Since the advent of the Internet and social media, asking for suggestions and advice has been a go-to method for travellers of all types and ages. In addition, tips from locals, or friends in the know, have long been the most exceptional pieces of travel advice.
These days, thanks to pioneering apps and platforms, requesting recommendations from friends, family, and locals has never been more straightforward.
Thanks to over 2.3 billion active users on social media, it should come as no surprise that 91 percent of brands actively use at least two social media networks for their business. And the hotel and hospitality industry should also be on board.
With its effect on almost every industry, including travel and hospitality, social media has become the primary mode of generation for any type of brand reviews, news, promotional offers, advertisement, or blogs.
For this reason, hospitality companies and hotels also cannot regard social media as a non-serious platform. Instead, hotels must use social media platforms to reach and contact customers and milk it to extract business — especially millennial travellers who are using social media like never before.
Due to the extent to which travellers are flocking and utilizing social media channels to plan and book their trips, it has become compulsory for hotels to be on the right page and present at the right time to become an option in potential customers’ eyes and increase their hotel revenue.
Looking at the statistics behind the social media explosion has left hoteliers with little choice other than to accept and adapt. Still on the fence? Here are five benefits of social media for your hotel.
1. Virtual Market
As mentioned previously, almost half of the world is currently on social media, with Facebook being the most popular with 2.07 billion active users followed by other prominent channels like Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. This presence of so many people online creates a virtual market for brands to sell their products and services.
In order for your hotel to stay updated and relevant to potential customers, you need to boost your digital presence across all major social media channels. If your hotel is lacking behind in social media strategy, there is a high chance that you will be considered un-contemporary. You may also be overlooked while potential customers are looking to make a booking online.
For this reason, it is imperative that your hotel have a social presence in all social media platforms and that you disseminate consistent brand messaging that exhibit features of your property.
2. Competition-monitoring Platform
One of the benefits of social media for your hotel is not only that you can recognize what your customers like and dislike about your property and service, but also that you can observe what they love and hate about your competitor. From this, you can identify what your USP is over your competitor’s.
● Using social media as a competition-monitoring platform means that you utilize customer feedback on social media platforms and various review websites to help you formulate appropriate counter mechanisms to tackle competitive moves.
● Social media can also function as a vital tool for competition monitoring and for comparing your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses with yours. Use it to improvise from what your competitors are doing right and wrong, and to maintain an edge over them at all times.
3. Relationship-building Platform
We all are aware of the relationship-building nature of social media, and your hotel needs to capitalize on this. It isn’t just about engaging with the present guests (although that should be a priority), but also for maintaining a continual relationship with past guests. By continuing a relationship through social media, your hotel can expect to produce profitable results in the long run.
Social media lets you engage with your past audience for free in the form of guest polls and feedback surveys. Your hotel can also direct former customers to share their experiences with others through their social media channels. This approach works two-fold since it immerses not only past visitors but also lets prospective customers read positive experiences shared by former customers.
All these factors taken together establish the unprecedented role that social media is playing in the hotel business landscape. Again, no hotel in the current globally connected world can hope to survive (or thrive) without having an all-inclusive social media strategy that not only bolsters sales but also aids in building brand image — giving a clear edge over competitors.
4. Customer Review and Service Platform
For all industries, social media plays the role of a powerful online review platform. These platforms have the ability to list and categorize the experiences voiced by each customer, both during and after their stay. Hotel visitors all around the world are vigorously employing social media channels to get a prompt response for their complaints, boast about their experiences, and praise hotels that go an extra mile.
Brands in all niches are (and should be) extremely possessive about how they manage their online reputation. For this reason, it is just as crucial for hotels to have the utmost diligence in handling online guest reviews, primarily negative reviews. In today’s online world, there are numerous instances where bad reviews spread like wildfire, and go viral and inflict a severe blow to a company’s brand image.
Some hotels around the world have even started employing social media platforms such as Facebook Messenger as a customer service tool. For hotels that are utilizing such strategies, their customers can directly communicate with the brand using Facebook Messenger (just like they would a close friend or local business) without having to follow the company or find a representative to talk with about questions or issues.
By doing this, hotels can create a one-to-one prompt communication channel between the customer and the firm, bypassing obstructions like long waiting queues and the impersonal IVR.
5. Advertisement and Offers Platform
In recent years, social media has emerged as one of the most affordable, credible, and realistic advertisement platforms with a myriad of advantages over other forms of advertising. Social media platforms have extended the power of advertising to brands of all sizes since it is incredibly affordable as compared to different forms of paid advertising like television, print media, and search engine advertising.
These platforms are the best ways to disseminate any running offers your hotel currently has. The higher the following of your hotel’s page, the more number of people instantly get to know about offers that your brand is rolling out. If your hotel can provide your own hyperlink in your postings to redirect traffic to your hotel’s own website, then you can also ultimately increase direct bookings.
For the most part, both Millennial and Baby Boomer tourists alike choose their hotels based on their own prior knowledge or the recommendation of friends and family. It is not uncommon for these tourists to plan an entire itinerary based on photos of their friend’s trip.
For this reason, it is imperative that your hotel creates consistent, shareable content that can be passed on through various social media channels that these types of customers often visit.
Thomas Grundner is the Group Director of Sales and Marketing for JA Resorts & Hotels. He has more than 20 years of expertise in the hospitality and leisure industry – across international markets including Germany, Egypt and Spain. Grundner oversees all sales, marketing and revenue efforts as the company continues to build on its key growth and development strategies and further cultivates its unique blend of “Heartfelt Hospitality” and “Casual Luxury”..