Exceptional guest experiences are the hallmark of best-in-class hospitality. These experiences extend to all customer interactions, especially those on social media. New generations of consumers choose social as their communication channel of choice, and turn to their favorite networks to plan everything from their next restaurant reservation to a complete travel itinerary.
Malissa Tabbey, Manager of Enterprise Social Media Strategy and Analytics at Vail Resorts, creates memorable social experiences with this in mind. “[Our social media approach] is always guest-first…We want to enable people to create an unforgettable, personalized resort experience.”
In this era of the hospitality industry, every customer exchange on social is your chance to make a lasting impression. With the right tactics and tools, a hospitality social media marketing strategy can help you increase brand awareness, gain new customers and supercharge long-term loyalty. Keep reading for actionable tips from hospitality brands taking customer satisfaction to the next level on social.
The evolution of social media for hospitality brands
A few years ago, lockdown measures forced consumers inside. New protocol challenged restaurants, bars, hotels, resorts, airlines, event spaces and tourism agencies to rethink how they connect with their audiences. Companies turned to social to share updates, address queries, respond to feedback and provide personalized experiences more frequently.
People grew accustomed to having a direct line of communication with the hospitality brands they love, and their definition of outstanding service evolved. Now when brands take too long to respond on social, 36% of consumers will share their negative experience with friends and family, while 31% won’t complete their purchase, according to The 2022 Sprout Social Index™.
These elevated expectations explain why having a robust social media strategy is more important for hospitality brands than ever before. Directly engaging with customers on social fosters trust, strengthens relationships and demonstrates a deep commitment to satisfaction that edges out the competition.
But it’s not just about having an extensive content calendar or responding to customer care needs—brands must also reflect the changing social media landscape. Consumer preferences for human-focused, video-centric content push hospitality brands to relate to their audience on social differently, demanding more from the people behind brand accounts.
Experimenting with these formats puts hospitality brands at an advantage, allowing followers to see places and experiences firsthand before booking a trip.
With all that’s changed in the past few years, one thing has remained constant: the number of global social media users is on a steep incline, with 5.85 billion users expected by 2027. By investing in a comprehensive global social media strategy, brands can reach a broad audience and attract new customers worldwide.
4 unforgettable hospitality social media strategies in action
Here are four specific ways world-famous hospitality brands use social to generate new business and build customer loyalty.
Vail Resorts leans into local appeal
With 40+ mountain resorts around the world, Vail Resorts juggles a mosaic of accounts across regions and countries. Their social team is faced with the challenge of reaching distinct audiences—from global visitors to local residents.
As Tabbey explains, “We lean into the uniqueness of each resort brand. Our resorts offer different experiences—including urban, luxury and adventure—and different benefits, like picturesque hikes or family-focused activities.”
Simply posting an aesthetic mountain photo isn’t enough to stand out in their competitive landscape, or to showcase the local appeal of their resort locations. Tabbey describes standing out in the “slopes of sameness” a challenge a lot of travel-based hospitality companies face.
To help their resorts shine, Vail Resorts tailors their content to specific audiences by featuring events, amenities, landscapes and local charm. For example, some resorts orient their content calendar around events happening on their grounds and in the local community.
While others highlight iconic adventures and breathtaking views.
Apply it: Dedicate time and resources to understanding all of your global audiences, and how these key demographics might vary by brand. Learn more about what they want from their experience with your brand. Invest your resources developing content your audience wants to engage with, and show up on channels they use most.
“Vail Resorts uses audience demographics from each social media platform to inform our strategy. Our different resorts—destination, urban, local and regional—all lean into each social platform’s unique content types and audience demographics to reach the intended user. They all approach each app uniquely based on their brand. Some take a heavier video first approach to inspire, while others lean into photography and community management to connect,” describes Tabbey.
Use our guide to social media demographics by platform to understand how your network strategy might vary by brand.
Loews Hotels has a knack for surprising-and-delighting
Loews Hotels & Co. has 26 hotels across the US and Canada, spanning multiple states and provinces. Their social team uses social listening to keep up with their growing global audience and analyze relevant conversations happening online. With social listening, they find unique ways to personalize their social customer care efforts.
“We use social listening to look for a lot of different things,” says their social team. “The happiest of them all, obviously, is identifying opportunities to surprise and delight our guests.”
They told us about a time they helped a Twitter user plan her vacation. In the initial Tweet, the user asked for recommendations about a theme park in Orlando. Without being tagged or mentioned, the Loews team jumped at the chance to serve as an on-demand concierge by sending her the information she needed. The result of their random act of kindness? Increased brand awareness and deeper customer loyalty.
Apply it: Use social listening to enable an unmatched, omnichannel guest experience that merges online and physical customer care. Follow Loews’ lead and use an advanced social listening solution like Sprout Social to tap into global conversations that would be a good fit for scaling your surprise-and-delight tactics. With Sprout, proprietary AI-driven technology does the heavy lifting for you so you can spend more time planning unforgettable experiences.
Allegiant Air achieves real-time reputation management
Las Vegas-based airline Allegiant Air uses social media to keep their reputation flying high. As Allegiant’s Customer Relations Manager Alyssa Salazar put it, “Having social media allows us to respond to and help retain our customers, as well as build brand loyalty.”
For Allegiant, a crucial step of reputation management is surfacing positive feedback, and repurposing it as user-generated content (UGC). Featuring happy customers on your profile drives other users to celebrate your brand and leave positive reviews. The comments section of the brand’s recent post is proof of that.
Apply it: Surface customers who love your brand, while identifying opportunities to make the customer experience even better.
Sprout’s platform is an integral part of Allegiant’s brand loyalty efforts. The Customer Relations team uses Sprout to streamline their feedback collection process by using internal tags to capture available UGC as it comes into the Smart Inbox. For example, adding a tag like “UGC opportunity” makes it easy to quickly find reshareable content.
Managing brand reputation with Sprout goes beyond social media. In the platform, you can monitor and engage with review sites like Google My Business, TripAdvisor and Yelp. Sprout’s review management tools unifies posts from these platforms into a single stream, so you can stay organized and informed.
TUI showcases sophisticated customer care
TUI is the UK’s leading travel brand, serving millions of customers per year as they embark on holidays, flights and cruises around the world. With millions of followers across social, TUI recognizes that social media is an essential part of providing their customers with exceptional customer care.
TUI understands that the travel industry revolves around customer experience, and if things don’t go to plan, delivering top-tier service is a must. For example, during the COVID pandemic, social media was the primary destination their customers used for support. In February 2020, TUI received 53,900 messages across their TUI UK and First Choice social channels. By the end of March, that number increased by 269% to more than 198,000 messages. By investing in expanding their team and finding the right tools, the TUI customer care team was able to resolve 500,000+ inquiries in three months.
Apply it: Make sure your team is well-equipped to handle the customer care needs of your audience on social. Establish clear workflows, train your team with accurate intel and equip them with powerful tools.
TUI uses Sprout Social to ensure its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram bases are covered. According to the TUI team, the Smart Inbox’s capabilities were an essential part of scaling their customer care efforts at the beginning of the pandemic. The inbox enables you to unify your social channels into a single stream to monitor incoming messages, foster conversations and respond to your audience quickly.
TUI also uses the Inbox Team Report to track response rate, reply times and customer care metrics at an individual level. These reports allow them to gain visibility into customer service performance, and identify ways they can increase their time to action and customer satisfaction.
Deliver a first-class experience for your customers on social
Social media hospitality efforts are a non-negotiable part of a customer-first strategy—from creating content that hits the right notes for all your global audiences, to having the right tools and processes in place to handle an influx of customer inquiries. Apply the best practices described by the brands in this article to deliver elevated customer experiences, which will increase new business growth and bolster customer loyalty.
To do this, you must remember your customers expect a stellar brand experience 24/7. Use our customer experience audit template to ensure your channels are top-notch.