The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Social Agency vs Hiring an In-House Team

By Blog
By Mark Skroch, President, BCV

How did we ever get rooms booked before the internet?

Travel agents? That’s so 80’s throwback. 

Calling a property to check pricing and availability? How quaint.

As you are well aware, the game today is all about the social media strategy and execution that drives online booking. As you also know, that means content creation, distribution, paid media, sentiment monitoring, and stats showing all programs’ ROI. So complex! How can an internal team ever hope to do all that? Better round up some digital agencies and hire one, right?

If you scanned my bio, you might think you know where this is going. But please, don’t jump to any conclusions.

Making a case for not hiring an agency.

Let’s start with the premise that you’ve got everything covered in-house. And I firmly believe that you might just have everything you need already in the hearts, minds, and skills of the people on your team. Please note that I didn’t say you have everything–just everything you need.

Do you REALLY need to do everything?

Social media eats up staff hours voraciously. It is a bottomless pit that needs constant feeding. So, the question becomes how you put that beast on a manageable diet. I’m suggesting that you prioritize the scope of your in-house program by limiting it to two or three possible benefits. What is more important and valuable to your business? Is it the time necessary to run a program? Is it the money required to run a successful program? Or is it the expertise needed to be on top of the ever-changing social media landscape? Let’s look at all three.

Time.

Content Creation takes time. Consistently.

Do you have the time from current staffers to create all of the content you need? 

Is this going to be someone’s job? Or are you thinking that since we all have camera phones, they can be grabbed on-the-fly? We estimate that content will take an internal 10 – 15 hours per week, including content creation and the time it takes to distribute the content thru paid and organic channels.

Money.

Running social media programs that include organic and paid media is an ongoing investment. The staff hours required to run a program vs the outside costs of an agency can be ball-parked. Just look at your volume for the entire program. Then decide if there is enough for an in-house staffer–or if it is enough for an in-house staffer to manage an agency resource.

Expertise.

There are infinite possibilities in the social media world. New tools, formats, data, trends, and channels pop up almost daily. Most properties don’t need (or want) to be on top of the latest and greatest. Other properties want to understand their options and opportunities.

In-House vs Agency Evaluation

It’s really a matter of figuring out what is most important in each category of your social program. 

  • Content
  • Posting
  • Analytics
  • Marcomm Tech
  • Paid Media
  • Reputation Management

Here’s a head-to-head comparison to help sort things out:

Social Category

Internal

Agency
Content
  • Good Enough
  • Lower Cost
  • Limited Formats
  • Higher Quality
  • Higher Cost per post
  • All Formats
Posting
  • <5x Per Month
  • Some Channels
  • >10x Per Month
  • All Channels
Analytics
  • Baseline Reports
  • Data Points
  • Generalist
  • ROI Reports
  • Strategic Insights
  • Dedicated Experts
Marcom Tech
  • Basic Tools
  • Learning Curve
  • Licenses Needed
  • Advanced Tools
  • Mastery
  • Marketing Stack Owned
Paid Media
  • Some Skills
  • Some Placement
  • Simple Ad Units
  • Dedicated Team
  • Precision Programs
  • Emerging Ad Products
Reputation Management
  • Emergency Alerts
  • Damage Control
  • Passive Listening
  • 24/7 Monitoring
  • Damage Prevention
  • Active Listening

In conclusion, there are clearly a bunch of factors that come to play in deciding who should do the work on a social program. And it really depends on the blend of time, money, and expertise required by your property or properties. Performing an honest evaluation of what you want versus what you need will help you decide. And if you need some outside input on it, I’ll be happy to help you sort it out, starting with the opinion that you might not need an agency. Unless you do, of course!

About the Author

Mark Skroch
President
BCV, A RateGain Company

Mark Skroch is the Global President for BCV Social. Previously, Mark held senior positions with leading agencies such as Energy BBDO, Digitas, Ogilvy & Mather, and J. Walter Thompson. An entrepreneur and a seasoned leader with over 25 years of experience, Mark has led and implemented integrated communication strategies across various industries, from telecommunications to packaged goods, hospitality, sports, retail, spirits, mobile devices, insurance, and financial institutions.

5-Star Social Strategy for Your Hotel Restaurant

By Blog

Your hotel restaurants, bar and grill, and other food and beverage services directly impact profitability. However, they also have a profound effect on the guest experience. A four-star social media program ensures that you deliver on both counts.

Creating Your Content Cupboard

Several core elements make an excellent social strategy for a hotel restaurant. First of all, it is about the food, right? That means high-quality images of the food, the ambiance, and the friendly service experience. But it is also very much about when the food is available. Social media is perfect for reminding people of regular events like happy hours, seasonal menus, and holiday activations. Beyond just selling dinners, the specials and themed dinners are also a chance to showcase an engaged and enthusiastic staff. After all, these are the mini-masterpieces from your culinary team. We encourage you to create regular content about your kitchen professionals. Going behind the scenes with the Chef or sommelier makes great content, and really celebrates the joy of creating, cooking and serving delicious food. One more thought about the content that is often overlooked: Resharing content from the hotel itself. Social posts are a great chance for cross-promotion with the property. Grab their content and re-share it, adding your tags to connect the restaurant to other happenings on the property. It all feeds together to extend the reach. Just remember that you need strong content to support these efforts.

Serving Up Content

One important platform decision is whether or not the restaurant should have its own social media handle vs. being a topic under the hotel’s account. The property page should not be inundated with outlet content. Sometimes a hotel outlet can shine on its own, and you do not want to overload the property page with outlet content. The property has many different experiences and amenities that it needs to speak to. If the outlet is a major priority for the hotel, launching an independent outlet account is a solid strategic win. By creating an owned channel, there is no limitation on posting for the outlet. An outlet account is a place for the outlet content to really shine. However, just because you have separate profiles for the hotel and the restaurant doesn’t mean they have to be totally separated. Placing backlinks for both entities on social media and on-site helps search engine optimization. Ensuring the restaurant is included in Local Listings provides more search engine inputs for location, menu, contact information, and even reviews.

Putting Organic & Paid Media to Work

Generally speaking, the restaurant–more than the property–is a locally driven entity. Geo-targeting content that speaks to the local area is a good bet for organic. One strategy should be to feature the activities and venues near the property and call out that the restaurant is a convenient and delicious next stop. As far as paid media, local awareness ads are a huge success for outlet accounts. They can offer many different CTA options, including directions to the restaurant from the user’s location and even directing the user to their reservation link or menu. A final consideration involves the ability of a hotel restaurant to piggyback on the property. It is easier to put together special deals or events connected to the hotel than a local restaurant trying to package with another event. Think about limited-time offers as the most potent collaboration opportunity. Working with the hotel to create a special offer and advertise it on social media is a superb way to help both entities win.

For a F&B outlet to thrive, it must prepare to be relevant in all seasons. Since food photography is so important, what you have in your photo cupboard is vital. First, ensure that you focus on evergreen menu items that will likely never change. That way you have content to use year-round. In addition, it is a good idea to identify upcoming menu items that may not be on the menu yet but will be soon. For seasonal menus, the property will want to hold their own photoshoots for the new menu or ask a photo-savvy employee to capture a few menu items to augment the evergreen menu shots. Another great option is to plan ahead and budget for a professional photographer and videographer to shoot multiple set-ups in one package.

F&B helps round out a property’s offerings and fulfill the guest experience. One guest might want the convenience of a quick breakfast or snack. Others are looking for an elegant culinary experience, a place to watch the game, or the escape of a poolside drink. All of these outlets are opportunities to build emotional connections on social media. So do it well and attract guests wanting to hang out and spend more time on the property. And that means a chance to capture more share of trip dollars.

About the Author

Abby Willett
Senior Account Executive
BCV, A RateGain Company

Abby Willett is a Senior Account Executive who has been with BCV since 2019. She has worked across a variety of portfolios throughout her career creating social strategies and unique campaigns for each of her clients.

LGBTQ+ Representation in Hospitality

By Blog

Building Authentic Inclusivity in Hotel Social Media Programs

It’s Pride Month and around the world, the celebrations are in full gear. Cities like Paris, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Rio and Cologne expect an influx of locals and travelers throughout the month. Parade-goers, party-throwers, and luxury hotel properties will be sharing LGBTQ+ content on social media in higher volume, which is great. But inclusivity is so much more than a box to check on its corresponding month. BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and more are focused on all ages, ALL year, on ALL platforms! As you’ll see in this article, there are some good reasons why inclusion, diversity, and consideration for the unique travel needs of these communities require a year-round program.

Money Talks!

Consumers want to spend their money in places that align with their own values. The LGBTQ+ community had a global spending power of 3+ trillion dollars in 2019 in the US alone. In 2021 this community spent 1+ trillion. Market to these travel-loving minority groups in authentic ways, and be part of a massive potential that extends beyond a one-month fete. A property that creates a presence that is authentically inclusive has a chance to weave together a blend of acceptance, location, and amenities that will work for all guests.

How the Hospitality Industry Can Take Action

Develop a year-round social calendar. Marketing and advertising strategies should always include LGBTQ+ initiatives year-round. This includes holidays and non-holidays. Of course that makes business sense as you want to always have a targeted effort to reach people and book rooms. However, more than ever, users from these communities do a little research on companies they engage with and buy from. If that company appears to be rainbow-washing by publishing LGBTQ+ content only during Pride Month, that will be a red flag. Properties that win loyal followers and guests show inclusion in campaigns throughout the year. And yes, that includes non-LGBTQ+ holidays that involve travel. 

Be Genuinely Proud of Your Team. You no doubt have team members participating in Pride or other charities and events. Showcase the people on your team as well as any partnerships the property has with the community. Highlight where you are succeeding in DEI.

    • Do you have queer people in leadership roles? 
    • What’s your diversity breakdown in upper-level positions? 
    • Do you cover body-affirming healthcare for your employees? 
    • Are you working with businesses that actively donate to anti-LGBTQ+ campaigns? 
    • Share moments of support from your team.
    • Are you hiring LGBTQ+ employees? 
    • Have you donated to an LGBTQ+ cause? 
    • Have you sponsored a workshop — or participated in one?  

Highlight it! Share the stories! It is a great chance to connect with the community and let them see that your property takes a leadership role in active change. 

How to promote a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere for LGBTQ guests:

    • Train your staff to be sensitive and welcoming to all guests. 
    • Create collateral that is inclusive.  
    • Consider events the hotels could host during Pride Month.
    • Consider events that give back to the community. Nothing like a party with a purpose.

One thing to remember: It’s never a good idea to use your people as tokens. Today’s consumers are savvier and care about how your treat guests AND employees, and this doesn’t just apply to LGBTQ+ groups.

Pitfalls to Avoid

First, steer clear of using slang or catchphrases you normally don’t use to try and speak this audience’s ‘language.’ Be authentic and consistent in your messaging–just like you’d talk to any guest. 

Also consider that formal titles like Mr/Mrs might put you in the situation of assuming someone’s gender. Whether in person or online, that puts the recipient in an awkward position of correcting if needed. 

Finally, monitor your social accounts and have systems in place to block offensive language or imagery. Any ads, videos, or photos posted by the property must ensure that full diversity is being pictured. And while you’re monitoring, listen to the feedback. Is the content resonating? Is there any negative feedback? Positive feedback? Using tools for sentiment analysis helps you understand your audience and determine how well you are connecting. Best practices recommend that you make a plan to take the feedback and add it to your next marketing plan. Better yet, when you practice active social monitoring you have a chance to spring into action immediately, which can be important, especially during Pride Month. 

Content Considerations

    • Push authentic relationships
    • Highlight black trans individuals 
    • Remember that cookie-cutter content does not speak to this audience
    • Depict full diversity, not just a generic poster person
    • Avoid the stock photography from the Pride Month photo libraries
    • Use UGC and influencers from the LGBTQ+ community

Final Thoughts

A return on a relationship goes much farther than a good month of ROI. Build a relationship with people in the LGBTQ+ community and you will attract bookings from another amazing target market, one that prioritizes travel, adventure, and authentic experiences. Just like your property does. 

BCV Resources

About the Authors

Shelbie Janocha
Junior Copywriter
BCV, A RateGain Company

Shelbie has lent her creative writing skills to BCV’s Social Media Monitoring and Creative teams to create joyful, engaging copy that inspires and delights the wandering spirit—and to BCV’s Culture Team, which focuses on inner and outer DEI initiatives for a work environment that reflects the world we live in. She likes to start her day with a double shot oat milk iced latte, a swipe of red lipstick, a long walk with her rescue husky-shepherd, and a good audiobook—preferably a rom-com.

Jomary Jimenez
Senior Account Executive
BCV, A RateGain Company

Jomary Jimenez is a Senior Account Executive at BCV with over 10+ years in social media marketing for hospitality working across a variety of hotel ownership and brands. Originally from New York, but having lived in places like New Orleans and Charleston, she describes herself as “a little bit yankee a little bit y’all”. When she isn’t working, you can find Jomary drinking too much coffee, attending a hot yoga session or trying out the newest dishes recommended on her insta feed.

Staying on Par With Social Media Best Practices for Golf Resorts

By Blog

Time to Tee Off

The game of golf resort marketing is much like the game of golf itself. There is a lot of ground to cover and a couple of key strategies to keep in mind. Let’s break it down the way a golfer would look at a course: The Long Game, The Short Game, and Putting the Ball in the Hole.

First, there’s the long game. This is when you are farthest from the hole, or in this case, a booking. The long game involves the year-round effort to keep your resort top-of-mind. This includes off-season work to, yes, promote golf but also to provide insights into all-resort amenities. In fact, we recommend only sharing a couple of golf-centric posts each month from the resort in your social media mix. (We’ll talk about how to amplify the golf shots below.)

Golfers may be making plans for their vacation weeks or months in advance. Keep your resort in the forefront by continuing to use social media in the off-season. For example, if you offer spa services, people can book year-round. Places that offer good golf also frequently talk about pool weather, beach weather, and ocean weather.

The Long Game in Golf Resort marketing includes reaching out to a growing and diverse audience. According to statistics from the National Golf Foundation, 17.8 million people who didn’t play golf in 2021 said they are “very interested” in playing golf on a golf course. About half of these people are golfers who have lapsed. The other half are people who have never played. That’s a huge market to tap into. The classic older and affluent demographic for golfers has greatly evolved. And the younger generation of golfers loves their social media for dreaming, researching, and ultimately booking. Don’t leave a hole in your golf resort social media plan!

Know Where Your Audience Hangs Out on Social Media Golfers can be active on social media, but the platforms where they’re most active can depend on different demographics. Instagram is definitely a top focus on social media to reach a wide audience of golfers. Younger golfers may use TikTok, while seniors may be more active on Facebook. And this knowledge of the audience and their behavior leads us to the next section: The Short Game.

Every Short Game Expert Has a Secret Club in The Bag In golf, the Short Game comes into play when you are approaching the green–but not on it. In hotel language, this is when Shoulder Season and In-Season marketing comes into play. In golf and marketing, the skills needed for the short game are more finesse-related due to the need for accuracy.

Now, about that secret club for marketers. It’s all about learning how to leverage what golfers already do and help them authentically promote your resort. We talked about how golfers tend to be very engaged on social media. Digging deeper, we analyzed that activity and discovered that our top-performing posts are scenic locations showing off the resort or destination. Additionally, we know that golfers are loyal. Once they locate courses they like, they’re more likely to share their scenes from the course and engage with photos of the course.

As we said earlier, Instagram is definitely a top focus on social media to reach golfers. Additionally, we noticed that while men in this age range (25 – 65) don’t all post on social media, they’re much more likely to post a photo of a golf course than anything on vacation. To take advantage of this, we recommend engaging with users who tag the golf course location. Ask your golfers to tag the location to share with their friends. And remember that not all golfers enjoy being part of an online community, so focus on users who are already sharing photos on social media. Understanding how golfers interact with social media can help you promote your resort in the best light–especially in the Short Game of shoulder and in-season marketing.

One More Thing on The Short Game While we recommend that you capture User Generated Content from golfers, please remember that Golf club management always wants to showcase their courses in the best light. That means screening for high-quality imagery and videography is a priority. Also, when sourcing UGC, we look for imagery and videos that speak to both the grounds of the course and the overall experience. Are users enjoying a “guys trip” or out on the course with their spouse? Are there users showcasing golfing with their kids? We love to speak about all types of experiences that can be had on the course–and off. The kinds of trips your best customers take will give you clues as to how to Put the Ball in the Hole for ongoing success.

Putting the Ball in the Hole with Booking Packages Golfers have a saying: “Drive for show and Putt for dough”. This adage is just as true for the golf resort marketer. Once the long game of dreaming and the short game of researching are complete, the golfer needs a reason to book.

Clearly, if the resort has unique golf offerings (free golf with resort fee, discounted tee-times for resort members, popular tournaments hosted on-site), BCV recommends including those talking points regularly to set the course apart from competitors.

Our research also shows that people are looking at the property and the amenities often before they look at the course. Unless it is truly a big-name course, the overall resort is more of a draw than just the sport. With this in mind, offering a golf package tied to the property makes a lot of sense.

There are a variety of unique selling strategies on social that help reach golfers on social media:

  • Highly targeted advertising to locals and competitive markets, utilizing location and interest-based targeting. For example, resorts trying to sell local memberships can choose specific zip codes and users interested in golf keywords.
  • Host golf influencers to increase exposure and garner content for the resort. Additionally, resorts can set up long-term partnerships with local or drive-market golf influencers to add more life to what’s typically a one-off campaign.
    • Golf Marketing Tip: When influencers tag a photo, let them know you saw it. If you like, you can send them amenities, treat them to a round of golf, or otherwise encourage them to share more.
  • Join the conversation on social media around ‘golf holidays’ to reach your target demographic and get new eyes on your content. August is National Golf Month. October 4 is National Golf Lovers Day. The GCSAA celebrated National Golf Day on May 10-11, 2022. If there are golf tournaments in your area, use those dates to be part of the conversation when golf is trending.

The Clubs in Your Marketing Bag Finally, now that you have the Long Game, Short Game and Putting the Ball in the Hole covered, let’s check the clubs (or strategies) in your marketing bag. Each strategy leverages a different part of the game.

  • Audience Targeting
  • UGC
  • Influencers
  • Contests
  • Promotions
  • Social Media Holidays
  • Trending Golf Tournaments
  • Resort Non-Golf Amenities

Now you’re ready to have a great all-season round.

Check Out Some Golf Resorts We Really Love!

About the Author

Bianca Bialk
Senior Account Executive
BCV, A RateGain Company

Bianca is a Senior Account Executive at BCV. She has been with BCV for 3 years, working on many properties, including luxury and independent hotels + resorts. She excels at developing meaningful client relationships and helping teams bridge the gap between creativity and analytics. Before BCV, Bianca worked in both social media and public relations.

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