If you are in hotel management, starting up your social media efforts can seem overwhelming, so I thought I’d throw up a quick beginner guide for you. For any size hotel or resort, taking hold and managing your social media presence is vital. We all know online research is mandatory for anyone planning to stay in a hotel and you don’t want your hotel’s image to be hijacked by a few negative reviews, comments or threads. You need to take control of your hotel’s online presence, through providing relevant content and engaging customers through social media, from Facebook, Twitter, FourSqaure, YouTube, TripAdvisor and more.
Social media is now your front line of customer service. If your potential customer doesn’t make it through your social media impressed, they will never make it you your front desk. Make sure you have your online battle stations and customer service troops ready for combat.
Hotels are amongst the most reviewed business on the internet. People love to talk (or complain…) about their vacations, and more importantly, people read reviews to decide where to stay. There are some things you can do to make sure your listing gets attention and, in turn, gets listed higher. Here are the top spots online to add or check up on your listing with:
- Google Places – This is the modern phone book. You need to be on here with a detailed listing and an accurate location on the map. Depending on your area this listing may come up on the front page as a location based search result. I consider it part of review sites because it collects reviews from multiple sources.
- Bing – this search engine is gaining market share and recently reached 30 percent. It is trying to copy Google so the same rules apply, but most marketers forget about it so you may get to be the only one out of your competition with an optimized listing.
- Tripadvisor, Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and Priceline – These are the largest of the vacation and hotel booking sites and all require your attention.
The sites that are most relevant to your hotel depend on your area. Search “[your city] hotels” e.g., “Vancouver hotels” and target the review sites that come up. If you haven’t listed your hotel, chances are somebody already has done it for you. It’s important to take ownership of your listing and fill it with accurate info, appropriate details and attractive content.
Upload photos for your hotel listing. Listings with photos get search result preference and more interaction from people. Remember to upload a logo image as well. You’ll get to choose which image is the default one, for hotel chains a logo image can invoke your established branding, otherwise a unique feature or attraction of the hotel, or even someone smiling at the reception desk (faces attract attention and if all your competition all have pictures of their buildings, how do you stand out?).
Fill in details as much as possible. Add your hotel’s features (e.g. Swimming Pool). Having this complete makes sure potential guest know what you have to offer.
Follow reviews: Afterwards keep track of reviews to properly address negative ones and thank positive ones. This can be tricky, make sure not to wait too long to respond, but don’t jump the gun before you plan an appropriate response. Following reviews can also give you insight to issues you might have with staff you wouldn’t be aware of in your day-to-day dealings.
Facebook and Twitter
Facebook and Twitter are the best places to manage your hotel image and personality. It is your platform to release new content from video, pictures, blog posts to articles. This is where your hotel’s personality should shine, showing its social side with events, highlights from the local areas, partnerships with local businesses and specials from your restaurant. They also act as the online version of your lobby, where customers can chat and share with each other. This all serves to keep your hotel visible, catering towards return visits. Fans will also act as brand ambassadors and draw in potential guests.
We all know Facebook and Twitter can pull a big time commitment. A neglected Facebook page can be worse than no Facebook page at all. People get a feeling similar to walking into an empty, quiet lobby; they’ll feel inclined to turn around and find a hotel thats not haunted. You don’t necessarily need a social media manager for this if you don’t have the time. Enlist your most trusted and capable front desk staff, this is essentially the online extension of their customer service role. As this is your front line between your guests and your hotel, make sure you have your strongest troops running it. Slip-ups on social media can hurt more than in-person because of the inability to shake a single slip up and the speed with which news travels online.
Location Based Social Media
With the rise of Foursquare, Facebook places and similar sites in addition to heavy smart-phone use with travelers, this is another area in which it is worth investing time. This is an advertising impression for your hotel. The basics are to ensure that your Hotel is listed accurately. For extra credit you can try and encourage check-ins with a reward. The reward could be compensation in the form of a trinket from the gift shop, a free drink from the bar or bonus points for your loyalty system. These sites have a built in coupon functions that can be used for redemption. Alternatively, you could give a bigger prize to whoever becomes the mayor (who checked in the most) like a loyalty program. You need to manage your costs for promotional giveaways, but remember these awards will be shared by the recipients with their social networks for bragging rights, giving you a valuable slice of exposure along with it.
YouTube and online video
If you have any promotional videos you should upload them on YouTube. A video tour of the hotel can be good to link from a listing or embedded in your website. Ideally you would host the video yourself, but your servers may not be reliable or simply too expensive. Be careful what you use for the title and tags though; if you have ‘hotel’ or ‘vacation’ in it, there is a chance an ad for your competition may come up in your video. You’ll have to decide whether you want the video to be found through YouTube or directly linked. Use a specific name and tags for a video that is directly link and avoid words that the competition may use for ad words in your title and tags. It may not be found naturally through YouTube but your age will direct viewers and lower the risk of competition’s ads showing up. I’d recommend using Vimeo for an embedded video; it doesn’t have pesky pop up ads in the playback and doesn’t suggest videos, other than your own, to users after they’ve finished watching yours.
Converting picture galleries to videos
If you simply cannot produce a good looking video at this point, a great option is to convert your picture galleries into slideshow videos. Google loves videos (especially ones from their pet, YouTube) and always rank well in their results.
Social media Success
Success with social media revolves around execution, planning and management. If you are just launching your social media and review site accounts, you need to have quality content ready to include and insure your staff and partners are filled in on your plans. For planning, you want to schedule your content to keep an active presence and be ready to jump on any current events to leverage into related content for your social media networks. You also need to be proactive with your management from thanking appreciative guests and handling complaints to simply socializing.
Killer hotel Facebook pages
Below are a few of my favorite hotel chain Facebook pages who truly excel at social media. Through what I’ve mentioned above, hub pages, individual location pages, mobile apps and even bookings through Facebook, these brands pave the way. Don’t be intimidated by these big time pros if you manage a small chain, boutique hotel or bed & breakfast, follow my simple tips and you’ll be on your way up to meet them soon!
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