Are you ready to take your hotel social media to the next level? In this day in age, it is probable that your hotel has a Facebook presence. Your property may even have an account on Instagram and Twitter. Your team, or an agency partner, posts content on a regular basis and responds to comments and messages. Piece of cake, right?
If that is all your property is doing, you are missing out on a vertical that can paint you a clearer picture of your hotel’s successes and where there may be room for improvement: social listening. Social listening, when done effectively, can improve your social media account performance and enhance your entire marketing strategy as a whole. Active social listening can help your marketing team make educated decisions and allocate your budget more effectively. It can help your community manager create content that your followers/ target audience actually wants to see, open up new opportunities, solve problems you have (or problems that you did not know you have), and improve your hotel’s reputation. Sounds amazing, right? But before we begin, it is important to understand what exactly social listening is and how it differs from social monitoring.
Social monitoring is a presence. It means being on the lookout for when people tag or mention your hotel in a post or upon virtually checking in. You may even be monitoring keywords that are in line with your brand and market or variations of your hotel name. Social monitoring means you are getting alerts as events, conversations are happening. It is active, in the moment.
Social listening is proactive – taking that momentum a step further – tracking, analyzing, and going above and beyond in learning what potential guests are saying about not only your hotel, brand, and market, but your competitors as well. Social listening is not focusing on how many comments one post got against another, but rather, looking at the sentiment behind those comments and identifying trends. Listening will help your hotel be in tune with how past, present, and future/ potential customers truly feel about your brand.
Let’s dive deeper into how social listening can impact not only your social media presence but your overall marketing strategy.
Benefits of Social Listening for Hotels
#1: Discover how your hotel measures up against its competitors.
In order to know what “good” performance means for your marketing and competitive set, you need to pay attention to what your competitors are doing. What channels are they on? What are users saying about them? How does their community react to the content they publish on a regular basis? By keeping a close eye on what travelers have to say about your competition, you can gain a better understanding of what your competitors are up to. Are they rolling out new amenities? Offering free WiFi to guests who leave a review on Facebook? Do not let your hotel take a back seat to new innovations and offerings you could have easily competed with had you been in the know.
#2: Refine your positioning.
What you might think is important to your target audience might not be what is actually important to them in terms of what causes them to book. Alternatively, what if by renaming a package, you were able to double reservations through that special offer? Let’s pretend you there is a special you have been pushing on social media but is gaining little to no traction. For the sake of this post, the special offer is called, “Romance Package” and offers all the necessities a guest needs to wine & dine their significant other – champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries upon arrival, late check-out, and two tickets to a local attraction that offers hot air balloon rides. Your competitor down the street is running a similar promotion. They publish content surrounding their “Discover SoCal” package frequently and it is being well received by their followers. Their package includes tickets to the same attraction, late checkout, and two drink vouchers to their on-site restaurant. Sounds pretty similar, right? Through social listening, you can dive deep into what users are saying about both packages. What is igniting the interest of your target market? If the answer is “explore the local area” and you could compete with the “Discover SoCal Package” by making a few small changes to your Romance Package and positioning it differently on social, then why not do so? Get that competitive edge!
#3: Allocate your budget effectively.
Building off of our first two points, with knowledge about how your competitors stack up against each other, and where you fall into the mix, you can apply the top performer’s tactics to your strategy and carefully select what types of campaigns would yield the highest return on investment. Knowing where your hotel shines above the rest and what to put your money behind on social media campaigns can help you allocate your budget more effectively (within social media and across the board, depending on what other verticals and marketing initiatives you are investing time and money into).
#4: Create content your guests actually want to see.
Your hotel’s content strategy is crucial to success. You want to regularly publish content that is eye-catching, informative, engaging – among other factors. Making sure your strategy is in line with what your followers want when they want it, can help your hotel rise to the top. Are people speaking very highly of your property? Investigate the reasons behind their positive comments. While you may think it is because of your recently renovated lobby, maybe consumers are raving about the chicken sandwich in your hotel’s on-site restaurant or a housekeeper that goes out of their way to make each and every guest feel welcome and at home. There may be less obvious events occurring around you that people are talking about and want to know more about. On the flip side, if your accounts are not seeing an ample amount of engagement, social listening can help in figuring out how to adjust your content strategy.
#5: Improve your hotel’s reputation and take control of messaging.
It is not new information that guests want to feel like their opinions matter and that their requests are being heard. Not only do guests and potential guests expect responses to negative and positive feedback, they expect to receive acknowledgment in a timely manner. Social listening plays a role in helping your team dispense responses that are not only well thought out but are valuable to the user and others who are able to see the dialog. Responding quickly and effectively can drive brand loyalty and help your hotel reel in new brand enthusiasts. Outside of responding when your hotel receives a mention or message, joining conversations and being social on social media is imperative as well. Social listening can aid in helping your community manager find what conversations to chime in on and offer expertise on behalf of your hotel.
Through effective social listening, your hotel, in some instances, can address (potential) problems before they arise. Negative press can occur when you are not anticipating it or one comment can spiral into a situation that may feel impossible to rise out of. If a brand crisis strikes from left field, catching it early can make all of the difference. If the overall mood of your followers/ top engagers has shifted or is of a negative connotation, start investing why immediately and use that information to make changes before it is too late.
With that being said, your hotel is likely being talked about without your team even knowing. Social listening is a requirement in reputation management these days. Look for conversations that include your brand but did not necessarily “tag” or “mention” your username and/ or handle. In fact, a study conducted by Digmind found that “for global brands, 91 percent of posts included brand hashtags, and only 9 percent directly tagged brand handles.”
Monitoring hashtags (branded and industry-wide) along with commons variations and misspellings of your hotel name can be of benefit too.
#6: Become an expert problem solver in your industry.
The ability to easily gather feedback is yet another benefit social listening can offer when done regularly. Listening is the keyword here – by listening to what travelers are saying, you can improve the overall experience. Monitor keywords that are important to your local area and industry. There may be an excellent chance for your hotel to fill a need that no other hotel in the area is currently fulfilling. If you are located in a secondary market, perhaps an issue many travelers are facing is finding reliable transportation to and from the airport. If this is an amenity you can offer that no one else in the area is, you have given yourself a leg up on your competition. You do not always need to find ways to reinvent the hospitality wheel, think of ways to tweak an existing amenity or pinpoint the one that people need, but are unable to track down anywhere else.
#7: Discover new customers, partners, and opportunities.
There are endless opportunities once you have invested in a social listening strategy. From lead generation to finding industry influencers – social listening can create a world of possibilities you may not have run into otherwise. Monitoring keywords for your market, popular and relevant hashtags, or brand mentions can lead you to niche influencers to work with (or at a minimum, connect with) or open other doors that can support your overall marketing initiatives.
#8: Increase efficiency.
Just because it is called “social” listening does not mean the data you uncover will only be impactful to your social media accounts. The research and findings from social listening can be applied to your strategy across the board. You may be able to fine-tune/ optimize website content, spark ideas to fuel other sales goals or learn something about your hotel and market that you did not know before.
Where to Begin?
If you are looking to invest in social listening, as with all verticals, it is important to determine what your goals are first and foremost. What is your hotel looking to get out of this? Examples of objectives may include keeping a more watchful eye on the competition, improving the content you are publishing, monitoring brand sentiment, growing your following, or refining who your audience is. Once you have defined your goal, there are plenty of tools or agencies to help you reach it, analyzing your results along the way.
Reprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from www.HotelExecutive.com.