Hotel social media and digital marketing are complex because it is just as much art as it is science

Digital marketing is not a new thing for the hotel industry; what's challenging about digital marketing for the industry however, is that the rate that it's evolving is extremely fast. Each week, if you're in digital marketing, you need to continuously update yourself with new technologies, new knowledge, and what tools are becoming available to your competitors. Digital marketing is a never ending treadmill of learning and implementing for all of us.

Digital Marketing Essential Knowledge for Hoteliers - A Quick Rundown

Content Marketing = Art + Science

Content. You need to have content. Content can be written like this article that you're reading now, or might be a video - an interview perhaps, or corporate video. In fact, content is everything you put out there - even the smallest social media post is part of your content tapestry.

Creating good content, especially marketing content or branded content is crucial. The key word here is 'good'. Your content is how you attract readers, aka your 'potential customers' into your funnel.

Content marketing is as much art as it is science. Scientists are discovering that chemicals like cortisol, dopamine and oxytocin are released in the brain when we're told a story. So, you need to carefully curate your content in a way that can take advantage of these chemical triggers.

Why are so many big brands still buying advertorials? Because when it comes to content marketing, you need an 'audience', as well as 'authority'. This is where media comes into play. Using 3rd parties that have a degree of authority to write and publish content about you brings much more credibility than just you posting on your own platforms tooting your own horn.

Each content marketing piece that you have needs a clear 'call to action' (CTA) that will lead to sales. Choosing the metrics and the language for the call to action is an art in itself, and to ensure that you're getting the most bang for your click through buck, you'll need to learn as much as you can about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). What's the difference? You'll need to stay tuned - we've got more for you coming.

Transforming Big Data Into Smart Data

One of the most amazing things in marketing now is how much data is available to you. Now that you have your digital marketing campaigns up and running, you're going to be flooded with data. Every scroll, every click, every second that eyes are 'actively' watching a clip, reading an article or clicking through to a call to action (or not), all of that data is raining down into your analytics coffers and is available to you in just a couple of clicks. Where the rub is, is that with that much data, how do you know what data is meaningful to you? Some data is 'nice to know', but in the end, you need to be using the right data that's going to be able to lead to sales conversions for you in one way or another.

There are many tools available to help you analyze the data - but again, using many of the proprietary tools out there may have some bias skewed one way or another - usually leading to you buying more services from the provider. You also have to be vigilant and always have digital security in the forefront of everything you do. You found a great plugin that will help you visualize that data? Great! - Now the person who made that plugin probably has all of your data being sent back to them too and who knows what they might be doing with it - your competitors might ultimately be able to buy information back based on the data that you made available and use it against you.

Marketers now not only need to have that traditional head and heart for the market, but they also need to be masters of data and digital security. At the very least they will need to know how to avoid reckless practices with data to protect one of your company's most valuable assets.

Build An Engaging Offline Persona

One big mistake that digital marketers make is that they think that their job stops when the computer is turned off and the WiFi signal has been tucked into bed. Customers need to be equally engaged off-line as they are on.

When they make enquiries or complaints either online or offline, you need to follow up. It shows your professionalism and demonstrates that your brand cares about its customers.

As far as responding to online issues, one study found that nearly a third of users on social media expected brands to respond to the questions they posed in under half an hour. You need to make sure that your social media team is ready to perform regular checks of the page in all the languages that are reading it and then respond to questions and comments as needed.

There are many cases where hotels have gone for months and even years with their properties being dragged through the mud on social media, just because nobody on the team thought to check the reviews that weren't in English.

While it’s great to have online channels available, when a customer finds themselves in a crisis, they need to speak to someone - a real person, a human who can help provide a response to whatever issue it is that they’re facing.  That means that you need to make the 'real life' connection with your brand effortless - and painless.

Try to provide a direct number, preferably with a direct extension for such occasions.  This will help soothe their worries about having to deal with waits and phone trees - which was probably why they had reached out over social media in the first place.  You’ll be able to continue the communication ensuring that you keep it a positive experience as you find a winning solution to their issue. On that note, if you're thinking of setting up an automated chat-bot to engage with clients for such occasions, you may as well shut your property down now. Nothing says 'I don't value my customers' more than a chat-bot.

Hotel social media and digital marketing are complex because it is just as much art as it is science. To get the foundations set properly and be able to use the most effective analytical techniques, approaches and tools, to apply digital strategies effectively for customer acquisition, engagement and retention, you can dig deep here

This online certificate is based on EHL’s MBA in Hospitality program. For more information on the MBA program, you can visit the program details here.

Disclaimer: This content was adapted from