Feb 23, 2022 | Ask & Talk | Reading Time: 6 minutes
How is your business doing on social media? The hospitality world is going through dramatic changes with the accelerated digitalization, and hoteliers find themselves at an impasse in their struggle for what to do about the impact of social media on the hotel industry.
- Ignore it altogether?
- Post once a week?
- Ask a millennial for help?
- Hire a marketing agency or do it in-house?
To help you better grasp the positive—or negative—impact of social media in hotel reservations, we’ve invited social media expert, Sarah Dandashy, to talk about How Your Hotel’s Social Media Impacts The Traveler’s Experience (For Better or Worse).
Hosted by Asksuite’s Content Coordinator Paula Carreirão, our Hotel Cast Tv webinar series is designed for hotel entrepreneurs, managers, travel experts, investors, and service providers in the hospitality industry.
Sarah Dandashy is a travel expert who has worked at top hotels with over 18 years of experience in the luxury hospitality market, first as a concierge and later as an ambassador for the industry.
Sarah is known for a renowned podcast about leadership in the hospitality industry, content creation, social media coaching, and her own brand for luxury, “Ask a Concierge”.
And just recently, Sarah has published a book titled Hospitality From Within.
Now, let’s see what Sarah shared with us in the webinar.
Toing and froing with your crowd
Social media isn’t a task. It’s about being visible where your guests hang out, and navigating the flow with them. People want to see the personality of your property, and they can do that on social media. Here are a couple of facts Sarah shared:
- 83% of millennials get their travel ideas from social media.
- People are making travel decisions based on what they see online.
So, how will they find you?
From Sarah’s perspective, people go first to social media, while others believe Google is also a route many take when looking for a hotel, it’s undeniable that many will discover your business on social media.
Once they see something that catches their eye, they’ll go to your website for rooms, categories, amenities, and any details about the stay.
Guests know your website will offer a polished look of your hotel, and they’re okay with it. They even expect it because they know it’s the place where you promote your business.
But they’re just as interested in the experience. And they know social media is the place to find it.
Why social media is so important for hoteliers
Social media isn’t going anywhere because people flock toward authentic experiences.
If someone was at your hotel, good or bad, that experience already counts much more than everything on your website because it gives people a fresh sense of how versus a polished sense of what.
People want to know what they’re getting into.
What is a strong online presence?
Sarah says it well:
“It’s not about posting once a week. The fun part of social media is the social aspect, the possibility of having a conversation. Manage to get people to feel what it’s going to feel like, the ‘vibe’. You do yourself a disservice if you’re not engaging with people there [on social media] as well as engaging with your local community. Remember, your hotel is part of the travel experience, and so it’s important to show your potential customers the other perks of your area and destination.”
Content that travelers are looking for
Content has changed. An “Instagrammable” experience is very important, but it’s also obvious. People want unique things, a rooftop bar with a superb view of the city, a quirky menu, an exotic flower wall, a swing facing a scenic view.
Use that to your advantage, create pathways, moods, and unusual elements. It doesn’t even have to have your business name on it—the experience can make you known.
Find what makes your place meaningful to others based on what they comment on social media—things with the potential to become iconic, aesthetically pleasing, something people can interact with—and have travelers do your social media for you – it doesn’t have to be a burden.
Invitations to local influencers can be a great way to share your content, get engagement, and have you on other people’s radars. Always ask yourself, what’s the likely conversion rate for a certain partnership?
The choice of influencer shouldn’t be based on popularity, but it needs substance to enhance your core ideas, and it needs to resonate with your demographic.
Ideally, work on having your identity very well established first; then you can build on that with influencers. Your constant online presence paired with an influencer can create a snowball effect for you.
Social media isn’t a one-way street
Being ignored on social media is a sure way to make your guests and potential guests consider going to the competition next time.
Managing your own brand means people believe what you posted wowed them so much that they want to interact with you and write a comment to let you know what they think.
That alone should be valued and appreciated because, by the end of the day, they’re the reason you’re out there in the first place, so engaging means you’re doing your job well.
👉 Did you know that Asksuite is officially integrated with Instagram? The integration of Asksuite, our omnichannel communication platform, with Instagram allows you to scale your customer service and maximize your revenue. No question goes unanswered, and you can even send quotes and book directly.
How to handle bad comments on social media
First, negative comments can be a valuable lesson because they present you with the opportunity to show the world how you address it publicly.
Always give people a genuine answer when it comes to criticism, since an automated reply, in this case, can sound like you’re brushing it off—when it’s the opposite—you show you care by acknowledging that something wasn’t right.
The same is true if you get a negative direct message. Keep in mind that this is a new channel to interact with travelers, guests, and potential recurring guests. It’s a space you can use to work on reservations, retaining, and nurturing the relationship.
👉 Online hotel bookings are estimated to exceed $174 million across the globe in 2022! And our ebook is packed with tips and strategies to help you make the most out of your marketing channels. Dive in!
Hotels need to understand the value of social media
“Hoteliers need to understand that, whoever is handling social media for you, it’s a role and a position. Ideally, this person should only be tasked with that, and it should never be given as a side task people can do on short attention,” says Sarah.
All too often, social media is still seen as easy or as something the millennial closest to you can do. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s the voice of your business. Think of social media as a 24/7 digital assistance.
What is the best way to attract your target audience
“Be very honest about who your guests are and what role they play in social media. Are they on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok? If you’re going for a domestic audience, make sure you tag places in the city, and play around with where your target audience is,” Sarah advises.
Be mindful of the type of language your audience uses. Answer common questions on your social media, look at your demographic and how it’s changed in the previous years (especially post-pandemic).
👉 Umi Digital, one of London’s leading marketing agencies, produced this Instagram Masterclass Webinar, where they teach you how to set up and use Asksuite’s Instagram integration and share insightful tips.
Good strategies for organic results
Consider partnering with other businesses to bring you to the spotlight—local coffee shops and restaurants can help add to your personality and bring you greater value, for example.
Dive into the idea of real-time feedback. Create natural conversations with people. Play and try different things and see what people are going for.
Have flair and fun with it—make a key phrase you hear from your guests your official “tag”, for example; something they can remember you by, much more than just your name.
The impact of social media on the hotel industry
It’s crucial to be in the habit of stepping back and questioning if your audience is correct and if your strategy is really aligned with it.
Work on promoting elements that are unique to your brand and audience. Never underestimate the power of experiences shared on social media and prioritize engagement with every customer and comment.
Always look for influencers who are “mini spokesperson” for your business. Pay attention to the voice they already have and the people who already follow them, and make sure you share an audience with them.
This is a summary of the topics discussed during this webinar, if you want more information and the insightful tips Sarah shared, watch the full episode on the link below.