Whether you have a resort, hotel, campground or any other public-facing hospitality business, you know how important word-of-mouth is to your reputation. In the 21st century, that legendary phrase “word-of-mouth” is much more far reaching than it was 20 years ago.
The traditional meaning is still very much in play — you want guests to be so enamored with their experience that they shout their praises from the rooftops! (Or at the very least, eagerly recommend your property to friends and family.) But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. To make the most of recommendations and impact your reach, you need to get active online. Particularly through social media and review sites. These are crucial tools that can shape your online image, bolster your reputation and reach a sea of potential guests. Imagine the possibilities when you handle it right.
Here’s how to start.
1. Establish an Active Presence
Having an active presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are musts for your business. Note the “active” in that last sentence. Simply putting up a page won’t accomplish much. You need to engage on a regular basis to make things happen. That means posting compelling updates, appealing photos and promotional info on a regular basis to connect with followers and build up your base. Reviewer sites like Yelp need your attention, as well. Make sure you’re managing the page, have a well-written profile and feature a solid image of your property. This is all out there for the world to see — make it count. P.S. Snapchat is becoming indispensable, as well. Scroll down to Tip 4 for more.
2. Encourage Guests to Follow You
Be sure your guests are aware of your business’s social media presence and encourage them to follow you. To begin with, include social media icons on your website. (Yes, that sounds like common sense but a surprising number of establishments are remiss on that essential.) Visitors quickly detect your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook badge, and instinctively click through. It’s a convenience they expect, where additional photos, event announcements and reviews are easily accessible and provide a deeper impression of your property. Again, that’s why daily updates are key to making this platform work for you.
Another strategy to increase social media exposure is an old-school tactic — printed placards. Spotlighting your social media placement in guest rooms or check-in areas is a straightforward way to attract followers. Go with simple messages like “Follow us on Facebook” or jazz it up with incentives that inspire them to continually visit the page, such as: “Follow us on Facebook for future rate specials.”
3. Be Responsive to Comments Through Review Sites & Social Media Channels
Be responsive and interactive. This is a biggie and definitely extends to review sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor, as well. It’s incredible how greatly you can influence perceptions by showing reviewers and commenters that you take their words seriously. For example, when someone compliments your property on Yelp, respond within 24 hours with a friendly thank you and encourage them to return. That small, personal gesture will make that reviewer feel appreciated — and it shows others that you value your guests.
It’s equally important to address unflattering comments quickly but kindly. Your job in this regard is to show the commenter, as well as others who are following, that you’re receptive to feedback and willing to help. To achieve this safely, communicate with a compassionate tone, and invite the displeased guest to call the manager to resolve the issue. That way, the details of your communications are private, yet you’re demonstrating helpfulness and consideration.
4. The Secret to Reaching Millennials Online
If your hospitality business is focused on reaching the millennial generation, Facebook and Twitter won’t necessarily reach the widest audience. This free-spirited group is primarily about the visual, and that leads you straight to the domains of Instagram and Snapchat. Instagram is an extraordinary tool that presents an opportunity to interact with current and prospective guests and involve them in the fun. Invite your guests to upload their most blissful vacation photos and tag your property. You can even highlight them right on your website, which adds a fun, in-the-moment aspect that’s instantly engaging.
Snapchat is another platform that millennials are completely captivated by. And it can attract a tremendous amount of attention when you take full advantage of its capabilities. Basically, that means immersing yourself in the world of On-Demand Geofilters. If you aren’t familiar with this global craze, here’s the gist: Geofilters are playful overlays that go over your snaps. So, in your case, the filters would be branded to highlight your business or a specific campaign. For example, if you have a pet-friendly property, promote a Snapchat “Pets Are Welcome” campaign where guests can snap their pets and post with your customized campaign filter. Yes, there is some cost involved when you stroll down this path — but once that audience is captured, you’ll appreciate the investment.
The last Snapchat feature we need to spotlight is the brilliant “Snapcode.” Snapcode is a QR code, embedding your website URL within the app’s ghost icon. When a user sees the Snapcode within the app, they simply scan it with a QR reader and boom — your website launches right through Snapchat. Since Snapchat does not allow actual URLs, this is a fantastic way to connect followers to your site in a “snap.”
Do you already have a solid online presence through social media and review sites? What social media channels work best for your business? Let us know.