5 Things Every Hotelier Should Do to Integrate Social Media Into Their Operations

By Robert Patterson Vice President of Content & Social Strategy, MMGY Global | February 08, 2015

Change is hard. It is a fact. People are averse to having to do things differently and are slow to adapt to change. But we must evolve to move forward. Change on an organizational level is even more complex. Nowhere is this more evident than in the operational implementation of social media at hotel properties. While hoteliers have done a fair to decent job adding social media to their customer communications and marketing arsenal online, the rollout on an operational property level has been dismal. Why? Several reasons, beginning with providing employees with the knowledge and tools to understand social media and how guests are using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share their hotel experiences.

1. Training Front of House and Concierge to Monitor Social Media

The greatest opportunity for hoteliers to integrate social media on property is to provide front of house training to monitor, engage and provide guests with exemplary service online and in person. Successful social media programs begin with listening. There are a number of free and paid tools available to provide your front desk and concierge with access to understand who is posting comments, photos and videos on property.

Even if your front of house team is not administering and managing your property's Facebook Page, there are several areas that they can be monitoring to ensure guest satisfaction. These include post comments, posts to page, reviews and Facebook Search. Twitter allows you to save searches using their Twitter Search feature, which can enable hoteliers to save variations on keyword searches, such as the property's name, to see what tweets, photos or videos are being shared on the platform. Since Instagram does not currently have search functionality included in their website version, you cannot use that platform to conduct searches to monitor what is being shared. However, there are several free tools you can use to monitor hashtags or locations, e.g., the hotel property from which users are sharing content. Iconosquare and Gramfeed are two of the better free Instagram tools I have come across.

If you plan on having your front of house manage or assist in managing your social media channels, I recommend making a small investment in utilizing a tool such as HootSuite Pro or SproutSocial. These tools offer both monitoring and publishing services that allow you to manage multiple social channels. Even more elaborate and expensive tools are available depending on your hotel's needs.

By utilizing social media monitoring you can ensure that your guest service team becomes aware and addresses any potential customer service issues, use guest feedback to improve operations and provide surprise and delight moments for guests by personalizing their experience.

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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.