Your hotel’s social media footprint counts for more than just aesthetics. It ultimately impacts the bottom line, and it’s important to take every opportunity to position yourself ahead of the competition with your social media efforts.
Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay, and it is sure to have an impact on your hotel for the foreseeable future. Customers often care more about a hotel’s online reviews than they do about the price, so your hotel’s social media footprint counts for more than just aesthetics; it ultimately impacts your bottom line.
In today’s instant gratification landscape, most people have technology at their fingertips, and with it comes the ability to consume large amounts of information in mere moments—both positive and negative. In the hospitality industry, technology connects hotels with guests through photos, reviews and general information. But between a hotel and a prospective guest is an entire community ready to paint the picture of what they can expect from your hotel long before the booking stage and the actual visit. Customers can live vicariously through others via social media “check-ins” to your location and post-stay reviews on various sites, which remain a key component to a hotel’s online success.
When selecting a hotel, customers rely heavily on location preferences, price and customer reviews. In terms of hierarchy, location leads the way, followed closely by pricing and reviews. While hotels did not need to worry about online reviews 25 years ago, they could depend on their competition coming from pricing wars and whose location was the most ideal, but times have certainly changed.
As of fourth quarter last year, there were 2.32 billion active users on Facebook, up from 100 million users in 2008. Statista.com identified “active users” as those who had logged into their Facebook accounts over a 30-day period. Given these staggering numbers, I have compiled a list of some simple steps you can begin taking immediately in order to take control of your hotel’s online reputation:
- Appoint at least one on-site social media ambassador/champion.
- Respond to negative customer reviews from a non-defensive, personalized standpoint.
- Respond to positive reviews by highlighting hotel features and optimizing on keywords.
- Keep hotel photos and online profiles updated.
- Ensure price parity with your brand and market.
- Use social media to represent your business, not to engage in political discussions.
- Fact-check your page and maintain the integrity of your profile by proactively catching inaccuracies before customers do (no surprise is a good surprise).
Another tip, courtesy of James Fowler, senior e-commerce manager at OTO Development, is to “start thinking local.” He recommends connecting guests with resources that highlight local attractions, restaurants and other businesses, “and then from there, once you established content you can reach out to your top markets.”
In terms of marketing your business, social media plays a pivotal role there as well. There is tremendous competition out there, with many hotels compressed into each market, so you will want to take every opportunity to position yourself ahead of the competition with your social media efforts. Take the opportunity to connect more intimately with your prospective guests and you will see your efforts pay off in dividends via your guest scores and your overall revenue.
Finally, welcome any and all feedback and use it to constantly improve in your business. A happy customer is a return customer, so do your best to implement as many guest suggestions as you can within the confines of your budget and your common sense. Social media isn’t going anywhere, so use it to your advantage!
Celeste Johnson has more than 10 years of hospitality experience, working in many different roles within major brands including Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt. Career highlights include opening Hampton Inn & Suites in Bellevue WA – the brand’s 2,000th property. Celeste is currently the general manager of Hyatt Place Garden City; she is specifically focused on blending operations, sales and revenue management with a passion in employee relations.
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