Improving your Hotel’s Guest Service with Social Media


Greetings!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!

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12 Responses to Improving your Hotel’s Guest Service with Social Media

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Improving your Hotel’s Guest Service with Social Media | Hospitality Marketing Chronicles -- Topsy.com

  2. All you point out is very useful. The problem is the time to do it. As you state it’s a 24/7 job, even one dedicated e-marketer would not be enough 😦 !

    Wondering about it’s cost effectiveness? Your input please?

    Olga Kovshanova, MBA, MA
    Sales and Guest Relations Manager for CIS
    The Grand Mauritian Resort & Spa
    Hotel Professional Extraordinaire
    Email: olinka@olinka.info
    Homepage: http://www.olinka.info/
    Skype name: olinkaru
    ICQ: 212336628
    M: +230-717-5790
    LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kovshanovaolga

    • marcsontag says:

      Hi Olga, thank you for the comment! At times it is not about incurring more costs, but in re-aligning internal resources.
      E.g. At times the night-auditors or even receptionists are not constantly busy and could contribute to the process. They are already dealing with guest emails, so why not with Tweets or Facebook posts?
      Sure, first of all your company policy should allow them, as still quite a few companies have banned the internet access to these sites.
      You will need to train, coach them and provide some scripts, but again – not any different from the other communication channels.
      Ah. And a Blackberry or other smart phone does help. Personally, I have all channels integrated there from Twitter to Facebook and LinkedIn to Foursquare; am now even responding to you via the mobile.
      Give it a thought how you might internally align your resources!

  3. Karin Gallet says:

    I appreciated your post very much. I agree that a quick response to positive tweets and FB updates is just as important as responding to complaints.
    Guests love to be acknowledged for their comments and a sincere
    “Thank you for your kind feedback about our hotel (restaurant/lobby/beds etc). Please stop by the front desk and say hello!”
    will create lots of good will, generate return stays and will certainly be noted by others in the users network.
    I am also very interested in creative ways to engage the boomer and post boomer folks in social media networks. This is the demographic that has the time and interest in spending their income on hospitality and tourism. They also are just learning the ropes of social media. It will be critical, I believe, to motivate them toward network communications as a means of making hospitality purchasing decisions.
    Thanks again for your article!

  4. Hi Marc,

    First of all – thanks so much for mentioning ReviewPro in the article!

    This is great information for hotels, really helpful.

    I like your idea of involving front desk staff into monitoring social media. While most people agree complaints should receive attention from a manager, front desk staff could still help monitoring and reply to some questions. They should be trained to know when to involve other team members in solving a larger issue, but if they are set up with the necessary monitoring tools and are aware of any comments relevant to your hotel online, this would be a great first step.

  5. Kizzie Guin says:

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my blog so here i am!.I am looking for ways to add things to my blog!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  6. John Papers says:

    Good tips to the hoteliers.

  7. Pingback: Is Twitter worthwhile for your Hotel? | Hospitality Marketing Chronicles

  8. Pingback: Improving your Hotel’s Guest Service with Social Media « InfoGlutton Blog

  9. Hi! This post could not be written any better! Reading this
    post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept talking about
    this. I will forward this page to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  10. pear phone says:

    It usually passed word of mouth but isn’t that a little slow in the era of the internet. The only sure way for businesses to deal with smart phone and tabled device security issues is to develop and effective policy, then ensure 100% compliance. Consumer will also experience 3D images and videos with excellent clarity with the powerful Primary Dual 5 MP camera and also having 2560.

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