Many hotel owners and managers have recognised the need to embrace social media, and Twitter — with its 140 character limitation — probably seems to be the easiest to manage; but that ease of use can be deceptive, are you getting the most out of what it can deliver? Who is using it to best effect?
A good social media consultant will encourage clients to “listen with your eyes” as one of the very first steps in understanding social networking.
It is sensible to continue that practice in order to learn and watch what is happening in the online world so that you can be relevant, engage effectively with your customers and keep an eye on your competition.
There is so much more to Twitter than simply composing the odd tweet of 140 characters.
The 140 character limitation does not apply to your Twitter bio and it’s important to make the most of the 160 characters you’re allowed. A good example is the Hotel Felix Cambridge (@FelixCambridge, 1686 followers): “Luxurious bedrooms, award-winning food and a beautiful setting make Cambridge’s 1st independent boutique hotel the ideal base for a stay in this historic city”.
Basically, your Twitter profile should give people good reasons to follow you and hopefully visit you, so be informative and relevant.
Your hotel brand can also be reflected in the good use of your Twitter cover and Twitter background, the Hotel Felix Cambridge uses night-time shots of the hotel in its Twitter background for this branding opportunity to show product while Hand Picked Hotels (@hp_hotels, followers 8125) uses the left-hand sidebar of the Twitter background to promote other social media networks where it has a presence, including Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and its own blog.
Hand Picked Hotels’ Twitter background is also clean and on brand, and clearly designed by a creative agency — an option which should be considered to get best effect.
Your Twitter checklist
• Listen constantly to your customers and your competitors
• Twitter bio — be informative and relevant to attract followers
• Brand your Twitter cover and Twitter background with striking and attractive images
• Keep the conversation going, have a daily Twitter engagement activity plan
• Include images in tweets whenever possible
The hospitality industry is 24/7 and so is Twitter so why stop at the weekend?
So many hotels seem to only tweet between Monday and Friday but Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons (@LeManoir, 19,764 followers) keeps followers entertained and engaged with double-digit tweeting even on a Sunday.
If resources are an issue then simply inform your followers when you will be tweeting in your Twitter biography as part of your communication and ongoing commitment.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and that is true particularly when you’re limited to 140 characters.
It has also been proven that tweets which include pictures are more likely to be retweeted and, therefore, they will have increased reach.
The Scarlet (@TheScarletHotel, 6683 followers) in Cornwall does have a particularly photogenic setting in its coastal location and can tempt and entice followers with some stunning beach scenes, and it does this particularly well.
The clever use of images is not limited to hotels with views, however.
Study the Twitter stream of The Goring (@GoringHotel, followers 4866) and you’ll find retweets of tweets which include photographs taken by guests of their afternoon tea — great customer endorsement of the product.
So keep those listening eyes open to make the best impression and achieve customer engagement via Twitter.
A good way for boutique hoteliers to keep ahead of what is new on the Twitter scene within their own industry is to take a look at the weekly #Top30UKHotels by Marketing Times (@Marketing_Times, 1761 followers).
Furthermore, always remember to look outside the hotel industry for your social inspiration. Find and follow other profiles — Costa Coffee (@CostaCoffee, 52,869 followers) and (@Debenhams, 55,250 followers) are just two examples of consumer brands practising customer engagement via Twitter to be found in the ever-changing world of social media.