In today’s digital world, social media is a part of nearly everyone’s everyday life. The same is true in the hospitality world.
According to SmartGuests.com, 55% of Facebook users use the site to seek travel advice and 52% of surveyed responders said their friends’ photos on Facebook inspired their next trip.
And that’s not just one group’s opinion. A report by AHLA said the use of mobile apps for hotel service continues to climb, peaking at 35% of the industry overall as of November of 2016. And HSMAI reported mobile first may soon become mobile only – meaning more and more guests are using mobile alone to make their decisions. So you as a hospitality owner, executive or manager need to be on top of mobile trends, like social media.
Given these facts about the importance of social media, how do you use it properly? How do you increase engagement, gain positive reviews and drive guests to your Facebook and Instagram platforms?
How to Drive Traffic to Facebook and Instagram
There are many ways, including some techniques that are basic and some that are more advanced. Let’s start with the basics and work our way to the more advanced possibilities.
On a fundamental level, you want to have a clean room and provide a great stay for your guests. It sounds simple and obvious, yet without the proper foundation of a pleasant experience your social media offerings aren’t going to help you. If your guests are happy social media can easily become your best ally!
Once those basics are set you can delve into what Facebook and Instagram should offer. Be sure to check the rules of both platforms before attempting any of these suggestions and abide by the site’s guidelines.
First set up a Google alert and/or sign up with Perch. These two services will let you know whenever someone has talked about you online. You’ll want to know what people should say about your hotel so you can thank them and/or address any issues they have. Managing people’s feedback doesn’t stop when they leave your hotel, they may have more to say online so you want to be aware of the good and the bad.
With those alerts in place you can now focus on getting more of your guests to your Facebook and Instagram accounts. First we’ll discuss Facebook and then move on to Instagram.
Using Video to Engage Guests on Facebook and Instagram
Live video has become a trend across many social media platforms, Facebook included. It is smart to jump on this trend and use Facebook’s Live feature to your advantage.
One of the main reasons to use live video on Facebook is that Facebook ranks live videos very high in their newsfeed, which means more people will see these types of posts than any others.
Also, live video is a great way to connect with your current guests and an opportunity for your future guests to get to know you, when you use it properly. An example of how to use Facebook live is to share testimonials from current guests. Talk with guests while they are staying with you and ask them to share what they’ve loved best about their stay and your hotel.
Obviously, you’ll need to screen people first and make sure their stay has been pleasant, but when your guests are happy you want to share that with everyone.
And happy guests will certainly want to share a video of themselves with their Facebook friends. Just remember to make your guest look good in the video, and they will make sure you look good to their friends and family!
You can do the same thing on Instagram, they have a video feature as well. Instagram is even more of a visual platform than Facebook so video is a natural fit there.
Instagram Stories and Social Media Contests
Another fun way to encourage guests to visit your Facebook and Instagram accounts is to run contests. You can do anything from having people share their family photos of their stay with you to sharing a video of their best travel tip. You can even ask guests to post their most beautiful or memorable photos from your local area to your page.
Instagram has another feature called InstaStories. This is a feature that allows you to take video and photos throughout your day, and Instagram compiles them into a “story” of your day that is shared with your followers.
Instagram Stories is a wonderful way to show a typical day in your hotel. Take people behind the scenes and show them things they don’t normally get to see as a guest. Remember the most successful brands using social media right now are doing so in authentic and real ways; InstaStories is a tool you can use to create that authentic connection with your current guests and potential new guests.
Reviews: The Good and The Bad
When talking about using social media we also must touch on reviews. Believe it or not, negative feedback on reviews is a great way to grow your business and engage with your customers. If someone has taken the time to talk about you online, it means they genuinely cared about their experience even if it didn’t go as planned.
The fact that they complained online gives you the opportunity to make amends. If someone was in your lobby and was complaining you and your staff wouldn’t ignore them, would you? Of course, not. Think of social media as your online lobby and take the time to interact with people who leave you positive and negative reviews.
Rupesh Patel of SmartGuests.com advises being kind and thanking the person for their review, even if it is negative. Also, apologize if something went wrong and take ownership of the situation, doing so shows you care enough to make it right.
Whenever you are responding to someone online remember it’s just not the reviewer you are speaking to, everyone else can read what you write too. And that applies to reviews, Facebook posts, Instagram comments, anywhere online. Doing so will help you engage your guests online through social media and increase your hotel’s exposure to grow your revenue and your business.