Summertime is prime time for businesses in the hospitality industry. As hotels and restaurants go full throttle on their digital campaigns, new data from Sprout Social pinpoints opportunities for engaging consumers in key markets across social channels.
In an analysis of keyword volume from January to June, Sprout Social found a 98% increase in the volume of tweets mentioning “looking for a hotel” and a 60% increase in the volume of tweets that mention “looking for a restaurant.”
“People find value in the collaborative nature of social—turning to the various platforms to share reviews and recommendations as well as interact with their favorite brands,” explains Rachael Samuels, social media manager at Sprout Social. “This aspect of social makes it a key destination for people who are looking for hospitality and food-related inspiration.”
Social is becoming an increasingly popular channel for research and an important resource for word-of-mouth recommendations, with 67% of consumers saying that at least half of their searches result in a visit to a business, according to a 2017 survey by ReviewTrackers.
The peak in hotel- and restaurant-related search queries during the summer months can also be attributed to major holidays like the Fourth of July, Father’s Day, and Labor Day, as well as the summer break from school.
“To capitalize on this growth in social research over the summer, hotels and restaurants should prepare the same way they would for any busy season. This means having trained social media employees at all business locations to field different types of requests. Having a process for routing questions and offering a seamless CX is key,” Samuels says. “Potential customers should be able to go from looking for a recommendation, to engaging with a brand, to being routed to the next step quickly and efficiently.”
One hospitality brand that Samuels notes as having particularly effective social summer campaigns is SoHo House. The hotel and member’s club maintains an Instagram feed that’s aesthetically pleasing and is also geared toward members who are eager to share their own summer highlights on social media. In addition to showcasing how customers are sharing recommendations, which gives the brand great content to curate from its own handles, Samuels says SoHo House geo-tags almost all of its posts, holding social media contests on Facebook and promoting events that only happen in the summer on Twitter. This type of immersive social strategy brings common summertime experiences to life and capitalizes on the searches being made this time of year.
“When it comes to a geo-tagging strategy, especially in the hospitality and food and beverage industries, there shouldn’t be a huge difference in how they are used throughout the year. At its core, geo-tagging is an interactive way to share a location for a social post. Therefore, brands should include them and encourage their audience to do the same on all relevant posts, specifically visuals. This will create an easier path to discovery for consumers who may be researching on social via location,” Samuels says. “Additionally, monitoring and staying engaged with the geo-tags you use most as a business can help you identify opportunities to improve a customer’s visit in real-time and get involved with relevant conversations and posts.”
As the summer season fades into fall, Samuels recommends that hospitality brands start telling their customers what makes their hotels or restaurants unique during the season. Things like indoor pools and heated rooftop bars can be differentiators on social that align with seasonal trends to entice customers and give them a reason to visit.
“Starbucks is a fantastic example of a company that leverages seasonal food and beverages to engage their followers in unique and creative ways. Its crown jewel, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, shares its thoughts on its own Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr accounts. But come spring, the PSL is kicked out the door to make room for a new menu. Its seasonal hype is what gives the latte its velvet rope,” Samuels says. “If your brand doesn’t already offer an exclusive service or product, consider promoting one on social during a specific timeframe or season to give your company a VIP feel year-round.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.