Social media will not be ignored. Social media may be difficult to grasp and that’s ok, even the industry leaders define “Social Media” differently.
1. Duct Tape Marketing – Social media is the use of technology combined with social interaction to create or co-create value
2. About.com – Media is an instrument on communication, like a newspaper or a radio, so social media would be a social instrument of communication
3. Brian Solis – Social Media is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers. It is the shift from a broadcast mechanism, one-to-many, to a many-to-many model, rooted in conversations between authors, people, and peers
4. iContact – An umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words and pictures
5. The Financial Brand – Social media isn’t about the media, it’s about being social
Peter Lang – Social media is user generated content that is shared over the internet by applications and technologies that encourage engagement, sharing and collaboration
As you can see from above there is certainly a wide range of definitions. Like it or not more and more businesses are using it. Hotels are finding that marketing via social media has become a fantastic way of finding and connecting with potential and current customers. Putting it simply, the Directors of Sales can’t take your name from your credit card and friend you on Facebook. But there are many other ways to find and connect with guests. If you’re a hotel owner, General Manger or any other managerial position you should truly consider participating. From my experience working with hotel properties I’ve included what I consider the best ways hotels should be using social media.
Tweet – Begin by creating a front desk twitter account. Have your literature and staff share with guests that they can get immediate answers to their questions without having to call or talk with a staff member.
Facebook – Create a Facebook Page. Keep up with the changes and write solid content about the hospitality industry, freely.
Customize Content – Landing Pages is the example I will use for this example. A Local Hotel (shown on the left) and the Corporate Brand (shown on the right).
Emphasis on your Niche – All brands have a particular demographic, but take it deeper. If your hotel offers a wonderful honeymooners suite, or beautiful venue of weddings – make sure you’re promoting your hotel as a wedding hotel. Social media empowers niche marketing in that you can focus and tailor copy to your target market.
Encourage Networking – Hotel staff frequent networking events, mixers and seminars and should rightfully connect with those people on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc
Introduce/Highlight – You’re staff is extremely valuable. Share with us the people behind the brand.
Blog – A website is automatic but brand-blogging is growing in importance. As search continues to become more social it is the dynamic content that will position the highest. (Position aka “top listing on Google, Bing, etc.) If you have a Blog (website is still default, yes), listen to my next words very carefully… GOOGLE ANALYTICS.
Protect the brand and your job – Policy is important. Every day I hear about employment termination due to social networking, microblogs, etc… Read: Fired Over a Post on Facebook
Bad Publicity – Oh I said it. It will happen. People will find something wrong with anything and post comments on social media sites. Trip advisor, Google Reviews on Places listings, Yahoo reviews, and Yelp. I’ve linked to the recommended response sections of each listed.
Positive Reviews – Share with your community through any distribution method you have access to all the great positive reviews you receive. Post on Twitter, Facebook, and website so people know what your hotel has to offer.
Competition – The hospitality industry tends to have high turnover with staff migrating between properties. But when it gets down to it if two properties are competing for rooms knowing your competition will pay dividends in your properties success. If you’re not listening to your competition online you’re missing out. How are you competing if you have no idea what your competition is doing? Rhetorical, you’re not.
Engagement – Get permission, I refer written, to take pictures and videos at the mixers, parties, meetings, conferences, managers reception, and so on and tell them they can get the pictures on your Facebook Page. Or twitpic the person that moment.
Hiring – Use social media connections when looking for staff. You will have less employee turnover if you find people who align with the dynamics of the property.
Get permission from your guests to take some pictures or videos at wedding and parties. Feature them on your social media sites so that others can see what you’re offering and how much fun people are having at your hotel. That will make people want to stay with you, too.
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Social media can be a powerful tool for hotels, if used correctly. Remember to use social media personally, therefore when it comes to business you’ll be able to engage and enjoy the time online and most importantly evolve with the technology. Social media allows you to supercharge engagement, make guests happy and generate more stays and ultimately more exposure, influence and revenue.
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