Preparing for Summer Travelers: A Social Media Check-up
As we enter the month of May, many begin looking forward to Summer vacation. Your future guests are certainly doing this! They’re starting to think about where to go, how to get there, and where to stay. This is the perfect time for Hoteliers to consider the role that social media plays in the decision process to be sure that the right social strategy is in place to capture the summer travel planner’s attention.
It’s very important to look at the latest statistics, review recommendations of social media experts, and study the most current social trends to make sure your social efforts are appropriate. There has been an explosion of growth in the visual component of social media. One of the main reasons for this growth is the prominence of mobile-dominant video viewers. A recent Facebook IQ study revealed that 39% of these visual viewers discovered new brands, 22% tried new restaurants, and another 22% decided their Hotel choice to book.
Facebook’s report also stated that 62% of their users became more interested in a brand or product by discovering it on Instagram Stories and 31% said they were more likely to use Stories to connect with the brands they like. Within the last six months – from June 2018 to January 2019 - Instagram Stories added another million users according to Statista, bringing the overall total to 5 Million users globally. In addition, they reported that the United States is leading the way with the highest number of users at 110M, next is Brazil with 66M and third is India at 64M.
Instagram Stories truly is the perfect fit for hospitality social marketing. Hotels should have a detailed Instagram strategy in their marketing plan to make the biggest impact and capture the attention of Summer travel planners. For some hotels it may mean taking baby steps in the beginning but the importance of using a photo-centric social platform such as Instagram cannot be ignored. It should be included in a hotel’s marketing efforts year-round. It is predicted that by 2021, visual social is going to make up 78% of all mobile data traffic. Travelers are looking for recommendations from their friends on social media and they rely on photos, videos, Stories, etc. to paint a picture of the experience they can expect.
For hoteliers, it is important to also look at the latest booking window trends to understand how hotels can be effective with social marketing efforts to reach potential guests during their decision making/booking time. According to a report released by Phocuswright, 53% of hotel room bookings happen 7 days out and 20% of them up to the day of their arrival. This is good news for hotels because it provides a great opportunity to push the right messaging on social channels and capture last minute reservations.
This leads us to the question of “personalization vs. customization” when deciding on the appropriate messaging for potential guests. Before making that decision, let’s look at recent statistics shared by Facebook:
There are three fundamental approaches that the Brands and Independent Hotels are utilizing to tailor the user experience based on traveler preferences and signals derived from past hotel stays:
- Customization is the adaptation of content and messaging based on explicit signals provided by the consumer (e.g., two adults and two children into a hotel search could trigger photos of families)
- Individualization adapts content and messaging based on passive signals derived from past history from a reliable sample of past customers (e.g., subscribers booking a resort vacation in the days following a snowstorm by responding to a specific offer)
- Personalization is adapting content and messaging based on both customization and individualization, including personally identifiable information intentionally shared by the customer (e.g., profile preferences and past site navigation and/or purchase behavior)
Before deciding on your messaging, posting, or visual content, you must have a good understanding of your customer base, repeat guests and their preferences, and any area events that might be coming up during a time period to match those preferences and capture the attention of your potential guests. Once you understand this and match to your target audience for the Summer, you can personalize or customize your messaging.
With these tactics in mind, a key question in everyone’s mind is “what kind of a return can I expect from Social efforts?” A recent SocialMediaExaminer report states that the longer you do Social marketing, the higher the results can be expected. Below is a chart comparing social media efforts done by companies surveyed and their results achieved over two years compared to over four years. In every case, the data showed that the longer you stay with it, the more results you will see for your hotels.
- Visual communication has taken over; use of mobile devices and apps are the primary reasons for this. Hotels must have strategic visual Social Marketing efforts to be able to promote their Hotels and its features to potential guests.
- Instagram is a perfect avenue for the Hospitality Industry in social reach and a must for Hotels' Social Marketing efforts
- Booking window is still shortening where 53% of bookings are being made within 7 days of an individual's arrival time at the hotel. This can be a great opportunity for Hotels to communicate with their potential guests, i.e. availability, special packages etc., with personalization and customization to generate last minute business.
- Brands have a good understanding of the importance of "personalization and customization" social trends and are seeking ways to capture more reservations for Hotels.
- Due to years of Social Media Marketing efforts within the Industry, we have a better understanding of expectations from social efforts; the longer you stay with these efforts, the more you will yield results.