If you’re a hotelier and you’re not paying to play on Facebook, you’re probably not seeing great results. With opportunities for organic reach continuing to narrow since Facebook began revamping news feed algorithms in late 2013, companies have seen a steady decline in the number of Facebook users that can be reached for free. On the flip side, Facebook Ads have become more popular and targeted with features aimed to attract more hotel marketing dollars.
Today, Facebook is encouraging marketers to look at their platform as an opportunity to make paid advertising more effective, rather than using it as a free broadcast channel. Quality, branded content marketing can certainly help to fill the gaps, but with an estimated 87 percent of millennials browsing Facebook for travel deals, Facebook Ads for hotels are on the rise.
Lodging Magazine Contributor Jase Rodley reviews Facebook Ads for hotels, looking at custom features, and enhancements that are especially valuable to hotel marketers. We’ve also included a special update on user data privacy issues and what hotel marketers need to know.
Dynamic Creative | Facebook’s Dynamic Creative tool makes it easier for advertisers to test their social media campaigns by mixing and matching elements to find the best performing ads. Variables such as titles, images, videos, text, calls to action, destination URLs, audiences, and device type can be intermingled and refined to help hotels determine the most effective ads and save time and money when testing Facebook ads.
Custom and Lookalike Audiences | Hotel marketing always starts with the lowest hanging fruit: your current customers. Though Facebook Custom Audiences has been around for a while, the tool has improved its ability to match existing customer information (names, locations, and email addresses) with Facebook profiles. Hotels are using this feature to promote return visits, upsell future visits, or create segmented lists based on demographics. Once you’ve established Facebook ad connections with your custom audience, you can create Facebook Lookalike Audiences. This feature allows hotel marketers to reach new travelers who are likely to be interested in visiting your property because they’re similar to your best existing customers.
Dynamic Ads | Hoteliers can promote their properties on Facebook to people who have already expressed interest – by either visiting your website or travel app. Facebook Dynamic Ads allows you to upload your product catalog and set up campaigns that match booking promotions with potential guests based on demographics, dates, or events related to their visits.
Integrating & Tracking Customer Data | Sometimes it can be difficult to show a direct link between Facebook Ads and bookings, especially when people call for reservations, book on another website, or book in person. By integrating your property management software data with Facebook user activity, you can draw clearer lines between users’ interactions with ad campaigns and their hotel transactions. Many hotels also use customer relationship software platforms, such as SharpSpring, to connect the dots and further develop the customer lifecycle with automated marketing campaigns for social media, email campaigns, dynamic landing pages, and more.
User Data and Privacy Issues | Facebook is in the process of developing a Custom Audiences consent tool to safeguard against advertisers misusing user data for ad targeting. These changes are scheduled to be completed by the May 25 deadline for compliance with the European Union (E.U.) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Here’s how GDPR will affect U.S. hotel marketers:
Hotel guests from the E.U. need to explicitly opt into having their data collected and shared. When gathering information for marketing purposes, either directly or through third-party partners like SharpSpring, hotel marketers are addressing privacy concerns by explaining to visitors what data they are capturing, why they are capturing it, and who will have access to it.
While Facebook, SharpSpring, and other companies are improving their checkpoints to help individuals provide consent, they’re often leaving their use up to clients’ discretion. Some hotels may choose these options for all guests, while others consider usage based on guests’ locations – E.U. vs. U.S. residency. Be prepared to monitor and modify your hotel’s consumer data use policy as regulations surrounding the issue continue to evolve.