Great social media marketing for hotels will be the make-or-break factor for many hospitality brands in the coming years. In this guide, we’ll cover why it’s so important, detailed tips, suggested best practices to follow, and examples you can use to fuel your own creativity. Keep reading to discover plenty of real-life examples of social media marketing for hotels along with advice from the experts.
Why is social media marketing for hotels so important?
Social media marketing is a vital part of any hospitality brand's strategy. Not only does it increase visibility through paid and organic discovery but it also has the potential to increase direct bookings and improve brand awareness.
With more people interacting with social media (eight new users join TikTok every second) than ever before, it has become an integral part of every hotel's operations. Social media marketing also gives hotels creative new ways to interact with their audiences. Not to mention the fact that you’ll really stand out from competitors who aren’t putting in the effort on these same channels.
Yet despite all of the benefits, many hotel brands are reluctant to start or step up their social media game.
In an interview for Hotel Management, NetBase’s product marketing manager Elvis Lieban said, “The challenge most marketers have is on deciding which metrics matter when it comes to dollars. Attributing a dollar value to likes on Instagram isn’t the right way to think about it.”
Instead, he advises hotels to consider social media as a channel for direct communication with potential new customers. As marketers ourselves, we also see a clear connection between the multi-touch opportunities unique to social media that could lead to bookings in a way that print and traditional websites may not be able to do alone.
5 in-depth expert tips on how to win social media marketing for hotels
We spoke to experts on hotel reviews, hotel marketing, hotel data science and more to put together these must-dos for social media marketing for hotels. Use one or more of these to generate a higher ROI for your properties.
1. Share slice-of-life content
Jeremy Hulls is the Senior Editor at Family Destinations Guide, a travel guide site that gives advice on hotels, destinations, and all things family travel. In an interview with Cvent, Hulls said that of the many hotels he’s researched over the years, the one thing that is missing from many of their social media accounts is what day to day at the hotel is like.
“Instead of overselling to others just to get them to visit your hotel,” says Hulls. You can “show them that the hotel is wonderful enough to be visited.” In this way, “the hotel can act as its own influencer by showing what it's like to actually like there almost every day on its own account.”
How do you put the slice-of-life approach into practice? Hulls says to share “daily snippets, small but heart-warming stories can make people save your hotel for future travels. Since the hotel industry banks on experiences, it only makes sense to keep it personal and relatable.”
2. Use your Google Business Profile
Cvent also spoke to Gareth Waters from Alliance Marketing Agency. Based on his experience serving hotels and other hospitality brands, he says that the number one area clients tend to overlook is Google’s own business review feature.
“We always [...] ensure they are maximising their local online presence by utilising their Google Business Profile,” says Waters. “By treating it as a mini-website, they should be regularly posting new photos and encouraging customer reviews by sharing their unique link to the profile.”
Now sure what to share? “Any offers, news, and updates should also be added to the posts section to inform potential new customers.”
Waters adds, “The GMB listing also gives useful insight into how many Google users are using the listing to find directions to the hotel, directly call the hotel, or view the uploaded photos.” This is helpful for tracking behavior, connecting content to bookings, and more.
“By spending time on these activities,” says Waters, “we have noticed a quick improvement not only on Google 3-Pack ranking but organic searches and direct inquiries are improved.”
3. Start with music
Lauren Listor is the owner of Laurel Creative, a social media marketing agency with NYC hotel clients such as The Conrad and St. Regis. Her favorite social media tools right now? Instagram Reels and TikTok.
In an email to Cvent, Listor said, “We LOVE Instagram reels, but with them, it’s time to get creative! Think about the current trending songs across Instagram Reels and Tiktok… how can you make that apply to your hotel?”
It can be challenging to think of new content for these two video-based platforms. But luckily for us Listor has a hack. “Switch up your mindset—don’t waste time trying to think of a concept and then choose music after,” suggests Listor. “Choose your trending music first and create around that. Creating to fit into the current trends is key!”
4. Follow 80/20
Pete DiMaio, the Chief Operating Officer at Travel Boom Marketing, a company that uses data science to develop marketing strategies for hotel and hospitality brands. TravelBloom also happens to host the world's #1 ranked Hotel Marketing Podcast. We picked DiMaio’s brain on what works best in social media marketing for hotels, and this is what he had to say.
When it comes to content creation, “we typically recommend an 80/20 rule for page posts—80% of the content should be related to your destination, travel tips, encouraging engagement, etc. and 20% should be self-promotional,” said DiMaio. And while the 80/20 rule has been around in marketing for a while now, it’s nice to hear it works from someone with access to analytics that prove its success.
DiMaio also says this tried-and-true rule will never go out of style: “Always focus on quality over quantity.” As SEO-certified marketers ourselves, we’d also like to add that as long as you’re posting consistently, the algorithm will likely reward you for it on any platform.
5. Partner up
Who said you have to create all of your digital content yourself? Reposting images, photos, and videos that your happy customers have made is key to social media marketing for hotels. At least that’s what Claudine Hart, the Marketing Director of reStays Ottawa, said works for their brand.
Cvent spoke to Hart about her perspective on the current social media landscape. “It can be challenging to stand out as a hotel in the social media space, especially when you are launching during a pandemic,” shares Hart. “But one strategy that has worked very well for us has been re-posting traveller (reStayer) and influencer photos.”
And, as it turns out, the benefits go beyond saving time and money on content creation. “By engaging with local influencers and those who have taken photographs of our hotel, we have reached new audiences that we otherwise wouldn't be able to, since the creator will often engage back with our content,” shares Hart.
“Doing this has also helped build up our brand because those who visit our page see us as a hotel with real people visiting and following us, rather than only professionally-produced photos.”
But you do have to be picky about what you reshare. “We choose our influencer and ambassador partners carefully to ensure that the content they produce, their values and key messages resonate with our audience and brand,” said Hart. “This works both ways as our offering needs to be relevant and engaging to their audiences as well.”
Content isn’t all that your collaborations can provide you. As Hart said, “We love when our influencer partner share data on what content performed best, this guides our own content strategy.”
It’s also a great way to get direct feedback. “We also love seeing how our stayers interact with the suites and report on what they value to the most! Some of our influencer partners [direct message] us questions from their audience months after their stays!”
Whether it’s a paid partner’s content or simply a fan, make sure you reshare posts that focus on experiences over property. Hart says, “Another way we stand out on social media is by not only posting photos of our hotel and grounds, but also by posting photos of the lifestyle that we offer–this includes local partners, surrounding areas, activities, and views.”
Hart goes on to say that “this further helps us tell our story in an authentic manner and allows potential stayers to dream a bit more! All of this creates more engagement, shares, likes and eventually reStayers!”
Ideas worth stealing for your own hotel’s social media marketing
These best practices for hotel social media marketing are useful for any brand. Use them as the foundation for your own strategy.
6. Be playful
Even if your brand has an air of prestige, social media marketing for hotels is best when it’s a little more down to earth. Consider how you can authentically portray your brand through fun moments with your staff, guests, and event goers. Remember that people can more easily connect to humor than seriousness. In fact, laughing together is scientifically proven to create stronger bonds.
7. Don’t overthink
Anecdotally, we here at Cvent have witnessed and heard stories of content that went viral despite how little effort was put into creating it. While we do recommend having a strategy in place, if perfectionism is keeping your marketing team from posting, they may be losing out on more opportunities to be seen.
8. Use a calendar
Plot out the exact times and dates you’ll post content to each channel. Create content ahead of time (at least two business days) so there is enough time for the rest of the team to approve it before it goes live. Unless you’re responding to breaking news, it’s better to plan ahead.
9. Project manage
Content creation relies on having the right processes in place in order to organize and scale efforts across multiple channels. Tools such as Wrike and Monday are helpful for working with internal teams and third parties to take your content from ideas to reality.
10. Choose content pillars
Stuck on what to post? Choose four content pillars, or topics, and use those to determine your theme for a given quarter or week.
For example, let’s say your hotel has stunning views, a lush garden, fine dining, and a season offer coming up. You can use each of those pillars as a jumping off point for all of your content for the month by creating a post a week that corresponds with that week’s pillar. That means sunset footage of your gorgeous balcony views one week, photos from your guest tea party in the gardens the next, and so on.
11. Follow SEO rules
Optimising your social media marketing for search engines is an absolute must. Add appropriate hashtags, use all available post features, and share at optimal times and dates based on your audience.
12. Analyze the competition
What are other hotels in your area posting online? Figure out how you can make it better, fill a much-needed gap, or start a marketing channel none of the others are currently using.
Want to learn more about how to up your game against the competition? Continue reading to find out how to upgrade your hotel with these renovation ideas.