Hotel industry trends are leaning towards a social media marketing component. Social media websites like Facebook give the hotel industry a new platform for reaching customers. Rather than using a static web page, social media marketing uses engaging, real time, user generated content in the form of comments and reviews. Customers visiting websites like Facebook can read and share experiences with other customers.
Hotel industry trends towards social media marketing exploded as Facebook exploded! Facebook allows companies to target specific groups of customers. One of the most popular social media websites is Facebook, with about 500 million active members—145 million are in the Unites States. In order to reach a large number of people, hotels can create Facebook pages that contain:
For example, a hotel in wine country could create a page with information about local winery tours, wine tasting events and advice on how to choose the right wine for a special occasion. Blog posts can then invite readers to add comments and to become fans of the hotel page.
A person planning a trip to Monterey, California, for instance, might search Facebook for the right hotel in which to stay. The search results would include:
- A page for the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa complete with photos, a map and postings about current specials
- Local bistros
- Points of interest at Cannery Row
- Comments from other Facebook members
One recent posting by the hotel prompted a response from a customer who said that she was “counting the days” until she and her husband could return.
Book Your Room on Facebook
Other members of the hotel industry have discovered the benefits of Facebook too. Orbitz recently announced its Facebook website launch where users will be able to search and book their trips in an atmosphere designed to look and feel like an actual travel experience. Its announcement from PR Newswire on April 25, 2011 appeared on HighBeam Business. The article titled “Orbitz Launches New Facebook Send Button for Hotels” explained, “Travelers planning a summer getaway to Las Vegas with a group of friends can look at individual properties, hit the Facebook Send button to message or post those options to an individual or group via Facebook or send to their friend’s email. Friends can then view a full description of the hotel property on Orbitz – including room rates, photos, maps and reviews — and discuss as a group on Facebook before selecting a hotel.”
Six Degrees of Social Media
Mashable posted a look at “The Future of the Hotel Industry and Social Media” on October 18, 2010. The article, by Sarah Kessler, listed six ways that social media could impact the hotel industry. Hotels could:
- Extend Concierge Services by using Twitter feeds to communicate with customers.
- Offer on-site merchandising by sending location-specific alerts to a customer’s phone—a message to come to the bar for a free drink shortly after checking in, for example.
- Resolve customer service issues with a Twitter feed dedicated to Customer Service and Recovery.
- Offer Last-Minute Deals only through social media to alleviate unbooked inventory.
- Facilitate Guest Communities where rewards groups “share travel tips and stories as well as get the insider scoop…”
- Emphasize Unique Properties by sharing YouTube videos of each hotel location or using Twitter to send promotions to specific destinations.
The Power of Social Media
Unlike a website, social media gives a business the ability to extend its reach exponentially. One way that Facebook pages get noticed is when visitors express their approval by clicking on a “Like” button. Liking a page is the same as giving a recommendation. The visitor is literally saying, “I like this.” It adds credibility just as a referral would. The vote will not only appear on the hotel’s page, it will appear on the page of the person who voted.
Keys to Success in Social Media
Strategies for success in using social media marketing come from Michael Jaindl (MJ) the Chief Client Officer of Buddy Media, a SaaS platform for Facebook pages. In an April 4, 2011 interview with Courtney Boyd Myers, East Coast Editor of TNW (The Next Web), titled “How to grow your brand on Facebook: an interview with Buddy Media,” MJ suggests that a company:
- Integrate Facebook into its website with live events
- Get to know what customers care about and post as much as it can to this “sweet spot”
- Learn how its audience wants to be perceived and share content that works with that perception
- Encourage participation on the company’s Facebook page by using strategies such as giving discounts
When asked what makes a brand’s Facebook page great, MJ replied, “Shareable content. Brands can’t get away with just having a share button next to its content anymore. Brands need to understand when and what to post. You want to paint your audience in the light they want to be painted.”