With 60% of consumers aged 18 to 34 checking a hotel’s social media accounts before they book, and 43% of overall consumers stating that being able to make a booking through social media would make their booking journey easier, social media presents a massive opportunity for hoteliers looking to drive increase occupancy and drive RevPAR.
We sat down with Stewart Moss, Managing Director at High Level Software, part of the Zonal family, to explore how hoteliers can ensure they’re capitalising on the opportunities social media brings, from engaging with your audience and responding to queries and feedback, to leveraging your social platforms as a revenue driving channel.
- How important is social media for hoteliers?
Social media is extremely important for hoteliers in 2023. It’s become an integral part of the hospitality industry, playing a significant role in shaping the guest experience and influencing bookings.
Social media provides a direct line of communication between hoteliers and guests, both current and future, enabling hotels to engage with their audience before or after they stay, respond to reviews (both positive and negative) in a consistent tone, and really demonstrate their commitment to guest satisfaction before you get there as it puts a safety net around the booking.
Reputation management is a really important part of social media as well. Hoteliers really should be responding quickly and in a consistent tone of voice to anything that customers leave on their pages, and the opportunities to drive direct bookings are sizeable from there – especially with people using Facebook to book their hotels, and researching hotels through Instagram prior to staying.
- What role does social media channels play in the booking journey?
The fact that 60% of those 18 to 34 year olds are visiting social media pages before they’ve even made their decision highlights the importance of these platforms.
People are now gathering information and assessing your reputation before they stay with you, and when you talk about Gen Z in particular, they want to see different things from your business than what’s been highlighted before. They want to know about sustainability, they want your venue to be accessible at all levels, and they want to know how it’s going to extend their wellness or improve their lives in some way.
So people are gathering information and assessing what you’re about before they’re staying and the you’re giving them some authenticity to really add credence to their search, and this does really influence decision making. Positive reviews, engaging content, and captivating visuals on social media can really greatly influence the decision-making process. Showcasing the hotel’s unique features and highlighting the positive experiences guests can have, really helps provide guests with peace of mind knowing that they’ve made the right choice before they even arrive to stay with you.
- What should a hotel’s social media strategy look like?
Hoteliers should have a well-defined social media strategy that aligns with their overall marketing goals. This strategy should include clear objectives about target audience identification, content themes, posting schedules and performance metrics. Think “what are we aiming to do with all this time and work?”.
Share compelling visual content, and especially make sure to leverage user-generated content. If a guest has stayed in a lovely hotel and then posts about their experience, the hotel should then be responding and re-sharing this content, again lending credence to future guests that they will have a great experience staying here and giving them a prescription of how they can spend their time at the hotel, and that they won’t be let down.
Taking The West Park Hotel in Harrogate, part of the Provenance Collection, as an example – it’s very close to the Yorkshire Dales, so I’d be looking to target groups with an interest in walking and hiking, as well as dog owners and walkers as it’s a dog-friendly hotel. I wouldn’t be selling, I’d be communicating or engaging with the audience to show how great the property is and that the experiences offered here align perfectly with their interests.
Creating points of interest that encourage guests to share their experiences at the hotel can be another great pillar of your social media strategy. Taking The West Park Hotel as an example again, they’ve put a living wall in their excellent F&B area, putting something in place that encourages guests to engage with you and talk about you – which essentially results in free marketing.
People want to talk about the great stay they’ve had, and giving them a series of things to ‘tick off’ throughout their stay increases the likelihood they’ll share their experience of staying with you with their networks.
- How should you respond to comments on social media?
It’s extremely important to be responsive to both the good and bad comments you get on social media, because the guests that may be looking to book with you in future will be reading what you’re saying and how you respond to those questions.
The areas where we think it’s especially important is brand visibility and awareness, social media allows you to reach a wider range of people than ever before so it’s key to ensure you’re presenting the best version of yourself; and customer engagement and relationship building, always think about having maybe two or three members of staff responding rather than a lot of different people to build that authentic, consistent tone of voice, as well as show potential guests how much you care about their feedback about your business and the time they’ve spent with you.
If you’d like to find out more about how Zonal’s hotel technology can deliver success in your business, get in touch today for a technology consultation and one of our experts will be happy to talk you through what’s possible!