Identify, Leverage, Connect: Tagging With Customers The Hashtag Way

Hashtags are now relevant across all popular social media channels! The hashtagging practice that overwhelmed the Twitter lovers a while ago, led many of us laugh it out to see how they began to use the hashtags on LinkedIn too. But, what now? These hashtagging lovers have proven digital marketing strategists like me wrong. Indeed, it’s THE TREND now and like several leading sectors, Travel Industry is up for it too.

Each one of us, irrespective of what we do, wear the travellers’ shoes off and on. We travel for fun, for business and sometimes out of a necessity. Here, the greatest need that the industry players need to fulfil is provide easy access to booking and information. But, the responsibilities do not end there. They need to connect with the customers. Similar to how a customer remains in search of the most suitable service, a service provider too keeps searching for the ideal or at least needy customer. The travel hashtags have a significant role to play here.

Hashtags are the threads that connect conversations on social media. When there are millions of posts going up every second across different channels, how would a hotelier or a service provider in the travel industry ensure that it reaches the right audience. It’s the hashtags that connect them.

Being in the business, you need to learn to leverage travel hashtags. Right from identifying the popular ones to using them on the relevant channels, you need to get the game of hashtagging right to resonate well with your customers.

Know General hashtags

#Travel #Holidays #Trip #Traveling #Travelgram #Travelling #Travelingram #Traveler #Travels #Travelphotography #Instatravel #Instatraveling #Travelph #Travelpic #Travelblogger #Traveller #Traveltheworld #Travelblog #Travelbug #Travelpics
#Travelphoto #Traveldiaries #Traveladdict #Travelstoke #TravelLife

The above mentioned are some common hashtags for you to know. But these are good only to start with when you want to maintain an initial list of some relevant ones. These have to be customized for different channels.

Identifying Hashtags for Different Channels

Every social media channel is different. Hashtags vary with variation in the audience and the trends. You need to understand that hashtags are sometimes paid too. So, they will always vary for channels. Your strategist has to identify these by searching through the channels and imbibing them within your content tactfully to improve your visibility.

Branding your Hashtag

If you are a company of 2000+ employees, it is a great idea to have a hashtag under your brand name. And each of these employees must keep posting across Twitter, Instagram or even Facebook regularly without missing out on using your brand hashtag. This will help you build an identity. When a reader searches your name with a hashtag, they will be able to see all your posts on that specific channel with a single click. This works pretty much similarly when you wish to popularize an event where you can create event-based hashtags.

Destination Hashtags

Since hospitality has a lot to do with destination identification for a traveller, as a hotelier, you have an edge for traffic spiking. The destination hashtags more or less remain the same as the names remain consistent. So, you can pick the most popular destination hashtags of your location and include them within your content.

Third-Party Hashtags

If you understand social media curation strategy, you must have been crediting the third-party content sources for writing good content. You can encourage them to use your travel hashtags in their posts to improve your visibility.

You need to be mindful of using only relevant hashtags in a post and keep the overall hashtag density moderate. When you key in a number of hashtags in a single post, you may end up losing out on a potential reader who finds your content irrelevant. You can solve this by capping the number of hashtags you use on each channel. Ideally, three hashtags are good enough for Twitter, for instance, On the other hand, you can use more than five hashtags on Instagram for the same post. You need to also test it out and measure a bit to understand what is working for you and what not. So, let’s get it rolling!

How to change the social media game? Avi Arya Interviews Michael Stelzner

Today, Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner joins me in a special episode. We discuss how to efficiently stay connected with people online and up your game on social media.

First and foremost we focus on talking to people in a personalized way and to totally put oneself out there. This helps in connecting with the audience in a better way. Michael describes his own experience and journey towards becoming a big social media examiner, which helps us understand what makes his ways of marketing different from others.

So how do you do it all?

Constant improvement, analyzing everything you’ve done in the past and avoiding things that don’t work well at present. One of the things about social media is to keep evolving and changing. To increase the audience reach Michael has some new ideas that he would implement for his next conference. He enlightens us with his views on picking the excellent content creators and communicators instead of popular and known people.

Learn more about his take on the virtual ticket for entrepreneurs and marketers in this episode.

Capitalize Social Media For Hotel Marketing: Strategies To Create Engagement

A few days ago, a street food vendor requested me to like his page and asked to give ratings to the dish I ate. It was amazing to see how social media has influenced businesses of all kinds. Social media is no longer a luxury, but necessity. Today, more than 2.5 billion people are living their life on social media. At a time when a vendor has realized the power of social media, there are some hoteliers who still feel a hotel’s social media presence doesn’t impact its business.

It’s the Internet which brings hotels of all types on one platform where they get equal chances to promote their services and generate more revenues. It’s the social media’s influence that many independent hotels are performing better than chains and big brands. By using right social media strategies, traffic can be diverted to a hotel’s website and people can be turned into guests by encouraging them to make bookings.

Being a digital marketing professional, I have conducted surveys on social media strategies of several hotels and observed that many brands’ strategies fail. A major reason behind this fall is more focus on number of strategies and less on their effectiveness. Rather than applying the right strategy, these hotels prefer many social media strategies. I believe that a hotel’s social media’s strategy that attracts 1,000 online users is far better than five strategies that grab attention of 100 users each. Hoteliers should research well and use only those strategies that could increase engagement on its social media pages. In hospitality industry, interacting with followers is the best way to turn them into potential guests. There are many other strategies to garner attention of many online users, and here I have compiled some of them:

Reach Out, Pay Attention To Fans/Followers   

For a business of any kind, nothing works better than listening to their social media audience. A hotel must listen to what people think and say about it or its services. This works as feedback for the hotel. Listening to people not just helps a brand understand what guests want during their stay at the hotel, but also develops a relationship between them and the hotel. This strategy can also be used to create content to highlight unique services of the hotel. For example, if a former guest talks about restaurant or gym services of the hotel, create a post about the two categories. It will tell people more about these services and encourage them to use them whenever they visit the hotel.

Use Latest Social Media Tools To Get Personal With Fans

Various social media websites have advanced tools to get personal with others. For example, Facebook Live or Twitter’s Vsnap can be utilized to create videos. An online postcard, image or video can be sent to hotel’s fans online to make them feel special. If the user is former guest of your hotel, record a message for them and thank them for using your services. This method of social media engagement can also be used on fans or followers who have been sharing your posts with their friends or followers.

Remedy Guests’ Concern ASAP

Social media engagement can be improved by showing users that they are being valued. Posts on social media sites should be created in a manner that each post is giving value to all followers. The posts should be focused on upcoming events, festivals or offers in the hotel. In case any user is having any query, it should be resolved as soon as possible. If former guests complain about any service of the hotel, attend it politely and try remedying it in any possible way.

Social media is an effective tool to create brand awareness and figure out what modern-day guests are looking for in their hotels. Engagement on social media is an opportunity for a hotel to connect with potential guests who are with thousands of questions regarding their past or upcoming stay. By connecting with them, a hotel can increase the chances of bookings. So don’t hesitate to make the most of social media to promote your hotel and its services.

Hey Hoteliers, Are You Ready To Cater To the Millennials?

They are everywhere. Everyone is talking about them. Everyone is paying attention to them. Everyone accepts they are redefining success. They are Millennials, a generation of people whose numbers will soon surpass the population of baby boomers. Routinely, I meet many belonging to this generation and observe they are different from individuals from other generations. They are the most educated people on earth and always staring at their phone and have a self-centric attitude. We can learn several things from them.

Every generation wants special attention from hoteliers as their demands and requirements are different from each other. Baby boomers need comfortable in-room amenities, while millennials require quick services in every corner of the hotel. The millennial generation makes the most of technology, and its people want quick technical services even when they are on a leisure trip.

From my experience in the hospitality industry, I have learned that hoteliers need to make extra efforts to draw millennials to their hotels than any other generation. They are harder to impress than baby boomers and Generation X and Generation Z. A brand name doesn’t affect them, and even a small or independent hotel can turn them into loyal guests through quick modern services. They are living their life on the Internet, but they are impressed with a hotel’s services when they experience them in real. So, are your hotel’s current strategies enough to draw attention of millennials? Have you updated your hotel’s services to serve them to this segment of guests? Or you still have a hunch that every traveler is same, and can be impressed with traditional promotional tricks?

I have observed people of this generation and figured out what they expect from their hotel. If you believe millennials should be given extra attention to make them feel happy with your hotel’s services and turn them into loyal guests, here are some methods you can try to lure them:

Provide Them Advanced Technologies  

Millennials don’t just want free Wi-Fi, but they want it fast and strong. As they are using their digital devices all the time, they require charging points everywhere in the hotel. They look for accommodation in smart rooms. If someone is on business tour, they want business and conference facilities equipped with smart technologies. You can impress them by showing your hotel as an updated accommodation place that not just has luxury amenities, but smart facilities too.

Offer Them Complimentary Packages and Services

Every guest admires complementary services, whether it’s just a free drink or special package offers. Millennials want something that seem big and luxurious. You can make adjustments in your services and offer extra perks to guests from millennial generation. For example, you can present free spa facility with higher category room or costly services of your hotel. This ensures that you don’t have to suffer any loss, while guests can be drawn to your hotel.

Offer Them Experience, Rather Than Luxury

Guests belonging to other generations can be lured by showcasing luxury services of your hotel, but millennials should be targeted by offering them experience. Tell them about areas in or near your hotel where they can explore and gain experience. Offering adventurous experience can be the best method to win millennial guests.

Use Social Media To Grab Their Attention

Although people from other generations also spend hours daily on various social media platform, millennials use these websites for many purposes. They make the most of these platforms to understand more about the world. Even before booking a hotel, they explore about it on different social media websites and try to understand everything about it. Study social media and design a strategy that can engage millennials on your social media page. After that, you can lure them with offers and turn them into your guests.

Millennials may be hard to please. But if they are satisfied with your hotel’s services, they will be your long-term guests who are going to use your hospitality services for a long time, while promoting them free of cost. So plan a strategy centric around millennials and turn them into your loyal guests.

Promote Your Hotel Online: 5 Social Media Strategies

Earlier, I met this hotelier in my gym who was spending a whopping amount to promote his hotel on social media, but the results were not favorable. When I asked him about his social media strategies, he told me that he has hired a digital marketing agency that posts some photos of the hotel three or four times a week and works on some paid ads. This is certainly not the way a business should be promoted online.

Social media can provide massive boost to a hotel’s revenue only when effective campaigns run on them. The hotelier wasn’t fully aware of social media power and didn’t know about the ever-changing digital marketing strategies. Apart from basics of different social media platforms, I shared five effective social media strategies which are working well in the online promotion of a hotel. Here are they:

Identify: Why Social Media

Social media isn’t just a luxury or necessity because others are doing it. There should be a strong objective behind your hotel’s presence on various social media websites. Apart from that, everything you are posting over these websites must have some reasons. Instead of just throwing photos of your hotel or your website’s links, make a storyline to engage your followers or guests on a post.

Context And Content: Right Words In Right Posts

Planning posts involving images is an effective idea to gain attention, but it should be done in an interesting manner. For example, a story behind the photo can also be posted to make it more realistic. This method can engage people online and make them more curious about your property as well as services linked to it. Apart from photos, a video about the hotel can be posted with some words about it. But make sure that the content is clean, witty and easy-to-understand. Paying attention to every post will not just help your hotel’s social media account in gaining attention, but it can reach more people through like, retweets and share facilities.

Be Loud: Create Buzz To Make Your Presence Noticeable   

In addition to posting user-centered posts, people can be engaged on your posts by interacting with them. You can reach several online individuals by interacting with them, asking them questions and responding to their queries. Apart from that, your hotel’s digital marketers should also pay attention to your regular guests and stay in contact with them. This can be done by responding to their posts on your hotel’s page.

Use Hashtags: Create Interest To Make People Plan Posts Around Your Hashtags

When it is about reaching lots of online users at one time, nothing works better than a hashtag. Various social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, allow users to use hashtags and get searched by people interested in searches around the hashtag. Using this feature, you can grab attention of those users too who aren’t your followers yet. Apart from starting a hashtag or planning a post around a viral hashtag, you can create user interest by adding humor to the post.

Schedule Your Posts: Reach More People   

People may be on their phones all the time, but it doesn’t mean they are using social media. Plus, all your fans and followers will not be available at one time. For example, if a video is receiving attention of your page’s 40% users at 9 PM on Saturday, it doesn’t mean it will receive same traffic at 11 AM on Monday. So to reach more people, you need to analyze time and days of week when most fans are available on a website. Post every day, but also track people’s engagement. According to several digital marketing researches, weekends are the best time to plan posts as more people will be available online that time. In addition, evening time during weekdays can provide more attention to a post than day time. Schedule your posts as per targeted people of an area.

Making improvements in your social media game can improve your hotel’s overall performance. It will not just help you reach more people online, but gives you an opportunity to turn them into guests.

Customer Loyalty: How To Build It For Your Hotel

Did you know that a hotel has to make extra efforts to get new guests than pleasing the existing ones? I have been asked many times by hoteliers about the role of customer loyalty in the hotel industry and why it is important. Growing volume and rapidly increasing competition make it tough for hotels to acquire new guests with old-fashioned services. In addition, hoteliers have to spend more time and money on applying marketing strategies to grab attention of new guests. Not only this, new customers spend less than a hotel’s loyal customers. So, it is not wrong to say that turning existing customers into loyal guests pays off better than spending time in pleasing others.

Customer loyalty can be defined as willingness of your guests to use your hotel’s services again and again. This is the results of good stay experience, impressive hospitality services and value of products.

As a hotelier, I believe a hotel should continuously look for new customers, but retaining the existing ones is also necessary. This combination allows you to win many guests and stay ahead in the competition. Building customer loyalty requires you to stay connected with your past guests and make efforts to encourage them to choose your hotel whenever they visit the place again. But how you can do it? The best way to make an impression on existing customers is starting customer loyalty program. Here’s how to do it:

Make Great First Impression

You must have heard several times that first impression is the last impression, which is quite true. A small or an independent hotel can be more successful than a chain if it knows how to start with a new guest. In addition to providing the finest hospitality services at affordable prices, you must learn the art of communicating with guests for the first time to turn them into your loyal customers. As check-in the first encounter of a guest with your hotel, make it simple and fast with advance technologies. Your hotel staff needs to take extra steps to make guests feel special and valuable. Take care of guests’ demands and preferences.

Prioritise Guest Experience

While designing strategies and loyalty programs, train your staff to give priority to guests and enhance their accommodation experience. This should be started well before the check-in process, when the guests make bookings online. This can be done by sending email or a welcome message. They can also be informed about your hotel’s speciality, local events and popular places in the neighbourhood to hangout.

Give Extra, Offer Incentive

Free Wi-Fi or complimentary breakfast is a thing of past. Almost every hotel offers such basic services to their guests without any extra charges. You should try beyond these traditional strategies to turn first timers into loyal guests. You can offer incentive on direct bookings, flexibility in check-in time or complimentary trip to popular attractions near your hotel.

Stay Tech Smart

Whether your guests are baby boomers or youngsters, technology can impress them all. Including quick accommodation bookings, self check-in, entry through cars and smart in-room amenities, there are several ways to engage guests through technology and offer them a memorable experience.

Exceed Guests’ Expectations  

From my experience in hospitality industry, I assure you that you are winning your guests’ heart by exceeding their expectations. If your guest demands for a service that is not mentioned in your service list, try to fulfill it by going extra mile. There should be a constant contact with the guest until the matter is resolved.

Devise An Effective Loyalty Program  

A recent study on guest loyalty suggests that one in five individuals become loyal guests of a hotel after benefits offered under customer loyalty programs. Try to understand the customers’ demand and plan a loyalty program that helps in making them permanent customers.

Staying in contact with guests even after check-out can increase the chances of guests’ repeat visit to your hotel. Ask them if they are satisfied with your hotel’s services or they want to see changes in it. Personal contact and giving/asking right questions can help you turn them into your loyal guests.

Online Hotel Bookings: Drive Direct Bookings To Improve Revenue

In OTA-dominated hospitality industry, hoteliers are trying new tactics to bypass OTAs and increase direct bookings online to generate more bottom-line revenue. Although online travel agencies help increase exposure, direct online booking boosts brand loyalty and turns guests into loyal customers.

There’s a hunch in hotel market that OTAs are giving up little grounds to hotels as a chance to drive direct bookings, but my observations and data I studied portray a different portrait. OTAs are not getting smaller anytime soon and there are bleak chances of any shift. Hoteliers have to figure out new methods to tackle OTA channels and also compete for direct bookings in the ongoing hotel war. I have surveyed different data sets to understand how to make hotel campaigns work and boost direct bookings. An effective strategy to drive direct bookings can help a hotel get guests directly through its website.

I have figured out some practical ways to tip the scales:

Hotel Booking Engine For Direct Bookings    

It’s a simple accommodation booking system to increase direct booking on your hotel’s official website. By adding the booking engine to your website, you allow guests to book accommodation through smart devices, like smartphone as well as tablet. Not just room booking, but a hotel booking engine can be used to offer various other purposes too. Some of them are:

  • Advance room bookings
  • Multiple room bookings
  • Extra hospitality services, incentives and packages for limited time period
  • Call for action
  • Personalized bookings where guests can choose only those services they require
  • Easy booking and room cancellation process
  • Automate emails to guests once the booking is done

Attractive Offers On Direct Bookings

What attracts guests towards OTAs and third-party online booking websites is easy access to a number of hotels at one time. They get a platform where they can easily compare room types, services and prices of many hotels. Hoteliers who show the best rates on their websites have high chances to win guests than those who do not pay attention to accommodation prices during the time of direct booking.

Room rates or service prices on a hotel’s official website shouldn’t be higher than costs shown on OTAs or other booking platforms. To make guests aware of special offers on direct bookings, you can add price comparison pop-ups on the website. There are some OTAs that allow hotels to show rates featured on their official websites.

Make The Most Of Social Media      

According to a recent survey, more than half of the hoteliers in the study admitted that they experienced surge in direct hotel bookings after marking presence on various online platforms. Successful hotels and brands also highlight the power of social media while sharing their success stories. It is because people believe in a brand when they see their friends posting about it on social media. A study says that more than 80% travelers are influenced by their friends’ posts on a hotel. There are several ways to use social media to engage people on your hotel’s social media page.

  • Post images and videos of the hotel with gripping stories behind them
  • Hotel’s blogs should be in storyline format
  • Discounts, special packages, quiz and contests on your hotel’s social media page should be highlighted through attractive visuals
  • There should be constant and effective connection between the hotel and guests
  • Every query should be resolved and reply should be given to every comment

Turn OTA Hotel Bookings To Direct Bookings

OTAs charge commission on hotel bookings, but their power cannot be underestimated. Guests can be lured for direct bookings by offering extra when they choose to book accommodation via official website. You can start loyalty programs, update guests with new offers and packages via emails, special offers to loyal guests and more targeted discounts.

OTAs are going to be a part of hotel industry for years to come and they should not be neglected. But you can make right moves to increase direct hotel bookings and decrease the dependency on OTAs. Make your efforts as valuable as you can.

by AVI ARYA | Leave a comment