Social media is a commitment, but not an overwhelming task. If you (or you and your trusted staff members) devote time weekly toward social media, you will see strong growth over time. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results overnight. It takes time for your pages to gain traction, but once they do, you will be pleasantly surprised at the improvements in your property’s reputation, relationships and bottom line.
Social media is about sharing information in words, pictures and videos. The most popular platforms, Facebook and Twitter, are enough coverage for most hotels to share their stories. If you are just starting out, Facebook is a great stepping stone to start. It is simple to set up a business page and gain followers. If you are thinking about adding more to your social media plate, turn to Instagram and/or Pinterest, which are also important tools for the travel industry.
Once you have set up a Facebook page, check to see what other hotels and local businesses are doing on their pages. Look at pages within your brand, but at other hotel brands you consider competitors. You’ll quickly recognize which pages are doing a good job at engaging customers. Take notes and try new things that might interest your followers.
Make reviews a priority
Make sure to monitor your reviews on a daily basis, share feedback with your staff and respond to any complaints. Facebook and Twitter are often used to air complaints. This is your opportunity to listen to your customers, engage them on a personal level and solve their issues. Always answer politely, in a timely manner and stay positive. As stated before, this is a learning opportunity. You may find a problem that has been occurring without your knowledge.
Make it visual
People love visual content. In fact, 90% of information transmitted into the brain is visual. Turn a boring post like, “get 20% off our spring rates,” into a high click-through post by just adding a picture. Be sure to keep your smartphone handy to snap a picture of your friendly staff, clean rooms and fun events you host to post to your page. Other ideas include sharing videos of your property, photos of local attractions and must-see spots to help your viewers plan their next trip.
Know your hotel’s branding, mission statement and values
Facebook allows you to bring your property’s “personality” to the page. Always be professional, but allow your own particular style of hospitality to shine through. Comment on the upcoming events in the area, your special rates or packages offered, and even share a fun tip. Your social media is a sales and marketing tool, but remember to mix it up with a variety of travel-related content. Be the local insider for your potential guest and get them involved in your community.
Post just enough
For most hotels, 3-5 posts per week will give you a good starting point. During your peak travel season or if there is a local event that weekend, you may want to post multiple times a day to get the most coverage. Try to post more on the day of the week that you get the most reservations to remind others of your great rates. As you grow your page, you’ll learn more about your followers and you will be able to work out a schedule that works for both you and them. This will allow you to understand the best time of day to post while reaching the most people.
Turn guests into advocates
Out of ideas and content? Not a problem! The most compelling social media content comes not only from hotels but from guests. Encourage them to use your platforms, as well as their own, to share stories, news, reviews, photos, videos and tips. You may be surprised by their enthusiasm. It’s OK if the guest is a bit amateurish – in fact, it is more genuine. Be sure to acknowledge their efforts. Perhaps offer a small giveaway to incentivize them to open up and share their personal stories and photos.
Get the word out
Now that you have taken the plunge into social media, make sure people know! Have signage near your front desk or in the rooms letting your guests know where they can find you on social media. From your own page, “like” the Facebook pages of your brand and its other properties, your local Chamber of Commerce, police and fire departments, service organizations, local restaurants, charities and other pages that fit with your hotel’s mission statement and values. Share/retweet posts you like from your brand’s account and ask them to reciprocate to help you get noticed. If you use all of this advice, you will be surprised at how quickly you grow!