Sahail Ashraf posted on 11 December 2017
The accommodation and travel industry is a complex one. Brands in this particular field are constantly innovating, and often create content marketing and social media campaigns that win awards.
It’s a fast-growing market too, with entrepreneurs choosing to develop businesses that provide flights, accommodation and other services to help the traveller enjoy their experience.
Looking at how they manage their social media would always be interesting. However, you may well be a little surprised when you see the types of brands that play in this space. Let’s take a look at some of the interesting pages we discovered looking at the Locowise Leaderboard for the accommodation industry.
Some of you may not be surprised when we say one of the first globally known names in the top ten is Marriott. The first hotel from this brand was created in 1957. Since then, it has developed a very positive worldwide reputation. It has over 6,000 hotels worldwide.
On Facebook, the Marriott group focus almost exclusively on what they produce. Posts are about special offers and commercial partnerships with other brands like TED Talks.
However, the Marriott group comes up in a high position on the size of the audience it enjoys. It does not capitalise on that huge audience, and we know this by looking at the engagement numbers. It has a 0.01% engagement rate, which is poor compared to other, much smaller accommodation brands. But we will get to those smaller brands shortly.
The key problem on the Marriot Facebook page is that the brand presents itself as rather faceless and corporate. It’s a page that seems to have been created for the purpose of selling things. So it’s cold and remote. While it talks up some of the offers the group has, this is done without a prior examination of the audience and what it likes.
On top of that, Marriott also has a very low key posting frequency on Facebook. This cannot help the engagement levels.
Ritz Carlton, has worked much harder than Marriot. Here you will see that the brand posts regularly and frequently. This results in a 2.50% engagement rate with Marriott nowhere near. So what is it they do right?
We’ve already mentioned the fact that they post a lot more than other brands do. They have a relatively small audience compared to similar brands, so it’s all about the work that is put in on social. This is where real engagement happens.
One key thing that the brand is doing well is drawing the audience in with themed work. Their recent hashtag campaign #80Stays has really pulled a connecting thread through posts on Facebook. It has gained plenty of reactions and this is a key aspect of what the brand is doing. It could quite easily just produce gorgeous photos of destinations and flights, but it chooses to try and get the audience involved with a connecting thread.
It’s not the first event it has created on Facebook either. Other hashtags are present and gain equal amounts of engagement. The whole page seems to be geared towards making the audience want to get involved.
Smaller is better in the UK. One of the most engaging pages is a brand you probably won’t recognise. Sally’s Cottages, with nearly 45,000 engagement points in the last 30 days, is a small brand that has taken on the opportunities that Facebook offers with a clear focus on creating content that gets people involved and interacting.
What we have here is a brand that is doing Facebook in an amazingly warm and human way. The loyalty the audience has for the brand is clear. They are obviously popular and well-liked. But you get a real feeling that Sally’s Cottages works on listening to its audience, and asking for feedback is a discipline that really comes through here.
User generated content is encouraged, because the brand knows that, with its size, it will have some real fans and not just social media followers. In addition to that, the brand also answers customer queries in a very helpful, if not always immediate, fashion.
Rather interestingly, one of the top brands on Instagram around the world is a hotel. You could argue it is an icon. The Burj Al Arab has been a part of popular culture for years now, and is the third largest hotel in the world.
And that’s where it works best, as an icon. A visual one. On Instagram, the page is flooded with beautiful photography for a hotel that most people will never be able to pay to visit. It is a page that is full of escapism, which is essentially what the hotel industry is all about anyway. So on Instagram you will see image after image, not just for the brand, but also the ideas and the spirit of the hotel.
Interestingly, the Locowise Sentiment Score for the Instagram page is a huge 94. It is a well-liked brand and knows what it is liked for. This information is vital to the success of the page.
The Four Seasons hotel brand on Instagram has more posts going on, significantly more activity compared to The Burj Al Arab. It had a smaller audience in the previous thirty days of 579,224 but is using that audience well. It’s making good use of a hashtag in November, with #FourSeasons asking the audience to share their memories of the hotels and their time there.
The Cosmopolitan, a hotel and resort in Las Vegas, is doing well on Twitter. It is a busy feed, with plenty of user-generated content and a focus on the events it has at the hotel and the complex itself. To give you an idea of the calibre of entertainment, Adam Sandler is the next name on the calendar in November.
We want to point something out here though. None of the brands in the Instagram or Facebook Leaderboards really feature on Twitter. But, that is qualified a little, because Twitter doesn’t seem to be getting any engagement for accommodation brands. The engagement rate is zero (or close to it) for the majority of brands on the platform in this sector.
Audiences are generally smaller in this industry on Twitter that they are on the other two platforms. The most revealing thing we found? Sally’s Cottages is riding high on Twitter (when huge corporate hotels aren’t), with a tiny audience of 12,613 and an engagement and 3,401 engagements for the last 30 days. This gives us some real clues as to how different platforms work. If Sally’s Cottages is reaping benefits, we would love to know why.
We think Sally’s Cottages is doing rather well for such a small brand (relatively speaking). The social presence is strong on Twitter, for example, with an audience size that is minuscule compared to The Ritz Carlton. But if you look at their Twitter feed, you gain an almost instantaneous understanding of why this is happening.
They ask questions, deliberately making the feed as personal as possible. They obviously listen to reviews as well, and act upon them. But showing the individual memory of a short stay in a cottage, and then asking them to go back, mentally at least, to their holiday means that the brand is only ever engaging. In other words, this feed feels like an actual conversation you would have if you were standing in their office listening to them.
And the strange thing is, Sally’s Cottages is doing well on Twitter worldwide. This is a picture that is replicated on Facebook. In the accommodation (worldwide) sector, Sally’s Cottages is sitting well for engagement.
Maybe it is some weird anomaly, but Sally’s Cottages is in the same list that ranks huge chains like Ritz Carlton and Marriott.
For brands that are huge, there is a considerably positive picture here. They can either go for it, and start building up the engagement the way Sally’s Cottages has, or they can keep relying on their feeds to give special offers and glorify their work.
It’s a huge market, and social media can play a part in helping a brand conquer that market. But sensible and targeted posting works, and if these big brands don’t start to soften a little and speak to their customers, it is highly likely numbers will start to fall.