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Hotel social media marketing: The ultimate guide

  Posted in Resources  Last updated 29/05/2024

What is hotel social media marketing?

Hotel and hospitality social media marketing is the act of social media management for hotels in an effort to build your online brand and reputation, and ultimately drive more bookings and revenue. Reaching this goal requires the creation and implementation of a hotel/resort social media marketing strategy.

Social media has become a universe of its own – a place where people go to speak their minds, connect with friends and family, stay informed, be entertained, find inspiration, and even make purchases.

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are intricately intertwined into society, especially western society, to the point where social media is having a huge impact on culture, activism, and even government regimes.

That’s how big and vocal the audience is! For businesses such as hotels it represents an amazing opportunity to reach potential guests and grow as a brand.

This blog will guide you through how to use social media to your hotel’s advantage.

Table of contents

Why social media is important to hotels

Social media is important to hotels because travel is an aspirational activity.

People love to post about their travel adventures on socials, and people love to find inspiration for their next trip on socials. This is particularly the case for the younger crowd: 40% of Gen Z prefer to conduct research on non-Google platforms, and 90% say their purchase decisions are influenced by social media.

For this reason social media for hotels usually has a particular focus on visual platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, which allow a hotel to lure in customers by showcasing their guest experience.

The first thing hotels need to know about social media is that a large proportion of users are active regularly. Instagram has more than 1 billion monthly active users, while Facebook has nearly 3 billion! If Twitter is your thing, it clocks in at 340 million active users.

This means on a daily basis, there will be a huge potential audience on social media for your hotel business to reach, influence, and acquire as guests.

Influence is a key word here because when people are in travel mode, many of them use social media to inform their choices on where to go, where to stay, and what to purchase.

A survey by Expedia found that 30% of Americans are influenced or inspired by social media when booking a trip.

When it comes to the trip itself, 97% of millennials say they will share posts of their vacation on social media. These posts go on to impact the decisions other millennials make about their own upcoming travel plans, with 2 in 5 admitting travel images on social media influence their choices.

So it makes a lot of sense for your hotel to have a strong presence on the platforms your potential guests are spending a lot of time during their planning and decision making stages of travel.

If you don’t think so – know that almost 50% of hoteliers are already ranking social media as a top two sales and marketing priority.

Even if your hotel isn’t spending money on ads or promotions, you can still build a large following for your business page and engage strongly with the travel community. With direct online bookings growing annually, it’s never too late to get started!

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How does social media marketing impact hotels?

Social media marketing in hotels can drive significant business. The first and most obvious benefit is that it helps to grow your online presence dramatically, placing your hotel in front of potentially millions of people, who may not have otherwise known about you, on the back of a single post. It can then turn a percentage of that audience into prospects and hopefully guests, driving them to your website to book.

Hotel social media monitoring and strategic social media content for hotels helps you build up a captive audience of engaged followers. Those who stay with you may even post about their experience on their own socials, further extending your reach and boosting your bookings.

What does social media usage look like today?

One fact that should be immediately pointed out is that 98% of internet users are already active on social media. This means there’s basically no new audience to expand to and the current opportunities are what you have to work with so optimisation is key.

Some other key statistics include:

  • Users spend 2 hours and 15 minutes per day on social media or one third of their online time
  • 70% of social media use is on mobile apps, 22% on desktop, and 8% on mobile web
  • 40% of people get their news from social media
  • Social selling is a priority for only 8% of salespeople, and yet nearly 60% of people follow brands on social media
  • Among 18 to 34-year-olds, between 43 and 48% follow brands on social media because they’re interested in buying products
  • People use social media for five core reasons: staying in touch with friends/family, tracking news/current events, to kill time, for entertainment, and for social networking

How does this affect hotel social media marketers?

Although 77% of marketers use at least one social media platform for marketing purposes, less than half (48%) say that they see return on investment from this strategy. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Facebook has introduced algorithm changes to display fewer business posts and give priority to content from friends and family.
  • Some 60% of Gen-Z (the next cohort after millennials) are concerned about their privacy online
  • Twitter deletes millions of suspicious accounts almost every day
  • Instagram moved away from chronological algorithm, effectively “crippling” small businesses
  • 74% of millennials and Gen Z said they’re annoyed by brand targeting in their social media feeds, and 56% have cut back or stopped using social media entirely due to this
  • Because it’s getting harder for marketers to drive results from social media, competition is fierce and brands are fighting hard to make their voice heard, but it could have the opposite effect on target markets.

So it’s clear that a good content strategy must now consist of more than sharing a blog and making sure people see your brand. Given it’s now tougher to get people’s attention, you have to do it in a meaningful way.

Image representing hotel social media marketing

How to create a social media strategy for hotels

Where to start exactly, though? Developing a strategy for social media takes time, research and planning, and a degree of trial and error. There is no cookie-cutter strategy that will work for every hotel, since every hotel is different. Location, size, services, target market, price and more will all play a role in how you portray and advertise your hotel on social media platforms.

Likewise, every social media platform is different too – in terms of their algorithms, the way travellers use them, what users expect from the content, and the features available to businesses.

As with all marketing activities you undertake at your hotel, your first steps need to be distilled into a few key points:

1. What’s your brand identity and personality?

This should be consistent. While different channels will cater to different tones it needs to be subtle. Don’t be quirky on social media only to be stiff and formal in your emails.

2. Who do you want to target?

Your hotel’s ideal audience naturally, but you can get more specific and try to target people at different points in their path to purchase or even try to capture the attention of new, more valuable audiences.

3. What’s your objective?

Are you simply looking to create awareness of your brand and build an audience, or are you actively using social media to acquire bookings?

4. How will you track results?

It’s important to keep a close eye on the impact everything you do on social media has on your business. This way, you can make adjustments and improve your strategy.

5. What’s your budget?

Will you be achieving your objectives organically or do you have a budget to commit to social media ads?

If you’re clear on all this you can then decide which platforms you want to be active on, if you have the time and resources to dedicate to them, and what kind of content you’ll produce and share.

One of the best things to keep in mind is that your social media account is a chance to impress guests before they even stay at your hotel, so make sure your content is positive and shows the best your destination, property, and staff have to offer.

Social media marketing tips for luxury and boutique hotels

The handy thing about marketing on social media is that it’s made easy for you to reach your target market, such as luxury travellers.

You can target users with your posts based on a number of factors including age, income range, interests, geographic location, demographic, social circles, and more. This allows you to get very detailed with how you tailor your content – creating social media campaigns specifically to couples looking for luxury properties, for example. Knowing your audience is especially important when it comes to luxury travellers, as they can be hard and expensive to win over.

Make sure seasonality plays a role in your strategy too. Luxury travel is very popular in the spring and summer times, thanks to a greater variety of leisure activities available in warm, clear weather. Your social marketing needs to revolve around the types of activities and services your guests are interested in. These high seasons are the perfect time to promote your property as the place to be too, while your hotel is full and guests are having a great time. Like-minded travellers may see this and be inspired to book early for the next year.

Another priority is to be consistent. Once audiences become a fan or follower of your brand, they like to see regular content and consistent messaging, rather than sporadic posts and promotions. It’s important your luxury guests feel like they are part of a club or community that always gets the best, so you need to keep them engaged and excited about your business. It helps to plan a schedule in advance so you’re never caught short.

Here are some more tips to make sure your luxury property succeeds on social media:

  • Work hard to achieve five-star reviews – this is crucial for attracting new customers and maintaining long term success.
  • Establish relationships and always deliver service with a personal touch – showcase this on social media to build FOMO (fear of missing out).
  • Let your heart shine through – the level of care shown at your luxury property needs to be genuine, not only towards your guests but also your staff. This will create a positive atmosphere and also generate online momentum for your brand.
  • Present your uniqueness at every opportunity – luxury properties are usually one of a kind so highlight this whenever you can
  • Capitalise on user-generated content – your guests will want to share their amazing experiences and you can join in on this by encouraging them to use particular hashtags, location tags, and engaging with any discussions directed your way.

Best social media marketing platforms

It’s not unreasonable to think a new social media platform pops up every day. The options individuals and businesses have at their disposal are becoming overwhelming in fact – and it would be hard to engage and participate effectively on all major platforms at once.

Even if you could, it wouldn’t be worth it since many platforms aren’t necessarily optimal for travel brands. That’s not to say you can’t succeed on any platform with the right strategy but you certainly need to pick your platforms wisely.

Some you might know include:

  • TikTok
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Reddit
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • WhatsApp
  • WeChat
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat

All of these platforms have big audiences but some of them are very niche. For example WeChat is exclusive to China, while LinkedIn is mostly popular with working professionals so this is something you’ll want to consider when developing your strategy.

Is your content suitable? Will your target audience engage with you?

If you’re just getting started it’s a safe bet to stick to proven models. That means you’ll likely want to focus the bulk of your attention on Facebook and Instagram, with YouTube also playing a role given how popular video content has become.

Hotel social media marketing on Facebook

Facebook is still the big dog when it comes to social media and can almost be a second website and search engine all in one for your hotel. Your potential reach on Facebook is massive. This only grows when you start using paid advertising to target audiences specifically. On the back of the traffic you can drive, you can also take direct bookings on Facebook via an online booking engine and your ‘Shop on Website’ button.

It’s not only a powerful tool for you to reach out to travellers but it’s still a place where family and friends come together to share stories and content from their trips, influencing others in the process.

It’s important that you build a strong profile on Facebook that all your other online profiles feed into and all your content gets shared to, especially if you have a blog or a wonderful gallery of images on hand. You need to give audiences access to as much information as possible in one location.

We won’t go into too much detail, since we have a whole blog dedicated to Facebook marketing for you to check out here, but rest assured it’s very likely potential guests will be spending time on Facebook.

Hotel social media marketing on Instagram

When it comes to sharing travel-related images and videos there’s no more popular platform than Instagram. Travellers love to curate perfectly framed photos, write amazing captions, and use fun hashtags – allowing other travellers to get inspired in turn. It makes complete sense for you to join this community, share your own dazzling property and destination content, and connect with potential guests.

The proof is in the pudding, with a survey showing Instagram is the go-to social network for 48% of people who want to choose destinations to visit, and 35% use it to get inspired and learn about new places.

Instagram also now has features that allow businesses to include “Book” and “Reserve” buttons on their profile and you can create your profile in much the same way as you do on Facebook.

Here are some tips for marketing your hotel on Instagram:

  • Always use hashtags – These posts see 12.6% more engagement than those without a hashtag
  • Set location tags – Again, including a location can boost your engagement by up to 79%
  • Create or use spaces in your hotel for selfies or photo opportunities – you want your guests to share as much as possible
  • Encourage the use of your own branded hashtags by guests – this will help you when it comes to working with influencers and also to track how many people are talking about your hotel or sharing your content
  • Put a focus on quality and knowing your audience – Instagram’s algorithm shows content to people based on how interested it thinks they will find it
  • Have variety – Highlight your hotel’s best features, get staff to take selfies behind the scenes, and use your destination to advantage in your content
  • Reshare – User generated content is free publicity for your business so make sure you acknowledge and reshare anything your guests put out

Remember, Instagram is a classic case of being active where your likely customers are active.

Hotel social media marketing on YouTube

YouTube is embedded into the fabric of how people consume video content and entertainment, to the point where it is probably more influential than television advertising. It has the potential to put your brand in front of a large volume of potential guests, and we already know that video is more engaging than still images.

In fact, video is set to account for 82% of all consumer Internet traffic worldwide by this year (2021). Plus, video is a great way to bring your destination and your hotel to life, engaging the imagination of travellers and inspiring them to take a trip.

Here are some tips on the types of video content you might produce:

  • Virtual tours of your property
  • Virtual tours of your destination
  • Behind the scenes footage with staff
  • Guest testimonials
  • Montages of any events or celebrations that take place
  • Tips and hacks for travellers
  • Emotional or aspirational features
  • Highlights of promotions or upgrade opportunities

Hotel social media marketing on Snapchat

Since content is deleted instantly, with nothing incriminating left behind, Snapchat appeals to a younger generation who value the higher degree of privacy the app offers over other platforms.

Like many other social media channels, it’s one that shouldn’t be ignored by hotels. Snapchat receives more than four billion content views per day – a figure that is (staggeringly) the same as Facebook.

Just like individual users, brands can create profiles on Snapchat, then send out marketing messages to users they’ve added as friends.

In addition to single images or video ‘snaps’, Snapchat now offers a feature called Stories, which are strings of photos or videos compiled into a montage lasting 24 hours. Brands have been marketing via Stories since 2013, with everything from movie trailers to fast-disappearing promotional vouchers.

Our Stories are brand-sponsored and can contain branded messages, which is exciting news for hoteliers with great travel content to share.

Snapchat marketing tips to reach millennial hotel guests

Young Snapchatters are massively engaged, and hotel marketers need to promote their activity where millennial guests are paying attention and interacting. And the hotel industry has some interesting examples of how Snapchat is making its way into a property’s marketing strategy. Let’s look at how to capture these hotel guests with our top tips:

1. Create a sense of urgency with competitions

Giveaways and competitions are a great tool for social media engagement – and Snapchat is perfect for creating a sense of ‘must enter that competition now’ urgency. Ask your followers to submit their name and email, invite their friends to follow your brand, and answer a question. You’ll be able to respond to each entry building great one-on-one marketing. Use a hashtag so you can follow engagement. When you’re ready to announce a winner, create a story congratulating them.

2. Go behind the scenes and take a tour of your hotel

Your hotel and its facilities are aspirational. Guests love to daydream about their next holiday and so videos and stories recorded via the Snapchat are perfect for hotels. Explore your hotel and engage with your staff to make prospective guests feel welcome.

3. Launch your hotel’s story…and add to it

One thing to remember when you publish your hotel’s story is that you can create the beginning, middle, and end in a staggered way. So you can start with some hotel snaps in the morning, add a few more around lunchtime, and then finish with some final shots in the evening. It lasts up to 24 hours so adding it to is a more manageable approach.

Make sure you check your settings and allow your followers to see the stories. Don’t forget to allow people to send snaps back to you – you’ll also find this in your app’s settings.

4. Collaborate with influencers

Rather than pushing out ads on Snapchat, canny travel operators are partnering with influencers to co-create content. As one of the best hotel social media accounts, Marriott has boosted its ad campaign Travel Brilliantly, with Stories on Snapchat: turning content from TV shows into animated GIFs in an effort to get the operator’s 18 brands at the forefront of young travellers’ minds.

In conjunction, Marriott chose four influencers for a three-month campaign headquartered on Snapchat. The influencers gave users a list of cities from which to choose while working with Marriott to pick cities when popular ones emerged.

5. Design your own brand filter

Brands can also take advantage of Snapchat’s filter offering: sponsored frames which can be superimposed over photos and videos taken via the app. One of the best hotel social media campaigns came from Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ W Hotels who was the first travel brand to make use of this feature.

Overnight guests and visitors can use the filters, designed to evoke jealousy and FOMO (fear of missing out for those struggling to keep up!) with tongue-in-cheek captions like ‘You Wish You Were Here’ and ‘Current Situation’. Each filter also includes W Hotels’ logo, vital for ensuring the brand is recognised during these fun photo uploads.

6. Cross-promote your Snapchat handle

It’s actually very difficult for users to find brands to follow on Snapchat, and many users don’t know it’s possible to do so. Therefore, it’s imperative that you cross-promote your Snapchat username, also known as a handle, in other media to build up an audience.

Ultimately, whether or not your hotel should be using Snapchat depends on your target market.

If your hotel has an eye on the next generation of travellers you should certainly be strategising your presence there.

What social media platforms are hotels using?

SiteMinder recently published its Global Hotel Business Index. The report took an in-depth look at the key drivers of success for hoteliers across the world.

As part of the questionnaire, hoteliers were also asked which social media channels proved the most successful for their marketing activities. Here are the results…

Hoteliers were asked to choose ‘very successful’, ‘somewhat successful’, ‘not successful’, or ‘I don’t use this channel’ for all the major social media platforms. The most interesting findings included:

Very successful

  • Facebook – 30.62%
  • Google+ – 15.11%
  • Instagram – 11.53%
  • Youtube – 4.17%
  • Twitter – 3.58%
  • LinkedIn – 2.78%
  • Pinterest – 1.39%
  • Snapchat – 0.80%

I don’t use this channel

  • Snapchat – 84.69%
  • Pinterest – 81.31%
  • YouTube – 67.99%
  • LinkedIn – 65.41%
  • Twitter – 59.84%
  • Instagram – 45.92%
  • Google+ – 34.19%
  • Facebook – 9.54%

During the survey, hoteliers were also given the chance to provide direct quotes about their position on social media marketing.

Here’s a selection of the key comments:

“I believe this is a specialist’s area and we lack the in-depth knowledge and know how to effectively manage this process in today’s fast developing technology space.”

“While social media helps our profile, it’s difficult to measure its impact in terms of actual bookings.”

“We mainly use Facebook, but our usage is limited since our target market is not the younger generations.”

There were a few surprises from the results. It was unexpected to see Google+ outperform Instagram, given the image sharing platform’s apparent compatibility with hotel and travel marketing. Instagram can be a very powerful platform to build brand awareness, create stories and evoke emotional desires. For hotels in popular tourist destinations and exotic locations, it should prove useful for engaging with travellers.

For many hoteliers, social media is not seen as a primary driver of bookings and revenue, and is consequently not utilised as strongly as it could be. YouTube, or video content marketing in general, is something hotels should try to get creative with and use to make powerful statements to prospective guests. In the travel industry, nothing speaks louder than stunning imagery that potential guests can share with their friends.

Top hotel social media marketing tips for your business

It certainly helps to get creative with the content you create and variety is the spice of life. You want guests to engage with what you post, otherwise your time and effort are wasted.

Sometimes a stunning image is enough, but at other times you need to think outside the box to encourage interaction and sharing on social media.

Here are some creative ideas to get you started:

1. Engagement is vital

You have to spend more time giving people meaningful and interesting content than actively selling to them. In addition, 39% of inbound research respondents wanted to communicate with firms via social media so you have to respect this and ensure you participate in conversations on social media. You must be present to provide advice, relevant information, and answers to traveller’s questions.

2. Relevance is a must

People are short on time, so if they come across your brand sharing what they deem useless, or annoying content they’ll quickly find a competitor who is worth their attention. Don’t get caught up in the wave of memes and comedic videos to try to impress your followers. For a hotel brand, customer service is always the priority, especially when trying to grow.

There’s no harm in having fun, but this should also be planned properly to ensure people will engage.

3. Consider influencer marketing

A major trend at the moment is to adopt influencer marketing. Consumers are 88% more likely to trust a peer review than a company product review or advertisement. With the shift in the way Facebook displays content, influencer marketing could take centre stage.

4. Be active everywhere

Forums, online communities, and start-up social platforms could start to have a greater impact, so consider establishing yourself early and be available at all times to the audience you want to target and your customer base.

5. Offer up local info

Give something (free local knowledge) to get something (a booking). Write blogs to share that focus on recommendations for travellers on where to eat, what to see, what they’ll need to pack, or what events they should know about.

6. Explain why you’re a destination

Share interesting or little known pieces of trivia or history about your destination or hotel. Perhaps there’s a really old tree nearby. Perhaps someone famous once used your toilet. Odd titbits can really bring in the crowds.

7. Put reviews up in lights

Some hotel social media ideas don’t require much work at all! Feature funny, quirky, or outstanding reviews, or survey guests about their favourite parts of the trip or their stay at your property and use these on social media (with permission). .

8. Use contests to boost hotel social media

Run competitions like hotel giveaways and discounts to build excitement about your property. Get people to like, comment and share a post to enter. Promote your contest over a number of weeks to maximise reach and engagement.

9. Gain access to influencer audiences

Collaborate with influencers or bloggers to increase your reach and gain the trust of more travellers. Choose your collaborators carefully – check that the demographics of their audience is similar to your target audience, and check that they have a relatively engaged following.

10. Strategically drive engagement

Sometimes the simplest hotel social media post ideas are the best. Create discussion by asking followers questions and encouraging them to offer their opinions and comments. Your questions can be as fun or formal as you see fit.

11. Team up with complementary brands

Collaborate with other local businesses in your area to enrich your content, boost visibility, and create enticing offers on social media. Think of businesses who offer complementary services to your hotel, such as local tour agencies, restaurants and car hire.

12. Become a news breaker

Work to become the go-to source of local tourism news and information – if there’s anything new happening in your town make sure your followers and guests know about it and see how useful you are.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of SiteMinder, the leading technology provider delivering hoteliers unbeatable revenue results. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at SiteMinder. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance and value for accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations achieve their goals.

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