While I’ve talked a lot about how hospitality brands are using Twitter, Facebook and the like, I realized I hadn’t yet touched upon how the hospitality industry can use LinkedIn. An August 2013 study of LinkedIn shows that the professional network currently has 238 million users, with 40% of them checking in daily.
LinkedIn tends to be more of a “personal” social platform than a business one, but there are definitely numerous ways businesses can optimize their presence there in addition to the other channels. The study above also noted that there are 3 million business pages along with 1.2 million products and services showcased.
There are many ways hospitality professionals and large brands can utilize LinkedIn’s features for massive exposure, without having to explicitly be selling. Here are a few tips:
Start with the Basics
Making sure you have a full and complete LinkedIn profile is a good place to start. This LinkedIn profile tips checklist provides a solid foundation of must-have aspects of your profile. In addition to branding yourself personally, take advantage of many of the unique features that LinkedIn offers that set them apart from the competition. For example, being able to see who has viewed your profile can be helpful. Say you’re in marketing at a hotel, and you see that a meeting planner has viewed your profile, or vice versa. This is obviously a fruitful connection, and now one of the individuals can reach out and perhaps cultivate a relationship that results in a meeting at the hotel.
Setting up Company Pages
Company pages on LinkedIn are similar in theory to those on Facebook. You can post updates. Similarly to what LinkedIn groups does for individuals, this is a place for brands to show their personality and what they have to offer.
Marriott International does a great job with their company page. They post regularly; ask a lot of questions to the audience; offer behind-the-scenes insight to their brands; and provides a lot of information that doesn’t necessarily apply to Marriott. They could just talk about their hotels, but they don’t. They make a point to be a resource for useful information, while occasionally sprinkling in details about their hotels.
Take Advantage of Groups
Participating in LinkedIn Groups can really be the bread and butter (no pun intended) for hospitality pros. Groups a great way to meet others in the industry and show your expertise. Plus, the more discussions you participate in, the more people will find your profile and learn more about you as well as your hotel or restaurant.
Since I myself am in the hospitality industry, I’ve made a point to join several niche-specific groups such as “Women in Hospitality,” “Social Media in Hospitality & Travel Sector,” and “HSMAI – Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International.” There are many others as well so make sure to find the ones that best suite your professional backgrounds and goals within the industry.
These groups have active discussions happening on a regular basis, and it’s easy to monitor what’s happening in them via email alerts. For example, say you manage a restaurant at a hotel. The obviously is a slightly different animal than owning a stand-alone restaurant, since it can be a challenge to get people into a local hotel when they’ll never be staying over night there.
A quick search of LinkedIn groups shows a group for restaurants that reside in luxury hotels. There are also groups more broadly focused, like one for professionals in any food, beverage, hospitality, hotel or culinary space. Depending on your goals and intentions, find the groups that best suite you.
Now, if you’re like me and don’t like getting inundated with various alerts from various social networks, it’s really easy to set up a folder in your email box and have the emails automatically filter through there. I have a “LinkedIn” folder where I have all my emails from LinkedIn sent, and that way I can check in to it at my leisure without having my regular inbox clogged.
Being able to show your knowledge and expertise is pivotal in getting the most out of these groups. If someone has a question and you know the answer, answer the question. Being a pro and a resource in your space is an absolute sure-fire way to get business (it works for me!), without ever having to forwardly sell. It also helps foster more genuine relationships than a sales pitch does, and in an industry based on customer service, this is an important distinction.
On another note, you can also use these groups to collaborate with partners and allow people to introduce and network with one another. The Philadelphia Convention & Visitor Bureau (PHLCVB) does just that. With over 605 members, the PHLCVB mans a group specifically for their members. Although you’d need to be approved to join the group, you can see by just looking at a short sampling of the members that they include restaurants pros, travel exhibitions, creative strategists, retail professionals, attraction managers, sales executives and more. Imagine having all that brain power surrounding your destination in one place!
What other hotels, restaurants or destination marketing organizations have you noticed setting a high bar on LinkedIn?