Tips to Navigating the Social Web for Hoteliers

March 15, 2011

The Social Web has become an essential communication tool for the hospitality industry. According to research by Forester, ‘By 2011, 82 % of the Asian travel industry will be using social media and the biggest barrier to success is the lack of knowledge on how to properly manage social media.’ To enable hoteliers traverse the social web more effectively, here are a few tips:

1. Research before Engaging
When adopting the Social Web as part of your marketing mix the ‘Swim or Sink’ approach shouldn’t be used. There are billions online and millions of whom are using different social mediums to communicate with family, friends, colleagues etc. before signing up an account and marketing using social media you need to
    • Research the social networks you are considering to use to confirm their viability to your marketing mix.  
      • Familiarize yourself with the tools and functionality of the account, as it will get frustrating very quickly if you have to search for a tool or feature every time you want t take an action.
        • Develop a strategy, set goals. Decide what you are trying to achieve before engaging potential guests.

        Once you have figured these 3 aspects, you are ready to start your online brand building journey.

        2. 1 to 1,00,000
        Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is an online community. Do not expect to go from 1 member to 1000s in a short period of time. Aka having unrealistic expectations will frustrate you needlessly. Building a community takes time and effort. Plan and execute activities that will help you build your online community and expose your brand to those beyond your immediate friend circle.
        • Invite family, friends, industry associates and employs to join
        • Include your social networking address on all communication from company letterheads to emails
        • Inform departing guests about your online community and ask them to post pictures, reviews etc.

           Each of these activities will help you build a substantial sized community.

           3. Faces and Voices
        When talking to anyone, we like to look at the person’s face not the back of his or her head.  The same is true for social networking websites.

        • When communicating ‘Be genuine’. People hate fakes.
        • Be consistent. Don’t start a social networking account, if you don’t plan on maintaining it. Using the social web to build your brand takes time and effort. You need to update constantly and reply to posts by members consistently.

          In short, give your brand a face and a voice. Give it a persona that people can relate too. 

        4. Brand Reputation transcends mediums
        Good brands sell themselves i.e. brands with good reputations in the real world sell themselves more easily in the virtual world.

        The social web is a powerful medium that is controlled by the masses. You cannot control what a guest says about your hotel, your services and your staff online. What you can control is the quality of service offered to every guest that stays at your hotel. Quality service leads to satisfied guests who will rave about you and your services online rather than ranting and degrading your hotel brand name.

        In short, guests can either build your online brand or destroy it.

        5. Interactive Two Way Communication
        The power of the social web is two-way communication. This medium is not like TV, Radio or Print, wherein you place the Ad and wait for guests to call. Here you have the opportunity to interact with past and future guests. Learn about your strengths and weakness. Find out how you can improve your services and more.
        For the social web to be useful, you cannot just setup an account, gather a following and then fail to maintain it. This type of behavior will create a negative impact, as potential guests will view it as lack of caring and concern, which could translate to less than satisfactory services during the account stay.

        We hope the tips listed enable you to traverse the social web more easily. Good Luck!

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