01 – Reach Millennial Travelers On Social Media

by | June 7, 2018 | Suite Spot: Hotel Marketing Podcast

In the first episode of Suite Spot, we explore the state of millennial travel. Host Ryan Embree is joined by guest Anne Sandoval, Marketing Director at Travel Media Group and adjunct instructor of Social Media at UCF.

In the What's News segment, Ryan and Anne discuss a report by Travelport which forecasts that millennials will spend more on vacations than other age groups in 2018. In The Suite Spot, Ryan identifies four primary social networks hoteliers use to reach millennials. He also asks Anne to provide insight on how hotel marketers should approach each social network. In the Q&A segment, find out our top suggestions for engaging Facebook posts for hotels.

To submit a question for future episodes, call or text (407) 984-7455.

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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 and hotel marketing. I'm your host, Ryan Embree. I want to welcome everyone to our first ever episode of Suite Spot. I'm super excited that you are listening today and today we've got a very special guest and I am personally super excited because we have Anne Sandoval with us. She is our marketing director here at Travel Media Group as well as an instructor at the University of Central Florida where she teaches social media. Good morning, Anne.

Anne Sandoval: Good Morning Ryan. I'm so happy to be here and join you on this podcast.

Ryan Embree: Absolutely, and we're super excited to be launching this new Suite Spot podcast. So since it's our first episode, I'll go ahead and give a quick rundown of how each episode here at Suite Spot is going to work. First we're going to go into a segment called what's news? This is what's trending in the hospitality industry. Next we're going to move into our Suite Spot. This is the main subject that we're going to be focusing on for the majority of the episode. And then lastly, we're going to follow that up with a Q&A segment where we take questions from hoteliers and listeners like you and answer those live on air. All right, so let's go ahead and get started. So in today's, what's news? We're gonna be looking at a recent study that was conducted by Travelport and in this study they took a look at different age groups and their traveling trends. And one of the age groups that they found particularly surprising were the millennials.

Anne Sandoval: That's really interesting, you know, a lot of hoteliers may think of millennials as really young folks who aren't really ready to invest in vacations, but millennials span ages 18 to 34. So it's not just people who are right out of high school, but it's also people with young families and people who are young in their careers.

Ryan Embree: Absolutely. And what this study also found is not only are they more likely to go on vacation, but they're also more willing to spend on vacation than any other age group. The Gen Xers and the baby boomers, there are actually 34 percent of millennials plan to spend more than $5,000 on upcoming vacations this summer.

Anne Sandoval: You know, that number is really interesting because millennials in this age group, they may not have a lot of extra money to spend, but they're willing to invest $5,000 a year on vacations, so that means that they must really be prioritizing travel and they're looking for those experiences.

Ryan Embree: So the study really went in depth on some of these traveling trends and found that nearly half of the respondents had traveled for either business or leisure within the last year. But again, the age group that kept coming up was millennials which had traveled to most in the past 12 months.

Anne Sandoval: It also found that millennials who have grown up using digital technologies are more likely to use a travel agency to book travel if there's a mobile app with customized notifications available.

Ryan Embree: So when we analyze these studies and we look at it and we say, you know, we ask why is this important for hoteliers to know if hoteliers know what age group is more likely to vacation and travel, then they can really tailor and customize their marketing strategy accordingly and with millennials traveling and spending more, there's a huge revenue potential there for hoteliers out there.

Anne Sandoval: With almost 50 percent of millennials traveling for business or leisure within the last year. They're a savvy and experienced group of vacationers and they also have access and knowledge to all types of deal seeking digital technologies which can make the millennial seem like a very elusive traveler for hoteliers to market to.

Ryan Embree: So in 2018, what a lot of hoteliers are turning to now in order to reach these millennials is social media. And that's exactly what our Suite Spot segment is about on this episode, is reaching travelers by utilizing social media. In today's Suite Spot, we are going to explore four different social media platforms and we're going to demonstrate how hoteliers can leverage these platforms to attract travelers to their property. So the first one we're going to talk about today is probably the most popular Facebook. Now, the number of active users per month is approximately around one point 5 billion people. That is a lot of people and a lot of eyes and potential there for you. So apart from the ability to network with friends and relatives you can also access different Facebook apps to promote your business. And Facebook is ever evolving to help businesses really get their name out there. So, and you know, Anne, as the director of marketing, what tips and suggestions would you give someone who's new to Facebook and once you create a Facebook page for their business or hotel.

Anne Sandoval: So first, in most importantly, I think it's important for you to check and make sure there's not a page already out there for you to claim because one of the things that we see a lot is hotelier. Create a brand new page and that's great, but there's this old page out there or an unclaimed page and that can be really confusing for travelers. So that's the first thing. Next, when you're setting up your profile, you want to use high quality photos and accurate location information to make sure that travelers can recognize your hotel and contact you when they're ready to book and you want to add specifics about your amenities and accommodations in the description section of your Facebook profile because when travelers are searching for for hotels on Facebook, those specific key words could help you be found in the search results. And finally you want to set up the CTA button or Call to Action Button on your Facebook profile and they have a button customize that's perfect for you to use called book now. And that can have you sending Facebook users directly into your booking engine, which is ultimately what we want.

Ryan Embree: Awesome. So you know, as I mentioned before, Facebook is ever evolving and it's specifically for the hotel industry. Adding a book now feature can really help convert traffic and do it in a noncommissioned way in a direct booking. So how do we consult with hoteliers on how to use Facebook? What we encourage them to use. Posts like local events, a repost from other travelers and even reviews from previous guests that really enjoyed their stay. Anything that really we want to inspire travel, but we also want to get your business in front of their eyes.

Anne Sandoval: You know, often when travelers are researching a hotel to stay at, they'll check out their Facebook page and see, is it updated? Uh, and just by having consistent posts, travelers will put more trust in your ability to manage your property.

Ryan Embree: Okay, so the next social media platform, we're going to look at his Twitter. Now the Twitter users are significantly lower, but still quite a number 320 million users per month. This social media site enables you to post shorter text messages that the platform calls Tweets. Now, there has been some changes as of recently. There used to be 140 character limit to the messages that you would be able to put on Twitter. They recently did away with that, but mostly the users are used to those shorter type messages. What are users looking for when they use Twitter versus when they're using Facebook?

Anne Sandoval: So I would say there are two main categories of what people are looking for when they're on Twitter. First is that they're looking for quick updates on news or event information and trending topics. So the key on Twitter is to provide short actionable messages and even though the character limit has changed, it's still important to be brief and include links in your Tweets. And one tip is to interact with area attractions to try and help expand your audience. So the other big use for Twitter is customer service. Millennials are much more likely to Tweet if they have an issue with your brand than to call your customer service line. They see Twitter as a quick way to reach out to someone who can help. So hoteliers are no stranger to public guest feedback. So it's important to be aware that guests may be Tweeting about your hotel, whether or not you're on Twitter to interact with them.

Ryan Embree: That is so very critical. You're right, because we've seen a lot of examples there of customers, you know, utilizing social media to reach out for issues, problems, or even a compliment and compliments and praise for a hotel. So the way that hotel you should really be using Twitter is to, again interact with guest, whether that be in a positive or a issue resolving sense. We want to put links to booking engines, again, trying to get them a commission free and convert that traffic. And we also want to use it as any alerts or updates in the area or at the property. So the third, a social media platform we're going to be looking at today is Pinterest. Now, a lot of you might've heard of Facebook and Twitter. This is an ever fast growing social media forum. There are a 100 million, approximately monthly users, so it's a little bit less than Twitter, but it's certainly growing a lot faster than it. This is a photo sharing and visual bookmarking, social media site. It enables you to find new ideas for projects and save them. So, Anne, what makes Pinterest so unique from other social media platforms?

Anne Sandoval: So Pinterest, as you said, is a highly visual platform, meaning that every post is a photo or in rare cases a video. The difference between it and social networks like Instagram is that every single one of these photos is hyperlinked to a source, usually one where a user can find that recipe, purchase that luggage or book that trip. That may sound optimistic, but research actually backs this up. Ninety three percent of Pinterest users use it to plan for future purchases. So the image based platform isn't just for inspiration, it's for planning. Now, the other difference is the demographics. Most people have heard that Pinterest users are predominantly women and that's true and it's a benefit to companies using the platform. Since many buying decisions are driven by women, but a less known stat is that according to Business Insider, millennials use Pinterest almost as much as they use Instagram.

Anne Sandoval: That is an incredibly powerful stat, Anne, and again, I'm going to hone in on that one that you mentioned. Ninety three percent of Pinterest users use it to plan future purchases. This is so critical for hoteliers in a whole lot of revenue potential is created by this app and site. So how should hoteliers be using Pinterest? Well, again, what we want to focus on is inspiring travel and converting that traffic. So high resolution pictures of the property or of the area or have local events can really inspire users to take a trip and specifically stay at your property. So the final and the last social media platform we're going to be talking about today is Instagram. Now, Instagram has about 400, million approximate users. Uh, it is a mobile first social media site, so became very, very popular mobily. And the question for you, Anne with this one, with being a mobile first social media platform, how does the marketing strategy change?

Anne Sandoval: When travelers are using Instagram, they are scrolling on their phone through photos from people that they follow, brands that they follow, and also they're able to explore what their friends are also posting and they can see what is posted, for example, at a specific location. The platform is highly visual. So then main tip that I would say is to keep it simple, posts, pictures that look great to show people what your property it looks like, share photos of your area, attractions, and this is really about targeting those travelers in their inspiration phase. And then use your Link in Bio to link directly to your booking engine. You may not get as many clicks to your booking engine from Instagram as you might from some of these other social networks, but when you do, you're sending them exactly to the right place and those people will be highly likely to convert because they've been following you all along. The other really interesting new feature that you can use to show off your property is Instagram Stories. Now these are something that you want to do if you've got someone who can dedicate more time to Instagram at your property, but it's kind of a new way to interact and tell your hotel story through photos and videos that you take live at the property.

Ryan Embree: Awesome. And, you know, with all these social media

Ryan Embree: sites, at the end of the day, the purpose for our hotelier is to convert traffic. So a lot of that stems from inspiration. So when we talk to hoteliers about using Instagram, it's like you said, there is some time that's required to utilize the social media platform, but we again want to use a lot of photos and pictures to inspire that travel as you mentioned with the new story feature we tell hoteliers if they're doing any sort of a temporary, since these messages are only for 24 hours in our temporary messages, if they're doing any sort of deals or flash sales, this is a great way to promote that to their followers.

Ryan Embree: We did decide to leave Snapchat, a very popular social media site off this list. And the reason is right now it's pretty difficult to, for a business to kind of manage a hotel business specifically to manage a Snapchat unless you have someone dedicated at the property for this.

Anne Sandoval: That's true. And, you know, a lot of big brands are using Snapchat really effectively to reach millennials, but they're doing that through sponsored posts and spending a lot of advertising dollars. So at this point, unless you have someone at the property who can do this on a daily basis we would recommend leaving that to your brand and having that be a great avenue for your brand to reach those millennials and focus your energy on the other four networks we mentioned because you'll get a higher ROI out of those.

Ryan Embree: Great. So we are now at our Q&A section. Since this is our first episode. We don't have any live questions that have come in just yet, but we'll be asking for those at the end of this episode and give you a direct line to either call or text to ask your questions about hotel digital marketing. So today we're gonna explore a question that recently at Travel Media Group, we've been asked a lot because, um, every hotelier you know has the same struggle when it comes to social media and finding engaging posts and, and ideas on what to put on their social media platforms. So the question that we get are "what are some topics to post on Facebook and other social media sites that are engaging and can grow my following?" So, Anne, I'll go ahead and let you start.

Anne Sandoval: Sure. So one of the things that I think is both interesting and helpful to post on Facebook is check in with your front desk and find out what are the frequently asked questions that your current guests or a potential travelers are asking about your hotel. Things like one are the check in checkout times

Anne Sandoval: or is there a free breakfast and what time is that available? These questions are ones that are really helpful and there are also things that could entice future travelers to stay with you. If you mentioned once in a while that you offer free Internet, then that may be appealing. And you've got to remember it's okay to repeat these ideas occasionally because most travelers aren't going to scroll all the way back through your Facebook feed to see what you are posting last month or the month before.

Ryan Embree: Very true, very true. Um, what I talked to hoteliers about is local events. Now, I know we've mentioned this a couple times on this episode, but I can't stress it enough because you talk to hoteliers and they know that they're going to be busy around those local event times, but it's all about, again, booking in the direct, a direct commission free way.

Ryan Embree: So if you can put a book now feature on some of your social media platforms, even though there might be a local event, you can get that same traveler that might be booking with you every single year through an OTA to book directly through you at no cost to you. So putting local events on your pages can help that as well as inspire travel and really help convert some of that traffic.

Anne Sandoval: I think that's a great idea. Another thing that I would recommend for hoteliers to do is, you know, Scroll through your OTA and TripAdvisor reviews and find some really great positive reviews that stick out to you and highlight those by sharing them on your social network. It's a great way to inform future travelers about how great it is to stay at your property and it's also a nice way to kind of say "thank you" to the traveler that posted that review of your hotel.

Ryan Embree: Those reviews are absolutely critical. I believe all of our listeners know that could be the decision between someone staying at your hotel or not. The last suggestion that I'm, you know I'll give today would be profiling and employee. You know, in the hospitality industry, we know how difficult it is to find into keep a good employee at your hotel. So posting about an employee does two things. One, it really helps the morale of your staff and let your staff know that they're appreciated. That sometimes can get lost on a GM or owner. Now the second thing is it also helps humanize your story of the hotel. Makes you look more like a caring family than maybe a just a business in a building. So profiling employees can really make for great social media posts as well as lots of engagement. So these were just a few of our best practices and tips for engaging social media topics.

Ryan Embree: We actually have on our blog a top 10 list, so if you'd like more information on that, we're going to provide a link to you that will give you access to that article and give you some more ideas on how to grow that social media audience and you can find that link in our episode description. We want to thank everyone for listening to us today. We would love to hear your questions and be able to answer these questions live on one of our episodes in podcasts. You can either call or text your question in that's 407-984-7455. That number again is 407-984-7455. And you can either leave us a voicemail and we can share that or texts us and we can read it live on the air. That's it for our first episode. Thank you everyone for listening and thank you Anne for joining me today.

Ryan Embree: 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 and content support by Amber Wojcek. I'm your host, Ryan Embree, and we hope you enjoyed your stay.

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