Word of mouth marketing is even more critical in today’s marketing world than ever before. Now you can tell hundreds of people about an experience you had with a brand in a matter of seconds and from anywhere in the world.
We live in a world where people tweet what they ate for lunch and where they’re going after work, everything is being shared on social media today, especially travel experiences. “Travel is ranked number 9 in the top ten categories on Pinterest”(rjmetrics.com) and based on a study by Facebook “Users add more stories about travel to their Facebook Timelines than they do any other type of life event” (tnooz.com).
Why not take advantage of this? Telling your story from the hotel’s perspective on social media is important, but people also want to see what other guests are saying about your hotel. In other words, people are looking for guests’ stories as well.
Customer Service Experiences Create Stories, Curate Them
Customer service is, of course, critical in the hospitality industry and when it comes to encouraging social sharing; your exceptional service is where many guest stories begin.
The article, “Every Mistake is An Opportunity to Surprise and Delight,” by Dave Kerpen describes a perfect example of an incredible customer service story (although it didn’t start off that way) that he was compelled to share
Dave tells his story about the Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, Florida. The hotel made a mistake. They forgot to deliver the Harry Potter cookie platter surprise that Dave had pre-arranged for his 9 year old daughter’s Birthday. Dave was not impressed.
But to his surprise (and his daughter’s), the resort delivered a giant arrangement of Harry Potter balloons along with a gift the next day… turning a poor guest experience into an exceptional one!
Dave just had to share this story, so he wrote about it and posted it on LinkedIn where it reached his audience of over 90,000 followers and tweeted about it to his 50,000 twitter followers. The resort couldn’t ask for better exposure. You could pay thousands of dollars on marketing and advertising and still not reach that size of audience. As a hotelier, you can (and should) also take advantage of these guest stories and curate, publish and amplify them by commenting, re-tweeting, sharing, liking and so on.
Promote Sharing on Property
How else can you encourage guests to share their stories? Here are a few suggestions:
- Take a page from the Georgian Terrace Hotel’s book by placing the Facebook icon on your guest’s key packets.
- Place “reminder” stickers around your property telling guests to post a review on TripAdvisor and ”check in” on Four Square and Facebook.
- Encourage guests to tag you in their travel pictures and videos on social media sites like Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook (and make sure to “like” and comment when they do!)
- Be active yourself by posting updates and images regularly. You can’t expect guests to engage with you if you’re not actively involved yourself! “Even the smallest things make great social media content, and they can really showcase your hotel’s personality,” shares our social media star, Danielle Valenchis from North Point Hospitality in this video.
- Take pictures of guests having fun poolside or enjoying a great meal in your restaurant and post them on social media (with permission, of course), this will encourage the guest to comment on and share the picture.
So why do all of this?
The point of this is that you can say the food in your restaurant is amazing, your beds are heavenly and your customer service is impeccable, but people want to hear it from your guests and they want to experience it in a storyline that is more than just a listing of your features.
When a friend, family member or colleague shares that they had a great experience at your hotel or thanks you for the great customer service on your Facebook page, people really listen and remember. No amount of advertising or self-promotion will add up to the credibility and validation that a guest’s story on social media gives to your hotel.
To learn more on how to reach and encourage engagement on social media, download this guide: 6 Steps to Reaching and Engaging Travelers During the Shopping Journey