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886 days ago
 

Hotels on Facebook – time to understand the difference between Likes and real Fans

NB: This is a guest article by Pedro Colaco, president and CEO of GuestCentric.

Back at the end of 2009, when social media really started getting attention in the travel industry, “getting fans” on Facebook was all the rage.

Hotel marketing managers looked at Facebook as a tool to engage consumers and creating brand ambassadors, and their preferred metric was the number of fans or “likes”.

Soon after, they realized that getting fans is actually pretty easy, as long as you have dollars to spend. Just advertise appropriately and your fan base will grow.

However, getting users that like your Facebook page is different from getting true fans. True fans are brand ambassadors that will spread good will around your brand.

At the end of the day, it’s not about the number of fans, it’s about whether these fans really “like” your brand. What matters is the quality of those fans, how engaged they are, and whether they want to become ambassadors for you. Hotel Facebook apps are starting to be the solution to achieve this.

What happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook

One of the big advantages of digital marketing is that it is measurable. We regularly run statistics on the Facebook pages of our hotels.

For the last three years we have seen a similar patten: what happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook. What this means is that there is very little spillover traffic from Facebook business pages back to the official hotel website.

The picture above shows website traffic of one of our customers for the last two years, and compares traffic coming from Facebook to mobile traffic.

Mobile traffic has been growing significantly since February 2011, and represents already close to 20% (!) in March 2012. On the other hand, Facebook represents only 0.44% of total page views – ie. close to zero and, more importantly, shows no growth.

Yet, fan numbers are going through the roof, with even boutique hotels being able to gather tens of thousands of fans.

The question becomes how can hoteliers leverage Facebook as a viable acquisition channel?

Millions of hotel recommendations are made on Facebook every day. Facebook launched Insights (Facebook’s version of Analytics) as a way to try to look into fan behavior – how many people were actually reached in a week/month, how many people are talking about your brand, how do they react to your posts, new pictures, etc.

Facebook insights will help hotels decide if they should work a social strategy inside Facebook with a hotel Facebook app that provides a business page and booking widget.

Tip #1:

  • Use Facebook Insights to understand the current value of your Facebook page and improve on specific metrics

Social exclusives work

It is important to provide social incentives to website visitors so they choose your property over the competition. Creating special offers on your facebook page and offering sweepstakes will create a loyal following.

Also, it can help you sell distress inventory in a way that it doesn’t cannibalize your regular sales and you can optimize your search engine ranking by offering fresh content on the website.

Tip #2:

  • Use promotions and sweepstakes to stimulate visitors to come back and engage.

Facebook requires content and booking capability to become an acquisition channel

It is clear from the volume of traffic that Facebook is generating, that Facebook is going to be a decisive channel in hotel recommendation and bookings in the next few years.

But to have Facebook as a viable customer acquisition channel, hotels must provide the capability for users to to check out rooms, location and photos directly on the hotel’s Facebook page – hence, the need for a Hotel Facebook App.

Your hotel’s Facebook app should provide the ability for travelers to check out rooms, location and photos, check rates and availabilities for the travel dates, and book.

Moreover, many travelers nowadays have flexible dates and are actively bargain hunting and willing to trade off some convenience for a better price or package.

Make sure your hotel’s Facebook app includes a calendar overview displays a longer-term view of the rates and availabilities so travelers can choose the perfect vacation or business trip according to their needs and possibilities.

Tip #3:

  • Get a hotel Facebook app that publishes hotel content like rooms and your booking engine.

Optimize Facebook Timeline for hotels

One of the big changes with Facebook Timeline has been the ability for businesses to create pages within Facebook that provide web-like experiences.

Now, instead of having to customize all content to Facebook, creating double work for digital marketers, the content that was created for web use can be transformed by a hotel Facebook app to work well within Facebook.

With the dawn of digital marketing solutions that manage both web and Facebook content, hotels can create and maintain their Facebook pages automagically – i.e. as they manage their website, relevant content gets pushed to their hotel’s Facebook app.

Images are automatically resized so that they fit well into Facebook’s constraints, and new offers that are created (e.g. promotions) get posted on the Facebook timeline automatically.

A unified digital marketing solution saves time and keeps your marketing message consistent across different channels by pushing new content to all channels at the same time.

Tip #4:

  • Get a unified hotel digital marketing solution.

Conclusions

In summary, Facebook will become a major customer acquisition channel in the next few years. Hoteliers can use Facebook Insights to understand the current value of your Facebook page and improve on specific metrics.

You should leverage e promotions and sweepstakes to stimulate visitors to come back and engage. And finally, hoteliers should get a unified hotel digital marketing solution that includes a hotel Facebook app.

NB: This is a guest article by Pedro Colaco, president and CEO of GuestCentric.

 
 
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  1. Wetu launches Facebook Hotel App - Technology Solutions for Travel

    [...] article from Tnooz highlights this “what happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook” phenomenon as well as pointing [...]

     
  2. luxury hotel dublin

    True fans or users are those who will take your services and will also write review for you. If they like your services then they will also promote you.

     
  3. social | Pearltrees

    [...] Back at the end of 2009, when social media really started getting attention in the travel industry, “getting fans” on Facebook was all the rage. Hotel marketing managers looked at Facebook as a tool to engage consumers and creating brand ambassadors, and their preferred metric was the number of fans or “likes”. NB: This is a guest article by Pedro Colaco, president and CEO of GuestCentric . Hotels on Facebook – time to understand the difference between Likes and real Fans | Tnooz [...]

     
  4. Martin Soler

    Your article is great and has lots of great tips of what to do and clearly shows the value of active followers and just names on a list. But the accent on having an app is unfounded. Sure it’s a nice to have, but it remains a nice to have.
    Facebook for hotels is primarily about interacting with people. Giving a human face to the hotel and giving future guests a feeling of being regulars with the hotel. Creating photo galleries of rooms etc can be done a lot better through the integrated Facebook photo galleries than through an app.
    Apps are nice and can be an addition to a campaign but they are in no way a must for a successful campaign.
    About booking engines on Facebook. A simple book button will do.
    Facebook is a PR tool not a sales tool. Eventually good PR will result in sales, but that’ll happen on regular channels.

     
    • Pedro Colaco

      Agree 100% on sales vs. PR. Facebook is PR. But the point of the article is that when PR wants to convert into sales (and that happens) you need a Facebook App. And getting a Facebook App does not need to be a (costly) project. So, why not have one?

       
  5. Hotels on Facebook – Time To Understand the Difference Between Likes and real Fans – STAY WYSE

    [...] Source Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedIn Filed Under: News, Social Media « TripAdvisor Launches New Facebook Feature [...]

     
  6. T Yu

    There are OTAs that offer free facebook booking engines like agoda.com, I’ve found it to be quite useful. Whether or not it converts is another thing but it could definitely help bring in some traffic. It makes it easier for customers to browse your hotel information too.

     
  7. hhotelconsult

    I think we need to understand the difference between a “passive like”, and an active “ambassador” fan…. I think Foursquare or Twitter, because they are open, will far surpass the closed, finite universe of Facebook.

    When we stop the groupthink, and stop the self-interest in championing Facebook…. we can be honest about the long term effect of Facebook vs other social initiatives like Twitter or even Pinterest.

    Facebook is fairly worthless… you are speaking to branded fans that already know you. They like you. They’re eventually coming back… so anything you post is likely annoying and may get your stream “hidden”. Hiding streams is delegitimizng to the concept of a “network”. You may have a 1000 likes, but how many even see what you post?

    We need to get past Facebook, and the mindless chatter that creates wasted time, opportunities, and money needs to end.

    my two cents. Maybe just one…..

     
    • Pedro Colaco

      Two issues here:
      1- Fans vs. ambassadors
      2- Bookings and Facebook apps

      I am sure that Facebook is NOT “fairly worthless”. While it may not be the booking machine we are seeing on mobile, it is a medium that you need to be present on. Many hotels are getting very interesting results on special offers and promos. We have a hotel that ran an early booking campaign of book 2 weeks, pay 1 in a resort and they generated 300 room nights in a week. While these are not staggering numbers, they are interesting numbers, especially for boutique properties.

       
 
 

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