Statistics from Facebook show that there are 1.86 billion monthly active users on its social media platform as at December 31, 2016.
Imagine having just 5 percent of these numbers booking your hotel monthly.
Social media has changed the game in the hospitality industry. Most hotels use Instagram to visually engage their audience; some use Twitter for customer service and social listening; but many completely fail at Facebook marketing.
In my years of practice in the hospitality industry, I have seen small, medium and large hotels repeat the same mistakes on Facebook, and this article intends to correct that!
Mistake #1: Not tagging guests
Studies have shown that images are the second factor after pricing which influences the property people stay in. Successful hotels such as Trump Hotels, Marriott Hotels, and The Palazzo understand the value of images in social media marketing and this is reflected in their content. Their Facebook pages are filled with rich media of their rooms, casinos, pools filled with smiling guests.
But it does not end there.
Uploading rich images of your facilities might work, but to increase conversions, tag your guests in your Facebook photos and updates. Ask your guests if your staff can take pictures with them or request permission to take pictures of them in a leisurely setting (nothing invasive), share them on your Facebook page and tag them.
This brings more eyes to your hotel, makes the customer feel important, and creates a sense of belonging among your guests. For situations where guests get defensive about taking pictures or releasing their Facebook details, simply offer a discount in exchange for the opportunity and information.
Mistake #2: Lackluster photographs and videos
Visual storytelling is the new art of selling. Visitors are interested in images (full or 360 views) and videos of your facility; this helps in deciding their choice of property, since they are constantly comparing prices, facilities and features with your competitors.
Bill Baker of BB & Co Strategic Storytelling advises that you envision what you want those guests doing, thinking, and feeling when they visit your hotel, then take that information and convert it into images or videos, upload them to your Facebook page and watch the engagement and bookings roll in.
Hire an in-house photographer or media team to feed your Facebook audience with behind the scenes photos of events, staff activity, and guest experiences.
Now be careful – you don’t want to just upload them all at once. Build buzz, create suspense and court your audience’s attention with your content.
Mistake #3: Irrelevant content
Don’t be misled into thinking hotels don’t need content marketing, as content marketing is the cornerstone of any marketing strategy. Content marketing for hotels can be in the form of videos, images, hotel deals, newsletters, case studies and blog posts.
Most hotels are guilty of publishing irrelevant content or publishing content without a strategy. Your content should help a specific audience and align with the hotel’s marketing goals.
For creating content, an editorial calendar should be used to create, schedule and categorize content. For your Facebook page, images are worth a thousand words; use themes (Throwback Thursday, etc.) for each day, repost user-generated content from your guests and finally, understand your audience by gathering data from the Insights tab on your Facebook page.
For ideas on relevant content to showcase to your Facebook audience, check the list below:
- Highlight local destinations around the city
- Promote events and build excitement
- Post rich media featuring your pool, rooms, kitchen, restaurant, spa and other special attractions
- Spark engagement with Q&A sessions
- Run giveaways.
Mistake #4: Lack of custom tabs
Now, this might be a bit complicated, but the hotel’s web developer can make this happen. Custom tabs on your Facebook page allow for more features to be added to your Facebook page aside from the standard “About, Events or Photos” tab.
Visit the Facebook developer page for a comprehensive tutorial on creating custom tabs.
Custom tabs can be used to promote subscriptions for a hotel offer, track conversation about your business or key phrases for localized conversation, showcase customer testimonials and book your hotel facilities directly from Facebook when optimized properly.
Very few hotels use this feature, which gives those who do a competitive edge over others. Hotels need to understand that the lack or use of custom tabs is a misstep in exploiting Facebook’s full potential.
Adding a booking engine through custom tabs into your Facebook page not only increases brand reputation but eases the customer’s journey, making bookings stress-free.
Mistake #5: Redirecting customer service
One huge mistake I have seen hotels repeat is redirecting customers who make complaints on Facebook to call certain phone numbers belonging to the customer service team. Complaints provide a great opportunity for your business to display professionalism and wittiness on a public platform.
Inquiries must be addressed immediately in the comments on the page; this shows how responsive and caring your business is to other Facebook users. When there are inquiries or complaints, the team should respond and explain in detail your services, policies, and rules to the Facebook audience to minimize re-occurrences.
According to consumers, customer service agents fail to answer their questions 50 percent of the time and according to Convince&Convert, 42 percent of customers complaining on social media expect a 60-minute response time. Timing is crucial in customer service and upset customers expect a quick resolution.
Use a friendly tone and approach in responding to customers, use empathy to break down their defenses, show that you care and express genuine interest in their circumstances. This will result in more bookings and a positive image for your brand.
Eimantas Balciunas is the CEO at Travel Ticker.