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 marketing to your hotel’s advantage.
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Hotel social media marketing: What you need to know
The first thing you 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 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 you aren’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!
How create a social media strategy for your hotel
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
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 platforms for social media marketing
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:
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.
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 ‘Book Now’ 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.
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.
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
Top social media tips for hospitality businesses
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 is 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:
- 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.
- Share interesting or little known pieces of trivia or history about your destination or hotel.
- Survey guests about their favourite parts of the trip or their stay at your property and use these on social media, with permission. The same goes for funny, quirky, or outstanding reviews.
- Run competitions to build excitement and increase sharing, promoting your contest over a number of weeks until the prizes are handed out.
- Try to work with influencers or bloggers to increase your reach and gain the trust of more travellers.
- 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.
- Collaborate with other local businesses in your area to enrich your content, boost visibility, and create enticing offers on social media.
- Be a local source of 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.