Hoteliers: Check in to TikTok
18 Oct, 2022
TikTok is a relatively undiscovered country for hoteliers, but those who go there seem to be finding buried treasure.
TikTok is the next big hotel thing
Some hoteliers are using TikTok to boost their direct bookings. That’s right – an odd word the kids have made a verb is the next essential tool you need to master in order to make the world wide web work for you. 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 demonstrably the world’s most addictive social media platform and more than few hoteliers have figured out ways to make it work for them. What’s more, they seem to be having a lot of fun while they’re doing it.
What the H is TikTok?
TikTok is a 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. The platform allows viewers to edit together videos of the short, snappy variety and to post them for all the world to see, or rather for any of the approximately 1 billion TikTok users worldwide to see. It’s enough of the world to command a little respect, you could say.
What stands TikTok out from the crowd is how compulsive its users tend to be when interacting with the platform, with the average user spending 52 minutes on the app daily, a figure that’s even more staggering when you consider its nearest competitor in this statistic is Instagram at 30 minutes.
Like all its competitors it is in the business of holding its users attention with undemanding digestible content – a quick dopamine hit while you’re waiting for the bus, another sneaky one while the elevator ascends – and on these terms it completely crushed them.
The primary reasons seem to be the overall snappiness of the content
Why should hoteliers care about TikTok?
Like every other social medium, TikTok is used for promotion. Careers have been invented on the strength of how well one can wield it as a promotional tool, though not the kind you have to go to university to pursue. One of the truly great things about TikTok, both from the point of view of a content producer and a user, is that it is free to use and you can learn what works simply by using it.
Hoteliers need to care about TikTok because 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 and one achieves this by watching what’s popular in terms of hashtags and trends and getting 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 in order to make them come up more easily when people search for certain things. If someone searches something and sees and likes the video by pressing the little heart button then that content gets a kind of golden ticket to skip further up the queue the next time someone searches for whatever it is is hash-tagged.
For example, 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 and if the video is to people’s tastes and they like it then a beautiful kind of digital democracy takes place under their very noses and they wordlessly recommend the video to whoever else happens to be looking for crocodiles.
If I write #ice-cream or #fishnets however the ice-cream and fishnets crowd are bound to be disappointed and dislike the video, so no matter how popular a tag might be on a given day using it if it is not relevant to your content it will work against you to use it. Luckily for you hoteliers out there the hashtag #hotel has 11 billion views and counting on TikTok, so 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 – reply to comments, variety of content, regularity of posts, paying for ads – but today I’d like to focus on some ways to grow your public on TikTok that hotels around the world have been using to great success.
Stay on top of 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 on TikTok is a type of video being enjoyed by the masses that one can easily do their own version of. Nine times out of ten it involves lip-syncing or dancing or both. For a trend to take off it simply requires someone with a large enough following to do their own version and before you know it everyone is doing it.
Another way it’s like the trends of pants or hairstyles is most feel as though they’re ending about five minutes after they begin. Like the attention spans of the platform’s typical users, the trends on TikTok move fast. #buffering, #sheesh, #tellingmewithouttellingme and #inverted are all trends that briefly took over in the platform but are now gone the way of tears in rain.
If you’re serious about getting into this game – and your margins say you should be – you need to keep an eye on the platform and 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. The impression this gives off is undeniably one of a staff that enjoys their jobs and one another’s company and if a dancing video can help connect those kinds of emotions with your establishment then you can’t say fairer than that.
Give your guests challenges
In a sense a challenge and a trend are the same thing – pre-vetted content that will give you an ‘in’ to the big internet fashion show of whatever week you’re on. What might distinguish one from the other is user expectations. Trends are more associated with users simply having fun and challenges tend to be more directly linked with a product, brand or movement.
Remember the ice bucket challenge that took over the world briefly? While that lasted a lot longer than any TikTok challenges tend to, it’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Its roots were in raising awareness for ALS but pretty soon it took on a life of its own and became more about the circumstances and the people than its initial meaning.
This is how you can make guest challenges work for you. Here, we have an example of a guest doing a dance challenge in a hotel room.
The video got a lot of likes and views and 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. For example, you could ask your guests to make a video of themselves enjoying breakfast in your hotel and to tag you in it – offer a prize for the best one.
One thing that should be becoming clear to you by now is not everyone will know what you’re talking about – TikTok is a language of its own, in a way – but those who do 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.
Time-lapse videos of room turnovers have been known to hit big, as have fully decked prep stations before banquets. This chef playing the pans is the kind of thing you should aim for.
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 silly though it may have been 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 and needing 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 now!
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.
This Hotel in Vienna made some incredible TikTok videos about how they spent their time during COVID lockdowns, when business was all but at a standstill.
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 – it just happens to be taught by 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
18 Oct, 2022
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