News for the Hospitality Executive
The Problem With Social Media For Hotels
March 28, 2012 - "Social media has grown bigger and more useful than anyone ever thought for reaching consumers," says Ronnie Soud, Chief Marketing Officer at Evision Worldwide, a leading provider of online marketing services for hotels. "But as a result of the increasing complexity of the channel, hotels struggle to hit that sweet spot of making the best use of social media. Many properties effectively give up before they even really get their social media campaigns going."
Soud explains some of the most common social media failings among hotels and travel businesses:
In the first case, they don't do social media at all, or make only a token effort (i.e., they set up the accounts ... and then let them sit). These hotels are missing a powerful opportunity for:
2. Building and managing online reputation
3. Serving customers better
4. And last but not least, cultivating a new sales channel for direct online bookings
Second, they DO social media but use a generic approach that may work well for, say, retail businesses or personal branding, but not so much for hotels. Remember, consumers approach research and shopping for travel differently than they do for other products. The tools that hotels offer potential guests for research and booking -- including social media -- need to reflect that difference.
"We have moved past just putting a small icon on the Home Page and relying on users to click through and connect with a hotel's Facebook or Twitter account," says Soud. Using the wrong strategy is like trying to drive a nail with a wrench; hotel-specific strategy is much more effective at turning social media platforms into growth engines.
“Most hotels fall into this category,” Soud notes.
Third, they do social media and use a decent-to-excellent hotel-specific strategy, but they quickly discover that social media can be a time- and money-suck that greedily drains resources. Hotel personnel get burnt out through overuse, and executives can't justify the resources being devoted to a channel that's, yes, helpful but, no, not a panacea. These hotels are overshooting and failing to recognize that social media strategy needs to be:
* Basic and simple enough to be doable by hotel staff on an ongoing basis
* But also moderated to avoid passing the point of diminishing returns
Social media strategy: The solution for hotels
Evision's "Social Media Strategy for Hotels" is an 8-page white paper that breaks down social media for hotels into six basic steps or phases. "We wanted to publish a basic, action-oriented strategy guide that avoided the three common problems we observe," explains Soud.
The first key is to implement a strategy that's tailored to the hospitality industry (thereby avoiding the second problem noted above), so that the strategy is effective at capturing users at all phases of the travel shopping process. The second key is to make the strategy actually doable, so that hotels can implement guidelines that keep social media efforts humming (avoiding the first problem) without wasting time, money, energy or effort (avoiding the final problem).
* Establish goals
* Customize your social media site
* Create unique content
* Optimize content for your goals
* Follow through online and off
* Track data and use the results
These basic line items are universal to anyone using social media. The Evision "Social Media Strategy" white paper details what each step means for hotels specifically. For example, it's especially important at the "create unique content" step for hotels to understand they must put out certain kinds of content that will appeal to travelers at various phases in the travel shopping process.
The white paper is available for free (no registration required) at http://www.evisionworldwide.com/learning/evision-social-media-strategy/.
About Evision Worldwide
Evision Worldwide is a leading provider of Online Revenue Optimization for hotels, resorts and the travel sector. Through core services including web design, search engine marketing, and online distribution strategy, we upgrade traditional hotel marketing into a suite of services centered on total online revenue optimization. As a result, our unique, integrated strategies enable our clients to produce more value with the assets they already possess and to create new revenue streams where none existed. Visit www.EvisionWorldwide.com for more information.
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