2013 is just around the corner, providing a great excuse for the hospitality to re-evaluate trends and strategies for the new year. Maintaining a successful business in the social space in 2013 and beyond will involve staying ahead of the curve and making sure to adapt to the evolving nature of the medium. The Growing Influence of Mobile Tablets and mobile devices are becoming mainstream ways of accessing information, so having and implementing a mobile strategy and websites will be imperative. For travel in particular, the number of people making hotel and restaurant decisions through mobile devices is constantly rising, and it’s imperative for brands to have a mobile website to make this process seamless for potential guests. If a person has to access your desktop site through their tablet or smartphone, and zoom endlessly, then click on tiny options, it’s going to make their expression frustrating, and they may leave to pursue other options. Mobile-optimized hotel and destination sites (or apps) should be clear and straight-forward, with categories – guestrooms, dining, meeting space, spa, etc. – clearly laid out for the navigator to elect exactly what he/she is looking for. The mobile-savvy audience is becoming more and more accustomed to instant gratification, so making sure they’re able to get that without straying to a competitor will be vital.
The Visual Approach to Social Media Marketing On the social network front, the popularity of newbies Pinterest and Instagram continues to rise. The reliance on images for both of these channels bodes well for travel, since there are so many visual (independent and collaborative) components people consider when planning a vacation. Hotels, restaurants, destinations and airlines can take their presences to the next level by being sure to not just be present on Pinterest and Instagram, but to consistently share new content, interact with fans, and provide behind-the-scenes insight to draw people in and encourage them to book. Many brands did unveiled authentic Pinterest and Instagram promotions this year, and they are a great way to get people involved and excited. A hospitality brand could require fans to visualize their ideal vacations, and pin items to their Pinterest boards accordingly. Or, use Instagram to encourage users to get creative with recipes, like Cupcake Wines did. The execution of such will probably evolve, though, as more standardized means of running contests, monitoring and reporting on these channels emerge. So far, there isn’t an overarching, easy way to calculate numbers of likes, re-pins or comments on multiple photos or pins without manually counting, which still doesn’t really touch upon reach or influence the way that Facebook or Twitter does. When a new system does come into play, hotels and the like will be able to better analyze their fans and tailor online initiatives accordingly.
Owning Your Media Building owned media outside of Twitter and Facebook will also become imperative for the industry – a blog is a great option that serves many purposes, and it’s becoming increasingly vital for search engine optimization (ideally, increasing brand awareness and bookings). Blogs also allow for instant personal feedback, which is at the very heart of hospitality. With a blog, any of your past, current or potential customers will be able to read and respond immediately, providing direct insight to the mind of your consumer. A blog can also enhance the services you’re able to provide guests, such as helpful information and resources about your accommodations, events, and/or the area. Knowing the larger brand image and how you want the social customer to perceive your brand is instrumental in being able to craft the proper messaging and accomplish any goals a hospitality business wishes to accomplish on social media, and the internet as whole. What other trends do you think will be prevalent in the industry in 2013?