An interesting article from travel reporter Barbara DeLollis at USA Today recently revealed the answers to a poll of hotel guests about what they did and did NOT want to hear from their hotel’s social media accounts. As a company who specializes in social media for hotels, we were intrigued! Some of it surprised us, while some did not.
The paper polled readers, giving them five responses to select, and received more than 200 answers. Here’s what they found:
1) People most want to get local information from their hotel’s social media account. We would agree with this, as we often strive to position our clients’ hotel social media accounts as THE expert about their location, be it Myrtle Beach, a cycling tour to Colorado or what to see in the Poconos. This technique has served us well, helping build friends and followers more quickly. Plus, it keeps you from selling yourself all the time; sell your destination instead.
2) People love to use social media to rant and rave about their hotel experience. We know this, too. Every now and then for our clients, we see a negative comment. But we’re glad it’s there; we see it within hours and can handle it promptly and in public view for all to see our hotel’s outstanding service. Most of the time, our pages and Twitter accounts are full of praise for the hotel properties’ accounts we manage! There’s no better sales tactic than that!
3) People said they DIDN’T want to hear about the weather. That DID surprise us. We do like to talk about the weather at our destinations. If it’s a ski resort, doesn’t hearing that there’s a fresh pack of snow get you pumped to come ski? Or during the end of winter in the north, doesn’t 75 and sunny in Hilton Head sound pretty nice? It helps us book rooms, golf rounds, ski passes and more for our clients. Plus, the Weather Channel does a great job curating weather tweets around a certain destination so when you tweet about the weather, you may also get picked up there and get more exposure.
What do you want to hear from a hotel on social media? We’d love to know!
Social Media for Hotels Infographic
Does having a social media presence make any significant difference in hotel bookings? Check out this Infographic to find out.
The hotel industry has changed dramatically over the past decade, first with the introduction of online booking sites such as Expedia.com, then with the increased popularity of review sites such as TripAdvisor.com and now with social media.
Step Ahead Inc. demonstrated the power of social media for hotels with a group of Myrtle Beach area hotels, for whom we managed all Facebook pages and a single Twitter account for the group. The results we saw over time were astounding including dramatically increased web traffic, revenue in excess of $14K per month directly trackable to social media and an ability to handle some 15-20 major customer service issues per month.
We were able to increase Facebook friends from just a few hundred in 2009 to over 47,000 for all pages together by early 2011. We turned their pages into a source of helpful information about theMyrtle Beacharea, literally turning each Facebook page into a virtual “front desk” for the hotels. People loved it.
The Power of a Review
Facebook, it turns out, is a place where people feel very comfortable sharing positive and negative reviews. We saw lots of positive reviews on theMyrtle Beachpages and the occasional negative review, as well.
Some argue they don’t want a Facebook page, so as to avoid negative reviews, but people will share them whether you want them to or not. If they’re on your own page, at least you can monitor and respond to them. If they get posted somewhere else in Cyberspace, if you don’t have an active online monitoring service in place, you’re likely to miss it and it could easily spiral out of control.
Positive reviews, on the other hand, are a great selling point for your hotel, and can help sway potential customers. We found that often when someone said something negative about the hotel, other people would come to the defense without us even asking. What a powerful testimonial!
A big key to successfully managing social media for hotels is being present outside of office hours and that means more than scheduling posts outside those hours. You have to be on and engaging.
If someone posts a complaint or negative review, you need to respond within a couple of hours max. Twenty-four hours is a lifetime in the world that is social media.
Also, don’t forget that people are very active on Facebook over weekends and holidays, often more so than during the week. That’s the time when they tend to be planning trips, doing research and booking hotel rooms. If you’re not on, you’re missing a key chance to engage your prospects.
This constant monitoring may seem tedious, but when you make your Facebook friends feel special and important they become even more loyal brand ambassadors and return visitors.
Social Media as a Money Maker
Who says you can’t make money on social media? Hotels who offer online booking certainly can and we proved it!
In early 2011, Facebook was averaging $14,000 per month of bookings for this hotel group directly trackable to Facebook and Twitter. This more than covered their social media fees, making social media a very profitable endeavor for them indeed.
Keep in mind, this number only includes direct traffic to their website, not phone calls from Facebook or Twitter friends. They did not have a tracking system in place to track phone calls that may have been generated from a visit to their page and we can only imagine how many of those originated on Facebook.
Traffic, Traffic and More Traffic
On a monthly basis, the Myrtle Beach Facebook pages were sending more than 5,000 visits to the websites, making Facebook one of their top referring sites.
We also noticed that the quality of traffic sent to the sites was very high, with a lower than average bounce rate and people stayed on the sites longer than average.
An important thing to note here is that in order to get the traffic and get the booking, your Facebook page should be made up of friends who are the right target, not just anyone you can get to click “like”. We take a very targeted approach to building a friend base and we believe that’s critical to generating these dramatic, measurable results for our hotel clients.
Social media has become a must-do marketing strategy for hotels, enabling them to be more effective at customer service, generate more revenue by providing followers with information for booking online and a way to get more eyes on your hotels as people research where they want to stay. Take a dedicated, consistent, targeted approach to social media and see if you don’t see your results from social media take a sharp turn upward.