Bloggers are also acquiring more and more followers among business travellers – and gaining in influence. Examples, effects and new requirements which the hotel industry must increasingly live up to.
Text: Christine Bein FOTOS: iStock
Watch out, influencers! The online reputation of a hotel can quickly be damaged if the influence of its guests is underestimated – especially if the guest is one of Germany’s most renowned Instagram stars. The events in the summer of 2018 in a luxury resort in Croatia are a prime example.
With almost one million followers on Instagram and her Nova Lana Love blog, Farina Opoku is among the most successful influencers in Germany and takes her followers with her on holiday by feed and the story function on Instagram. And this is how her hotel came to be caught up in a very unpleasant situation and received a host of negative ratings. When a local politician complained that they were being too loud the hotel manager ushered Opoku and her family out of the resort. And their failure to handle the situation in a diplomatic manner sparked a huge backlash on the hotel’s social media channels and a flurry of negative ratings online. As usual on her channel, Farina had spent around a week sharing her tale and the background in her Instagram story. And her fans and followers reacted predictably – which is to say with severe criticism and fury. Such an even politically charged incident could have been avoided easily with a brief online search to find out about the identity of the guest involved.
Because the online impact of influencers on consumers and hotel images cannot be denied. A small Instagram story can have a lingering effect, even if it has been tackled within 24 hours, if it is viewed by an estimated 100,000 people daily. Hotels are therefore advised to meet Instagrammers’ needs, which means: Creating places in their hotel which are “Instagrammable” from the moment the guest arrives in the lobby. Especially “Insta-friendly” are photogenically-served dishes in vibrant colours in dishes and on stands with an appropriate drink. There’s no doubt that in this way hotel restaurants can not only whet the appetite of influencers but also take advantage of some effective, almost cost-free advertising. This is why more and more hotels are extending invitations to influencers with over 10,000 followers and showing them the loveliest spots for their travel blogs and reports: in cosily lit nooks, alongside unique designer furniture and against backdrops of witty slogans on walls and breathtaking vistas.
The key influencers for hotels include business travel bloggers because there is a growing readership for business travel blogs. Whilst waiting at airports or commuting on trains, business travellers are looking to their business travel bloggers to provide entertainment and information. Tips and tricks for making the most of business trips and meetings are primarily found online. Accordingly, it is important to keep an eye not only on the classic online rating portals but also on business travel bloggers, who write for business travellers in particular and have a growing influence on companies’ booking behaviour.
On top of the classic requirements of business hotels such as setting and costs, particular account needs to be taken of the special needs of business travellers. Women on business trips, for example, are likely to choose hotels based on the factor of safety, which should not be neglected overseas in particular. With her “Stuck at the Airport” (https://stuckattheairport.com/) business travel blog the American writer Harriet Baskas has not only created a medium that provides entertainment when travellers are delayed on their journeys but also one that explores issues such as safety and the additional needs of businesswomen. This means that hotels which go the extra mile when it comes to safety the moment a female guest checks in, offering, for instance, codes for room access, tend to be preferred when bookings are made.
For PR icon Ala Zander, founder of the Munich-based public relations firm Stilart PR, it was only natural to become a business travel blogger, taking her fans along with her on trips as “Travala” on Instagram. After suffering severe inflammation of the hip joint and undergoing several operations, she faced fresh challenges when on her business travels. As a result, Ala Zander now explains via her channels what makes travelling more comfortable and how to travel in style even with health restrictions. The authenticity of such lived business travel experiences has a positive impact on the image of hotels online because Harriet and Ala command a high level of trust among their readership and influence booking behaviour when they share professional experiences.
Offerings such as lobby areas in which brief meetings can easily be held without all the effort of making a reservation are also recommended by business travellers online and disseminated in business travel blogs and on social media along with the latest trends and innovations. Ride-hailing, for example, is a new type of app-based mobility service whose popularity has spread like wildfire via social media and business travel blogs. Business travel bloggers can simply provide information more quickly than any marketing about the services at the respective destination, including about business hotels with a ride-hailing service instance rather than a classic taxi service. Because simple services are not just a trend but now an expectation, in particular among the new generation of business travellers. For this generation alleviating stress is often a greater priority than travel costs. After all, business travel demands a great deal of business people and hotels which offer technical innovations in their services are a step ahead.
Stuck at the Airport – Harriet Baska
Frequent Business Traveler
Matthias Travel Telling
Smaracuja – Nina
Travel After Five
C Boarding Group
Bloggers are aware of their influence, which is actually similar to that of the Guide Michelin’s undercover testers. So it is necessary to show the friendliness, courtesy and service ethos expected of the hotel. Travel bloggers are also looking for simple solutions, good WLAN and local tips. When it comes to travel tricks bloggers are the experts from whom hotels would do well to take inspiration. So it is advisable to request the contact details of bloggers and perhaps to enquire about possible collaborations.
Most bloggers are open to collaborations. If they are a good fit with the desired target group, it is worth inviting bloggers to pay a visit. Their contact details are easy to find on social media and blogs. The rest is a matter of negotiation. However, it is worth reaching agreement in advance on the possible exchange of services – for instance, whether the blogger could make content they have produced such as photos and texts available to the hotel. A blog post can be helpful for improving visibility in search engines, as a blog enjoys a higher ranking in SEO. If young customers are being targeted it is worth agreeing a collaboration with business travel influencers who cover business travel on Instagram.
First it is necessary to determine the origin of the controversy as swiftly as possible. The faster statements on Facebook or Instagram can be taken seriously and responded to with a post or explanatory comment underneath the negative remarks, the sooner an excited mob can be pacified. It is also worth arranging staff training with PR or social media consultants, who can explain, for example, how to address negative ratings and comments.
Essentially, bloggers express themselves as freely as traditional journalists. While it is always possible to ask, for a targeted marketing action it is better to plan collaboration with influencers. When you are expecting a travel blogger it is best to make all web addresses, hashtags and social media channels easily available to “copy and paste”. Likewise, all employees should be informed and prepare accordingly. Because ultimately a sympathetic demeanour and a feel-good factor are crucial.
Hotel employees should be attentive, look at emails carefully and google names. Many bloggers use blog names akin to firms in their address. If one is found, it is worth taking a look at their blog and social media to find out the preferences and background of the travel blogger. The Instagram and Facebook story function and Snapchat are not to be underestimated for finding out whether the hotel has been mentioned. This can also be done with suitable social media management and monitoring tools. If in doubt, however, it is simply worth making enquiries.