We all remember as kids our parents saying, “If [name of delinquent friend] jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” The answer is yes. Statistically speaking, we most likely would. That’s why social proof is so important.
When it comes to travel, we care about what other people think. Ninety five percent of travelers read travel reviews during the shopping journey, 76% of travel shoppers believe that online reviews are insightful, and 40% of millennials depend solely on reviews to inform their travel plans.
So if you’re not already leveraging social proof on your website, it’s time to start!
What is Social Proof?
Social proof is the notion that when we see others doing something, it reinforces in our mind that it’s a good thing to do. From a business perspective, social proof can be a highly influential selling tool. It’s powerful because we, as a society, group together; the people around us influence our choices.
What’s interesting is that even if people appear to be doing something, we are more likely to do it. An example of this was an experiment conducted by Robert Cialdini and his co-authors of the book “Yes: 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion” in 2008. They placed cards in hotel bathrooms with different messages on each in an effort to persuade guests to reuse their towels. Here’s what they found:
- Guests who were told that most other guests reused their towels were 26% more likely to do the same, versus those who saw the standard “please reuse your towels” message.
- Guests who were told that most other guests who stayed in their particular room reused their towels were 33% more likely to do the same, versus those who saw the standard message.
The appearance of other people’s behavior proved to be far more persuasive than cards which asked guests to reuse their towels to help the environment. Sometimes we need to some social proof that others are doing it too.
Beyond affecting guest behavior, social proof can also be incredibly influential in driving hotel bookings. Let’s look at some of the ways you can leverage social proof on your hotel website.
Use Customer Reviews Everywhere
Customer reviews are one of the most common ways for your guests to share their experience of your hotel. According to PhoCusWright, 50% of online travelers have written an online review in the last 12 months. Interestingly, 53% of travelers won’t book a hotel without reviews. Therefore, showing positive reviews on your hotel website should be a top priority.
The simplest way to do this is to embed a review widget to showcase real reviews of your property. Check out the example below from Villa Plat in Croatia, which uses meta review data as social proof on its homepage.
It’s important to keep up with your reviews. When guests leave one, be sure to respond to them in a timely manner. Thank them for their comments and offer to communicate with them privately if there are any complaints. The last thing you want is to appear inattentive to your guests.
Engage on Social Media
Social media is another incredibly powerful tool for uncovering social proof. According to Topdeck Travel, 94% of millennial travellers use Facebook while travelling, and 71% use Instagram. What’s more, 33% of travelers using social media have changed their hotels based on social media. Social media enables authentic and up-to-date storytelling. Therefore, it’s important to update your social media pages regularly, and encourage people to interact by leaving comments.
Here’s a great example from Greg Bodenlos at The Charles Hotel, who uses quick, visually appealing images to engage travel shoppers on social media.
Keep your story consistent across all channels, and make sure you include social media buttons on your website, so travel shoppers can find them easily.
An easy way to manage your social media efforts is to draft your posts and schedule them ahead of time using tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite, or SproutSocial. These tools offer analytics, so you can figure out which posts are performing the best, and which messages are resonating with your audience.
Leverage User Generated Content
Smart hotel marketers are realizing the value of user-generated content (UGC) to help tell their hotel story. UGC can be defined as any form of content, such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, etc. that are created by users (in this case, hotel guests), often made available via social media.
You can help drive more UGC by coming up with a simple hashtag and encouraging your guests to use it when they are posting on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter. This makes it easy to find their photos, videos or comments about your property, and determine what their experience was like. From here, you can either reshare their content on your own social channels (with permission of course), or use their insights to better craft your hotel story on your website.
Make sure to also respond to anyone who uses your hashtag or tags you in their post. By responding to guests, or resharing their content, you’re acknowledging them, which improves their perception of your property and leaves a good impression on potential guests who may also see the post.
Social Proof is an extremely effective way to drive more bookings and engage with guests. If done right, it can do a lot of the hard work for you by letting other people tell your story.
Learn more about using social proof to boost bookings. Download our new eBook, The Hotel Marketer’s Playbook for Creating, Managing and Measuring a High-Converting Website.