Social-media strategy crucial part of driving hotel revenue

Although it can be difficult to measure the return on investment from social media, the medium is necessary to help build an audience that will drive direct bookings and ultimately revenue.

“The travelers’ journey has taken major turns in the past years. Think about how digital media has transformed the booking window,” said Jason Lee, senior director of online product and technology for Travel Media Group. “What’s cool about social is that it provides this inspiration to travel.”

He said that 45 percent of travelers encounter hotel social media during the beginning of their booking journey, 45 percent encounter it during the middle and 11 percent at the end.

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“Not having this optimized or available as part of your channel hurts your chance of getting conversions but also getting direct conversions,” he said.

Lee said the two platforms hoteliers must have as part of their strategies are Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook has 1.7 billion active monthly users who spend an average of 20 minutes per day on the site. Hotel business pages receive twice the click-through rates compared to other retail business pages, according to Facebook. Since adding a “call to action” button, Facebook reports a 42-percent increase in click-throughs.

Twitter has 310 million active monthly users and 1.3 billion accounts. Of the users, 80 percent are active users on mobile. What’s more, hotels that engage regularly on Twitter receive 89 percent more favorites and 150 percent higher website click-through rate, Lee said.

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“If you’re engaging on Twitter with someone who is following you, you have a good chance of having them book directly,” he said.

Creating the Strategy

There are three key things hoteliers need to do when creating their social media strategy. First, they need to claim or create social accounts. For instance, if hoteliers don’t create a Facebook page for their property, Facebook will do it for them. That leaves hoteliers with no control of the content.

Next, hoteliers need to build their social audience. The bigger, the better. Hoteliers aren’t just communicating with their immediate audience on social; they are also communicating with that audience’s audience.

Hoteliers can add social URLs to their website, email signatures and collateral to encourage more people to find them on social media. To grow the audience, hoteliers can also pay for page-like advertising, put up collateral in their hotels to encourage guests to like or follow them on social media and add social media URLs to check-out folios.

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Finally, hoteliers need to create content that will engage the social audience. Some tips for creating content, according to Lee, include:

  • Do not over post;
  • create content that has broad appeal;
  • create a call to action;
  • avoid political or diverse posts;
  • use promotional posts but not more than two per week;
  • post on a schedule and be consistent; and
  • use the convention and visitors bureau and leverage events.

Lee said not to forget about current guests as targets for social media followers. Gaining these customers’ support will help impact the bottom line.

“The strategy of getting a guest who is already staying with you to follow you on social media is really important for repeat business. You want them to book through your social media page and book directly,” he said.