Social media can be a repetitive exercise for anyone that is handling it for a business. Like all tasks of this nature, it becomes easy to get caught up in the hamster wheel and forget why we are doing these tasks. Subsequently, it becomes challenging to maintain a high level of quality, especially if you are a hotel operator whose time is stretched so thin.
As I thought about writing this article and procrastinated like I was studying for a calculus exam in college, I came to the resolution that I did not want to write the low-hanging fruit article that we often see, like: “10 Tips To Improve Your Hotel’s Social Media.” These always seem to be written by someone who hasn’t worked in a hotel. I was procrastinating because I didn’t want to be that guy. Well, I couldn’t exactly, because I have been a hotelier. I want to provide real value and take a deep, meaningful dive into the essence of social media and hospitality. Here we go!
Like all aspects of operating a hotel, there are also best practices for social media, and they are effective. But amidst all the tips and strategies that digital agencies like mine explain to hoteliers, there is an underlying role for social media that is often missed. It is often missed because hoteliers are busy with so little time that they often forget about why they are doing something; they just do it properly and quickly, then move on to the next task — the life of running a 24/7 business serving the public.
The purpose of social media is not to drive traffic to your website to foster a conversion. In this case, a conversion is a reservation. Acquiring reservations is a function of or a wishful reaction by hoteliers, but it’s not the primary purpose of social media. Social media is where you communicate with your customers in a casual place when they are not at your hotel, and that is a wonderful thing. It is also a place where you can attract new customers, so you better act like you do at a cocktail party where you don’t know anybody. Be fun, charming, informative and, above all, be polite.
It’s often the digital agencies that are changing the way hoteliers view and use social media. This is mostly because the agencies are doing the work, writing the articles and have a different goal: increase revenue to protect their engagement. Lost in the process are the wonderful aspects of communicating with your guests in a casual environment with engaging imagery. Gaining followers and increasing direct bookings is not the goal; it is a byproduct. The goal is to create the cocktail party that everybody wants to come to and nobody wants to leave. That should be the goal of every hotelier’s social media strategy. Direct bookings will follow.
Hoteliers should think about social media as an opportunity to pull, rather than push, guests. Social media is not a place to constantly shove your specials and rates on your followers. You wouldn’t do that in the lobby of your hotel and you shouldn’t do it on social media. If you were constantly reading your resume at a cocktail party, you would soon find yourself alone in a room. You want to use social media to attract followers and guests with your charm, imagery and wit. Think of it as more of an invitation than an advertising billboard. Create the cool persona that your hotel embodies and rock it on social media as often as possible.
Now, all of this sounds easy but I understand it’s not. It’s like describing what style is — hard to explain but you know it when you see it. So, for the traditionalists that prefer to read tips, I will leave you with my recommendations to improve your hotel’s social media game:
• Always, always use quality images.
• Your posts should often contain imagery that’s been staged.
• Make a real effort with social media. It’s important.
• Make use of video; four to five seconds of video is fun.
• Don’t constantly push specials — pull followers.
• Have people in your photos. People like people.
• Research and use effective hashtags.
Do these things and direct bookings will likely follow. Good luck!