On Tour Takeout: The skeptical hotelier’s guide to TikTok marketing

SA On Tour Blog Banners Cover (2)

From TikTok in tourism to how the pandemic affected the industry - our takeout’s from #ProfitroomOnTour South Africa blog series will tantalize your tastebuds for what you need to be doing to market your property and yield results. 

The world of social media in general can be daunting for businesses, especially those that typically favour traditional approaches to marketing. So it’s not uncommon for hoteliers, owners, operators, revenue managers and marketing directors in the industry to shy away completely when the topic of TikTok comes up. 

“It’s completely understandable why they feel this way. There are times when I feel way too old to be playing around on TikTok, particularly when I see kids and teens creating all this incredible content, snapping their fingers in a video and all of a sudden there’s a beautiful plate of food that appears,” says Dean Cothill, founder and CEO of DC Communications. “What people need to understand is that there are many ways a business can approach TikTok, and it doesn’t have to be a heavy, time-consuming and intimidating burden.” 

TikTok and the hospitality industry

What is TikTok? Basically, it’s a social media app (one of the fastest growing of them all) that allows users to create and share snackable, short-form video content. With 6.44 million active TikTok users in South Africa over the age of 18, TikTok remains one of the best channels to attract more leisure and business travel guests alike. #TikTokTravel attracted over 20.8 billion views globally in 2021, indicating that TikTok users are hungry for travel experiences and tourism content, hotels and resorts simply cannot afford not to embrace the opportunities and benefits inherent in TikTok marketing.

“Hotels and resorts in South Africa haven’t scratched the surface when it comes to leveraging the benefits of TikTok. Once they start taking advantage of the many uses and functions available to businesses and brands as part of a targeted social media strategy, they will quickly recognise the benefits and even begin to see results,” says Cothill.  

Okay, now how do you TikTok? 

TikTok marketing opportunities can easily align with hotels’ overall business objectives, and a strong digital strategy to guide you, you can start to take the first steps into creating TikTok posts. The platform offers a range of features specifically geared for business and brand users, including in-feed ads that allow you to highlight your hotel and tell brand stories that will appear on an individual’s ‘For You’ feed – their personal, curated feed. 

TikTok is also a great platform to introduce a branded hashtag challenge as it allows brands to promote and market the challenge using a variety of tactics, helping the campaign gain momentum from the get-go. The Marriott did a great job of this with its #30stays300stays challenge that encourages TikTokers to enter to win an all-expenses paid trip to experience the hotel group’s various properties around the world. 

“There are so many ways that hotels can go about TikTok marketing in an original and effective way. My advice is to use your creativity to stand out from everyone else. You can also look into influencer marketing to work hand-in-hand with your social media efforts. The possibilities truly are endless,” says Cothill. 

JY Avatar


Jane Young, Marketing Manager