Watch out TripAdvisor, travel planning with Facebook might just catch on. Their new Graph Search, is a little known tool that could come in handy for your next trip. You can add a search like “Friends that have traveled to Chicago, Ill” and receive a whole page of suggestions based on your friends’ travels. I just did ‘the test’ and I was actually surprised how accurate it was for well-known places in Chicago. It was also easy to see some of my favorite people that have gone to places I’ve either been or might want to go. My next step might be to ask them for more details. Yes, it could work.
Though this of course was Facebook’s intention, after a cursory look at Facebook, I had discounted it as having no real merit. Until I read this article by Darren Craig where he suggests that Facebook has a chance to take over TripAdvisor. His article shares some good examples of how Graph can be used and he also has some tips for hoteliers. I’ve shared those tips below:
Facebook is one of the most targeted platforms for marketing so here are some tips to add to your online strategy to enhance your business on Graph Search…. (You do have a Facebook page don’t you?) :
1 – Ensure your Facebook page isn’t a “ghost”
People will ‘Check-in’ to the first page that matches your business name, whether it’s your official one or not. Claim any unofficial pages, and merge them with your real one – you may be missing out on more Likes than you realise.
2 – Reward ‘Check-ins’
Check-ins to your business indicates someone physically visited you and checked in to let their friends know. This check in contributes to your engagement scores on Facebook. You can encourage check-ins with small notices in the room, arrival cards, or provide offers like discounted drinks if guests ‘check-in’ on Facebook. If you think of traditional online searches, where everyone was rushing to get backlinks to their website to increase their ranking, a check-in is almost an equivalent in Facebook terms – every little helps.
3 – Encourage Facebook Reviews
Hopefully you already request reviews on sites like TripAdvisor on your post visit follow up emails. Existing links in your emails could be switched to encourage Facebook reviews for a period of time. Online you need to meet your guests where they hang out, so you could offer a variety of review sites like Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor and others, or split test them to see which ones gets the most traction, or highlight the one you need more reviews on.
4 – Get Some Facebook Love
Looking after your guests in the real world should always be your priority. If you’ve done this well, your recent guests should be your best ambassador. Don’t forget to request a ‘Like’ in follow up communications, or in a booking thank you email. If a guest ‘Likes’ you pre-arrival, it gives them the option of finding out more about your offerings before they arrive. You could also ask guests to share and tag any photographs they have of your business.
Remember those earlier search examples? If you get guests Liking your Facebook page, this is how their friends could find out about you in the future.
5 – Don’t Forget the Locals
Your local guests may be your most regular visitors if you have a great restaurant, spa or golf course, therefore could be your most engaged Facebook users. Advertising to people who like your page, or to a custom audience of emails extracted from your mailing system (such as a member’s list) is likely to be the cheapest form of paid advertising you will ever get. You can use this to fill up that spa, or empty dining tables or even advertise discount coupons if required.
This is one more recent example that reinforces the importance for hospitality professionals to keep a balanced social game in play. One cannot afford to focus only on TripAdvisor and later find that your guests are moving to new methods of getting and sharing pre-travel information. With the new happenings at Google, I’d suggest keeping them in the mix as well. Thanks for playing…