Nineteen tips for an effective social media strategy in travelNewsBy Viewpoints | April 11, 2011Share This article was originally published on NB: This is a guest article by Ally Dombey, director and co-founder at Revenue By Design, a small chain and independent hotel consultancy service.We recently - working with hotel technology intelligence company RateGain - completed the first in a series of reports to understand more about how hotels use, engage and monitor social media.The survey attracted responses from a broad background of hotels with over a quarter of respondents representing international brands, and a further 23% representing independent hotels. Just under half the respondents came from Europe and one third representing Asian hotels or groups, giving the feedback a broad international flavour.Found within the results were a number of key takeaways from the 600 hoteliers: 80% of respondents manage social media in-house."Ownership" of social media sites within the marketing department.A third use some form of technology and reporting tools.Success is measured in number of "soft" stats such as number of comments, follows and likes.65% will invest less than $5,000 in social media in 2011. As a result of the survey, we have created a summary to use as a framework for best practise in developing social media programmes:1. Do somethingThe conversation is going on and more than likely already includes you – join the conversation.2. Be prepared to investIn people, in projects and in technology.3. Create a team.Tap into the expertise needed to respond to questions – generally guest services will know the answer to most guest enquiries, but questions will come from anywhere. Get commitment from your team that they will make themselves available to respond in a timely fashion.4. Train the teamMake sure people know how to use social media, and how to get their point across.5. Find an internal fanNominate a person to champion the programme and take responsibility for pulling team members together and creating a coherent campaign.6. Get the messaging right for your brandEnsure online brand values reflect those in the offline space. Social media doesn’t mean going all hip and funky if that’s not how your brand behaves off line. But it’s OK if it does.7. Get buy in from managementThis will ensure your social media projects get the visibility and signoff they need.8. Celebrate CMSCreate a content management strategy that embraces all activities – social marketing, mobile marketing, email marketing, the hotel website, and offline channels.9. Get a calendarCreate a content calendar that reflects your overall marketing plan and supplement it with local news and events of interest to guests.10. Ensure relevancyMake content useful, timely and interesting – something that customers want to hear and can only get from you.11. Get a routineCreate a daily social media routine to support management of the programme. This can include monitoring local news and events, to provide content for linking into your Twitter and facebook comments, plus checking the feeds from social media sites at regular intervals during the day.12. Re-working contentRe-purpose marketing content to make it “fit for channel” – mobile, social, email and your own site marketing– and benefit from the halo of multi-channel distribution and promotion.13. One step aheadBe proactive in managing brand reputation, use reputation reporting tools such as VisibilityGain from RateGain to listen to what is being said and create a strategy to manage your response to comments – both positive and negative.14. ROI agendaCreate measurable targets, KPIs and goals so you know what success looks like. Make sure they track back to the wider objectives of the brand or property.15. Become an expert with numbersMove towards tracking ROI as much as possible but don’t hold making money as the only objective – creating the relationship is key. Spend time listening, engaging and influencing – then add on the call to action.16. Get the marketing test tubes outExperiment with promotional activity to encourage referrals and optimise ROI potential from your own network. Look to case studies such as Holiday Nights and RateGain’s Rumbido to reward customers for referring you to their network.17. Work with partnersTalk to your technology providers about how to integrate social media into your existing technology strategy – such as integrating a booking engine into Facebook.18. Take ownershipRemain in control of your own conversation - track what other hotel booking providers are saying about you and make your offers to your guests more compelling, fresh and exciting.19. Good manners go a long wayRemember to say thank you – guests go out of their way to make a positive comment about you – a word of thanks makes them feel noticed and special.NB: This is a guest article by Ally Dombey, director and co-founder at Revenue By Design, a small chain and independent hotel consultancy service.NB2: Download the full survey and report.