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Welcome Anywhere Property Managment System > Blog > Hotel marketing

The American hotel giant, Starwood, claims it is now successfully using Instagram to drive more reservations, and in turn avoiding costly sponsored advertising on the most visual of social networks.

By linking up with shopping platform, LiketoKnow.it, the hotel chain pays influencers to take photos on Instagram that are bundled with a direct booking link for anyone who happens to come across the image in their feed.

While it can’t be ignored that Starwood probably has something of a monolithic marketing budget, they are at least proving that Instagram can be used as a way to increase sales within the hospitality trade, without turning to the paid advertising option.

If you’re an independent hotelier, you may not be able to afford the going rate for the top influencers on Instagram, but you do have something far more compelling at your disposal: a unique offering. For, as lovely as Starwood hotels are, they’re still part of a chain; you’re on your own. And that makes you special.

With that in mind, you have all the material you need to make a success of Instagram marketing, but how do you use it effectively?

We’ve got the answers.

Don’t let your account slip

Just like any social media service, it’s all too easy to set up an Instagram account for business purposes, post to it while the novelty remains and then let it slip into obscurity as the daily grind takes over.

Unfortunately, if this happens with your Instagram account, it may as well not be there. Only active accounts attract followers and shares - remember that. You’re capable of posting at least one photo per day, aren’t you?

Of course you are!

Use hashtags

Hashtags aren’t confined to Twitter - they work brilliantly on Instagram, too.

Used as a way to categorise an image, a hashtag ensures your content stands the best chance of being found by anyone with an active interest in whatever it is you’re posting. Examples in this industry may include #NorthamptonHotel, #BoutiqueHotelUK and #HotelFood.

Use as many hashtags as possible on each post - you’ll be surprised by how quickly people start to take note (it seems to happen far quicker on Instagram than on Twitter).

Promote events

No matter how big or small a forthcoming event, Instagram is the perfect platform on which to promote its existence.

To influence potential guests, continually post photos of any fliers you may have, but also behind-the-scenes snaps of the preparations (and remember to use those hashtags liberally!).

Feature guest content

If a guest is particularly happy come check out time, bite the bullet and ask if they’d mind providing a thumbs up to camera or - even better - offering a quick ten second video testimonial. Either could be posted to Instagram and offer a real-world account of how fab your hotel is.

User-generated content is incredibly powerful, and the more guest-centric stuff you can post on Instagram, the better.

Tell stories

Most social networks now offer some form of ‘story’ feature, and Instagram is no different.

A story is essentially a collection of photos and videos that can have text overlays and which lasts for around twenty-four hours before disappearing completely. Instagram stitches it all together for you, allowing you to simply shoot away as you go about your day. It’s perfect for behind-the-scenes stuff at hotels, and people love an insight into what goes on behind the curtain.

Never forget food

People love food, and the next best thing to eating it is devouring pictures of dishes on Instagram.

Culinary imagery goes down very well indeed on this particular social network, therefore if you have a restaurant on site, make the most of the skills within the kitchen by posting as many pictures of finished dishes as possible. Again, use plenty of hashtags and watch engagement rise.

Wrap up

Most importantly, have fun with Instagram. It’s an incredibly addictive social network that has the added benefit of being relatively easy to attract attention if you’re a business operating within the hospitality industry.

Show off what makes you unique. All it will cost you is your time, but it’s some of the best time you’ll spend in 2017.

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[fusion_text]How to increase hotel website conversions

Is your hotel website converting enough of its visitors? Do you look at the stats in Google Analytics and wonder why on earth you're not tempting more people through your online booking system when so many are entering your digital doors?

It's a common problem for most businesses, and while it isn't easily solvable, there are plenty of things you can do to increase the number of conversions your website delivers. It should, after all, be one of the main channels for bookings in the modern age.

In our blog of the week, E-Marketing Associates offer 5 simple steps for boosting a hotel website's conversion rate. They focus on usability, the importance of imagery and establishing a clear path to conversion in an effort to help hoteliers get the most from their virtual salesperson.

A great read:

[/fusion_text][button link="http://www.e-marketingassociates.com/5-simple-steps-boosting-sites-conversion-rate/" color="default" size="" type="" shape="" target="_blank" title="" gradient_colors="|" gradient_hover_colors="|" accent_color="" accent_hover_color="" bevel_color="" border_width="1px" shadow="" icon="" icon_position="left" icon_divider="no" modal="" animation_type="0" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="1" alignment="" class="" id=""]Read article[/button]

 

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social media marketing for hotels

Platforms like Twitter and Facebook were once nothing more than virtual message boards used by people intent on telling the world what they were about to eat for dinner. And then posting a photo of an empty plate when finished.

We’ve all done it, haven’t we?

No?

Moving on…

Now, social media forms an intrinsic part of any ambitious marketing strategy. And this is for good reason; with even the most nascent of networks garnering huge user bases (did you know Snapchat now has 100 million daily active users?), the ability to reach colossal audiences no longer requires a hefty TV advertising budget.

If you're a hotel operator, there’s a very good chance you already have a Twitter account, at least. It’s just the ‘done thing’, isn’t it? You may even have gone as far as creating Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram accounts, too. But how - if at all - are you using them?

Like any marketing tactic, social media needs a strategy - it needs a goal at which to aim.

It’s also quite risky. Post the wrong thing, be it an ill-judged pop at a competitor or sentence that inadvertently discriminates, and you can instantly land your business in hot water. Social media is built on a foundation of sharing, and if you say something that’s deemed out of line, people are likely to pass it around for all to see. The domino effect can be frighteningly powerful on social media.

However - it remains a brilliant way to market your hotel. Pick the right strategy, utilise common sense and, far from ruining everything, you’ll give your hotel a voice that draws in more guests. And that’s what this is all about, after all

Here’s how to use social media for your hotel:

Don’t post for the sake of it

As noted above, you need a goal. Do you want to use social media as a primary way to connect with guests from a customer service perspective? Or use it as a vehicle to promote you regular special offers?

Social media goals don’t have to be long term. If you’re undertaking a 6 month refurbishment of the property, you might want to use Instagram to chart its progress, and then move onto the next focus.

Determine the goals of your social media campaign, and don’t just assume it’s to ‘get more followers’. Which leads us onto our next point…

Determine your audience

Before you start posting, you need to define the type of people you’re trying to attract as followers. Your audience (or buyer personas, to use marketing parlance) will inform your tone of voice and the type of content you’ll need to focus on sharing.

If you know the profile of your guests like the back of your hand, this step should be easy, but if not, consult your hotel booking system and staff in order to find out the type of people you are welcoming through your doors.

Next, create four or five fictional characters and write a few paragraphs about who they are; their lifestyle, hobbies and personality. Like the late, great Terry Wogan, you’ll be speaking to these people as though they’re the only person in the (digital) room. Work out who they early on.

Pick a platform (or two)

There are loads of social networks, but you don’t need to go for all of them. For hotels, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are great starting points and more than enough to keep you busy.

Spend time on your profile

Once registered, upload your logo, relevant header image (a shot of the grounds, a premium bedroom or the team) and add a bio. Keep it short, snappy and on-brand.

Develop your online persona

How do you want to come across on social media? Playful? Serious? Comical? Unafraid to offer the odd political opinion?

You’re the only person who can answer this. The way in which you conduct your communications on social media will often be the first glimpse potential guests get of your hotel’s personality.

You won’t get it right straight away, and it’ll take time to develop the right online persona, but don’t be afraid to experiment. In our experience, keeping it lighthearted, relevant and focussed entirely on the target audience works.

Be careful who you give the keys to

Remember - you can do an awful lot of damage with social media. If you need assistance with the posting schedule, only draft in people you absolutely trust. External agencies and social media managers can be trusted, but make sure you go on recommendations from others.

As for internal staff, choose people who display a solid emotional connection with the hotel and who regularly demonstrate a flair for customer service.

Respond

You’ll probably start to see some engagement with your social media channels relatively quickly as a hotel (particularly if you encourage guests to ‘like’ you on Facebook following their stay), and people will use it as a means to contact you.

It’s therefore essential that you keep an eye on mentions and make sure you have notifications turned enabled on your smartphone.

When people mention you on Twitter or message you on Facebook, respond - always. It may be an availability enquiry, praise for the quality of a recent stay or a complaint. Where appropriate, take the conversation offline by contacting direct, but not before noting on social media that you will be in touch. In doing so, you’ll be showing the world that you care.

We could go on, but…

Social media offers so many opportunities for hotels to develop their online personas, build followings and, most importantly of all, tempt more guests to book direct.

In this post, we’ve focussed on the absolute basics of a great social media strategy. In future, we’ll dig deeper, but if you’d like to share your social media success stories, please do so by commenting below.

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[fusion_text]500px-google__g__logo_svg_png_500x500_pixels

Google is changing its search algorithm. They do this periodically, and tend to give each big update a name like 'Penguin'. Odd? Yep, but the changes are usually significant and impact businesses of all kinds.

David Collins, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer at The Great National Hotels and Resorts Group, thinks the latest batch of changes are going to prove particularly challenging for hotel brands.

By focussing on simplifying the user experience (and, of course, selling more ads), Google has removed paid-for listings from the right-hand side of its search result pages. They've also dropped the fourth paid-for adverts to the bottom of the page, which in itself is a significant move and likely to cheese off any businesses that fall outside of the top three.

Collins argues that organic listings - i.e. those that haven't been paid for - will soon disappear from view on the first page of search results due to the increased space their paid-for counterparts are now occupying. If true, that changes the digital marketing landscape considerably.

What do you think? Have a read of the article below and pop back here to give us your thoughts in the comments section.

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Pokemon go marketing for hotels

The Pokémon Go craze shows no sign of slowing down, despite what is a no doubt significant swathe of the world’s population hoping for a reduction in the number of zombie-like Pokémon hunters wandering into oncoming traffic.

Take a look at hotel finder website AllTheRooms, for example - they’ve set up a specific page dedicated to finding hotels that are situated near spots that are likely to feature some of the rarest Pokémon.

Despite concerns over the inherent dangers of spending more time looking at one’s smartphone screen than the path ahead, Pokémon Go clearly still represents a sizeable opportunity for hospitality marketers.

So, if you’re a hotelier and are yet to jump onto what is proving to be the most captivating mobile gaming phenomena of the modern era, how do you get involved? Can it really help you sell dead bed space and introduce your property to a new wave of guests?

Here are 5 ways you could lure Pokémon hunters to your hotel:

1. Encourage lures with incentives

What’s a ‘lure’, you ask? It’s simply a marker players of Pokémon Go can place anywhere they wish which is designed to attract Pokémon. More Pokémon in any one area means more hunters, and if you can tempt people to place lures near your property, you may just see a few more bookings placed or bar tabs opened as a result.

The key is to incentivise people to place lures either within the grounds of your hotel or nearby. You could do so by offering a free coffee or marginal room discount. Try it and advertise the opportunity on social media and on a board outside your hotel - you have absolutely nothing to loose.

2. Run a social media campaign

Chances are, most Pokémon Go players are fairly active on social media and will devour any content that relates to their new favourite pastime. By leveraging something like Facebook advertising, you can potentially draw Pokémon fanatics to your hotel.

You only need a small budget - £50 to £60 should do it - and a nicely-presented post saying something along the lines of ‘We welcome Pokémon hunters at our hotel!’ with your location clearly marked. That post can then be promoted and targeted at the millennial generation. It’s worth a punt, no?

3. Turn your bar or cafe into a Pokémon pitstop

Pokémon hunting is thirsty work, so why not lure players to your establishment by promoting your bar or cafe as a pitstop for weary monster hunters? You could even design a takeaway pack that includes everything they need to stay hydrated and fed for the rest of the day’s Pokémon chasing.

4. Host a hunt

Pick a particular day of the week and declare it a Pokémon hunt day. If you schedule a specific time for the hunt and share it on social media (use a relevant hashtag such as #PokémonHunt, or similar), you should find people start to arrive and word will get around.

Make it an on-going thing and you’re likely to gain some new regulars in your bar or restaurant, too.

5. Encourage hunters to share their experience at your hotel

If you successfully manage to get Pokémon hunters to your hotel, encourage them to take photos of their time at your property and share judiciously on their social media feeds (remember to ask them to mention your Twitter or Instagram username, too). There’s nothing like a bit of free promotion carried out by someone else!

Summary

If you’re still scratching your head, Pokémon marketing (let’s give it a name!) may not be for you. However, you could do a lot worse than download the game yourself (it’s free) in order to get a feel for what all the fuss is about - it may be all you need to be inspired to jump on the Pokémon bandwagon.

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PR for hotels

Public relations (PR) in the hotel sector is all about raising your profile and enhancing your reputation by achieving free (or ’earned’) media coverage.

The great advantage of learning how to ‘do’ PR is that you start to tell your story in an effective way that can prove highly attractive to guests and help establish a distinctive brand for your business.

PR doesn’t have to be scary. It’s a straightforward process of thinking creatively and understanding what journalists do and don’t want. Here are our top tips on how to get your PR programme up and running:

1. Find the media who matter to you

Which newspapers or radio stations cover your local area? What magazines do your customers read? Do you have something to say that would suit industry press? Begin by drawing up a list of all the publications, websites, or broadcasters that you’d ideally like to feature in. Research their news and feature sections, and learn who’s who on their editorial teams – it’s important to understand who covers what; in a paper it might be the editor or news team. On radio or TV it could be an individual journalist or producer. For specialist news websites, click on the ‘contact us’ section to discover who you should pitch stories or ideas to.

2. News is new, and different

Remember – no media outlet will produce a story about ‘who you are and why your hotel is brilliant.’ If you want to go down this route consider paid-for advertising. You need to offer a story or angle that will suit their readers, listeners or viewers, and it has to be factually accurate. Never, ever lie to the press! Firstly, they’ll quickly discover you’re making things up, and secondly they’ll never trust or work with you again.

On the whole news is ‘new, quirky or unusual; links into a national theme; has the potential to affect a big group of people; includes strong visual opportunities, and offers charismatic interviewees.’

If you imagine you’re ‘pitching’ a story idea to the media – keep it short and sweet. Offer a descriptive headline and an opening paragraph that tells the whole story. Think about how you flick through a newspaper or magazine and a headline captures your attention, making you want to stop and find out more. Here are a few recent new stories that caught our eye:

You might also want to consider the ‘features’ sections of particular media. Beyond the news pages do the media you are looking at review hotels or restaurants? Can you offer a competition stay or meal for their readers? If a journalist is interested in finding out more invite them to your hotel for a coffee and a chat if they have time.

Always be polite, friendly and to the point. Never be disappointed if they don’t pick up your story – it’s all part of the learning process.

3. Social media and websites

If you haven’t done so already invest some time online setting up Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages for your hotel. There are plenty of how-to guides available on the web to explain how to do this, along with best-practise advice on how to make the most of these valuable and far-reaching resources.

Keep your online comments updated regularly – one post a day or even week can be enough. Use attractive photography that shows off your hotel, facilities, services and location. Be prepared to quickly answer questions from prospective guests, and thank social commentators for their positive comments.

Create a news section for your website and also post all of your news stories here – remember, these are the sort of things that increasingly web-savvy guests expect to be able to look up and review before committing to book with you.

4. Some PR ideas to start with

Think about your hotel’s history, geography, staff, guests, services and community links:

  • Is there anything that makes your offer different from other hotels in the area?
  • Are you active in charity events?
  • Is there a human interest story about one of the team?
  • Have you reached a milestone in your history?
  • Is there a new industry trend you can predict or comment on?
  • Are you employing new technology to make your guests’ lives easier?
  • Have you had any unusual requests from guests that you now cater to?
  • Are you experiencing a boom in business? Why do you think this is?
  • Is there a local event or nearby tourist attraction that boosts your bookings?

For newspapers and television in particular think about the best visual opportunities you have to offer. For radio who is the best person to speak on your behalf? They need to be positive, well-informed and unflappable.

The above represents just a few ideas that your hotel could offer a unique and newsworthy perspective on.

Summary

To achieve PR success in the hotel business, it is important to develop a long-term programme of activity and get proactive! This approach will help keep your business front-of-mind with both journalists and their audiences.

Have fun, be bold and experiment!

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Snapchat Logo

Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Pah! Snapchat is where it’s at. But how can your hotel make effective use of one of the freshest - and, on the face of it - most perplexing social networks?

Snapchat first debuted in September 2011. Now, it is estimated to be worth somewhere in the region of $18billion and reportedly has more users than Twitter. Clearly, suggestions last year that Snapchat was about to become the ‘next big thing’ in social networking were bang on the money.

Tellingly, millennials account for 7 out of 10 ‘Snapchatters’, which may explain why Snapchat video views are now greater than Facebook’s.

But, enough with the big stats - we can almost guarantee you’re asking yourself one question…

What is Snapchat?

Confession time. I am a geek and have considered myself at the heart of tech for a very long time indeed, but I’ve previously installed Snapchat on my iPhone several times only to look at it, scratch my head, and then immediately consign it to the pile of deleted apps.

It just didn’t make a huge amount of sense to me, but that’s no surprise when you consider that the majority of active Snapchat users reside within the 18-24 age bracket. So, is Snapchat a platform aimed squarely at a younger audience? Now that I’ve had time to play with it again, I’m not so convinced.

Snapchat is an instant messaging service, but it is unlike any of its forefathers. Messages have a very short shelf life on this particular social network; senders can choose a lifespan for their videos and images that ranges from 1 to 10 seconds. Once the message arrives at the other end and is watched by the recipient, it disappears. Forever.

How does Snapchat work in marketing?

Just as with Facebook and Twitter, businesses can set up their own Snapchat profiles. Once created, they can add ‘friends’ and send out messages just like regular users.

The ‘Discover’ feature is rather more compelling for marketing departments, as it focuses on providing daily editorial on trending topics via collaborations with the likes of CNN and National Geographic. Discover content can even be targeted based on the needs of a brand’s audience.

Should I be using Snapchat for my hotel’s marketing?

The developers behind Snapchat were clever enough to recognise the importance of stories in all of our lives. Humans love a good story, which is why it is now possible to create our own and devour our friends’ via Snapchat’s ‘Stories’ feature.

With Stories, users of Snapchat can post a collection of photos and videos and have them automatically tied together in one package that their friends can watch (and re-watch) for 24 hours before they’re deleted forever.

Because of this little feature, we think the answer to the above question is a resounding “yes!”.

How hotels can use Snapchat Stories

Consider a day in the life of your establishment. How many people get to see the inner workings of your hotel? How many guests get an insight into what it takes to make their stay pleasurable?

If the idea of videoing the nuts and bolts of your hotel operation sounds rather unpalatable, bear in mind that we now live in what has become known as the ‘sharing society’, and giving others a glimpse into the mechanics of a business is a great way to drive interest in one’s brand.

The best thing about Snapchat, as with so many new advertising platforms, is that it is incredibly easy to get started and experiment with. All you need is a smartphone (Snapchat is free) and a willingness to begin recording the life of your hotel.

As you go about your job, start recording interactions with (willing) staff and glimpses at back office departments. Perhaps you’ve got a wedding this coming weekend - why not show off the on-going setup of the marquee and catering operation?

Your hotel’s story is fascinating. With Snapchat, you can begin telling it.

Which hotels have already started using Snapchat?

If we’ve whetted your appetite, there’s nothing like a bit of inspiration to get you going. You could do worse than read Mariott’s story, the first big hotel chain to begin a marketing campaign on Snapchat.

Conclusion

Give Snapchat a go. Like any social network, when you first begin, it’ll feel like you’re simply sending content out into an empty room with no potential guests in sight, but the more you do it, and the more you tell people you’re doing it, the more chance you have of attracting engaged followers.

Snapchat is devilishly fun, so there’s little to lose. Once you get the hang of creating your daily stories, start telling guests that they can follow you on Snapchat - you could do this in person at checkout time, within your confirmation emails or on your hotel’s blog.

If you’re a hotelier that already uses Snapchat, we’d love to hear your experiences - get involved in the comments below!

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