The Influence of Social Media in the Relationship Between the Concierge and the Client
By Bruno Bernier St-Hilaire Concierge, Le Centre Sheraton, Montreal | December 22, 2013
The tasks of the hotel concierge today compared to those of the concierge twenty years ago are not only different by the integration of technology in their daily lives but also by the influence of social media in the relationship they develop with their guests. Most owners of a mobile device now have access to geolocation-based platforms and webpages that allow reviews and critics of restaurants and hotels, thus often creating an overflow of information to sort, skim and analyze in order to subdivide the true from the false and the good from the bad.
When the role of the concierge used to be the most reliable source of insider's information to the traveler, it now rapidly evolves to a role similar to that of an information skimmer : the very rapid speed at which information can be shared through smartphones and online platforms can easily overwhelm a person to which a city is unknown and the concierge comes as an aide to analyze and sort the possibilities offered.
Furthermore, the opinions of the locals an outsider can find in online reviews - such as on TripAdvisor, FourSquare and Yelp - can differ greatly from the experience the concierge has had with a specific venue. Earlier this year, FourSquare launched a rating system, allowing users to give a mark as well as to comment their experience at a venue : with the ratings on TripAdvisor, Yelp and Foursquare sometimes not being equal, this could facilitate or complicate someone's decision.
The often arising issue of conflicting opinion, weather between online reviewers themselves or between the concierge's opinion and the one of the masses is very delicate. The concierge cannot ignore a review - bad or good - and has to factor in that any experience is not only technical but also very emotional and human. The impression that one had of a meal in a restaurant varies greatly from one person to the other and the concierge needs to transpose this review in consideration of his guest's needs, opinions and expectations. The fact that the review itself is good or not will not change much in the conversation: the essence of this transposition is to moderate and explain more than to convince.
The concierge-client relationship has always been one of trust: the traveler often leaves his well-being in the hands of the concierge and sometimes sets high expectations in what was recommended by the hotel associate. The concierge has a natural tendency to moderate his own opinion so that the guest gets a clear picture of what is explained but an anonymous reviewer will not do so. Therefore, a moderate review is quite rare, most of the time the experience narrated will be either very good or very bad. The balance between moderate and discredit is hard to reach and this is the point where the concierge with experience of the social medias will be able to even everything out.
A recent study found close to 40% of online reviews through Social Media to be fake. It is not surprising that the feedback based on social media is inaccurate when compared to more significant survey research. On average, the same survey reports that 300% of these reviews are negative, making available a lot of false, negative information. When reading through a review or a critic to make a choice of restaurant or attraction, the guest has no direct contact with the reviewer, often anonymous. A concierge will carry a conversation and ask questions about tastes and needs to a client, before suggesting what to do or where to go - making sure to steer the person in the right direction, making his advice often more attractive than one found online.