COVID-19 has left business owners across the world questioning what the next month and even next week will bring to the future of their companies from one location to another. Whether due to a decrease in guests bookings because of less discretionary income or government orders that restrict travel into your locale, the pandemic has brought a host of limitations to business opportunities as we work to navigate a recession.
And while it has been difficult across all industries and verticals, some of the hardest hit businesses are in the hospitality industry, with the world traveling less and being more mindful of staying away from each other to contain the virus.
While the last several months have not been easy, to say the least, it provides hospitality companies with a window of opportunity to step back, re-evaluate and do what they do best, connect with their guests. Amidst the chaos, social media marketing continues to be the most simple and effective way to stay in touch with your valued guests–and certainly, one of the most affordable.
As people continue to social distance into the near future, they are looking for ways to stay connected and maintain some semblance of normalcy in their social lives without being able to see people as regularly as they used to in real life. This, in combination with an increased amount of time spent at home, provides companies with an audience that is actively engaged and listening on social media.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reported that 3.13 billion people are now actively using its family of apps including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger with usage of its messaging tools more than doubling since the start of the crisis.
With this in mind, consider creating content that showcases the people who are making a difference in your business and communities. At the end of the day, it’s the employee at the front desk who welcomes your guests warmly, or the engaging housekeeper that takes care of your guests during their stay that leaves a lasting impression on a guest’s memory of their time spent on your property.
People need each other for support and guidance, to help one another during a crisis; and people trust people, not brands. Of all industries, the hospitality industry is and has always been about person to person experiences. As such, your most loyal guests will find value in hearing the stories about the people who make your hotel unique and worth staying at because they’re a part of it and your social media platforms are a convenient vehicle to relay this message to the masses.
It may go without saying, but where authenticity rules on social media, transparency in the age of the pandemic has become a critical component of any social media and larger digital marketing strategy. Make it easy for guests to find the details that they need right away, on everything from ever changing booking and cancellation policies, restaurant and service offerings or closures.
Your guests will want to do whatever is quickest to find the information that they need, so make sure that you are maximizing your opportunities to keep your guests informed. Are your bios updated? Are you maximizing opportunities to use your Instagram highlights? Do you have FAQs set up through your social media accounts to assist with guests searching for answers through voice technology? Bear in mind that the need for updated information extends past your social media accounts onto your hotel website, google search results and third-party websites.
As resources and COVID public health responses vary from state to state, your guests may find it difficult to stay up to date on the most recent travel advisories and requirements in your state, let alone their own. And if they can’t find the information quickly online they’ll turn to social media for the answers.
Pre-COVID, expectations to reach a hotel representative through social media platforms were already high, but now, as information continues to change weekly and sometimes even daily, the need for quick access to information is even higher than before.
Hotels will benefit from continuing to have a dedicated role or team provide regular service to its guests through these platforms. As policies and procedures continue to change quickly, ensure that your reputation and response management teams are regularly updated on new policies to be able to effectively communicate them with your guests.
It has always been important for companies to provide value to their followers through their social media communications plans; not only to ensure engagement with their content but also in an effort to identify and build relationships with brand evangelists. But now, more than ever, as the world can sometimes feel as if it’s crumbling around us, people are turning to social media for meaningful content and inspiration.
Use this as an opportunity to focus on helping rather than selling. This is not the time to create posts just to post. It means that every message you post needs to have a purpose. Think about WHY you are posting the content on social media. Is it to entertain your followers or educate them? Does it have something specific included that will benefit your audience? Work to provide value for your guests from every digital touchpoint.
Hotel companies are fun, and so are hoteliers! What fun can you provide to your guests even from afar? Are you known for a cocktail or a special dish? Is your pool experience typically the top shared experience by your guests? Think of ways to make the experiences virtual so that guests can still enjoy your property from afar and in turn, be even more eager to return when they’re ready.
As hoteliers, you’re in the business of making people happy. You create opportunities for memories to be made through experiences at your hotels, restaurants and outlets that your guests remember for a lifetime. And as marketers, particularly focused on social media, your role in your organization is perhaps more vital than ever.
In many ways this may be difficult but it’s also an opportunity to step up to the challenge to continue to inspire and educate your guests as they dream about the next time they will stay at your property in the future.
Even as a seasoned social media expert, we all sometimes need help. We help organizations like yours to put digital and social media marketing best practices into place. Let us know if we can assist in your current social media marketing needs with a no-obligation strategy call.
Article illustration by 300FeetOut.
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