Where are your guests when they’re not at your hotel? The answer is simple: they’re on social media. But, the real question is: are they on your social media?

Social media is becoming the go-to platform for many travelers who no longer want to visit websites, pick up the phone or even send an email. As social media managers, we’re also brand managers and responsible for knowing the ins and outs of each hotel we represent. To create a seamless experience for the online user, increase your focus on conversational messaging before, during and after a guest’s stay with these five tips:

1. Audit Your Audience

As the saying goes, “there’s a reason we have two ears and only one mouth.” It’s imperative to listen, or in the case of social media, read, what your audience is saying.

  • Determine what topics your audience finds interesting and will respond to. Over a few months’ period, post photos that showcase a variety of themes, and analyze which topics receive the most engagement. Then, strategically, and naturally, incorporate these into your captions, pictures and comments.
  • For example, if followers engage the most when the subject is about staff, highlight team members whenever possible. So, if you’re promoting a specialty cocktail, incorporate the beloved bartender into the picture!

Social Media Tip - Listening to your audience

2. Make it Real

Create meaningful dialogue and engagement to set your hotel apart from the competition.

  • “Reply” as soon as possible. Provide a clear answer to questions and respond to comments with relevant, helpful information. If you don’t know the answer to a question, find someone who will.
  • Even if a follower never comments, he will still see how you are interacting with others. Timeliness, accuracy and positivity are key!
  • While replying is important, do not “over” engage. You want followers to feel your comments are authentic and meaningful.

Social Media Tip - Making it Real

3. Tap into their Content and Win

To curate new content and amplify your one-to-one communication, ask guests to post photos.

  • Encourage guests to tag your handle and use your hotel’s hashtag. Place tent cards in the rooms or even display relevant information on your hotel’s Wi-Fi login page. After your hashtag is established, monitor on all platforms, so you know where and who to engage with.
  • Although user-generated content may not be professional quality, photos from guests are more genuine. Sprinkling in user-generated content with regularly scheduled posts will help build trust and open the opportunity for new dialogue and interaction.

Social Media Tip: Tap Into Their Content and Win

4. Create a Little Friendly Competition

Instead of searching for guests’ posts on social media, ask them to directly send you photos and testimonials (that you can later re-purpose and post).

  • Many hotels have found ongoing photo contests to be successful. Incentivize past guests to participate for the chance to be featured on your hotel’s social media or win a prize. An appealing reward will encourage entries and increase the amount of new social content that’s sent straight to your inbox.

Social Media Tip - Create a little friendly competiton5. Bring the Magic to Life

Social media is a great platform to build and maintain relationships, but nothing beats a face-to-face experience.

  • Social media managers should keep notes about important online dialogue and discuss with the hotel’s management. Then, when active social fans visit the hotel, staff can bring online conversation to life.
  • Upon check-in, thank your active fans, surprise them with their favorite beverage, or reference a specific comment they made. A small token of appreciation or surprise conversation brings together a seamless experience for the guest and makes their social media involvement a bit more tangible. Often, they post about this genuine gesture, singing your praises. That endorsement has an exponentially higher ROI than other marketing initiatives.

Social Media Tip - Keep track of important comments

Putting the “Social” in “Social Media”

Social media is no longer a convenient, nice-to-have platform in the hospitality industry, it is now an essential component of communication strategy. If used effectively, social media can help transform your followers into leads, leads into guests, and guests into repeat guests.

To view the extended version of this article and more tips, click here. (Reprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from hotelexecutive.com.)

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Stephanie Miller
AUTHOR: Stephanie Miller

Stephanie Miller heads up the social media practice at MP&A Digital & Advertising, an award-winning agency helping luxury hotels attract and retain loyal profitable customers. Principals with more than 60 years of collective experience at some of the world's largest advertising and direct marketing companies lead the agency's team of marketing, creative, public relations, Internet and social media professionals. As a fully integrated marketing communications agency, MP&A offers clients the ability to manage marketing through a single source, saving time and money and ensuring all communications are consistently on strategy for maximum impact.

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