EP #30 – Social Media’s Influence on Hotel Marketing

Jerry Williams, IHG Training ConsultantJerry Williams discusses the impact social media has on hotel marketing.

On episode 29 of Hospitality Academy Amanda Singer talked about the importance of digital marketing, and today we’re digging in even deeper with Jerry Williams of IHG on the topic of hotel marketing.

Jerry is a former colleague of mine, and he is here to discuss the influence of social media on hotel marketing.

Specifically, he explains what hoteliers should do to maximize their efforts on social media and ensure their property ranks at the top of the online search results.

He also shares what information potential guests are looking for from your website before they secure their reservation with you. You’ll hear that and more on episode 30 of Hospitality Academy!

Essential Learning Points From This Episode:

  • What is the fastest growing age group on social media?
  • How many hours of video are being posted to YouTube today?
  • What percentage of people believe peer-rated reviews over marketing material?
  • What are the 3 key ingredients your website must have for optimal booking success?
  • Why having 100% positive reviews isn’t your goal.
  • And so much more!

Jerry Williams is a senior training consultant with the IHG Hotel Operations Training Team. He works with a few different teams including revenue management, the loyalty group, and the digital marketing group.

When he’s not working, Jerry is a happily married husband and father of three grown children, and they are all huge Texas A&M fans!

As we begin our conversation on digital marketing for the hotel and hospitality industry, he explains that our industry is very different than it was 10 years ago, and it will be entirely different five years from now. And social media plays a huge role in how things are changing.

Although we often think of younger generations like Gen Y and Millennials as being the primary technology users, Jerry says the fastest growing group of people on social media is baby boomers! They are using technology more than anyone else, from texting to Facebook to pinning on Pinterest the baby boomer generation is out there and deeply immersed in new technology and social media.

Clearly social media is deeply ingrained in all we do, and as a result, we have to be aware of how it influences all areas of our lives. Jerry recalls a statistic he read a few years ago that said: “92% of people believe peer-rated reviews over marketing materials”! It’s apparent that many of our online buying decisions are influenced by reviews on social media.

Jerry also cites a study by Cornell University School of Hotel Administration that showed if a hotel was able to move their review score up 1 star (for example from a 3 star to 4 star), they could raise their ADR (average daily rate) by 11.6% with NO loss in occupancy.

Both of these examples show the immense impact and influence social media has on all of us, whether we want to admit it or not!

People have figured out how to use both to grow their businesses effectively; the smartest companies out there are currently investing hundreds of millions of dollars on this through the likes of paid search, retargeting ads, etc.

Jerry emphasizes that hotels need to understand this isn’t going away. In fact, it’s only going to get bigger and stronger in the future. He says the future will be like today’s digital marketing on steroids! It’s imperative the hotel industry figures out how to leverage it.

And when you are ready to do so, he shares his thoughts on the most important tools you can use when making revenue management decisions. Jerry says first and foremost you must differentiate your hotel.

Everyone thinks they are different, but most aren’t. If everyone who believed they had positioned themselves as different had done so then, there would be no need for sites like Trivago and for customers to be choosing based solely on price.

So the first thing you have to know is what is going to differentiate you. Jerry gives the example of following in Amazon’s footsteps. People are comfortable buying from Amazon because all the items have a ton of photos, thorough and engaging descriptions and – the critical piece – reviews on the same page as the item.

Jerry says when you do those three things better than anyone else you will be among the most successful hotels in the marketplace.

Also on this episode, we discuss linkbacks, including an example that illustrates what they are and how to utilize them properly. Jerry also shares what he sees as the future of digital marketing in the hotel industry, and why having all positive 5-star reviews actually can work against you. Listen in for that and more on the 30th edition of Hospitality Academy!

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Important Links & Mentions From This Episode:

  • Get in touch with Jerry: jerry.williams@ihg.com


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