One of the blog readers left a couple a days ago a comment on the post “Twitter Top 10 of Hotels in the Algarve – Is Twitter Underestimated or Misunderstood?“ Questioning if there is any proof out there that Social Media can improve a hotel’s competitive position? Having already posted on Return on Engagement and its related advantages, social media objectives and tactics, this post will address how you might create a competitive advantage in using Social Media as a tool to improve your Guest Service.
Social Media – but mostly Twitter – can be a mysterious beast and much misunderstood. Many hotel marketers are sceptical about opening a Twitter account; some think they do not need it, other think it will add more work, whilst many just do not know how to use it. Then you have the hotels that send Tweets on a regular basis. They instantly update their followers about events, announce special offers and promptly answer questions. I feel that in using Twitter hotels have nothing to little to lose and everything to gain.
Consider the following events. Every hotel or resort has experienced getting small complaints from their guests one time or another, because of an awful view or the concierge was not very friendly today. Such matters are usually easily addressed, but when they are blasted out on Twitter or Facebook that is something different all together.
I would argue that guests only use Social Media as a last resort to vent their frustration of a bad experience or lack of consideration related to that experience. Some of your guests [do you know which of your guests have a Twitter or Facebook account?] might just have hundreds or even thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook giving complaints a big audience; a virtual megaphone you need to take seriously and take as an opportunity to improve and so gaining competitive advantage.
Unfortunately, at times guests do not use their real name for their Social Media accounts so a hotel cannot find them in their reservation system and sort out the complaint or offer additional perks. Therefore, cosnider asking for those social media contacts during the reservation process.
In some hotels headquarters’ staff, hotel employees and top executives monitor the company’s Facebook pages and online reviews as part of their jobs and I personally use the free version of ReviewPro to keep track of our online reputation and have organised our various social media streams neatly in columns in Hootsuite.
As in the offline world you will not be able please everyone – also not inline. Complainers do not go away, but you can choose how you deal with them. Some of them will be legitimate complaints from reasonable people that will be touched when you reach out quickly and sincerely show you want to help them.
Therefore, some practical advice in making the most in servicing your guests through Social Media:
- Start monitoring Conversations NOW. When having good experiences we like to share those with our friends. When having a bad experience we also involve others. Social media makes it easy for us to share these types of information, especially Twitter because of its ease of use on a mobile phone. When your hotel is in Vilamoura use in your “Twitter Searches” the same keywords as you use for your website and adword campaigns: e.g. “Vilamoura”, “Hotel Algarve” and your “Hotel Name” to track conversations or even source potential guests.
- Listen, respond swiftly and take the Conversation offline. Response time makes even more the difference for guests who have complaints on Social Media and (un)fortunately for us hoteliers, guests almost expect an immediate response through these channels, turning it into a 24/7 operation. It makes them feel that you care for their feedback and mostly for them. Then, after the hotel’s @Reply or Facebook post, ask for the email address e.g: via a DM. This is an excellent way of taking a conversation offline and away from the crowd. Apologise, point out recent improvements made at the hotel and ask the guest to contact staff over email or phone to privately solve the problem. Ask the guests what happened to calm them down. Guests feel better when someone is actually listening. The GM should email within 24 hours with an apology and an offer to make up for the bad experience.
All aforementioned is not only important for negative experiences! Some of your guests might post a comment on your hotel’s Facebook page or send a tweet saying they are looking forward to their stay and some engaged hotels will could respond with some value adds, whilst the most engaged hotels might use the arriving guest’s Twitter account as a prestay, in-house and post-stay concierge service and if not an email and/or SMS messaging sequence might just do the trick too. Think of the underneath sequence of DM’s – you can suit it to any online and mobile channel:
- Upon reservation: @marcsontag Thank you for your reservation, we look forward to welcoming you to As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa. If we can help with car hire: [shortlink to dedicated landing page]
- Back home followup: @marcsontag Thank you for having stayed with us. We look forward to welcoming you again shortly. Please review us on Tripadvisor. [short link to dedicated Tripadvisor landing page of the Hotel]
The above samples of a pre- and post-stay (DM) message can easily be complemented with anything varying from wishing a safe trip on the guest’s departure day, informing on spa/golf arrangements or the weather, that the airport pickup is ready at the gate, that tonight you host a BBQ night, sharing the cultural program, reminding about check-out time and wishing a safe journey home.
Similar to phone and email, social media are a really great medium for communicating with your guests and your hotel’s online community in general. How you use them will set you apart from your competition and without a doubt affect your returns positively.
How do you use Social Media in your Hotel to improve Guest Service? Comments and suggestions underneath!