The Essence of Social Media and Hospitality

    By Todd Maxwell, Owner, eMaximize

    As I thought about writing this article for California Lodging News and basically put it off all week like I was studying for a calculus exam in college, I thought about why I was procrastinating. I came to the resolution that I did not want to write the low hanging fruit article that we see everywhere—“Ten Tips To Improve Your Hotel’s Social Media.” It’s always written by someone who has never worked in a hotel. I was procrastinating because I didn’t want to be that guy. Well, I couldn’t exactly because I have been a hotelier, a California hotelier. I wanted to provide real value to CHLA readers and members and take a deep meaningful dive into the essence of social media and hospitality.

    Sure, like all aspects of operating a hotel there are best practices for social media as well, and they are effective. But amidst all the tips and strategies that digital agencies like mine explain to hoteliers, there is an underlying role for social media that is often missed. It is missed because hoteliers are so busy managing so many things that they don’t have time to think about why they are doing something; they just do it properly and quickly, then move on to the next task. The life of running a 24/7 business serving the public.

    The purpose of social media is not to drive traffic to your website to foster a conversion. A conversion is an action on your website that digital marketers measure as, well, a good thing. In this case the conversion is a reservation. Acquiring reservations is a function of, or a wishful reaction by hoteliers but not the primary purpose of social media. Social media is where you communicate with your customers in a casual place when they are not at your hotel, and that is a wonderful thing. It’s also a place where you can attract new customers, so you better act like you are at a cocktail party where you don’t know anybody. Be fun, charming, informative and above all, be polite.

    It’s digital agencies that are changing the way hoteliers view and use social media. This is mostly because the agencies are doing the work, writing the articles, and have a different goal—increase revenue to protect their engagement. Lost in the process are the wonderful aspects of communicating with your guests in a casual environment with engaging imagery. Gaining followers and increasing direct bookings is not the goal. The goal is to create the cocktail party that everybody wants to come to and nobody wants to leave. That should be the goal of every hotelier’s social media strategy. The direct bookings will follow.
    Hoteliers should think about social media as an opportunity to pull rather than push guests.

    Social media is not a place to shove your specials and rates on visitors. You wouldn’t do that in the lobby of your hotel and you shouldn’t do it on social media. If you were constantly reading your resume at a cocktail party, you would soon find yourself alone in a room. You want to use social media to attract followers and guests with your charm, imagery and wit. Think of it more of an invitation than an advertising billboard. Create the cool persona that your hotel embodies and rock it on social media as often as possible.
    Now all of this sounds so easy, but I understand it’s not. It’s like describing what style is, it’s hard to explain but you know it when you see it. So, for the traditionalists that prefer to read tips, I will leave you with seven recommendations to improve your hotel’s social media game.

    • Always, always use quality images.
    • Your posts should often contain imagery that was staged.
    • Make a real effort with social media, it’s important.
    • Make use of video, 4–5 seconds of video is fun.
    • Don’t push, pull.
    • Put people in your photos. People like people.
    • Research and use effective hashtags.

    Thanks for reading!

    Todd Maxwell is the owner of eMaximize, a leading digital marketing agency located in Manhattan Beach. He writes digital marketing articles for Forbes and has held executive positions with Larkspur Hotels & Restaurants and The Meruelo Group.

    eMaximize is a full-service Digital Marketing Agency located in Los Angeles. We partner with our clients to maximize their revenue via all facets of digital marketing. We drive quality traffic, clients, patients, guests and revenue to your business. We don’t overwhelm our clients with analytics and ranking reports. We discuss revenue, new customer growth and digital strategy. We are truly your business partner. Your success is our success and is the only success.