With over 630 million users, LinkedIn is a marketing channel that will reinforce all your other hotel brand marketing efforts. The social channel's audience spans most industries with a business-to-business focus, and hospitality is no exception. But it can be difficult to build a loyal following and engage with your audience effectively.
Many hoteliers try to apply strategies from Facebook, Twitter, or other consumer social media networks, and miss out on the vast benefits LinkedIn really offers for B2B content. Below we’ll break down LinkedIn marketing for hotels and explore how you can strategically reach your event planner and group organizer audiences, and how it can dramatically increase your reach for group business marketing. Of course, one of the best ways to engage event planners is to connect with them as they're sourcing group business space, which you can do through Cvent's one-of-a-kind hotel marketing solutions.
Read on for techniques to help you elevate your hotel's LinkedIn marketing:
1. Establish an effective company LinkedIn page for your hotel.
All of your marketing efforts start with creating a strong presence and profile for your company. You then simply need to follow through the onboarding process, answering all the questions and including keywords where relevant. Keep these things in mind as you create your page:
Get the name right: This may seem obvious, but displaying your name differently than your audience expects will make it hard to find you. So make sure your name is consistent with your other marketing material, your website, and your meta descriptions for search. Use your full hotel name, and don’t include the location unless that's part of your name.
Write an interesting description: Your description should outline what your hotel has to offer to a corporate audience and to event planners and organizers, so it should be different than the description you'd write for consumers. Focus on the selling points that make your property unique and add value for your target audience. For instance, you may want to highlight your corporate meeting spaces, expertise in sustainable events, your newly refurbished lobby, or your use of the latest technology to create immersive experiences. This is likely the first part of your profile that your audience will read, so make sure it’s crafted to impress.
Use crisp, clean hotel imagery: Your profile image should be your logo, clearly presented and cropped appropriately. Your cover image should be a professional photograph of your hotel, but that doesn’t always mean an external shot. Consider rotating through images of events, your lobby, your outdoor gardens, or whatever makes your hotel shine. Don’t put text over your images -- let them speak for themselves.
Include a link to your website: Don’t forget to fill this in, as it will help interested parties find out more about what you offer. If you have a landing page targeting your corporate or events audience consider including that here instead of just linking to your home page. You can even include a link to your venue's unique page on the Cvent Supplier Network as your website link or within your property's description, helping planners quickly navigate to information they need to book with you.
Keep in mind that if your property is part of a larger brand, you should coordinate with brand representatives to determine whether to create a separate profile. Some brands set individual properties up as affiliate pages, while others are happy to have each property create a separate profile. Either way, make sure to follow brand guidelines and speak with the appropriate brand voice when posting.
2. Use your personal page to demonstrate the value you bring.
It's a huge mistake to think of your LinkedIn personal profile as just a resume. Your profile should demonstrate the value you bring to your industry, the unique ways you can help others, and your areas of expertise. Think about the keywords that describe you, your role, your property, and the unique benefits of working with you, then weave these into your headline, description, and job summaries. Focus on measurable outcomes that a business audience will appreciate. Were you able to boost event attendance by 25%? Was your hotel named the best for business retreats in the region? Any of the things that make your property and your team special could be good options for your profile page.
Showcase your expertise in the "experience" section using articles, videos, presentations, and high-quality images. This is a great place to show events that your hotel hosted, marketing campaigns you developed, or creative uses for hotel meeting spaces.
Make sure to encourage your employees, colleagues, and hotel executives to update their personal profiles and to link to relevant company posts when appropriate, as this will boost the visibility of the page for the whole company.
3. Write and post engaging content.
This one is (or should be) a no-brainer. You'll need to consistently post engaging content in order to grow a following and effectively market your property on LinkedIn. But the content you share should not be the same as the content you share on business-to-consumer focused channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The audience on LinkedIn tends to be a bit older, more focused on professional topics, and often reads during work. Many hotels leave their visitor and guest information for B2C channels, and use LinkedIn to speak directly to group business prospects like event planners and group organizers. You should be focusing on the things that planners are interested in reading about to make their events more effective, creative, profitable, or well-attended. This is a great channel for focusing on content related to meeting spaces, conferences, and retreats. Content related to weddings, dining, consumer packages, or vacations is not as likely to do well here since that's more related to individual hotel stays.
One particular area of focus should be showcasing events through pictures, video, and case-study style articles. Event planners are always looking for new ideas and ways to improve their events, so providing some lessons learned or tips for a successful event will help your target audience be successful. Use Pulse, LinkedIn’s platform for long-form content, to provide value in the form of how-to’s, trend analysis, news announcements, and event highlights. You’ll have to post these from your personal profile and then share them to your company page, but each post will raise brand awareness and establish your leadership in the community. Research and use appropriate hashtags in your posts (sparingly throughout, or at the end of the article), and include a strong (call-to-action) with a link to your hotel’s website or event landing page to generate traffic and engagement.
4. Grow your following.
Typically, it's tough for companies to grow a following on LinkedIn, with some smaller brands and independent hotels reporting a plateau at about 750 followers. Your first strategy for growing your community should be organic growth through posting relevant and engaging content, replying to comments, asking questions, and updating your profile with recent news. You can also send direct messages to your personal connections asking them to follow your page, which works well to get you started and provide a foundation.
LinkedIn has some limited options for growing a hotel following as well. You can use ad spend to boost your company profile page and gain visibility with your target audience. There is also a new feature called “invite connections” that will allow you to send targeted invites.
5. Create LinkedIn "showcase pages" to target audience segments.
Showcase pages are like landing pages on your website, in the sense that they target specific audiences to highlight business initiatives, products, or business units. They appear under “affiliate pages” from your main company page, and have the same posting options and analytics as your main page. They can be a powerful tool, but very few brands take advantage of them, especially in hospitality. You can use this to your advantage and stand out with your event planning and group organizing audience.
By using showcase pages, you can highlight specific services, brands, or event types that your B2B audience will be interested in. For instance, Hilton has showcase pages for their loyalty program, as well as pages for each of their brands under the Hilton umbrella. Microsoft has separate showcase pages for their cloud products, as well as for developers, advertisers, and educators. Having these separate pages allows them to differentiate their images, messaging, and content based on very different audience segments. Hotels can use showcase pages to highlight corporate retreats, weddings, conferences, and more. Get creative here and it could become a huge differentiator for your property.
6. Engage with relevant groups.
Make sure to join LinkedIn groups related to hospitality and hotels, but don’t stop there. Groups for your local chamber of commerce, tourism groups related to your location, and groups for event planning and event organizers are all good ideas. Groups related to the industry or type of travel that you’re targeting can also be useful, but don’t go overboard joining every group you find. Being an engaging and contributing member of a few groups will go a lot further in your marketing than joining a large number and not posting much in each.
Once you’ve joined the relevant groups, get to know the members and find ways to be helpful. Join in with discussions, find potential opportunities and post your page’s content when relevant. Promoting your content to the appropriate groups is a relatively easy way to reach even more relevant customers. To showcase your expertise in a specific area, you could even create your own group. Consider creating your own group for sustainable event planning, vegetarian and vegan F&B, use of emerging tech in hospitality, or any of the other big hospitality trends for 2020. You’ll ensure a committed audience, have a ready outlet for content related to these trends, and establish your property as a thought leader on big issues.
Take advantage of LinkedIn as a hotel marketing tool
LinkedIn is a huge channel for marketing, and it’s still being underutilized by hotels to target event planners. So take advantage, build a strong presence, and see your hotel’s group business soar. Then, be sure to discover the best way to reach thousands of planners right while they're sourcing for event space.
Thinking about other ways to create a great first impression with event planners? Check out our top tips for hotel curb appeal.