The holiday season is fast approaching and it’s never too soon to get a leg up on holiday marketing.

Who can forget the WestJet Christmas Surprise video that surpassed all expectations and went viral on social media two years ago?

With the constant expansion of social platforms and capacities, the ways in which hospitality marketers can integrate social into their holiday campaigns continues to expand.

Here are a few ideas to get ahead with holiday marketing for this year:

Cover Local Holiday Events

Many hotels and restaurants host a variety of seasonal events. If not, their destinations certainly do. Whether you’re a restaurant, bar, or destination marketing organization, highlighting local holiday events is a great idea.

If you’re a hotel, you need to draw people to your destination in order for them to book rooms at your property, so create a page on your website to showcase all that your region has to offer.

It can be as simple as compiling research from other local websites. For example, The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica, CA, created a holiday page focusing on area happenings in November and December.

While the hotel themselves may not have anything happening on-site (aside from décor), they reside in an area featuring an array of holiday activities like tree lighting ceremonies, holiday pop-up shops, holiday walks/runs, and more.

From here, it’s easy to re-purpose these events and this content into social media posts. Select a photo from one of the events and share it on Pinterest, with a link back to your holiday page. Have staff members attend some of the local events and share photos to Instagram in-real time. The possibilities are endless!

Optimize On-Site Décor

If you decorate your establishment, it’s worth it to bring in a professional photographer to capture high-resolution images that can be recycled every year on social media.

Although it’s also a good idea to capture spontaneous photos for Instagram and the like, having a set of high-quality photos to be able to use every year makes planning for each year less stressful, plus they provide guaranteed social engagement if they’re elegant.

A perfect example of a resort that does this well is The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, VA. Each year, they host an array of Christmas activities and erect an enormous tree in their lobby.

Even though they get new photos each year, they’re able to use past ones to promote the event and stimulate excitement. Notice how the image above has over 200 likes and 60 shares.

They were able to re-use this photo numerous times in the same season, and each time, it proved effective in garnering social engagement.

Hold a Holiday Contest

Holding a holiday contest on social media is a great way to get your fans and followers buzzing. Trump International Beach Resort in Miami holds a holiday recipe contest each year where they ask users to submit their own original holiday recipe for the chance to win a family vacation.

There were various categories in which people could enter: best appetizer, best entrée, best side dish, and best dessert.

Trump Miami’s Executive Chef and his team selected 12 category winners that were featured at the resort’s annual brunch on December 25th, 2014.

The grand prize winner received a five-night stay in an ocean-room suite along with breakfast, massage, tour, and more.

This is a great holiday contest with a noteworthy prize. This type of contest is successful because of its appeals to users’ emotions – it asks for recipe that is likely linked to family tradition or memory.

Plus, having multiple categories allows for multiple smaller winners which is also beneficial (if there’s only a single winner, people may be less inclined to enter since they don’t feel they have a huge chance of winning) and the grand prize is substantial and also family oriented.

Take Advantage of Video

With video becoming more prominent on Facebook and Instagram in addition to the emergence of live-streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope, utilizing video for holiday marketing can also be fruitful.

These videos can they be posted to YouTube, creating long-term social media benefits.

Maybe have your catering manager go behind the scenes at an on-property holiday lunch. Or feature your bartender making a signature holiday cocktail. Or your chef highlighting the recipe for one of his holiday masterpieces.

Last year, Le Relais de Venise Entrecote, a restaurant in New York City, created a custom video for the holiday season. Note how they discuss New York’s general happenings in their video’s bio!

What other ways have you seen hotels or restaurants optimize their holiday campaigns on social media?

This article was originally written for Maximize Social Business.

Debbie Miller
Debbie is the Founder and President of Social Hospitality where she assists clients with social media and content marketing. When she's not online, Debbie enjoys spending time with her spoiled dogs; watching movies; reading; and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
Debbie Miller