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How can smaller hotels improve guest loyalty through SoLoMo marketing?


Power of SoLoMo marketing for hotels

Hoteliers focus a lot to ensure that their properties have a remarkable global presence in the oh-so-ever competitive market. Whether it is to do with their brand visibility or distribution of their rooms, they ensure that they make a decent mark in the market. In the bargain, there is one section that gets grossly neglected by hoteliers; existing guests and local market.

How can hotels go about increasing their guest’s loyalty by providing them that something extra to ensure that they frequent their properties on a regular basis?  The answer is SoLoMo marketing; a combination of social, local and mobile marketing.

Many hotels still cover the social aspect of SoLoMo marketing be it with the hotel’s website or Facebook page but the Local and Mobile marketing gets ignored.

So considering the budget and resource limitations, how should a small or mid-sized hotel use the power of So, Lo and Mo to their advantage?

Social Marketing:

This is the easy one. With networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TripAdvisor, Instagram, Google+ and numerous others, hotels have tailor-made platforms to interact with their present and future customers.

– Hotels can encourage interaction on their Facebook page by promoting their events, special offers as well as showcase their property to their viewers.

– A hashtag on Instagram with their property’s name shall promote visitors to post and tag pictures taken at the hotel premises. This shall create a ripple effect on the number of viewers getting access to the posts.

– YouTube is a great way to showcase aspects of a hotel and highlight a special offer, or the opening of a new restaurant/bar.

– TripAdvisor is now the go-to site for most travellers before they book their hotels, and hotels should definitely look at leveraging their positions here. Hotels should use cloud based property management solutions that provides the perfect opportunity for hotels to get prime placement on TripAdvsior by using the site’s unique bid management platform and participating in Hotel Price Comparison Search.

– “Checking in’ on Facebook has become one of the hottest things for travellers globally, it gives them a chance to connect with people in the vicinity as well as showcase their social stature by listing out different places that they have visited. Hotels can use this as a great marketing tool. By getting guests to check in at their property, restaurant, bar, and spa, they can reach out to their guests and offer them some special and exclusive offers.

– One more app that has become popular with hotels and restaurants is ‘Foursquare’, another way for users to ‘check in’ to a location. By partnering with Foursquare, hotels can offer recommendations, discounts as well as exclusive offers to their guests.

The way to increase guest loyalty through Social Marketing is truly infinite, the edge is when the campaigns are unique, engaging and attractive.

Local Marketing

While local in SoLoMo popularly refers to location-based technology, there is also another local angle that hotels can tap into.

The local market is one of the most neglected markets in the hospitality industry. A study done over 265 cities showed that hotel brands are missing as much as 85% of local customer feedback. And many travellers also prefer to have suggestions from locals while choosing their place to stay or even whether to dine at the hotel’s restaurant or not.

– Hotels should ensure that they have guest loyalty programs for the local guests, be it with regard to giving special benefits at their restaurants, bars or spa.

– Hotels should be visible on online local listings, be it with their SEO searches or on pages like Yelp, Zomato and Foursquare.

– Offer special stay packages for the local guests especially during the slower seasons. Tailor-made packages for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day and more shall be a great lure for locals to come and stay at their properties.

– Organizing events to interact with their local target group is the ideal way to start creating a rapport with them and giving them a sample of what the hotel has to offer. Invite guests for small get-togethers on special occasions, opening of a new restaurant or a spa session.

By engaging the local market, hotels benefit as it increases their visibility both in the local and the global marketplace.

Mobile Marketing

The world today depends on their smartphones to get access to information 24/7. Travel plans, hotel bookings, details about places to go, restaurant suggestions, and hotel recommendations are available at the tap of a button on their phones. Smartphone technology has made it extremely simple for hotels across the globe to reach to their consumers anywhere and at anytime, it’s just about knowing how to leverage the technology.

– The first step is to ensure that the hotel’s website is designed for the mobile version as well.

– SMS/WhatsApp campaigns are a great way to reach out to the local market, people may not read all their promotional emails, but promotional messages definitely get looked at.

– Create user-friendly mobile apps of the hotel with local information. Have a different mobile app for the hotel’s loyalty program which will give visitors details of their points and benefits.

– All social media platforms are now accessible from an individual’s smartphone, so hotels should be well versed with Foursquare, Facebook and Google places to know how to interact with their guests once they ‘check in’ at the hotel.

It really is an exciting time for the marketing team at hotels to get creative and come out with out-of-the-box ideas to leverage SoLoMo marketing for promoting their hotel. We have just illustrated a few examples, but there are limitless possibilities for them to reach out to their guests.

Learn from the Biggies

Below are examples of how several bigger hotels have used SoLoMo Marketing to their advantage:

– One of the first hotels to do so was Four Seasons, California, via the app ‘Gowalla’. They gave their guests special recommendations and also an opportunity to earn special credits which could be used at the hotel’s various POS (restaurant, spa).

– SLS South Beach hotel upsells their in-room mini bar by providing different recipes of cocktails that guests can make via the in-room iPad. Guests just pick an alcohol on the iPad, shake the device and are given a recipe of a cocktail that can be made based on the mixes available in the mini-bar.

– Starwood Hotel and Resorts truly leverages ‘Foursquare” and uses that as the backbone of its hotel’s loyalty program. Guests who check in via Foursquare at the hotel can earn discounts, loyalty points as well as offers from places close to the hotel.

– An Italian restaurant in Hollywood, Mercato di Vetro, created a promotional video for their Sunday Supper which went viral within the first week and helped drive in a lot of footfall to the restaurant.

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