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Published October 28th 2015

Social Media for Hotels: Online Marketing for the Hotel Industry

Great use of social media for hotels involves managing reputation and generating new leads, keeping you ahead of the game in a rapidly changing landscape.

The hotel industry has had to adapt to a number of changes brought about by social media in recent years, which have seen a shift in power from brand to consumer.

Customers are better informed: sites like Tripadvisor and Airbnb have given consumers choice and left them more knowledgeable about their options.

Consumers are also more empowered, holding influence over businesses with the ability to send a single tweet that could reach thousands of people.

These changes have disrupted the industry.

Brands can no longer simply display a brochure and dictate a price. They have had to adapt their approach to marketing. With the right strategy, hotels on social media are better placed to adapt to the changing landscape and to help mold the conversation.

The impact of Tripadvisor and Airbnb

The impact of review sites is illustrated in a report published by Cornell University that shows that if a hotel increases its review score by one point (on a five-point scale) it can increase its prices by 11.2 percent and still maintain the same occupancy rate and market share.

According to a study by StrategyOne (commissioned by TripAdvisor), 93 percent of travelers worldwide say their booking decisions are impacted by online reviews, and 51 percent have written an accommodation review after returning from a trip.

Meanwhile, as Airbnb continues to grow, another study has shown that despite the belief of some hoteliers, and the claims of Airbnb itself, the growth of peer-to-peer lodgings has indeed impacted on the revenue of hotels.

Social Media for hotels - airbnb

The study states that in areas where Airbnb is most popular, the revenue of the most vulnerable hotels had decreased by up to 10 percent over five years.

Social media for hotels: the rise of peer reviews

Our familiarity with online peer reviews has amplified our reliance on them.

The rise of these sites has had an influence on the types of hotels people are willing to book with. Whereas in the past travelers may have erred on the side of caution and stayed with the big name brands, they can now rely on peer reviews to try smaller hotel brands.

Hotels on social media - gray street

This phenomenon then has a knock-on effect for business owners. Negative reviews must be responded to, as even one bad review can have a disastrous effect on reputation, particularly with the reach that social media can sometimes provide.

Travelers tend to be a risk-averse group, responding to negative reviews more strongly than to positive ones. A negative review can fill travelers with dread that they will also have their special trip away ruined by a rude waiter or cockroach in the shower.

How to deal with negative reviews

Luckily the effect of bad reviews can be mitigated.

An internal Tripadvisor study shows that the more reviews management responds to, the higher their average rating and the more page views and booking inquiry clicks earned. Even one response can increase engagement by 17 percent, and this percentage increases with more responses offered.

In addition, negative reviews can be used as market research. If specific issues continually arise, real world changes can be made where necessary.

Social Media for Hotels - reviews

This also facilitates action based responses to negative reviews.

It is not sufficient for most people to simply apologize for a poor experience: explaining what is being done to fix the issue is a more powerful response, and potential future guests will appreciate the proactive stance.

Social listening tools can provide real-time alerts to negative reviews as they are posted, notifying different teams or locations for the appropriate action to be taken.

Discover conversations across the web

The size of Tripadvisor, Facebook and Twitter mean that virtually all hotels are engaging their audiences on these channels. To get the edge over competitors, brands need to find the smaller, niche sites where relevant conversations are taking place.

The best use of social media for hotels will involve social listening to discover new channels, highlighting previously unknown avenues to respond to negative reviews.

However, a good social strategy shouldn’t just rely on damage limitation. Using social listening means brands can find new avenues to generate business.

Generating new business

These tools could highlight football forums where fans are asking for recommendations on where to stay for an away match, or poker forums where players are discussing the best hotels for an upcoming tournament.

By finding these smaller sites, brands can enter the conversation and generate new business where opportunities arise.

Social Media for Hotels - forums

Even on the biggest social media sites, the granular data resulting from social media listening may provide other opportunities.

There could be a large volume of posts discussing a particular newspaper article, providing an opportunity to target that audience with a print ad or a partnership of some sort.

An alert brand can find a stream of business by listening to the right kind of conversations outside of their owned profile. Using a tool like Brandwatch to alert them to posts or tweets expressing a desire to get away, brands can respond with the exclusive offers or helpful travel tips.

Staying a step ahead

With 93 percent of travelers stating that online reviews impact their choice of hotel, the need to engage with these sites is obvious. Their prominence means that many hotels realized this long ago, so while it is still necessary it has become a minimum requirement.

To stay one step ahead, marketers need to discover other channels in which to manage their reputation and generate new leads. Social media listening tools like Brandwatch are an important weapon in this battle, and their adaptability means there are many ways they can improve business.

If you would like to learn more about how social media listening can help drive business for your hotel, download our free report into the Travel & Hospitality industry.

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