Social media’s influence on hospitality

With Facebook hitting its 20-year anniversary, Hotel Business spoke with Erin Whitlock Brown, social media manager, Valor Hospitality Partners, to see how the company and other social media outlets have changed hospitality.

Reflecting on Facebook’s 20th anniversary, how has the platform and others (i.e. YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, etc.) influenced the hospitality industry from a business perspective?

It’s given hospitality brands better insight into the guest experience. Soon after (or even during the visit), guests can provide feedback, share their experience and introduce a brand to their followers far and wide. Hospitality businesses can then use this information to better understand the needs of their guests and/or how to improve their services.

How have these platforms changed guest expectations, and how they plan their travels?

We know that guests turn to social media channels for research in the consideration stage of their travels. They spend a dedicated amount of time combing these platforms to find UGC (user-generated content) videos sharing the look and feel of a guestroom, recommendations on the best cocktails and menu items at the property’s restaurant outlets, down to checking the type of amenities offered in the fitness areas to help keep up with their health and wellness routines while on the road. Social media platforms are also a great two-way communication tool, where the property can interact with consumers before, during, and after their stay.

Considering the evolution of social media, how has Valor’s approach to marketing and customer engagement changed over the years, and how has it impacted the guest experience?

Valor has taken the time to understand the needs of the modern, savvy traveler and respond accordingly. Upon entering a property, you might see signage that shares the hotel’s social media channels or a QR code that directs you to a reviews page. We want to be made aware of the guest experience so that we can continue to deliver on that experience and make things even better.

In addition, Valor takes a familial approach to its social media content through highlighting the “Hotelitarians” who create memorable experiences on property—people like the mixologists, the front desk agents, the wedding & event coordinators, etc. These team members are pivotal in building familiarity and creating buzz or excitement long before a guest walks through the front doors.

How does Valor leverage these platforms and their connection to their targeted audiences to enhance their online presence and engage with target markets?

Facebook offers great detailed targeting options through ads manager to define and engage with our audiences. You can drill down and segment your messaging for various demos, interests, and behaviors to place you in front of the right audience who is looking to connect with your business.

How have the data and insights gathered from social media platforms, including Facebook, influenced your decision-making processes and the development of personalized services for your guests?

I can’t stress this enough, but reviews are one of the best resources a business can utilize. It’s instantaneous feedback. Reviews are not only great word-of-mouth marketing, they also paint a clear picture of what needs addressing and improvement.

Looking ahead, how do you see the role of social media evolving in the hospitality sector?

I’m curious to see how emerging technologies like AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) will be used to enhance a guest’s interaction. I imagine in the future, VR could be an option for guests to build their own virtual environments while staying on property, or even participate in walking tours around a hotel and the local area. An immersive and uniquely curated experience!