Emotion Sells Hospitality: Harnessing the Power of Social Media

It almost goes without saying these days, that great hospitality experiences are all about the people.

When your team exhibits emotional intelligence, passion, teamwork, motivation and discipline your brand comes to life. That face to face interaction between team and customer is what makes the difference in those moments of truth when your value proposition is on the line.

And you know, that the great thing about what we do here at Brookfield Digital, is to extend those unique experiences that you make and project them into digital space. Your customers can carry your brand with them, wherever and whenever they want to go.

Maybe accountants buy things on a rational basis but for the rest of us mortals, Colin Shaw has shown, that over 50% of every purchasing decision is emotional.

Which means that if we want to animate the connection between your brand and your customer then emotion is the key. Your brand must add value to their lives either figuratively or literally with every contact that you make, whether face to face or in digital space.

So, let's talk about how you can create a compelling communication platform and value proposition that keeps your delighted customers coming back for more whilst encouraging their peers to "have a go".

It all starts with your customer and the immense amount of data that you now have at your fingertips. Purchasing behaviour, demographics and increasingly through social media, their likes and dislikes. On top of which you can superimpose the knowledge that flows from your customer's journey through your digital and physical space. Bringing these threads together can drive a powerful strategic overview of what you need to do to sustain a successful hospitality business in today's seamless, on the beat, digital and physical world.

It's time to get Social.....

When it comes to persuading customers to take action, to book that luxury spa day or that superlative meal created for them by your extraordinary chef, the look and feel of your website has a major influence over online conversions. Their interest has been stimulated otherwise they would not be on your website but – the 85 zillion euro question is will they go all of the ways to purchase? Have you conveyed the magic of the experience that you can offer them? How painless is their customer journey? There is never any excuse for not applying best practice to tune up the conversion engine that is your website, but it will have all been for nothing if two key prospecting parameters have been ignored. Magnitude and Momentum. This is what separates the upright hominids from the dinosaurs in social media terms.

Magnitude is simply the number of prospective customers who arrives at the digital door of your web site. Momentum describes their level of motivation. Are they purely curious? Or are they a hot prospect, committed to making a purchase today? The greater their Momentum the more likely you are to win a booking.

Social media has the power to broadcast a message, to inspire, to amuse, to motivate, to bring tears of rage or of joy. It is digital emotion and needs to be at the very heart of your communication strategy, keeping all of your previous customers within easy reach of your brand and enthusing new contacts to take you for a test drive.

Limited space here precludes a masterclass but I can share some general principles as to how to create Magnitude and Momentum with your social media programme.

The Good Ol' Sales Funnel

Your website is your sales funnel. Don't confuse your customers by recreating another on Facebook or anywhere else for that matter. Make sure that all of your social media activity drives your prospects simply and cleanly to one "conversion engine" where together we can monitor your customer's progress through the sales funnel and use all available data to incrementally innovate and increase your sales efficiency and improve customer experience. Like the highly successful young fashion business that attracts customers and prospects alike by using high-end photography and a stylish model with the simplest call to action – go to our website to "get the look!"

A picture tells a thousand words.....

Visual images are so important to social media. It's about less is more. The simpler the image, the more planning and discipline it requires to create the right effect. Make sure that your images accurately reflect the brand values that you want to promote and tell the story that you want your customers to have in their heads when they think and communicate about you. Many studies have shown the predominant impact of visual images on the human imagination – its one of the simplest ways to influence your audience. Adobe's Q4 2013 Index showed social media posts with images create 650% more engagement than text posts.

Sell your friends......

One of the keys to maximising the impact of social media marketing is to make your content as shareable and as mobile friendly as possible. More than 73% of the UK population are now using their smartphones as their primary digital access device so great content needs to be "One-Click-Shareable" from that device.

The Power of the Search Engine...

Industry data suggests around 90% of us turn to search engines when seeking purchase and that two-thirds of those searches lead to a page one click on the results. Optimising your content for the search engines is therefore vital if you want to get onto new prospects consideration list.

Dialogue not Monologue

Social media is about customer engagement and not just broadcasting your messages when you feel like it. Expect to interact. Plan for it. Make sure that you stay alert to customers reaching out to your brand and expecting a reaction.

Same time, Same Place.....

It's important to be aware of when your audience is most likely to be available and responsive. You can help this process by being reliable and consistent with your timing and your channel plans. Monitor over time but also watch to see what your competitors do. This may offer further insights as to how to maximise your social presence.

One for the Road.....

Your customer is in charge. They will decide when and how they wish to engage with you. What you must do is to provide them with every opportunity, through whatever channel they choose, to engage with you. This was never about simplifying your business model but rather promoting your brand and your customer experiences in order to maximise your enquiries, your order take and your revenue generation.