Social Media for Hotels: One of your most important “shares”

By Mike Kistner President, Chief Executive Officer & Chairman of the Board, Pegasus Solutions | June 10, 2012

A colleague of mine has been conducting an informal survey for the last year. It's just one question, "What have you ever bought on Facebook?"

So far, 100 percent of the respondents have answered, "Nothing."

While the prospect of Facebook-generated reservations creates an enticing reason to jump in to the social universe, direct revenue generation should not be the main focus of your hotel's Facebook presence. Booking through social media is still a new concept, and most users are still uncomfortable providing payment details through social media platforms (have you?). Though minimal reservations are made through Facebook, we do see traffic being driven from social media to a hotel's website.

Simply put, social media is media for social interaction that should be used to engage guests and drive them to your established revenue-generating channels such as your mobile or desktop site.

In an effort not to sound like Meryl Streep's Donna in Mamma Mia, who says she has finally tapped the "Internets" to drive business to her island hotel, I enlisted, Meghan Furtado, social media marketing manager for Open Hospitality for her top shares on hotel social media.

What I learned is that social marketing has the same foundational rules of traditional marketing: what you say and where you say it totally depends on who you're talking to.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. 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.