10 Unsexy Truths about Hotel Social Media Marketing
I can recall back in early 2000 when I got my first taste of online Marketing through Multi-Level Marketing (MLM). The key was to get enough people to sign up for my referral lin and sell products directly to consumers by relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing.
It is kind of interesting when I reflect over it today how little things have changed. The only difference is that the tools we use today has dramatically changed.
Back when I started MLM services implanted dreams into our minds to would contain dream homes, big boats, world travel, big checks and all the luxury you imagine. And you could work from home in your pajamas on your schedule.
It all sounded sexy until reality hit. And suddenly the dream started to look more like a nightmare.
My wife painted a very clear picture for me and told me I needed to clean up my act and get a real job. So I started something unsexy as working with Hospitality. And my journey took me through the reservation, front desk, housekeeping, supervisor and hospitality management. I took several courses and certifications to enhance my knowledge. Today I have earned certifications in Hospitality Management from eCornell, Hospitality Digital Marketing from HSMAI and Introduction to Global Hospitality Management from Cornell University. I have also taken numerous Social Media courses and training programs.
My dream and goals were to take part in a new sexy role that came with new demands and wants. Digital Marketing, New Media, and Social Media have become the new playground for all of us.
As a Social Media Coach for Hotels, I discovered some unsexy truths about Hotel Social Media Marketing over the years.
1. It is a numbers game
Anyone that tells you anything else than Social Media is a numbers game is blatantly lying to you. Just like it was when MLM was the sexiest Online Marketing game to play this has not changed with Social Media. The main difference is the speed of the game, and the tools available to hunt you down.
Of course, as Social Media gets more mature as new ground rules arise. If you try to cheat or buy the numbers you will be held accountable for this.
With today’s tools and technology, potential clients can easily track you down (and they will). Your brilliant Colgate smile and over-optimized text will get their attention. But it will do you no good if the numbers are not there to support your claim.
2. Free is a real currency
I have no idea how many that ask me to help them for Free. And believes that Free is a real currency. Though I am a firm believer in Karma and reciprocity, at the end of the day I am also depending on paying my bills.
Social Media has given us this notion of giving as a noble thing to do. I will serve and help Hotels, and Free will be part of my currency. Just not the Currency.
But this is the reality and a challenge I have to deal with on a case by case encounter. Sometimes I will get inquiries to provide information where I see real potential for mutual benefits.
I will do my level best to help everyone within a reasonable framework.
3. YES is no longer the sexiest answer
I can recall when I started my Hotel Blog that I believe it would be utterly insane saying NO to anyone. Today I am ok with admitting I was wrong.
I am open to working with everyone. Sometimes you just have to say NO, and it has over the years become easier to say NO. Plus over the years it also has been easier to accept that someone tells me NO.
I don’t have a scientific formula for how many NO’s it takes to get one YES. Just like when I say NO there is an underlying reason for it, same will go for the clients I seek to work with.
4. Engagement and Relationship will not Replace ROI
Engagement and Relationship are without a doubt really important in the new emerging economy. For decision-makers, it still will not replace the ROI that matters at the end of the day. It’s like going to the church where the preacher delivers his best sermon ever, and all you remember is the great food that was served afterward (be honest you have been guilty of this too).
Fluff will still be fluff no matter how the package looks like. With Social Media, Engagement and Relationship have somewhat become buzzwords. As a Hotel Social Media Marketer, it is not very sexy to talk about Engagement and Relationship. But we have learned over the years to draw the real value out of the numbers we are required to learn the science behind Social Engagement and Relationships.
5. Mentioning my name doesn’t mean you have my endorsement
Mentioning and tagging people’s names have become part of an obscure Social Marketing game. Both people and brands do this. Some people and even brands have multiple profiles, and they start to mention their primary profile to initiate attention. And sometimes they hijack a conversation you participate in to make it look like you support them.
This forces us that work with Hotel Social Media Marketing to set off time frames where we filter through and analyze all information to see if it adds value to our own or clients overall purpose.
6. No sexy moments
As Social Media now has got more mature all of us has some numbers to back up our Social Profiles. In some way, we all now are running after the same carrot. The reality is that today it takes a lot of hard work to meet new demands and needs for your clients. And you need to stay on top of the most current data and services that will add the most value in real time.
Today customers make educated decisions in real based on data they picked up from their community. The period available to capture their attention is at a bare minimum. In the Hotel segment, new fierce and creative competition is not wasting their time to see what tomorrow brings.
7. Carpe diem – seize the moment
Real-time marketing can be both tricky and challenging. Discover and learn from the moments that bring on rewards for your Hotel, and from the moments that raise concerns.
One of the big challenges with the evolving fast-paced real time data is that many will experience more failures than successes. And with Social Media, there are no real guarantees. Well, there is one guarantee that comes with Social Media and it is the ability customers now have to make a real impact on your Hotel brand. This is an important shift that both Hotels and Hotel Social Media Marketers need to realize.
A wise person said once that “Luck is when Preparation meets Opportunity”. Nothing could be truer than this statement taking on the opportunity to help Hotels adapt to all the challenges Social Media brings on.
As stated in #1 Social Media is a numbers game. And at some point, you will reach the Tipping Point. You will face critical choices, and one option available is to outsource parts of your service.
I have no problem admitting this was for me as for many Hotels an unknown territory. And I was reluctant to take on this for myself, and to be honest I did not recommend it for Hotel either.
Social Media Channels like Facebook has over billions of users, and Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram has millions of users. And if we look at growing markets like China, and other Asian countries we will find other Social Media Channels that have similar numbers.
There is just no way around scaling your Hotels information flow anymore.
It will take time to build a sustainable Social Media Profile that will serve your Hotel overall goal. And it will take time before you see a direct connection between your Social Media information and direct booking.
Of course, working with Hotel Social Media Marketing is not a very sexy approach. Telling Hotel Decision Makers they have to focus on building relationships and engage with the customer on Social Media, and on top of this that it will take time before they see any ROI is not sealing the deal.
Both #8 and #9 require strategies and tools that supports instant awareness and listening. And then do research and analyze data that both scale the information flow, and cuts down the time factor without violating all the new sets of rules that comes with the Social Media ecosystem.
At the same time, we also have to focus on that these techniques are implemented in ways that still supports Hotels Integrity and values.
10. Customer Experience
Investing in Customer Experience sounds a bit abstract for many Hoteliers. Today the Customer Experience consists of three components:
Customer Care – educate and create awareness before the Hotel Experience. Identify potential concerns early on collaborating in active professional travelers communities. Resolve concern before it arises. Empower employees with tools and information that help customers make educated decisions.
These elements help bring the customer into the Hotel.
Customer Service – educate and create awareness during the Hotel Experience. During the experience, your employee’s aptitude and attitude make all the difference. Involve your employees in staff meetings, and creative lineups. What are the trigger points that make them happy, and will help them serve the guests above and beyond?
This element serves the guest at the Hotel.
Customer Retention – educate and create awareness after the Hotel Experience. After the experience is primary determined what happens during the two first components. If your Hotel has delivered above and beyond expectations the likelihood of the guest returning is high, and you have also increased the chances of guest refer your Hotels to their friends.
This element comes as a result of how well or poor we handle Customer Care and Customer Service. And it also is a reflection on how well we resolve any form of concerns.
From a Hotel Social Media Marketing perspective, all these components need to be addressed. Remember today with Social Media it is important to take ownership of any concern that might arise. Guests will share the good news as well as bad news. If the story goes viral make sure you have a community or team that is prepared to assist you.
Feel free to share some of your unsexy Hotel Social Media Marketing truths.
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