How to NOT Maximize Facebook - a Checklist for Lodging Managers

By Rob Kall President, Bookt LLC | May 01, 2011

Facebook is just a fad. If you agree with that statement, you have come to the right place. It is rather easy to NOT maximize Facebook. Who needs friends anyway? Not you or your business. You're too busy with work. What you need is a vacation. Let's start there – with a trip to Walt Disney World. Check this out!

There are over 5.7 Million people who "Like" the Walt Disney World Facebook page. And it is here that the folks at Walt Disney World "engage" with these friends, fans and followers. Which brings us to the first item on our Checklist...

Sell, Sell, Sell

If you do NOT want to maximize Facebook, take the approach that this social media icon is just another Sales Channel. People will love it that you are going Old School. Hit them hard and fast with your sales message. In fact, push it down their throats. Engagement is the opposite of that. Engagement is all about listening to your customers and prospects, and building a dialogue over time. Engagement done right leads to improving your processes, quality, products and services, and both growing and diversifying your customer base. Social platforms like Facebook have transformed the way new and past guests and lodging businesses interact, converse and influence each other. Engagement will result in differentiating your property with your targets and, if you are not careful, it could lead to a competitive advantage in your marketplace.

Put up a Wall

The Facebook "Wall" is where you hard sell-sell-sell to your friends-friends-friends. And all you really need on Facebook is a thick wall between you and your customers. Disney World on the other hand has wasted huge blocks of wall-selling time by adding other sections and pages like photos, accommodations, vacation planners, guest reviews, events and surveys. Disney World even devotes special pages to special offers and services for their friends. What makes these 5.7 Million people so special? And why do I need to read online conversations from past guests, including people I know – about their wonderful experiences at Disney World? It's not that small a world after all – is it? And why all the effort focused on promoting their Orlando-area destination as much as they plug themselves? This steers us to our next Checklist item.

Choose a Social Network!

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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.