Social media 'marketing' strategies for hotels - pros and cons

Our stance on the benefits of non-travel social media (mainly Facebook and Twitter) is perhaps a bit different and much lower key to many of the extravagant articles by so called ’social media ‘experts’, or ‘gurus’. To that extent, we will introduce social media tactics to hotel marketing solutions where clearly relevant and justified on a multi channel marketing, and channel convergence context, rather than just do it ‘per se’.

Various commentators and claims are turning/attempting to turn social media (marketing) into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Contrary articles are effectively dismissing it as a virtual waste of time in a travel  shopping and marketing context. His polarisation of view is very dangerous, as the risks and downsides of social media need to be seen ‘on the same page’ as the alleged benefits.

We are solution/results driven. We have seen very little evidence that social media is producing ‘results’, especially in terms of ROI. In fact various ‘gurus’ are now trying to give ROI a new meaning in a social media context, calling it, variously, return on activity, return on engagement &c. ROI is, and always has been ROI – the reason it is being debased in a social media context is that it is impossible to measure.

As a minimum, yes we do recommend that hoteliers set up Facebook and Twitter pages and accounts – for this reason mainly – in 1997 we were one of the first companies to really exploit the internet and this has stood us in great stead because we were in, virtually at the beginning, and longevity is certainly a factor in on line success, we’ve proved that. So is history going to repeat itself? We say, join the club but it is a very different club and without the attributes which made for successful, proven solutions, (and ROI’s) in the online web space. Because there is a MASSIVE DIFFERENCE- in the early days of web marketing in particular, the travel business controlled its marketing profile and message, and once you had conquered the vagaries of Google &c, you had a clear cut web marketing strategy.

In social media, the consumer has completely cannibalised the marketing profile and message of the travel business, to the extent that the hotel or travel business is actually by-passed in the marketing process. Hence, unless you are a consumer behaviour or community expert, coupled with a knowledge of media law, and libel and defamation – you are not a social media expert, so don’t be fooled by these claims. Both they, and businesses, need to be properly educated first.

The one thing that hoteliers DO need to manage in the on line and public space, is the travel review. If you don’t have a reputation management strategy, based on the Trip Advisors and Expedias of this world, then you are certainly not ready for Facebook and Twitter. Again travel shoppers are in total control of this market space, but because it is hotel focused and tangible, it can and needs to be managed.

It goes without saying also, that social media is MOST DEFINITELY not a substitute, nor an excuse for getting the basics wrong. Our hotel solutions will ensure you are fully optimising, indeed exhausting conventional  sales and marketing strategies on and off line before we even look at social media. If your current marketing is wrong, there’s a 99% chance you’ll get your social media strategy wrong too. Your priorities must not be upset

If you are a branded hotel, we will check the status of your brand’s social media strategy first. And whether you are branded or independent, even more so the latter, our solution will largely be – sit back and watch the action in the social media market space and let us cherry pick the best out of it for you (bearing in mind we have ample stats to prove what might work, and what most certainly isn’t!). This isn’t web marketing – or marketing at all – it is engagement, it is consumer to consumer in the main, and it is open and unregulated and policed (so far), and conspicuously not geared for travel marketing. The risks are great, it’s success can’t really be measured – and it has a significant cost, and needs significant management /key staff time– and hotel owner/investor buy in, to have any realistic chance of making any real difference to your hotel’s performance.

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