Should My Hotel Use Facebook Ads?

14th Sep 2010

O'Rourke Hospitality Marketing;NB: This is an article from O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing

Before using Facebook ads, hotels should understand the advertising platform. As with any advertising medium, the objective of using Facebooks ads is to increase your business. Facebook ads have the power to do this, but as their representatives often state, their platform is primarily in demand generation rather than demand fulfillment.1

In other words Facebook considers itself to be a platform where you can generate interest in your brand – demand generation, which typically happens at the top of the sales funnel. Once consumers have decided to take action, they may conduct more specific searches on Google, which can be used for demand fulfillment.  Facebook ads are used more to stimulate interest in a brand, and engage with customers early in the buying & decsion making cycle.  As the Facebook marketing slogan states, ‘Find your customers before they search.’

What are Facebook Ads?
Facebook ads appear on the right-hand column of the Facebook pages and are highly targeted to the users’ profiles and interests. Advertisers can easily create ads through their own account, and can set a minimum budget for as low as $1 a day. You can choose to bid by CPC (cost per click), or by CPM (cost per thousand impressions).

Only three ads may show at a time on a page, and the ads to be displayed are determined by an algorithm that takes into account the ad performance and the bid. Advertisers can run multiple ads simultaneously, and can set up start and end dates up to 30 days in advance. You can then track the performance of your ads through the Facebook reports and your analytics software.

How can my hotel benefit from using Facebook Ads?
Targeted Messaging
Facebook compiles personal information from its users’ profiles and interests, and will display your ads to people who match the criteria you specify. This is extremely beneficial for hotels, because they typically have different segments with different target audiences that will require different ads.

For example, you may want to create an ad to promote weddings at your hotel. You can specify that your ads be shown only to females, who are engaged, between the ages of 20-35, and who live in a specific state, or province. You could also create ads about your spa, restaurant, or meeting space, and select different demographics for each ad.

The targeting options you can choose from include location, age, birthday, sex, keywords, education, workplaces, relationships, interested in men or women, languages, connections, and friends of connections. Below is a brief description of how these options can help your hotel send targeted messages:

Target people in different countries, cities, or states: This option is very useful to hotels. For example, a beach resort that is a short distance from a city may run a summer campaign targeted exclusively to people who live in that city. You may also want to run an international campaign to promote your hotel to an overseas market.

Create ads that will appeal to different age groups: Different types of hotels may appeal to different age groups.  For example, a golf resort may want to target an older demographic than a modern urban hotel.

Send people special offers on their birthdays: Create a separate ad with a birthday image and perhaps a special offer.

Target to men or women: Different ads will appeal to different genders. For example, you could create two ads for the same weekend getaway, one that would appeal more to women, and one that would appeal more to men.

Use keywords that match users’ interests: This is the most important targeting option. When a Facebook user sets up an account, they can reveal a lot of personal information about themselves, including their basic information, where they went to school, and where they work. There is also a personal profile where users can list their favorite activities, interests, favorite music, favorite TV shows, and favorite books.

As an advertiser, you can select words (keywords) to target, and your ad will be displayed to people who have used that word somewhere in their profile. For example, if I am creating an ad to promote my hotel restaurant, I would need to think of the words that someone interested in food and dining might include in their profile, such as such as, ‘dining out,’ ‘gourmet food,’ or ‘cooking.’ If I include these words in the keyword section, my ad will be displayed to people who have used these words in their profile.

You should create different versions of your ads to match different profiles. For example, think of the city or town you are in. Why do people go there? Some go to ski, to see a sports event, to shop, to see the sights, to go to a show, to visit a museum, etc. You could create an ad for your hotel that includes an image of a museum in your city, and display it to people who are have expressed an interest in art or in visiting museums. You could take the same ad, and include an image of a famous sports event in your town, and display it to people who are interested in sports, a specific team, or a specific event.

Customize your ads to students of specific universities: Send an ad to students of a specific university, and offer them a special discount for family members. For example, if I was a student at Emerson, and I saw an ad that said, ‘Hey Emersonians – Special Discount for Your Parents!’ it would get my attention. The National Center for Education Statistics can give you a list of all the Universities in your area.

Include the name of a specific workplace in your meetings ads: Create a meetings ad and include the name of the company that you are targeting. For example, employees of ‘Compstar Rhode Island’ would be interested in an ad that stated, ‘50% Discount on Weekend Retreat for Compstar, Rhode Island Employees!’ 

Target wedding ads to couples who are engaged, or offer weekend getaways for married couples: Relationship targeting is very useful to hotels. You could promote weddings at your hotel to couples who are engaged. You could even go a step further and create a separate ad for the bride-to-be, and another one for the groom-to-be. With Facebook ads you can also target married couples of various age groups, and offer weekend getaways.

Create ads targeted to the gay and lesbian community: Facebook ads allow you an excellent opportunity to create ads that will reach the gay and lesbian community. Most ads on the market are very generic and cannot target specific groups. People in the gay and lesbian community will become more aware of your hotel, and perhaps choose you over your competition.

Create ads in different languages: People respond better to ads that are in their own language. Create ads that will appeal to foreign language speakers and tap into new markets.

Create ads exclusive to your fans with Connection Targeting:
Connection targeting allows you to send ads targeted to people who are fans of your page, people who have used your applications, members of any groups you may have, or people who have RSVP’d to one of your events.

Send your connections a special offer, and encourage them to share it with their own network of friends and family. Your connections have already proclaimed their interest in your brand, and they will be happy to engage with you. You also have the option to exclude your connections from seeing an ad, for example if you are sending an ad to promote your Facebook page, you may not want to send it to people who are already fans of your page.

You can even send ads that target the friends of your connections:
One step further than connection targeting, you can also target friends of your connections. For example, let’s say that Sally is a fan of your hotel Facebook page. When your hotel sends an ad, you can select the ‘friends of connections’ option, and all of Sally’s friends will receive your ad. Even more exciting, the ad will also announce that their friend Sally is a fan of your hotel Facebook page. Sally’s friends are more likely to click on your ad because they trust Sally, and they will be curious about your hotel.

Facebook users who fit a specific profile will welcome your ad
There has been some controversy whether ads should appear on Facebook, because it is mainly a place to socialize, not shop. However, the Facebook ads targeting options allow you to target people who have already proclaimed an interest in things related to your hotel or to travel. For example, they may have expressed an interest in your city, an interest in an activity your city offers, an interest in dining out, or an interest in leisure travel. These are the people who will see your hotel ads, and they will welcome the opportunity to learn about a special offer at your hotel.

Awareness building
Another benefit to using Facebook ads is that your ad will gain a lot of exposure, which will build more awareness about your hotel. Every time your ad appears on a page it is called an impression. Even if your ad doesn’t receive many click-throughs, it will still be effective because the impressions will generate awareness.

Facebook ads can affect search behavior
Studies have been conducted that explore the impact of a brand’s exposure in social media on users’ search behavior. One such study, conducted by GroupM, revealed that searchers who engage with social media, especially those exposed to a brand’s influenced social media, are far more likely to search for lower-funnel terms compared to consumers who do not engage with social media.(Lower-funnel terms express action and loyalty including campaign brand terms and brand product terms. Upper-funnel terms express awareness and consideration such as industry relevant terms or general product attributes.)
You have less competition (if you advertise now)
Facebook ads are still relatively new, and many hotels haven’t figured them out yet, but they will. Some businesses are afraid to advertise on Facebook because they believe some of the other ads appear spammy or low quality. The flip side of the coin are the large corporations who also advertise on Facebook. If you create a well-designed ad with an attractive image and clever copy, your ad will stand out, and you won’t be competing with hundreds of other hotels.

It is wise to start advertising on Facebook now while you have less competition. Businesses are becoming more aware of the opportunities that Facebook ads present. Tim Kendal, Facebook’s Director of Monetization, stated in a September article from ‘Daily Finance,’ that the number of advertisers on the platform has more than tripled over the past 12 months.1


Set up a Facebook business page
Regardless of whether you are using Facebook ads or not, you should definitely set up a Facebook page for your hotel. Encourage your guests to become fans of your page. Any action a fan takes on your page will go into the news feeds of all their friends’ pages. For example, if Sally signs up to become a fan of your page, all of her friends will be notified. They will also be notified if she takes some action on your site, for example if she RSVP’s to an event. You can also create ads to promote your Facebook page where users can sign up to become a fan without even leaving their own page.

Set measurable goals
Outline your goals. What do you want to achieve from your ads? Once you have identified your goals, you will have something to compare your ad campaign performance to.

Create compelling ads with relevant landing pages
Create copy and images that will stand out and capture attention. Specify what makes you different from your competition, and have clear calls to action that will tell users what they can do when they arrive at your landing page, i.e. ‘Book Now!’ It is also smart to include a special offer or promotion.

Facebook has outlined some suggested best practices ( you can follow. Make sure that your landing page is relevant to your ad, and allows users to follow through on your calls-to-action. You should also change your creative often to keep users’ interest. Don’t forget to optimize your ads and landing pages with your keywords.

Test, Test, Test!
As with most online advertising, you can greatly increase the effectiveness of your Facebook ads through testing. For example, you can send two different ads to the same audience to see which one performs the best. You can test ad copy, imagery, landing pages, and experiment with different targeting options. A trick of the trade is a tool called Facebook Ads Manager, and it can help you conduct split testing and multivariable testing. It can also help you automatically create thousands of Facebook ads.

Start big, narrow down
Start out by creating many ads, and then narrow it down to the ads that are most effective. You may also want to experiment with bidding by cost-per-click and cost per thousand impressions to see which option is most profitable for your ads.

Track your results
You must monitor your ad campaign’s performance. With your account, you can analyze data about your click-through-rates, impressions, and average cost-per-click or cost per thousand impressions. You will start to notice what works well, and what doesn’t, and then you can decide what action you need to take to improve your campaign. You can also integrate your ads with Google Analytics so you can track conversions on your website.

The best way to learn if Facebook ads are right for your hotel is to give it a try. Here at O’Rourke, we believe that Facebook ads are an effective way to build awareness about your hotel, and generate new business. It is an inexpensive platform to use, and if you test your ads, and follow best practices, you could have a lot of success with Facebook ads. According to the Facebook statistics, there are more than 350 million active Facebook users. That is a large audience that your hotel could tap into. The targeting options available, and the popularity of the site, make it a perfect advertising platform. Start advertising now to get ahead of your competition, and as the Facebook ad slogan states,  ‘Find your customers before they search.’