Hospitality and Travel are one of the most customer-centric industries. With the advent of social media and smartphones, these industries have seen a sea-change in consumer interaction and buying behavior.
Let’s look at a few statistics
- A survey by eMarketer found 51.8% are using their mobile/tablets to complete travel bookings – a figure expected to rise to 86.4% by 2019
- ThinkWithGoogle reports 49% of all hotel searches to take place through mobile phones.
- Research shows that 97% of millennia’s share photos and videos of their travels online
All this makes it imperative for hospitality and travel businesses to be online and have a social media presence. But is mere presence enough? Now look at this
- 89% plan their travel activities based on content posted online by their peers.
- According to Google’s Traveller’s Road to Decision report, 66% of people watch travel-related content while thinking about taking a trip.
- 1 in 5 travelers turns to social media for inspiration within different categories of travel planning, including – Destinations, Hotels, Vacation activities, Attractions, and restaurants.
These statistics are enough to convince any serious hospitality industry business owner that a great social media plan and execution will lead to amazing results. But how do you go about it?
1. Having a strong Social Media strategy leads to virtual branding
With millennia’s turning to their smartphones or tablets for all information, it is extremely important that you have a strong social media strategy in place. Tailor each channels message to make the most of its advantages. Identify the channels that work best for you and keep that your focus, use other channels as auxiliary support for the main channel.
2. Seeing is Believing
Social Media has given you a powerful tool to connect with your end user by breaking through the clutter, make the most of it. Channels like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram have made the process of creating and sharing photos and videos extremely simple. Don’t just talk about your facilities and special packages show it to them via photos and videos. Do Facebook live of your Sunday buffet spread and make it experiential for the user.
3. Digital Concierge is a real thing
People visiting a place or a hotel will check for nearby restaurants, entertainment venues, transport options, etc. Instead of waiting for them to ask, create a Digital Concierge repository offering all such information on Twitter or Facebook page. Keep an eye on Twitter conversations around your location and hotel and be a part of it. If a customer checks-in on Facebook or Foursquare, a friendly reply welcoming him and informing that you are just a message or Tweet away for any queries will go a long way in building your brand.
4. Listening in and Delighting them will make them your brand advocates
Your customers are most likely tagging you when they add photos and videos of their vacation. Listening-in and delighting them will help build brand advocates as they will not only share their pictures but also their experiences with your brand. People are sharing their experiences immediately either on Twitter or Instagram. This is creating a ripple effect as their readers to are creating a perception of your brand.
5. You can flaunt your expertise
You might be a hotel chain or a small boutique café, flaunting your expertise will make travelers aware of you and there will be many who will flock to your hotel to experience the specialty. So, you could share weekly specials or do weekly postings on your hotel’s social profiles about upcoming events or fun activities that the hotel has planned for their guests. A café selling great varieties of coffee can showcase that. Such things will get the traveler aware of activities and experiences that they can enjoy.
6. Stay Engaged during and after the stay
According to Iconosquare, 76% of Instagrammers said receiving likes encourages them to post more, while 65% said they’d feel flattered if a brand as one of their posts. People will post images and videos immediately or once the trip is over. Regram a picture of your property or put it up as a featured image on Facebook while tagging the customer.
While the customer stays with you, take time and note down their preferences. He could be a business traveler taking meetings in the room or a honeymooner. Note their preferences and file them away for the future. If you see that the guest is returning to you, you could surprise them.
7. Social Media helps in making the experience memorable and easy
If you see a customer tagging your property on Facebook announcing that they are getting engaged or celebrating an anniversary at your property. Make the experience memorable by arranging a cake or a special suite upgrade. This will make your guests special day more memorable. Another important thing is the ease of interaction. A restaurant could take on the go orders on Twitter or Facebook thereby saving time for travelers.
8.Building a niche with events
You could build a niche for certain events. Be it blogger meet or small business breakfast meets, find a niche and make the most of it. Ask your visitors to review you on Google or tag you on Facebook. This will build your reputation in that niche. User-generated content is the present word-of-mouth in the hospitality industry
9.Build excitement before the visit
If a customer has booked your hotel for the upcoming weekend, send them a welcome mail with all your social media profiles. Educate them as to what they can expect in each profile and how social media connections will help you make their stay memorable. Send long-form blog recommendations and location-specific information etc. Show that you care about their comfort.
According to industry standards, the normal turn-around time in the hospitality industry is around 11 hours. You can cut it down with social media resources and engagement. A delighted customer will influence 10 more.