How can hoteliers increase their direct bookings using TikTok?
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TikTok is the next big hotel thing
Some hoteliers are using TikTok to boost their direct bookings. That’s right – the kids have made another verb out of a phone app and it’s the next essential tech tool you need to master. In this article I’m going to show you how.
If you’re sitting there saying to yourself and anyone who will listen ‘TikTok is a fad’ or ‘lip-syncing will not sell rooms’ it might be time to think again. TikTok is the world’s most addictive social media platform. What’s more, some hoteliers have figured out ways to make it work for them. They also seem to be having a lot of fun while they’re doing it.
This social media platform that has been totally smashing it the last few years. It has made millionaires of dancing teenagers, superstars out of hobbyists and giants out of toddlers. Users make and post short, snappy videos for all the world to see. Well, for any of the approximately 1 billion TikTok users worldwide to see. It’s enough of an audience to command a little respect I’d say.
What stands TikTok out from the crowd is how compulsive its users tend to be when interacting with the platform. The average user spends 52 minutes on the app daily. This figure is even more staggering when you consider its nearest competitor in this regard is Instagram at 30 minutes.
TikTok is in the business of holding its users attention with undemanding digestible content. It gives a quick dopamine hit while you’re waiting for the bus. You get another sneaky one while the elevator ascends. It’s on these terms it completely crushes its competition.
The primary reasons seem to be the overall snappiness of the content.
Why should hoteliers care about TikTok?
Like every other social medium, people use TikTok for promotion. Careers have been invented on the strength of how well one can wield it as a promotional tool. One of the truly great things about TikTok is that it is free to use. This means you can learn what works simply by using it.
Hoteliers need to start caring about TikTok. Besides the fact that it’s an open goal in terms of good old-fashioned promotion it is an opportunity to become associated with certain emotions in the minds of potential guests. In order to do that one needs eyes on one’s channel. You can achieve this by watching what’s popular in terms of hashtags and trends. Get stuck into whatever is being lapped up by the general public on a given week!
What the H is a hashtag?
Hashtags are a way of categorising one’s posts so they come up more easily in searches . Imagine someone searches something and sees and likes the video by pressing the little heart button. That content gets a kind of golden ticket to skip further up the queue the next time someone searches that thing.
If I’m at the zoo and I snap a video of a crocodile I might write #zoo, #crocodile and #animals in the description of the video. If people like the video a beautiful kind of digital democracy takes place under their very noses. By liking they wordlessly recommend the video to whoever else is looking for crocodiles!
If I write #ice-cream or #fishnets however the ice-cream and fishnets crowd are bound to be disappointed. They will dislike the video and hurt its visibility. It doesn’t matter how popular a tag is. If it is not relevant to your content it will work against you to use it.
Lucky for you the hashtag #hotel has 11 billion views and counting on TikTok. There’s no real reason to risk offending your public with dishonesty.
There are of course other by-the-numbers tips with which to grow your public. As always you should reply to comments. You should also publish regularly and give a good variety of content. Also, as with the other social media, you can pay for ads.
Today though I’d like to focus on some ways to grow your public on TikTok.
Follow the latest #trends
A trend on TikTok works in much the same way as a trend in pants or hairstyles. You see your neighbours pants and your boss’s haircut and think ‘hmmm, nice’. You see them a few more times on other people and you think ‘hmmm, nice enough to copy and personalise.’
A trend is a type of video being enjoyed by the masses that you can do their own version of. It usually involves lip-syncing or dancing or both. A trend takes off if someone with a large enough following does their own version. Before you know it everyone is doing it.
Most trends feel as though they’re ending about five minutes after they begin. #buffering, #sheesh, #tellingmewithouttellingme and #inverted are all trends that briefly took over in the platform. Now gone the way of tears in rain.
If you’re serious about getting into this game you need to keep an eye on the platform. Also keep an open mind on what you and your staff are up for doing. This hotel staff from Kyoto, Japan hopped on the bandwagon of the #backpackdancechallenge.
The video is instantly recognisable as being of that trend. Not only that, the staff is clearly having fun doing it. This gives the impression that the staff that enjoy their jobs and one another’s company. If a dancing video can help connect those kinds of emotions with your establishment then you can’t say fairer than that.
'Challenge' your guests
Challenges and trends are nearly the same thing. They are pre-vetted content that will give you an ‘in’ to the big internet fashion of the week. What might distinguish one from the other is user expectations. Trends are more associated with users simply having fun. Challenges tend to be more directly linked with a product, brand or movement.
Remember the ice bucket challenge that took over the world briefly? That lasted a lot longer than any TikTok challenges tend to. However, it’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Its roots were in raising awareness for ALS. Pretty soon though it took on a life of its own. It became more about the circumstances and the people than its initial meaning.
Take this example of a guest doing a dance challenge in a hotel room.
The video got a lot of likes and views. Even better, the hotel got to soak up some of that goodwill for themselves. There are many hotels who take some extra initiative and give the challenge at check-in. You could ask your guests to make a video of themselves enjoying breakfast in your hotel. Just make sure they tag you in it and offer a prize for the best one.
It should be clear to you by now that not everyone will know what you’re talking about. TikTok is a language of its own, in a way, but those who do understand will be extra enthused.
This is where you can really start to have fun with TikTok. From Kitchen Nightmares to Undercover Boss to The Hotel People, there’s never been a shortage of people wanting a look behind the curtains at the hospitality industry.
Just the location is enough to scratch that behind-the-scenes itch for TikTok users, but the fact that it’s fun, snappy and features a playful interaction between staff members puts a human face on your business online.
Anything at all that allows you to convey the kinds of fun you and your staff have or the kinds of skill-sets you’ve amassed by working in hospitality is worth videoing. In the first hotel where I worked we would race to arrange the day’s keycards by category. One person might shout ‘alphabetical’ and we would rush to get it done, and the next would be ‘arrival time’ and so on and so forth. Had TikTok been a going concern back then it would have made perfect content. I’ve no doubt there’s just as much personality behind the scenes in your hotel as there is welcoming guests at reception. TikTok is your chance to get it out there!
Unique Value Proposition
For those of you who don’t know what a unique value proposition is, it’s a fancily named way of answering the question ‘why should people stay with me and not my competition’ or ‘what’s so special about my hotel and not others’.
One place I worked for a short while as a teenager had a giant chess board – three to five foot pieces that were still relatively light to move around. The hotel is long since closed but the memory has stayed with me and not least to occasionally think to myself ‘what wonderful TikTok content it would have made’.
Don’t get me wrong – the hotel had many better things going for it besides the giant novelty board game. Actually, any hotel whose finest attribute is a giant novelty board game ought to rethink their priorities. That’s not the point however – the point is that even though it was silly no one else had one so why not show it off a little.
What’s really wonderful about this option is that I’ve no doubt that anyone reading this blog – any independent hotelier worth their salt – has multiple UVPs they could push on TikTok. How do I know this? Because your business is on some level – and who but you knows which in your case? – an extension of your personality and everybody is different.
You might have an immaculate lobby featuring a piece of art you enjoy and only you – with your day-to-day experience of the place – know exactly what time of day and from what angle the magical combination is most apparent.
You might have a great big vat of sourdough starter always on the go in the kitchen that needs to be fed grape skins and wheat flour on a daily basis, which after multiple years on the go feels more like a pet to you than an ingredient.
The former barista you hired last Summer might blow guests away with the intricate foam designs they inscribe on cappuccinos at breakfast time, which are even more impressive to actually see the process – and TikTok is the perfect place to see something so seemingly useless but simultaneously endlessly entertaining.
Of all the uses to which an independent hotelier might put TikTok, to promote one’s UVPs is the most suited to your mission. Check out this – admittedly extreme – example.
Anyone TikTok-inclined headed to the Maldives will be sure to search #maldives before booking a ticket and there’s every chance they’ll run into this video and raise an intrigued eyebrow, which is all a hotelier who’s put in the work on their website will need to get that TikTok user booked directly.
In a way, for this particular social medium, all-in-one solutions like Amenitiz are happy bedfellows. The types of sites that Amenitiz’s templates encourage are ones that push UVP front and centre. Your TikTok account is an opportunity to share the kinds of visually striking images or videos you would design to reel in site-visitors with TikTok users randomly flicking around looking for a place to stay or maybe even just flicking around with an open enough mind that the right kind of content might influence their next trip away.
Take that floating breakfast video again. Who knows how pleasant it might be to eat breakfast in a pool. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but that’s honestly not to the point. The point is it’s an extremely memorable image with the potential to burrow deep into a psyche only to re-emerge in a month or two when holidays are under discussion and the memory of a luxurious looking floating breakfast in the Maldives springs to mind – and then it’s game, set and match.
Get started today !
I gave an extreme example just now not only because it was so very eye-catching but also because it was extreme. I wanted to at least get some of you saying ‘fine for the owner of that luxurious resort in the Maldives but what have I to show off?’
Firstly, as I’ve mentioned already, I’ve no doubt you have plenty. Anything about your establishment that makes you happy it’s yours is already worth celebrating and exhibiting.
Lip-syncing and dancing might not be to everyone’s tastes but they’re a good place to start if you’re drawing blanks in terms of UVPs or behind-the-scenes.
A good rule of thumb is to not take yourself too seriously because however diverse the content on TikTok the grand unifying theme for 95% of what’s on there is humour. Anything that works tends to show people earnestly having a good time just for the sake of it. You – in your case – would have even more motivation given an increase in direct bookings is a very realistic carrot for someone who puts in the time and effort to get this right.
If you get your website in good working order with an all-in-one platform such as Amenitiz (book a free demo here) and your content is of a good enough standard and frequency that you gain likes regularly enough to drive your site up the rankings then a shoddily designed website is all that’s standing in between you and an increase in direct bookings.
In all likelihood there’ll be a training on this at some point over at The Hotel Club but for the moment there’s a free course you can sign up to right away. I just hope you don’t mind that the teachers are lip-syncing teenagers.
Dive right in as soon as you can, and take this nice list of hashtags to copy-paste to your hearts desire on whatever you post.
#smallluxuryhotel #hoteldesign #besthotel #hoteltiktok #tiktoktravel #hotel #travel