The Battle for Social Dominance

By Janet Gerhard Founder, Hospitality Gal, LLC | January 17, 2016

Over the last several years, we’ve all been witness to or participated in the awkward transition of building a social business. Most brands participate in all the major social sites: It’s comparative to how the average traveler has memberships in multiple hotel loyalty programs. Some brands seem to favor one channel over others and their approaches differ slightly, e.g., more visual images versus more promotional. It’s difficult for any brand to claim excellence in a landscape that is constantly shifting.

Who is More Effective on the Social Battlefield?

According to Seventh Art Media, five years ago the most valuable hotel Twitter account was @Cosmopolitan_lv with 9.3k followers. Today, this single operation sits at 423k followers with a mere 1.7k likes. I’ve updated the top 20 list with January 2016 comparisons but are the numbers any more meaningful?

Evaluating Seventh Art Media’s Top 20 Hotel Twitter Accounts by Valuation from the Tnooz piece published on February 24, 2011 against today’s numbers provides a glimpse into just how much the landscape has changed.

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In 2011, the Twitter account for Hilton used was @HiltonOnline. Today, it has 339 followers as it was phased out to @HiltonHotels. The original @StanDarde has been replaced with @StandardHotels. @TheAceHotel swapped out to @AceHotel and the @sofitelMiami is now the @PullmanMiami.

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.