SOCIAL MEDIA: How to get the most out of LinkedIn
Most hotels don't even use 20% of LinkedIn's free functionality
LinkedIn is known as the largest professional social network worldwide, yet most of us mainly use it for personal networking and forget that it also provides company profiles and functionality. It has more than 60 million users worldwide. On average, LinkedIn users tend to be slightly older than users of other social media services and also have higher disposable incomes. Many LinkedIn users hold senior positions in their companies and travel a lot for business, but also leisure. LinkedIn provides hotels with various tools (many of which are free) to tap into this market.
Every hotel should have a company profile on LinkedIn – it’s your property’s digital business card and represents you to all LinkedIn users worldwide. Company profiles allow all your team-members/colleagues who are using LinkedIn to link to it in their professional profiles, which, in turn, lets other LinkedIn users discover useful information about your company. Think “free PR” as well as a neat way to see all your company’s LinkedIn users in one place. Yet, LinkedIn company profiles can do so much more. You can highlight your products and services on your company profile, showcase your corporate video, get other LinkedIn users to recommend your hotel or your restaurants and bars publicly, provide various direct points of contact for corporate enquiries, or send out updates about promotions and special offers (highly targetable, e.g. ‘UAE only’ or ‘CEOs only’) – all of it completely free of charge!
I carried out a quick survey of hotels in the region on LinkedIn and I was amazed how many of them have a company profile, yet do not even use 20% of its free functionality (see also “LinkedIn Company Profiles – 5 of the Best”). You’re literally throwing away money and free advertising opportunities. Your LinkedIn company profile is also an excellent recruitment tool, though this function is chargeable.
LinkedIn is also a superb business intelligence gathering tool. You can use LinkedIn Events to find out who is attending conferences and congresses in your local area and get your corporate sales managers to contact attendees to see whether they require accommodation or a business lunch or dinner venue. You can also use LinkedIn’s Answers functionality to find LinkedIn users asking for hotel and restaurant recommendations in cities around the world and reaching out to somebody asking for, say, a hotel in Dubai, only takes a minute. Your sales managers can use LinkedIn’s company search function to find out information about potential new corporate accounts in the run-up to a sales blitz or discover entirely new corporate clients. They can also export all their LinkedIn connections very easily and even split them into geographical or industry subsets before importing them into your CRM system.
I honestly think that all your sales managers should be on LinkedIn — it’s a natural extension of their ‘work space’ and makes it easy for them to find and contact new clients. They should also join one or more of the many groups on LinkedIn. Groups often provide excellent networking and business opportunities, but are also an important source of industry news.
Does your hotel have a blog? Ask your team-members who are using LinkedIn to add it to their profiles via one of the many LinkedIn applications. That way, every LinkedIn user looking at one of your team-members profiles will see your hotel’s latest blog posts. Does your Chef want to show off his latest menus or culinary creations to the worldwide LinkedIn community? It’s easy and free via LinkedIn’s SlideShare or Portfolio Display apps.
Most information you enter into your own or your company’s LinkedIn profile is accessible to search engines and LinkedIn results usually rank highly in searches thanks to LinkedIn’s large user base, so you can support your property’s Search Engine Optimisation (see page 107 for more on this) efforts through effective use of key words in your LinkedIn profiles.
Martin Kubler is owner, director and chief cook and bottle washer of Iconsulthotels FZE, an ultra-boutique hospitality consultancy in Dubai.
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