Tag Archives: Social Media

Five Wishes for Hotels and Social Media in 2011

Brian Bagel, TIG’s Social Media Manager, has some tips for hoteliers to use in the social media space this year.

  1. Put your on-staff experts to work. Many hotels have a tremendous advantage in social media. People on their staff have a duty to be experts in certain subjects. Your concierge is an expert on your hotel’s surroundings. Your chef is a food expert. Your gardener’s job is to make things grow. Your decorator’s job is to make the environment warm and beautiful. People want to know about what they know! There are entire TV networks dedicated to this stuff. If you can get them to write a few sentences every month, you’ve got yourself some tremendous social media fodder.
  2. More social media only offers. Social media specific rate codes for your fans and followers still aren’t utilized to the extent that I think they should be. You want your social media following to think they’re getting something special from time to time. An extra 5 or 10% off on a room for certain periods can go a very long way. The discounts don’t need to be Groupon-level steep, but enough to show your biggest fans that you appreciate them.
  3. Someone to really take a big foursquare/Facebook Places leap. I’ve seen plenty of specials that offer people glasses of wine, food, and rewards points, but I haven’t seen anyone go all out yet. Why not try to get some buzz and give away free rooms for a larger number of check-ins? Or why haven’t brands really taken to the services and linked check-ins across multiple locations for super-offers like major retailers have? I’d love to see that and I’m sure frequent customers would as well.
  4. Cross promotion. Social media doesn’t live on an island. I’ve said this many times, and yet I still want to see more. Social media is best supplemented by online and offline collateral. People need to be made aware that your property has a social media presence. I’ve seen more and more commercials touting a Facebook page rather than a website. I think now is the time for hotels to get in that game.
  5. Fewer minutias. There was a time when a post like “it’s sunny today” went over like gangbusters. It was simple, felt personal, and kept a social presence active. I’m not saying that those kinds of posts are now bad, but there are too many of them. I’d love to see more depth. Tell me about an interesting event going on in the area that people from outside your location might not know about. Or tell me about an interesting sign you saw near your property, and post a photo. That’s the kind of content that has a better chance of getting shared and keeping your fans and followers engaged.
 Social is no longer something that can be ignored. And while it might not be perfect for every hotel, it is an important option for most. There are a number of benefits, including the rise in social media’s footprint in natural search results that can be taken advantage of with a little bit of effort and ingenuity. While many hotels have done an excellent job in social media, there’s no reason hospitality shouldn’t be a leader in the social space.

Hotels that can successfully navigate social media will find themselves ahead of their competition

Over a period of three month, NYC’s Seventh Art Media tracked the content performance of 75 hotel brands on Facebook to highlight social media strategies that deliver on brand impressions and those that don’t. The company identified six key factors for hotels and resorts to take into account in order to see a lasting marketing performance on Facebook.

Catch the full story at Seventh Art Media

New PhoCusWright survey finds mobile and social networks gaining traction with travelers

In two new reports, PhoCusWright explores how these sweeping trends—mobile and social networks—are changing how consumers shop for, purchase and share their travel experiences. Based on a comprehensive survey of online travelers, PhoCusWright’s Traveler Technology Survey 2010Mobile and PhoCusWright’s Traveler Technology Survey 2010: Social Networks each provide unique insight into an extremely influential technology that is impacting traveler behavior and attitudes.

PhoCusWright’s Traveler Technology Survey 2010: Mobile reveals some significant trends in device ownership, and explores the types of activities that travelers perform (and plan to perform) on mobile devices. Among the report highlights:

Keeping in touch
Among online travelers who carry smartphones, more carry touchscreen devices than non-touchscreen devices. However, only a third of those touchscreen smartphones are iPhones, suggesting that some travel companies should broaden their mobile strategy.

See what is on tap
The growth trajectory for those who intend to purchase travel products via their mobile device is extremely strong, and is projected to nearly double in 2011.

PhoCusWright’s Traveler Technology Survey 2010: Social Networks looks at how consumers use online social networks. In particular, the report focuses on travel-related communications and activities on social networks, and how this activity impacts the travel planning and sharing processes. Research highlights include:

Posting is the new postcard
While posting about general subjects is far more common than travel-related posts, nearly four in 10 social media users have posted something about travel, underscoring the importance of having a coherent social media strategy.

“Fans” or not, travelers connect with companies online
Relatively few social network users are “fans” of travel companies online; however, more than one third of online travelers have interacted with a travel company through an online social network via a computer.

Social Media gaining popularity with corporate travel professionals

Mid-Size Companies Largest Adopters of Social Networking Support for Travel

New research by American Express Business Travel found that corporate travel professionals are increasingly using social media to communicate with travelers and to stay on top of latest travel industry information. Respondents also reported high expectations regarding their companies’ future social media usage plan, reporting that within the next year forums, webcasts, and online video are the most likely to be implemented by businesses.

The latest research report “Social Media in Business Travel Management” outlines the evolution of social media tools and sites from consumer use to business-to-business use, and illustrates how social media supports managed business travel today. The research also includes survey results conducted in the beginning of 2010 to reveal how individuals as well as their companies are currently embracing social media technology and how they might use these tools to support managed travel in the future.

Social Media Finds a Role in Corporate Travel

Social media has evolved to play a role in business travel programs. While half (50%) of respondents said that they use social media to some extent to support travel management today, mid-size companies ($3M to $10M USD in air volume) were the largest adopters (59%) of social media to support business travel management to date.

Many respondents indicated that the primary benefit of social media in supporting managed travel is educating themselves or their organization about the market. In fact, 44 percent indicated that staying on top of the latest travel information was the most important social media benefit. This response was followed closely by the interest in using social networking to learn and communicate best practices and reduce business travel costs (43%). Other findings include:

— 42% use social networking to look for preferred vendors and services from travelers

— 34% seek to uncover travel patterns that could lend to better vendor rates and services

— 27% look to gain visibility into traditionally siloed business functions/departments

— 26% use social media tools to encourage travelers to network with each other

— 18% network with other travel manager/procurement officer peers

Customization and Oversight Desired For Expanded Social Media Use

Of those survey respondents who do use social media to support travel management, when asked specifically what features or functionality would they add if they could design their own social media tools for professional use, the majority (61%) indicated they wanted flexibility to accommodate business travel management processes. Other top ranking features/functionality include:

— Real time updates such as mobile application, the ability to push out notifications and alerts (39%)

— Supervision of the entire social media sharing process and specific monitoring of those who are using social media tools (35%)

— Reporting ability — notification to website abuse, comments and security issues (29%)

Corporations Apprehensive About Implementing Social Media Tools

Even though the global economic crisis curbed spending, financing was not the main social networking adoption barrier. In fact, only six percent of respondents cited lack of funding as the most significant barrier or challenge to adopt social media tools.

The most significant barrier to adoption of social media as an organization has been the lack of direct benefits realization. Twenty percent found the business case for social media tools and usage within travel management programs unclear. Lack of strategy or understanding and lack of support from upper management each followed at 15 percent respectively.

Notably, only five percent of respondents indicated that they have had no barriers or challenges to adopt social media tools as an organization.

Social Media As A Sales Tool

Many companies are starting to experiment with social media and how it can be integrated into their overall marketing strategy to support company goals and objectives.

In addition to creating and promoting a corporate presence on various social media Web sites, it also makes sense for sales professionals to become familiar with social media, and to use it for the benefit of their business. 

Getting involved in social media can offer value to sales professionals, without requiring hours of time.  In fact, there are a number of benefits to be gained by spending only minutes a week on popular social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.  

Take advantage of these six guidelines for engaging in social media as a sales tool:

1.  Connect with and make better use of your professional network. Sales is a relationship business, and professional social media sites (such as LinkedIn) provide an additional way for account executives to enhance their relationships with clients and prospects alike. 

Social media offers you another platform – beyond more traditional email and telephone conversations – for connecting with key contacts that you wish to reach out to and engage with further.  Not only will you learn more about them, but they can gain a better understanding of your expertise, your thought leadership and the value you have to offer.  Social media is also a useful way to obtain referrals and recommendations from your contacts, helping you grow your network.  

2.  Learn more about your prospects and clients. Social media also offers an excellent way to gather intelligence from your contacts.  Pay close attention to the professional profiles of your clients and prospects, looking for anything that can make you more successful in conversations with them. 

The intelligence that can be gleaned from a prospect’s or client’s profile can help to identify common ground and enhance the sales conversation.  For example, examine their previous experience – maybe they have worked at another company in the past that is a client of yours.  Or read more about their education, as you may find something you can use as a way to begin a conversation or make a connection.

Also, be mindful of the fact that your professional contacts – prospects, clients, other colleagues – are likely using social media sites to learn more about you and your company as well.  Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you are displaying a complete and professional profile.

3.  Identify decision-makers and other appropriate contacts within a company. Professional social media sites provide a wealth of information on organizations.  First, many people are connected to their colleagues.  By taking a closer look at the profiles of your clients and prospects, you may be able to fill in some of the blanks regarding decision makers within a company.

Company profiles also offer intelligence on key individuals within organizations.  These can help you identify the appropriate contact within a company, especially if your initial contact has left and you are having trouble getting in touch with anyone beyond the receptionist. 

4.  Gain new work-related insight. Groups, message boards and other social media sites are an excellent way to discuss relevant industry topics with likeminded professionals in group settings.  At its core, social media is a conversation, so identify groups that are relevant to your industry and expertise and participating in the discussion.

By joining a group or getting involved in other social media sites, you have the opportunity to learn from other professionals within your industry, contribute to discussions on topics that fit well within your area of expertise, and differentiate yourself and your company as a consultant and a thought leader. 

Consider focusing your efforts on making thoughtful contributions to the most relevant topics – you do not need to respond to every discussion within a group.  Ensure that your comments are adding value and presenting your company in a positive manner.

5.  Remember the basics of social media. While participating in social media can be beneficial to sales professionals, it is important to respect it as a communications platform.  Don’t abuse it as a way to push a sales pitch.   Remember that social media is a two-way conversation, and ensure that your actions are providing value.

6.  Offer guidelines for effective use. Sales and marketing management should consider holding training sessions or developing guidelines on how to effectively use social media as a sales tool.  In addition to providing guidelines on how to create accounts on relevant social media sites, you can offer examples of demonstrated best practices for utilizing social media resources for professional use.  It would also be valuable to emphasize the importance of spending the right balance of time on it, and demonstrating how it can be a powerful tool in the sales process. 

For businesses, social media offers an unprecedented opportunity to engage in conversations with their audiences – both customers and prospects.   Take advantage of social media tools to foster positive relationships with your clients and prospects, and to support your overall business goals.

Article by Angela Hribar