The hotel’s website is the heartbeat of its eMarketing program, and to have a strong impact on prospects and guests, it must continually pump relevant messaging to the various mobile and social media platforms in the right formats. Travelers will research a hotel in different ways using a variety of devices. Chances are high that the property they select will be the one speaking to them in their preferred online/social/mobile language. To show customers and potential guests that you care and want their business, hotel marketers will need to learn how to romance travelers using appealing and relevant content. The best prescription for a healthy website and a happy guest relationship is a steady dose of fresh content.
With Valentine’s Day upon us, think of the hotel website like a dating profile; it tells prospective guests everything you want them to know about you. Put your best face and features forward, including property photos, loyalty program details, specialty services, amenities listings, customer reviews, etc. The fresher the profile, the more interested prospects will be, and the more time they will spend on the site in an attempt to get to know you better.
Making a website “fresh” is more than just tweaking copy here and there; the site needs to look its best to attract prospects. Why would someone pick your hotel over another? Tell them. Give lookers tempting tidbits of information about the property, its services and amenities to keep them coming back to the site and away from the OTAs. Show them. Use photos to convey what would be missed if they don’t book at your hotel and use video to give tours of the property or showcase special events. Let others tell them and show them. Attach widgets to the website that link to the various social media outlets and let others who have experienced all you have to offer brag about how amazing you are. The prettier the site, the more interesting, and the more interactive, the more hits it will receive and the more bookings it will convert.
The mobile web is a streamlined version of the hotel’s proprietary website. Based on consumer demand and the prediction that there will be more mobile users accessing the Internet this year than desktop users, extra attention needs to be place on the mobile web. Using the latest responsive design technologies, which adapts website content to fit different screen sizes and reformats data elements so that they are more easily viewable, hotels can effectively reach mobile users on whichever device they prefer to use.
Linking website content directly to social media channels, including links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and others, is equally important. When reaching potential customers via social media, it is vital that hoteliers respect the context of each platform. For example, marketers should NEVER push out their Facebook content to Twitter users. Facebook and Twitter users are different, and they like to be communicated to in the context of their social platform; be authentic. Effective online marketing is about using all the tools available to reach and engage with potential customers wherever they are online.
Storytelling on social media channels is key. Hotels should not go for the sale or the close without first building up credibility through social engagement and storytelling. Using micro content (not long posts) works well on the social channels to build up engagement. Marketers should look for trending themes and keywords and leverage those with relevant messaging. Offer unique content that connects your property with the trending topic and add value.
Effective social media marketing is not easy. It requires skill sets a property management team may not have in-house. Unless a hotel has dedicated internal resources, partnering with a social media engagement agency like Lodging Interactive is the best solution. Lodging Interactive, through its CoMMingle social media engagement agency, provides professionally managed and comprehensive social media marketing and reputation management services to hundreds of properties.