What can hoteliers do to get the most from social media?
What do we measure?
Can social media give me insights about my property?
Our research has shown us that consumers have been inundated with news and information about hotel destinations. Social Media can selectively connect with travelers and develop emotional connections with the hotel and hotel brand. Further, the strategic embracing of a social media plan can provide the hotelier with prompt feedback on the guests stay; facilitating improved hotel operations or used to amplify the positive experiences of the guest.
Online discussions are very influential. 81% check online comments before purchasing a product. 56.3% of users said that they “got to know brands” through online channels. 58.7% actually made purchase decisions based on user- generated online info. Even when not making a purchase, 89.9% of users still pay attention to online comments.
Identify audience, set objectives, success measures and your time frame. Design and leverage a social media program that meets your intended objectives. Remember no one size fits all in social media. Execute and drive engagement through every touch point. Amplify and stimulate sharing of the experiences (remember to use video, photos and personal commentary). Identify who you want to reach: Business Travelers, Leisure Travelers, Travel Agents, Associations, Influencers and Competition.
Your program will be different depending on what you are trying to achieve. As a hotelier you may want any number of the following types of outcomes.
- Monitoring customer feedback
- Increase property awareness and brand sentiment
- Manage reputation and identify negative media
- Medium for suggestions on how to improve customer service from customers
- Channel to monitor competitor activities
Depending on your social media plan you will have selected a number of channels to develop in order to reach your desired audience. Make sure you also have a communication plan that includes the themes and topics for your program. Develop fan pages: Promoting the Fan Pages ‘Sharing’ and ‘Liking’ are important indicators for a hotel to understand how customers feel about the property and it's Important for expressing intent about the hotel.
Don't ignore bad reviews - They are seen by hundreds, even thousands of people.
Acknowledge the good - Respond to the positive reviews as well as the negative ones. This shows customers that you care enough to listen to what they are saying.
Be Honest - If something needs to be addressed, then admit it and address it.
Be Relevant - If someone complains about the quality of service for breakfast, don't talk about the new bedspreads.
Don't Blame Others - Take responsibility and say how you are working to fix it. Always be courteous. Welcome guests back to your hotel/brand.
No (successful) social media program is static and you should consider it a living program. Just as you would feed and water a plant you need to constantly feed and grow your social media program. Leverage your measurement platform and constantly evaluate what is working and what is not. This is about long term engagement. The choice to participate or not in social media is still being debated by many hotel groups but my message to you is don’t wait. This is not a passing fad and the longer you delay, the further behind your hotel competitors you fall.