With the beginning of a new decade fast approaching, the hospitality industry has evolved to become one of the most dynamic in the world. Intense competition as well as the addition of hundreds of new innovations year after year has led to an industry wide change in the way hoteliers conduct business, which has directly affected the expectations consumers have for their vacation getaways or business trips. By comparison, the determining factors used by older generations are quite unlike the factors people use today. With that being said, which innovation in particular is driving the decision-making process and how can hotels take advantage of them?
Who are the Innovators?
In this day and age, everyone stays connected in some shape or form through social media. The popularity of platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook are often fueled by influencers. An influencer is a person that utilizes their social media platform to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting it online. Influencers are able to keep and grow their followers because they post content that resonates and constantly keeps us entertained, inspired, and interested. Instagram itself has grown to have over 800 million users, many of whom use the app for travel inspiration. This only further emphasizes the importance of the platform for the hospitality sector.
Why are influencers important?
The most important metric on social media platforms has become the insights that posts generate. Insights are measures of success such as follower counts, likes, and the amount of people a post will reach. Often times, for a well-established influencer these metrics on a post will translate into increased sales for the business whose products and services are being advertised. For the hospitality industry, influencers often contact the property and request free or discounted stays and service in exchange for a social media post featuring the hotel and its amenities.
What are the risks?
Technically anyone can call themselves an influencer, which can be a dangerous proposition. Hoteliers must be strategic with whom they provide free services and amenities to so that they can still generate an adequate return. Many self-proclaimed influencers fabricate their influential status through the purchase of fake followers called “bots”. It might be strategic for hotels to set up a screening process to evaluate follower engagement of the influencers that reach them. Additionally, hoteliers can consider keeping a database of trusted and reliable influencers that it has partnered with in the past to sell its services. Men’s lifestyle and travel blogger Joe Miragliotta says he’s stayed at hundreds of hotels as an influencer and expresses that having a clear and meaningful pitch can make all the difference to a hotel brand manager.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that most bloggers and influencers are businesspeople. A relatively new industry like the influencer world itself is already evolving with some becoming more creative about the services they are willing to offer hotels. For example, Zach Benson, an Instagram influencer, offers to work with a hotels digital marketing team to improve the brands in-house social media accounts. According to Zach, “we really want to help people and make their companies and hotels better, we know that just doing a couple Instagram posts for them isn’t really going to help them that much.” Branson’s background in digital marketing allows him to host bootcamps for hotel social media teams and train employees on Facebook ads and Instagram promotions. Overall, it is becoming a win-win situation for both parties involved. As a hotelier, influencer marketing should be taken seriously as a marketing tactic, as it seems to be a great way to gain traction and popularity.