Media strategist Nerissa Golden (standing) presenting at the social media workshop
BAKER HILL, Montserrat -- Small hoteliers, villa and bed and breakfast owners in Montserrat are being encouraged to get on the social media platform Trip Advisor.
During last Thursday’s social media session with media strategist Nerissa Golden, the more than 20 property owners gathered were given information on the various social platforms available to help boost their business.
Golden encouraged the owners, who offered a wide range of accommodations on Montserrat, to take the time to set up a business profile on Trip Advisor as well as a Facebook page. She also showed them the possibilities for integrating a website with other social platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
“Travellers have become very internet savvy and they want to get as much information about a property before they purchase a ticket. They also want to know more about it than the pretty write up that is on the hotel’s website. Trip Advisor and other social spaces allow them to read the reviews of other travellers which help them to make a decision,” Golden explained to the participants. “A traveller can create a review for your property even if you do not have an official profile. It is important that you take a hold of the profile and manage it. This will allow you to respond to each reviewer and also add pertinent information about your property such as the types of rooms available, rates and promotional photos.”
“Getting on Trip Advisor and Facebook is free,” she noted, but it was important that sufficient time be allocated to manage the spaces well so they can produce the results desired.
Golden, who operates goldenmedia, a publicity and marketing firm, added that they should be intentional about their social media strategy, plan it out in advance and then be consistent about using them.
During the four-hour workshop, the property owners were given a series of exercises after each introduction to a social media platform. They learned how to use Instagram and selecting appropriate hashtags; the importance of a Facebook space and how new changes affect the visibility of their page in the news feed; and using Pinterest to showcase the island and their hotel.
Golden also presented examples of how other hotels across the Caribbean are using YouTube to generate interesting and unique content. She also offered advice on taking great pictures which is the foundation for increasing interest on social media.
Flo Griffith of the Old Sugar Mill said she realised that she needed to revitalise her Facebook page and also to set up a profile on Trip Advisor to take advantage of social media and connect with her customers. She admits that her schedule does not allow her a lot of time to be on social media and so will get her teenage sons to handle that aspect of the business for her.
The participants crafted a standard review that could be used on Trip Advisor to respond to a positive reviewer. They also drafted messages to handle a review that was very critical.
“Always take the high ground even when the review is disparaging of your hotel,” she explained. “Say thank you for their visit and express how you are taking their suggestions or complaints to improve your service. Your response is not only for the one who wrote the bad review but for others who will use your response to see if they are willing to take a chance on your property.”
Participants were given the opportunity to share more about their property and the types of clients they wanted to attract. They then received advice from their peers on content they could create to showcase their product and the most appropriate platforms to share it on.
The social media workshop was one of several sessions being sponsored by the Caribbean Development Bank and the Montserrat Tourist Board for property owners on Montserrat who cater to the tourism industry. It is the intention that, after the workshops end on Tuesday, each participant will be better equipped to draft a marketing plan.