How the ho­tel in­dus­try can in­crease sales through so­cial me­dia

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

At the same time, the num­ber of peo­ple who book ho­tel reser­va­tions through on­line travel agen­cies like Book­ing.com and Ho­tels.com con­tin­ues to grow each year. Although this type of book­ing helps ho­tels in­crease sales, it takes away the ho­tel’s di­rect in­ter­ac­tion with the cus­tomer. This trend also re­duces the rev­enue that ho­tels make from those bookings be­cause the on­line travel agen­cies have to take their cut too. For­tu­nately, so­cial net­works like Face­book present a sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity for ho­tels to build re­la­tion­ships that lead to brand aware­ness, word-of-mouth mar­ket­ing, and ul­ti­mately, sales.

For the past years so­cial me­dia has grown to be one of the most ef­fec­tive means for tourists to seek in­for­ma­tion and share trav­el­ling ex­pe­ri­ences. The places peo­ple choose to visit and the ac­tiv­i­ties they take part in are hugely in­flu­enced by cur­rent trends, the opin­ion of friends and the power of so­cial opin­ion. Ap­prox­i­mately one-fifth of leisure trav­ellers world­wide turn to so­cial me­dia plat­forms for in­spi­ra­tion within dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories of their travel plan­ning in­clud­ing: ho­tels (23%), va­ca­tion ac­tiv­i­ties (22%), at­trac­tions (21%) and restau­rants (17%).

An­other sur­vey found that 52% of Face­book users said their travel plans were af­fected by see­ing friends’ pic­tures of trips. Of peo­ple who had al­ready made travel plans, only 48% stuck with their orig­i­nal plan af­ter check­ing out what was be­ing said on so­cial me­dia chan­nels, 33% went on to change their ho­tel and 7% al­tered their en­tire trip by chang­ing des­ti­na­tions. Hence, the in­flu­ence of so­cial me­dia on the trav­eller’s de­ci­sion­mak­ing can­not be ig­nored.

My com­pany has man­aged com­plete mar­ket­ing so­lu­tions for ho­tels since 2010. By mid 2013 we in­tro­duced a ded­i­cated so­cial me­dia team work­ing to man­age com­plete cam­paigns for our clients.

What we’ve learned is that the ho­tels that get most di­rect re­turn on in­vest­ment on so­cial me­dia are ho­tels that adopt the fol­low­ing prac­tices:

Build a com­mu­nity around the prop­erty.

of

loyal fol­low­ers

The size of your com­mu­nity is an ob­vi­ous fac­tor in us­ing so­cial me­dia to drive rev­enue. Sim­ply put, more fol­low­ers equals more rev­enue. How­ever it’s not about ac­quir­ing as many con­nec­tions as pos­si­ble; it’s about qual­ity. You need ‘Likes’ from peo­ple who re­ally do like you, who will act as your ho­tel’s brand am­bas­sadors and spread the good word to their Face­book friends. If you man­age your Face­book page right, you can cre­ate lon­glast­ing re­la­tion­ships with your guests who will stay with you when­ever they can, in­ter­act with you fre­quently on your so­cial me­dia plat­form and share with their friends the won­der­ful time they are hav­ing dur­ing their trav­els thus ex­tend­ing the reach of your brand and in­creas­ing your re­turn on in­vest­ment.

Op­ti­mise

Man­age

for mo­bile

your

de­vices.

Mo­bile de­vices (smart phones and tablets) are here to stay. Ac­cord­ing to Google re­search in Europe, 40% of leisure trav­ellers and 36% of busi­ness trav­ellers book us­ing their mo­bile de­vices. While this shift has al­ready driven on­line trav­el­ling agen­cies to ex­pand their ser­vices, luxury ho­tels in Cyprus have been slow to ex­plore ex­pand­ing their ser­vices. A user-friendly mo­bile site or an in­te­grated mo­bile brand app is a way for ho­tels to in­crease their rev­enue through mo­bile bookings and by send­ing spe­cial of­fers through push no­ti­fi­ca­tions.

on­line

Share TripAd­vi­sor re­views.

rep­u­ta­tion.

Con­sumers have an un­prece­dented im­pact on a ho­tel’s rep­u­ta­tion and suc­cess. Trav­ellers who have had poor ex­pe­ri­ence with a ho­tel will of­ten vent their anger in so­cial me­dia fo­rums. Neg­a­tive com­ments, if not ac­knowl­edged and fol­lowed up with re­me­dial ac­tion, can be dev­as­tat­ing to the rep­u­ta­tion of the ho­tel and there­fore sales, as the sheer reach of so­cial net­works means neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity spreads very rapidly. On the other hand, ef­fec­tive ser­vice re­cov­ery can ac­tu­ally in­crease cus­tomer loy­alty as it con­veys the per­cep­tion that the com­pany cares for its cus­tomers. Have a ded­i­cated team that mon­i­tors so­cial com­ments on a daily ba­sis, and en­sures prompt re­sponse to cus­tomer is­sues and feed­back.

TripAd­vi­sor is one of the most im­por­tant re­sources when it comes to sway­ing a po­ten­tial guest into seal­ing the deal and choos­ing to stay with you. Don’t shy away from shar­ing ex­cep­tional, 5-star TripAd­vi­sor re­views with your fol­low­ers, while also en­cour­ag­ing re­views from your past guests. Kanika Ho­tels make a point to share TripAd­vi­sor awards and cer­tifi­cates of ex­cel­lence on their Face­book page as well as to en­cour­age guests to share their ex­pe­ri­ence at their ho­tels and have al­ready wit­nessed an in­crease in user re­views on the plat­form.

Though so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing in the ho­tel in­dus­try has a long way to go, it has a lot of po­ten­tial and ig­nor­ing it would be a mis­take.

In­te­grat­ing so­cial me­dia into a com­pany’s mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­gramme is nec­es­sary to help bring the com­pa­nies closer to their cus­tomers, to lis­ten to them, to mean­ing­fully en­gage with them and ul­ti­mately boost cus­tomer ser­vice, brand and sales.

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