29 Jun 2011

Effective Facebook Tips for Hoteliers

Why should you invest time on Facebook? One reason is that search engines are taking account of interaction with social websites in their search algorithms. This means you could get higher search engine results and an edge over your competition, just by being social.

Here are ten tips on giving your business a winning presence on Facebook.

1. Create a custom URL for your Facebook page
If you haven’t already created a customised URL for your Facebook page, do it now. It’s first-come first-served so claim yours before someone else does! Search engines are indexing Facebook and are returning these URL’s in results. Simply visit http://www.facebook.com/username and follow the instructions. Your URL cannot be changed once it is set, so make sure you choose it carefully. Tip: include your city, state or country in your URL depending on how people find you on Google. For example, Facebook.com/yourhotelnameparis

2. Promote your visual identity through video
Photos are great but there’s nothing that sells a hotel more than watching a good video, so promote your hotel through video on your Facebook page. Create general videos or niche-specific videos and use Youtube to host and share them on your page, alternatively you can upload them directly. Videos will also get more hits for your hotel in search engines as they also appear in results.

3. Use Facebook insights
Every administrator of your Facebook page will have access to Facebook insights which can be a powerful tool for tracking the growth of your page. You are able to analyse which types of posts are the most popular, monitor fan growth and interaction, see page views and track impressions. Tip: You’ll be able to see how many fans have “hidden” you from their feed – if this is high, it may indicate that you are posting too often or the wrong type of content. Monitoring these metrics will enable you to adapt your engagement and content strategy.

4.  List the hotel on Facebook places
Make sure you are listed as a hotel in Facebook places. Your hotel should be there already, but if not you can add it easily. Encourage users to “check-in” via Facebook places by offering an incentive such as a free drink in the bar or a money off voucher for a certain number of check-ins. Every time a user checks-in this gets promoted across their network giving you extra exposure and boosting brand awareness as well as potentially adding more likes to your page.

5.  Use the reviews application
Facebook has a reviews app which you can easily add to your page. It allows guests to leave honest reviews and opinions of the hotel. These reviews will let your prospective clients know what to expect from the property. In the event of a bad review, you don’t necessarily have to remove it. Respond to the user with a positive reply and look at how you can improve things in the future. You can also pull reviews from Tripadvisor into your page if you prefer.

6.  Run competitions to encourage interaction
Running a competition on Facebook is a great way of increasing fans and interaction. If someone sees a competition that one of their friends has entered in their newsfeed, they will probably enter it and recommend it to their friends and so on. There are endless possibilities with competitions but be careful – Facebook has guidelines on what you can and can’t do so make sure you read these rules carefully and if necessary use a third party application to run a competition.

7.  Customise your page with a welcome page
Landing on a customised welcome page on Facebook is far more appealing than seeing the basic wall or the general info page. First impressions count for everything so design your own customised welcome page. You can change the settings of your page so every new user automatically lands on your welcome page.

8.  Use Facebook questions
Anyone can add Facebook questions to their page and for hoteliers, it’s a great tool to survey users and get feedback. You can create quick polls to gather opinions and learn about your potential guests or ask questions – great if you are thinking of trialling new services or want to put together packages. To get started visit: www.facebook.com/questions

9.  Use Facebook advertising
The beauty of advertising on Facebook is that you can target your preferred demographic based on a users profile information. So whether you want to target 20-something women, men who like golf or married couples, you can reach these markets through Facebook. Before you even place an ad, you can use the advertising platform to see how many people are in a certain demographic and then add or remove filters if necessary. You can get started easily by visiting http://www.facebook.com/advertising.

10.  Allow users to book directly from Facebook
Think about offering a direct booking functionality through Facebook by installing your own booking widget. It allows access to your booking engine where customers are able to check rates and book special packages created just for them by assigning special rates and offers only available through the Facebook booking channel.

This article first appeared on the Institute of Hospitality website with input from Brooke Jester of Evolution, the hospitality e-commerce and e-distribution provider.