This is a guest post by Eimantas Balciunas, the founder and CEO of Travel-Ticker.
The PR industry is evolving, and hotels need to jump on the swift social and mobile train to achieve better results.
The biggest problem for the PR industry is that most professionals and firms are clinging to the old form of PR, which includes press releases, press clippings and trips.
That would have worked for hotels a decade ago but this is 2016 and the best practices are more refined, goal-oriented and use the very best of technology to its advantage.
Jeff Bezos once said “what’s dangerous is not to evolve” and the same holds for public relations.
People no longer read press releases, they are overused. Barb DeLollis, former USA Today hotels columnist, said that many journalists are so repulsed by media releases that they don’t even bother looking at them. In addition, with the recent updates to Google’s algorithm, press releases have no SEO value.
Press clippings might work (don’t depend on them) but are hard to get.
So how do you practice the very best of public relations for hotels?
- Hold and Flaunt Your Competitive edge
One of the basics of having a successful business is having a competitive edge over competitors. Now flaunting your competitive edge definitely should be the first priority for any lodging business. Your edge could be your excellent customer service or your focus on a target market.
You can reach millions of people through a simple video, image or story. Content creators of every form (video, writing, audio, etc) are always in search of fresh content with a perspective or from experts, so feed them your stories.
Businesses such as Nordstrom and Zappos excel at customer service and are always showing it off to win customers.
- Flaunt your Success Stories Through Blogging
The benefits of having a business blog include driving traffic and visitors to your business and converting visitors to customers through success stories.
Success stories, otherwise known as case studies, provide customers with proof that a business solution has worked for another customer.
Create and publish case studies on your blog to showcase the benefits or services rendered by the hotel. Document successful projects, positive customer experiences and share insights into the success of the hotel business to attract potential clients.
- Maintain a Presence at Conferences, Tradeshows (Sponsor or Advertise)
Having a presence at conferences, tradeshows and other events can be a good opportunity to publicize your hotel and engage current and potential customers. To effectively use tradeshows and conferences to promote your business, get one of the hotel executives on the speaker’s panel, speakers will often get booth space for free or on discount.
Another way to effectively use and gain ROI from the event is to invest in a good signage or booth. A good signage should be distinctive and be able to hold lots of photos. Use lighting and perfect imagery of your services and happy customers, you are winning the hearts of the event attendees who will be moved to check out your hotel or book a stay.
Also, most events have a list of confirmed attendees and might offer advertising or sponsor slots within emails or direct mail. Buy such offers and use it to drive traffic or awareness to your booth at the event or your website.
- Get Social
Social media in the PR industry is now an industry standard. Hoteliers are expected to hold profiles on everything from Instagram to Pinterest to Facebook to Snapchat and of course, Youtube. Youtube has been a major player in handling PR for brands including Taco Bell and FedEx, which eventually led to national TV coverage.
Develop and encourage a list of employees who are willing to post content related to the hotel on their personal social media accounts.
Also monitor and showcase customer interaction with your hotel on social media, for example, when a customer spends a night at the hotel or eats breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant and post a picture of it, repost it and praise the customer and asking them to come around again, maybe offering a discount.
Finally, find and connect with key social media influencers in your industry and enlist their help in promoting the hotel, using tools like Klout to vet and connect with influencers. For better results and PR purposes, focus more on the quality of content from the influencer instead of the number of followers.
Effectively handling public relations for hotels is not limited to the points discussed above but implementing any or all of them should lay the foundation for success.
Eimantas Balciunas is the founder and CEO of Travel-Ticker, the largest hotel booking portal with access to over 100,000 hotels worldwide. He holds a master degree in international business and a consultant in internet marketing for more than 12 years.