How the hospitality industry is embracing social media

Hotel social mediaWith 2.3 billion active on social media, it is no surprise that online marketing, specifically social media marketing, is a hot topic in hospitality.ÊNinety one per centÊof retail brands use two or more social media channels, and the hospitality industry should be no different.Ê

A fairly unknown and potentially daunting concept to many, here we look at just some of the ways media savvy hoteliers have embraced the channel and the interesting results they have seen. From Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to blogging, let’s dive in and take a closer look at the ways you can adopt some successful strategies for your own property.

FacebookÊÐ With 1.86 billion active users, Facebook can provide you with a platform to reach an audience much larger than traditional hotel marketing. Five new profiles are created on Facebook every second, which means your future guests are very likely to be there. Visually appealing and with no restrictions on the length of text you can use in a post, Facebook is becoming an increasingly popular channel for hoteliers to drive brand awareness, direct bookings and a great way to collect much sought-after reviews.

Facebook can be used to share information on your hotels facilities, things to do in the local area and a great place to generate reviews as well as connecting with past guests. To get started, connect with the local businesses around you that could advise their customers on your accommodation offering. Is there a local castle, attraction or tourist hotspot near you? Follow their pages and promote their services to your followers. People will repay the favour and especially so if you work on that online relationship. Encourage guests to share their snaps online, offer an incentive to do so and make it clear that the guest will always receive the best deal by booking directly with you. Publish your events on the Facebook page and look into purchasing a Facebook booking app to capture those lookers into bookers.

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Insider tipÊÐ Incentives really do capture people’s attention, so run a campaign to offer a night’s free stay, a bar tab or prize for one lucky Ôliker’ of your page. This will generate likes for your page that will then provide you with an audience to receive your updates in their newsfeed Ð it’s a win/win for all involved. Keep an eye on theÊGuestline blogÊfor an article on running successful Facebook campaigns for hotels.

Twitter ÐÊThere are 284 million active users on Twitter, and this is where the hashtag was born. On average, 6,000 tweets are sent out every second, making an impressive 500 million tweets per day.Twitter has a 140 character limit on posts which means tweets are short and to the point. Hashtags are a great way to target in on prospect guests and lead generation for your hotel, whilst also building brand awareness, guest interaction and loyalty.

To maximize your marketing efforts with Twitter, ensure your page is up to date and pay special attention to your bio. Make sure you describe your hotel as clearly as possible and it is vital to include your location. It is surprising how many active hotels on Twitter forget this simple, yet extremely effective step. If a potential guest searches on Twitter for ÒHotel in LondonÓ and your location is not disclosed, you will immediately miss out on appearing in the results. Twitter is unique in its offering with a character limit of 140, you need to keep your message sharp Ð wherever possible try and include a link to your website for the relevant information. Use this channel to strengthen your brand awareness and connect with your guests by using trending hashtags and, as with Facebook, connect with local businesses that can refer business your way. Again, don’t forget to broadcast the fact that booking direct with you means the guest will get the best deal. Maybe you could introduce a special offer, whereby if a guest books direct and tweets the hotel a picture of their stay, they receive a free glass of bubbly. Make sure you capture these people by creating private lists in TwitterÊ-Êa place where you can manage your followers and directly market to a particular group of users.Ê

Insider tipÊÐÊIf there is an event, concert or other publically recognized festival upcoming in your area search the hashtag with hotel. This will show you a reel of tweets where, more than likely, people are looking for accommodation.

Instagram ÐÊInstagram has gone from being a relatively smaller IOS-only photo sharing social site to a massive channel with Android and web presence.ÊSix hundredÊmillion monthly users are active on Instagram and this number is predicted to grow rapidly.

Pictures are worth a thousand words, and Instagram is a sure way to get your property in the picture (quite literally!). Consider your Instagram page as an additional hotel gallery, a place that potential guests will come to in order to see real life, accurate and different images that are not the work of a Photoshop happy marketer. Go behind the scenes at your property and share images the guests want to see Ð check out what your competitors are doing and ensure you stay current. Don’t forget the Ôole faithful’ hashtag and be sure to make regular searches for pictures past and present that guests have posted of your hotel, re gram (share) these and interact with these guests. Word of mouth is the best tool for recommendations, with social media recommendations closely on its tail. Capture your properties personality in its best light and share that with your followers. Of course, even the best content is worthless without an audience so be sure to work on growing that following.Ê

Insider tipÊÐÊAlthough you may not see immediate return on investment or interaction, persevere with Instagram, a constant stream of visually appealing imagery will do wonders for tempting those bookers your way.

Blogging ÐÊOn average 2.73 million posts are made on blogs every day and this number is increasing at speed. Blogs are proving to be a fantastic way for millennials and reviewers to share first hand experiences, for properties to showcase their offerings and for readers to get a much more detailed understanding of your establishment than a short ÒtypicalÓ social media posting. Content marketing is becoming one of the most powerful trends in the marketing world and blogs are the perfect platform to deliver fresh and engaging content to your potential guests. Blog posts make for fantastic content to be shared across other social media platforms as above and therefore should be tailored into your overall marketing strategy. Use this channel to tell your story, share information on things to do when guests stay with you, on the staff behind the scenes and remember to update regularly. Regular content will encourage readers back to your blog and ensure your visibility online is rising Ð Google indexes all of the material it can find online so see your blog as another channel to strengthen your online presence.

Insider tipÊÐÊThere is a huge trend at the moment on well-established bloggers offering honest and detailed reviews for properties in exchange for a free stay. This is a fantastic way to generate user created content that can be recycled across other platforms.

It is clear that social media marketing should be a part of all hotels, pubs, apartments and hostels overall marketing strategy and that revenue can be increased through this medium. Guests will be ‘snooping’ on your property on social media whether you are active or not, so it’s best to be in control of the content they are seeing.

ÒOur ROI has definitely increased from using social media, andÊto be honest I can’t imagine a time when hotels didn’t,” saidÊMarina Haigh, Sales and Marketing Coordinator from Interstate Europe Hotels.Ê”It is so necessary to keep connected and build awareness of brand, but consistency I would have to say is key. Whether you hire a social media company like us or have someone constantly reacting to feedback and guests on social media, it has to happen. ROI doesn’t happen straight away, it’s about building the trust between our brand and clients, them knowing that we’re proactive and responsive through social media channels and keeping them updated means that they’ll book with us again.Ó

If you are not already utilizing the power of social media, ask yourself why? What do you have to lose? For more hospitality-focused news, articles and updates connect with Guestline onÊLinkedInFacebookTwitterÊandÊInstagram.

By Sophie Cartwright

Sophie CartwrightSophie Cartwright is the Online Marketing Executive at Guestline. Established in the UK, Guestline provide innovative property management, channel distribution and digital marketing solutions to the hospitality industry. Founded on cloud-based technology, Guestline’s revenue generating solutions enable hotel groups, independents, serviced apartments and pub companies to achieve maximum occupancy at the most profitable rate. Fully integrated into the Guestline distribution and central reservation platforms, the property management software is currently growing revenues in businesses in 20 countries across five continents. The range of products include Rezlynx PMS, online booking, CRS, channel distribution software, PCI compliance, EPoS and digital marketing solutions. Guestline were recognised in the 18th annual Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100, which was published in the Business section on April 2, 2017.

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