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The hotelier’s guide to Snapchat

By now, promoting your hotel via Facebook and Twitter is now social media marketing 101. You’ve even spruced up your Instagram feed. But now there is another platform seemingly making headlines: Snapchat, the newest kid on the social media block. Exactly what is Snapchat, and should hotels be using it? Check out our guide to find out.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat was initially launched in 2011 by cofounder and CEO Evan Spiegel, now the world’s youngest billionaire. The photo-messaging app allows users to send images and videos to their friends and followers, which can be viewed for no more than 10 seconds. With nearly 100 million daily active users, Snapchat was 2014’s fastest growing messaging app.

Since content is deleted instantly after being viewed, with nothing incriminating left behind, Snapchat appeals to a younger generation who values the higher degree of privacy the app offers over other platforms. Snapchat offers an attractive alternative to teenagers who prefer to be far removed from social media networks such as Facebook, which they view as being infiltrated by their parents. Consequently, the majority of Snapchat users fall into the 13-25 age bracket. Fifteen percent of teenagers worldwide use the app, creating a young and highly engaged audience.

How does it work for brands?

Just like individual users, brands can create profiles on Snapchat. After having done so, they can send out brand messages to users they’ve added as friends. In addition to single image or video “snaps,” Snapchat offers a feature called Stories, strings of photos or videos compiled into a montage lasting 24 hours. Brands have been marketing via Stories since 2013, through means ranging from movie trailers to fast disappearing coupons.

One offshoot, Our Stories, are typically based around large-scale events, in which users submit live content and Snapchat curates the best content into a story for everyone to see, creating an incredible opportunity for real-time marketing and engagement. Our Stories are brand-sponsored and can contain branded messaging within the video and interstitials.

A more recently added feature is Discover, which provides new daily editorial content on trending topics through collaborations with top media producers like CNN and National Geographic. Discover is particularly useful in that it allows brands to target based on their audience’s interests.

Is Snapchat for hotels?

The question of whether or not the hotel industry should be adopting Snapchat for social media marketing ultimately comes down to individual brands. Given Snapchat’s user base, the app is clearly a useful tool for brands that value the youth market. These young Snapchatters are highly engaged, and marketers need to be where audiences are paying attention and interacting.

Hotels can potentially create a wide range of content for Snapchat, which can be either editorial or promotional, from exclusive video tours of soon-to-open properties, to discount codes available for only 24 hours, encouraging followers to act quickly. Regardless of the specific content, it’s important to keep messages succinct, given the time restrictions on Snapchat media.

If you’re hoping to evaluate Snapchat campaign effectiveness before deciding whether or not to create a presence on the app, the unfortunate reality is that analytics tools to measure success on the platform are more limited than for Facebook, Twitter, and other networks. However, a Snapchat-commissioned study indicated that 60% of users liked ads on Our Stories, and 44% enjoyed brand Stories.

Which hotels brands have already been active on the platform?

While only few hotel brands have integrated Snapchat into their social media marketing efforts thus far, Marriott was the first chain to adopt the platform, in hopes of connecting with next-generation travelers. Marriott’s in-house content studio roped in four influencers to produce a three-month Snapchat campaign. Each influencer visited a destination and worked with Marriott to present both the brand and the local property in a positive light. Content was published from the influencers’ accounts and Marriott’s own account, resulting in the highest levels of engagement on any of the brand’s social media channels.

Marriott snapchat

Throughout this process, Marriott partnered with Naritiv, a start-up that produces Snapchat-centric social campaigns for big brands, to overcome the time restriction imposed on Snapchat stories, thus allowing the content to be preserved and shared on other platforms. Naritiv also offered analytics, although for Marriott, the goal was not necessarily direct ROI but building brand awareness within the younger generation.

WHotels snapchat

Brands can now take advantage of Snapchat’s filter offering, essentially sponsored frames which can be placed over photos and videos taken on-site. Earlier this month, W Hotels became the first travel brand to make use of this feature, having launched a geofilter campaign that will continue through the end of the year. Both overnight guests and visitors who are stopping by for just a casual meal or drink can use the filters, designed to evoke jealousy and FOMO with options like “You Wish You Were Here” and “Current Situation.” Each filter also includes W Hotels’ logo, making them both a light-hearted and efficient way to build brand awareness.

Bottom line: Is it worth it as a social media marketing platform?

Ultimately, whether or not your hotel should be using Snapchat depends on your target market. If your hotel has an eye on the next generation of travelers (which all forward-thinking brands should do) then you should certainly be strategizing your presence on Snapchat. But if the majority of your customers don’t fall within the younger demographic, perhaps focusing your efforts on other marketing channels would prove more profitable.

Whether you’re fascinated by Snapchat or have had one too many social media platforms, it’s hard to argue with its popularity and growth. Snapchat is constantly developing new features, so even if your hotel doesn’t have the bandwidth to manage an account now, keep an eye out to see if the platform finds new ways to offer brands more easy and affordable ways to engage with their audience. First consider your social media objectives, and if it’s a fit, then get Snapping accordingly.

Nancy Huang

Nancy Huang

Nancy is the Senior Marketing Director at Pegasus and expert in strategic communication, brand development, and content marketing. She is an admitted travel junkie and loves finding amazing hotel deals when booking direct. Contact her at nancy.huang@pegs.com.

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