You may remember that Hotel Insight spoke to Emily Wilkinson, founder of ewilko’s blog and Freelance Social Media Manager and she kindly shared her expert opinions on social media with us. With this being such a wide topic to cover, and an ever-changing and developing area, Emily and I will team up once a month to let you know our opinions, and the latest going on that your business or hotel should know about.
This month, we have picked three topics to discuss. Using Twitter as a hotel concierge service, geolocation services and the distribution of offers via social media.
Can you use Twitter as an extended concierge service?
Emily: Many businesses have quickly found that Twitter has become a good customer service channel for them, giving customers and potential customers an opportunity to speak directly to their staff and get real time answers and feedback.
Offering a concierge service via twitter allows you to build on your customers experience of the hotel. If they want to know where the local theatre is or the best place to go shopping, use twitter to provide that information. Not only will this enhance their experience of their stay, people who haven’t used your hotel will see what a service they’re missing out on.
To see a great example of this, check out the Hyatt on Twitter. (http://twitter.com/#!/HyattConcierge)
Simon: The Hyatt example that Emily has highlighted is probably the greatest success story in this area to date, so if your thinking of providing a Twitter Concierge then take a look at what Hyatt are doing. The brand also manage this on a property level too.
I see this service being extended more and more by chains as it really is another way to talk to your guests even before they have walked through the door. I’m often asked what kind of things will be asked by guests. Well, probably not very different questions from those your concierge team are asked on a day to day basis. Where is the best Thai restaurant in town? What times does the local castle open? Can you book me a taxi? Can you book me a table for dinner in the restaurant? I’m in room #365 and want to order breakfast. These are all typical questions that can be easily handled through Twitter. But to a hotel , the main benefit is the extended level of customer service your providing. Some people haven’t the time to queue up at a concierge desk, some simply don’t want to, but it’s still vital you interact with guests and make their stay as enjoyable and easy as possible.
Premier Inn are also currently trialling such a service. If a budget hotel chain is considering adopting such a strategy, then does this mean all hotels should?
FourSquare, Facebook Places? For my hotel?
Emily: Geolocation services are growing, with applications such as FourSquare, and more recently Facebook Places, it demonstrates that users want to be associated with the venues they are ‘checking-in’ too.
Hotels could use this as a way to sell services and products within their venue. If you have a restaurant deal, offer users who check in a complimentary glass of wine when they book for their evening meal. The hard sell is already complete – they are in your hotel – targeting them with geolocation service offers means that your marketing is relevant.
Most of these services also offer a form of feedback, so its worth keeping an eye on what people are saying about your hotel and responding in the correct manner. This could be a good first-step into mobile, without the heavy price-tag of a custom application.
Simon: This is such an interesting area for hotels. However, I struggle to find a strong example of a hotel (certainly in the UK) using FourSquare or Facebook Places to their advantage. FourSquare was started in America and it’s evolution there is far greater than in the UK, but this kind of service could have a big impact for a hotel. In the same we I talked about a Twitter concierge service, FourSquare can be used to interact with guests and even potential guests.
The most common way we see FourSquare used at the moment is probably in the catering industry. As Emily says, there are a growing number of restaurant deals, offers of free drinks with meals and this type of thing. The coffee houses are also driving loyalty to their brand through such tools. But again, examples of hotels using the tool are rare and certainly proving if there is value in this type of media would be very interesting.
So… hotels! Let me know if your actively using FourSquare at your property and how it’s going! Leave a comment on the post, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon: Reaching out to guests and potential guests of your hotel with offers through social media channels is a great alternative to the traditional media – and it doesn’t cost you anything to do! But, consider the impact your offers could have on a person. If I am a Facebook user and “like” four hotel chains, I am often opening myself up to a total bombardment of offers that are not relevant to me. My advice: be careful not to bombard offers via social media. Send timely, relevant and eye-catching advertisements and think about your target audience. Do they really want free breakfast if you book right now?
Slightly off subject, but a great example is that of Oberoi. Their presence on Facebook is refreshing, offering not special offers, but news about their properties and their philosophy. From their updates, you actually get a feeling of what it would be like to stay at one of their hotels. Take a look.
Emily: Constantly bombarding followers with sales messages can make users switch-off from your messaging; but using networks such as twitter as a way to promote offers can work.
Last minute deals and social media specials are a good way to fill rooms and get new customers on board, but like any good sales plan you need to ensure there is some for of strategy behind it. For instance, why not get the message out that the last Friday of every month is your social media special and from 10am there will be a fantastic offer on your rooms for a limited time? It stops your account from looking spammy and gives followers a genuine reason to be engaging with you via social networks.
If you’re looking to take your first steps into social media or you’ve already started but need some direction, please get in touch.
I hope you’ve found our first monthly review interesting. Please let us know if there are any particular topics you would like us to cover next month.
Simon & Emily