Destination: Social Media

Social media is a great way to connect with guests beyond the confines of your property before, during and after their visit. As long as you give social media the attention it deserves and vow to be human (show some personality!) you’ll be able to connect with potential and repeat customers, pushing those heads into your beds.

Don’t create a social media account and expect customers to find it and run it for you … these accounts require nurturing, frequent contact and ultimately, a reason for people to want to follow your account.

Work to plan ahead with your posts … think about events, seasons, and other happenings within your community. A hotel’s Twitter account can easily become a destination not only to learn about the property, but also what’s happening in the city and surrounding community.

For properties with some history or a story to tell, give consideration to quizzing your followers and offering prizes for the person with the first correct answer.

Ask questions of your followers and get the conversation flowing. The more interaction you can create – not just from your account, but also between followers – the better.

For Twitter, work to find influencers within your community and begin following them. Further, create VIP events focused on develop the relationship between your property and tweeple (people on Twitter).

And, it doesn’t all have to be about special discounts … think about showing what it’s like to be on the “inside”. I’m sure there are some really interesting behind-the-scenes facts you can share. Maybe the mechanical room is particularly impressive or what about when the chef is making a signature dish? By showing personality, it’s much easier for consumers to connect with a brand.

Think of your social media properties as extensions of the concierge or front desk to the online world.

And, at the end of the day, it’s about quality followers, not necessarily quantity. You want people interacting with the accounts you’re managing … giving you feedback, sharing your stories, and ultimately becoming ambassadors for your brand. So grow your audience slowly and organically for best results.

Facebook advertising is a great way to expose new people to your brand, but set your budgets low so that the growth of your Facebook community is slow and controlled. It feels more authentic that way.

And don’t forget about Foursquare and Gowalla. Geolocation can be a fun and interesting way to engage your community. Consider offering discounts in your hotel’s cafe for anyone who checks into Foursquare, or special treatment for the “mayor” of your property.