Using Social Media to Increase Your Hotel's Guests

By Gini Dietrich Founder & CEO, Arment Dietrich Inc. | June 10, 2012

With all the talk of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, the downfall of most newspapers, and a down economy, it's no wonder hotels are looking for new and interesting ways to engage with and attract more guests.

A great example of how hotels are using social media in a down economy comes from Maya Meinert on BNET.com. She says: "When a friend of mine, who keeps a blog that covers restaurants, told the Twitterverse how she had a sub-par happy hour experience at Hyatt's Andaz hotel in Los Angeles, the hotel (whose Twitter handle is @andazweho) offered her a free meal at its restaurant. Andaz says it also made sure to correct my friend's grievance - that her party wasn't served enough bar food. How's that for customer service, social media-style? And not only are hotels using Twitter to interact directly with its guests, they're also using the platform to generate general interest by giving away free stays and other goodies."

What is social media?

Let's start at the beginning. Social media is a shift in how people discover, read, and share news, in**formation, and content. It is a great way to test your messages, spur conversation, hear what your guests are saying, get your audience engaged, and meet future guests.

Social media, and highly engaged consumers, have turned traditional marketing on its head. Not only are consumers actively seeking information in these channels, if you don't pay attention to them, all your hard work in traditional channels can quickly be undone.

And...93 percent of Americans expect the companies they do business with to have a social media presence - and that includes hotels.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.