I am a strong believer that social media is an effective way for hotel marketers to reach and engage with online travel shoppers. The typical traveler uses on average 2 dozen touch points to research their hotel choices and there is no doubt in my mind that a handful of these sites will be social media websites.
Since travelers typically consult multiple sources before making a hotel booking, hotels need to have a broad presence across the web, social media included. Recent research (summed up in this infographic ) shows that social media is playing its part in the online travel planning process… and influencing booking decisions.
-> 50% of travel companies have said direct bookings have been generated from social media
If social media is influencing direct bookings, it is likely an influencing factor in indirect bookings as well. Travel shoppers are basing their final decisions on the experiences they had on ALL of the sites they used during the planning process.
-> 52% of travelers have changed their plans after researching their trip on a social media site
-> 33% changed their hotel
-> 10% switched resorts
These findings are too strong to ignore. Social media needs to be near the top of your to-do list. But where do you begin? Facebook and Twitter are strong social networks for hotels to get involved with, as well as the popular site Pinterest. They have an extremely large user base and high interaction rates which is why they should be included in your social media strategy. The list goes on. But let’s look at these three for now.
Facebook gives you the opportunity to fuse together pictures, stories and engaging apps to create an interactive experience for travel shoppers. Facebook provides you with unlimited space to tell your hotels story with engaging visuals and descriptive stories, and best of all, it’s free. It gives you the ability to engage consumers directly and help them tell the story of your hotel, then curate and amplify it in an interactive and communal environment.
Twitter keeps guests and travel shoppers up to date with what’s going on in and around your hotel. Tweet about the daily happenings at your hotel, local attractions and upcoming events – and incorporate photos and links to your videos whenever they make sense. I’ve even seen hotels that tweet the local weather reports! Twitter inspires consumers and gets followers to engage with the little things that are happening at the hotel – manager’s cocktail party, popular menu items. Think about what guests want to know and then give it to them.
Pinterest is relatively new on the social media scene, but this social network is making quite the splash. It gives users the opportunity to “pin” their favorite pictures to virtual pin boards. These boards are basically visual story boards – great for hotels to tell their story visually and for consumers to share their experiences at the hotel. While it may not be booking-enabled, Pinterest can be leveraged to drive traffic, increase social engagement, brand awareness and social media presence.
For more information on how travelers are “going social” watch this VTV Virtual Roundtable where I moderate a dynamic discussion that explores social media for hotels from all sides of the story.