Attracting Tourists and Travelers with Social Media
by Jeff Howland
Consumers are increasingly using social media to research their travel plans and make decisions about where to stay. A recent study found that 52% of travelers using social media to research their travel plans ended up changing their original plans. Combining this with the massive growth in mobile apps and services, hotels, motels, inns, and bed and breakfasts need to consider online marketing as a critical part of their overall strategy.
Research through Social Media
Word of mouth recommendations from family and friends blow away traditional marketing, and these days much of that back-and-forth is done through social media. Getting your business on their radar can make a big difference when it comes time to decide. Online reviews are also a huge factor when consumers are doing research online. Consider the following:
- After a vacation 46% of travelers post hotel reviews online
- 87% of those younger than 34 use Facebook to solicit advice before making bookings
- 72% post vacation photos and 70% update their Facebook status while still on vacation
- 46% ‘check-in’ to a location (e.g. Facebook and Foursquare) while on vacation
Facebook isn’t the only place they are talking either. According to USA Today, visual platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are playing a greater role in connecting with travel consumers.
The Content You Should Share
Before we even think about which social media channels to use, I want you to think about how you’re going to connect with your followers on social media, what resonates with your demographic, what gets people talking. I want you to step back and think about the stories from your inn, from your community, and from you —
This is where content comes from.
You – Describe what led you to buying an inn or bed & breakfast, what you love about it, and why you do it. Show us what the inn looked like when you started and what it looks like today. Tell us what goes on behind the scenes, preparing for new guests, opening up for the season, and closing for the season. Tell us your favorite experiences from running the inn and share some of your pictures. Tell us about other things you do within the community and share some local ‘secrets.’
Guests – Every day you have guests do your best to gather some nuggets from them about where they’re coming from, where they went, what they saw. Have your guests share their favorite moments and pictures from their trip. Take pictures of you and your guests together.
Community – You have your finger on the pulse of your community but your guests don’t. Share news and events to help give people a reason to visit town. Keep track of a few key sites that have community events calendars. The local Chamber of Commerce page is typically a great resource for this. Identify some of the primary cultural draws to the area, such as museums, theaters, restaurants, film festivals. Highlight these to help visitors make travel plans around specific events.
Travel – From your knowledge of the industry, you can put together your own tips and also pull from sources you read every week. If you see a good article about traveling with kids, save it to your list to share later or write up a blog post adding in your thoughts and tips. If you can provide helpful advice about ‘staying at inns’ or ‘finding a good bed & breakfast’, you’ll not only be helping consumers make their plans, you’ll be boosting your search engine rankings in the hospitality industry.
The Product – Ultimately your goal is to get people to stay at your inn. You need to sell your ‘product’, but how do you do that on social media? If you have unique rooms or different levels of rooms, highlight each one separately, describing something special about each one. Is your inn an old house with a history or have you had any famous guests over the years or won any awards. Highlight your package deals. As you know, staying at an inn is an experience on its own. Capture what makes your inn different than others and sell that. Now set up some straightforward, simple landing pages on your website and start using social media to drive them there. If you do well in the earlier content areas, your hard sell won’t be so hard after all.
The above suggestions give you a start on where to source your content. Stay tuned and we’ll talk more about which channels you should be using and how to best frame your stories to work on each one.
Contact Dream Local Digital today and we’ll take a look at how you’re doing things now and give you some tips on how to improve.