Ask the Expert: Five Wishes for Hotels and Social Media in 2011

The following is a post from Brian Bagel, TIG Global Social Media Manager.

I prefer to think that any time of year is a good time to improve, so I’m not a huge fan of resolutions. Let’s just consider this good timing. But I figured, now that some of the New Year hype has died down, that I would take some time and spell out a few things I would love to see from hotels in the social space this year.

  1. Put your on-staff experts to work. Many hotels have a tremendous advantage in social media. People on their staff have a duty to be experts in certain subjects. Your concierge is an expert on your hotel’s surroundings. Your chef is a food expert. Your gardener’s job is to make things grow. Your decorator’s job is to make the environment warm and beautiful. People want to know about what they know! There are entire TV networks dedicated to this stuff. If you can get them to write a few sentences every month, you’ve got yourself some tremendous social media fodder.
  2. More social media only offers. Social media specific rate codes for your fans and followers still aren’t utilized to the extent that I think they should be. You want your social media following to think they’re getting something special from time to time. An extra 5 or 10% off on a room for certain periods can go a very long way. The discounts don’t need to be Groupon-level steep, but enough to show your biggest fans that you appreciate them.
  3. Someone to really take a big foursquare/Facebook Places leap. I’ve seen plenty of specials that offer people glasses of wine, food, and rewards points, but I haven’t seen anyone go all out yet. Why not try to get some buzz and give away free rooms for a larger number of check-ins? Or why haven’t brands really taken to the services and linked check-ins across multiple locations for super-offers like major retailers have? I’d love to see that and I’m sure frequent customers would as well.
  4. Cross promotion. Social media doesn’t live on an island. I’ve said this many times, and yet I still want to see more. Social media is best supplemented by online and offline collateral. People need to be made aware that your property has a social media presence. I’ve seen more and more commercials touting a Facebook page rather than a website. I think now is the time for hotels to get in that game.
  5. Fewer minutias. There was a time when a post like “it’s sunny today” went over like gangbusters. It was simple, felt personal, and kept a social presence active. I’m not saying that those kinds of posts are now bad, but there are too many of them. I’d love to see more depth. Tell me about an interesting event going on in the area that people from outside your location might not know about. Or tell me about an interesting sign you saw near your property, and post a photo. That’s the kind of content that has a better chance of getting shared and keeping your fans and followers engaged.

This brief slideshow from WSJ provides a look at social media benefits in motion.

Social is no longer something that can be ignored. And while it might not be perfect for every hotel, it is an important option for most. There are a number of benefits, including the rise in social media’s footprint in natural search results that can be taken advantage of with a little bit of effort and ingenuity. While many hotels have done an excellent job in social media, there’s no reason hospitality shouldn’t be a leader in the social space.

Interested in ramping up your social media strategy? Learn more about the full suite of interactive marketing tools from TIG Global, send us an email, or give us a call at 301-841-4700.

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