Airbnb has changed the way people travel. They now consider staying at someone’s private house instead of your hotel or BnB because they are beginning to see an added value (mostly dollar savings). In 2012 there were over 12 million bookings. This means around $150 million dollars taken away from the hospitality industry and does not include sites like Craigslist, HomeAwayway, and Couchsurfing. If you are a hotel you have more competition than ever. Stop and breathe. Smart hotel and BnB managers will survive. It is up to you to not only provide extra value for potential customers but also to communicate it effectively so that it is not you who loses business. Hotels can beat Airbnb at their own game with Social Media. Let’s discuss.
Hotel Social Media To Combat AirBnb
Why are people switching to Airbnb?
Before you move onto hotel Social Media marketing, you need to understand why people are moving to Airbnb. It’s not just price although that is certainly a factor. An Airbnb property in NYC can cost as low as $63USD. Cheaper hotels start at over $200. Let’s explore the other reasons people are opting for Airbnbs instead of hotels:
Airbnb Rentals are Bigger
Most AirBnBs are people’s homes and apartments, this means much more square footage than a regular hotel room. Airbnb listings include kitchens, washers & dryers, tons of closet space. You need to make it so that your guests feel they have the same amenities. While it may mean a cut to your profit margin (at first), it will pay off in the long run.
- Offer amenities like water for free.
- Include a complimentary breakfast or a light lunch snack.
- Make sure there is at least a microwave, a coffee pot, and plenty of essentials (like tea, coffee, and water.)
- If someone is staying at your place for over a week, offer complimentary laundry services
- Include Wifi. Seriously. FREE is becoming mandatory.
- Add lots of hangers (If I am coming to your hotel for a week or two, I’ll need more than just those 5 hangers you give me).
- On slow times of the year, upgrade customers to better rooms.
Airbnb has a personal touch
Travelers rave that they love the recommendations and amenities they get from Airbnb hosts. They like dealing with real people instead of a computer. You can give your customers a bit of both.
- Train your staff to go the extra mile
- Use their names in email and written correspondence (example, don’t leave an envelope with Room 208 on it. Instead write our Mr. Smith)
- Send hand written thank you cards
- Do they mention a special event or reason for visiting? Leave a special gift or surprise. It’s the little things that make the difference.
Airbnb promotes living like a local
Hotel stays can feel impersonal, especially in touristy areas like say Times Square.
- We know it is easy to suggest the Starbucks right outside the door (sorry Starbucks), why not show them where that independent coffee shop is with the really good macaroons – they will talk about it forever and possibly give them a plug when leaving reviews.
- It’s also tempting to recommend the restaurant that gives kickbacks per table. Don’t recommend places because you get money from them. Send your guests to truly special spots.
- Instead, create a blog about the area and reach out to local shops so they offer a discount to your guests. The local businesses will appreciate the biz, which means they will probably reciprocate. This will also help you on the SEO side and set you up as a true local expert.
- Skip recommending the tourist traps (instead of suggesting the MET – which we love – suggest the Frick, or even the Cloisters). This will make your guests feel truly special.
- Have a handy list of more specialized needs such as a nail salon, or a local painting studio.
Airbnb Offers Flexibility
This can be a bit difficult since homeowners (or renters) don’t always have another person coming into the place right away. But see if you can be more flexible with certain things like check out time without charging fees.
- Offer guests a free late check out.
- Push back your check out time on slow nights.
- If you can’t offer a late checkout, offer your guests a complimentary cocktail in the lobby bar.
Compete on Price
Airbnb apartments are significantly cheaper than hotels. This means you have to get creative.
- Offer discounts for longer stays.
- Include perks like free wifi (no more nickel and diming) or free dinner for two.
- Include a bottle of wine in your “weekly” package – at $6 a bottle for a good Chilean wine, you can certainly work this into your costs.
This is where you can definitely shine. Most Airbnb apartments will offer cleaning at the end of the stay, not during. You have the advantage here, when people travel, they don’t want to clean…and they may not want to cook. When you create social media posts, blogs, advertisements or newsletters, remember to hint at the luxury of truly getting away from it all.
Go Above and Beyond on Service
At Airbnb apartments, guests do not have the luxury of a 24-7-365 staff. Make sure your service staff introduces itself. Leave a personalized note (with that bottle of wine you included in the package) reminding them that their wish is your command. Have your concierge call a few days before departure to see if your guest will need a ride to the airport arranged. Take the work out of their trip and your guests will be eternally grateful.
Another advantage you have is amenities. The majority of Airbnb rentals don’t have pools, gyms, or business centers. There are no communal areas for your guests to meet other tourists. They may even have to bring up their own bags. Make sure you communicate these perks on your marketing materials.
How to Get the Most from Hotel Social Media
You have as much access to social media as any other hotel or Airbnb property. Be creative when it comes to Social Media marketing. It won’t take that much for your hotel brand to stand out. Besides, think of each social media site as its own search engine. Each post is another way a potential customer can find you, so do not neglect social. Need some ideas? Read on…
Brand Your Hotel as Fun, Caring, and Different
Sure, you can post pictures of your rooms to Facebook, but why not show your future guests that you’re a different kind of property. The Adare Manor did this in a very smart way. When a little girl lost her toy bunny, they posted about the bunny having lost its owner. Then, they proceeded to take pictures of the bunny receiving VIP treatment including sunning by the pool, hanging out with staff and getting room service. How’s that for a way to show off your service?
Brag About Your Amenities
Most Airbnb properties are private homes. Their amenities tend to be only utilitarian. You can offer luxury; massages, tennis, breakfast in bed. Edition Hotels does a great job at this. They aren’t shy about pushing out the luxury aspect of staying with them instead of at some person’s house.
Collaborate with Influencers
Because individual AirBnbs are usually a one or at max two property deal, they don’t have the resources to work and pay influencers. You do! Take a queue from Starwood who partnered with 5 influential bloggers to promote their Tribute Portfolio. Each blogger wrote a blog post and crafted Social Media posts about their stay. Just make sure that you check the latest laws and that your agreement makes it clear to the influencer that they must disclose. And…if you don’t know how to work with influencers, just click through to our article on working with influencers and how to measure the ROI of an influencer campaign.
Use Pinterest to Promote your Location
Pinterest is a huge driver of traffic to websites. It is also a social network that works on people’s wishes and desires. Pinterest is all about who you desire to be and what you desire to do. Take the time to create local and hyperlocal boards based on your location. This serves various purposes. It allows you a chance to come up on location search on Instagram when people search for the location increasing the chances of discovery. It also allows people to save your images to their boards to come back to later. Lastly, it can serve as a sort of guidebook for your guests on the things they can do while staying with you. It’s an incredibly powerful tool.
How to Manage your Hotel Social Media
Yes, the hotel industry is suffering from the recent “shared economy” phenom, but if you follow the steps above and use the right tools (like Socialdraft), you can certainly shine and grow with guests. Socialdraft is an all-in-one Social Media Marketing suite. With Socialdraft you can:
- Schedule posts to Facebook pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest
- Create one-time, duplicate and recurring posts
- Download your content as PDF
- Assign tasks to your team
- Pull reports to see how your hotel is performing on social media
- and much more