Start Using LinkedIn As A Sales Tool For Your Hotel
Many hoteliers are missing out on the opportunity to find valuable sales leads and connections through the social network that some refer to as the "professional version of Facebook." Often an overlooked social media opportunity, LinkedIn can be an extremely valuable networking tool for hotels. As the world’s largest professional social network, LinkedIn is an effective source for connecting with 175 million users, including those with similar educational backgrounds, past and present coworkers, old and new clients, influential industry leaders and potential new business connections. If you don't quite know how to use LinkedIn to your advantage, keep reading to see how your connections can lead to potential business opportunities.
What is a LinkedIn Company Page?
LinkedIn Company Pages provide a single page within the LinkedIn community to represent your business or organization. Businesses are then able to effectively differentiate from the competition by displaying offerings through multiple informational tabs, including: overview, products & services, careers (this is a paid feature) and analytics. In addition, LinkedIn recently announced updates to LinkedIn Company Pages that have made them available on the LinkedIn mobile app, so now professionals can connect with your business on the go!
To get started, here’s a quick breakdown of each tab on the LinkedIn Company page:
- Overview – Use this section to showcase your brand and optimize for keywords (see “Incorporate SEO techniques” section below). With the new page design, the business summary will be displayed at the bottom and a large image will appear at the top. Make sure this image truly represents your brand and makes an impact.
- Products & Services – Showcase your hotel’s special offerings and gather recommendations from clients or business partners on this page. Update with images, video links, links to PDFs, contact information and more.
- Careers – This paid service allows you to share job openings. Other online job boards like Monster or CareerBuilder can result in an excess of unqualified applicants. LinkedIn allows companies to post job openings for social savvy job hunters and recruit more qualified talent, ideally from within your professional circles.
- Analytics – View graphs of impressions and engagement with your page based on monthly data. The Analytics tab allows you to learn who has visited the page and which areas are of interest to these visitors. Then, turn these viewers into customers or business partners and produce the most effective content in the future.
LinkedIn is a valuable tool for hoteliers. You've likely heard similar praises time and time again about using LinkedIn as a sales tool; therefore, we have developed some guidelines for optimizing your LinkedIn efforts. In fact, according to a HubSpot study, "LinkedIn is 277% more effective at lead generation than Facebook & Twitter. In a study of businesses using social media, LinkedIn traffic to the businesses’ website resulted in a 2.47% conversion rate rather than the .98% conversion rate of other social media channels." With that in mind, here are some strategies to consider in using LinkedIn:
LinkedIn Lead Generation Techniques
- Incorporate SEO techniques into your LinkedIn Company Page. Make sure that you are including keywords throughout the profile that relate to your target audience (i.e. “meeting professionals” or “event planning”). By optimizing your page with important keywords and joining associated LinkedIn groups, your hotel is more likely to appear in related search results on LinkedIn. Also, make sure to include links to your company website in order to build authority in the eyes of search engines.
- Join LinkedIn groups in the hospitality industry. LinkedIn groups not only allow your hotel to be identified with target keywords, they also allow your event and sales team to become better connected to other industry professionals. There are currently over 4600 "hotel," 8500 "meeting" and 640 "event planning" related LinkedIn groups. Designate a staff member to participate in various group discussions in order to voice your hotel’s expertise and join in the industry conversation. This is a great space to seek out new partnerships, clientele and referrals. Similarly, join in the conversation on LinkedIn’s answers page where you can connect with business-minded peers, respond to questions, give advice and ultimately gain a following for the business.
- Create your own LinkedIn group if you are an industry expert. If your hotel or business is leading the area’s meeting and event space industry, this is the perfect opportunity to showcase your expertise. This would also be a great avenue to feed out blog content and other updates to your followers. By demonstrating your expertise in the field and delivering original content, your target audience will become increasingly engaged. However, this is only effective if your company is creating unique content on a consistent basis and actively managing the account.
- Fill out your Products & Services page. This is a great way to showcase your hotel’s room types, special packages, special events, meeting space, catering options, etc. Make sure that these pages are consistently updated along with all of your other online channels as good measure for lead generation. LinkedIn’s new company pages that will make it easier for LinkedIn users to see who recommends your various services. Also, include contact information for your DOS or catering manager so that meeting planners and hosts can easily connect with your hotel. This easy step could eventually be beneficial for generating large group business.
- Use LinkedIn as the networking medium it was intended to be. Encourage sales and event managers to reach out to convention or trade show attendees before and after their live dates. We suggest that hoteliers in this position use LinkedIn to share business connections, answer industry related questions, provide others with marketing or sales collateral and recommend vendors to new contacts. This is a simple way to stay in touch with others in the industry.
- Try out LinkedIn ads. These paid ads are extremely targetable and allow you to pinpoint a specific job title. In contrast, only about 1 of 6 people associate a job title with their Facebook profile, making LinkedIn the more desirable way to connect with professionals. LinkedIn ads are a self-service option that can produce a good ROI due to the targeting options (gender, workplace, location, job title, groups, interests, etc.).
- Text ads include 2 lines of 75 characters and a 50x50 pixel image
- Beneficial to call out a specific group in the ad (i.e. “Hey event planners! Join us at our hotel for your next area event.”)
- Choose between cost-per-click or cost-per-impression (similar to Facebook) with a minimum bid of $2
Notice that searching for LinkedIn groups bolds your keyword query.
In this instance, "event planning" stands out for this particular search.
Once you have effectively completed a LinkedIn Company Page and are developing techniques for gaining leads, it’s critical to stay engaged on the site. Stay tuned for my next blog post, which will include tips for staying engaged with your network on LinkedIn. Remember, LinkedIn isn't only for connecting with coworkers or employees; it is a valuable B2B tool. Nominate someone to keep your hotel’s Company Page informative and engaging. These guidelines will allow you to effectively keep an eye on the competition, connect with business partners and find great new business opportunities. Now that you know how LinkedIn can help generate new leads for your hotel, get started today!