When social media first made its appearance in early 2000, no one thought it would become such an irreplaceable part of our life. Yet, social media has kept up with the times, evolving, improving and refining, to trigger a communication revolution!
All types of businesses are now reaping the benefits of social media. No matter how big or small the business, what matters is how you use the social media platforms available, to engage and promote your business.
Social media has got a further shot in the arm with the arrival of Location Based Social Media like Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook, Loopt, Yelp, BrightKite, and has opened up new avenues of marketing especially for hotels, restaurants and other hospitality properties. Now, people actively use these platforms to search and rate hotels and restaurants, and if are not leveraging this excellent social media platform, here is your opportunity to give it some serious thought.
What is Location Based Social Media
Location-based social media is social networks that use GPS features to locate you and that lets you broadcast your location and other content from your mobile device to others, through platforms like Gowalla, Facebook, Loopt, Yelp and others.
Why Do You Need Location Based Social Media?
Engaging with guests on platforms like Foursqaure, Gowalla and Brightkite can be quite helpful for hotels as communication is instant and personalized. If a hotel or restaurant is able to make the right impression on guests, this can quickly spreads across to the guest’s network which helps your business gain more popularity and thus a bigger customer base. Hoteliers must watch out for these social media platforms as these are cost effective methods of advertising and can be used to attract the floating population in the place, like those on a vacation or business travelers.
Now begs the question, why use location based social media platforms when most of the hospitality properties like hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars and lounges already have Facebook , Twitter and Google+?
The reason is simple; location based social media works on similar principles as word-of -mouth marketing, which is one of the most powerful publicity tools. Most important, the popularity of location based social media is growing. In 2010, Foursquare announced that it had more than 6.5 million members worldwide and that its users checked in to locations more than 380 million times. Facebook, on the other hand, said that as of October 2010, more than 30 million had tried its Places service.
Location based social media, works excellent for people who are travelling and use their mobile phones to locate hotels, restaurants and other facilities. They can also view comments left by others who have visited these places or used these services, and if the review is favorable, bingo, you could have a fantastic ad for your hotel without paying a dime!
As iPhones, Androids and Blackberrys get cheaper; more people are opting for them, resulting in a surge in mobile based search. Research shows that mobile based search is likely to increase two folds by 2014, which means more scope for hotels and restaurants to track how people rate them.
Additionally, location sites like Foursquare and Facebook Places allow businesses to run specials that can be accessed by users who check in to their locations. For example, a pub could create a special that gives free introductory cocktails to customers who check in three times, or a restaurant can give a free starter to those who visit them five times. These specials encourage frequency, branding and loyalty among guests.
How a Hotel Can Capitalize on Location-based Social Media
Location based social media offers a cost effective way for your hospitality property to reach your customers. Your hotel can benefit from leverage this platform to increase revenues.
Set goals for your hospitality property
Looking to increase foot traffic at your hotel, restaurant, pub or spa? Want to increase regulars visiting your hospitality property? Start an innovative campaign on Foursquare, Facebook, Gowalla or Brightkite. Think like your guests and develop offers that they would be glad to have. Also predetermine what it is that you hope to accomplish from your campaign so that you have clear success metrics, and can keep improving the campaign along the way.
Educate yourself about location based social media and your customer behavior
As with most social media tactics, it’s important to understand the tools from a user’s perspective. Doing so gives you better insights into how and why your customers are using these tools, and this will most likely give you insight into how to align your campaign.
Learn from others, competition and others implementing similar campaigns
Sometimes the best ideas come from the least expected places. So before launching a large location-based campaign, make sure you know about some of the current popular campaigns out there, even if they are being implemented in other industries. Take a look at your competition, too. This research may actually help you stumble upon your BIG idea.
Be creative about the campaign you develop instead of adopting a ‘me too’ attitude
Instead of jumping into a location based social media campaign and replicating offers that your guests can acquire at every other place they visit, use your imagination and creativity to go a little off-beat. Something they would want to tell their friends about and that’s the way to increase your popularity.
Promote, promote, promote your campaign as much as you can, across platforms and forms
Once you’ve launched a promotion the next big task is to make it known and popular. Your multiple online and offline methods to make your campaign known. Inform guests that there are offers and discounts they can leverage and this will encourage them to connect with you through location based forums.
So if you are still wondering if your hotel or restaurant can benefit from the new and growing location based social media the answer is yes, it can.