Digital marketing consultant Carole Luck reveals lucrative opportunities for hoteliers on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is often thought of as the ‘online CV or resume social network’; certainly, at its launch in 2003, and for many years since, that seemed to be its raison d’être.
Skim the surface of LinkedIn and a recruitment tool may be all you see but every business owner should dig deeper and find the rich seams of corporate LinkedIn opportunities — internationally, nationally and — often more importantly to hoteliers — locally.
For you and your hotel
Taking your own professional image as a starting point, it is important that everyone working in business ensures that they have a good LinkedIn profile: up-to-date, featuring a strong and business-like image and summarising key skills and competencies.
I often describe a LinkedIn profile as a business card with a continuous quality — your printed business card can quickly become out of date as you change roles or company, or is simply lost. Whereas, with a LinkedIn profile your connections can keep in constant contact as well as watch and applaud your career moves 24/7, wherever you are.
If you have not done so already, you should claim and customise your own public LinkedIn profile URL, see my example LinkedIn.com/in/caroleluck
Many companies shy away from coaching employees in social media, but this can be such a short-sighted and insular approach.
LinkedIn is a particularly interesting case, where developing employees’ personal profiles can add value to an employee’s company experience, by delivering a new social media skill, as well as helping the employer present an external image of a confident and competent team via professional-looking employee LinkedIn profiles.
The considered risk is that employees will appear ‘more employable’ and be head-hunted, but LinkedIn is open to everyone, so the savvy staff member will join LinkedIn regardless — why not add some company value by providing basic social-media training and assistance to achieve a LinkedIn profile which does justice to your employee and your business?
With more than 225m members worldwide LinkedIn, like so many social networks, provides an international audience which, depending on the location of your hotel, may or may not be relevant for your property.
Drill down further and LinkedIn has more than 11m members in the UK, this is a targeted audience of UK business professionals and this is where we can see a distinct difference between LinkedIn and many other networks which are much more consumer oriented.
Every hotel operator knows the importance of its own local market for driving accommodation, corporate sales, small meeting-room hire, restaurant revenue, wedding business and so much more.
LinkedIn is extremely effective in generating connections and, potentially, leads in any local business area. LinkedIn cites that 50% of members are more likely to purchase from a company they engage with on LinkedIn.
To attract that source of customers every business needs to be actively engaging with the network, acquiring new local connections and posting relevant news.
Search for relevant local LinkedIn Groups, for example your local chamber of commerce, and take part in discussions and connect with the key movers and shakers in your local business community via LinkedIn; in this way you’ll be ensuring that your hotel has more chances of being top of mind when buying decisions are being made.
In addition to individual profiles, LinkedIn provides businesses with the opportunity to create a “Company Page” — if you want to look at hospitality examples search on Marriott International or Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, both demonstrate up-to-date LinkedIn Company Pages which attract follower engagement.
LinkedIn Company Pages create the perfect opportunity for the “social sharing” of interesting content and, as such with links to your website, can contribute to improved organic online search results for your property.
Through Pulse, LinkedIn’s news feed tool, the network’s aim is to provide interesting content which will become an important source of information for business people.
Recently, LinkedIn’s head of content Ryan Rolansky suggested members treat LinkedIn as they would the financial pages of a daily newspaper and that in return for “15 minutes each morning … we’ll make you a better professional each day”.
A recent innovation, launched by LinkedIn towards the end of last year, are Company Showcases; as the name suggests, they can showcase areas of your business for example your restaurant, your conference space or your hotel spa.
Each Company Page can have 10 Company Showcases, so care should be given to identifying the relevant business need and the amount of in-house resource available to maintain this communication opportunity.
Like all social-media networks, your involvement and contribution needs to be relevant to your audience and consistently presented, a haphazard approach can do more damage to a hotel’s image than its absence in any given social media.
So at the outset always review the opportunities available and the corresponding resources required, this applies as much to LinkedIn as every other social media you may be considering for your hotel.
CHECK LIST / LINKEDIN
• Ensure your own LinkedIn profile is fully optimised and represents you well
• Involve your hotel team with LinkedIn as part of a social-media training plan
• Connect with your local business community via individuals and groups on LinkedIn
• Create a LinkedIn Company Page, brand the “cover” and include a website link
• Post interesting content and engage with your connections