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What Small Businesses Can Learn from the Hospitality Industry

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The world of social media, blogging and podcasting provides an unprecedented opportunity for brands to provide unique, personal experiences for customers past, present and future. The hospitality industry in particular has been able to take advantage of these opportunities to market in innovative ways.

The definition of hospitality is “the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.” For a sector that is distinctly characterized by providing excellent customer service, the incorporation of social media to marketing and branding strategies is a perfect union.

Aside from day-to-day Twitter and Facebook posts, supplemental initiatives like Foursquare check-in perks, Pinterest promotions, Instagram presences and hotel blogs have allowed businesses to stay connected and build relationships with their consumers like never before. Many in the industry are finding unique means of implementing these tools in manners which are universally applicable to any type of business.

The Rise of Visual Content

Pinterest is extremely suitable for travel marketing since there are so many (independent and collaborative) components people consider when planning a vacation.

While many brands are still sorting out the tracking implications of Pinterest and how best to execute promotions there, a few have already emerged with authentic and captivating administration. Aqua Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii asked fans to “Pin Hawaii” – create a bucket list on Pinterest of their ideal Hawaiian vacation.

The process involved having users share at least one of Aqua’s pins (thereby sharing the brand name, along with the link to their website); using the #PinHawaii hashtag (spreading the word of the contest); and submitting their boards to a sign-up page (allowing for more accurate tracking).

Pin Hawaii was successful because it accomplished many things.

  • It got people fantasizing about a Hawaii vacation.
  • It got people spreading the word voluntarily.
  • It got people exploring the website (or partner sites).
  • It got people thinking outside the box.

These are qualities that any company can embrace with the right project, and a little fine tuning to each’s needs.

The Range of Written Content

Blogging is a great way to educate consumers about your brand, and many hotels do a fantastic job of utilizing this multi-layered platform.

First, more broad blogs on overall categories are a great way to provide an umbrella of information about a particular niche.

Hotel Chatter does this for hotels. Their goal is to cover everything related to hotels and lodging around the world, including hotel deals and reviews, which celebrities are staying where, hotel industry news, tips for booking online, the hotels you should stay away from, the hotels you should book, and more.

The site is supplemented by regularly updated Twitter and Facebook pages, allowing followers (over 120K on Twitter and 12K on Facebook) to be consistently updated with the latest information.

To curate content and keep everything as fresh as possible, Hotel Chatter encourages visitors to become members and submit their own stories. This allows not only for a substantial variety of material, but also for users to have a first-hand experience with the brand.

Second, many individual hotels themselves maintain blogs. Hotel blogs can serve many purposes, from being a forum for guest feedback, to being an online concierge, to boosting search engine optimization. They can also provide inside information about happenings in the area or on site, and really allow each property to showcase their distinct personality.

The Hollywood Hotel sets the bar high. Aligning with the hotel’s overall image, their blog does an excellent job providing visitors inside information. The right sidebar contains a calendar and tag cloud, making it easy for future travelers to search for specific items if they so desire, along with a variety of content – everything from upcoming events, to videos, to photos and general weekend happenings.

One thing that is also worth noting is that the blog itself contains very little actual promotion for the property. While the top contains the regular options presented on the website (accommodations, dining, etc.), the blog itself is not situated as a sales tool or advertising piece, making it more naturally alluring to visitors (who are used to be inundated with advertisements on a regular basis).

This is brilliant because not only does it show support for the community and other businesses, but it also depicts WHY the area is worth visiting, and therefore, why a visit to Hollywood Hotel would be worthwhile. When you can attract business without actually having to hard sell, it’s a win/win for all involved.

The Application of Audible Content

With the fast-paced advancing of technology, it’s vital for hotels to stay ahead of the curve in any and all ways possible. Some have even begun tying in podcasting to the online experience.

The Dearborn Inn, a Marriott hotel in Dearborn, MI, provides a podcast allowing listeners to take a tour of the celebrated hotel, learn about its unique history and the people who influenced it. The host, Alan Osborne, reveals the chronicles of the hotel from his 20 years of knowledge. How cool is this? Rather than sift through photos of the hotel, which all hotel websites provide, users can listen in to a passionate insider and hear intimidate details of the environment.

Small businesses could utilize podcasts in the same way. While we are an extremely visual culture and we are used to reading information online on a regular basis, it’s a refreshing shift to be able to ignite an additional sense and listen to someone’s first-hand experience.

These are just a few of the ways the hospitality industry is thinking outside the box when it comes to new media initiatives. What others have caught your attention?

Photo Credit: Bigstock

Debbie Miller is the founder of Social Hospitality, a blog which outlines the ways businesses in the hospitality industry are using social media. She works for HyperDisk Marketing managing social media accounts, writing website copy and executing SEO strategies for clients. Say hi to Debbie on Twitter!


Feedback

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  • Pinterest Marketing Pro

    Love this! It’s so exciting to see more and more industries jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon. I’ll admit that as a marketer I was a little bit hesitant at first about joining this latest social media sensation but after coming across so many resources about how awesome it is, it’s been a tremendous help to my biz. An excellent Pinterest Influencer Network I’ve come across that’s been really helpful worth mentioning is PinLeague. Hope this helps and thanks!

  • Houston

    Hey Debbie, a well thought out post on what some in the industry consider to be groundbreaking campaigns. It’s so hard to determine if you’re on the bleeding edge, or if the edge will leave you bloody when it comes to new marketing.

    Fortunately, in the events you listed, everything worked out.

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