Social Media: Get On the Boat Before You Miss It

By Gini Dietrich Founder & CEO, Arment Dietrich Inc. | May 19, 2010

A year ago, hotels assumed social media was a fad. Today, they're quickly trying to figure out how to use the new methods of communication to grow their guest base. Everyone is rushing to get on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Foursquare, but now that you're there, what's next?

Those of us who spend time daily in social media understand the value and power of it:

  • A guest who is unhappy can be turned into a brand ambassador, just by listening to what they have to say, responding to them, and making changes.
  • A new product or location can be launched by crowdsourcing ideas from your community in order to make them feel like they have ownership in your brand.
  • Someone across the country or even overseas has access to your hotel, which is phenomenal for tourism traffic.

But none of these things happen if you build your social networks and expect people to come to you. Or if you use the social networks as just another way to sell your wares. This is not the "Field of Dreams." Just because you build it does not mean they will come. You have to be proactive and you have to provide value that makes people want to join you, participate in conversation, and engage you one-on-one.

There are some hotel brands that are doing social media well. But, contrary to perception, most have been doing social media, in some form, for at least a year, if not longer. They are the early adopters and I've talked to a few of them to help you understand how to incorporate social media into your hotels.

The Affinia Hotels began with social media by participating online with TripAdvisor. They were one of the first brands to partner with the Web site in order to engage their guests.

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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.