customers via the designated social media channels. When you start engaging with your audience never do in your face marketing, always add value to the customer and make your social media channel a one stop shop.  As a hotel, ensure that you brand yourself as a hospitality expert with travel tips, tourist attractions, events, weather reports, photographs and much more.

As highlighted in our previous article, Content is key. Set yourself apart from your competitors by creating content that establishes you as a market leader.  Generate excitement amongst your audience using polls, special offers, questionnaires, promotions and other innovative ideas. Be careful not to fall into the traps of social media and ensure that your postings are consistent, timely and on trend.

Fig 2: Customer Engagement Model of a typical hotel

As your key goal is direct bookings, use your social media channels to entice the customer to book online. Use images, location maps, discounts, surprise upgrade and peer recommendations to convert a lead to a sale. If you can go above and beyond the customer’s expectations, it would be safe to assume that you have built a long term relationship with the customer. This will guarantee return bookings and not just a onetime booking.

Social Media is not just about making the sale online; it is also about attitudes offline. Your hotel and its staff need to be social media aware.  The customers will be extremely disappointed if the online face of the hotel is different from the offline brand of your property. So ensure that everyone from your concierge to your service staff are savvy, customer service and social media oriented. You staff need to encourage the visitors to keep engaging with the social media channels of the hotel during the duration of the stay. This could be by way of location based check-ins, twitter based reservations, or a social media mobile application that is specific to your hotel.

Last but not least, you need to check and monitor the insights and ROI for all your social media efforts. There are multiple tools such as Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and other off the shelf social media management platforms that will help you track and manage your metrics effectively. The key tip to remember when analysing these reports is to focus only on your Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and not the noise. If your main goal is direct booking it should be sufficient to focus solely on the metrics that indicate its performance.

Fig 3 : Sample Social Media Engagement Data

The points indicated above have been preached by many social media experts and industry analysts time and time again. But sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to go back to our basics and reiterate a few key essentials we may have missed or forgotten along the way!

About Logan Nathan

Social Media Business Consultant | Internet (Web) Marketing Strategist Speaker | Trainer

Based in Sydney, Australia, Logan has been an avid & passionate social media user since the advent of Facebook. Logan runs his own workshops on the social media for business in Australia. He has also written a number of eBooks on the same subjects (Social Media Secrets for your Business, Twitter Secrets for Your Business and Social Media Startup Guide for Business), all of which are now published and available online. Logan is also a passionate speaker on the subject of using ‘Internet and Social Media for Business’ and spoken at number of Business conferences in Australia and overseas.

Watch testimonials from Logan’s latest workshops on http://www.youtube.com/logannathan

Book your seat at the upcoming workshops, refer http://www.ictsocialbusiness.com.au/social_media_education/social-media-training-workshop