Hoteliers should focus on Twitter
 
Hoteliers should focus on Twitter
11 NOVEMBER 2013 8:34 AM

Travelers are taking to Twitter—especially on mobile devices—to share their travel-related experiences in real time. Hoteliers need to capitalize on this growing trend.

I’m a jill-of-all-trades here at Hotel News Now. One of my many jobs as editorial assistant includes managing our various social media channels and disseminating pertinent information pertaining to the hotel industry. It varies from day to day, but I typically tweet anything from links to stories we've written to studies conducted by hospitality folks to random statistics and facts from our parent company, STR. One of the many discussions we have regarding our social media is how we can measure our return on investment, or in other words ensure that people are reading our stories. Sure, Google Analytics does a good job. But it’s not always accurate.

That also is the most-asked question from hoteliers. What’s the ROI for platforms such as Twitter? The answer is simple: Hoteliers are engaging with potential guests who could then translate to dollars and brand loyalty. If hoteliers aren’t participating on social media, they’re missing out on the chance to connect to and/or retain a guest, and in turn, leaving money on the table.

It’s a question I believe hoteliers are just starting to figure out the answer to. Although travel-related conversations on Twitter grew 27% year over year, according to Twitter’s Head of Travel Mike De Jesus, I believe the industry still has a ways to go.

Just to provide some background on Twitter’s overall growth, the platform has more than 230 million active users per month and more than 170 million active mobile users per month. These users are sending more than 500 million tweets per day, De Jesus said, and 75% of them are are accessing Twitter on a mobile device (tablet or smartphone) each month.

“If you think about that, travel and hospitality companies have an advantage here because we’re seeing that more and more people use social media to talk about what they’re doing in real time while they’re on vacation or planning a getaway,” he said. “It’s giving (hoteliers) an opportunity to connect with those users in a relevant way.”

It’s no secret Twitter has become increasingly important on the social media playing field, especially as more millennials, the hotel industry’s bread and butter, flock to the platform.  

De Jesus outlined six “best practices” for managing a hotel’s Twitter during a webinar titled “All about Twitter, just for hotels” hosted by ReviewPro.

1. Communicate directly with customers.
This is especially important when it comes to complaints. Hoteliers should respond to a guest’s negative tweet within an hour.

“Whether it’s online or offline, if you manage it quickly, you can turn them into an advocate,” said Daniel Edward Craig, moderator of the webinar and founder of social media consultancy Reknown.

It’s also important to let potential guests know you appreciate them. For example, let them know you’ve seen their tweet about how amazing their stay was at your hotel. Show your guests some love!

2. Focus on driving bookings.
Show potential guests what you have to offer, De Jesus said, especially when it comes to rates and promotions.

Hoteliers can attract potential guests by showcasing the hotel’s amenities via rich media, such as photos, videos or Vines. Within this rich media, it’s important to share a property’s unique selling points, such as a golf course or a spa, De Jesus said.

3. Capitalize on seasonality and help users plan trips.
Many people travel during the holidays, so using Twitter to help spread the word about holiday events at or near the hotel is a good way to draw potential guests in.

In addition, when holiday seasons or three-day weekends roll around, hoteliers already know travelers are in the business of booking rooms. Why not help them plan their stay? A little kindness goes a long way with future hotel guests, and your other followers will see your excellence in customer service.

4. Increase brand loyalty.
The more hoteliers interact with guests on Twitter, the more guests will feel appreciated. It’s not rocket science. And when guests feel appreciated, they’re more likely to be loyal to your brand.

Twitter is a good place also to share information regarding a hotel’s loyalty program, De Jesus said.

“Use Twitter to not only drive bookings, to not only build loyalty but to increase a lifetime value of a guest or potential guest,” he added.

5. Leverage and integrate with local events.
"Because of Twitter's real-time nature, it's important to think about relevant local happenings and events that are happening around you," De Jesus said. "Create tweets that show users that you are relevant."

For example, The Hotel Palomar tweeted about a local state fair, informing followers that rooms were available if they needed a place to stay.

"This is something Twitter users love to see," De Jesus added.

6. Push Twitter-exclusive promotions and discounts.
Twitter conducted an internal study that showed a large proportion of people registered on the site follow brands to receive promotions and discounts, De Jesus said.

"This means that people are always looking for the hottest and most relevant deals when they follow a brand on Twitter, including hotels," De Jesus said.

I’ve seen some great examples of this while perusing hotels’ Twitter handles, but there are some hoteliers out there that don’t even dabble in the promotions game. And my guess is that they probably don’t have as many followers either.

Email Samantha Worgull or find her on Twitter.

The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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