Last month I gave presentations on social media and online reputation management for hotels in Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, London and Rome in partnership with ReviewPro and WIHP.
Everywhere we went we found hoteliers facing similar challenges: How to adapt to changes in technology and traveller behaviour, cut through the noise, and use social media to drive higher awareness, guest satisfaction and revenue?
To that end, here are eight key takeaways from my presentations.
Social media is everywhere. Increasingly, travellers are turning to review sites and social networks to research trips, share experiences and consult trip information and advice from the source they trust most: other travellers. Earned media—getting people talking about and recommending your brand through reviews, ratings, imagery, blogs and online articles—has become an essential component of marketing strategy.
Converged media. To maximize reach, integrate paid, earned and owned content into marketing campaigns. For example, when you launch a new package feature it on your website and Facebook page (owned content), hold a contest to encourage people to spread the word on social networks (earned media), and amplify its reach with Promoted Posts on Facebook (paid content).
Facebook, it’s not just for socializing anymore. Two new features turn Facebook into an important marketing tool for hotels. Nearby (also called Local Search) allows users to search local businesses, ratings and reviews on their mobile device similar to Foursquare and TripAdvisor. Graph Search turns Facebook into a search engine for friend activities and interests. Maximize your presence on both applications by optimizing your About page and encouraging likes, check-ins and photo-sharing.
Your website, make it social. Turn your website into a living, breathing entity that integrates earned media like a review feed, social icons, widgets and plugins with information about local events, dining and activities. This can benefit traffic, engagement and conversions, and ultimately guest satisfaction.
Manage content on TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor is the world’s most popular travel site, and its mobile app is second only to Google Maps. Optimize your presence with a good description and photos and monitor and respond to reviews. To amplify your presence and drive direct bookings consider purchasing Business Listings and featuring a compelling Special Offer and the mobile add-on.
But don’t neglect other sites. Travellers check out a range of sites to research trips. Diversify your presence by claiming your space, optimizing content and managing reviews on all major review sites, OTAs and social networks. Google Local is a priority because it feeds reviews and content into its search, Maps and Hotel Finder applications. And now that the new maps application on all mobile Apple devices pulls reviews and content from Yelp, Yelp has become a much more important player in the travel space.
Managing online reputation starts on property. The gap between expectations and results is where reviews are incubated—good, bad and ugly. If you fail to meet expectations you risk creating detractors who not only won’t come back but may warn others to stay away. By simply meeting expectations you create passives who may come back but aren’t likely to recommend you. The key objective is to exceed expectations, which creates loyalists and advocates who not only will come back but will recommend your hotel to others.
Utilize available tools. Managing your online presence can be a daunting task, but there are tools and resources to help. ReviewPro aggregates reviews and social media content from across the Web, helping hotels to optimize online presence and make better revenue and operational decisions. WIHP provides the expertise, tools and strategies to help hotels drive direct bookings. Thanks to these two companies for making this free seminar series possible!
Daniel Edward Craig is a former hotel general manager turned consultant specializing in social media strategy and online reputation management. He collaborates with ReviewPro as Client Engagement Advisor.
ReviewPro aggregates millions of social media mentions, in over 20 languages, from hundreds of the most relevant online travel agencies, review websites and social media platforms.