Online marketing in the hospitality sector has a lot of buzz words associated with it – Hannah Béraud-Hindi looks at what they mean in practice.
“People like people”. Online, this means that users look for the “human” touch and social media is where they find it as opposed to a company’s website. Make sure you don’t fall in the trap of creating “standardised”, “automated”, “impersonal” content. It is very easy to do, but don’t expect any effective results: everyone and anyone can do this. Creating “personal”, “human” content is unique to your brand or business, and this is what will engage your fans, help you create a relationship with them. This is a very important point for hotels and restaurants as it is essentially a “people” industry.
Your hotel or restaurant brand is what makes you stand out on the market, what communicates your USP. It is important that your brand stands out as much online as it does in your dining rooms or hotel rooms. This can be done through the content you share, the tone of voice or even thanks to design. There is so much content shared online that in order to drive revenue and maximise your assets, you need to make sure it is your strong brand that is recognisable and visible.
Before setting up your social media accounts, think about what type of content you will publish : video, pictures, text, GIFs… Any restaurant or hotel can publish pictures of their rooms or of their menu. You have to think of the content that will stand out, authentic content that relates to your brand and your positioning. There are so many luxury establishments that publish very low quality pictures for instance or even budget properties who publish very high quality content. One rule: never over-promise and under-deliver.
• Communication channels
Travellers and diners’ behaviours are changing thanks to the internet, smartphones, and social media. The online and offline worlds make one, they are not disconnected anymore : we have entered a 360 bi-dimensional world. This is the time where brands and individuals communicate directly! And how do they do it? Social media ! It is an important channel for hotels and restaurants to remain available to their customers.
Everyone, every brand uses the same communication tools (social media, apps, websites) in the same way. How do you expect your customers to book at your unique, personalised, authentic five-star hotel has an online presence similar to one of a big hotel chain? Where is the difference? If there is no difference, how can you expect your customers to book directly with you and not via a third party platform? The only way to get those direct bookings is to look different ! And how do you do it? By making your online presence more human and authentic.
• Direct revenue
Having a strong, branded, authentic social media presence and strategy nowadays means you have more chances to increase direct bookings, get control over your data and your profits!
Engagement rate is the percentage of people who saw your social media post and actively engaged with it (clicked the link, expanded the image attached, replied, liked, favourited, shared, Retweeted, etc). Engagement rate is a valuable metric : it provides an indicator as to how interesting or useful the message was to your audience. And guess what, online users engage more with content that creates emotion: human and authentic content! The more standardised your content, the least engagement you can expect.
In order to remain relevant to your target audience, you need to maintain a certain level of social media publishing frequency. How often you need to post depends on your objectives and your business. Indeed, every hotel and restaurant is different : the menu, the clientele, the style, the interior, the location, the objectives etc.
When thinking about using social media for the first time, think of the hashtags too. The hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the “#” sign. #Hashtags are a simple way to mark the topic (or topics) of social media messages and make them discoverable to people with shared interests. On most social networks, clicking a hashtag will reveal all the public and recently published messages that also contain that hashtag. Hashtags are part of your brand so the way you use them will depend on your business and objectives. One tip: do not over-use them!
In times where communication happens as much online and offline, a hotel or restaurant’s social media strategy must to be related to the overall marketing communication strategy and business objectives. Doing social media just for the sake of saying you are on social media is a waste of time and money. Integrated, 360 strategies will ensure that you reach your objectives instead of producing ” social media noise”. In order to integrate your social media strategy to your overall business strategy, make sure you have a marketing plan in place.
When you decide to setup your online presence and launch social media pages for your hotel and restaurant, it means you are ready to dedicate some time to listening to what is happening online. Listening means that you will remain aware of what your fans say online, what the trends are. It will help you adapt your response and behaviour as a brand to make sure you are always relevant.
Before launching your social media presence or creating a digital marketing campaign, think of your objectives : engagement, visibility, buzz, sales… Putting efforts into a social media activity without an objective in mind will make it hard to assess if you have succeeded or not.
A social media plan includes: your objectives, the platforms your use, the key periods, dates and activities related to your business, the content you will publish in a certain period. Your plan depends on your business and no hotel or restaurant will have the same. This plan will help you to anticipate the key periods during which you need to communicate and coordinate the activities with your teams. A strong plan will help you be more efficient on social media and digital marketing in general. It is one of the first steps before going live on social media.
Because the hotel and restaurant industry is such a busy one, it can be hard to find the time to take care of your social media presence and create quality content. But one thing is for sure : better invest in some quality content, publishing less content maybe than hurt your reputation with some poor quality and useless content. If your hotel or restaurant is using social media, you might as well do it right from the beginning or work with an external supplier.
• Social Media Manager
In order to make sure your online presence and reputation remains consistent and qualitative, it is important to have a person in charge of your online channels, in your team or externally. The social media manager is not only responsible for managing the digital tools on a daily basis, this person is the one who sets the tone and strategy. Even though anyone who has a smartphone can tweet doesn’t mean that he or she should do it. Having the right person in charge of digital is a key success factor, and who better than a social media manager!
The content you will share on your social media platforms will reflect the positioning of your brand, and so will the tone of voice you will use in the captions. Make sure you connect with your fans, on an emotional level and in a way that is relevant to your business. Humour, provocation, fun, inspiration… choose the angle that fits your hotel or restaurant the most and use it across all your online platforms.