In today’s digital world, advocates and influencers represent a cost-effective and powerful way to spread the word about your hotel, hotel group and brand. In this most recent blog post, we’ll focus on influencers – who they are, where to find them and how to mobilize them to promote your hotel brand.
Influencers are people who post content online that influences the impressions, decisions and behavior of a large number of people. Content can be negative, positive or a mix of both types.
Typically, influencers are not connected to the products they endorse or particularly loyal to them; the relationship is short-term and transactional. They are often paid or incentivized for promoting a certain brand and because of this, trust in their recommendations is only moderate, but their audience size and influence is high.
Finding influencers is more challenging, because you probably don’t have a relationship with them yet. Influencers include journalists, photographers, bloggers, vloggers, social media influencers, celebrities and other high profile people who have large followings.
Hotels can choose from a variety of campaigns to mobilize influencers. These include:
• Influencer outreach. Contact photographers, bloggers, media and other influencers and invite them to stay at your hotel or join you for drinks or a hosted meal in return for writing and posting about their experiences.
• Fam trips. Host a group of media and/or social media +influencers for a complimentary stay to acquaint them with your hotel. Put together an enticing package by partnering with your local tourism bureau, an airline, local restaurants and activity providers to provide free flights, meals and activities.
• Mixers and meet-ups. Host an event for special interest groups in your area, some local media, industry leaders social media influencers or other high profile and influential people. During the event, encourage them to post live updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Check out meetup.com to see lists of interest groups in your area.
• Contests. A contest can be a great way to encourage people to post and share content about your hotel, turning social media users and influencers into advocates. Offer a tantalizing package and make sharing a condition of contest entry, then watch the news spread!
• Influencer Engagement. Follow influencers on their most popular channels and earn their attention and appreciation by sharing and commenting on their content.
• Twitter chats. Participate in Twitter chats related to travel to attract the attention of influencers and learn about the topics that interest them. A few popular travel chats include #TWChats, #TTOT, #TravelSkills and #GirlsChat.
• Follow hashtags. Follow popular hashtags related to travel, your hotel and your destination on Twitter and Instagram and use them in your own communications. Popular travel hashtags include #travel, #hotels, #travelwriter, #travelphotography, #tourism, #getaway, #luxurytravel and #solotravel.
• Incentives. Pay influencers cash, incentives or rewards to help spread the word.
The key for hotels is to manage their influencer campaigns and ensure they deliver on their promises. Hoteliers should measure the results of influencer campaigns using Google Analytics and social media analytics tools to evaluate the success of your effort. Key metrics will include reach (views, traffic, demographics), engagement (shares, likes, comments) and conversions (leads and bookings).
Adele Gutman, vice president of sales, marketing and revenue at Library Hotel Collection, is actively involved in encouraging advocates and influencers. Her company has enjoyed tremendous results from the efforts of Gutman and her team. She commented on the brand’s relationship with influencers:
“We don’t have a lot of empty rooms, but when we do we are happy to leverage an empty room to welcome writers and social media influencers who can help us
increase our search engine optimization and social media exposure. Sometimes they allow us to use their photography or video footage as well, which is helpful. As long
as they are not displacing a paying guest and agree to our criteria, we are happy to welcome them.”
At a time when digital marketing is more expensive than ever for hotels, earned content—reviews, comments, imagery, stories and other content posted about your brand—is a cost-efficient and effective way to help manage and enhance the guest experience.