Social media changes the way people communicate and share information, feedback, and opinions. Online platforms impact the decision-making process of customers, from the initial search to making the purchase decision and further sharing the experience online. For the hospitality industry — one that relies heavily on reviews and word-of-mouth — social media becomes even more important, with 49% of hoteliers ranking social media as their second most important sales and marketing strategy.
The hospitality industry centers on consumers’ enjoyment, luxury, and pleasure. Hospitality brands provide customers with more than just food and beverage, accommodation, travel and tourism, or entertainment and recreation: they provide an experience for the memory book. High-quality customer service, retention, and engagement are vital parts of that experience, and social media now plays a larger role in making it happen.
The benefits of social media for hospitality businesses come in many forms, from increasing brand awareness and improving customer engagement to managing brand reputation and generating leads. In this article we’ll discuss the top six benefits.
1) Increased Awareness
Social media is a powerful tool that allows customers to find and contact hospitality brands via a modern word-of-mouth strategy. Customers see social media as a credible source to find more information about brands and to find out what others think of them and have experienced with them. Hospitality brands rely heavily on online reviews and recommendations to build and retain their customer base.
Social media offers hospitality brands the tools to spread information quickly and efficiently to large audiences, allowing them to connect with customers and potential customers that broadcast, print, and localized events cannot. High-quality content such as videos or professional photography can be shared easily across social media and high-traffic social networks to increase awareness of brand products, services, amenities, promotions, and events.
2) Improved Customer Engagement
A great way to improve customer engagement is to engage in conversations, ask customers questions to get to know them better, and encourage them to share brand posts, tag friends, and join the conversations. Brands can also improve engagement with interactive content, such as video live streams, giveaways, and promotions. An engaged online community will help create a positive buzz around businesses online, get customers invested, increase word-of-mouth promotion, and build a returning customer base.
Social media engagement can also enhance brand loyalty and customer sentiment around a brand. Customers are more likely to return to purchase if their queries are answered quickly and efficiently.
3) Competitive Advantage
With the help of social media, hospitality brands can now implement social media feedback and data to improve their process and deliver better experiences to their customers. In an industry where customer loyalty is everything, social media allows brands to build loyalty and exposure by keeping customers engaged and showcasing their unique offerings. The International Tourism Research Center discovered that 88% of travel marketers actively use social media to promote their offers and understand their customers’ needs.
Social listening for organizations is key to hospitality success, as brands are empowered to not only monitor their audience behavior but also their competitors. This information is crucial to create highly effective and powerful social media marketing strategies to cater products and services that fit customer needs and interests, as well as stay ahead of the competition. Keeping an eye on competitors is a great way to learn more about the current industry market, how others are winning (and failing), and also learn from their mistakes.
Social media is a personalized and interactive way to reach customers and give brands a strong advantage against others who aren’t using social media to its full potential.
4) Targeted Advertising
Social media marketing allows hospitality brands to reach potential customers according to their interests and demographic information.
Targeted advertising helps brands reduce their advertising costs by creating effective ad campaigns that fit their market based on age, income, location, language, gender, interests, hobbies, and more. This tool facilitates ad management for hospitality brands, as well as efficiently managing their marketing budget by making sure the right people see their ads. For example, if a brand wants to put forward a high-end pet-friendly hotel, targeting ads to pet-lovers that are also travel enthusiasts and high income will have a higher success rate than a non-targeted advertisement.
Ad tracking tools can measure targeted ad success and audience responsiveness to it. Brands are then able to see which campaigns perform, identify areas of improvement, and make any necessary adjustments for future campaigns.
5) Reputation Management
Negative comments on social media can quickly impact any reputation, but in an industry that is built heavily on customer experience and service, positive brand reputation is even more crucial in hospitality. Reputation management is a great strategic plan to monitor and influence how a hospitality brand is perceived online, by keeping track of every review, post, comment, or tweet. Leave no negative comment unanswered!
It is an important part of any social media strategy to keep social media mentions and comments in check to improve customer sentiment. Positive brand reputation increases customer decision time and improves the likelihood of them purchasing an experience or service. Travelers are 3.9 times more likely to choose the hotel with higher reviews than any other hotels in the same price range.
Additional benefits of brand reputation management include:
- Improve return on investment (ROI)
- Increase sales and bookings
- More loyal and repeat customers
- Monitor online presence and customer feedback
- Identify and address negative reviews and complaints quickly
- Understand detractors and be able to react quickly when needed
- Maintain consistent branding and messaging
- Prevent crises and reduce their impact
6) Increased Bookings and Sales
Social media is a driving force to increase hospitality booking and sales rates, as it is an efficient way to maintain visibility among the proper audience. With over 63% of customers using social media to find new restaurants, social media has become a great means for customers to discover information about businesses, such as services and products, as well as operating hours, costs, special events, and hiring opportunities.
The use of social media in the hospitality industry is crucial to spark customers’ attention with interesting content that will push them to want to learn more about business offerings. High-quality content is a key part of the lead generation funnel to purchase or book. To do so, brands should facilitate a seamless user experience from social media channels to their website booking channel, limiting the number of clicks to get from intrigue to purchase.
Enhance Brand Social Media with ICUC
Hospitality businesses using social media as part of their marketing and communication strategy are able to establish better positioning for their targeted audience. Social media moderation in the hospitality industry increases brand awareness, improves booking, generates leads, and enhances meaningful engagement with current and potential customers.
Schedule a call with us to learn more about how, together, we can help you take advantage of all the benefits of social media in the hospitality industry.