Behind the screen: finding our voice in video

A few months back, we shamelessly shared our first blooper reel after an excited foray into video production. It’s been one heck of an experience and we’ve learned an awful lot along the way.

At we’re all about authenticity and the connections between individuals. So when we first committed to making video there was unanimous agreement that whatever it is we’re talking about in our videos, it should be us talking about it.

Setting up the mic and testing audio before getting started.

I was asked to be the voice of our videos. One never to turn down an opportunity (or a challenge), I was happy to take up the mantle. (To be honest I was more excited about recording impersonations, so I convinced myself this was a step in that direction.)

As fun as it’s been, we’ve been focused on continuous improvement. If you’re thinking of integrating video into your content marketing strategy (and you should), here are some major lessons to help you get started.

1. Spend time on a script…

Going into this, I was working under the assumption that we’d need some manner of script but, for the most part, we’d be winging it. It only took a single video to realize how wrong I was. We were using a script from the beginning. While we did adlib a bit, it was immediately apparent how important the script was.

This may seem like an obvious thing, but when you spend the better part of your day talking about a product, you feel confident enough you can do the same with a microphone in front of your face.

Don’t bet on it–having a polished script ensures you’re covering the important points.

2. …but don’t be afraid to deviate

As critical as the script is, if you want the video to feel authentic and convey real emotion, you’ll need to make changes on the fly. We’ll record each section of the video multiple times to make sure it feels and sounds authentic and natural. The script isn’t gospel. Instead, it’s a guide to tie together the scenes and concepts in the video.

3. Record, record, and record again

Getting a bit of feedback from Hunter on the recording.

Getting a scene right on the first try is akin to keeping a wet dog in the bathtub. Try as you might, there will be slip ups.

Or, it just may not feel right. No matter how you feel after recording a scene, the playback may change your mind. In the beginning, we recorded a scene, played it back, and recorded it again—then repeated. We wisened up and now we record each scene a few times back-to-back and then listen in succession. Doing it this way lets you compare each attempt to single out the best take. If none sound good, well… do it again!

4. Finding the right voice and tone takes time

I don’t mean to say you need to make a host of videos to find your voice and tone. Instead, I’m talking about finding the right tone for a specific video.

While recording our “Introduce your hotel to the people that matter most” video, we were about three-quarters of the way through the voice-over when we hit our stride. We wrapped up several scenes in quick succession and they felt incredible.

We went back and listened. It sounded noticeably different! The final 25% felt so right, that we took the time to re-record everything up to that point so that there was continuity. It was well worth the effort. Once we dialed it in we were able to record much more quickly too.

Hunter gives the thumbs up on the new recording.

For future videos we recorded a reading of the entire script, sometimes multiple times, to get a feel for the tone. Ultimately this saved us time, produced a better quality video, and gave the video authenticity.

5. Have fun

It’s not all business. You will definitely need to take breaks. We deviate from the script (sometimes by A LOT) because a good laugh can go a long way.

And like I said at the start, doing impersonations was what I really wanted to do in the first place. So don’t hesitate to cut loose when the urge strikes and enjoy the moment. It’s not often you get an opportunity to professionally record yourself cutting up for, you know, posterity.

Oh, and don’t think we didn’t save some of the fun stuff—listen in for yourself below!

Jumping into your own recordings? Let me know! We’re always eager to share and learn more, and collaborate along the way.

Hotels vs. OTAs: the issue isn’t what you think it is

At, we’re constantly working with people in the industry that inspire us. Here’s a special post from our own team member, originally featured on LinkedIn Pulse. Looking to collaborate? Get in touch and let’s do something amazing together.

It’s virtually impossible to read hospitality headlines nowadays without seeing at least one piece on how hotels can “take back control” from OTAs. A noble pursuit indeed but do hotels know what sort of “control” it is they’re trying to take back? I would argue the answer to that is no in most cases.

Let’s look quickly at what OTAs are designed to do and why they’re good at it. OTAs are conversion machines. They bring in massive amounts of traffic and then excel at converting that traffic into room nights, car rentals, airline tickets, etc.

They’re able to do this because they’re better at getting consumer attention than hotels are and their websites are better at selling than hotel websites are.

Expedia spent, collectively across all of its brands, nearly $3 billion on marketing in 2014. If they’re willing to put that kind of money into the marketing aethers then it’s a sure bet they’re serious about converting that traffic when it lands on their sites.

Beyond that they’ve also invested heavily in keeping those customers coming back. They’ve accomplished this through a loyalty program, long-term nurturing, and a purchasing/discovery experience that favors the user. Not one of these three things is beyond the ability of any hotel reading this.

In most cases when I read these articles about wresting control from the OTAs the focus is on share of revenue and room nights. How can hotels shift more of that into their ecosystem? The issue with this “control” narrative is that it’s focused on symptoms and not the causal factors mentioned above.

Share of attention

As a hotel, it can be overwhelming trying to compete for the fleeting attention of travelers. Never before in human history have so many sources been competing for a person’s attention. OTAs are good at this because they have scale and budget. They can be in most places the consumer cares about, but not everywhere.

For hotels this means competing in spaces where OTAs are not yet part of the equation, and via means unavailable to them. To achieve this the hotel needs to be in front of the guest before that person is even in the travel-planning mindset. It’s better to stand out early than to be part of an arbitrary sorting algorithm on a third-party website.

On top of this, social media is so underutilized by hotels it’s hard to believe it’s actually 2016. This is a low-cost platform that can drive massive value for the guest both pre- and post-stay and yet more often than not I see hotels sending people there versus collecting traffic from those sites.

Experiences designed to sell

OTAs are good at selling. They’re really, really good. That’s because they don’t really care that much about which product someone buys, just that they buy any product while they’re on their site. That’s their advantage, money notwithstanding.

Conversely, for the average independent hotel, they have a single product to offer. Sure there are different rate plans, add-ons, packages, etc. In the end though the guest can only buy that single experience. That being the case, why is it that most hotel websites feel and function like digital billboards? It’s like, “hey, you’re in my shop but here’s an ad for my shop anyway.”

Bulleted amenity lists, professional photos of rooms, and canned descriptions of the product abound. It’s incumbent upon the hotel to nurture that visitor down the path to becoming a guest. Hotels can provide insight into the experience the guest can expect unlike any OTA possibly can.

Remember, the OTA is putting piles of hotels in front of the consumer. That person is there for options.

When a potential guest lands on a hotel’s website something has already grabbed her attention and she’s interested. Give her something worth her time, not a product spec sheet.

And on the subject of time, the importance of design cannot be overstated. Imagine if, instead of feeling like work, learning about a hotel was an experience in and of itself. An experience that’s just a taste of what the guest can expect during a stay.

That’s the sort of “control” that wins the day. Winning more share of attention and designing experiences that convert will ensure more business comes direct. But it has to be earned, not taken back.

Travel Trends that Matter: Insight from and GCommerce

At HITEC we collaborated with Google and GCommerce to discuss up-and-coming travel marketing trends. Hosted at La Louisiane of New Orleans Hotel Collection French Quarter fame, it was an incredible opportunity to share what’s driving hospitality today. Guest experience, content marketing and personalization were the topics at hand. Explore more below from Chris Jackson, GCommerce President & Partner, and myself. Enjoy!

GCommerce & at HITEC
Richard Dunbar and Chris Jackson give their presentations on emerging travel marketing trends.

Travel Trends that Matter By Richard Dunbar, Director of Partnerships

Hotels are facing a set of competing interests in the market that enjoy the benefits of large budgets, ability to scale, and share of consumers’ attention. These competing interests have invested heavily in designing user experiences that keep consumers engaged throughout the planning process, ultimately converting more business.

OTAs and sharing sites such as AirBnB are spending massive amounts of money to capture and retain share of attention, driving interested shoppers into compelling experiences that are designed to convert.

To combat this, it’s imperative that hotels focus their efforts to be in the places where OTAs and sharing sites are not strong. These are the low-cost, high-reach channels where hotels have a competitive advantage. The tools of that game are:

  • Guest advocacy
  • Nurturing past guests
  • Content marketing

Content marketing uses a hotel’s intimate knowledge of the destination but combined with guest advocacy it can be massively amplified. Content can be crowdsourced, and the potential exposure can be exponentially magnified.

This also helps to address the precipitous decline in organic reach via social channels like Facebook. User-generated content, shared by the user, means hotels are able to reach an audience far beyond the typical means.

Combined, these strategies ensure hotels can reach and inspire guests at the right time and in the right way. Aspiration and experience are the key competitive advantages in today’s market.

Hospitality marketing trends that matter by Chris Jackson, GCommerce President & Partner

Rising Cost per Acquisition

Phenomenal growth won’t hide your rising cost per acquisition (CPA) any longer, so it is critical to understand and manage your CPA. How can you combat a rising CPA? Adjust your KPIs and the way you measure them:

  • Measure holistically
  • Measure on an attribution model
  • Measure from an online & offline perspective
  • Evaluate your data to see what works and what does not
  • Regain control of your inventory and pricing
  • Understand and determine your appropriate media mix

Predictive Analytics

Accurately predict customer behavior and buying patterns, and as a result, predict demand through Predictive Analytics.

Collective and shared data is far more powerful and useful than a single data report on a single hotel. Consider who you can partner with – airlines, golf clubs, spas, retail providers and your local tourism marketing board are all contenders.


Connect with your audience! Focus less on selling your product and focus more on telling a story – sell the experience.


Billions of times per day, consumers turn to their search engine browser on their phone for “I want to know”, “I want to go”, “I want to do”, and “I want to buy” moments. Be prepared and targeted in your marketing efforts for when your product is presented during a micro-moment.

GCommerce is a digital marketing agency that works closely with hotel, resort, casino and restaurant clients to develop everything from website design to social media campaigns. Be sure to visit their site to learn more about their services and explore their work. on the road: NAVIS Leaders Conference

This year’s NAVIS Leaders Conference (NLC) recently wrapped up and we are honored to have been invited to participate. There were about 80 different companies represented, ranging from vacation rentals to large resorts and historic properties all over North America. Also represented were many industry leading companies like GCommerce, HeBS Digital, and Miles Partnership.

What I found particularly interesting were the keynote presentations where Peter Yesawich and Larry Mogelonsky dove into the experiential economy and how hotels can and must adapt their strategies (online and offline) to remain competitive.

And the Navis partner hotels couldn’t be in better hands to deliver on those challenges. It was evident that Navis took great care to focus more on the “why it should be done this way” and less on the “how-to” aspects of their services. This is precisely what an attendee is looking for both in a partner and in how they put their travel budget to work.

Here’s a short video recapping the 3-day event from our perspective. I was only left with one question: where’s NLC 2017 going to be?


Advocacy is knocking: 50 booking partners open new doors


Reaching 50 booking engine partners is a huge milestone for our team, but an even bigger deal for hotels.

Why’s it such a big deal? It’s because we’ve built deep relationships with our partners so we can ensure quick and simple onboarding for our customers.

Getting started with is as easy as a copy and paste into your booking engine and website–similar to how you’d set up a Google Analytics tracking code. That’s it. Once you’re set up, the whole platform is out-of-the-box and ready for your hotel to start letting your guests introduce your hotel to their friends and family across the globe.

Check out the full-list on our Partners page. If you don’t see your provider, just let us know! Thanks to our strong industry relationships, there’s a good chance we know your provider, and can get you up and running in no time. on the road: Worldhotels Annual Conference

I spent the last week in Hamburg with a wonderfully diverse group of hoteliers and industry folks from just about everywhere in the world. From a trendy, forward-thinking boutique in Sweden that will come and read you a bedtime story in Swedish to help you get settled in at night, to a designer, eco-conscious hotel on one of Berlin’s most traveled thoroughfares that prides itself on keeping walls to a minimum, there were definitely some standouts in the crowd.

What they had in common though, was that they all represented something bigger than the sum of their parts, which is exactly what brought them together in Hamburg for the Worldhotels Annual Conference.

Worldhotel Conference dinner
Worldhotels Annual Conference wrapped up with an outstanding dinner

This year’s theme was focused on storytelling, and how hotels discover and share their “why” with prospective guests. There couldn’t have been a better group to undertake this exercise given the sheer diversity of the attendees, a credit to Worldhotels for assembling such a collection of properties.

Worldhotels’ CEO, Kris Intress, has done a superb job in making it the focus of the organization to tell the story of its partner hotels in a way that truly engages with their guests on an emotional level. Her opening presentation for the conference made it clear that it’s not just a corporate directive, it’s how she truly feels. With drive like that, it’s hard not to get behind the concept, and that goal was definitely met in Hamburg.

There were two things that I took away from the conference (not including this really cool virtual reality cardboard kit from Diginet Media; seriously it’s awesome).

“If you’re an independent hotel and you’re not playing the game by a different set of rules, you’re going to have a hard time.” – Richard Dunbar

The first is that if you’re an independent hotel and you’re not playing the game by a different set of rules, you’re going to have a hard time. I have a great deal of respect for hotel owners and operators because it’s a fierce space to play in. You have a huge job just in delivering on the experience the guest expects but there are also so many distractions, all vying for your attention.

The hardest part of all of this is that most of those distractions need your attention or they can become tomorrow’s problems. Worldhotels does a great job managing a lot of those distractions for hotels, (disclaimer: hoteliers’ words, not mine) but it’s incumbent upon hotels to have a firm grasp on why they do what they do. It’s one thing to point out what makes you unique, but how did you arrive there? What brought you to where you are today? That’s a much more challenging question to answer and it requires a different perspective to fully understand it.

“Let your guests help you discover your ‘why.'” – Richard Dunbar

The other big takeaway for me is that hotels are hungry for a better way to do social. Now I know, that may sound self-serving, but there were over a hundred hoteliers that attended our sessions on capturing guest stories and infusing those into the hotel’s brand identity. The message was a very simple one: let your guests help you discover your “why.”

We have this amazing vehicle for communication (social media) but it’s become congested with marketing pollution and a lot of noisy nonsense. The truth is that hotel guests have been telling their stories but hotels haven’t been listening. In all fairness, some do listen quite well and they’ve been extraordinarily successful because of it. But there are countless hotel websites out there showcasing empty rooms and public spaces, embracing this notion of the zombie apocalypse our esteemed president raised in his recent “state of the industry” address.

For the longest time social in this industry has been a one-sided conversation. Sure, guests are talking on TripAdvisor but that’s very formulaic and can hardly be considered a conversation. The stories are being told at home, to friends and to family. Those stories that make their way into the online social media space sit on the shelf of our limited attention spans and are soon forgotten. There’s no engagement and there’s no dialogue happening. When meaningful and inspirational adventures are happening everyday in and around hotels those events should be captured and sharing should be encouraged!

Attendees enjoyed an Octoberfest dinner on Friday

In the end, all of the ingredients were there, hotels just needed the recipe. Kris, Geoff, Tom, Alex, and all the others at Worldhotels have worked tirelessly to bring it all together and present it in such a way that hotels are well equipped to start their journey. I was proud to be welcomed into this group and to present our solution to this challenge. Because ultimately it’s about building a long-term, meaningful relationship with the guest. And if there’s one key ingredient to a healthy relationship, it’s listening.

Content with confidence–how hotels can work in harmony with Facebook

If you follow our blog, you may recall a piece I wrote a few months back where I dug into the numbers behind advocacy on social networks and what it means for hotels. Two of the primary takeaways from that analysis were that 1) Facebook is really important to your overall online marketing strategy and 2) that relevant content is crucial.

Taking this a step further, if we isolate Facebook, the role that relevant content plays cannot be understated. How and why Facebook presents content the way it does is something every hotel marketer should understand. With that knowledge, you can craft a highly effective content strategy for your property’s presence on the largest social network on the planet.

Why hotels need a new strategy for Facebook

2011 marked a major shift in how Facebook’s News Feed (official name) operated. The original algorithm was replaced with a more “intelligent” one that adapts based on your feedback to content you engaged with previously. For instance, if you showed more interest in posts with photos you would start to see more photo posts higher in your News Feed.

Fast-forward to 2015 and the algorithm has changed—a lot. While still adaptive, it now takes into account over 1,000 different variables when deciding the order of content.

Via Facebook

Today’s version may even decide some content just simply isn’t worth your time and push it so far down into your News Feed that there’s little chance you ever see it. According to Facebook there are about 1,500 posts on average a user could see at any given moment, so the task of deciding what you see is big.

Ultimately, Facebook cares about keeping its platform engaging to its users. When it ceases to engage with users, it loses relevancy and people drift away (think MySpace). This means that Facebook has to filter some content from your News Feed so that you’re not inundated with stories and so that you don’t feel like you’re being spammed.

Via Tech Crunch

For this reason, organic reach has declined and is getting ever closer to zero. From early 2012 to 2014, organic reach dropped from 16% to just over 6%, and since then it’s diminished even more.

Another major contributing factor is called “Zuckerberg’s Law”: the amount of content you share a year from now will be twice the amount you shared this year. Now consider that Facebook has over 1 billion users and the content those users share doubles every year. Wow. Put in this context it’s easy to see why the News Feed algorithm filters content and why organic reach is declining.

Most recently in April of 2015, Facebook announced it would prioritize content created by close friends above all other content in the News Feed. This, combined with Zuckerberg’s Law, creates “like inflation.” In other words, every like is worth less and less as time goes on. It’s a clear signal that strategy needs to shift.

And so the question is this: as a business, how do I get my message in front of the most people possible on Facebook?

The new content strategy: tapping into the right audiences on Facebook

There are two audiences you can tap into on Facebook that will allow you to work within the boundaries of Facebook’s News Feed while also leveraging its rules to your benefit: your own and your guests’. We’ll start with your homegrown audience—those that have “liked” your Facebook brand Page.

Your Followers

5,000 likes does not mean you have 5,000 engaged audience members. As part of your digital strategy it’s important to take this into consideration.

When you share something to your existing followers, Facebook will select a very small subset of that audience and display that content to those people. It chooses based on the prior behavior of followers that are likely to engage with your content (like, comment, share). If the content performs well, it will do the same to another small subset, and this repeats a number of times before it eventually stops. The odds your post will be seen by your entire audience is slim (to not a chance at all.)

Other considerations (Facebook looks at over 1,000 variables) include some of the following:

  • Is the viewer interested in the content creator?
  • How has this post performed amongst other users?
  • How has this creator’s content performed in the past?
  • What types of posts does this viewer prefer? (e.g. image rich, posts with links, etc.)
  • How new is the post?

As a hotel, this means that you should always strive to have relevant, timely, and engaging content. No more Turbinado Tuesdays or Shar Pei Sundays. Stop doing that.

If TripAdvisor has taught us anything, it’s that people like to hear and see what other people’s experiences were like at your hotel. If you’re capturing guest feedback and pictures from their stay then that’s the sort of content that you should be sharing on Facebook. Let your audience see what other travelers just like them are doing at your property.

They’ll imagine themselves enjoying an amazing dinner on the waterfront, or a cocktail on the rooftop with an amazing view of the skyline. It’s one thing for you adrift-hotel-canoeto say it’s great. It’s something entirely different for your guests to show others how great it was for them.

Relevant content amplifies your reach in two ways. First, more people will see your content if the people that first see it also interact with it. This means that every like on a guest photo you’ve shared boosts that post’s News Feed value.

Second is that with interaction comes sharing. Your reach grows tremendously when your audience shares that photo you’ve posted. When a photo is shared by one of your followers, it will rank more highly in the News Feed because it’s coming from a person and not a brand, as well as because it’s demonstrated that it has value. As you’ll soon see, quality content has a powerful ripple effect that works in harmony with News Feed’s algorithm. Spammy and unengaging content will do the opposite for your brand which is why I can’t stress enough the importance of distancing your hotel from those sort of posts.

Your Guests’ Network

Every person that comes across your brand has an audience of their own. Collectively these people represent a massive opportunity for exposure to your brand.

In my opinion, this is also the most underutilized aspect of social media, especially because companies have approached it very awkwardly. And Facebook agrees. In August 2014, Facebook enacted a policy change that ended the practice of incentivizing users for likes and fan-gated sweepstakes/contests. Facebook is keen on keeping its audience engaged, and they recognize that these sort of gimmicks only drive temporary interest and not long-term engagement.

For hotels, this underscores an opportunity to incorporate advocacy.

By encouraging your guests to share their experience with your brand over Facebook, you enhance your own reach in a way that leverages the News Feed algorithm. For one, we now know that brand content is deprioritized in the News Feed and content from close friends is pushed higher. In addition, based on whatcwc-fb-stat-2 we’ve seen on the platform, each guest represents about 225 social connections.

Now, take the number of people coming through your door to stay with you on a given day. Do the math. A 100 room hotel running at 80% occupancy has an opportunity to reach 18,000 people on a given day.

How does this compare to the number of likes you have on Facebook right now? Then consider that your own content is only reaching a small percentage of your own audience. It’s like swimming upstream.

Your guests > Advertising

Facebook currently has around 2 million advertisers spending money to ensure their message is seen by the right audience.

For a hotel, the right audience can truly mean like-minded individuals connected to the guests who’ve booked a room. With the competition for News Feed space increasing so rapidly, it’s crucial that hotels reach a wider audience who are more inclined to engage with their content.

Encouraging guests to share their stories not only gives hotels that reach, it makes a more trusted introduction to the brand. This is a far more harmonious interaction with the News Feed and a stronger long-term strategy for social marketing.

Over time, take note of which types of posts performed the best in terms of overall engagement. A digital strategy should and must evolve over time to adapt to a rapidly changing dynamic. Does your audience favor images over text? Do guest reviews tend to drive more comments? Do guest pictures of your swimming pool result in more shares and likes?

Don’t be afraid to experiment when it comes to user-generated content because on the whole your customers have more influence than you do which is exactly what the News Feed is looking for.

The pros weigh in: tips for creating a revenue culture

The focus on creating collaborative teams is a byproduct of the rapidly changing and increasingly complex world hoteliers operate in today. Ideally, your sales, marketing, and revenue management teams are already collaborating in order to keep up with these changes.

At, we go further to say that at the core of every collaborative team should be a focus on creating a culture that aligns hotel marketing and revenue management. That’s why we created RevPAR Hacking.

Since releasing RevPAR Hacking, we’ve gathered some great feedback. Among the feedback lies insight from other industry leaders on how they approach a revenue culture.

Tips from the Pros: How to Approach a Revenue Culture

Ed Conway, General Manager, Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa


“Our whole team is focused on revenue as a shared metric. We’ve been able to work closer together and have a better understanding of how each individual affects the success of the joint effort.

I’ve also noticed that when our entire team is conscious of revenue considerations, we not only make smart financial decisions for our hotel, but also for reaching the right guests–starting with building on advocates that are likely to rebook and tell their network about us.”

Mark Oliver, Vice President, Business Development, GCommerce


“For our hotel clients, creating a revenue-centric culture leads to overall better communication and engagement across their teams–both keys for reaching a hotel’s goals. For example, a revenue team may feel more engaged with their marketing team when their revenue expertise is used in conjunction with marketing’s overall strategy. It becomes more of a partnership than anything else.”

Victor Garland, Commercial Director, In1 Solutions Ltd


“The arguments laid out in the book are a real opportunity to get sales, marketing, and general managers to put RevPar first and foremost in their mind when implementing anything to do with the sales and marketing mix.

Independent hotel clients that may not have the resources of large hotel chains can still implement these best practices. They’ll benefit from a greater understanding of cause and effect. More direct bookings will reduce overall distribution costs and give them back the relationship with the guest. Advocacy expands that relationship to a market that is in the same category as your existing guests.”

Your guests, your team, and your hotel’s bottom line all win when you aspire to generate the most revenue. More and more hoteliers are focusing on tactics that acquire more guests through direct bookings, and aim to reach a new audiences of potential guests that typically goes untapped–their friends, relatives, and colleagues.

Make sure you grab your free copy of RevPAR Hacking below if you want to learn more about the tactics and insights involved in creating a revenue culture.

revpar-callout-imageRevPAR 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.

Get RevPAR Hacking

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.

How to boost your hotel loyalty program with advocacy

Loyalty programs have become a necessity to compete for the fleeting interest of the frequent traveler. Hotels are increasingly using loyalty to attract the “right” guest, rather than just trying to fill rooms. Advocacy, on the other hand, can be as simple as a word of mouth referral or a powerful testimonial. Like loyalty, it can be used to attract the right customer—only this time, it does so by reaching like-minded customers through their social networks. But, in the end, not all loyal customers are advocates, and not all advocates are loyal customers. So how do loyalty and advocacy work together?

The time-tested approach of creating programs and incentives that reward loyal customers, though struggling, can still be effective. Re-thinking this model to combine advocacy with loyalty creates an environment in which there’s no incentive to book anywhere other than directly. is doing just that. By turning guests into engaged advocates, trusted brand connections are built, and frequent travelers become key promoters for your hotel.  Here are some of our key findings to successfully bridge the gap between loyalty and advocacy:

  • Membership: For loyalty programs to flourish it’s crucial there be network growth over time.  Members tend to stay longer, spend more, and return more frequently. Additionally, loyalty programs cost real dollars to implement, and hotels understandably wish to drive enrollments wherever possible. By integrating loyalty into a guest engagement or advocacy strategy, not only will network membership grow, but it will do so in a way that is largely automated and, therefore, far more scalable.
  • Engagement: Combined, a hotel’s guests have far greater reach than any marketing effort it could ever undertake on its own. Hotels that focus on driving engagement are able to put this massive reach to proper use. By putting loyalty points on the table as the incentive, a hotel can boost or maintain already high engagement while also directly linking loyalty and advocacy in the guest’s mind. It demonstrates that loyalty can be an engaging pathway for turning hotel guests into advocates and reinforces the value of the loyalty program for the guest.
  • Member Value: Measuring and understanding the value that loyalty program members bring back to the hotel is clearly important, and it can help define which enrollment initiatives should be pursued more aggressively. Guests who enroll in loyalty programs through advocacy initiatives, on average, return equal value to the hotel as those enrolled elsewhere. Considering the ease of implementation and the time-saving automation available through this approach, the integrated method can deliver real value to the hotel’s bottom line.
  • Automation: Behind the attractive veneer of any loyalty program there are real costs, both in hard dollars and human capital. Besides facilitating scale, automation can reduce these costs and free up the hotel’s associates for valuable guest interaction. An integrated approach to loyalty and advocacy means the member enrolls prior to arriving. The hotel is now capturing meaningful data about the guest before they even arrive, creating opportunities to enhance the guest experience and a compelling path to up-selling.

Both loyalty and advocacy have their place in a hotel’s toolkit. Combined, they represent something greater than the sum of their parts. By implementing a guest advocacy strategy that incorporates loyalty, hotels are able to engage with their guests in a natural and meaningful way that drives results. And the best part is that everyone walks away a winner!