It is no longer news. Both Expedia and TripAdvisor have recently released reports stating that compelling photos and videos are beneficial to your marketing. Moreover, more is apparently better! Both reports support drastically increasing the numbers of photos and videos that you post. Expedia says if you you double the number of your online images, you can drive an average of a 4.5% increase in take-up, and Trip Advisor quotes fuse marketing (2012) as stating that properties with more than 20 photos get 150% more engagement.
While engagement is essential, how does it translate into room sales? The secret to driving enquiries and sales through engagement, is consistent interaction with your visitors by speedily answering their queries, asking questions of your own, and posting more visuals and new content. By engaging with your readers in this way, you will extend their initial contact and build a trusting relationship, which eventually leads to sales.
Comparison Travel Shopping
Both reports state that you should post your photos on OTA sites in addition to your own websites, to engage your property in the travel shopping experience of your guests. Today’s media and Internet opportunities such as OTAs and websites, make it easier for the traveller to do his or her travel shopping online, and compare brands and locations without leaving home. So the more you do to draw and engage them, the more you make yourself stand out from the ever-growing noise of the Internet crowd.
How do you stand out?
You post more images, and you ensure that they are compelling enough to tell your story! It is not just a question of randomly posting maximum numbers of images, but of using them to tell your story persuasively. You want to show consumers how staying at your hotel will be a winner; show them what it would really be like should they come. Do not post all your photos and videos haphazardly on your website, but employ a few planned tactics to have the best effect.
Post your images in order
Create a flow with your visuals to tell your story by showing the guest how she will enjoy your hotel – perhaps starting with the easy check-in process (no lines and long forms to complete), moving to the comfort of her room (where her luggage has magically appeared), and the welcoming bathroom (to soak away the long journey). Finally, let her see the possibilities of your room service (to relax as she eats dinner and watches her choice of movie on your contemporary television), followed by climbing into the cozy bed (to rest and replenish her energy ready for tomorrow’s activities).
Can you see the benefit? Can you see the story emerging? Mix your media when you are telling your story, use photos, video, perhaps Instagram (to show the fresh flowers, or the tray arriving). Then you can create your next series of images in a similar manner perhaps by providing some choices for your guest’s second day. Through this strategy, you are telling your guest a story and letting her ‘see’ in her mind that she is already there. There are as many ways to provide visuals for a story, as there are variations of stories to be told.
How to be visible.
The best way to capture your share of the travel market is to get your images seen, and by far the best way to show off your photos is social media. Your photos and videos span out and, not only do they reach other social media channels, but they also reach online guide books, travel magazines, trade magazines, search engines, as well as in-flight magazines, town and city travel departments, social media channels in all kinds of languages and all kinds of countries across the globe. By posting your images – even the same ones – onto a variety of your channels, you ensure this wider coverage and sharing.
How to build up your images via Social Media Channels
- Create a YouTube Channel with your brand avatar and a background image
- Do not change the avatar so that it becomes memorable for followers
- Change the background often to reflect events or seasons
- Remember to keep your video related to your hotel’s image and brand
- Share videos from other sites and hotels
- Make a compelling and memorable cover photo
- Post videos knowing that they are shared 2 times more than text (Hubspot)
- Be responsive and support your visitors by answering their questions. 33% of people would rather use Facebook than a telephone to ask questions.
- Use the apps and websites that integrate with FB to your benefit to:
- Offer loyalty programs, special offers, bookings, and multimedia through Facebook
- On your background, use an image that relates to your property. Be careful about the split with the Twitter Timeline in the middle. We suggest a photo of your hotel on the left hand side, and your pool or restaurant on the right. Take care that the background is not too fussy that it detracts from your timeline
- Add photos and use Twitter’s filters to enhance your mobile photos (reminder – Twitter no longer supports Instagram)
- An average of only 23% of your Tweets will get retweeted, so post relevant and delightful photos
- Keep your boards organized for your viewers
- Use different boards for different parts of your hotel such as: rooms, grounds, local attractions
- Since food is so popular on Pinterest, post photos of your restaurant or bar and the food served
- Curate pins. Re-pin and share from other relevant sites such as locations and other hotels
- Add a ‘Pin it’ button to your website
- Embed your most interesting boards
- Use the current trend for nostalgia and pin old photos of your property and area if you have them
The screenshot below illustrates well some Pinterest best practices as followed by Holiday Inn.
- Humanize your property and show the faces of your staff. However – do not embarrass them or get too personal
- Take viewers to the surrounding area with video and images
- Post images and videos of local restaurants, parks, attractions etc
- Use filters for special effects
- Post many, many, photos and videos – and then post more!
- Use hashtags
- Create videos that inform Vine tips and how to clips
- Create content to match Calls To Action
- Promote Vine across social channels
- Be creative
Remember: keep adding images to remind people why they followed you and so that they remember you by your story. You can post and share your photos and videos to some or all of your social media channels at the same time or at staggered times. You can never have too many images and videos; keep adding them to keep your hotel’s story fresh and to encourage visitors to share them. Always place social media widgets on your website to encourage sharing. Encourage your guests to share while they are staying with you.
And most of all… Have fun with it!