Even if you have millions of dollars at your disposal to spend on advertisements, nothing beats recommendations from friends and family…at least when it comes to the hospitality industry. According to research conducted by Four Pillars Hotel, word of mouth and social activity have a huge influence on travel plans and booking options for travelers. Here are some telling highlights of the study:
- 92% of consumers say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising
- 70% of global consumers say online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising
- 52% of Facebook users said their friends’ photos inspired their holiday choice and travel plans
- 48% of people who used social media to research travel plans stuck with their original travel plans
Obviously, personal and social recommendations have a huge influence over traveler’s decisions. So, how can hospitality brands use this to their advantage?
Encourage check ins.
If you’re present and active on social check-in sites like Facebook or Foursquare, encourage your visitors to check in using those apps. You can offer discounts or perks to people who’ve checked in to help build relationships with new and existing customers. More importantly, though, these individuals’ friends will see their check-in activity and could be inspired to book their own getaway.
Encourage tagged images.
Visitors are probably going to be taking pictures of your resort, lodge, etc. anyway, so just encourage them to tag your destination in them when they’re posted. Whether they use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, their friends and family will see their recent activity, including their travel destination, and it will act as an endorsement. More than that, being aware of and sharing these images via your own social networks will help build that customer brand relationship.
Dabble in boosted posts.
Was your hotel, resort or brand recently mentioned in a best of list? Highlight that designation with a boosted post. Using the right targeting, you’ll not only let everyone know about the honors bestowed upon you, you’ll also be able to target friends of your fans. Those friends will see that someone they know already ‘likes’ your brand, and that will help your brand name will remain top of mind for them.
Reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising, so encourage your visitors to leave reviews. A destination without an online review presence might seem suspicious to travelers, so be sure you have a presence on Yelp or any other review site that applies to your brand. Don’t forget, once you start getting reviews, keep an eye out for problems or concerns, and take the time to make them right.
Looking for inspiration? Check out these hospitality brands that are inviting their fans to enjoy their stay.