Our own research and experience confirms what we suspected: Social media is huge for vacation planning. In 2012, fully 52 percent of travelers reported using social networks for travel ideas, with 29 percent of travelers starting their research on Facebook.
Who hasn’t seen vacation countdowns on Facebook, or photos from resorts or cruise ships? Vacations are perfectly “social” experiences. They’re visual, they’re fun, and they’re exactly what we want to share about ourselves. Of course, the downside is that when things go wrong, customers also take it to social media.
In our research, we found that:
· 48 percent of travelers report changing their plans after seeing what people were saying about their travel choices on Facebook
· 33 percent had gone so far as to change a hotel booking based on Facebook
· 23 percent of travelers visit their hotel’s Facebook page before they book
· 86 percent “like” their hotel’s Facebook page after deciding to book
So what should hotel marketers do in the face of this socially-driven purchase and booking cycle? Here are four key tips (you can get even more hotel marketing tips here) for leveraging the power of social media to increase your hotel bookings:
1. Make your social media assets easy to find on your primary website
2. Run contests and promotions that involve vacation photos – get your guests to share
3. Be prepared to engage in customer relationship management on social media channels—when people have complaints, they will go to the easiest communication channel, and that’s often Facebook
4. Engage your fans and encourage them to leave comments about their stay
For a more in-depth look at the travel marketing study The Brandon Agency conducted, including plenty of actionable advice on online destination marketing, go to www.thebrandonagency.com/whitepaper and download our free hotel marketing guide.