To sell or not to sell on Social Media

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Bain & Company reported that customers who interact with companies over social media spend between 20-40% more money with those companies than other customers. These customers didn’t spend more because they were bombarded with sales-oriented posts, but rather were inclined to because they were engaged by the brand. Think about a traveler’s path-to-purchase when planning a leisure trip. He/she may eventually end up on an OTA, meta-search or online review community like TripAdvisor to make the actual booking, but may use a social platform as an initial starting point. The inspiration phase of the purchase decision is the first opportunity to sell to the customer, albeit in an unobtrusive way that balances engagement and marketing.

Inspiring your customer through social, however, doesn’t end at this phase. As customers move closer to booking, your social media efforts should educate guests about how to get the most out of their stay and, in turn, influence them to spend more. By offering valuable information about your destination, you will give travelers a reason to stay engaged with you and will help drive loyalty.

Prospect Proactively

Social media listening makes a sales impact when your hotel goes beyond reacting to Twitter mentions and Facebook comments and also looks for opportunities to engage with potential guests who are researching leisure travel plans through social. I often see my friends asking their networks for hotel recommendations when visiting particular cities; I’ve seen hotelswin group business by listening and responding to these posts. LinkedIn has also become an ideal platform for sales managers to prospect new business and build stronger relationships with current customers. The channel is highly effective at providing new exposure to your business in a professionals-oriented environment that is sales-focused by nature.

Set Up Tracking

The biggest challenge with selling through social media is that calculating ROI is a complex task. Studies have shown that social media is impactful during the inspiration phase of the travel purchase path, but often doesn’t lead to a direct booking. After a consumer is exposed to an offer through social, he/she will visit your website to explore but will likely visit other sites before booking. Last-click attribution is problematic when trying to tie hard dollars to social media as the practice attributes the booking conversion with the last thing a visitor clicks on before entering your website. With last-click attribution, that different channel – whether it is organic search, TripAdvisor or a direct visit – will get the booking credit, not social media.

By diligently setting up tracking codes that measure other important metrics related to e-commerce, such as unique page views, time spent on site, bounce rate as well as first-click attribution, you can capture strong analytics. Your search-marketing vendor will play a big role in this set-up process.

Traffic Leads to Sales

Driving direct traffic is a great area to focus on when developing social campaigns. By continuing to share relevant, interesting content with your fan base, you will entice them to visit your website more frequently, as your brand will be top-of-mind. Social is a great way to drive visitors to unique areas of your site that may not receive as much visibility as you would like. Hotels that frequently link to blog posts and other social content that live on their websites do this effectively. By taking this approach, you will maintain your audience engagement as well as grow website traffic and capture more potential bookings.

About the Author & Revinate:
Greg Bodenlos is Marketing Manager, North America and EMEA at Revinate, an involved HSMAI member since 2007 and a recipient of HSMAI Foundation’s Mike Dimond Scholarship and HSMAI Greater New York’s Hospitality Student of the Year award. Revinate is an industry-leading software platform designed exclusively for the hospitality industry that makes it easy to aggregate, analyze and utilize guest feedback to improve operations and drive new sales. In current role, Greg produces thought leadership content on social media and online reputation management trends, including industry best practice articles, webinars and blog contributions.