Each Issue, we will be serialising a section of the Complete Guide to Hotel Marketing, an eBook by our partners, SiteMinder.com.
Engaging with travellers on Facebook has never been easier or more valuable. Consider these statistics:
- 52% of social media users said their friends’ photos inspired travel plans
- 76% post their vacation photos to social media
- During research, 55% liked pages relating to the trip they were planning
- 69% of ads use images while 18% of ads use video
Before you can influence travellers on Facebook, you need to grow your following. You could accelerate this process through paid advertising, but you should grow your audience ‘organically’ as much as possible.
To get more likes through organic traffic there are a number of things your hotel can do on Facebook. Take note of these quick wins:
1. Invite contacts and friends
People you already know will be more than willing to support you and you can quickly bolster your likes this way. You can even use the ‘Build your Audience’ feature to import all your email contacts and invite them to your page.
2. Add links to Facebook on your website and emails
This is a simple way to give your Facebook page more exposure, especially to potential guests. Always ensure your links are correct and functional.
3. Put up signs
This is as simple as putting small displays on tables, on the front desk, or in rooms inviting guests to like you on Facebook. You could even add links on the bottom of receipts.
4. Offer incentives and host contests
Even something as small as a free coffee will encourage guests to visit your page. This will give them a chance to look at your posts and like your page. When it comes to competitions, make sure one condition of entry is that people like your page.
5. Post good quality content consistently
Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of posts should be about the local area and only 20% of should be about the hotel itself. Use Facebook Insights to see the type of content your fans enjoy, and post between three and 10 times per week.
6. Cross promote your page on other social networks
If you have Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or other social media accounts for your hotel, post a frequent call-to-action for those users to jump across and like your Facebook page as well.
7. Fill your profile page with searchable information
Add as much information as possible to your profile page and add as many relevant categories to your page. This information helps Facebook serve up your page to people in various ways across the site. It’s also good for search engine optimisation so use plenty of relevant keywords.
8. Thank you messages
When people sign-up for your local tourism guide or fill out your contact form, redirect them to another page thanking them for getting in touch. Add some text and a Facebook button to the page asking them to join you on Facebook, while you have their attention.
9. Engage on posts that mention your business
If another local business or organisation mentions your hotel in a post on their Facebook page and tags your page, thank them, like the comment, and join in with the conversation. Facebook is a community and so a sharing mentality here will serve you and your hotel well.
After this you can begin experimenting with paid Facebook advertising. Start with a small budget and set up a page likes campaign that targets those who have been on your website the past 30 days, who also meet other criteria, such as age or gender.
Once you have established a credible Facebook page and following, you can start using advertising tactics to get more bookings through the platform. There’s plenty of advice to offer in this respect.
To start with, Facebook has a number of tools designed specifically to help you advertise your business and nail the Facebook conversion funnel. People spend 5x more time on Facebook than on travel-related apps, sites and searches. More than 50% percent of respondents to a survey found trip ideas while browsing on Facebook, so the guests are there to be won.
Dynamic Ads for Travel (DAT) allows advertisers to engage with users lower in the funnel who have already visited your website but are yet to convert. Travellers are tracked through their browser so they can be shown an offer for your brand when they’re browsing different sites. This kind of retargeting can often prove quite useful in securing bookings from travellers who are still undecided.
Dynamic Ads for Travel for Broad Audiences takes this a step further. This is a feature created specifically for hotel advertisers that allows you to reach people with travel intent – even if they’re yet to visit your website or app. You’ll need a Facebook pixel implemented on your website, and use dynamic ads for travel events to report which properties from your catalog are being searched, viewed, and purchased.
Trip Consideration can be used to prioritise the delivery of your content to people who plan to travel. These audiences may have a general intent to travel, but have no specific destination in mind yet. As opposed to DAT for Broad Audiences, these ads aren’t dynamic and instead use a static creative that you select, rather than drawing from a catalog.
In conjunction, focus on these five steps:
- Correctly define your hotel’s audience
- Use the right content for that audience
- Target ‘lookalike’ audiences – those who have a similar profile to your existing audience
- Use retargeting tools
- Give warm leads your top quality content
But how does one increase direct hotel bookings via Facebook?
Since a friend’s recommendation is more powerful (and less expensive) than any ad, focus on word-of-mouth strategies first. Even giving a single traveller the best possible experience could result in thousands of dollars more revenue if they’re impressed enough to share your hotel around their social circles. This could be triggered from as little as one message or comment from your business to the customer that leaves them impressed with your service.
Enticing customers with exclusivity can boost your volume of followers and engagement on Facebook, by treating your page more like a ‘club’. Offer promotions and deals that are only available to those that have liked your page. Below is a simple example from the Argus Luxury Apartments, Darwin.
Simple promotions like this can often be the only small push travellers need to book directly with your hotel. Source: Argus Luxury Apartments
You should also try establishing your hotel as a traveller’s guide by:
- Posting reviews
- Giving travel advice and tips
- Keeping a running list of local events
- Using captivating images and videos to provide insight or direction
On the right is an example of The Jazz Corner Hotel that is generating extra traffic by tagging another local business while also offering helpful advice to visitors and guests.
To really generate direct bookings through Facebook, you need to make instant booking available. With the right online booking engine you can connect your booking engine to your Facebook page so travellers can make their purchase without even needing to go to your website. Facebook also has the capability to build the ‘book now’ tab into your ads and posts as a call-to-action which can also make a huge difference. It’s as easy as the example below from the Kah-Nee-Ta Resort & Spa.
Just like this hotel, you should have a ‘book now’ button, which can link directly with your online booking engine.
Finally, always remember to interact with and reward loyal followers. All feedback, be it negative or positive, needs to be responded to. Reply to comments and messages in a polite tone. Any new visitors will be looking at the way you deal with customer feedback and studying your reviews. A helpful way to handle this is to migrate your communications to Facebook messenger and encourage followers to also pursue this avenue of communication. That way, any negativity or hostility can be resolved in private.
Next Issue: Experimenting with paid Facebook advertising