Email is dead. Long Live Social Media!
Did this headline not get your attention and were you not shaking your head a little? I certainly hope so and no worries, it is meant to be a little controversial and provocative to open the door for this next post rather than a statement I would agree to.
However, for some time now we have been practicing in our resorts, something I internally refer to as a “tri-messaging or multi-channel communication approach”, where the creation of a particular Promotional Landing Page on our website is followed up with a dedicated mailing, SMS blast and social media posts – mostly on Facebook, Twitter, our blogs and occasionally – depending on the event – on LinkedIn.
In this context I remembered that some marketers had mentioned that ”Social Media is the demise of Email Marketing.” That’s why the headline. Sure, Social Media is picking up pace and gaining more grounds in the hospitality industry today, but I feel it by no means makes “old mediums” obsolete.
So, from the perspective of a hotel marketer – with Social Media taking a more prominent role in our marketing mix, where does it leave email marketing? Although Social Media might be surpassing Email Marketing in how we allocate our time, most guests still prefer receiving their quotation, reservation confirmation, pre- and post stay letter, and other marketing / promotional material via email. Although I am not saying that here not lies further potential for Social Media in linking E-concierge Services with the PMS and coming to a Social CRM tactic. But that is food for thought for another post coming up shortly.
Email offers a far more intimate experience compared to social media, with the possibility of transmitting more detail and linking emotion to design reflecting the brand value and hotel experience. Is it not so, that with all the various accounts on Facebook, Twitter etc, email still is the first account to be checked (daily) by your former and potential guests?
Social media is more about linking people to the hotel brand – creating brand loyalty and awareness. Social Media is instrumental in actively engaging with the community, bringing valuable information about where a hotel might need to improve. Although both social media and email can sometimes overlap, they have a different purpose, but they are not competing platforms. In serving different segments of the market, they have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. In fact, in my opinion email, (mobile marketing) and social media complement each other when it comes to marketing strategy – they are just a different channel of distribution transmitting your consistent, relevant message, which synergies must be effectively explored.
Ah – just an afterthought. Indifferent of the communication channel used, I can only urge any hotel marketer to “Stop Selling, and Start building Relationships”! The biggest mistake I see is that many marketers promote their hotel too much on their Social Media sites. Yes, I know it is relatively cost effective [is it?] – certainly when automating the messaging cycle.
Having said this, the questions already came up in previous posts, “What is your return on investment? “How do you make it relevant and not send meaningless messages with no relevance?” Nobody cares to read constant updates from a hotel sending promotional updates such as “Only this weekend €99 for a Hotel Room!” How is this messaging reward, recognition and relevance for the particular segment and chosen communication channel?
It would be better to start building up an “appetite” and I will use the example of a tweet using 139 characters:
“Gr8 Algarve weather this wknd. Planning a family trip but unsure where 2 stay? Why not at the Hotel ranked #1 @ Tripadvisor for Vilamoura?!”
With this you are giving your audience a reason to pay attention to your updates, giving your hotel great visibility and creating trust by including guest referrals, without selling blatantly. They just might check out your website and reserve a room!
In conclusion: The key to success is having consistent and integrated experience across brand, product and service experience, being online or in the hotel operations. Such needs to be reflected in the entire hotel’s marketing communication throughout all channels in establishing a dialogue rather than a monologue.
Listen to your Guests. When was it the last time you really spoke to them?!