As summer winds down and we gear up for a rowdy Q4 as marketers, perhaps there is one industry that never truly sleeps: hospitality. Although summer travel destinations are coming to a close, there is always a reason to book your next trip. From staycations to conferences, yoga retreats to bachelorettes, the search for good hotels and restaurants is a 24/7 scavenger hunt to meet different needs.
Inspired by all of the trips people were taking over Labor Day weekend, I wanted to learn more about how travelers discover their next hotel stay using social media. I had the opportunity to sit down with our very own Tyler Grove, who is the travel blogger and podcaster behind We Traveled Where, to ask her about influencer marketing for hospitality groups. As an influencer, Tyler has secured partnerships with Hotels.com, Estancia La Jolla, and L’Auberge Del Mar, and as a social media account manager here at Hawke, knows how to produce a successful partnership on the brand side.
On the influencer side, what is the first step when launching a new campaign with a hotel?
First, a clear marketing goal needs to be defined. This will guide the direction of the content that is going to be produced. Understanding the goal (driving brand awareness for an event, yield booking conversions, increase following on social, etc.) alongside the brand’s visual expectations for the campaign will narrow down the type of content, key talking points, and creative direction for the collaboration.
It is also important to understand the target audience we are speaking to for this specific campaign. For example, if a hotel wanted to promote its spa treatments for glowing skin you might partner with a younger influencer that best speaks to a younger audience at an appropriate price point versus partnering with a more mature influencer that can speak to anti-aging spa treatments at a higher price point.
What would you suggest if a hotel is interested in influencer marketing, but they don’t know how to articulate their goals when partnering with an influencer?
Let the influencer know that you want them to be the creative director for the campaign. They know their audience and platforms the best and will help you determine which platform to use and what type of content will best resonate with their followers.
Are there different social platforms to achieve different goals in hospitality marketing?
Yes, segmenting your goals by platform is important for achieving a successful campaign. For example, if a hotel came to me looking to grow their discovery I might suggest using Pinterest. While, if a hotel is looking to educate their audience about hotel events, I would suggest using Facebook and Instagram Stories.
Blogs also have an incredible power that other platforms can’t provide: first-person storytelling and backlinking. Blog posts provide more context for breaking down a hotel experience (what you ordered for room service, what your unique room looked like, personal photos from your stay, etc.) that will guide readers through the marketing funnel in a much more organic way than an ad would.
Backlinking to different talking points associated with the campaign goals can also drive traffic to your website and track how readers are responding to the content, such as direct bookings.
How can influencers help reach new audiences for boutique hotels that are less discoverable?
The nature of influencer marketing allows businesses to attract a specific audience. For example, if an LA-based hotel wants to target San Diego residences for a weekend getaway, it would be ideal to tap a San Diego-based influencer who is a new mom looking for a staycation for her family. This message will resonate with people organically and lead to conversions rather than tapping an influencer living in a different state that might be more inconvenient for travel purposes.
Furthermore, when activating paid social ads, you can retarget anyone from the influencer’s network that visited your website, adding an extra layer of reach beyond the initial campaign.
What metrics should hospitality brands be paying attention to before and after an influencer campaign?
Before you lock in your partnership, check the influencers’ engagements to make sure they will be a good fit for your campaign goal. Influencers with under 10k followers are great for creating user-generated content. Conversely, influencers with 30k and above might have better conversion rates.
It’s important to analyze how the influencer’s past content has performed, so you know your campaign will resonate with their audience.
Give the post 24 hours to perform before collecting insights. Wait a week to see if the audience is revisiting your site for further engagement. Take note of the bounce rate on your site as well as the location of users to see if you hit your target audience.
Track the Links
Track click-throughs with unique links and discount codes, if applicable.
Instead of booking immediately, someone might be more inclined to subscribe to look out for future offerings.
Track page views, new followers, impressions, and reach during and after the campaign.
Should hospitality groups be partnering with influencers or comping their stay?
Comping a stay means fewer deliverables, and it is unlikely that the influencer will post a high volume of content. As an industry, influencers need a monetary value to promote your business. By solidifying a partnership, you are contracted to deliverables, possible approvals, and more likely to build a long term relationship.
How/why are boutique hotels able to compete in the influencer marketing space alongside corporate, five-star hotels?
Corporate hotels have mastered the narrative that their hotels are consistent anywhere you go. However, the new travel generation is looking for unique experiences. Rather than cookie-cutter hotels, boutique hotels offer just that and at a more achievable price point.
As Inc. reports, 72 percent of Millennials are more likely to spend money on experiences. You’re able to have exclusivity online and discovery at lower prices, which is more exciting for booking purposes. Small scale hotels also benefit from customer loyalty, word of mouth marketing tactics, building stronger relationships, and brand recognition.
Why can influencer marketing help scale your business and give you the best ROI?
Influencer marketing reaches a targeted audience that you can retarget and diversifies the pool of people you can reach to build a connection with. This marketing tactic also allows you to create a digital footprint and image beyond your own business by producing user-generated, organic content that isn’t editorialized.
Not to mention the extremely creative element that comes with influencer marketing! Influencers have the power to inspire dream destinations (sometimes in the middle of nowhere) backed by trust and loyalty.
Above all, influencer marketing combines classic PR/word of mouth tactics with the traditional marketing funnel. By crafting a story about a brand followed by targeting, retargeting, and tracking, it’s a very unique way to connect with people and get them talking about your brand.
Leverage Influencers to Grow Your Brand
Hawke Media identifies and engages influencers through multiple industry-leading platforms to act as ambassadors for your brand, leveraging their network to expand your reach and establish social validation. We seek organic and on-brand influencer relationships that go beyond strict business, and constantly monitor performance, optimizing future strategies accordingly. If you’re looking to meet certain influencer marketing goals and objectives that will further your brand, we can help! Just fill out the free consultation form below.