When it comes to online marketing, some channels are better than others at getting direct bookings for your holiday let.
A listing site advert, for example, is more likely to generate bookings for your website than Twitter.
Or is it?
Social media has a very good place in your overall marketing strategy, but perhaps not in the obvious way you imagined when setting up your Facebook or Twitter pages.
So let’s clear things up right now …
Social media is unlikely to get you direct bookings.
Because people usually aren’t in buying mode when browsing through their timeline.
What social media does brilliantly however, is build trust and grow relationships with your potential guests. And this is what could have secured your latest enquiry, albeit indirectly and often without your knowledge.
Consider this scenario …
Mr Jones wants to book a beautiful cottage in the Scottish Highlands for his wife’s 50th. It’s a special occasion, so he wants to make sure he finds a real gem.
He sits down at his computer and starts his search.
Finding your website, he takes a look around and is impressed with what he sees. He knows it would be perfect for them. But he’s worried. It’s his first time booking a holiday rental online and he’s heard of a few scams in the news recently.
So he continues in his quest.
He finds another place that also looks great. Meets all their criteria and is around the same rate. But again, the same trust niggles apply.
He goes back to your website and sees that you have links out to your Facebook and Twitter pages. So he heads on over to those to take a look at what you have to say.
You’ve posted pictures. Made updates on the latest events. Recommended restaurants. Given ideas to people looking at staying in the area of what they can do to make the most of their holiday. You’ve displayed some personality in a way that didn’t come across on your website, and made yourself available via another means.
Mr Jones heads back to the other website … alas, there are no social media profiles and he can’t find that same accommodation anywhere else online – not easily anyway.
It’s a no-brainer.
Mr Jones contacts you via the enquiry form on your website to make his booking.
This is a common scenario.
Ultimately, you don’t know whether the person that booked through your listing site advert or via your website, actually decided to book because they found your Facebook page as well.
And importantly, seeing it was active, and that you seemed to be knowledgeable on the local area and very personable, they felt confident that you could be trusted and would ensure they had a memorable stay.
Of course, some people may have followed you on Twitter or Facebook before finding your website or listing site adverts.
This is where social media comes into a class of its own for widening your marketing reach.
You’ve already started to form a relationship with them (without even being aware if it), building that all-important trust factor.
And since people like to do business with people they know – all those updates you’ve been making over the last few days, weeks, months and years – give them comfort. They feel like they know you, your accommodation and the local area, so they’ll be much more likely to make a booking.
This works particularly well for repeat bookings, where a past guest has connected with you on social media to get regular updates on what’s new, what’s on, special offers, etc. Those constant reminders will keep your accommodation at the forefront of their minds and encourage them to make another booking in the future.
How important having a social media presence is for bookings is a difficult thing to measure, unless you’re going to ask each and every person who stays – which you could, and would be the best way to measure its success for you.
But not having any social media presence, in this day and age where trust plays a huge factor in determining where consumers are going to spend their money, could be damaging your bottom line.
Social media isn’t about direct bookings.
It’s about showing you to your future guests. Building trust. Growing relationships.
Social media marketing is more about indirect bookings.
Oh and if that’s not enough, as an added bonus, being active on social media channels can help with your SEO.
Because Google and Bing use data from social sites to help determine where to rank your content. These are called social signals.
If your content is popular, i.e. getting shared, liked and commented on, the search engines deem it to be valuable and therefore should rank it higher in search results.
Social media – helps build trust and improve SEO. So what are you waiting for?