26 Aug 2011

Social Media for Hotels: Reaching More Customers With Twitter


Think back a decade ago, how did you find the right hotel for your vacation? Probably either using a travel agent, seeing an advertisement in a magazine or word of mouth. Well, flash forward to 2011 and that’s all been turned on its head.

Yes, those previous forms of communication still affect the hotel/resort industry, but word of mouth no longer means the same thing as it did 10 years ago. Now, people talk about the resorts they enjoy using social media, making word of mouth so much more powerful and effective, and one of the most powerful ways for guests to get their messages out is with Twitter.
Twitter lets users reach a very large audience very quickly! Not only can users reach their followers, but each tweet is searchable on search.twitter.com, indexed by Google (so anyone can come across it even if they are not on Twitter) and has the potential to be “retweeted” (shared with another Twitter user’s followers), which is how a single tweet can reach thousands of eyeballs in a flash.

So if you haven’t checked out what folks are saying about your hotel or resort on Twitter, make that a top priority TODAY and consider how you can use that tool to capture new guests, solve customer service issues and influence what people think about your property.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Follow Your Competitors:
In any sound marketing strategy, you always look to see what the competition is doing. Follow your main competitors on Twitter and monitor search terms for them as well. We find using a program like Tweetdeck makes monitoring accounts and search terms in real time much more efficient. Monitoring your competitors will allow you to see what they are doing on Twitter and let you tweak your social media strategy accordingly. By monitoring your competitors, you’ll also be able to find users who are unhappy with your competitors, and then you can reach out to those users with open arms!

Keywords are Key:
To get the maximum benefit from Twitter, set up keyword searches. These searches will allow you to monitor all that is said about a certain topic or phrase. One or your keywords should be the name of your property, as well as phrases that indicate a user may be interested in your service. Try terms that include the name of your area or city and then the phrase “stay,” “visit” and “hotel”.

Using these searches will allow you to reach out to users currently staying at your property, those who are reviewing your property and potential customers who are planning to come to your area. This one-on-one interaction can help sway a potential customer. Just make sure you’re timely in your response, as many on Twitter expect responses, especially to customer service issues, within six hours or less. That means you need to be on Twitter not just Mon-Fri 9-5 but nights, weekends and holidays, too. After all, those are the times when most people are planning their vacations.

Interact and Offer Strategic Content:Another key component for running a successful Twitter account is what you tweet out into the world. You want to make your account the go-to account for whatever geographic area you’re servicing. Research local events, post photos, inform users about the weather and just be an overall fountain of information for your city and property.

Now you can’t just tweet out content and not interact, that will make your account look too “salesy” and one-sided. It demonstrates that you don’t care about your followers. Ideally, you should be sending out three to four “planned” tweets a day in addition to interacting many times a day with your followers and potential followers. This mix of tweets will make your account look more personal and allow the account to take on its own personality.

Another mistake we see often among hotels is setting up Twitter and not following anyone. We’ll see accounts with a thousand followers who are following 26 people. Again, this demonstrates you’re not interested in what your followers have to say and that’s not appreciated in the world of Twitter.

Don’t Forget to Link:
Another common mistake is pumping out a lot of content without ever linking back to your website. Give your followers the chance to go to your site for more information – and to book a room! They can’t do it if you don’t provide them with a way to do so.

Now, set up your Twitter account, follow @iVisitorGuide and keep us updated on how you're filling your rooms on Twitter.

Article source: StepAhead