One small step for integration, one giant leap for outreach

Sometimes, making a small change can make a big impact for your hotel. Take your welcome email—what can be a great personal touch for your guest, can also help you, the hotelier! In fact, welcome emails typically generate four times the total open rates and five times the click rates compared to other bulk promotions. This drives home that fact that it’s a great opportunity to do even more.

Enter the image URL from, which doubles as a tracking pixel. implements this strategy for our clients through our advocacy platform.

Why you should do it

The image URL or tracking pixel provides the ability to continue marketing to your guests with, regardless of the channel that they originally booked. This enhances the conversations from your hotel, and builds strong brand connections with your guests.

Since this is coming from your hotel’s existing welcome email, the recipients include those who booked through a call center, mobile device, in-house, or travel agency. Here is where the pixel really stands out—with the ability to continue marketing to those guests before and after their stay, you can continue the conversation with your guests even when they’ve packed and gone home.

Caribe Royale Welcome Email

How to set up your image URL

Within your welcome email, simply insert an image URL into your existing email template. This URL acts as a tracking pixel that provides the ability to enhance campaign outreach. Any guest that receives the email will now receive pre- and post-arrival touch points through the platform.

Because the pixel is an image URL, if you have Photo Advocacy enabled, you also have the ability to display a graphic relevant to their upcoming stay. This would include an invitation to let the guest know about the photo competition.

In this case, when the URL displays the graphic to announce the photo contest, it excites the guest by letting them know about their eligibility to participate—and knowing is half the battle. Following their stay, another email is sent to all of those guests that were tracked through the engine, as well as through the image URL, inviting them to interact and share their positive experiences to their friends and family across their social networks.

For hoteliers utilizing Photo Advocacy, guests participate further through periodic emails that rekindle their favorite moment, again and again. These interactions continue the relationship not only between the hotel and the guest, but also the guest’s friends and family, well after check-out.

So now, thanks to one tiny URL, the hotel has the opportunity to reach out to more guests, even if they’ve booked from other sources. This allows hoteliers to nurture these guests, and their networks, down the path to future direct bookings,

Bonus: Some providers include these email services and technologies within their subscription. Make sure you’re taking advantage of this service!

Advocacy–a game changer for social media

In September, my post Making sense of social media—how to create the conversation about your hotel highlighted my article on Global Hotel Network’s Perspective column. Until now the article was exclusively accessible for GHN members. Today I’m glad to announce the article is available to everyone!

It takes a deep dive into the impact of social and how doing it right can turn into trackable ROI for your hotel. Check out the full article, below:

Create the Conversation About Your Hotel

Making sense of social for hotel managers and owners

Remember those predictions where we’d all be walking around with a computer chip implanted in our arm—our every move being watched? It turns out they were pretty close, except we choose to carry that chip around in our cell phone. That same device lets us communicate with everyone we want at all hours of the day. In turn, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have become wildly popular and they continue to grab more and more time in our daily lives.

From a marketing perspective, it just makes sense that hoteliers would try to reach potential guests on these sites. At the end of 2014, Facebook had nearly 1.4 Billion users on their network alone. Most hotel marketers did what the social media “experts” recommended and built an audience of “Followers” and “Fans.” And that was a good thing at the time.

But as social media continues to grow, what were once open platforms are now starting to look more like walled gardens. Brands are invited to come into the garden but you must follow their rules, and since they have control, they can change the game at any time they want. Remember that fan base you built on Facebook? Guess what? Now you have to pay to reach out to them—an understandable move as these social sites still need to make money. For hotels, it brings social media closer to other forms of paid advertising than a real conversation with your guests.

Facebook stat
Via Facebook

This brings up a good question—is “social media” really “social” anymore? What is meant to be a dialog between friends has lost all forms of personality. When I take a look at the majority of how hotels approach social interactions with guests, I see them dumping time (and money) into posting uninspired content. This just adds to the social noise, getting lost in hundreds of other messages competing to gain exposure on your guest’s news feed—more than 1,500 at a time on average, according to Facebook.

Consumer Trust in Online, Social and Mobile Advertising Grows.
Via Nielsen

Fortunately, hotels have the most to gain from the evolution of these social sites because people already love to talk about their travels. Friends also like to hear about these travels, as they imagine themselves visiting new destinations. In fact, recommendations from family and friends is the top influencer when choosing a vacation destination. According to Nielsen, 92% of people say they trust EARNED media (recommendations from friends and family) above ALL other forms of advertising. Our philosophy on social is this—get people talking to other people about your hotel. When that happens, you create advocacy.

A single guest can reach hundreds and sometimes thousands of potential future guests beyond the scope of your current fan base.

Advocacy is a game-changer for how hoteliers use social media. The content is real and shareable—we’re talking about authentic stories of guest experiences, amazing pictures taken at the hotel, and great examples of the hotel’s happy staff. A single guest can reach hundreds and sometimes thousands of potential future guests beyond the scope of your current fan base. How many new guests does your hotel reach every day? If handled correctly, these truly social shares can translate into real, trackable ROI for your hotel.

Guests with particularly large social followings can have a huge impact all by themselves. Hoteliers who want to understand their guests have the ability to identify and engage these social influencers before they even step foot on property. Our hotel partners have been able to interact with celebrity chefs, pro surfers and DJs after they have shared their upcoming trip with their significant number of social followers. A little special treatment made their stay a lot more memorable—and guess what? Memorable service leads to even more advocacy.

Using social to reach new audiences makes a ton of sense. The trick is get people talking to people about your hotel, instead of brands shouting messages over and over to the same audience. is a thought leader coalition, providing expert market insights and thought leadership perspectives to C-level executives in the global travel and tourism industry.

Over 100 industry leaders serve on’s industry committees and Advisory Board.

For more on this leading industry resource, visit their website at is a member of and Mr. St.Onge is a member of GHN’s Technology Committee.


Citations Manalo, J. (2015, April). Why Being Social on Facebook Isn’t Enough for Travel Brands. Retrieved from

Boland, B. (2014, June). Organic Reach on Facebook: Your Questions Answered. Retrieved from

Benecke, R.; Missildine, C.; & Costello, A. (2012) Text100 Digital Index: Travel & Tourism Study. Retrieved from Text100DigitalIndexTravelTourismStud.pdf

Consumer Trust in Online, Social and Mobile Advertising Grows. (2012, April). Retrieved from

4 key insights into social advocacy for hotels

There are a ton of social networks out there, each intending to do different things and appeal to different demographics. But as a hotel, which ones should you really care about? The answer to this question depends largely on who you ask. I could lecture about what I think are the best choices but I find it’s a lot more fun (and relevant) to simply look at the data—and we have lots of data. has been the advocacy platform for hotels and theme parks for over five years. In that time we’ve helped our clients connect with their guests in meaningful ways. In doing so, we’ve been able to collect a huge amount of data, and observe how the big three (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) social networks, well, work.

Here’s how we define social engagement, plus 4 key takeaways to pull back the shroud, and help guide your hotel’s social engagement efforts with your guests.

Social Engagement

Social Sharing

In’s space, a “share” is defined as someone who’s booked a room at your property and then told their friends and family about it using a social network. Sharing is crucial because it represents the “top-of-funnel” when we’re talking about advocacy. These advocates’ voices are powerful, delivering an impactful message that comes from a trusted friend rather than a corporation.
Facebook Stat OneWhen it comes to sharing, Facebook is the clear winner. This isn’t a big shock because Facebook is arguably, if not absolutely, the most popular social network in most parts of the world today. What’s interesting here is just how popular it is relative to Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook represents nearly 58% of all sharing through the platform. Twitter is a distant second at 27%, and LinkedIn represents the remainder.

Social Connectedness

When we talk about social connectedness, what we’re really saying is “reach.” High sharing volume is great, but paired with massive reach it’s even more powerful.

In the last five years, has helped its customers reach over 60 million connections through advocacy.

So how does that break down by network?

Again, Facebook rules the roost. Of those 60 million connections, 69% can be attributed to Facebook.  Twitter is an even more distant second with about 25%, and LinkedIn rounds out the balance. It’s important to note that the difference between first and second here is significant. Not only does Facebook represent more social connections, it represents more connections per advocate as well—creating a multiplier effect.

Unique Visitors

Any time an advocate shares an upcoming trip to a social network, there’s an invitation for her connections to visit the property’s website and learn more. Plus there’s an incentive attached to entice that person to book in the future. Driving traffic to the property’s website means there’s an opportunity to win over this prospect and secure a sale down the road, cutting out any intermediaries.

Twitter Stat OneHere’s where our journey gets really interesting. At the time of this analysis, had generated over 2 million unique visitors for its customers. Of those 2 million, nearly 60% came from Twitter.  Facebook, now the distant second, represented about 34%. Despite creating the majority of advocates and despite those advocates representing greater social reach than all others, Facebook could not deliver the same volume of website traffic that Twitter could.

Potential Future Guests

Once a friend or family member lands on the property’s website, a customized message invites them to sign-up and lock in an incentive for a future stay. Those that sign-up represent a pool of potential future travelers for the property. They’ve been given the best introduction possible—that of a trusted source—and now they have an incentive in-hand to experience the property for themselves. For the hotel, the marketing potential here is huge, so capturing those sign-ups is critical.

Facebook Stat Two

Facebook manages to pull ahead again here by a large margin. 62% of all sign-ups originated from a Facebook post. Taking it a bit further, about 12% of all advocacy originating from Facebook will result in a sign-up on the hotel’s website. With Twitter it’s closer to 3% and with LinkedIn it’s nearly spot-on 2%.  LinkedIn did manage to close the gap as we moved through the conversion funnel.

Key Insights to Guide Your Hotel’s Social

Know (and be) where your guests are

With the majority of social advocacy taking place on Facebook and Twitter it’s safe to conclude your guests are active on these social networks so you should be too. There’s more to it than just having a presence but that’s a discussion for another time. If you’re looking to invest in one over the other, Facebook is likely your best route but it’s critical you understand your customer demographic before diving in.  Don’t assume one is the clear winner every time.

(Relevant) Content is King

People are better connected via Facebook than they are through either Twitter or LinkedIn. Since we know they prefer to share via Facebook, this means that sharing relevant, meaningful content with your audience can be more impactful through this channel. Take advantage of the multiplier I mentioned and ensure that your message is hitting home.

Posts that include photos receive 120% more engagement than the average post.
Via BitRebels

Tailor messages based on the channel and the audience

Twitter is a massive broadcasting tool that makes up for fewer connections, but with a more active audience. We demonstrated that you can effectively drive direct traffic by taking advantage of your guests’ connectedness over Twitter.

While it may not convert at the same level as Facebook, there’s something to be said about volume. Adjusting your messaging on that channel can help to improve conversion and bridge the gap. Additionally, Twitter was designed to be a conversational tool, unlike the other channels. When you’ve been tagged in a tweet that’s an open invitation to engage in a conversation with that person. Each subsequent tweet can reach that same audience time and time again.

Know how to convert social traffic

The Facebook crowd is more likely to convert and sign-up on your website, underscoring the importance of this channel. It may not bring as many people to your site as Twitter does, but those that come are there for a reason.

Understanding where these potential future guests are in the travel booking process is crucial. Be sure to have content on your website that appeals to a socially-minded audience. A sign-up for an offer they can claim on a future trip, for instance, may be more relevant to this viewer. This not only keeps people on your site longer, it improves conversion. Lookers turn into bookers when they see an experience that’s aspirational and attainable. Seeing that experience through the eyes of former guests is as real as it can get without being there yourself. So consider your on-site messaging and what story it’s telling your potential guests.

The biggest lesson from this analysis is that it’s immensely important that hotels understand their guests and that they make some effort to tap into their guests’ social connectedness.

Every guest that walks through a hotel’s door represents an opportunity to create the experience that guest is expecting.

Hotels are great at this. But thinking beyond the on-property experience, every guest represents a social network of their own, like-minded friends and family. Tapping into that network can yield great benefits when done thoughtfully.

Be a part of the future of hotel marketing and revenue management with RevPAR Hacking

Hot off the press from and industry leaders, RevPAR Hacking is the ultimate guide to the impact of revenue culture. Not only will readers get insight from leading experts in their field, but they’ll also learn the tips and tools to put them at the forefront of hotel marketing and revenue management.

RevPAR Hacking Cover

Download RevPAR Hacking to learn about the impact of revenue culture, plus the thoughtful approaches to get you there.

So what does it mean for a hotel to have a revenue culture?

By aligning collective goals, teams work together as they aspire to generate the most revenue—and the entire organization will reap the rewards. In fact, so will the guests, as there will be more resources available to serve their needs. A revenue culture spans everyone responsible for driving the hotel’s bottom line—marketing, e-commerce, revenue management and sales succeed by sharing revenue considerations at every level of their strategy.

To go further, guest data and revenue data should inform one another at every level. A comprehensive revenue approach to this degree will not only align your teams, it’ll also target the most profitable business for your hotel—the right guest at the right price.

In RevPAR Hacking, industry thought leaders open up on how they’ve created a growth-minded revenue culture that has set up their teams for success. These models shed light on the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’ of revenue culture, but also why it’s a valuable (and inevitable) shift for hotels who continue to seek growth.

A revenue culture that aligns your hotel’s goals will be a key driver of success—your team, your guests, and your bottom line will all win.

See for yourself how RevPAR Hacking reveals the impact of revenue culture, plus the thoughtful approaches to get you there.

Seeing is believing