April, 19th. By Reema Verma
Social media present a golden opportunity for the hospitality industry to make greater contact with its customers, with an ultimate goal of developing a partnership for brand growth and development. Underlying that opportunity are the twin dangers that hospitality operators will mishandle their social media connections or that customers (and the media themselves) will move on, leaving the industry behind. So, just as hotels and some restaurants have built their websites, they now have to make sure that their site is optimized for search engines, have mobile apps, and, more to the point, keep customers involved in a conversation about the operation. Although many hotel chains have embraced mobile apps, Facebook, and other channels, others are hardly represented at all in the social media firmament. One great potential advantage of social media is that guests are willing to share information about their likes and dislikes. By using appropriate analytic methods, hoteliers can get a sense of what guests want generally and how they react to the hotel specifically. Most important right now is the development of mobile apps, since travelers expect to use their mobile devices to book rooms or other travel services on the spot. A comprehensive strategy of customer engagement will employ all social media, whether it’s Facebook or Flickr, YouTube or Twitter—or all of them, and will also help you keep an eye out for new applications and customer desires.
Social media marketing tactics are being used to create visibility, establish community and promote products and services around the world. According to HotelNewsNow, the biggest players in the hotel industry have taken advantage of social media marketing trends of the past year, developing strategies on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Foursquare and more. Marketers looking to help their brands by leveraging social media must turn to hotel industry leaders for tips and tricks. Social media isn’t crashing for one night – it’s sticking around.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts is one major player benefiting from a deliberate, custom and careful social media marketing strategy, as the company says it believes that effective social connections can bring engagement and superior customer service. Hilton wants to gain followers and provide a forum for communication and is intent on providing social customer support that can lead to this end. The company’s marketing team created a Twitter handle solely for dealing with these types of issues – @HiltonHelp.
“By nurturing these online relationships with our guests, we are able to foster a sense of loyalty with them,” Andrew Flack, vice president of global brand marketing for Hilton Hotels & Resorts, told HotelNewsNow. “The brand’s Facebook following has increased by 185 percent in 2012, and engagement on both Facebook and Twitter has grown considerably.” Hilton joins Marriott Hotel & Resort, which launched its strategy in August 2012 in an effort to connect with younger travelers. Michael Dail, vice president of global brand marketing for Marriot, told the news source that the industry leader created a simple and straightforward social media strategy filled with posts and updates that have a “conversational, edge and humorous tone.”
Although these hotels want to create buzz surrounding their brands, they’re also intent on using social media to provide the best possible customer service, usually with a monitoring system to keep careful track of all complaints and inquiries. Brafton has reported that conversions happen because of positive customer relations. When customers are satisfied with standards of care, they are likely to go back for more. Eighty-six percent of those who reported being “very satisfied” with the level of customer service were likely to buy products or services from a brand. Social can help bring customer satisfaction, evident from the tactics of hotel marketers.