By Andrea Walker
As social media has become more pervasive, the hospitality industry has taken opportunities with tools like Facebook and Twitter to help maximize their customers’ travel experiences. Travel is personal, after all, and social media by definition creates opportunities for personal interaction. This is especially true with the strategies we’ve employed with the Mentone Springs Hotel, a recently renovated historic landmark nestled in the foothills of Northern Alabama.
Our digital team at Lifestyle Public Relations realizes and puts to use successful social media campaigns for many industries with whom we work, but our experience with the Mentone Springs Hotel is a particularly keen example of how social media can drive sales in real time.
If you have never been to Mentone, Alabama you are in for a treat. After driving a winding road through the mountainside, you come upon a small town with an old-fashioned post office, a string of art galleries and local restaurants known for their southern comfort food as well as friendly service. You’ll quickly see Mentone Springs Hotel perched on a hillside that stands almost untouched by time yet is embracing new methods of communication to attract travelers.
Mentone Springs Hotel was purchased in 2010 by new owners who quickly saw an opportunity to create a destination bed and breakfast for locals and out-of-town guests. Their goal? To attract couples looking for a romantic yet quiet weekend as well as travelers wanting to explore Alabama’s small towns. In addition to targeting traditional print media outlets like Southern Living, social media plays a big role in building ongoing awareness and attracting guests to the hotel. To showcase new renovations and build excitement about a grand reopening, our digital team began posting pictures of on-going renovations, reposting editorial coverage and running various, online hotel promotions. The team found instant success with Facebook and Twitter, which made a lot of sense since people were already going online to search for these kinds of destinations. In a nutshell, the digital team made it easy to access relevant and current information about Mentone Springs Hotel, and in turn, potential guests chose to book at the hotel versus a competitor.
Results were tracked by click-through rates and bookings generated by special offers. We also used our Facebook page to communicate directly with travelers by answering questions and talking about events at the hotel. These interactions allowed us to engage groups of potential and returning guests on a personal level, something that we couldn’t do on a face-to-face basis. Social media allows us to connect with more people, more quickly, but the key is that we can connect with them personally and all at once. Facebook and Twitter affords us unique opportunities to answer questions, tout our amenities, offer promotions and share our growth all at once. It also allows us to share our guests’ experiences through photos and comments, digital word-of-mouth recommendations that are a priceless sales tool to any company and product but especially those within the hospitality sector. In this industry, it’s all about the guest experience, and what better way to share that than social media?
As of right now, the Mentone Springs Hotel Facebook page has drawn more than 500 fans and plans to invest more heavily in Facebook advertising campaigns, especially with the rollout of Facebook’s new premium ads. Review sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor are closely monitored for customer feedback as well as making sure location information is up-to-date on all online local directories. With a conversational tone and ample room for content, social media gives hospitality professionals the chance to forge deeper, more significant ties with travelers. And best of all, it allows us to do it all instantly.