How to Choose a Social Media Management Tool

By R.J. Friedlander Founder & CEO, ReviewPro | March 25, 2012

Over the past year, a lot has changed in the hotel reputation management industry. And these changes require a new set of buying criteria. We've seen social media tracking technology move from being simply a way to aggregate guest feedback into a powerful business intelligence tool that can provide deep insights into customers, business performance, and the competitive landscape. Managers throughout the hotel organization–from sales and marketing to revenue and distribution to operations and quality–all the way up to the executive suite and hotel management groups, are all using different parts of the tool to improve performance.

But to achieve the best results, you need the right technology partner. Simply using the cheapest solution is a waste of time and money if the tool will not give you the insight you need to reach your goals.

With this in mind, let's look at some of the criteria I suggest you use when shopping for a social media management tool.

Make Sure the Greatest Possible Range of Data is Indexed

Since reputation software is ultimately a business intelligence tool, quantity and quality of data is paramount. The best reputation management tools are designed to continually collect and index information from a wide range of sources - which may be a lot more diverse than may appear at first glance.

Collecting reviews from just a handful of the top review sites results in missed opportunities. The web is all about the "long tail" of information – and a lot of travel discussion happens on niche sites catering to people in specific regions or with similar interests. These smaller travel review communities may be very influential in someone's buying decision, and cannot be ignored.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.