Due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19, the UK’s travel corridor is still very much limited, causing many to opt for a ‘staycation’ somewhere in the UK instead of risking booking expensive holidays that might not be refundable if the UK or the destination country suddenly ends up back on a red list. Within this ever shifting landscape, the competition amongst hotels in the UK is higher than ever before and many have turned to social media in order to try and capture their potential audience’s attention.
A common misconception with social media is that it’s a bit like a fairy godmother; one wave of a magic wand and suddenly guests are flooding through your doors. With the well-publicised occasions that things go viral on social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap that one innovative, carefully curated post could transform your hotel’s business overnight. However, with everchanging algorithms that make it increasingly harder for your posts to be seen organically, it is simply not a case of ‘post it and they will come’.
Social media is a tool that should be nurtured over an extended period of time as part of a carefully planned and much wider marketing strategy in order to make the most of your money, time and effort.
We’ve broken down the most common mistakes hotels are making on social media and what you can do to improve your social media marketing.
Marketing on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media platform is not as easy as simply publishing a post and waiting for the magic to happen. A common mistake amongst hotels, and many other businesses come to think of it, is the propensity for focusing too heavily on vanity metrics and expecting that likes and follows will mean sales.
Whilst it is lovely to see a great number of page likes or followers and good engagements on posts, these vanity metrics do not always result in bookings. So before you even touch social media, you need to devise a carefully thought-out marketing strategy to ensure you and your audience get the most out of your social media efforts and that you have defined what you see as success.
Once you’ve established what your goals are, whether it’s more likes, website traffic, conversions, a ROAS calculation etc., you need to determine who your target audiences are and which social media platforms they hang out on before drafting out a monthly content plan.
Your plan should consist of the type of messaging you want to put across, optimum times for your posts, as well as how you plan on engaging with your audience and how you will get them to engage with you. Key inputs to this plan within the hotel industry would be key dates (Valentine’s, Christmas Shopping, Easter breaks, Mother’s Day, the summer) but also tactics for filling bed nights during your slower periods – price cuts and last-minute discounting is a classic response to this perennial problem in the hotel industry. You need to be clear on how much it costs to leave a bed empty, versus how much you are prepared to price that room at before it becomes better value to you to leave it empty.
If you’ve already tried implementing a content plan and still don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere with social media, it might be time to seek out an expert for their help. Sometimes you could be missing something small, but a trained eye will be able to seek this out and help you fill the gaps and flesh out your social media strategy.
First thing’s first, you need to recognise your audience! It’s imperative that you fit your content around them and not the other way around. It’s also important to remember that your target audience does not include everyone, and so if you’re not telling them what they want to hear, they simply won’t listen.
Feeding into this is your natural/local environment. We’re based in the heart of the Peak District in Bakewell, which is a tourist honeypot with plenty of events happening all year round. Marketing a hotel around here is a very different proposition to marketing a hotel in a commuter belt area that’s convenient for areas of commerce, or that is used for easy access to transport hubs. As a hotel manager, you will know your typical customer, and you will know the advantages and limitations of your venue. This needs to be reflected in your content marketing planning too.
If you’re not quite sure who your target audience are, the first place to look is at the guests who stay at your hotel. By defining your target audience, you will be able to allocate your time and resources more effectively and produce better results from your marketing. The more you interact with your target audience, the more you will be able to determine what makes them tick so you can develop messaging that resonates with them, which will also help to gain their loyalty and generate more engagements on your page.
The great thing about social media platforms is that they come with analytics that include statistics on who your audience is, including their age, location, interests and much more, allowing you to adapt your content strategy.
So you’re posting content, now what? It’s time to engage, engage, engage! With hospitality comes a level of storytelling that is required in order to generate interest in your hotel and services, and this will also encourage your audience to engage with you. There will always be people that want to book a hotel, but you need to ‘sell the dream’ so they choose you over your competitors. How you interact with your audience, as well as how they interact with you, can give you the edge you need.
User-generated content (UGC) is a great way to engage with your audience and add some diversity to your content. It also helps you to sell the dream to others, as you’re sharing content from the people who are living it! Your followers are more likely to trust the voice of a real person and so using your customer’s voices is a great way to help you to build up a community. Seeing others sharing content also means that future guests at your hotel will be more inclined to share content in the hopes that you will repost it. It is because of UGC that social media influencers have become such a powerful marketing tool for brands, as they are real people with ‘real’ opinions that their fanbases trust.
Your customer service on social media also plays a vital role in how your audience engage with you. The way in which you respond and how fast you respond to customers can change a bad review to a good one, as well as leaving a good impression on future and potential guests, so it’s important to respond to all reviews and comments – good and bad. This will display your level of customer service, but also reflects on how much you value your relationship with your customers.
If you find yourself getting repeating the same answers to frequently asked questions, find out more about this Instagram hack for answering FAQs in your DMs. You can also check out this article on responding to negativity on social media to help you handle this scenario without making things worse.
A common mistake we see from some hotels is the lack of visuals of the hotel itself and lifestyle shots of people using the facilities. Many hotels will instead opt for poor quality images taken in dubious lighting by someone on their mobile phone, or copious use of stock images that aren’t relevant to the hotel or its services.
It’s crucial to showcase your hotel and its surroundings. People looking to holiday with you are trying to figure out if they want to stay with you and only have the photos on your website and social media to help them make that decision. So to give your audience even more reasons to stay with you, invest in some professional photography, and keep front of mind that there are plenty of opportunities to take photos of the venue on a day to day basis to keep things fresh.
The great thing about technology these days is that you don’t need to break the bank to get some great photography. Mobile phone cameras in the right hands can supplement professional photography and the candid nature of images produced this way can be more likely to work in your favour as your images will look more natural.
You need to aim to make your hotel appear more ‘Instagrammable’ to your followers by taking shots of morning coffees being served, a sunshaft coming through into the drawing room area, the new spring bulbs in the garden coming into bloom, shots from bedrooms, details in the bathrooms, or of the hotel cat, or how magnificent your Christmas decorations look. People want to be inspired when they’re scrolling through social media, and with 2 in 5 millennials admitting that hotel and travel images on social media influence their bookings, you need to make sure you’re on top of your game so that they choose you!
We’ve provided the below examples from a few hotels in the UK who have got their ‘Instagram-worthy’ content just right and will hopefully give you some inspiration for your own content.
Another common mistake we see is the sole reliance on organic content for generating sales leads and a reluctance to spend money on paid advertising.
How much organic traffic you generate is very limited due to algorithms on social platforms, and over on Google, unless your hotel is the Ritz it won’t get a look in as AirBnB, Booking.com and TripAdvisor dominate the first couple of pages of search results.
It’s tough out there and as mentioned before, social media can’t wave a magic wand over all the competition and get you that booking without investing some ad spend to buoy up your organic posting efforts. The way the organic algorithms works is like this… the less a person engages with your page and posts, the less likely it is that they’ll see your posts appear on their news feed. Additionally, with the rate that content is published across all channels, it’s very easy for your content to get lost amongst the noise within a very short period of time. You also need to ask yourself the honest question, ‘how fanatical are your fans that they want to keep tabs on your every social media move?’. More often than not, people want you when they need you and you are out of sight, out of mind when they are focused on other things.
To unlock social media’s full potential, you will need to invest in paid advertising instead of relying solely on organic content, as this won’t get you very far.
With Facebook/Instagram advertising for example, you can use the platform’s targeting tools to reach those who have not yet discovered you, but who would be interested in what you have to offer. For instance, if you wish to push weddings at your hotel, you can specifically target those who are recently engaged, or the mother of the bride or people interested in wedding dresses. Equally, you can find audiences interested in a big event in your local area, or people that are interested in some of the activities you have in your local area. You can tailor posts and ads to specific audiences to help you hone in on those people.
If you target posts and ads to specific audiences you’re more likely to effectively spend your ad budget as you’re not targeting a general audience, of which 90% probably aren’t even interested. It’s all about delivering the right message at the right time to the people you want to reach.
At this point, it’s important to point out also that consistency is key. Doing one paid ad campaign won’t transform your sales overnight, but it will help you to expand your reach. This is another process that takes time, effort and patience, but when done correctly, it can provide you with a new level of growth if you keep chipping away at it over time.
And don’t forget, as with everything digital, social media platforms are constantly updating to keep up with trends and to form news ones. If you want to keep yourself up to speed, read our blog on new social media updates all digital marketers need to know.
If you’d like help with digital marketing, ads management, SEO, copywriting, websites, branding or social media management… or anything else related to the internet and digital, then get in touch with us. We’re a friendly bunch.