3 Ways for Hotels to Grow Social Loyalty
- Posted by Todd A. Vines
- On September 30, 2019
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels are an open dialog with guests from the past, present, and future.
Long gone are the days when brands strictly implemented “push” marketing, publishing their message with little concern for interaction or a genuine connection.
These days, social engagement is as essential as it is expected.
The opportunity to create a lasting online connect with travelers abound, and the most successful companies know it. According to Gartner’s “Loyalty 2019” intelligence report, best-in-class brands possess a holistic loyalty strategy that includes both experience-based incentives and streamlined, consistent messaging across digital channels.
Savvy hotels marketing teams understand that most people will peruse a prospective hotel’s social media presence prior to booking. Therein lies an opportunity for hotels to engage with travelers early in the path to purchase, become a resource for them, and position their property for a long-term social connection.
Here are three ways to foster a loyal social relationship with travelers.
Build a Continuous Community
Regularly posting to your social channels is a critical best practice, but even more important is interaction with community members as they leave comments, ask questions, and drive discussion.
In the digital era, hotel guests don’t just visit a few nights and vanish. They connect with a hotel’s brand channels long before they arrive onsite, and often stay connected long after.
Guests tell others about their stay on rating and review sites. The offer guidance via Reddit. They share their experience on Facebook and Twitter.
Whether the activity is coming in the form of personal stories, community questions and answers, or general conversations between users, being responsive as a brand will show that your hotel cares about guests before, after and during their stay, and grow your hotel’s online influence.
Be a Resource and Answer Every Question
While your concierge and front desk teams are your walking, talking resource for all guest inquiries onsite, your social channels are your space for fielding inquiries from travelers both past and future.
Common are questions about transportation, dietary accommodations, service animals, accessibility. When skimming a hotel’s primary website and frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages don’t immediately reveal specific answers, it’s increasingly common for travelers to reach through a hotel’s social media page.
Further, OTA and third-party websites have automated the booking process to the point that the opportunity to include special requests rarely exist, even while most hotels are happy to accommodate. Even if your property didn’t get the direct booking, you can still drive loyalty by becoming a resource for a stressed trip planner whose up against the clock and reaches out with questions and special requests. By promptly responding and showing a genuine willingness to help, you can win big points that can lead to future direct bookings and a burgeoning reputation for customer service.
Connect with Recent Guests
Checkout never really means goodbye.
The days and weeks following a guest’s stay are an opportune time to offer thanks, encourage ratings and reviews, and launch a top-of-mind direct mail campaign.
It’s also an important time to be present and support post-travel inquires, such as those from guests who’ve items left in a room, and those who have questions about their final bill.
Position your digital marketing team to be available and eager to respond. “Like” and comment on user generated content (UGC) when appropriate. Continuing to engage guests after you’ve collected for their stay will lay a foundation of loyalty for years to come.
Growing a loyal social audience might feel like a daunting task. Best practices do, indeed, require a commitment of resources, and modest-sized hotels can sometimes struggle to monitor social channels as actively as they should.
The importance of engagement, however, can’t be overstated.
When your in-house team needs a hand, find a trusted digital marketing partner to help your online community feel welcome.
BONUS READ: The 2019 Social Media Audit Checklist For Hotels
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