The UK hotel industry is booming, The 2018 London Hotel Development Monitor Report revealed in 2017 and the first half of 2018 that 62 new hotels – with a combined number of 8500 rooms – opened in London alone. This is set to rise by another 11,600 hotel rooms by 2020.
It is therefore no surprise that these new openings will increase competition and pressure for hotels to maintain their performance and keep up with trends. Although only part of the picture, social media is having a significant impact on how hotels attract and retain their market.
So why should hotels be using social media? And how can social media help reinforce a brands reputation?
Why use social media?
Today social media is vital for any business, but why is it so important for the hotel market? Meltwater recently shared statistics showing that in the UK, 79% of the population use Facebook, 47% use Twitter and 41% use Instagram, proving how important these social media platforms are to reach your audience.
Social media provides hotels the chance to build upon their guest relationships, strengthen the hotel’s online reputation, and create SEO content. Social media can support throughout the decision making and booking process, as guests begin planning their trips using a search engine, looking on social media for travel inspiration and also reading online reviews. Therefore, making social media an indispensable hotel marketing tool.
Visual content is vital in travel and hospitality, guests want a taste of what they can experience, and they want to feel engaged with the product or brand, so a visual-based feed is very important in the travel industry to help showcase these experiences.
Our media consumption habits are changing, today it is more likely that your audience will seek out photos and videos on social media before making a booking, in fact the social media presence and visual identify of a brand is often one of the final decision makers for consumers when proceeding with a booking. In 2017, Travolution reported research that showed that 40% of millennial travellers (aged 18-33) said that their choice of holiday now depends on how ‘Instagrammable’ it is. This was the most important factor over the cost or availability of alcohol (24%) or chances to experience the local cuisine (9.4%). These results prove just how important it is for hoteliers to showcase how visual and inviting their property is through their social media, or through influencer marketing with online content creators.
Taking this to the next level, easyJet has recently launched a new app where users can take screenshots on Instagram and then use the app to identify the destination, search for flights and make a booking. The user doesn’t need to know where the photo has been taken, based on visuals alone, if it looks like a place they would like to visit then the app can help take them there.
In September, Icelolly.com revealed research that showed that 42% of British travellers are looking for more action-packed trips and rely on social media influencers for inspiration. Consumers look up to social media influencers as they value their advice, opinions, recommendations and see them as a more authentic, honest and personal resource for endorsements and reviews.
It is also important for hotels to create a public face to show their personality and engage with their guests, to build that authentic and human connection across their social media platforms in the same way as influencers do. It’s a social platform after all!
Corus & Laura Ashley Hotels plan to increase their social media usage next year. Rebecca Fewings, Senior Marketing Executive, said: “During 2019 we will aim to be a lot more image focused on social media. We will also introduce video as this is something that we haven’t done very much of, but we know is very up and coming. It is important to keep our followers engaged with great looking content, regular giveaways and lots of exciting news.”
Hoteliers, such as Corus & Laura Ashley Hotels, should continue to increase their video content to keep up with consumer demand. Animated explainer video company Wyzowl stated that Tweets with video are six times more likely to be retweeted than a Tweet with a photo, and around 100 million hours of video is watched on Facebook every day – proving the power of video on social media.
Ultimately, hotels should be making the most out of social media as its usage is only expected to rise. The Telegraph reported that we now spend one day a week on our phones with 78% of the population using smartphones.
Social media drives traffic, it exposes your brand and online presence, and boosts SEO. It is an opportunity for a business to showcase what they have to offer and create an expectation for guests. If you’d like to hear more, please check out our ‘10 Top Tips for Social Media’ article for tips and advice on how to develop and maintain your social media presence.
But what else is on the horizon in technology for the hospitality industry?
Amazon has now released ‘Alexa for Hospitality’ which allows hoteliers to provide their guests with an immersive personalised and memorable experience. Alexa becomes a virtual concierge and can assist guests during their stay by ordering towels, checking out, ordering room service or to ask for advice on what to do in the local area.
As far as we can tell, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts are the first to give AI technology a try via a collaboration with Chinese artificial intelligence specialist Baidu. Intercontinental has fitted two hotels in China with AI Smart Rooms to enable guests to talk to their hotel room and request it to play music, to switch the room’s ambience from ‘work’ to ‘leisure’ mode and to order room service.
If this technology proves to be successful, then it’s only a matter of time before we see other hotel groups installing AI technology in just about every hotel bed room, meeting room and other hotel and venue spaces on the planet.
Therefore, it is critical for hotels to rethink their use of social media and technology not only to promote the business but also to enhance customer care and guest experience, which will help reinforce the brands reputation and drive future growth. With technology evolving every day, there isn’t time for the hospitality industry to fall behind.
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