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Four benefits of Social PR for hoteliers

Although many PR pros may argue, or disagree with this, hotels should have a presence on as many social networks as possible, beyond the obvious Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other review sites, although social, will not be discussed here, as they do not allow the hotelier to control the message, or what guests post.

Although not a new concept, Social PR is still widely unused by hospitality professionals. This is largely because of the multifaceted nature of social media. To be successful, Social PR needs to tie well in social networks, and their number is overwhelming. 

Outsourcing Social PR to a PR company already familiar with the online universe is the most sensible solution, but many hoteliers prefer to deal “in house” with marketing and public relations efforts, hiring a person to actively monitor reviews, and to update various hotel profiles on different networks. 

Given that there are hundreds of networks used by possible guests to discuss about destinations and to plan trips, the question is: which are the best social networks to promote a hotel? After identifying the best, the hotelier also faces a harder decision: how many social networks to be active on?

Although many PR pros may argue, or disagree with this, hotels should have a presence on as many social networks as possible, beyond the obvious Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other review sites, although social, will not be discussed here, as they do not allow the hotelier to control the message, or what guests post.

Social PR depends on interaction between hoteliers and their potential guests. Its role is to deviate from pushing a message in front of the buyer, focusing on conversations instead. 

The benefits of Social PR are numerous, but for the purpose of a short overview, I summarize four of the most important: hospitality, adaptability, personas, and ambassadors – HAPA a principle designed by Pamil Visions PR for its clients. 

Hospitality
While Social PR may require a great deal of effort and time, the benefits are decisive. The highlight of this practice is that it brings out what any hospitality business should be about: hospitality. A hospitable host greets the customers, converses, helps, guides, and strives to please.  On social networks these translate in starting meaningful conversations about what guests expect, or want improved about a hotel; offering insider travel tip; announcing great travel deals, like air fare discounts; informing the guests ahead of time about upcoming festivals and events they may be interested in; promoting local culture and tradition; acting like a virtual concierge; and so on.

Adaptability
The basics of Social PR are no different than the basics of hospitality. What’s difficult is adapting to every social network, because what works on one will not always work on another. The ability to adapt to different online mediums is another key benefit for hoteliers and other hospitality professionals. Just like a hotel changes constantly to meet guest expectations – for example renovating rooms; buying better, smarter technology; redesigning spaces for a plus of chic; becoming more concerned with environmental issues, thus applying for Green Key or other eco-labels; offering healthier choices on their menus; and so on – adapting on social networks is imperative for the success of Social PR. To adapt is to control the message, making it relevant, and share-worthy. This involves a good content marketing strategy, which is the foundation of good Social PR.

Personas
The individual needs of the public on each social network are indicative of the expectations they want to have met. Learning about what people need in certain situations helps hoteliers with what I like to call “creating the guest persona” – pretty much the same thing as a buyer persona, but adapted for hospitality. The advantage of using Social PR to create a guest persona is that it does it unobtrusively, without the need of time consuming interviews, and lengthy research. Different social networks have tools that help the process: for example, Facebook polls can be a great tool to find out what attracts travelers to a specific destination, helping the hotel deliver a promotion that will trigger interest and boost room bookings. Polls, or simple questions, requesting feedback may also help find out what guests really want from a hotel, and so on.

Ambassadors
Finally, and perhaps Social PR’s most important benefit, is that it can motivate guests to become brand ambassadors for a hotel. Interaction with guests where they enjoy spending time online builds shared-meaning in the community. Good conversations motivate them to participate, and to talk about your hotel even more. Noteworthy content is often reshared by users to friends and family, within groups, blogs, and so on. They will become your brand ambassadors, the bearers of your message, and the people who offer authentic endorsements about your business, boosting brad awareness, and ROI. Relationships with brand ambassadors need to be cultivated and nurtured, but this is the topic of a future debate.

To conclude, Social PR is the one form of public relations that suits hospitality businesses best. It is also less costly, and more influential. Through direct interaction with guests, hotels foster better relationships, influencing future booking decisions within their networks. Social PR is flexible and broad, offering a myriad of possibilities of reach. Besides social networks, travel apps are also increasingly social and collaborative, so hotels need to expand their efforts to reach more clients. Developing a good Social PR strategy take time and skill, but the rewards are worth it. 

CEO - Pamil Visions | Website | + Posts

A former military journalist, Mihaela is the founder and senior partner at Pamil Visions PR. She's also the former founder/editor at Everything PR, Search Engine Journal, and Argo Travel News. Her credentials speak for themselves: she is a cited authority on public relations issues, and her work and expertise are featured on BBC News, Reuters, Yahoo! Small Business Adviser, Al Jazeera, The Epoch Times, SitePoint, Search Engine Journal, and many others.

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