A typical hotel customer now spends a considerable amount of time researching prospective hotels online. If you own or manage a hotel, it’s imperative that your brand has a presence on Twitter, and that you use this platform effectively to market your property.

Because Twitter is based on real-time communication, and because hotel stays are also time-sensitive (booked and consumed by a specific date and time), there’s a natural fit between Twitter and hotel marketing. Here are five Twitter Tips to help you capitalize on this connection.

1. Make Sure Your Twitter Profile Is Impeccable

When it comes to hotels, people make instant judgments about you based on their initial experience with your property. The same holds true when they encounter your brand for the first time on Twitter. Make sure your Twitter profile has a great bio that includes pertinent, searchable keywords like “hotel,” “inn,” or “spa.”

Include an attractive, professional image in your Twitter profile and consider creating a customized Twitter background that complements your existing corporate brand.

Apply the same attention to detail with your Twitter account as you do to your own hotel. Provide an inviting space where people feel comfortable and where they’re encouraged to come in and explore.

2. Monitor What People Are Saying About You

Now that your profile is configured to properly represent your hotel, it’s time to find out what people are saying about you on Twitter. For example, search for mentions of your hotel using Twitter’s advanced search. Search a variety of terms such as your hotel name, its Twitter name, and include additional parameters like the city (or cities) in which you operate. Use the check boxes at the bottom of the page to view positive or negative tweets, questions, or retweets mentioning your hotel. Repeat the process, using your competitors as the focus of your search.

You can also use a third party social media monitoring application like our own Sprout Social to set up recurring searches for your business on Twitter. Whatever tool you use, be sure to monitor Twitter regularly to keep abreast of people mentioning your hotel.

3. Join the Conversation

Once you’ve identified people who are talking about your hotel on Twitter, engage them in conversation. Don’t start the conversation by mentioning your brand, and don’t jump in with a sales pitch about how great your room rates are. Instead, take some time to actually size up the conversations already in progress.

If there are tweets that look like customer service issues, don’t be afraid to deal with them publicly. Not only will you reap the benefits of brand exposure, you’ll show the world that your hotel is active on Twitter. When people know that you’re listening, they’re more likely to seek you out when it comes time to book a room themselves.

If you’re the CEO of your hotel chain, or if you manage just one hotel, get a personal account on Twitter to augment the corporate account. Use the methods described above to identify and associate yourself with your brand. Let your followers know that they can communicate with the specific property on Twitter and that they can also tweet directly with the boss. Your credibility will be amplified many times over when you interact directly with your customers on Twitter.

4. Use Pictures and Video to Tell Your Story

People want to know what their hotel room is going to look like, what restaurant and amenities you have, so show them with pictures and video. There are a number of third-party image hosting sites that integrate nicely with Twitter, or you can use Twitter’s native image sharing feature. For video, create a YouTube account if you haven’t already done so, and read up on YouTube marketing tips.

Image and video links have a built-in curiosity factor and are incredibly popular on Twitter. People are also much more likely to share or retweet links to images and video, resulting in even more online exposure for your hotel.

5. Don’t Forget Your Guests

Consider implementing a strategy whereby you ask your guests if they’re on Twitter upon check-in. Offer an incentive such as an exclusive discount at your restaurant in exchange for providing their Twitter information. You could create and maintain a Twitter list (with your guests’ permission) and encourage your patrons to interact with the other guests on this list. Think of the brand conversations you could generate, monitor, and join using this tactic.

Alternatively, maintain your own private Twitter list of guests who’ve stayed at your hotel. Follow up with them after their stay to see how everything went or to simply build on the relationship you’ve already established.

By definition, guests who are on Twitter have their own following. Capitalize on this opportunity to influence not only your guests, but their folllowers as well, by using Twitter to extend the marketing of your brand.

Have any other great Twitter tips for hotels? Share your thoughts below.

[Image Credits: tonyhall, szeke, Tayrawr Fortune, LocalThaiFood.com Fairy Heart, Villa Amor in Sayulita]