Using Facebook and Tripadvisor to Increase Hotel Revenue
Today, the majority of hotel bookings are, in some way, influenced by the hotel’s online presence and reputation. While this is standard knowledge, among the variety of online mediums, the most discussed tool for hotel success is social media. Every blog post, magazine article and website entry regarding hotel marketing strategies mentions social media.
Yet, to date, there is no evidence that using social media as a primary marketing tool increases hotel revenue. Therefore, the debate is whether to spend the amount of time and effort necessary to learn how to compete on these channels or to wait for evidence that this strategy is worth the trouble demonstrated by increased revenue. However, if hoteliers are prepared to commit to using these new marketing channels and integrate them into an overall marketing plan, the rewards will soon become evident.
Social Media Marketing for Hotels – Is it for Everyone?
Briefly, social media sites are those which focus on content that is frequent updated with new and interesting material written by users not professional writers or editors. Thus, the most important rule of social media marketing is not to become involved with it unless you frequently have something new and interesting to say. If you are not consistently updating the content on every site you join you will soon lose your followers. This is why it often takes more than one member of the staff to become involved in this effort.
The next cardinal rule is to not become involved in the social media frenzy unless you can also commit the time and effort to replying to every complaint, compliment and substantial comment made on each site quickly and in a manner that will further your readership. This means turning even the negatives into positives that will work for you instead of against you. Your main job when using social media is to do whatever it takes to keep your followers interested in what you post so they will continue to interact with you. That’s what social media is really all about – building relationships and in the case of the hospitality industry, building relationships that will also build revenue through increased bookings.
Does this mean, then, that every hotel needs to integrate a full scale social media campaign into its current marketing plan? Numerous reports that were generated by a number of hotels and hotel chains suggest the answer to that questions appears to be probably not. It’s important for hotels to have some online presence, but creating a comprehensive package of channels that are joined and fully committed to is likely not necessary for every hotel.
From what has been learned thus far, it appears that boutique, luxury and high tech hotels appear to get the most traffic and have the highest and most continuous interaction level with consumers. Long-standing chains that already have wide spread recognition appear to benefit less from social media avenues. According to the reports reviewed, budget hotels also don’t profit much from social media marketing unless they run specials regularly. In other words, your hotel is most likely to show a large increase in bookings and revenue from a comprehensive social media marketing effort if it stands out as a unique commodity that grabs consumers’ attention.
Avoid Duplicating Effort
There are numerous social media channels that currently exist, with more coming online with increasing frequently. Thus, it can be difficult to discern which ones to join in addition to the most popular ones. Sometimes it can be enough to focus on the popular sites; after all, they are popular for a reason. However, at the same time you don’t want to duplicate your efforts. The sites listed in this piece and the follow-up article will provide you with a package that does not create repeated effort and uses every available medium to show your property off to the best advantage.
Content – Related Social Media Sites that Provide the Greatest Benefits for Hotels
As a hotel owner, your daily responsibilities place constraints on your time. Therefore, it is important to provide the widest range of options while using the smallest number of sites to accomplish this goal. This will limit the number of regular updates and postings required. This article will discuss two content related sites where you want to be sure to establish a strong media presence. The follow-up article will cover visual social media channels that can benefit your hotel. Using all sites mentioned here and in the coming article will create a well formed framework for becoming competitive in the social media arena.
Facebook – Remember that word of mouth is your best marketing tool. This means ensuring the customers who stay with you are extremely pleased with their total experience and post enthusiastic comments about your establishment on their Facebook page. Be sure to respond positively and offer them something tangible such as a free bottle of wine the next time they stay with you in appreciation for their feedback.
You will also receive negative comments and you need to address these as well. Thank the customer for their feedback and add a statement about how all feedback is valued as this is what helps improve the services and facilities at your establishment. If there is something in need of repair, explain what you will do to fix the problem. If it is service related, discuss your strategy for helping staff provide better customer service and mention any additional training for staff that you will be providing if appropriate. Offer these visitors something also, such as a free night’s stay if they are willing to give you a second chance. This gives you the chance to turn a displeased customer into one that leaves happy and satisfied the next time. This can be worth gold as there is no better feedback that can be shared on a Facebook page than such a patron whose opinion you have managed to convert from critical to complimentary.
The benefit of having a Facebook page is that whenever someone posts something on their page, on average it reaches 150 friends and family members. If you become aware of guests who enjoyed their stay encourage them to share their experience on their Facebook page. In terms of guests who may post negative comments, you can impress readers of their Facebook page by addressing these comments in a manner that shows readers of the guest’s page that you respond to all feedback positively and efficiently. This demonstrates your commitment to providing the most pleasing experience you can for each of your customers. Offering an incentive to encourage them to return establishes that you value your guests opinions, positive or negative.
Be sure to write about not just the hotel but the area and special events or attractions that take place throughout the year. Post a calendar of events and ask guests for others they became aware of during their visit so you can add them. Focus on unique events and attractions that aren’t likely to appear in tourist books. Add great stories or anecdotes you hear or read in the paper and pay attention to any segments on the news that report unusual occurrences in your area. The main rule is to keep the content fresh, interesting, and engaging to encourage interactions with consumers. Ask visitors when they check in what they would have liked to find on your page that wasn’t there so you can add it. This is the best way to know what will engage your readers and keep them coming back.
Tripadvisor – The number of travelers checking this site prior to booking a hotel room has been increasing steadily. Research has shown that a 1 percent increase in your hotels reputation on Tripadvisor is associated with a 1.42 increase in revenue per room and a .54 percent increase in bookings. Thus, it’s worth your time to pay close attention to what is posted about your hotel on this site and respond to reviews accordingly. Some tips for increasing your score on Trip Advisor include:
- Respond Quickly – This shows you care about customer opinion but also limits the number of consumers who see the review without a response, which is especially important if the review is negative.
- Announce Improvements- Don’t wait for criticism to improve your hotel. If you’ve added a continental breakfast announce it. If you bought a new washer and dryer for guest use, announce it. If you added voicemail to phone service announce it. Follow the motto that any improvement is worth announcing.
- Don’t Post Identical Responses- Personalize each response instead of responding with the same general comment over and over. This goes for positive and negative responses. Find something different to say or have more than one person respond to reviews.
- Treat Consumers Like Friends- Adopt an informal tone and use your sense of humor to personalize interactions and build rapport.
- Watch the Webinars- View the sites educational webinars for hospitality professionals. The best advice you can receive will come from the actual site.
When you focus on becoming a known presence on Facebook and Tripadvisor through writing engaging content that makes readers feel as if they know you will create a comfort level that will translate to your hotel. If you can create an association between the name of your hotel and the concept of comfort you’ll have gone a long way towards increasing the desirability of your hotels image.
Be sure to read our next article for information on how to add visual sites to the sites discussed here to create a comprehensive social media marketing package that can be combined with your current marketing plan to help increase your hotels bookings and revenue.
- The Smart Hotelier’s 2013 Top Ten Digital Marketing Resolutions
- Technology Pulse: A roundup of digital news
- Are Travel Marketers Wasting Time on Facebook and Twitter?
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