Hotels, Don’t Forget Your Locals!
I’m planning a family trip to a city where I know a lot of people, most of whom I keep in touch with over social media. It’s what I call a semi-destination. Mostly a place people pass through on their way to more appealing destinations nearby, but that means there are still a lot of visitors. Despite that, it’s not a city known for nice accommodations.
Historically, we’ve stayed with friends, but this time we’re staying in a hotel. When we made this decision, there wasn’t a single desirable hotel that came to mind. Seriously, this is big; as you know, this is my industry. I should have been able to name at least one. Then the other day I was talking to a friend who lives around the corner from me (i.e., not in the destination but in my hometown), and he suggested this historic inn with an organic farm, complete with farm animals and salt water pool, perfect for traveling with children but well decorated with gourmet meals for the adults.
I didn’t believe it existed. Why hadn’t I heard about this hotel from my many (many!) friends who live there? Sure, maybe my friends aren’t hanging around historic inns on organic farms, but why not? Have they been invited?
This got me thinking about locals, word of mouth, and how word of mouth really relies on social media these days. In two ways. First, the conversation about this hotel was a result of social media—of my having mentioned the trip on Facebook. Though the conversation happened in person, I’m not sure it would have come up had I not posted about it on social media.
More importantly, though, I should have heard about this hotel on social media long ago through my friends. Even just some little mention. (Examples I should have seen: Dinner at sweet organic farm and inn! My parents just stayed at a farm in the city… highly recommend it. Just took the kids to see the goats at Farm & Inn X--great afternoon.)
I believe that in the era of social media locals are a lifeline to an incredible extended network of friends and family, where even just a mention can go a long way as a “word of mouth” recommendation. So invite your locals! And don’t forget about them when you strategize your hotel social media. They may be your most important visitors.