Selling is social. Always has been and always will be.
However, today social selling has taken on new dimensions and formats. Now we’re tasked with building and maintaining relationships with clients via social media channels, like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
For hotel sales people looking to connect with meeting and event planners, the key is to have authentic engagement. Social media is no place to constantly tout your latest sales promos, industry awards, or your latest marketing initiative.
It’s vital to focus on engaging, communicating, and being an active participant in online conversations with planners. Here’s what you need to know to make social media one of your most impactful, productive tools to increase group bookings.
Position yourself as a trusted leader in your market and your destination by sharing relevant updates and articles, commenting with thoughtful insights to others’ posts, or suggesting solutions for potential clients.
LinkedIn is the best social platform to expand your reach. Share interesting thoughts and encourage others to respond. Write original articles with your professional opinion on topics that matter to hospitality sales or meeting planning. Encourage your network to comment and share, and soon you’ll start seeing conversations bloom around you.
Nurture Your Connections
A mistake that hotel sales people often make is being too noisy on social media (posting for the sake of posting and self-promoting) or too stalkerish (just using social media to spy and gather social intelligence on clients).
If you’re only doing these things – STOP. Use social media to communicate with planners and others in the industry. It’s crucial to be an active and frequent participant in conversations in LinkedIn groups or on industry Facebook pages. Show you’re listening by liking clients’ posts and tagging them when appropriate.
Search for, connect, and interact with influential people in hospitality and your market. Applaud what they’re posting and be part of the conversations they start.
Position yourself as a likeable expert by providing value to your prospects. That’s as applicable in social selling as it is in any other type of sales process. Answer questions and provide relevant information that will make everything – from the booking process and meeting set-up to travel planning and the reception – easier and more efficient. Include information that will help customers make the best buying decisions, and information that will save them time and/or aggravation. Offer solutions and share expertise.
Set up Google alerts for topics your clients care about, so you’ll be the first to find out relevant information that can benefit them.
Another tip: You don’t always have to provide your own tips or feel forced to always think of unique content to post. You can also provide value by re-posting others' relevant content. Just be sure to tag them.
Give Them Eye Candy
Social selling is a visual medium, so include authentic, poignant and vibrant photos in your posts. Resist the urge to only post professional shot images of your property. Social media is a place to be authentic. So, the most impactful photos aren’t the ones taken with the best lighting or paid models. They are images you shoot from your own phone.
With that said, one photograph that should always be professionally shot is your own headshot. I’ve seen one too many casual, unprofessional snapshots of hotels sales people on LinkedIn and it makes them look like amateurs, new to the field, or sloppy. All things you don’t want to be associated with.
Convert digital connections into real life connections. At industry events, seek out individuals you’ve interacted with on social media. Establish online connections with meeting planners, invite them for lunch, or plan a group event at the hotel. Meeting IRL (in real life) after establishing a social media connection can ease you into a closer business relationship.
Nearly 79% of salespeople who significantly incorporate social media into their sales strategies outperform those who don’t, says social sales specialist Jim Keenan. In the meetings and conventions inustry, this statistic should reinforce the potential of social media marketing in your group sales process. Because hotel group sales relies heavily on marketing an experience, social selling is an excellent vehicle to drive sales and engagement.
Written by Junvi Ola.