Best Practice

Using Social Media to Attract International Guests

The Effeil tower

Leisure travellers spend a significant amount of time in the planning stages of their trip. One in four spend almost as much time per year searching for holidays as they do taking them.

For international holiday-seekers there are the time-consuming challenges of interpreting an unfamiliar culture and language. Foreign websites may not feel as trustworthy for these guests compared with the highly visual, social media platforms they are already familiar with. For these reasons, social content can be one of the most effective ways to attract international guests. Here are some tips on how to get started.

Identify and target your audience

Start by identifying the countries that are delivering the majority of visitors to your hotel as well as your website and social channels. Facebook, Twitter and Google Analytics will allow you to segment your online audience by country.

Once you know more about your audience, you can set up targeted ads. For example, a hotel in Hawaii might notice that 15% of their Facebook fans are Australian. The hotel could set up Facebook ads specifically targeting people that live in Sydney who are coming to Honolulu for Australian school holidays. They could further focus their target by selecting an audience that speaks a particular language if that were relevant.

LinkedIn is a useful platform for connecting with tour operator groups or other associations responsible for group bookings. You can approach them with tailored invitations to connect and links to your TripAdvisor ratings. With China being a growing market for hotels worldwide, you might consider setting up a profile on the popular Chinese social platforms Sina Weibo and WeChat.

Don’t forget about the ways you can indirectly target international audiences. Acknowledge their culture in your online communications and post photos of any cultural holidays being celebrated such as fireworks for Chinese New Year or a feast laid out for Eid Al-Fitr.

Speak the language

Find out the most common languages spoken by your customers. Ideally the person in charge of managing your social media, or someone on your staff, has some familiarity with these languages. Some social media monitoring platforms, such as Local Measure, have the ability to translate guest comments so that you can quickly gain a basic understanding of the mentions. When responding, it’s advisable to have someone who is fluent check the response as the opportunity for accidentally offending or confusing a foreign visitor is high if you have no knowledge of the language or culture.

Publish content strategically

Your cover photo on Facebook and Twitter receives more views than anything else. Change the photo periodically to capture attention and to keep it fresh. Research the attractions most popular with foreign visitors and post photos of these sights with hashtags in use by that demographic.

You might find that some of the best photos of your hotel and location come from your guests. By implementing a strategy for user generated content, you can leverage the best of these photos for your own social channels or web gallery. If you are focusing your marketing efforts on a specific country, you could launch a web page specifically for that audience in their language, with UGC images that would relate to them. For example, Local Measure’s publishing suite allows you to create language-specific web galleries that load images taken by visitors whose posts are in a language that you have specified. This can be a great way to showcase the experiences of existing guests to prospective ones of the same nationality.

How to be heard, and how to listen

Using hashtags is absolutely necessary for making your content discoverable on Twitter and Instagram. The trick is choosing the right hashtags. Hashtags that are too generic (eg #travel) won’t be effective because there are simply too many posts using this tag so your photo will be lost. If the hashtag is too niche (under 1,000 posts), you won’t get the visibility you need. Include hashtags that are used in the thousands as a happy medium. (Instagram displays the usage as you begin typing the hashtag.) Pay attention to spelling and phrasing; hashtags using American spelling tend to be used more, but there’s no harm in using both the British and American version of a word as separate hashtags, especially when listening.

When it comes to knowing what international guests are posting about your brand on social media, hashtag monitoring will only get you so far. Most foreign travellers use hashtags in languages besides English which can be difficult to monitor. This is where location-based social media listening can be particularly valuable: by listening to a location, you can see everything being posted there regardless of language, which gives you a more robust and diverse insight.

Capitalise on your location

No matter how appealing your location might be to international guests, your social media content should still reaffirm the key attractions – whether that be beaches, nature, dramatic skylines, architecture etc. Even if a guest has already decided to visit your city, they need to be able to visualise the hotel within the context of the location and know that by staying at your hotel, they are receiving the full experience. Include a number of ‘location shots’ within your social channels that convey the beauty or emotion associated with your location.

June 28, 2018

Anne Benoit

Marketing Director, Local Measure

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