Whether you like it or not, social media is here to stay and is only set to get bigger and bigger. By 2020 it is predicted that there will be close to three billion people using it in some form which will likely include established channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but also new brands. You only have to look at the astronomical rise of Snapchat which in a few short years has gone from an obscure messaging app, to one of the most widely recognised and used forms of social media in the world!

Social Media is not just a fad!

Yes social media has its problems but the benefits for your resort far outweigh the negatives, if you start to actively and effectively use it. Don’t just stick your head in the sand and hope it all goes away because it definitely won’t. Your guests will be posting on social media about your resort whether your CEO, marketing team and other staff are involved or not, so you must encourage all of your team to be active. By ignoring social media your resort is wasting a fantastic opportunity to engage with your guests and promote your resort to other potential individuals and families. It is vital that you join the conversation that is already happening about your brand online to share the positives that are being said, and defend your resort against any potential negative comments. Not having a presence on the major social media channels looks as outdated as being without an email address or phone!

For many resorts, being on social media is not the issue, as they have Facebook and LinkedIn pages, Instagram and Twitter profiles and a YouTube channel. They may have even started using Snapchat, Periscope and Facebook Live for live updates. While your resort may well have started posting photos, videos and blog posts and gained some engagement on these posts, you may not yet be using these channels to their full potential. By using social media your resort marketing team can actually track your guest sales journey from their initial decision making and booking, their stay at your resort and subsequent social media updates afterwards.

Monitor your brand mentions on social media

As these amazing platforms of self expression have gone from strength to strength, so have the various tools surrounding these channels which can be used by brands to check how and where their brand name is being mentioned online. There are a whole host of different options open to your resort that provide a wealth of useful features. One of the best of these is a company called Mention which is already being used by 500,000 companies each day! This includes big names such as Microsoft, Adobe and Allianz.

You can use Mention to scour over 1 billion online sources including social media, forums, blogs and the rest of the web to gain powerful market insights. It is a fantastic tool for resort marketers to keep real time live updates on any mentions made of your resort name on the internet. There are extremely powerful features available to companies using mention including in-depth, compelling insights based on what is being said about your brand name, where, when and how often. Automated reports can then be shared with clients, colleagues and management, to make the work of your marketing team a lot more efficient. There are also mobile apps which allow your team to use Mention outside of the office and on the go. Alerts allow the team to respond to major mentions of your resort name when they happen and mean any negative press can be quickly dealt with before it becomes shared across social media.

As you can see Mention has some amazing and extremely useful features that your resort can use to keep on top of what is going on surrounding your brand online. What you and your team need to realise is that positive and negative things are already being said, questions are being asked and potential guests searching for your product at this very moment. You need a system like Mention (or other available options) to scour the web, because without it your team will miss a lot being said about your brand. This could mean missing potential guests, failing to deal quickly with negative press or not capitalising on positive feedback of your resort.

Find and engage new guests

Before your guests decided to stay at your resort, they were just like millions of other people; dreaming of their next holiday getaway. They made a conscious decision though to start a process of researching different destinations, hotels, resorts and holiday options. In the past many of your guests probably came from word of mouth from family and friends. This is likely still the case, because people trust their close family and friends. So if they receive a recommendation from them about your resort then they will strongly consider it as an option.

On the other hand traditional outbound marketing that may have brought in guests in the past, such as lengthy sales presentations, brochures and leaflets, bulk emails, TV and radio advertising, will continue to become less effective. People do not want their time or attention interrupted by advertising that is forced upon them. Rather than convincing them to stay at your resort, it will have the opposite effect. Instead people will organically discover your resort through searches made online via social media, blog posts, forums, discussion boards and review websites. As well as recommendations from friends and family in person, individuals are also turning to all of these online platforms and more to ask for help when making a holiday decision.

Using tools such as Mention, your marketing team can be there at the beginning of this process by monitoring where your resort name is being mentioned online, to find and engage potential new guests. You can find people who could be interested in staying at your resort and market to them directly, rather than just sending out a blanket email or advertising campaign. This personalised approach is often what makes the difference, as it shows that your resort listens.

As an example someone may be discussing your resort on Twitter or Facebook and asking for opinions from their connections, but not directly tag your social media profile. Your team would miss this opportunity to respond and answer questions if not using specific tools to seek out where your resort is being mentioned. Using Mention you can even monitor the activities of your competitor’s, and convince their guests as to why your resort is better!

Stay engaged during your guest’s holiday

Social media is not just the perfect tool for advertising your resort and seeking out and engaging with potential new guests, it is also a fantastic tool for interacting with your guests during their stay with you. It is important to advertise on your website, at your reception desk and throughout your resort on posters and other visible means, that your resort has social media profiles. These are amazing platforms for finding out what your guests are saying about your stay in realtime, so let them know your resort actively uses these channels.

A guest may post a fantastic sunset photo and tag your Instagram or Twitter account. Rather than just seeing this and doing nothing or giving a simple like, your team should engage your guest in friendly conversation. Humanize your brand and show your guests you care. You could congratulate them on their amazing photo and share it across your social media channels. This would then encourage others to post their own photos and videos, as most people on social media love it if their posts are shared, especially by a brand. These kind of posts are amazing as they are free advertising for your resort which will go a lot further to market your resort around the world than sales talks or leaflets.

By using a tool like Mention, your marketing team can also monitor what your guests are posting about your resort on social media, even if they don’t tag your resort. It is vital not to miss anything because if it is something negative, this could lead to some very bad publicity. By keeping on top of what your guests are saying you can stop a post going potentially viral. Instead of ignoring negative posts, your team should reach out to the guest and try to resolve the issue in private by Direct Message, by phone or in-person. The quicker and more efficiently you can do this the better, because the less damaging this will be for your resort’s reputation.

Stay connected, even after your guest’s holiday ends

Once your guest leaves, this doesn’t mean their sales journey ends. Before the digital revolution, keeping a connection with your guests would have been a lot more difficult. Now though, if you have encouraged your guests to connect with your resort on social media, you can continue to positively engage with them long after they have left. One of the best ways to do this is to continue to create valuable, interesting and/or informative content to post on your social media channels and blog. This will mean valuing content creators more by paying them fairly for the work they produce, but in the long run this content will have a huge positive impact for your resort. An incredible drone video, stunning photography, superbly written blog posts and real-time live videos with influencers will lead to a continued online relationship with your guests. They will happily share your content with friends and family and act as some of your biggest brand advocates.

In addition to this you can continue to monitor what your guests are saying about your resort on social media by using tools like Mention. This will allow you to share the photos and videos that they post from their holiday with you, jump into conversations they might be having with family and friends to encourage them to stay at your resort, and respond to any negative social media posts.

Social media is not a new concept for many resorts, but using it to its full potential is. Rather than just posting the odd photo on Facebook, or ticking boxes by sending a boring #ThrowbackThursday Tweet, your resort should recognise what an incredible tool social media is. By investing some time and resources, your resort marketing team can literally track your guest sales journey from start to finish and find out an amazing amount of data along the way. This is not just kids posting selfies, but almost all of your guests will be posting, sharing, liking, commenting. Do not let this data go to waste, but use it to become better!

Let us know if your resort has been using social media to track your guest sales journey through social media in the comment section below, or via social media using #RDOdigital.