When social media and other user generated content sites were coming into maturity and heavier use in the hospitality industry, marketers were hammered with repeated requests to “define the ROI” which turned into “tracking quantity.” Thankfully, we have made strides as an industry to talk about quality over quantity, to talk about engagement.
Engagement is the path between awareness and conversion that keeps your brand and your direct channels top of mind for a repeating or first time guest until they are ready to book a stay. Engagement can incite quicker conversion or, if mismanaged, it can prevent future conversion. Engagement certainly comes into play at many levels, from the broad generic engagement of potential future guests to the narrower more focused engagement of confirmed and on-property guests to drive ancillary revenue in-stay and higher likelihood to recommend post-stay. For the purposes of this post, we will be focusing on the former.
Awareness cannot be immediately translated into conversion every time; if every guest who knew of your property had need and the means to be there every night and every day, your hotel would quickly become an apartment building. There is an inevitable lag between awareness and conversion where potential guests are not actively seeking you out. This is when hoteliers must nurture the digital relationship across available channels. A few simple do’s and don’ts apply to maximizing your engagement strategies.
- Do maintain the right engagement vehicles. Social media profiles, regular newsletters, remarketing campaigns, and participation in co-op marketing programs ensure that you can engage your potential guests wherever they are active online.
- Don’t expect an immediate measureable ROI. Engagement efforts are nurturing relationships and no meaningful relationship is solely about sales. If the only metric you are evaluating marketing efforts on is the immediate ROI, you will push your self to turn your engagement efforts into sales efforts, already losing in the long run.
- Do seek conversations. Ask questions, encourage feedback, offer means of connecting with your property, your market, and other interested travelers. As the facilitator of conversations, your guests become naturally engaged with you. This also means replying to conversations; reply to reviews on review sites, reply to and share social content shared about your brand, and welcome feedback as a gift.
- Don’t let your content get stale. Content marketing is an enormous part of engagement; providing content that isn’t about promotions but is about the experience of planning and enjoying travel keeps travelers engaged. Blogging is a great way to keep content up to date, but this can also be as simple as having meaningful destination content that you share through your engagement channels.
- Do customize your messages whenever possible; keep messages seasonally appropriate, use what information you have available to personalize direct communications, and be relevant to your audience by joining larger conversations when possible. Keeping a content calendar can help to plan out your messaging to ensure you are staying on top of your engagement efforts, but leave room in it to shift for market trends and popular topics.
With effective engagement strategies in place, hoteliers will be able to move towards meaningful conversions and long term ROI. TRI Hospitality helps hotels organization build engagement strategies that work. We understand how each hotel, team or brand is different for the next one. There is no one-size-fits solution but a carefully customized plan that reflects the culture and attributes of each property in line with their unique guest profiles. For more information, review our services or reach out to us directly.