TikTok Tactics for Hotels

Trendy dance routines, how-tos, and cute pets… TikTok is known for its random but strangely addictive short-form videos. So you’d be forgiven if it hadn’t crossed your mind as a place to market your hotel—until perhaps recently when the social media platform surpassed Google to become the world’s most popular web domain in 2021. 

But is there a place on TikTok for your hotel? There’s certainly a strong case to include it in your hotel’s marketing strategy based on its demographics and large organic reach potential. We’ve laid it all out here for you, plus added some examples on how your hotel can use TikTok for fun and glory—and, most importantly, to increase bookings, too. Let’s dig in!

TikTok Demographics Fit for Hotel Travel

TikTok boasts one billion active monthly users, with 131 million users aged 18+ in the United States alone. Around 41% of the platform’s audience base is aged 16-24 years of age, otherwise known as Gen Z, and 67% is over 25. Of its global users, 57% are female and 43% are male.

What does this all mean for hoteliers? To generalize:

  • While gender is more or less split, take note to appeal to your more feminine side.
  • Gen Z (aged 18-21) and Millennials (aged 26-41) love to explore and share their experiences on social media.
  • This younger demographic does not have time for inauthentic advertising, especially Gen Z being true digital natives.

Furthermore, according to Phocuswright, approximately 50% of Gen Z and Millennials combined view travel as a top priority and use social media to research their next travel destination.

Based on these demographics, is TikTok right for your hotel’s marketing initiatives? Only you will know for sure but we recommend you start by looking at your guest segments for alignment. If a hotel’s key markets are business travelers and retirees, for example, TikTok may not be a fit. But for experience-oriented hotels that are situated in the heart of it all, have a young and fun vibe or FOMO-worthy amenities, then why not TikTok?

TikTok Advertising for Hotels

TikTok is one of the only social platforms where accounts can still achieve a strong organic reach. But TikTok advertising is still in its infancy, so this may change. We recommend dipping your toes into the TikTok waters organically first. Doing so will give you space to try new ideas, experiment with content, and get a read on what resonates with your audience. Then, if those ad dollars are burning a hole in your pocket (or you simply want to see if investing more will give you a bigger impact than other platforms), TikTok offers some impressive stats.

According to datareportal, the potential reach for ads is 884.9 million users aged 18+ worldwide as of January 2022, and that number is growing every second. Technically speaking, TikTok advertising could potentially reach 11.2% of all people on earth. In North America alone, potential ad reach on TikTok is 142.2 million users aged 18+.

Whether you choose to advertise or not, the time is ripe to get onto the platform. Don’t worry about hiring an agency or producing high-end short-form videos. Even if it’s an ad, it should feel organic and native to the platform. For ad specs, visit TikTok’s ad center.

TikTok Content Examples for Hotels

While 39% of Gen Z are influenced by social media when determining their travel plans, and 28% use social media in their research, they are not swayed by travel cliches. Simply visit just about any travel-related hashtag on Instagram for a feed full of food shots, POV of legs on a beach, poolside poses, and landmark selfies. Once beloved on Instagram, all those ubiquitous travel shots are a turn-off on TikTok. You may be particularly disappointed to hear that Gen Z finds hotel rooms especially tiresome. And while they’re not the only generation, maybe they are the canary in the coalmine and a good reminder to create something fresh. The rule of thumb? Don’t overthink it. Have fun and test the waters! Make adjustments as you go and find your stride.

  • Create a TikTok Challenge or run a contest:  Under their #HotwireHotelGoals sponsored hashtag campaign, Hotwire hired about 20 creators to get the ball rolling on a trend that was ultimately judged by Jason Derulo! Obviously, Hotwire has mega bucks for such campaigns but you could test more modest “comment, like and share” campaigns.
  • Work with influencers: Expand your reach by working with influencers in exchange for payment or services. Hotwire almost exclusively features third-party content instead of creating their own for some hilarious results. You can even use influencers to feature your property in their own roundups and accounts like this one showcasing top affordable hotels in New York.
  • Make your influencer or brand-ambassador recruitment its own campaign: The Marriott Bonvoy TikTok Correspondent recruitment video has garnered over two million views. Plus all the entries have racked up perhaps even more views than that cumulatively, like this one that’s had more than 30,000 views! As the entries grow so does the Marriott Bonvoy’s follower count! It’s a great account to follow for inspiration. Because they’re so influential in their space, they’re in the coveted position of creating their own trends.
  • Hop on a trend!
    • TikTok is known for its trends, from dance routines to challenges. We love this example of a trend that was adapted for a hotel. Although it doesn’t promote a particular hotel, it demonstrates how trends can be adapted. 
    • In the same vein, we couldn’t resist sharing this TikTok from @alexrsbn who combines dancing with shots of travel locations. Imagine this type of video to showcase various hotel amenities and services. No more boring hotel rooms for Gen Z! This is the type of ‘thumb stopping’ content that can garner repeat views.
  • Repurpose content: Don’t forget to share your TikToks on Instagram Reels and vice versa. But in addition, look at all your content for inspiration. Do you have a blog post on the top 10 nearby restaurants? That’s a great roundup idea for a video, like this TikTok that has more than 605,000 views.
  • Zone in on your guest segments: You know your guests so find your niche on TikTok with videos that provide relevant and valuable information for them. Again, this video doesn’t promote a specific hotel, but you can see the potential here for your own TikTok to highlight business travel and remote work, as an example.
  • Recruiting: Use TikTok as a recruitment tool especially now with labor shortages! The young demographic on TikTok allows you to reach those who are at the start of their career path and introduce them to career possibilities in your industry. Check out the Holiday Inn Birmingham having way too much fun with this. 

TikTok Tips for Hotels

‘TikTok tips for hotels’ could easily be its own blog post but we’ve touched on it here to help you get started. You will also learn as you grow. The main thing is to spend time on TikTok (if you don’t already) to get a feel for the platform. Then have fun! And if you have someone on staff who’s already TikTok proficient, even better.

  • Videos should be in the spirit of the platform and not too polished.
  • Favor short videos and bite-sized content.
  • Incorporate relevant hashtags such as #TikTokTravel, which currently has about 27 billion video views. Follow accounts in the hospitality industry for hashtag ideas (and see what kind of content is performing best for them).
  • Don’t limit videos to just hotel content. Zone in on area attractions as well, which will extend your reach and appeal to broader audiences.
  • Humor, dancing, and content that humanizes your brand go a long way, along with behind-the-scenes footage. Content that’s exclusive to your social media platforms gives audiences a reason for following you.
  • Repurpose content: share your TikToks in Instagram Reels, for example, and inspire content creation from what you already have on hand, such as blog posts.
  • Respond to comments! Keeping a close eye on comments shortly after you’ve posted shows the algorithm that you’re an engaging account, which can boost your reach.
  • Videos must be vertical to be optimized for the newsfeed. For video ad specs, this article from Influencer Marketing Hub covers it all. 

Perhaps TikTok is an elixir for a heavy world. While it’s not all rainbows, unicorns, and dance routines, the platform is generally known for fun and entertaining content for scrolling the time away. It easily goes hand in hand with hotel marketing since many travel for similar reasons they love TikTok: to escape from the day-to-day. With travel on the upswing, TikTok can be your ticket to ride, helping you reach vast audiences. But don’t wait too long to get started or overthink your strategy. By getting started now, ahead of the competition and while organic reach is still strong, you’re sure to experience success—just have the camera rolling for your happy dance!