How Hotels Can Fill Their Rooms via Twitter

Opinion: Four underutilized Twitter marketing strategies that every hotel needs to adopt to boost social engagement and customers

The average frequent flyer spends at least one hour researching prospective hotels online in his or her destination before booking a flight. In 2017, it will be a marketing sin for hotels not to have a presence on Twitter, which boasted 319 million monthly active users as of the fourth quarter of 2016.

Also, Twitter provides a two-way communication channel between brands and customers, especially for the hospitality industry, which is more customer-centric than others.

Twitter marketing for hotels is all about communicating with customers, meeting future guests, resolving problems and learning more about prospective guests to increase return on investment.

Businesses such as MGM Grand, Major League Baseball and JetBlue have mastered the art of Twitter marketing and its use as a communication tool by running contests, attracting potential guests by social listening to certain phrases providing customer support and fostering relationships.

Below are four underutilized Twitter marketing strategies that every hotel needs to adopt to boost social engagement and customers.

Photo-tagging guests

A study by Buffer showed that attaching images to tweets raised Twitter engagement by as much as double, and tweets with images received 18 percent more clicks than those without. Similarly, a study of verified accounts showed that Twitter images resulted in up to 35 percent more retweets.

Imagine the number of retweets, likes, tweet impression and extra eyes for a hotel brand when it tags a departing customer with his or her last photo in the hotel, asking if he or she had a safe trip back home?

Hotels can request guests’ Twitter information upon check-in and offer special discounts at restaurants or spas in exchange for it, including the permission to take their pictures. Photo tagging present or departing hotel guests asking about their visit, following up after their stay or informing them about special events and deals at your hotel will yield immeasurable results.

Used tactically, photo tags are an extraordinary way of targeting a specific audience (influencers, guest followers on Twitter, business owners, etc.). For instance, photo-tagging the local chambers of commerce is a sure way to ensure that your tweet gets read by the followers of that business community.

Photo tagging educates the intended audience with ideas about extra services you offer, nearby sights and attractions and events that can be held at your hotel venue.

Another benefit of photo tagging is that it allows you to cross-promote your guests’ Twitter accounts. Twitter’s interface makes it super easy for users to follow tagged accounts.

Listen and respond to your customers, quickly

Twitter is an ideal channel for your hotel to communicate with its customers. Companies that use Twitter for customer service see a 19 percent increase in customer satisfaction.

Hoteliers that practice the art of social listening ensure that they track conversations around specific phrases, words or brands and use them to create successful customer experiences. According to Sprout Social, 30 percent of tweets mentioning companies don’t include their Twitter handles, meaning that more conversations are happening about your business than you know.

To scale Twitter marketing and monitor conversation about your hotel, use the advanced search feature on Twitter to monitor hashtags or get Twitter monitoring tools to track phrases or names such as “cheap Las Vegas hotels.”

According to Lithium, 53 percent of customers expect brands to respond to their tweets in less than one hour. Ensure that your hotel is able to fulfill this expectation, and you’ll discover that your customers will want to interact with you again and again.

Source: Lithium.

Promptly responding to your customers’ concerns may lead to some of them praising your hotel through tweets and hashtags.

A Twitter survey showed that 54 percent of users reported taking some kind of action after seeing a brand mentioned in a tweet, including searching for the brand, visiting its website or retweeting its content.

When there are complaints about your hotel from a customer, it’s essential to respond quickly. Try to resolve the issue privately to minimize exposure, because 77 percent of Twitter users feel more positive about brands when their tweets are replied to.

Excellent customer service may lead to bonding with your customers, as well as those customers becoming the hotel’s advocate due to your efficient hospitality services, which will result in referrals, as 76 percent of consumers are likely to recommend brands after friendly service.

Visual storytelling

Hotels are an unlimited resource for stories, and Twitter is a great platform for sharing them creatively due to its 140-character limit. With travelers telling stories about their frequent hotel visits on Twitter, on other social media platforms and on review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, hotels need to communicate like storytellers.

You can’t control conversations about your hotel, but you can influence them and own your stories. The more relevant and fascinating content you create, the more it will likely be shared and remembered, generating traffic to your hotel website and booking channels.

Bill Baker of BB&Co Strategic Storytelling—which boasts clients including Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, and Cisco—advises:

In crafting your story, work as a group to imagine the stories you want your guests sharing with others once they leave your hotel. Envision what you want those guests doing, thinking and feeling to create those stories and, most important, get your staff to see their role in making those stories happen.

Twitter users or prospective guests are keen on knowing what your hotel rooms look like, what process is involved in preparing your special buffet and how your restaurant looks and operates. This information can be turned into stories and told through pictures and videos.

For your hotel, elements of a great story are your location, staff, guests’ experiences and style of property. Make use of these elements as your core story by sharing fragments of these stories, compelling readers to click and find out more.

Treat content like a news story. Break your story down into different sections and tweet them bit by bit to make the most of it. Run photo shoots, tweet that a shoot was done and then release one photo a little later, and then after some time, a few more. Don’t kill the fun and anticipation by just dumping all the stuff on them once—build suspense and hold your audience attention.

Make the most of local events and seasons

Seasonal messaging or marketing on Twitter shouldn’t be restricted to national holidays. Your hotel should be innovative and think locally. Every location boasts its own local festivals, cultural observances and attractions. Your hotel can promote its brand by referencing local points of interest, as well as promoting your town, city or region.

This simple ingenuity can enhance business growth and have a long-term impact on customer perception and loyalty.

If your hotel is located close to an area that has special activities or events for the holidays, share them on Twitter, preferably with images. For example, Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga., offers a Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival,  where guests can hop in a basket for their own tethered balloon ride.

Spice up your hotel holiday marketing strategy by making a list of events, brainstorming special offers or contests and going through your photo library. Then, with your hotel marketing manager, work to combine these seasonal strategies into your existing social media marketing strategy.

Finally, sit down and relax with your Santa hat and watch how Twitter users interact with your entertaining but customer-centric business.

Eimantas Balciunas is CEO of travel startup Travel Ticker.

Image on homepage courtesy of andresr/iStock.