It is impossible to imagine life without social media. It’s not just for fun; social media is also a marketing tool. Every hotelier is aware of the power of social media and wants to use it.... But how? How do you go about it? What works and what doesn't? In my own network, I see hotels that are very successful online; they have many followers, and therefore sell more rooms. I know others are trying things out cautiously. But there are also those who have already given up.
Where is your target group?
Success depends very much on the enthusiasm of the hotelier or one of his employees, like the marketing or sales manager. Social media is all about people, and personal posts usually have more impact.
But which messages do you post? And on which channels: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram? And what is your goal? There is one important question you should ask yourself first: what is your target group? And then: on which social media channel are these customers active, and what are they looking for? How can you and your hotel be relevant? If you have a lot of people over 65 in your hotel, then that charging point for electric bicycles certainly is a plus. Perhaps social media are not the best place to reach that type of customer; an advertisement in ANWB’s Kampioen magazine would be more effective.
How we missed the mark…
Since our business is also about people, we faced the same questions at SmartHOTEL, although our focus was not on guests, but on the hoteliers that we want to reach in order to help them with our products.
However, we were wrong in thinking Instagram was a good channel. We enthusiastically posted pictures of the hotels we were working with. But hoteliers weren't interested. If they are active on Instagram, they are certainly not searching for hotel software. On LinkedIn, we do reach our target group.
LinkedIn lends itself perfectly to a more personal approach and to building a (one-on-one) business relationship. We also use Facebook, with the aim of creating engagement with our target group. There, we take a more organic, long-term approach to attract visitors to our website and to motivate those visitors to leave data so that we can continue to inform them in the future.
Are you relevant to your ideal guest?
As a hotelier, you probably have a model guest. If you know who this person is, you can find out what social media channels he or she is using, and what information is relevant to them. Don't think too much about your product! Is that 40-square-metre room with a hairdryer and bath actually interesting or are people simply looking for a relaxing weekend away with good food and wellness facilities now that the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted? Focus on that in the messages you post. In this case, Facebook and Instagram make more sense than LinkedIn.
Because LinkedIn is primarily a platform for business users. For them, facilitating them in their work, parking facilities, and accessibility are more important. This reminds me of a remark from Conrad Hilton about the three most important factors for a hotel: location, location, and location.
Don’t forget the reviews
You may not think of reviews as social media, but they are certainly interesting and it is good to keep an eye on them, whether they are positive or negative. Everyone knows sites like Tripadvisor and Zoover, but keep in mind that Facebook and Google also show reviews. As a hotel, you can make clever use of them by asking guests to leave reviews and by responding to those reviews. We do this too: we appreciate it when customers share their experience with us and our software on hoteltechreport.com.
Again, keep your target group in mind: if you have a business hotel, the reviews of business guests are especially important. Mentions about that comfortable desk in the room and a good Internet connection are important. If you are targeting young families, you will score points with the playroom and the microwave to warm up the baby's bottle.
Extra distribution channel
Social media are certainly important, but they are not the be-all and end-all. Even if you are successful on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, you will probably not be able or willing to do without booking sites to fill your hotel. Their business model revolves around selling rooms, so it's smart to take advantage of their reach and clout. They are important in the distribution mix of most hotels for a good reason.
Of course, you'll have to pay commission. Thanks to your social media presence, you may be able to increase the number of direct reservations in line with the number of followers. Guests who have stayed before or people who are interested in special packages or events in your city. Link to your site, set up a discount or themed promotions. It doesn't have to cost money, but it can be very profitable.
Increased turnover and fun
In the first place, it provides more familiarity and turnover, but also more fun - you have to enjoy it, after all. Be enthusiastic and post messages regularly. If that proves effective, it is an enormous incentive to continue and to try new things.
One hotel that I got to know through Instagram and have continued to follow is Het Weeshuis in Gouda. They are very active. Hostels also know how to use social media. King Kong Hostel and Meiniger Hotels are proof of that. You can tell that they have a young target group. On average, young people are more active online than older people.
A good example of a hotel manager who understands the game is Dirk Overbeeke of Delta Hotel Vlaardingen. I do not know him personally and the hotel is not a client of SmartHOTEL, but I enjoy following him. He posts often and his messages are interesting and relevant. The reactions he gets on LinkedIn prove that he strikes the right note. I have never been to the Delta Hotel, but I certainly will. If only to see the view of the ships on the Nieuwe Maas with my own eyes.