Don’t be a social media also-ran. It’s a perennial paradox. Venue marketers realise the power of social media to promote and endorse their offering. They understand the need to stand out in a crowded market, to celebrate their point of difference. So they bring this challenge, either to their internal teams or an external provider. And with that challenge, they almost always come equipped with examples. Handy if you want to know roughly where someone is coming from, not so useful if they’re pointing at a feed and the extent of the brief is ‘I want one like that’.
The sad fact is that too many social campaigns in Hospitality are just a rehash of whatever has gone before. Certainly, there are going to be some commonalities. Audiences are going to want to see some of the best examples of the food from a restaurant, the rooms in a hotel will always be a winner. But what about standing out? Where’s the originality? Whether it’s down to a lack of imagination, hiring teams with an entrenched social media modus operandi, or simply sheer laziness, most social media in the hospitality sector could do with a real shot in the arm*.
Hospitality isn’t the only culprit, we see this sort of cookie-cutter approach across all sorts of industries. Cars are still charging round mountain passes and travel brands seem to all share the same family on the beach for their campaigns. But it’s particularly common in hospitality because the sector is something of the new kid on the block when it comes to digital marketing as a whole. Somehow, despite being at the vanguard of online search, hospitality business owners still don’t seem to feel that digital is their main source of business.
That is massively short-sighted. We have evidence that, across most hospitality businesses, people are more likely to share the company’s Instagram account than just recommend its name.
Because what’s in a name? In the busy hospitality sector a name just gets lost in the noise. When you differentiate yourself digitally on social media and online, it makes it easier for the customer to identify with the brand as an individual. In fact, in today’s lifestyle curation age, it’s almost to the customer’s detriment to recommend a bland-sounding, generic-seeming hospitality brand because it seems lazy, it’s just one of many others. Customers, too, want to be defined by their originality.
It’s easy to see where the challenges come in – “I’m a great restaurateur but I’m no social media maven? I can’t just ‘get creative’ overnight”. No problem, let someone else do it. A lot of the sameness comes from using the same photographers as everyone else, the same videographers. Strike out, find someone new. Let them express themselves through you.
Even something as simple as user generated content, or UGC. If you want to mirror what the customer wants to see, get your existing customers to create it. Share their pictures, their commentary – it’s going to help you see your brand through their eyes. And while no-one wants to be a copycat, keep an eye on the trends, find out what’s going viral. Don’t copy the thing, understand the why and seek to emulate that. When you know what’s driving the trend, that’s when you can start to blaze your own trail.
Similarly, if you’re working with agency partners, break the mould. A hospitality-focused agency will no doubt have all the experience and shortcuts to get stuff done, but they’re just as likely to be stuck in their ways. Mix it up a bit – find one that’s also worked on retail, fashion, interiors. At CEEK, we look at what’s working everywhere, not just hospitality, and bring that into the space. One of our client partners, The Savoy Hotel, does a great job of this. They have a great mix of modern, up to date content that’s on trend but they don’t hesitate to give a nod to their incredible history, digging out magnificent photography from their archives. They work very closely with influencers which brings another dimension to the content, and also leading brands from other sectors such as Gucci and Boodles.
Another mistake hospitality brand owners make is to only look at the top layer of their offering. A hotel focuses on the rooms, right? Wrong. Whether it’s a hotel or a restaurant or a spa, the customer is having a multi-layered experience. Develop a content bank that brings together all those elements to paint a picture of the whole experience. From the sleep scientist approved mattresses, to the bespoke scent diffusers that evoke distinct memories (yes, you can depict scent in a social media feed – perfume houses have been doing it for years), the meandering nature of the hotel grounds and the general bonhomie of the concierge.
There is such a rich seam of stories you can tell, if you can be bothered to look.
Charlie Terry, Founder & MD, CEEK Marketing