Independent Hotels Must Invest In Social Media
It won't come as any great revelation that social media plays a crucial role in today's competitive hospitality market. You know this already.
However, for many independent hotels, social media is at best a peripheral activity that is paid attention to on an ad hoc basis. Social media does not form a key pillar of the sales and marketing plan for these hotels, and they are more likely to voice concerns about how difficult it is to measure return on investment in social media marketing. We're sympathetic to this. It's natural that when you' re working with a limited budget and smaller resources than larger hotel chains that it would be difficult to justify the investment - both in terms of time and money - into social media.
• Now seven years old, Instagram has more than 500 million active users sharing an average of 80 million photos a day. National Geographic reports that people engage with Instagram 10 times more than with Facebook, which is why an estimated 49% of brands in the United States are on Instagram, with that number rising to around 70% in 2017.
• The Social Times reports that 52% of people acknowledge that their friends' photos inspire their travel plans. When travelers plan and compare, social media again guides the conversation: travelers are 44% more likely to learn about a new travel brand on Twitter. When it comes to booking, 33% of those who use social media to research travel changed their original hotel selections.
• A study by Hotel Executive revealed that 93% of Americans expect the companies they do business with to have a social media presence, including hotels.
• For more data, we absolutely recommend spending some time digesting the numerous insights contained in MDG Advertising's Vacationing the Social Media Way infographic, which breaks down how travellers use social media and mobile technology before, during and after a holiday.
If you're now convinced that you need to be on social media or need to boost your presence on social media, what should you do next?
Determine what social media strategy is relevant and maintainable for your hotel, including what channels you should use:
Time and time again, we see hotels become incredibly enthusiastic about joining social media, and they end up signing up for all the channels and posting with gusto. Predictably, after some time, there is little content being posted and the hotel has lost momentum. To avoid this, look at what channel is relevant to you. Maybe all you have time for is Instagram or maybe that plus Twitter. It's okay to not be on all platforms and to concentrate your time and attention to build a couple of key platforms. Watch this space for future posts on determining the right channels for your hotel.
We also encourage hotels to ensure that number of staff are trained on using social media so that the responsibility of posting doesn't just land to one person, perhaps even using a rota system so that each team has a chance to share their perspective whilst ensuring a clear and consistent voice for the brand overall.
Create and post diverse types of content:
When you're looking at creating content, you have a few options. You can create content that engages (something interesting that will catch the reader's eye), informs (lets people know who you are and what makes your hotel to stay at) or compels (encourages people to book then and there). It is also absolutely okay if not all of the content you post is your own. In fact, we would highly suggest that you diversify. If you know there is a big conference or a festival happening in your city, share that on your channels to inform people about a golden opportunity to visit your city and to stay in your hotel. Share tips on where to eat, where is a good place to meet clients for drinks, what are the best souvenirs to take home to family and friends. The more you share, the more you create the impression that you care about the overall travel experience your customers.