Competition in the hospitality industry is pretty fierce. If developing a repeat customer base is important to your establishment, an excellent guest experience is a must. Some hotels and restaurants operate under the false assumption that the guest experience begins when the guest arrives.

But these companies are sadly mistaken and tend to lose potential guests to those establishments who realize that they must make an impact from the moment the guest starts searching for hotels or restaurants to long after they’ve enjoyed their stay.

Savvy, creative marketing in the hospitality industry is what sets you apart from the competition.

Although traditional marketing methods, such as commercials and print advertisements, are still important, the use of social media marketing can expand your reach and allow you to enhance your guests’ experiences early on in the process.

Incorporate these effective strategies into your marketing plan for short- and long-term results.

Positive Guest Experiences from Start to Finish with these Creative Strategies

  1. Host a Tweetup. Invite locals and those who will be in town to come to your location for a Tweetup. Provide music or activities appropriate to your setting, as well as a complimentary snack or drink and have guests Tweet about their experience.
  2. Encourage Facebook Use with Social Media Bonuses. Offer a reward, such as a small discount, free drink or free activity to guests who post on Facebook about their upcoming visit at your establishment. The guest’s experience will be enhanced with excitement and anticipation of a reward for a simple gesture, while providing you with free advertising.
  3. Expand Your Reach with Pinterest and Twitter. Scavenger hunts are fun ways to advertise and enhance the guest experience with a fun activity. Provide guests with a scavenger hunt that takes place in or around your business and encourage them to post at least one picture or comment on Pinterest or Twitter.
  4. Incorporate Gift Marketing. Gift marketing is the offering of small gifts, such as discounts on future stays or meals, as a “thank you” to your guests. Use this method with email to turn first-time guests into repeat guests.
  5. Use Guest Bloggers. Invite guests who’ve stayed at your hotel or dined at your restaurant to be guest bloggers. People love to write about their experiences and you’ll benefit from the testimony. Naturally, you want to review blog posts before they’re published on your website blog.

Effective Planning and Research Set You Up for Success

To get the most out of your next social media marketing campaign, it’s critical that you know who you’re gearing the campaign toward. Unlike many mainstream businesses, those in the hospitality industry generally have several different client bases.

With the exception of hotels and restaurants geared toward a specific clientele, you likely entertain families, singles, corporate guests and other large groups.

The marketing campaign you develop to encourage more families to visit you won’t be as effective with singles or large corporations. Therefore, it’s important to research each demographics group individually, and plan your campaigns with a tight focus.

Over the course of your social media marketing experience, you’re likely to alternate between several different plans. As you do this, it would also be to your company’s benefit to develop one ongoing campaign that helps guests single you out from the competition, such as a reward program for meeting and convention planners that donates X amount of money to the charity of choice for a specific number of bookings.

Likewise, you can host regular Tweetups to attract locals or visitors to your establishment while reaping the benefits of worldwide advertising from your guests’ tweets.

However, you choose to use social media marketing, remember that consistency is the key. Followers will quickly lose interest if you post, Tweet or pin less than twice weekly. Use your social media campaigns to enhance the guests’ experience from the first moment they conduct a search to long after they’ve walked out your door.

Author Bio: This post was contributed by Mary Ylisela. Mary is from Touchpoint Digital, a digital marketing and social media campaigns agency.