As more and more people use social media to research products and services, the role of social media management has grown in importance. Managing Director of Providence Hospitality, Neil Hughes, shares some tips on how to grow social media presence in the hospitality and travel sectors specifically.
“With more than 53% of the world’s population now on social media, this relatively new channel for reaching and engaging with potential and existing customers continues to evolve into an increasingly prominent part of brand awareness. This is of pertinence when one considers that, according to Global Web Index, 54% of social browsers use social media to research products and that Instagram reports that 90% of people on this channel follow at least one business and that 87% of their users have taken specific action, like making a purchase, after seeing product information promoted through this channel.
At Providence Hospitality we manage over 40 social media accounts for various hotels and guest houses located around the world. Based on case studies from these accounts we recommend the following tips to grow social media prominence in the travel, tourism and hospitality sector:
- Every guest is a potential brand ambassador or influencer
Encourage every customer or guest to be a brand ambassador, influencer or content creator for your business. Prompt your guests to share their experience on your social channels by asking them to follow you or by setting up small incentives to encourage collaboration. Set up social media picture frames in beautiful places to encourage people to tag your handles and reshare their content, photos and reviews as often as possible. Potential customers often discredit promotional posts but listen to the recommendations of their friends, family or famous influencers.
- Promote destinations and experiences rather than products or services
Clients don’t book a holiday to sleep in a particular bed in a hotel room, they book a trip for the experience. Engage with your customers by sharing information about local events and things to do in an area. We find that these posts always receive high organic engagement and are more likely to be shared than promotional posts.
- The power of giveaways
Everyone loves a giveaway. Leverage small prizes, such as a bottle of wine or a free night’s accommodation to encourage new audiences to follow your social media handles and subscribe to your mailing lists. An accommodation giveaway which we ran at San Lameer Resort Hotel & Spa during October received 843 shares and over 7 000 comments.
- Pictures of people trigger emotional responses
Hospitality is an industry which relies on human connection and experience. We see far higher engagement when there is some element of humanity included in a social media post as this triggers an emotional response. For instance, a picture of a cappuccino will demonstrate to the guest that the hotel sells coffees but a picture of your barista pouring the froth onto a cappuccino will trigger the sounds, scents and tastes of drinking a fresh coffee. This has become trickier to manage recently with the introduction of protection of information bills. We recommend that social media managers always ask for consent when sharing a picture of a guest. Alternatively marketing teams can engage with professional models and influencers to build a gallery of emotive content that can be placed in the public domain.
- Post about things that people care about
Recently we posted that the Trail’s End Bike Hotel was riding for the Grabouw Animal Welfare Society in a local cycling event. This post achieved a reach of more than 700 people, one of the highest engagements on the account that month. This was because it featured a picture of a puppy and appealed to a cause that people care about. Likewise, a post about a beach clean-up at Strand was one of the top performing posts on the Stellendal Guest House Instagram account recently. Our staff profiles, which feature a picture and write up about a particular employee, consistently feature in our top 10 posts for various accounts every month. These posts engage personally with the hotel’s community and are frequently shared by proud colleagues, friends and family. An October post about the receptionist at Saldanha Bay Hotel reached 6 540 people and achieved 1 066 engagements.