Breaking the Social Media Code: Adding to your marketing toolbox

By Vanessa Horwell Founder & Chief Visibility Officer, ThinkInk & TravelInk'd | August 01, 2011

Hotel marketing is difficult, from every angle. Hotels are selling an experience -- a complex combination of amenities, services, facilities and value -- not a tangible product that consumers can hold in their hand. And they are selling that intangible product using one of the least tangible marketing instruments -- the brand -- as their primary tool. Talk about a hard sell!! Add to this already difficult equation a marketplace where there is now more supply than demand (in most destinations), and the prospect of marketing a lodging property successfully truly becomes a task for the bold and brave.

Of course, we know that only the bold and the brave read this column, and you don't need to hear from us about the challenges you face on a daily basis. So instead, how about we focus on something positive by adding another tactic to your marketing toolbox?

I'm talking about social media marketing, and unless you're one of the five or six people left in the world without a Facebook account, or you're the guy in the Microsoft commercials working from the bamboo hut on that South Pacific island, you've most likely heard about it. In fact, you're probably pretty familiar with the concept of social networking and curious about its revenue-generating potential. You might have even tried setting up a profile for your hotel, or encouraged your executives to join a network like LinkedIn to "network".

Yes, social media marketing is one of the newest, most exciting marketing trends out there and its potential for revenue generation and brand development is enticingly high. But there is a caveat: like any marketing tactic, ad-hoc implementation will only achieve limited results at best.

The most effective social media marketing campaigns are those that are well integrated with the marketing initiatives that you already have in place. For a social media program to achieve a noticeable level of success, it has to work with your overall marketing strategy, not against it and certainly not as an afterthought.

Social media marketing is not rocket science, but it requires skills

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.