I wrote a hospitality trends article back in 2014 about the increasing applications of social media in the hospitality industry. It’s already out of date. And it seems with the speed that consumer habits are changing, by the time you’re done reading this updated version, it will be outdated as well.
But I’ll give it a shot.
They say that 52% of travelers change their original travel plans due to Social Media.
Before coming to TINT, my background was in hospitality. I graduated from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell and worked at hotels and restaurants in Dallas, Philadelphia, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. I did just about every job, including a stint as an Omelet Artist at Four Seasons Philadelphia.
Now that I work at a social media technology company, TINT, I have an interesting view of tech trends within the hospitality industry before they actually take off.
Over the next three weeks I’ll take you through three big trends with social media, how they relate to the hospitality industry, and how hotel managers can make that statistic work in their favor.
Part 1: Creating a social media highway
This year, it’s about storytelling. Social media alone isn’t enough for hospitality companies to get by. Hotels need to create authentic, visual, and interactive experiences for guests that facilitate a deeper connection with their brand.
Viewing a hotel’s social media posts used to be siloed within each social network. In the past, there was a trade-off. Hotels wanted likes and follows but they also wanted reservations. To get likes and follows, hotels would have to steer guests away from the reservation page to the hotel’s content on external social sites like Facebook or Pinterest. Not very productive for the Hotel or the user.
That’s all changed. Hotels now have the ability to place specific social posts within their website and on displays in their lobbies to create an engaging experience for a guest from reservation to check-in to check-out. Hotels can choose to display content created by their social media team or posts from guests. We’ve seen the latter be particularly effective for telling a compelling story. We call this second category “User Generated Content.”
The Loews homepage social hub immediately starts off the story and builds a more authentic experience revolving around guest posts and guest reviews.
Why User Generated Content?
Why does User Generated Content matter? Because 77% of hotel guests read reviews before booking their hotel. Your guests’ social media posts are actually small but trusted reviews. By harnessing those posts, you can strategically place relevant “reviews” in front of guests while they are deciding whether or not to book.
Social reviews have a distinct advantage over other types of reviews — in addition to creating compelling content for a Hotel website or booking engine, these reviews reach the personal audience of each guest that posts about their stay. Given that social media posts or pins from friends is reported to influence 59% of global purchasing decisions, these social reviews are extremely valuable.
The Le Guanahani encourages guests to post their memories of the hotel and then displays them on their website.
Broadly, 46% of consumers consult social media when making a purchasing decision. In the past guests had to go back to a hotel’s social media page and sift through all types of posts to find that information. Now the hotel can make that process easier by displaying the relevant content when and where it matters most to the guest.
With technology platforms that aggregate all types of media content, brands like Loews, Marriott, Six Senses, and Hilton are working to take guests seamlessly from social media content on the web to social media content on-property. Seeing posts from their vacation in the lobby of the hotel has turned out to be a fun experience for guests — one that encourages them to not only share more photos, but to tag the hotel in all the great experiences of their vacation. Incorporating social media into the hotel experience that can make the guest experience more fun, the hotel’s social media presence more robust, and ultimately, increase reservations.
Ritz Carlton digital concierge in lobby displaying social media content, videos, and other property specific content.
The social media highway is not just about keeping web visitors on a branded site. It’s about seamlessly including social media in the hotel experience throughout a guest’s entire stay.
~Tim Sae Koo, CEO TINT
Hotels are getting creative with what they display on Lobby screens. From announcements, and social media posts to other digital content like videos, weather, and webpages. Using a small device hooked into the back of a TV, hotels can manage that TV’s content from anywhere in the world.
Today, it’s easier than ever to keep guests engaged with the content you want them to see. The content that you display can not only show the guest that they matter to a brand, it can show them that they should become your brand evangelists and share more to their followers.
Stop back next week for Part 2: How Gen Y and Millennials are changing hospitality marketing