Social media 'marketing' strategies for hotels

Social media is becoming increasingly important in the hospitality industry. All the thought leaders in Internet marketing are pushing it and hotels are scrambling to adapt to the new social reality. Hoteliers need to step up social media efforts to master at least the key media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and now Google+.

But if you listen real closely the most influential social media professionals are delivering two very important messages:

  1. Social media is a customer engagement channel and not a distribution channel in hospitality – Max Starkov, Smart Hotelier’s 2012 Top Ten Digital Marketing Resolutions
  2. What’s the ROI of social media? That’s the million-dollar question that every marketer and brand manager would like to answer — and yet, we still can’t do it. – Erica Swallow, Mashable 11/15/11, Measuring Social Media ROI: 3 Things to Consider

As chronicled extensively, social media helps hotels engage and build relationships with guests and potential guests. But if it’s not a distribution channel and you can’t measure ROI (at least not all that well today) what can you do if your hotel’s primary objective is to generate sales?

There is an alternative; a medium where you can engage customers, build relationships and generate sales. It has proven to return as much as $33 for every $1 spent. A small luxury hotel committed to using best practices and spending $60,000 in this medium could see a return of over $1,500,000 in revenue.

You are using this medium today, but how effective have you been? Find out by answering these 12 questions: Be honest!

questions for hotel social media

Score 1 point for every question answered “Yes.”  Post your score: __________

Your answer to every question should be “YES.” How did you do?


What is this magic media? It is the most powerful yet misunderstood media in hospitality marketing today. If you guessed email you are only half right. It is email wrapped up in the real science direct marketing.

There is a fundamental problem with the majority of hotel email marketing programs today. The people who are writing the copy and creating the images, approving the email and pushing “Send” have never really been schooled in the science of direct marketing.

Direct marketing is a science for getting people to take action, to pick up the phone or click through to your website. It is not creative writing in the classic or advertising sense. It is different – very different and only a few hoteliers understand this. It is not a broadcast medium where you can blast out messages, but one when properly crafted and segmented can deliver highly motivating and relevant messages that get people to act.

It is also a medium that can help you create a dialog and build a relationship with customers – just like social media. And when used properly it can generate a significant amount of sales revenue with a proven ROI.

If you are serious about sales and scored less than 10 on the quiz then you should seriously rethink your your approach to marketing and sales. Continue to pursue your social media efforts, but commit your hotel to following direct marketing best practices  – a discipline with a proven ROI. Commit yourself to being able to answer a resounding “Yes!” to the questions above.

Hospitality Marketing Blog has numerous articles on how hotels can improve their direct and email marketing efforts. It’s a good resource for starting your journey toward best practices and higher sales.

We have managed hotel email marketing programs, steeped in the science of direct marketing that delivered $33 for every $1 spent. And the majority of the bookings came direct from the consumer to the hotel. Put in hotel sales terms, that’s the equivalent of paying a 3% commission on a direct booking. Best of all you are building a relationship with guests and prospects not giving it up to a third party.

What you think?

Madigan Pratt

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