As the world of online hotel marketing changes and evolves with technology, approaching potential guests and maintaining relationships with them requires more than just a nice hotel image and grammatically correct descriptions. Social selling can give your hotel a competitive marketing edge that you might not have considered before.
What is social selling?
Social selling is the offline and online process of creating relationships with your potential guests and interacting directly with them. This comprehensive sales approach starts with lead generation and extends to the processes of finding potential guests, promoting your hotel, delivering exceptional customer experiences, and maintaining relationships after your guests have checked out.
Where can hoteliers start?
Like everyone, your potential guests identify with certain ideas or communities and want to feel a sense of belonging to them. Hoteliers can recognise these identifications, and personalise their guest experiences to speak to them as part of their social selling strategy across different channels.
Social selling on social media
As a hotelier, you might already be using social media to reach out to travellers by telling stories, sharing pictures, and promoting special offers or events taking place on your property. Travellers use social media to research, compare, and obtain insights about places, activities, and accommodations.
Hoteliers should prepare to find travellers and to be found by travellers through different channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook; all of those are platforms where people gather to share similar interests, exchange ideas, participate in events or discuss—direct contact at its best.
Successful social media tactics go beyond simply being present. It’s also important to select the right platforms, tailor appropriate messages with personality, and answer to any messages you might receive in order to capitalise on these channels.
Tell your own story
Can you mention three things that differentiate your hotel from your competitors? If you find your guests are having issues remembering your property’s name, then you might not be using those differences as a leveraging factor. Authenticity is a key value to develop with your guests and your staff, and you can start by sharing your “intimate” life on social media, like the Waldorf Astoria New York does.
When guests get a glimpse into a hotel through the exclusive scenes that are unique to that property, it helps them recognise the singularity of the experience they can have there. When that hotel replies to comments, shares guests content, and more on social media, like the Waldorf Astoria does, it encourages brand recognition and customer loyalty.
Engage with your guests
Sharing your guests’ stories gives you credibility and warmth, allowing travellers to connect emotionally with your property and alluring them to stay with you. Additionally, sharing these stories means you are curating your online presence and subtly pitching your hotel through engaging calls-to-action and storytelling. Demonstrate value before selling your hotel like Hotel Esencia does – they repost their guests’ stories and engage in conversations with them on their Instagram feed. Know what your guests are doing and even ask them to share their adventures with you, including those in which you’re not the main focus.
Build your own network
Have you ever replied to an Instagram photo posted by one of your guests? You should: it’ll make them more likely to remember and recommend your property. With word-of-mouth and recommendations being main influencers for travellers choosing accommodations, building relationships with your guests can have both short and long term benefits. On average, 95 percent of hotel guests read six to seven reviews before booking.
In addition, interacting with industry leaders and sharing your own knowledge on diverse platforms increases your reach and draws influencers to position your property in different target markets. This will help ensure that you come across as a relevant player to travellers looking for hotels.
Listen to their stories
Personally, I love to tell hotel staff ahead of my stay if I’m marking any special occasion. But more importantly, I love it when the hotel actually listens and acts on the information. From offering courtesies such as drinks in the honeymoon suite to reserving theatre tickets in advance, there’s a lot your front desk can do to identify and interact with your guests and the stories they share with you. Establishing connections and putting faces to the names after a social media connection will positively impact the relationship you have with your guests.
Selling is your goal
Like any investment, you want to see and measure the results. Social selling aims to increase the number of heads in your beds. Every social selling action you take should convey your value propositions loud and clear. Delight your guests; be a part of their lives even before they check in. Remember, social media is no longer a choice: it’s an inherent part of our lives and hoteliers can make the most of it with the right sales approach.