Content that Will Drive Social Media Engagement for Hotels in the Post-COVID 19 World

By Blog, Business
Today, more people are home than ever before; so, it’s not surprising that social media usage is up significantly. As in 50% increased Facebook usage, according to Social Media Today.

While will likely see this change again once the crisis is over, transformative events like this have had lasting effects on our behaviors. For example, Facebook’s growth started to multiply after the 2008 financial crisis (5x growth from 2007 to 2009 according to Statista). On the other side of Covid-19 we will still visit our favorite shops, restaurants, and resorts—especially once we are able to safely step out again. However, we will be planning, sharing, and experiencing these adventures in a more connected way. More than ever we will be looking for those social cues from our friends, families and influencers. According to BCV Social, inquiries into hotels’ services via Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct increased by 80% in May, 2020. People are starting to plan trips not just by surveying the travel landscape but by asking specific questions about their intended destination.
Marketers need to rethink the way they leverage social media in engaging their communities. The content that worked before may not work in the post-COVID-19 era. Here are three key topics to help hotels connect with travelers in the post-COVID 19 world.

Health and Safety Are Foundational Elements
Travelers need to feel safe. One of the most important aspects that will restrict room booking is a feeling of a lack of ‘hygiene and cleanliness’ measures taken by a hotel. Many hotels are now implementing contact-less services, securing third-party hygiene certifications, and applying social distancing measures as per the guidelines issued by the WHO, the national government, and the local authorities. Additionally, many hotels are forming partnerships with hospitals and healthcare companies. Social media managers will have to cover the entire spectrum of safety content on their calendar. Ensuring they cover physical safety in addition to the emotional aspects of feeling safe. About 70% of consumers turn to social media for customer service needs. It is crucial for social media managers to have an empathetic response ready with clear objectives such as ‘listen’, ‘appreciate’ and ‘resolve’. These are foundational elements that travelers need to hear to feel comfortable with picturing their travel at the property.

Inspiration Is Still The Key Travel Driver
More than ever we are thinking about getting out. We are picturing that amazing spa, resort, pool, lounge, bar, or whatever motivates people to get out and come together for new places and experiences. While health and safety are foundational elements, the amazing experience and amenities are the motivating elements. Do not shy away from celebrating the things we need now more than ever.

Celebrate User-generated Content
Celebrate users content and experiences. Be authentic, respectful and appreciative of them sharing their story. For example, encourage people to share about their last road trip, staycation, or other travel memory, which you can then feature on your social media platforms. Over 60% of people rely on reviews and recommendations to make informed buying decisions, according to Podium, a cloud-based company that provides interaction management tools to businesses. This will likely increase as people seek confirmation that properties are ready for them. Therefore, treat early travelers as brand ambassadors. Help them understand how important they are and how great of an experience they will have. Over-communicate with them as they will in-turn share their experience to all of us who are watching these early adventurers.

During the initial phase of the crisis, people turned to social media to stay connected with the outside world. Today, they are remembering past trips, planning for their first trip back out, and connecting with hotels to inquire about services, all through social media. Every social media engagement insight points to one thing: People will travel again. What matters now is how hotels engage with them, inspire them, and most importantly make them feel safe and confident about their stay at hotels.


 

About the Author
 
Mark Skroch
General Manager – BCV
RateGain

Mark Skroch is the General Manager for BCV Social. Before this Mark served in leadership roles at Fusion92 and VSA Partners, where he served as SVP, client services and associate partner, client engagement, respectively. Previously, Mark held senior positions with leading agencies such as Energy BBDO, Digitas, Ogilvy & Mather and J. Walter Thompson. As an entrepreneur, as well as a seasoned leader with over 20 years of experience, Mark has led and implemented integrated communication strategies across a variety of industries, from telecommunications to packaged goods, sports, retail, spirits, mobile devices, insurance, and financial institutions.

Social Media Decisions That Can Help Your Guests Come Back

By Business, Facebook
Another Summit, another virtual Platform, yet another discussion on the impact of the ongoing pandemic which has placed the world’s largest democracy in lockdown for the last four months. In the pre-COVID era, this summit would be happening in a hotel where participants, speakers, and panelists would have flown into a city and stayed at a city hotel for the 2-day long event helping the hotel with new guests to serve and provide an unparalleled experience. However, events, conferences, and corporate travel remain low on the recovery agenda, and therefore the question for every hotelier remains – How Do We Get Our Guests Back?

A fortnight back, I was honored to be part of an esteemed panel at the Hotelier India Summit comprising of hotel sales and marketing leaders to discuss the same CS Ramachandran, VP- Hotel Revenue Optimization, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Dhananjay Saliankar, Head-sales & Marketing India, Fortune Hotels, Kush Kapoor, CEO, Roseate Hotels & Resorts, Manoj Nair, National Marketing Leader-India, FCM Travel Solutions, Prasad Iyer, VP, E-Commerce, Distribution & Rewards, Lemon Tree Hotels, and last but by no means the least Sachin Pabreja, Co-founder, Eazydiner.

What’s On the Guest’s Mind?
The famed ‘pent-up demand’ will soon come to the surface as more tourist destinations in India contain the virus and put in place procedures to mitigate the virus. As the leisure traveler would lead the recovery, the key driver for hotels would not be price but experience, health, safety, and flexibility in handling cancellations.

However, at the same time, hotels will have to walk a fine line to ensure that the experience they promise does not appear like a medical tourism ad due to prevailing social distancing and safety norms.

Instead, contact-less solutions are being adopted by more hotels to implement steps like digital check-in, use of QR codes to keep things smooth and safe as well as the ‘safe car promise’ where all vehicles will undergo deep cleaning and each car will have a PPE kit for the guests.

The challenge for hotel commercial and marketing teams would be to manage these expectations in an already complex decision-making process and use social media to communicate the right price, the right experience, and the right safety standards.

This is where social media marketing plays a critical role.

How is Social Media playing a vital role?
In the Pre-COVID times, Facebook and Instagram played a key role in driving travel inspiration; however a significant role was also played by family and friends who would recommend travel destinations. With no one traveling at the moment, and very few people aware of which destinations are safe, which hotels are taking care of safety, the role of social media would now further increase as that would be the first source for getting up to date information.

Therefore, more than ever before, hotels have to look at social media as the channel to bring back guests and invest time, effort, and resources in continually communicating with potential travelers to win their trust and engage them.

While hotels attempt to re-establish a connect, they need to keep two age-old ideas at the core of their strategy

  1. One Size Does Not Fit All
    Each hotel property is designed for a specific set of travelers, keeping in mind the taste, lifestyle of the guests that would stay there. The same strategy needs to be applied to your social media strategy and continuously seek the right kind of guest with the right messaging.
  2. Don’t Prioritize Reach Over Reputation
    Most marketing leaders worry about reach, but in the post-COVID world when the number of travelers would substantially shrink for the next 18-24 months, reach, engagement might not be the right metric to target, instead of hotels should invest in managing their reputation and ensuring all guest queries, feedback, needs are answered instantly so that they can trust the property more efficiently.24/7 Personalized and Real-time Monitoring is critical for hotels in the post-COVID world where trust is at an all-time low. The best example that I like to quote is when a guest at The Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay reported a faulty door lock on social media, tagging the hotel and using the hashtag #fail which is the 3rd highest used Hashtag and can instantly be picked up by prospecting guests and even reach media sites to show the fault on the part of a prestigious brand like Ritz Carlton.

    Due to real-time monitoring, not only did the hotel get alerted immediately and due to the ability to personalize the guest experience, they not only replaced the chain in an hour but also as an apology placed a bottle of his favorite single malt whisky to both mitigate the negative experience. The guest ofcourse, captured this experience on social media tagging the hotel and using the hashtag #unrealcustomerservice and therefore not only become a loyal guest, but also helping prospective guests choose the hotel on their future trips.

Independent/mid-scale hotels can’t compromise on social media
In a poll conducted by BCV a travel technology company suggested that over 25% of them would invest close to 50% of their marketing budgets in social media this year. This number becomes more relevant for independent/ mid-sized hotel chains as their marketing budgets do not allow them to spend heavily on ATL advertising.

Due to lower brand salience, independent hotels will have to put in extra to win the guests’ trust. Social media is a level playing field, and with the right content done creatively and innovatively, hotels of any size can outdo the biggest chains.

Most hotels today rely on in-house teams to deliver this; however, in-house teams can drive social media engagement, but can’t bring varied experience from working with other hotel brands, cutting-edge technology as well as focus on driving RoI.

How do you convince guests to come back with Social Media?
We are witnessing that Middle East and South East Asia are now seeing a pick-up in economic as well as travel activity and therefore is seeing a substantial pick-up in bookings. While India recovers and the high-demand season approaches in the next three months, it’s a golden time for all the hoteliers to revise, refresh, and restart things that haven’t been done for a long. This is the time when hotels should re-look into their strategy, try to explore all channels of digital marketing, make the best use of social media.

BCV, one of the most awarded social media agency focused on hospitality solutions that works with over 400+ luxury hotels across the world, has been working with luxury hotels across Asia helping them not only to increase engagement but also drive RoI during the pandemic through a tailored social media engagement strategy using its proprietary technology that also delivers 24/7 real-time monitoring.

One such example is our work with Cinnamon Hotels in Maldives one of the first destinations to welcome back tourists. Our approach for them was to keep engagement on through-out the pandemic and deploy a four-step campaign across 45 days using different platforms and content formats created by BCV’s in-house creative team. The campaign helped them generated 204 Room nights and while delivering an ROI 274 on spends, clearly showing that social media continues to drive results even in the crisis and is the right channel for hotels to use to drive demand back.

So what should hotels keep in mind when looking to get guests back

DON’T TAKE THE PEDAL OFF SOCIAL: Irrespective of your size and ability to spend on social, hotels should not stop spends on social media, as in the absence of actual visits, the only way to build brand salience and mind-share is through targeted content continuously served to prospective guests.

DON’T MAKE HEALTH AND SAFETY BORING: As we look to welcome guests back by assuring them of safety, hotels should make sure they do not make hospitality boring and actually look at making health attractive and engaging both through social media content as well as on property. This could be easily achieved by replacing videos and photos of masks and sanitizers with shots of health-juices and immunity boosters that are served as a welcome drink.

MAKE ROI YOUR KEY METRIC: Every Digital Platform has its own metrics and today, Digital Marketers can track close to 50 metrics to show success such as followers, traffic, share of voice and many more however as hospitality marketers emerge from this pandemic, the only thing their social media strategy should work towards is actual revenue contribution and ROI from paid media efforts.


 

About the Author
 
Apurva Chamaria
Chief Revenue Officer
RateGain

Apurva Chamaria is the Chief Revenue Officer of RateGain, one of world’s leading SaaS company’s serving over 20,000+ customers in the travel and hospitality industry across 100+ Countries. In his role, he leads sales, marketing, alliances and customer success across the world. Prior to joining RateGain, Apurva was the Global Head of Corporate Marketing for HCL Technologies, an US$ 8 Billion global IT major.

Hospitality Social Media Marketing During A Crisis

By Business, Facebook

According to a survey of more than 25,000 consumers in 30 markets, Facebook and Instagram saw a 40% increase in usage during Q1 of 2020.

For many brands and businesses, this usage uptick provides a greater opportunity to connect with consumers and build community. But you may be wondering: What type of content should be published during a crisis and where should it be distributed?

Based on BCV’s strategic social media work with hundreds of hotels, these are the key steps we recommend taking today to ensure your hotel can maintain a competitive advantage and drive brand awareness.

Lead With Empathy & Creativity

It’s important to ensure that your content is relevant and offers value to consumers, whether educational, informative, or interactive.

Showcase how your brand intends to support those affected by the crisis (e.g. donating goods, providing physical space for relief efforts, or waiving delivery fees). Videos or messages from your CEO or executive committee are encouraged. Launch a feel-good giveaway or surprise-and-delight campaign featuring gift cards for future use or property swag. BCV witnessed a 36% increase in average post engagements & positive sentiment in a recently launched giveaway campaign.

Deliver Amenities Digitally

With the majority of the world unable to travel right now, hotels have an opportunity to share their services digitally through virtual experiences. Think cooking tips, fitness routines, and at-home happy hours.

Shift your content development strategy to prioritize interactive content such as at-home cooking videos hosted by your Executive Chef or stream a unique property feature live on Instagram. For properties with family-centric offerings, consider transforming some of your hero images into coloring pages to share with your audience (a great activity for children and way to keep your property top of mind).

Share Important Business Updates

As operational functions of your business continue to shift, social media is an ideal marketing tool to share those updates with your past and future guests.

Shifts in hours of operation, new cleaning procedures,
refund policies, etc.
Travel industry news and updates, including destination-specific travel regulations.

Evolving Social Media Landscape During COVID19

By Business, Facebook

As the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our daily lives, it has also affected how we use social media. For instance, Facebook has reported an increase of 77 million more daily active users due to the stay-at-home orders and there has been a 20% year-over-year increase in the time spent on mobile apps.

As a business, it is critical to understand how your consumers’ behavior is changing on social media as the usage increases. How do you make sure that you are reaching the right audience, in the right place, at the right time, and with the right message during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Based on BCV’s research and strategic work with hundreds of hotels, we’re breaking down the shifts in the social media landscape that can inform your marketing strategy during COVID-19.

Shifts in Optimal Posting Time

In a recent study, data gathered between March and April notes that the current best times to post content on each platform are as follows:

Facebook: Monday, Wednesday & Friday from 10am – 11am

Instagram: Monday, Tuesday & Friday from 11am – 2pm

Twitter: Friday from 7 – 9am

LinkedIn: Wednesday at 3 p.m | Thursday from 9am – 10am, | | Friday from 11am – 12pm

Shifts in Paid Media

Paid social media has become cheaper during the COVID-19 pandemic due to increased users on the platforms and decreased advertising competition. In a recent study comparing Q4 2019 and Q1 2020 (including during COVID-19), organic content engagement has increased overall.

  • Average post engagement for all posts have INCREASED by 0.7%, now at 3.41%.
  • Average video post engagement for all posts have INCREASED by 1%, now at 6.15%.
  • Average photo post engagement for all posts have INCREASED by 1.3%, now at 4.48%.

Share Important Business Updates

As operational functions of your business continue to shift, social media is an ideal marketing tool to share those updates with your past and future guests.

Giving all marketers hope, only 8% of people surveyed believe that businesses should stop advertising during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In March 2020, there were 3.5 BILLION more clicks on Facebook ads worldwide than compared to December 2019.
Facebook’s average CPM (cost-per-thousand) decreased by more than 50% from November 2019 to March 2020, meaning an advertiser can reach twice as many people for the same amount of money spent on a campaign.
Facebook’s average CPC also went down from $0.11 in January 2020 to $0.09 in March
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