A Social Media Strategy for Hotels
The hotel industry, like much of the service industries, are very dependent on knowing just what the consumer wants, hopefully before the customer knows it themselves. With wafer thin margins, increasing competition and constantly rising costs hotels need every advantage they can get to win customers and keep them.
Here are three social media tips for improving your guest’s stay and getting them to spread the word about your excellent level of service.
If you’ve ever been lost in a strange city late at night searching desperately for somewhere to stay after a business meeting has run over time you’ll know the stress and frustration you experience as you scan through the online list of available accommodations only to find that none of them work on your mobile device. Even if the sites are not full of Flash Action Script bells and whistles (and most are) they are image heavy, poorly optimised sites that take forever to load over mobile broadband. Providing a version of your hotel website that is mobile optimised reduces these frustrations.
Mobile devices have actually outsold desktop PCs for over a year, so this is an issue that is going to become more prevalent. It is possible that your existing content management system (CMS) already has mobile site functionality (many do) so there might be only minimal additional costs involved in providing your prospective guest with the option of a text-rich mobile optimised site, whether as a replacement or in addition to your usual site. And because so few hotels offer a mobile optimised site you are already creating a point of difference with your competitors. It is a significant competitive advantage that you can utilised to offer special deals for weary travellers that are just looking for respite after a hard day’s work/travel.
- Pros: Customer focused and broadened market penetration
- Cons: Might be some minor additional establishment costs
Hotels wishing to fully realise the benefits of social media need to establish a broad-based monitoring program. It is not enough to just monitor for keywords on your established platforms (ie. Twitter, Facebook), conversations about your brand can happen across many platforms. In order to obtain a detailed overview of what is being said about your brand online you can use a range of tools to remain informed, whether it is through paid tools, like Radian6 or Brandtology, or free ones like Social Mention.
Once you have established an extended monitoring program it is important to listen to what the conversants are discussing. Only through listening carefully can we prepare the correct response. I cannot stress how important it is to listen and understand the nuances of the conversation. To a customer there are few things worse than receiving a scripted reply based around a peripheral point. This is especially true when offering customer service or feedback channels. So listen, comprehend and then respond, calmly and professionally. And don’t just respond to negative sentiment, positive feedback can also be responded to even if it’s just a short Thank You.
By listening and responding carefully to feedback and complaints, you move from being just a soulless brand to a real, caring person who is genuinely interested in improving rather than just trying to clear service tickets. Listening will provide you will invaluable and unfiltered insight into how you are perceived by your customers and will offer you practical improvements to increase service levels.
- Pros: Improves customer service and feedback channels. Generates goodwill.
- Cons: Time intensive. Paid tools can be expensive.
It’s great when a celebrity or other high-profile figure recommends our services, but the likes of Oprah can’t visit nor recommend every hotel. You can, however, generate goodwill recommendations by targeting selected influencers, both online and offline, and offering them a service level similar to what you would provide to a celebrity.
Targeting influential guests can be achieved through allowing them to record their social networking details with their booking. Sites like Klout, Twitanalyzer or Grader can assist you in determining influencers. From there all it takes is a little research to offer a wealth of information. Is it their birthday or anniversary? Have they’ve just secured a major deal which they have announced on Twitter or Facebook or Google Plus? Maybe they’re just feeling low. Offering a little extra personalised service can bring bountiful rewards.
- Pros: Generates recommendations from a broad-based trusted authority at low cost
- Cons: Ongoing research can be time intensive.
As with all social media both expenses and returns must be accurately measured. It is vitally important that each of these implementations provide a practical dollar value return on your investment. Tracking mobile users through the site to sale, recording resolved customer service issues through social media and additional bookings from influencer recommendations can all be used to assist in the measurement and analysis.
By employing these ideas, along with the key concepts from A Social Media Strategy for Restaurants, you can offer new and better levels of service for your hotel guests. It will also provide you with new opportunities to become more customer focused.Tags: analysis, b2c, branding, customer focus, customer service, hotel, measurement, oprah, service, strategy, travel