Hospitality, more than any other industry is about people; it is about creating and fulfilling a need, and doing so better and more consistently than you competitors. Whether you own a hotel, catering service or provide entertainment options, one of the aims of any hospitality-related business is to create and retain a positive customer base that will help to expand the company’s brand and bring in new business.

The growth and fame of social media is a phenomenon that all businesses have had to embrace in order to maintain and expand their market reach and share. Social media has become important to the hospitality industry because it is instant, easily accessible and allows the customers’ voice to be heard. Its interactive nature allows the sector to respond to the changing needs of its target audience and to do so quickly without the associated costs of large scale traditional advertising campaigns.

Social Media Audience  

Pew research shows around 66% of American adult internet users use social networking sites; with women being more likely to use them than men. This is a large proportion of the population who has instant access to the thoughts, ideas, reviews and opinions of others. It also found that each of the four largest social networking sites has its own audience demographics. Knowing the main site demographic is important if your business is looking to reach a specific audience.  It allows you to target that specific audience while still being approachable to other audiences at no extra cost.

Creating Your Space in the Social Media World

Once you identify your target audience and choose the appropriate social media site or sites for your business, it’s time for you to start building your own online presence, which should aim to mirror the company’s real life ethos, aims and business model. For example, if you provide accommodations, your social media sites will need  images of clean and tidy rooms, pictures of helpful staff and even links to local attractions and transport networks. However, if your emphasis is on providing entertainment, then you might include an up-to-date events list, links to bands’ own pages or external sites and photos of people enjoying the entertainment you have provided. Remember to consider privacy and the suitability of any images you use.

Maintaining Your Social Media Pages

You want to be sure to keep your visitors interested and have reason to return to your page and recommend it to others. The easiest way to do this is to ensure that you update regularly with correct and up-to-date information. This can be time consuming, and it is very easy to get ‘sucked in’ to the social media world. You need to approach your social media world as you would any other aspect of your business and separate your professional and personal surfing time.

Dealing With Customer Comments

Social media allows you to connect quickly with customers and potential customers.  Through live feeds, updates and comments boxes, your customers are able to make their feelings and experiences heard quickly and by a wide audience. The first and most important thing to do is remain professional. Explore whether the comments are valid, and provide a measured and considered response. Deleting negative posts should be a last resort unless they contravene site rules, use abusive language or are otherwise defamatory; in which case they should also be reported.

Is it Worth the Hard Work?

Although using social media adds to your work load in terms of setting up and monitoring your sites / pages, it can be an effective use of your time. It’s a quick and efficient way to reach a large audience, gage whether your marketing is working and receive and respond to feedback. If you follow the above tips, and approach your social media sites as professionally as you do the rest of your business, then it will be a highly-prized addition to your company.

Author Bio: This guest post was contributed by Eve Pearce. Eve writes social media and marketing articles ranging from content marketing, social outreach and SEO marketing to more traditional e-mail and pay per click ads. The right balance needs to be struck for every campaign, but now more than ever social is where the biggest opportunity lies.