As the end of the year quickly approaches, many property managers are spending time reflecting on what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what changes need to be made next year in order to drive more reservations and hit new revenue goals.

In 2018, the property managers that will ultimately be successful in continuing to sustain and grow their businesses are the ones who know how to find, attract, and engage with their target audience online.

If you want to improve property awareness, drive more word-of-mouth online, and connect with and convert more travelers in 2018, consider baking these 8 tactics into your strategy for the new year:

1. Delight Your Best Customers / Guests

One of the best ways to boost awareness and get more people talking about your property is to leverage what I like to call your unofficial sales team—your happiest and most loyal guests.

These are the people that you know would be thrilled to give you a testimonial if you reached out to them and asked. They’re the people who have returned to stay at your property more than once. They’re the ones who regularly engage with your social media posts throughout the year.

If you have a list of people like this for your property, consider surprising them with a special gift to thank them for their business or recent stay, and to get them talking about your property with their friends and followers online.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money in order to delight your loyal guests and remind them what makes your property and team different than other competitors nearby. It could be something as simple as a handwritten thank you card with a gift certificate for a local restaurant in their area. Or, if they visit your property regularly, it could be a really nice discount on their next stay.

In most cases, the simple act of reaching out to say thank you is enough to get people talking to their friends about you.

Pro Tip: it’s OK to include a small message on the back of your thank you card asking your happy guest to spread the word about your property to their friends on Facebook. Just be careful not to make this ask come across as the focus or purpose of your thank you letter.

2. Run a Social Contest

Another way to boost word-of-mouth for your property is to run a social contest or giveaway for interested travelers to participate in.

Using a tool like Gleam, you can easily build and launch a viral-focused giveaway that helps you connect with new people, build your email list, send traffic to your website, and increase mentions of your property on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s how a typical social giveaway should work:

  • Step 1: Based on what you know about your ideal guest, you pick a prize that you want to offer in a new giveaway. The prize should be compelling enough to make people want to not only provide you with their email address, but also take additional actions in order to gain extra entries into your giveaway.
  • Step 2: Design graphics that you can use when building your Gleam campaign and promoting your contest on social media.
  • Step 3: Build your contest campaign using Gleam. When you build your campaign, you can decide how long the contest runs, who can enter, and what actions people can take to receive extra entries into your giveaway. Examples of actions include things like visiting a website page, visiting a Facebook page, answering a question, sharing the contest on Facebook or Twitter, and referring the contest to a friend using a unique sharing URL.
  • Step 4: Decide where you want your contest entry form to live. You can either host it on a custom landing page provided by Gleam, or you can embed the form into a page or blog post on your website.
  • Step 5: Launch your giveaway and start the promotion process. Spread the news about in social media updates, in email campaigns, in blog posts, in CTAs on your website, and in paid social advertising campaigns.

Pro Tip: To really get the most out of this idea, make your prize big—as in something you would only give away to one person, once every year. It could be a free stay at your property, or it could be some sort of travel-themed gift package valued at $500 or more.

3. Partner with Local Businesses

If you want to connect with more people who are interested in visiting your local area, work with other local businesses who can give you access to their online audiences. These days, people travel based on the unique experiences they can have and share with their followers on social media. They’re looking for unique restaurants to try, interesting places to see, and Instagrammable moments to capture.

The local business and attractions in your area are working just as hard as you are to differentiate and get people talking and visiting them. To boost word-of-mouth for your property, join forces with a few other business owners in town. Work together to promote each other’s businesses on social media, develop campaigns that illustrate to travelers what makes your area unique, and launch special deals that people can take advantage of when they support both businesses during their trip. For example, if a guest decides to book a reservation with you, let them know that there is a restaurant in town that offers a special, VIP discount to all of your guests.

Pro Tip: Go the extra mile by partnering with a handful of businesses to create special offers for patrons who are willing to support all the businesses in the group during their trip. Create a special offering with a few businesses that provide different services and experiences in your local area (i.e. don’t work with all restaurants—instead, work with a restaurant, a local attraction, a coffee shop, a retail store, etc.).

4. Go Live on Facebook

In 2017, more businesses started using Facebook Live to promote their businesses and engage with prospects in real-time. As a property manager, you could be using Facebook Live to:

  • Give live tours of different areas of your property to interested followers
  • Interview happy guests who are currently staying at your property
  • Feature the employees who work to create amazing experiences for your guests
  • Talk with local businesses about what makes your area so great to visit
  • Have live Q&A discussions with people who are interested in staying at your property

If you’ve never used Facebook Live before, but you’re interested in giving it a try this fall, read through this helpful guide from Hubspot. It will provide you with actionable tips and recommendations on how to get the most out of the increasingly popular publishing tool.

Pro Tip: There are also a few tools that you can use to really level up your Facebook Live sessions. The first one is the Mevo Camera, which allows you to edit your video footage in real-time as the Facebook Live is being broadcasted to your followers. The second is called BeLive—it allows you to create and broadcast split-screen interviews on Facebook Live,

5. Create Helpful Lists for Travelers

Another great way to boost property awareness and word-of-mouth is by creating helpful travel lists for people who are searching for answers to questions they have about your area. If you’re already taking the time to regularly create and publish content on your property website, this tactic will be fairly easy to implement. All you need to do is come up with a few list-based blog posts that you can share and promote to your target audience.

Examples of list-based blog posts that your audience might find valuable when trying to learn more about your area include topics such as:

  • 50 Reasons Why People Love Visiting [YOUR AREA]
  • 25 Amazing Things to See When You Visit [YOUR AREA]
  • Visiting [YOUR AREA]: 17 Answers to Questions Everyone Has
  • The Best Food You Can Eat When You’re Visiting [YOUR AREA]
  • 20 Attractions You Can’t Miss When You Travel to [YOUR Area]

Your goal with this tactic is to position yourself and your property as a valuable, trusted resource to people who are considering planning a trip to your area.

Pro Tip: Consider making one of these list-based resources into a downloadable ebook that you can place behind a gated form. Ask visitors who are interested in seeing the content to provide you with their email in exchange for the free download. Doing so will help you collect new leads for your reservation agents to reach out to and nurture.

6. Become Known for Something Unique

If you want to drive awareness, website traffic, and reservations next year, you need to offer guests a unique experience that they can’t get anywhere else. These days, the businesses that win are the ones that create what I’m calling “instagrammable moments” for patrons to capture and share with their friends on social media. This is is the marketing strategy that has made local businesses like The Bagel Store (famous for their rainbow bagel) famous among young people. They came up with a creative way to draw in crowds—something visually exciting that they knew people would want to capture and share with friends on social media.

The same strategy can be implemented at your property. All you need to do is think of something unique you can offer your guests—it could be a visually stunning meal that no one else in the country offers, it could be an over-the-top welcome gift basket, or it could be a type of vehicle that you use to transport guests around town. Remember: the goal is to come up with something interesting and fun that people can’t help but want to share.

Pro Tip: work with your employees to come up with ideas on what kind of unique experience you could offer to guests. The more diverse the brainstorming group, the better ideas you’ll come up with.

7. Invite Travel Bloggers & Influencers to Stay with You

If you really want to go all in on this idea in 2018, consider reaching out to and inviting travel bloggers and influencers to stay at your property for a weekend. Let them experience what you have to offer, and see if they’d be willing to share your property with their audience.

If the influencers you reach out to aren’t interested in writing a blog post about your property (some won’t be), you could pitch them on the idea of doing a Social Media Takeover on your property social media pages while they are staying with you. If you’re not familiar with social media takeovers, they work like this: you give the blogger or Instagram influencer you’re working with complete access to your accounts for a certain period of time. During that time, they can post whatever they see or experience while staying at your property. The goal here is to work with someone who can give you access to a loyal audience of travelers that you otherwise might not have been able to reach.

Pro Tip: Before reaching out to an influencer to see if they’d be willing to stay at your property, engage with them a bit. Nurture a friendly relationship with them by commenting on their blog posts and engaging with them through their social media posts. Show them that you’re a real person who cares about what they’re doing, and you’ll have much more success when it comes time to make your ask.

8. Support a Cause

Finally, if you want to get people talking about your property and what makes it different than other businesses in your area, consider supporting a cause. Travelers (and online consumers in general) today want to support socially responsible businesses. Find a cause, mission, or nonprofit that aligns with your values (ex. conservation, veganism, ending local homelessness, etc.), and figure out a way to help. Show people that you’re not just in business to make money for yourself, but that you genuinely care about making the world a better, happier, healthier place.

Pro Tip: this is another great opportunity to work with your existing team of employees. Plan a meeting to discuss ideas and opportunities, vote on something, then start working on a plan for supporting the cause that your team wants to rally behind. If you try to work on this initiative by yourself, it’s likely going to get moved to the backburner. In order to make this tactic work, it needs to be important and meaningful to everyone at your property.

Over to You

What other creative ideas have you been testing in order to drive more word-of-mouth for your property? Tell me in the comments below.