Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others can do more than simply attract guests before they book their stay, however. Clever hoteliers have leveraged social media to strengthen brand recognition and loyalty—before, during and after their guests’ stays.
To give you some ideas on how you can use social media to attract and retain guests, here’s how a few of the industry’s leading brands are enhancing their guests’ experiences.
Make your current app into a social affair
It’s become common practice for hotels (and basically any large business) to offer guests an app for their mobile devices. But some hoteliers are tying already-existing apps to their guests’ social media presence, significantly increasing their engagement.
Marriott’s director of digital marketing, Katie Krum, recently outlined how her company has been generating buzz with a “social concierge.” Through its “Trading Tips” platform, Marriott’s guests review and suggest local businesses to one another. Krum says the app capitalizes on guests’ desire to connect with one another, but to do so in an open, non-invasive way.
Ritz-Carlton has been engaging in this way for a while — their app lets users transform their travel photos into posters for sharing across social media. With the Sharable Experiences platform, guests can modify their pictures with stamps, filters, etc., or give them a ‘vintage’ feeling.
The idea of these initiatives is simple: if hotels can connect with guests at the social level, their brand will hopefully be their first thought for their next trip.
Embrace the hashtag
Hashtags have become a pervasive aspect of social media, allowing users to quickly join a larger conversation and get their message noticed. Several hotels have taken notice and followed suit.
For example, guests at Spain’s Sol Wave House Hotel can tweet to the hotel’s concierge staff to request room service, pool-side drinks, etc., by using a dedicated hashtag. By tagging posts with #WaveTaxi, they can also summon a ride while out and about.
Going from practical to fun, the hotel also hosts weekend Twitter pool parties on Fridays, spreading the word (and facilitating guests’ interaction) with the #TwitterPoolParty hashtag.
Social media as décor
Encouraging guests to interact with each other during their stay can be is a challenge that can be hit-or-miss. But Four Seasons Dallas came up with a new approach that turned into a bulls-eye.
Over the Fourth of July weekend in 2013, Four Seasons installed a series of ‘social walls’ in its lobby, which consisted of numerous screens projecting what guests were posting about the hotel on social media.
With this method, the hotel was able to appeal to guests’ desire to connect with others, and to showcase their brand through the eyes of others at the same time. And it worked – over the course of the weekend, Four Seasons was mentioned or involved in over 243,000 social media impressions, reaching an audience of over 100,000 individual users.
Other hotels have followed suit – Australia’s 1888 Hotel also features screens in its lobby displaying guests’ Instagram photos from their stay. Going one step further, the hotel sports a designated ‘selfie area,’ along with ‘Insta-Walk’ maps giving guests directions to nearby photo ops. Guests benefit from an added incentive – those with more than 10,000 followers who snap a nice pic can win a free night’s stay.
Guests are using social media as their primary point of contact and discovery more and more. As this trend grows, new opportunities will continually arise for brands to make their voices heard, and to make their guests feel part of a larger conversation. And if you can keep your guests engaged in that discussion, your hotel will hopefully be the first they think of for their next trip.
About the Author
Abi Mandelbaum is co-founder and CEO of YouVisit, the only fully integrated platform for creating, distributing, and monetizing virtual reality and other immersive experiences across all devices, including headsets, mobile, and desktop. YouVisit has worked with thousands of businesses and institutions such as Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Carnival, Yale, Zumba, and New York’s Central Park.