Written for the Occupancy Marketing blog

I don’t want to be the first one to mention Christmas but here at Occupancy Marketing Towers we’re already discussing Secret Santa presents, answering the phone like Buddy the Elf and looking for that perfect Christmas jumper to wear to the office party.

John Lewis have their trees lined up ready for purchase, our clients all have their Christmas offers up on their websites, and the number of searches that we are seeing for Christmas breaks is going through the roof – Christmas really is just around the corner.

Christmas breaks

For some people Facebook is more than just time-consuming it can be all-consuming – so it should come as no surprise that people consult Facebook before they make big-ticket purchases, including Christmas breaks and holidays. According to Nielsen’s 2012 global survey, 46% used social media to help make purchase decisions – another 12 months on and we’re seeing this trend continue to rise.

It makes sense that people like to research other people’s opinion who have already made a similar purchase – and with an access to a wider network of friends online than we’d ever have been previously able to consult offline, it’s easy to see why there’s been a shift.

Different purchases obviously have different websites to use for primary research and the travel industry is cursed and blessed with channels that are surprisingly easy to research – the one industry standard site is, of course, TripAdvisor. Stats show 6 in 10 American travellers consulted TripAdvisor before booking a holiday... in Europe we are seeing a similar percentage and, perhaps more tellingly, 53% of all travellers would not even book a hotel if it didn’t have a TripAdvisor review! Reviews inspire confidence – and reviews and recommendations from friends inspire greater confidence – which is where social media kicks in.


Hotels can often find it hard to know where to start on social media, and at the end of the day it often comes down to resource. Time is tight for everyone, making it a challenge to research how many social media websites exist, and how many current and potential customers might use them.

And that’s where Occupancy Marketing can help.

We’ve been working really hard on our social media product to make the critical move into the social world less stressful for hotels. We will support you so that your social media activity complements your existing marketing efforts for accommodation, restaurant, spa, conferences and events, weddings, and so forth.

Help starts by putting together a Roadmap that really looks at who your clients are and how you can best target them. As with everything we do at Occupancy Marketing we try to focus on the goals – something that we can measure that can help refine your social presence through informed decisions. Some of the metrics that we work with are:

  • Search visibility
  • Social mentions
  • Citations from other websites
  • Social shares
  • Social likes
  • Visitors to the website
  • Visitors to social destinations
  • Newsletter subscribers
  • Blog and social subscribers, fans, friends and followers
  • Comments, feedback and other measures of engagement
  • Reviews

Social Media Strategy icon

Social media is an on-going iterative process, so we aim for the social media content to be sourced directly from the hotels to ensure continuation of the strategy once the consultancy is over.

The next stage is to provide training. Top level owners, CEOs and managers often need training on the benefits and risks of social media. There are plenty of industry lessons such as examples of PR disasters, or understanding that 25% of consumers who complain about products on Facebook or Twitter expect a response within 1 hour. Marketing teams often need to know the detailed “how” of it all. Other hotel staff (from the chef to the gardener) need to know “how/when/what” content to write to pass to the marketing teams. Social marketing is so important, that it needs to be at the forefront of the hotel’s business approach.

After training we move on to the coaching phase – weekly, fortnightly or monthly calls with your marketing team to plan and audit social media work. Coaching is when we’d help to work through the Roadmap and provide the more fine-grained training; for example if you are a hotel with a special cigar room and are wanting to target that very niche group of cigar lovers, then there will be sites and apps that will allow you to target this group – we’ll work with you to get the best out of these sites.

With Christmas and the January rush on the way there’s no better time to grant yourself a Christmas present, a push on social media – and hopefully we’ve shown you that getting started doesn’t have to be a momentous task. So what should you do about social media right now?

  • Reread your marketing plan – who are you trying to target and why?
  • Think about the outcomes that you would like
  • Take a look at your competitors – what are they doing well?
  • Think about how you’d like things to work internally – who is going to be putting content together and who is going to do the posts?
  • Get us on board to walk you through the next steps