Now more than ever, potential guests are making their way to social media pages rather than hotel websites to glean more insight before travel planning.
Social media gives people the opportunity to see whether or not their experience will be as stellar as the one you portray on a website. Yes, most people will listen to what other guests have had to say before they trust your opinion (after all, you’re clearly a little more biased on how great your hotel is), but don’t discount your voice on social media.
Beyond giving your business a human element—which is much more effective at creating connections and reeling guests in—your social media pages define who you are. You could be just as boring as a brochure without an authentic voice, or you could set yourself apart from your competitors by flaunting your personality.
Here are some ways to avoid the dreaded robot voice and to put yourself in the mindset of being a social media rock star:
Know To Whom You’re Speaking
Your audience should never be described as “everybody.” Nothing is a one-size-fits-all product or service, including your hotel. Do you cater to families, or young couples on their honeymoon? Do you aim to please the corporate crowd who spend more of their time traveling for work than they do at home? Whomever your audience includes, you need to make sure that your voice is speaking directly to their wants and needs.
Determine what’s most important to your target audience in their everyday lives, what they want to break away from while traveling, and what you want them saying about you when they leave. These elements are key to crafting great content for social media because you’re speaking directly to the heart of the audience.
For example, if you’re looking to book up more of your double-room suites and you’re in a location that caters to the 20- to 25-year-old crowd, talk up group activities, local tours and the best social hotspots in the area. By tapping into the wants and desires of your target audience, you can pitch your hotel without sounding too gimmicky.
People associate certain words with certain feelings and memories, so keep that in mind when you’re trying to describe how families can have the perfect vacation or couples can have the honeymoon of their dreams. The words you use to describe a stay at your hotel will not only serve up their travel fantasies on a silver platter, but you’ll also be setting them up to become your brand sharers once they leave and start reminiscing.
Ask How You Can Help Others, Not How They Can Help You
Customer service is every business’ bread and butter. From the CEO to the guy who takes care of the foliage out front, keeping your guests happy should drive every effort of your business. With that being said, one of the first impressions your guests are going to get of you will be from social media, so taking your customer service efforts online is of utmost importance.
According to a study by The Social Habit, 42% of people who have attempted to contact a brand or company through social media for customer support expect a response within an hour. While customer support may sound like a fancy phrase for the complaint department, it means much more than that now with social media being in the picture. In terms of hospitality, customer service could range anywhere from addressing a guest’s concern to answering price and amenity questions.
No matter the case, it’s vital that guest suggestions and inquiries all go answered and acknowledged in a timely manner. By always asking how you can be of help to your guests, you’ll be building relationships with value, which is the key ingredient in the recipe for creating guest loyalty.
Storytelling: Paint a Picture for Your Hotel
As human beings, we are wired for stories. Stories are what pull at our heartstrings, make us dream bigger, give us hope, and inspire us to take action. Once you’ve established whom you’re speaking to, captivate your audience by sharing stories that they’ll want to hear.
Social media is the ideal tool for storytelling, especially for hotels. To not use it to your advantage would be a huge misstep in the process of finding your brand voice. Share stories about your hotel guests and employees (if given permission), as well as the city you’re located in. Paint the whole picture of what someone could experience while staying at your hotel by sharing the memories that have already been made there. The best part is, unlike a brochure that may get glanced at and then forgotten, you have the opportunity to really show and tell through social media.
The old adage “pictures are worth a thousand words” comes to mind here. Photos, videos and guest testimonials are just a few things that can really bring your voice to life rather than a bunch of text that will be left unread.
Rule No. 1: be an expert. Rule No. 2: keep your promises. Do these two things and you’ll have the trust of your guests, and yes—it’s that simple.
Being an expert means answering all the questions for your guests before they even have to ask. And if you don’t know the answer, you know exactly who does so you can point your guest in the right direction. To be an expert, you need to provide value by making guests feel like you’re an asset and a resource before they even spend a dime. Reach out to prospective guests on social media, and offer your advice and guidance that is based solely on their needs. No self-serving catches, no gimmicks—just lending a helping hand. That’s what we call honest to goodness hospitality.
Secondly, when you make a promise to your audience, you’d better deliver. This means if you are guaranteeing your guests the VIP treatment, they want to see proof in the form of the services that you offer or through guest testimonials. Depending on your target audience’s wants and needs, your hotel’s promises can vary greatly. Whether you’re promising a delicious complimentary breakfast for the budget-conscious traveller or guaranteeing beach access just 20 steps away from your hotel, those things need to be evident in what people see on your social media channels.
Keeping these factors in mind while crafting your social media strategy will give way to a one-of-a-kind brand voice that is representative of your brand’s core.
You may think that social media is a small factor in your overall business, but it isn’t something to underestimate. By taking the time to build your business’s presence online, you’ll establish relationships and emotional connections that are as equally as powerful offline.
This article was contributed by Emily Culclasure. Emily is a proud University of Florida alum, a Digital Media Analyst for hotelmarketingWorks, and the truest of social media junkies. When her eyes aren’t glued to the computer screen, you can find her at the beach with friends, reading a good book or playing with her golden retriever, Mia.