Social media is hardly a new discovery, and by now the vast majority of hotels in the region are handling one or more social media accounts to promote their brand — and draw new visitors in to the property. However, how well are hoteliers currently running their social media, and is the region moving with the times with the use of these up-to-the-minute marketing tools?
The majority of Hotelier readers who took the poll on our website (see box out below) believe Facebook and Instagram are the most useful channels for hoteliers. However, somewhat concerningly, none of our readers consider Twitter to be useful for hoteliers, and a further 4.9% believe social media does not generate new visitors to hotels.
Nevertheless this was largely not the opinion shared by three experts in the field who spoke to us on the topic: regular Hotelier columnist and sps: affinity CEO Martin Kubler; Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers marketing and communications manager Cybelle Daou; and Al Ghurair Arjaan & Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana e-commerce manager Ferry Trinidad.
Each of the three social media marketing experts Hotelier canvassed for opinion on the subject argued that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter should be considered the basics for hoteliers, or “a given” as Kubler referred to them. Beyond this, Kubler argued, if guests wish to communicate and engage with you through an additional channel, it is worth exploring this as well.
“If somebody prefers sending you a Facebook or Instagram message rather than an email or calling you, why stop him or her from doing so?” he said. He also highlighted the potential of Google+ as a useful tool, commenting, that it “requires regular attention because of its importance as a messenger and review platform”.
On the subject of Snapchat, Daou added that this is something her hotel has not yet started on, but will be thinking of in the future: “Indeed it is fun and eventually, we need to strategise our presence as a brand on Snapchat. However, currently, our main focus is making our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and review site platforms a success.”
Despite the votes of our readers, the three experts also agreed that social media certainly does have a recognisable effect on visitors to a property. “If [a hotel is] just opening, awareness is key. If it’s already operating, generating bookings might be a more important focus.
In reality, of course, it’ll always be a mix of both, plus don’t forget about the importance of social media platforms as communication and reputation management channels. Engagement of (potential) guests and visitors should rank highly for all hotels, because engaged audiences are less likely to “sit on the fence” and more likely to take action and spend more,” Kubler told Hotelier.
Kubler continued: “The problem many hoteliers have is that they cannot look further than the straightforward ROI of “I spent AED 1,500 on adverts for my new theme night and we got X reservations out of it”.
Social media ROI for hotels is often far less tangible. For example, what’s the ROI of engaging a guest online from pre-booking to post-stay stage and getting him or her to leave a five-star review for your hotel on TripAdvisor? What’s the ROI of getting a local resident to sign up to your F&B email newsletter?”