Social media has revolutionized the way businesses are able to interact with consumers – It sets an unprecedented opportunity for brands to raise the bar in providing unique, personal experiences for customers past, present and future. The hospitality industry in particular has an enormous opportunity to market in innovative ways via tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogging, mobile-based initiatives and more.
The definition of hospitality is “the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.” The industry traditionally consists of lodging, restaurants, theme parks, transportation and other entities related to the tourism space. For a segment distinctly characterized by providing excellent customer service, the incorporation of social media to marketing and branding strategies is a perfect marriage.
Restaurants can utilize geo-location-based mobile platforms like Foursquare to create deals that entice return visits. Once that loyalty is established, a mobile-based loyalty program can be established which rewards those return visits. Stamp cards now longer need to remain stuffed in a wallet; everything can be managed through a cellphone.
Everyone is a Reviewer
Restaurants and hotels alike should monitor review sites, like TripAdvisor and Yelp, where travelers and diners can learn of their peers’ first-hand experiences with specific venues. Whereas it was previously custom for a restaurant reviewer to attend a restaurant, and wait a bit to post any feedback, everyone is now a reviewer, and one bad experience can be posted publicly, in real time, for the world to see.
Mobile and Video Key for Hotels
For hotels, where the customer is someone that’s clearly on-the-go, it’s extremely important to have a user-friendly mobile site allowing travelers convenient access to anything they may be seeking to make their stay more enjoyable. Mobile sites should be straightforward and easily maneuverable.
Hotels have great opportunity, too, to get creative with video. By creating unique video campaigns, hotels can display personality and subsequently leave fans with a more intimate perception of somewhere they may consider residing in the future. Video contests are also a fun idea in that they stimulate excitement about the property among the entrants.
Airlines and Destinations Embrace Social Marketing
Boasting a potent social presence, airlines are embracing new technology in a variety of ways. One recently took to social networks to address a very public, Words-With-Friends-related debacle. Some have replaced flight manuals with iPads, while others offer free WiFi during flights, and others have developed mobile apps that allow travelers to check the where-abouts of their checked luggage at any time. Virgin Air and All Nippon Airways are two that have used social media for influencer outreach.
Destinations are also using a great job tying in social marketing. Several have created specialized landing pages on city websites, noting the social channels of various major players in that city. Many are using Twitter and Facebook to keep travelers and locals alike in-the-know on local happenings, news and events, along with information specific to various relevant niches such as hotels, dining, arts and shopping.
Social marketing in the hospitality industry evolves as we speak. I look forward to highlighting case studies and the various ways this industry is capitalizing on social media – and how readers can as well.