64 – Marketing Your Hotel on Linkedin

by | December 16, 2020

In this episode of Suite Spot, we announce another exciting update for 2020: the addition of LinkedIn to Travel Media Group’s social media solution. Host Ryan Embree is joined by the leader of the product development team, Jason Lee to discuss this powerful B2B social platform.

Jason shares what makes LinkedIn unique from other social platforms and how hoteliers can leverage LinkedIn for lead generation and potential revenue streams. Ryan and Jason talk about the evolution of LinkedIn since the beginning of the pandemic and the role it will play in corporate and group travel recovery in 2021. This episode is a great starting point for developing a successful LinkedIn strategy for any type of hotel.

If you are looking to learn more information about Travel Media Group’s social media solution, now featuring Linkedin, or want to submit a question for future episodes, call or text 407-984-7455.

Episode Transcript
Our podcast is produced as an audio resource. Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and human editing and may contain errors. Before republishing quotes, we ask that you reference the audio.

Ryan Embree:
Welcome to Suite Spot where hoteliers check in and we check out what’s trending in hotel marketing. I’m your host, Ryan Embree. Hello everyone, welcome to another episode of the Suite Spot. This is your host, Ryan Embree, got a great episode for you today. Very familiar guest and voice on the Suite Spot with me, Jason Lee, Vice President of Product Development and Technology. And when you hear Jason with me, it typically means an exciting announcement, and we have one for you today. We’re going to center our entire episode around this topic and that is the new addition to Travel Media Group’s social media solution, Linkedin. Jason, welcome to the Suite Spot, tell us a little bit about this new update.

Jason Lee:
Awesome. Thanks for having me Ryan, and you know LinkedIn it’s such an interesting outlet from a social media perspective because I think you have this sort of grouping of social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, that are really designed for sort of – I hate to say leisure purpose because there’s advertising other things that happen on there – but it really is sort of like, I flip through my feed, I maybe get news on there, I get updates from friends, and I see images, and I kind of go down that road. When I go to LinkedIn, it’s something different. This is business to business contacts. This is me maybe reading pieces about the industry that I’m involved in, that I know recruiting happens there. There’s all sorts of things that happen on LinkedIn that don’t happen really anywhere else. And yet it is very similar to other social media outlets in that you can create content and you can do things and interact with an audience that might have interest in the thing that you are talking about or the business that you belong to. So I think that’s what makes LinkedIn really special and really unique and extremely important to hotels right now, as we’re hopefully going into the post-COVID time and hotels are starting to look at what sort of market segment is corporate today, at my hotel. What is it and how is it going to happen? Where am I going to get it from? Are people going to come back and start traveling again? Are there going to be meetings again? How soon does that happen? And what are things that I can do at a local level utilizing tools like LinkedIn to maybe spearhead that effort. So that’s what I think the importance of LinkedIn is. I know it’s kind of like a bigger umbrella kind of statement about it, but I believe that’s where a really interesting strategy can develop going after corporate and group business using LinkedIn as a platform.

Ryan Embree:
Yeah and I want to talk about that strategy a little bit, because I think, for me, when I think of LinkedIn, the way that LinkedIn really started was for Individual professionals to really put their resume out there, potentially businesses looking for people that are seeking jobs and positions. But it’s interesting to look at it through the lens of how can a business bring more business. So a hotel bring in corporate travel or bring in group travel. You know, I think a lot of our hoteliers that might be listening to this, they might be familiar with platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and that might make sense for them to have their hotel on those platforms. Why do you think it makes sense for them to also have their hotel on LinkedIn?

Jason Lee:
Well, I think different than the other platforms, what LinkedIn does is it puts the person front and center. So if I’m a hotel manager, for example, my association with my business on LinkedIn is what’s important. People connect with me as a general manager, way more than they might connect directly with my hotel. So I’m connected to maybe hundreds of people all through my community. My association with my hotel is how they bind me together with a business. So if I am going out and I’m going to create posts or I’m going to use the posts about my property and I’m sharing those, really what I’m doing is I’m putting them out on my business page, but me as the owner of that business page and the manager of my hotel, I’m now going to reshare that. So every time I do something like that, I’m reconnecting and reassociating myself and my business together with my audience and with that community. And as you see what happens, anybody that’s on LinkedIn right now, anytime somebody puts out a new property opening or we opened back up after COVID, or here’s our safety practices, or here’s some pictures of our room, you see a groundswell of people, “Congratulations. Good job. Looks great. When do you guys open? When are you taking bookings?” You see all of those comments and pieces coming together, that didn’t come from the business itself, it came from the share of that post from the business out to that person’s community. That make sense?

Ryan Embree:
Yeah, that’s a great point. And you’re right, it is a platform that I think innately is very positive. We’ve talked about the way travelers use Instagram differently than they might use Facebook or Twitter. They might reach out to a business on Twitter if they’re having issues. On Instagram, they really want to kind of “show their best life”, so they’re not going to post a picture of a dirty room on Instagram or things like that. So LinkedIn, being the professional space that it is, I think it is a way to connect with consumers, guests, travelers, the way that we can connect and expose our hotel to those people in a different light than we might be doing on our personal pages like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Jason Lee:
Yeah. You know, if I’m in a property and I’m talking to a potential candidate for director of sales, for example, and I go onto their LinkedIn profile to take a look at them, right? That’s a typical due diligence before you hire somebody, and I see that this person has 500 plus connections. They’re active in the community. What that could mean me is potentially advertising out to this person’s professional database. And that is insane, I think that could be something that’s so different than other social media outlets, because if I’m on Facebook and I’m pushing something out, like we’re really excited about our new hotel rooms, make sure you book now. It may fall kind of on deaf ears and frankly, there’s a lot of business owners that don’t necessarily want to associate themselves with their business on Facebook, because they don’t want their personal Facebook stuff to get intermixed. LinkedIn is something totally different because it is B2B. You’re talking to other professionals and the stuff that you’re pushing out there is on point. It is something that’s normal between two businesses to say, I’ve got great corporate rates or I just renovated my hotel. That becomes a really natural exchange between business people, rather than me as an individual with all my family’s photos and stuff on my Facebook page. Now pushing out a business type of post.

Ryan Embree:
Yeah, a space like LinkedIn, again, networking, you know exactly who you’re connecting with and leveraging those connections and that’s what we’re going to talk a little bit about today on this episode. One of the best things about our social media solution at Travel Media Group is it really caters to the entire spectrum, from social beginners, that don’t really have a lot of experience with social media, to those experienced professionals that might have been hired as their expertise to do social media. I want to kind of walk through that spectrum a little bit when it comes to LinkedIn, can you share some tips for hoteliers that might be just looking at building a LinkedIn for their property the first time and just some quick tips on how to get that started?

Jason Lee:
Yeah so, first of all, if you haven’t done it already create a LinkedIn profile, if you haven’t done that. I’m talking about your personal LinkedIn, so if I went in there for the very first time, I’m Jason Lee, I have not created one. I need to create my own profile first and then once I do, I’m going to be prompted to connect to a business. If you’ve already created one, you could connect to your business and you can go through a search. And when you start searching for your property, typically what you’re going to find – and I haven’t looked for a property that I haven’t found yet, I guess some really new properties might not be on there – but for the most part, all of the hotels that I’ve looked for are on there already and it’s just a place page. But once you connect there, like let’s say, as an owner or a general manager, now you have the opportunity to claim that page. And then once you claim that, now that page is attached to your user and that association by the way is private, but once you do that, you now are the admin of that page. And now you can put your logo, you can put a canvas image, you can add booking links, you can add a description of your property. So you can add a bunch of information then to that to actually really build it out. What’s really interesting about a lot of the pages that I’ve found is that they have employees associated with those pages in a lot of cases. So you might already have a desk clerk or a DOS or somebody else that has already gone in there. And it could even be from the past, I’ve seen some of them that are clearly like older employees. And so I think there is something very worthwhile in no matter what you do, getting that page claimed, making sure you have the correct branding. So if anybody, including your employees, try to connect, there’s a really nice professional association.

Ryan Embree:
So what about those hoteliers that maybe already have an account set up, but they are looking for some advice on how to optimize what to post?

Jason Lee:
Yeah, so now you have your page, you have connected your page, the optimization is like I said, making sure that you’ve got your right logo on there, making sure that you’ve got the right information. And one thing I would say that’s really critical is the little information blurb that they provide for the business. I would definitely skew that towards amenities that are business to business type amenities. So you might not want to like talk about how great your pool is. It’s not that you wouldn’t want to put that on there, but I think some of the more business amenities, like I’ve got a business center, we’ve got meeting space, we have complimentary parking – all of the things that might entice – we have negotiated rates contact our sales department. So you could have all those pieces together inside of your bio that I think is really an important part of that first piece of optimization. And then it’s about getting other employees that you have to connect if they haven’t connected already then going into your first post, like you said, Ryan, and I think those first posts really should be about your property. It’s about the stuff at your property, focusing on rooms, focusing on meeting space, lobby, any other amenities like restaurant and things like that that you might have. I would definitely make your first few posts focus there.

Ryan Embree:
So I want to talk about ROI because that seems to be a huge question that we receive all the time at Travel Media Group when it comes to social media and I think some of the best ways to really explain ROI around social media is maybe just to walk through some examples or use cases of how posting on a platform like LinkedIn could actually lead to some revenue. Could you maybe share with us an example that might result in revenue or even some lead generation?

Jason Lee:
Yeah, I think all of us, every GM, assistant GM, and DOS for sure has all been in the local community and try to create some groundswell by getting local negotiated corporate rates, getting some kind of reoccurring room nights from your local area. And I think what you do is you go out and like, what I used to do is I would go to a chamber of commerce meeting, or a convention and visitor’s bureau meeting, or I’d go to these other meetings, right?

Ryan Embree:
Feet to street.

Jason Lee:
Yeah, feet to street, but today a lot of those meetings aren’t even happening. The purpose of those meetings was to create connections. It was to get a business card and give a business card. LinkedIn is the give and get business card of today. I request, you know, a connection. You know, I go and I research a company that I know is in the area, I take a look at that company, I can see the employees that are attached to it. I see somebody that might look like they would be someone that would handle inbound bookings. I click on them and I ask for a connection, right? And then maybe I put a little blurb that request, “Hey, I’m the General Manager at X hotel and would love to be able to serve any of your hospitality needs and looking forward to connect with you.” Or it could be lighter than that like, “As a fellow business person inside of our city, looking to connect with other professionals like you.” So you make that first connection and now once that connection has been made the posts and things that are happening at your property can then be connected back to them. And so you create this sort of top of the mind awareness, but you also have a way to direct message these people, you have a way to like interconnect with them, if they like a post, if they comment on a post, any of those things are all signals that this person is interested in what you’ve just done and could lead to additional business. And I think that’s where there’s this really cool thing that can happen. So you can kind of use it as a lead source to connect with people, but from there, it’s about how do you take that and run with it? You know, and I think a lot of other businesses already do this with LinkedIn. A lot of sales organizations do this and sometimes as hotels, we don’t view ourselves as sales organizations, but the reality is we’re all kind of grappling for occupancy and there are room nights, there are corporate room nights, there’s reoccurring room nights that are happening inside of every market, and I think the hotels that get them are the ones that go out after them. And so I think LinkedIn could be part of that strategy.

Ryan Embree:
You’re absolutely right. This is the new age Rolodex, so to speak, you know, your contacts that you’ve been speaking to and had these agreements for years, now you start connecting them with LinkedIn, they start giving you professional praise on some of your posts, and that extends your reach. I think as the hotel industry, this year especially, has learned that they try to lean on leisure travel as much, but that group and corporate travel means so much to our industry. So taking advantage of a platform like LinkedIn, it just makes sense right now. And I think that hoteliers see Facebook and Instagram and they think they automatically think leisure travel and might be able to capture corporate or group travel there. But really this is where the hands are being shaken and deals are being made when it comes to group and corporate travel. And I wanted to ask you, kind of, what role do you think LinkedIn is going to play in this kind of recovery in 2021, as we’re trying to get groups and corporate back?

Jason Lee:
I think it plays an important part as like a lot of other things that talk about your hotel, any place where a potential guest of any segment has the ability to look at information about you, about your hotel, about a facility. You want it to be optimized. You want it to look right and not just look right, but also have a bunch of really great information that would be enticing to that potential guest. I think LinkedIn, as that B2B social association, is extremely important and I think it’s always important to reach out to local businesses, it’s always important to increase occupancy and maximize out each segment, but I do feel like in the age of, we are not getting together as much, using a tool like LinkedIn to connect businesses and professionals together to help. This is really what it’s about. It’s about as someone at a business, I maybe won’t go and do a site tour at your property because of COVID, but if you reach out to me and I feel really confident in the information you’re giving me, I may not need to go do a site tour. I may make that relationship with you directly and go ahead and start putting people in your hotel. And I think that’s where LinkedIn – LinkedIn and other platforms help – but I think like, obviously we’re talking about LinkedIn specifically, it’s a powerful platform and I would never discount anything that could possibly bring you business, but especially something like this where it’s a really clear, direct connect.

Ryan Embree:
Absolutely. And you know, I’m curious, because as I mentioned at the beginning, LinkedIn has really evolved I think since it was first launched and kind of what it’s objectives is and if you just look at the feed, if you kind of sign into your LinkedIn today, maybe when you signed in a decade ago it looks completely different and the content is completely different. I’m curious, how do you think LinkedIn is going to evolve as a platform over the next few years as we recover from this pandemic?

Jason Lee:
I think it’s going to continue doing what it’s always done. It’s probably just going to do it better. One of the things that it’s added this year is LinkedIn Live, which I think is really cool and you can see all kinds of webinars – and unlike Facebook Live, or Instagram, or snap, or some of the other ones that have live features – this is specific to business and to segments of business. So probably everyone listening to this who has been on various different LinkedIn Lives, whether it is the No Vacancy LinkedIn Live by Glenn Hausmann or it could be Rupesh’s LinkedIn Live, or AAHOA has had some, AHLA has had some. You see a lot of associations using LinkedIn live as a form of like webinars slash forum to discuss business. So I think the same tools that are being associated with other social platforms are starting to be associated with LinkedIn, but they’re doing it from a B2B standpoint. And I think LinkedIn being owned by Microsoft has that kind of business thing going forward already. Like it’s already sort of in that mode. I doubt LinkedIn is going to suddenly start having 60 second videos where people are dancing to music, but I do think they’re going to use like a lot of what is out there on the other platforms to further business connection.

Ryan Embree:
That’s a great point and, you know, to add LinkedIn just started adding on their mobile feed stories, LinkedIn stories. So very similar to other social platforms that we’ve seen. I mean, I’m just kind of sitting back here thinking about if you’re a hotel or a Director of Sales looking for some group travel or even wedding business and doing one of these LinkedIn lives through your conference center, amenities, your ballrooms and exposing that and asking those either wedding planners or group planners to join you on that from LinkedIn, you’ve got your target audience right there. There are huge, huge implications to adding this to the Travel Media social solution, great work with you and your team. This will be very, very exciting to see how it shapes up going into 2021. And one of the other things that I will add just as a best practice and tip that you mentioned, go and join those associations. Mostly all of them now are on LinkedIn. You’re going to find your CVBs there, just general business associations in your local area, local businesses – if COVID has taught us anything it’s that these local businesses are very, very tied into one another. Definitely connect with them because it can be a way to encourage your business, promote your business, and advertise that business. So as we wrap up here, you know, again, congratulations on this exciting upgrade to our social media solution. Any final thoughts about today’s episode and this upgrade?

Jason Lee:
I think like as always, sometimes at hotels, it’s about time, there could be trepidation about I don’t want to join another network or I don’t want to do this. You know, I think like a lot of the things that hold us back from growth or hold us back from moving our business forward, sometimes it’s fear of the unknown or fear of being able to handle it. I would definitely challenge you to take a look at it as a viable outlet. I’m talking about all social media, but I do feel like with social media and this is going to be my shpeel, right? For the other parts of our business, outbound social media meaning stuff that you create and push out into the world is your message, but on every single one of these outlets is also inbound: comments about your business and things like that. So both sides of this are really important to pay attention to because the outbound is your positive outlook and your feeling about your business, inbound is the customer’s feeling about your business. Both places need to be addressed. Both places need to be constantly looked at because both places affect your business. So I think, I guess there was a point in time where you can bury your head and say, “It doesn’t affect me. It’s garbage. Nobody’s doing anything with it.” But that time has passed. This stuff is important. This stuff is now and this stuff is happening around you and it is affecting your business. So whether you choose to be proactive with it or you choose to continue an apathetic approach, really will be the difference between you succeeding or failing in a market. That’s my feeling.

Ryan Embree:
Good point, Jason. And you’re right, these hotels need to look at social media and really all places online as a two way street. Yes, we want to push out content. We want to make those phone calls. Customers are also going to be calling us and we need to pick up that phone when they’re reaching out to us. So make sure you are definitely monitoring that and we are happy to and excited to announce that we’re going to be adding LinkedIn to that. So I want to thank you, Jason for being on the Suite Spot with me. If you are interested in learning more about our social media solutions at Travel Media Group with the new addition of LinkedIn, please reach out to us (407) 984-7455 or you can always visit us at travelmediagroup.com. Got a lot of great information on there. A lot of blog articles about how you can start leveraging LinkedIn at no matter what point you’re at. So Jason, thanks again for being on the Suite Spot and thank you all for listening, we’ll talk to you next time. To join our loyalty program, be sure to subscribe and give us a five-star rating on iTunes. Suite Spot is produced by Travel Media Group, our editor is Anne Sandoval with cover art by Bary Gordon. I’m your host, Ryan Embree, and we hope you enjoyed your stay.

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