Over the past 15 years, social media has drastically changed the way we communicate on a global scale. Websites and mobile apps, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, allow people to share their experiences with anyone who wants to pay attention. And though many claim they’re too busy to keep tabs on social media, the numbers prove that people are definitely paying attention! So as an independent hotel operator, what does all of this mean for you?
First of all, independent hoteliers who aren’t using social media are missing out on a huge opportunity to learn more about their business, consumers and the overall hospitality industry. Even if tweeting and posting photos isn’t your thing, operators should at least “listen” (monitoring without posting) to online conversations because that’s where travelers are going to find inspiration for their next trip. And more importantly, social media is where guests are talking about their past travel experiences, so operators should be curious about what they have to say.
If you’re a hotelier who embraces social media, it’s time to make sure you’re getting the most from the online travel chatter. A great first step is to make sure you’re using the same social media channels as your guests. To find out their go-to sites, simply ask. Setting up a quick online poll, distributing in-room survey cards and having casual conversations at the front desk are various ways to find out where they spend their time online. From here, you can utilize the best channels for connecting with them and sharing your message.
The next important step is to ask your current and former guests to share, share and share again! One of the most intriguing aspects of social media and 3rd party review sites, like TripAdvisor and Yelp, is the enormous value users place in the opinions of others. For example, when a new restaurant opens, many consumers won’t visit before reading what others have to say on Twitter and Yelp. It’s just like old fashioned “word of mouth,” but today word travels much faster and farther, so even with a great social media strategy, business still need their customers to talk them up online. This is why it is so important to encourage your guests to share their experiences online.
After guests have shared their positive thoughts and experiences, it’s critical that you re-share it with your audience! Think of it as patting yourself on the back after providing great hospitality. If a guest leaves a nice note on TripAdvisor, create a Facebook post highlighting the comment so others can read it. Or if a guest posts a beautiful photo of your hotel on Instagram, tweet the photo so others can see what to expect when they visit. Just about every piece of online content can be repurposed and used to promote your hotel, so encourage your guests to keep sharing!