Facebook 101: A Quick Guide for Resorts

Posted on Sep 30th 2010

Published in Management Rights Journal

September 2010

Social media is fast becoming an essential part of the marketing mix for different brands. Resorts are now integrating social networking sites into their marketing campaigns; be it to promote their product,  monitor conversations about their product, determine competitors, keep up with the travel industry or to engage with their customers.

One of the most popular social networking sites resorts use is Facebook.  Initially, Facebook began as a college networking website that was limited to young adults in University.  Now, it has expanded to include people of all ages and demographics, connecting friends, family, business associates and clients. To date, it is considered the largest of all social networking sites with more than 500 million users.

Each day, Facebook gains thousands of users all over the world; still, many businesses are reluctant to dive in and test the social media waters. Should you decide to venture into social media marketing, particularly in Facebook; the benefits have been outlined below.

We have summarised the top ten reasons why we think your resort should start building a Facebook presence.

1. It Won’t Cost You a Dime. Resorts can set up a Facebook Page or Group for no cost other than the time it takes for them to do it. It’s a low-cost way to connect with current and prospective guests.

2. It’s User-Friendly. We know that not all resort managers are experts in using the Internet, that’s why we believe making a custom Facebook page is a suitable option. Setting up is quite simple, even those with minimal Internet skills can create a page.  You just have to follow the simple instructions at the resource section on www.etourism.com.au.

3. 1 out of 3 Aussies are Using It.  Facebook is a good place to start growing your client base with the sheer number of users coming from Australia.  Worldwide, Facebook boasts more than 500 million users and over 9 Million are Australians, so imagine if you can reach out to even one percent of these people.  You can increase your revenues dramatically!

4. Social Media is Not Going Anywhere. No one knows if Facebook will still be here in 20 years time, but there’s one thing for sure - social media is here to stay!  With that in mind, its a great idea to start getting in the social media phenomenon now.  This will give you more leverage over your competition to entice business from potential guests.

5. It’s Business and Pleasure. People gravitate toward Facebook because they enjoy interacting with others in those environments. What better way for your resort to reach potential clients, than in a place where people go to have fun?

6. It’s a Conversation Starter. If you send out a message on Facebook, chances are you’re likely to hear about your post from someone - as word travels fast. However, keep in mind social media isn’t just a place to send out one-way sales pitches; it’s a great way to get feedback from your guests, engage with them in dialogue and learn about their likes and dislikes when it comes to hotels/resorts and its services. It‘s a good place to help you fine-tune your service offerings or assist you in coming up with ideas for marketing campaigns.

7. It’s a News Source. More and more people get their news from users found on social networking sites such as Facebook. You should alternate your resort posts with relevant updates and links about news items related to your industry or area. The more you help people get quality information, the more willing they will be to listen to your own messages when you post them.

8. It’s a Virtual Customer Service Centre. Many users are reaching out to companies for customer service and help on social networking sites such as Facebook. It’s relatively quick and easy for them to send a message or post a comment, and in return your resort can respond just as fast! More often then not, it would take less time to respond on Facebook than through e-mail or telephone and your clients will definitely appreciate your quick response time.

9. Maintenance is a Breeze. If you think keeping up with Facebook updates from your fans is an overwhelming task, you’d be glad to know that there are applications that can help you manage your account. There are web-based applications such as HootSuite where you can link your multiple social media connections (e.g Facebook, Twitter, etc) in one easy platform.  It’s easier to keep track of posts, mentions or direct messages to you in a flash.

10. The Possibilities are Endless. The uses for social networking sites are still emerging and changing every day. The exciting part is that they are only bound by the limits of your imagination. You can be creative and come up with your very own concepts to engage your followers, such as a food-tasting event featuring your resort’s new menu that’s exclusive to your Facebook fans or discounted room rates on a holiday weekend if their part of your Facebook page.

Facebook Page vs. Groups
Now, if we have convinced you that joining Facebook is indeed a great idea, your next step is to choose if you would prefer to have a Facebook Page or Group.

Allow us break it down for you:

·         Facebook Groups is ‘invite only’ or membership is subject to the approval of the administrator, with a limit of 5, 000 members.  A Facebook Page is public and has no membership limit.

·         Groups can send out mass direct messages to its members while Pages can only post public messages.

·         Both Pages and Groups generate great exposure to search engines although Facebook Pages provide more opportunities for the administrators of the Pages to enhance their SEO.

·         Both Pages and Groups give you the option to stream stories, but Pages allow you to target the members of your community who will receive a post, say, based on location and language spoken (as depicted by users’ Facebook profiles). This allows your content to be directed to those who will best use and understand it. This is particularly of use if your Resort has a global reach and following, including numerous languages and cultures as it allows you to tailor the information to them in the language and phrasing that best fits them.

·         Facebook Pages have the ability to incorporate applications and customise functions according to their needs. This allows Resorts to make their Pages both more functional, and more interactive.

·         Facebook Page has the ‘Page insights’ feature that allows administrators to see information with  regards to the demographic of users within your Page’s online community. This information is important when rating the success of your current online marketing strategy and looking at future marketing campaigns for your Resort. This feature gives information such as; number of photo views, likes, comments to the administrator.

·         As Pages are created with the promotion of brands and companies in mind, they also incorporate what is known as username URL’s. The point of these username URL’s is to redirect users to your Resort’s Facebook Page. This allows for effective promotion of your brand via your Page. An example of username URL’s is one of our eTourism Facebook Pages www.facebook.com/goldcoastaustralia/. This URL is effective as it uses keywords to link “Gold Coast Australia”.

·         Facebook Pages additionally give you the option to use plug-ins or widgets to connect your Resort’s website to the Facebook Page. This allows users to externally ‘Like’ your Resort’s Facebook Page from the Resort’s website. This is one major feature that is making ‘Pages’ the preferred choice for Resorts as it is an external way to increase your Facebook presence without the hassle of having to navigate from one website to finding a Facebook Page. E.g. If a guest visiting your resort’s website and uses the Like option, all of their friends in Facebook see that this guest Likes your Resort. This is great exposure and could potentially lead to new reservations.

Both the Facebook Group and Page have certain benefits that can assist your Resort. Majority of Resort Marketing strategies are focusing on the use of the Facebook Pages simply because they can target their users, they can customise their content and structure and can link their external website with their Facebook presence. The biggest feature being the ability to use the ‘Like’ button on external websites.

There may also be a number of reasons your Resort may choose to use the Group function, however, regardless of your choice the above provides a basic comparison between the two options and hopefully makes your decision process between the two easier. Whichever option you choose to use for your Resort, it is important to remember that Social Media is an integral aspect of your Online Marketing campaign, and each choice you make should be given the appropriate consideration.

If you need more Internet marketing information or help in  setting up a Facebook page, you can visit  www.etourism.com.au.

Bryan Marsh is the Managing Director of eTourism, a leading Resort and Hotel Internet marketing company. For more than a decade now, Marsh and his team have been providing website design, online reservation systems and total online marketing solutions to various clients, centered on the principle that a resorts website should sell more bookings than any other sales channel.

Please visit www.etourism.com.au for a free website evaluation.

For more information contact;
Bryan Marsh
1300 551 448

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