Social Media & PR – talk to your people

This is Section 4 of the series ’45 things you can do to get more bookings’

Section 1 – Build a website and take bookings
Section 2 – SEO – get to the top of Google
Section 3 – Content strategy – keep telling your story
Section 5 – Advanced Strategies – get that extra edge
Section 6 – Monitor your Progress – monthly stats are essential

29. Post Videos to YouTube

Google owns YouTube and favours YouTube videos in their search results.

If you want to appear organically in search results, create videos that answer the questions asked by your potential guests.

This is particularly important when thinking about your international market. If you imagine your potential guest is pondering which country they’re going to visit, you can start to think about good content ideas. It doesn’t just have to be about your hotel rooms.

YouTube videos show up in Google results, because Google owns YouTube

30. Post video to Facebook

Google doesn’t own Facebook, and vice versa.

Facebook doesn’t go to much effort to show YouTube videos to your friends, so if you post a video to YouTube, then share the link on Facebook, you won’t get very good results.

Upload your videos directly to Facebook as well.

Note that you need to think about the content of the videos you upload to each platform for one very important reason. Sound.

People generally don’t listen to sound on Facebook videos so you need to make sure your Facebook videos are meaningful even when they’re on mute.

Subtitles are essential but you also need to look at the visuals. Once the video is ready, watch it without sound to see if it makes sense.

People generally watch Facebook videos without sound

31. Post to your Facebook business page regularly

Do you have a Facebook business page? Is it healthy and vibrant or does it resemble a ghost town?

It can seem very lonely in there because Facebook has gradually changed their algorithm so your business content is not shown to anyone unless you pay.

Nevertheless it’s important to post regular updates. There should be at least a few posts going up every week.

People will go to your Facebook page as part of their research. If there’s nothing going on they’ll assume your hotel is pretty much the same. Make sure your page is buzzing and vibrant, with a variety of content types – not a whole wall of special offers.

This is a place to showcase the personality of your hotel and actually engage with your audience.

My Facebook Business page is a wasteland

32. Make sure your Facebook page is set up properly

Apart from the obvious things, such as using your correct business name and a gorgeous cover photo, make sure you:

a. Claim your vanity URL. That means your Facebook page URL will look like rather than a completely random string of numbers and letters.

b. Include your website URL so that people who find you on Facebook can easily click through to your website.

c. Pay attention to the About and Description fields. Remember this might be the first contact a potential guest has with your business. Make sure you help them understand what’s great about your hotel.

Your Facebook page could be the way a potential guest first finds your hotel

33. Post to Instagram regularly

If you have an instagram account, use it, especially if you want to attract younger guests.

Don’t limit yourself to photos of your pool though. Social media is the place where you can connect with people on a human level.

Get behind the scenes a bit.

Introduce your potential guests to the people that run your hotel.

Share content generated by your guests.

Get out into the local area and show what it’s like to be on holiday at your place.

Here’s a good article showing 7 great examples of hotels getting it right on Instagram.

Instagram is all about photos.

Make them fun, engaging, spectacular, interesting.

34. Participate in Twitter regularly

You don’t need to use all the social media platforms but if you do have a Twitter account, use it regularly and correctly.

Twitter is great for connecting with guests. It’s fast paced which makes it more suited to customer relations than promotions. You don’t need to limit yourself to your guests specifically though.

You can have a chat with the frustrated traveller whose flight just got cancelled – and they’re stranded in your area. They’re looking for somewhere to sleep, remember.

You can talk with a guest who is thinking about coming to your area for the first time.

You can jump into conversations about local events.

Twitter is all about timing. People don’t wait a couple of days for a reply, it needs to be as instant as possible. That means if you’re using Twitter you need to commit to it.

Check out 7 top Twitter tips for hoteliers for more on this topic.

You’re either a Twitterer or you’re not a Twitterer.

35. Social proof – testimonials, ratings, reviews, awards

Google likes to know how you fit into the wider world, and social proof is an important part of this.

Even more importantly, social proof is one of the most important factors for potential guests. Think about your own behaviour when you look at potential holiday destinations. You really want to know what other people think, don’t you? Did they have a good time? Was the management helpful?

Think about:

What are people saying about you?
How do people rate your business?
What awards have you earned within your industry?

If you haven’t earned any awards, start finding things to enter.

Testimonials rarely arrive spontaneously. Actively ask people to write good reviews for you and include them on your website. Remember reviews can even be copied from a guest book in the room. People love to have their say and this is a really easy way to get them to do it.

We talked about Trip Advisor in Section 2, at point 20.

Get people to say nice things about you.

Be a 5 star legend.

Win awards!

36. Set up a mailing list

With all the attention on social media it can seem as if email lists are dead, but this is far from true.

A list of people who have specifically asked to be emailed is highly valuable. You own that list. You control what happens with it – how often people are emailed, what you tell them, everything.

By contrast, you don’t own Facebook. Social media needs to be part of your strategy, not your entire strategy. You don’t want to put all your eggs into the basket of a company that regularly shifts the goalposts.

Mailchimp is a good programme to use for your email list. It’s free if you have less than 2000 people on your list. It has the capacity to be segmented, meaning you can sort people into different groups. You might have one list for people who have stayed at your hotel before, and another list for people who have not.

There’s a bit of an art to setting up a mailing list on your website.

I think it’s important to remove words like ‘subscribe’ and ‘sign up’ from the initial registration form. Even the word ‘form’ is a no-go in my books. These words all come with the feeling of an obligation or contract. People don’t want to feel locked in.

Instead, make it light-hearted, like you would with friends. Use buttons and phrases like:

Let’s stay in touch
Keep me updated
Send me news
Let’s go!
Come on in!
Shall we be friends?

Notice the “HELP ME CATH” button I’m using throughout this series. It’s the one directing people to the next step in their journey towards becoming a paying client.

‘Help me Cath’ is a very clear call to action. It’s also a lighthearted way of throwing a rescue buoy to people struggling with all this online hoo-har.

The button at the bottom of the ‘Help me Cath’ page says ‘OK, let’s do it!‘. By that time my potential client has filled out a form and knows we may end up working together.

Again, it’s lighthearted and friendly, but ‘OK, let’s do it‘ is also important psychologically. My potential client is acknowledging to themselves that they’re finally asking for help. By the time I talk with them, they’re ready to move forward, and my job is to make sure we’re right for each other.

An email list is one of the most valuable assets you can have
Whatever you do, don’t ask people to ‘subscribe to newsletter’. Yawn….is it even possible to make it sound more boring and spammy?

37. Send out regular emails, but don’t make them boring

It’s one thing to set up a mailing list, it’s another to remember to write to your people.

It’s next level stuff to get people to open and read your emails.

There’s a fine line – on one hand you don’t want to send an email just for the sake of sending an email. That will be boring. On the other hand you don’t want people to forget they signed up to your list, otherwise you risk being reported for spam.

Decide on a frequency and stick to it. Even once a month is enough.

Refer to 56 ideas for your hotel blog and newsletters for inspiration.

In a nutshell, you need great content and a compelling subject line. Easy huh?

All you need is great content and a compelling subject line.

Easy huh?

38. Set up a seasonal contest

Contests are a great way to get people engaged with your social media.

Spend some time thinking through your contest to ensure your return on investment is as high as possible. What prize will you offer? How much will it cost to deliver the prize? How attractive will that prize be? How much exposure will it provide?

Perhaps you could require entrants to spend some time on your hotel website, finding the answer to a question? If you have 3 room types you might ask contestants to choose which room they’d most love to stay in, and why? The advantage here is they’ll ‘fire the pixel’ meaning you can retarget them later. We talk about retargeting in Section 5, Advanced Strategies.

You could also give away 7 of something, ie one every day for a week, which makes people feel their chances of winning are much higher than with a single prize. You could give away 7 deep tissue massages, 7 restaurant meals, or 7 double passes to a local attraction.

If you’re giving guests a camera, as suggested in Section 3 (point 28), you could have a seasonal contest where viewers vote for their favourite video. The winner might receive a fabulous getaway that includes accommodation, a meal at a local restaurant and a gift basket of local goods, for example. You could also come up with “10 gift packs to take home for your friends” and/or prizes for people that voted.

You would partner with businesses that had appeared in the videos to both provide these prizes and help promote the contest.

The benefit of such a video contest is that there are a limited number of potential prize winners and they all work like crazy to promote your contest because they want their friends to vote for their video to win. Naturally, as part of this process your videos will enjoy more views.

Contests get excellent engagement because people love to win things

39. Write press releases that actually get used

Publications of all kinds are gagging for great content every day. As soon as any publication is released the deadline for the next edition is looming.

Editors need news, and they need it now. Think about how you can help them with that.

Clearly you can’t just write a sales piece for your property or it will go straight into the bin. You need to write a story that’s newsworthy so it will grab the attention of the journalist and make them pick up the phone.

Have you noticed a new trend in travel lately?

For example, are there more people arriving from China?
As guests, how do they compare with visitors from other regions?
Do they spend more or less?
Are they messier or cleaner?
What impact will more Chinese visitors have on your region?

Have you discovered that locals have changed their holiday habits?
Are they going overseas more or less?
How will that impact the local economy?

You can quote yourself as the industry authority.

Remember to add any stories printed to the ‘in the news’ section of your website. It’s part of your social proof – not every business is so well regarded that the media will quote them.

And remember that any time your story is used in an online publication, and they link to your website from theirs, you just scored some extra SEO ‘link juice’.

Writing press releases that get used is a skill. Do some research to find out more about how you can become the expert, so that editors come to you for stories.

Be the hotel that’s always quoted in the media
That’s the end of Section 4.

Head to Section 5 – Advanced Strategies – get that extra edge

Cath, can you help?

Yes, I can.

I work one-on-one with hotel owners to help with all these things so you can get more bookings.

Find out more here.

What do you think?

What else do you do to increase bookings?

What have I missed? Have you spotted a typo or some other error? Do you agree or disagree with a particular point?

Or, if you found this information helpful please let me know. My casual thought about putting together this series turned into an obscene amount of time, blood, sweat and tears, so I would be chuffed to hear from you.