How Social Proof Can Boost Your Hotel Sales and Win Over Prospects: The Science Behind This Powerful Strategy
As a hotel salesperson, you know that the group business is the lifeblood of your property. And when it comes to closing deals, social proof can be your secret weapon.
Cory Falter recently chatted with Joe Apfelbaum of Ajax Union on the InnSync Show about why building trust with guests is the only option and explored tips for how you can leverage social proof to sell more group business.
What is Social Proof?
When someone likes or doesn't like a product or service, and they share their opinion either online or in-person, it can have an influence on someone's behavior.
Companies have utilized the concept of social proof for many years. When you go to a restaurant, you see a sign on the door showcasing Yelp Reviews, or when you search on Google or Amazon, you see star reviews. Chances are, social proof has even been a factor in whether you've made a purchase or not.
This same concept is equally as powerful for a hotel salesperson or sales team.
Imagine this scenario: A client is interested in booking an event space at your hotel but hesitates to commit. They're concerned about the quality of your service, the amenities provided, and the overall experience.
This is where social proof comes in.
You can build trust with potential clients by showcasing that others have had positive experiences with you, your hotel, and event spaces, and they'll be more likely to trust you with their business.
Social proof can take many forms, but some of the most common include:
Testimonials are written or recorded statements from satisfied customers.
HOT TIP: In the hierarchy of types of social proof, both Cory and Joe agree that video testimonials are best. Reach out to connections that you know, like, and trust and ask them to share through Zoom or another video platform their experience of working with you.
Reviews are similar to testimonials, but they are typically written by guests who have actually worked with you, your team, and/or your property.
Awards and Recognition
Awards and recognition from industry organizations can also be a great way to build social proof. Awards show that your hotel has been recognized for its excellence or can be recognition that you've personally received.
Social profiles are also a form of social proof. Having a strong presence on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can show potential customers that you and your property are reputable and trustworthy.
For your personal profile, LinkedIn Recommendations is a powerful tool and one that Joe fully utilizes. It offers you an opportunity to showcase what past clients have said about working with you personally.
Case studies are another way to showcase social proof. You can share examples of successful events that have taken place at your property, along with detailed information about the planning process, execution, and outcomes. This can give potential clients a better idea of what to expect and help them make a more informed decision.
Joe says, “If you're online in a meaningful way, then you have social proof. The more social proof there is, the more people are talking about you in a positive way.”
Word of Mouth
Let's not forget the Gold Standard of social proof, which is good old-fashioned word of mouth. Word of mouth refers to personal recommendations from satisfied customers, and it's something that can't be bought or faked. When guests leave your property feeling happy and satisfied, they are likely to share their experiences with friends, family, and colleagues.
It's important to note that social proof is not a substitute for great service or a quality product. It's merely a tool that can help you close more deals and build better relationships with clients.
How to Get Social Proof
You, your team, and your property can add more social proof in several ways.
Ask for Feedback
Encourage your customers to leave reviews and provide feedback on their stay. You can include a feedback form with event follow-up emails or on your website.
HOT TIP: For LinkedIn Recommendations, Joe suggests simply asking for them and then making it easy for folks to give them to you. This can be accomplished in a few steps: go to their profile and click the "more" button, then click "request recommendation."
Joe says, "People are not naturally prone to leave feedback unless they're asked to do it."
Enter to Win Industry Awards
Entering and winning industry awards is a powerful way to build social proof for your hotel.
Winning an award sets you apart from the competition and provides third-party validation of your quality and excellence. Award-winning hotels are more likely to attract new guests and secure repeat business from existing clients.
Winning industry awards can also increase your hotel's visibility and exposure, leading to more media coverage and promotional opportunities.
Plus, awards can be a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone on your team, boosting employee morale and motivation.
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Develop Case Studies
Case studies also provide a tangible way to demonstrate your value to potential clients. They can see real-world examples of how your hotel has helped other organizations or businesses achieve their goals. This can be especially valuable for clients who may be hesitant to commit or who are unsure of what to expect from your hotel.
In addition, case studies can help you fine-tune your sales pitch and offerings. By analyzing past events and meetings, you can identify areas where your hotel excelled and areas where there may be room for improvement. This can help you better target your sales efforts and ensure that you meet your client's needs.
Engage on Social Media
Engaging on social media is a powerful way to get more social proof for your hotel. You can connect with potential customers and build relationships with existing ones by maintaining an active presence online. This can translate into more positive reviews, testimonials, and word-of-mouth recommendations.
When you engage with social media users, you also put a human face on your hotel. You can respond to comments and questions, showcase your personality and values, and demonstrate your commitment to excellent customer service. This can go a long way in building trust and loyalty with customers.
In addition, social media provides a platform for sharing content that can highlight your hotel's unique characteristics and offerings. You can post photos and videos of your property, feature customer stories and reviews, and offer exclusive promotions or discounts. This can help you attract new followers and customers and keep existing ones engaged and interested.
Another benefit of engaging on social media is the ability to connect with industry influencers and media outlets. By building relationships with these stakeholders, you can increase your visibility and exposure and potentially earn valuable endorsements and coverage.
HOT TIP: LinkedIn should be your number one channel. This is where the largest B2B audience is- your current and future customers!
How to Leverage Social Proof
There are many ways to leverage social proof.
Here are a few tips:
- Display social proof prominently on your website: Make sure that your website is prominently displaying social proof, such as testimonials, reviews, and awards. This will be the first thing potential guests see when they visit your website, so making a good impression is important.
- Include it in emails: If you send out event follow-up emails or other types of correspondence, make sure to include social proof. This can mean including a link to your LinkedIn Recommendations or showcasing a few positive reviews from recent clients.
- Use social proof in your marketing materials: When you're marketing your event space, be sure to use social proof in your materials. This could include using testimonials in your brochures or on your website or running social media ads featuring recent reviews.
- Use it in your sales pitches: When speaking with clients, be sure to mention any awards, recognition, or positive reviews you've received. This can help build credibility and trust in your property.
Cory says, "How do you build trust with someone you don't know? It's by education, inspiring, and offering value without a sales pitch."
In conclusion, social proof can be a game-changer for hotel salespeople looking to sell more group business. Potential clients want to know that they can trust you and your property to provide the experience they're looking for, and social proof can help build that trust quickly and effectively.
You can showcase your hotel's strengths and set yourself apart from the competition by leveraging testimonials, reviews, awards, case studies, and social media platforms. Incorporating social proof into your website, emails, marketing materials, and sales pitches can help you build credibility and close more deals. Remember: social proof is just one tool in your toolbox, but it can make a huge difference in a potential client's decision to choose your property.