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Viewpoint: an active social media presence is vital

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Viewpoint: an active social media presence is vital

Word-of-mouth recommendations are a key driver for a hotel’s success, which can only be enhanced with a well thought-out social media strategy. Mark Payne explains

The growth of social media has had a huge impact on people’s lives across the world: from keeping in touch with friends and family to playing a key role in business development. It touches most of us daily and its influence shows no sign of slowing down.

According to We Are Social’s 2018 Global Digital report, social media users stood at 3.2 billion – up 13% year-on-year – while the number of mobile phone users rose 4% year-on-year to 5.1 billion. The number of internet users globally was more than four billion – with more than a quarter of a billion going online for the first time in 2017.

These numbers are only going one way, so it’s no surprise that businesses are clamouring to have an online presence, finding new and innovative ways to reach ever-increasing audiences across the world.

There is no doubt that investing in good social media is vital for the hospitality sector. Being able to communicate instantly with guests – and potential customers – via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn is a powerful marketing tool, especially for the millennial generation.

This is borne out by a survey carried out by furniture company Knightsbridge, which showed that 83% of millennials have booked a hotel because they have seen images from someone they follow on social media. Not only that, but 73% admit they check out a hotel’s social media feed before booking and – just as importantly – a third are unlikely to follow through on a booking if the hotel has no social media presence.

Most of us in the hospitality sector would agree that word-of-mouth recommendations are a key driver for success and social media enhances this – the Knightsbridge survey confirms why, with 76% of respondents in its survey saying they will share images of a hotel they are staying in with friends, family and followers.

Planning a social media strategy is crucial. It is important to agree consistent messaging and tone, to organise good quality images and innovative video that set you apart from your competitors.

It’s more than that, though; it’s about management reputation. While AI bots have their place online, consumers like the human touch – monitoring chats, entering into friendly discussions and managing any pinch points in a timely and professional way are all part of the customer experience.

Of course, all of this effort will be wasted if you don’t also take care of the basics. Posting fun social media posts and providing excellent WiFi so that your guests can upload stunning Instagram photos of your interiors and dining options are all well and good – but the service you provide when your guests arrive at your hotel still has to be top notch. It gives them a reason to talk about you – and to keep coming back.

Mark Payne is general manager at Park Regis Birmingham

 

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