The holiday season, one of the busiest times to travel, is right around the corner. This holiday season is the perfect opportunity for your hotel to showcase your jolly spirit on your social media channels and independent website. By participating in the holiday season, your hotel will evince a cheerful personality, which will allow guests who are excitedly preparing for the holidays, to identify with your brand. To help you get started, I have outlined several ways to naturally integrate the holiday season into your hotel’s online marketing strategy, which will help humanize and enhance your hotel’s online presence.
Integrate the holiday season into your hotel’s social media strategy
Posting relevant content about the holidays on Facebook or Twitter can increase fan engagement, post reach, and even page likes. Fans, especially those who are in the holiday spirit, will enjoy seeing what types of seasonal activities are going on at your hotel, which will then lead to interaction with the posts. Below are some creative suggestions to help your hotel post effective and engaging social media content leading up to the holidays.
Host a holiday-themed contest on property and ask Facebook fans to vote
Encourage your team to become involved in the holidays by announcing a company-wide competition, which you can then transform into a Facebook contest. Whether you ask your team members to wear a festive outfit or have each department decorate their office or a section of the hotel, take photos and post them on your Facebook page in a designated photo album. Then, announce the premise of the contest with a Facebook post and ask fans to “vote” by liking, commenting, and sharing, which will increase your page’s engagement. Make sure you establish the time frame and clarify the points system so you have an easy way to determine the winner. Incentivize your hotel team to participate by providing a winning prize for the team member or department with the most votes at the end of the contest.
During the 2013 Halloween season, Hampton Inn & Suites Nashville Downtown encouraged their Facebook fans to vote for their favorite pumpkin, all of which were carved by the hotel staff. Fans that participated were entered into a drawing for a chance to win 5,000 HHonor points. Getting fans get involved in selecting the winner helped the hotel increase their Facebook reach and post engagement.
During the 2013 holiday season, Embassy Suites Denver Southeast hid an Elf on a Shelf doll around the hotel common areas. They then asked guests to take a picture of the doll when they saw him around the hotel and post it on the hotel’s Facebook page. The hotel marketed this imaginative campaign through Facebook posts, flyers on the front desk, and table toppers in the dining area. The hotel organically gained 21 new fans throughout the short campaign, and the Elf on a Shelf posts increased their reach to 2,669 people (an increase of 669% YOY when compared to holiday posts in 2012).
Post photos of your hotel’s holiday décor
Keep your social media content relevant by posting photos that show your hotel’s holiday decorations. This will help your future guests imagine what it would be like to stay at your hotel during the season. Here are a few fun ways to create quick and interactive content:
1. Leading up to Halloween, post a photo of pumpkins and a bowl of candy sitting on the front desk.
2. Around Christmas time, use your smart phone to take a short video of your team decorating the Christmas tree.
3. During Hanukkah, display a menorah in the lobby and take a photo of a team member lighting one of the candles.
During the 2012 holiday season, Radisson Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf helped their fans imagine what it would be like to stay at their hotel during the holiday season by posting a picture of their festive lobby. The spirited post received both likes and comments from their Facebook fans, including one fan who admittedly wished he was there.
Post your hotel restaurant’s seasonal specials and events
Sharing your holiday menus and on-property events on Facebook will increase engagement among local fans and bring in more foot traffic, which will translate to more food and beverage revenue. Here are a few ideas for relevant posts to help boost your local food and beverage traffic:
1. Post a photo of your hotel’s seasonal cocktails (e.g. Egg-nog, Candy Cane Martinis, or Gingerbread Cocktails) alongside the recipe.
2. Post a photo of your hotel’s Christmas day dinner menu with a link to your hotel’s dining page for more information.
3. Post photos of other seasonal specials as they are added into the menu mix.
During the 2013 holiday season, Embassy Suites Brea – North Orange County shared their special holiday delights with their Facebook fans. With the menu posted on social media, more fans were aware that the hotel was offering seasonal specials during Christmas and New Years.
Integrate the holiday season into your hotel’s independent website content strategy
Refreshing your content strategy regularly can improve your online presence by showing that you are keeping your site current and relevant. This should naturally have a positive impact on your hotel’s SEO. Below are some unique ways to seamlessly weave the holiday season into the content strategy on your hotel’s independent site.
Audit your current photography to ensure it includes seasonal imagery
In recent years, people have begun booking flights and hotel accommodations closer and closer to their actual travel date. This means that a guest shopping on your hotel’s website is likely looking to book a hotel for a stay that’s within the next 30 or 60 days. By keeping your photos fresh and seasonal, you will be able to better manage guest’s expectations. For example, if your hotel is located in Kansas City, a place where the scenery changes with the seasons, make sure your hotel’s photography incorporates blue skies and sunshine, red and yellow fall foliage, and sparkling white snowcapped buildings.
Add new or rephrase current special offers and discounted packages
Brainstorm new special offers that integrate a seasonal event or holiday. For example, if your hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to the nearby mall, create a holiday shopping package targeting moms who need to do their holiday shopping. You can also take your current offers and tailor the copy to reflect the holiday season. So, if your hotel already offers a shopping package, add some seasonal verbiage to the package description so that it appeals more to guests booking a stay around the holidays.
In the screenshot below, Hilton Bellevue is offering discounted guestrooms during Magic Season weekends, as that community event incorporates kid-friendly activities, so it draws families into the city to celebrate the holiday season.
If your hotel has a spa, create a seasonal-inspired spa deal. For example, The Lodge & Spa at Callaway Gardens offers a “Purifying Pumpkin Facial” for the 2014 fall season, and they promoted a “Jack Frost Spa Treatment” for the 2013 winter season. Adding a spa deal that reflects a particular season or holiday creates the illusion that the offer is only available for a limited time, so guests are more likely to book the treatment.
Share local community or city-wide holiday events
If your hotel is located near an area that does something special for the holidays, share it on your independent website. Write a landing page featuring well-known holiday events. Those events that are expecting a large turnout will already have a lot of awareness and, therefore, more search volume.
Create a seasonal events calendar on your independent website to list smaller or more locally-based, seasonal events, as this will serve as a helpful guide for things to do in the area around the holidays. Having this information readily available on your hotel’s website allows guests to see that your hotel is located near fun and happening events. It essentially creates a “one-stop-shop” for guests so they don’t need to do additional research after booking their stay. They can see what events are happening in the city right on your website and begin planning their itinerary. Make sure to ask the event host to link back to your hotel’s site too, especially if they have an accommodations page!
In the screenshot below, >The Lodge & Spa at Callaway Gardens promotes Fantasy in Lights through an informative landing page that ties in a seasonal “Fantasy in Lights” package.
Ready to get into the holiday spirit?
It’s time to spice up your holiday marketing strategy. Sit down with your hotel team and begin making a list of events, brainstorming special offers or contests, and going through your photo library. Then, work with your hotel’s marketing manager to seamlessly integrate these seasonal strategies into your existing social media and independent website strategy. Bust out your Santa hat, relax with a cup of eggnog, and watch your fans engage with your jolly hotel!