Your Hotel’s Social Media Reputation is More Important Than Ever
By DJ Vallauri, Founder, President & CEO - Lodging Interactive
DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive's Founder, CEO & President provides his perspective on the importance of social media reputation platforms in today's environment.
CAUTION: If you're a hotelier who believes all marketing and communication programs should immediately stop, do not read any further...it's not the best use of your time.
Communications technology has pushed through to the forefront of travel. The ability to widely connect with guests globally is only available through social media platforms. There are many reasons why, now more than ever, properties should be focusing on maximizing their social media reputation. Let's discuss a few here:
Social media platforms are your hotel's core global communications vehicle. According to Statista, in January 2020 Facebook had 2.5 billion active users and its Instagram platform came in at 1 billion active users. Every hotel should consider the global reach and opportunities the Facebook-owned platforms can offer. While organic reach has declined tremendously over the last year, Facebook promoted and sponsored posts continue to provide an attractive option for hoteliers to increase their reach in strategically targeted ways. And the good news is that you don't have to spend a lot to have your posts seen by thousands of potential future guests.
Use Social media platforms to build relationships during challenging times. As consumers, we have a lot of choices these days, but experience shows us that people want to do business with brands that 'get them' and understand their needs. Building relationships with your potential guests, over time, will create brand loyalty for your hotel and your unique way of customer engagement. Once you've captured your prospects' loyalty, your property will be top of mind and first in their consideration set when traveling to your destination.
With all the news headlines surrounding the COVID-19 virus, consumers may not feel it's safe to enjoy a Staycation at your property. Use your hotel's social media platforms to make them feel comfortable with their choice to stay with you.
Pro-tip: If you want to really win over your potential guests, be available to them 24/7 via popular messaging apps like Facebook's Messenger or WhatsApp if you're targeting the international traveler. We've all become accustomed to using messaging apps and just being available will provide a huge competitive advantage. Remember, your competitors are probably reading this article as well!
Social media platforms enable you to connect with your audience. Your hotel's target audience is already on social media and they want to stay updated on what's happening in your local destination. For example, you may know of local events (ie. concerts, conferences, etc.) that may have recently been canceled. You should feel free to use social media platforms to provide your unique version of a "public service announcement". Keep to the facts of course and ensure your post won't be viewed as opportunistic in nature. If you're a branded property, share information approved by your brand as it relates to what you CAN say and pay attention to what your brand may NOT want you say.
It's ok to deploy 'soft-sell' tactics via your hotel's social media platforms. Don't go overboard with the sales pitch, remember we're all in crisis mode, but it's perfectly fine to sprinkle in 'soft-sell' posts once in a while. Being too aggressive with your deals will cast your property as being insensitive to what is going on globally. Mix it up and consider posting 'salesy' information every other week or so.
Pro-Tip: As mentioned above don't be seen as being opportunistic. Social media platforms are your 'megaphone' but please speak softly.
Social media platforms remain as the 'go-to' websites when travel planning, this hasn't changed. Your potential guests still want to hear from you and to stay connected. When you consider how many people are now working from home and that are physically disconnected from their usual office friends and routines, it is realistic to expect more people will turn to social media platforms. Another important reason your property needs to stay engaged on social media.
Consider posting social media update videos of your property and share what's going on around you.
Demand for video content continues to increase and video content trends support higher engagement rates with consumers. Simply put, consumers love to see videos on social media. Consider partnering with local businesses and attractions to showcase your property's destination and unique features. Your intent should be to establish engagement opportunities with future guests so they will be primed and ready to book with you when we enter into a recovery mode.
Social media platforms have video technology capabilities built-in and with a little bit of advanced planning, you can create great video content that will resonate with your potential guests.
Pro-Tip: Consider providing interviews and short videos with your General Manager showing off what it's like to run a hotel, behind the scenes or get your Executive Chef to walk through some of his/her favorite recipes. Again, it's about making the connection with your potential guests, they will appreciate the momentary distraction of the everyday headlines and your video content will resonate with them while keeping your hotel top of mind.
When demand does come back and we all know it will, you'll be able to thank your social media platforms for helping you build confidence and engagement with your customers. Social media is not always about promoting your #tacotuesday but should be used to communicate, in general, with your audience. During this global health crisis, be sure to change your messaging and tone a bit and take advantage of the global social media platforms and all their capabilities.
Special note to our customers. We understand you may be experiencing severe cash flow challenges that are expected to continue for the foreseeable future. This is why we are offering to provide you with the continued social media reputation management services you need at a lower cost. If this is of interest to you, please contact me directly so that we can discuss it further.
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About Lodging Interactive and Commingle:Engage
Since 2001 Lodging Interactive has been a leading provider of digital marketing services to the hospitality industry. Lodging Interactive is the parent company of commingle:engage, the Company's social media marketing and reputation management division which serves hundreds of hotels, restaurants, spas and management companies.
The Company developed the hospitality industry's first Facebook Messenger based RFPAssist Group Lead Sales System designed to drive hotel group and event business.
Additionally, the Company provides subscription-based website development and digital marketing services through its HotelSiteXPRESS offering. The service is based on a 'pay-as-you-go' model and requires no capital investment on the part of the hotel.
Lodging Interactive is an HSMAI Adrian Award winner and has won awards from the International Academy of Visual Arts, Interactive Media Awards, Horizon Interactive Awards, Web Marketing Association, Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts, and Travel Weekly's Magellan Awards have recognized Lodging Interactive as an industry leader.
The Company's Founder, President & CEO, DJ Vallauri, formerly served on the Board of Directors of HSMAI's New York Chapter and is a Forbes.com Agency Council contributor.
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