A couple weeks ago we wrote about how customer reviews are becoming more important than ever in determining where guests decide to book their stay. We also put a heavy emphasis on the fact that most customer reviews are now being found online. While static customer reviews posted on online travel companies’ (OTC’s) and the properties’ website are still important to manage, the most impactful customer reviews are now posted on social media. While these posts aren’t static, they’re viewed by all of the customers close friends, family and trusted individuals who actually care about what they have to say. Social media also presents a huge opportunity for properties to interact and engage with their guests. This affordable and timely opportunity to add that “personal touch” is what often has guests giving positive reviews and coming back for more.
When a guest is unhappy with their accommodations, how do you think they plan to express this dissatisfaction? Most guests aren’t comfortable approaching a hotel employee with their problems because more often than not, this employee was not responsible and probably can’t help with the issue. Because of this, most guests will not approach the hotel employees directly when they are unhappy with something. Instead, they will take to social media where they will post on Facebook or Twitter detailing their dissatisfaction to their friends and family. This post will carry twice as much weight to their social media connections as it would to post as a stranger on the property website.
While this bad review (on social media) will carry much more weight than a normal review on an OTC website or the property website, it also provides an opportunity to make things right with your unsatisfied guest; and in a very personal manner. When a customer makes their post negatively reviewing your property, there should be someone in your marketing/sales department responsible for dealing with social media that can respond and work to make things right. Often times, a simple free night’s stay will not only make things right, but change your unsatisfied guests opinion altogether. Obviously it’s impossible to have someone monitoring social media 24/7, particularly if you’re managing multiple properties, but tasking someone about 2 hours a week to review social media posts can make a huge difference in how people view your organization. Following up to posts, positive and negative, with a personal message, can make customers feel important and valued.
Another way hotels are utilizing social media to make their guests feel valued is real time interaction. It’s a common occurrence for social media users to hold and attend conferences and meetings at hotels; if they aren’t hosting it, there are still social media users there; always. These social media users will arrive to your hotel and the first thing they will do (often times before even checking into their room) is check in on Foursquare which will post to their Twitter and Facebook. They will also “tweet” and post status updates about their experience throughout the hotel. These people generally have a large social media following and act as highly influential points of view in the social media world. Making a good impression on a dedicated social media user is the equivalent to making a good impression on their entire social media following. Hotels have the opportunity to interact with these social media users and if done correctly, will interact while they are still staying at the hotel, making a good impression on thousands by interacting with a single individual.
At a Ritz-Carlton in California, a guest (who was a part of a big conference at the hotel) checked into the hotel on Foursquare and was immediately tweeted at by the hotel asking if there was anything else he needed. He replied, “My conference attendees would like Diet Coke.” Diet Coke was promptly delivered to the meeting room. This was seen by thousands of people and most likely discussed by word-of-mouth to everyone at the conference. This leaves 100’s of high powered executives leaving with the understanding that Ritz-Carlton has exceptional service.
Social media may not be the only route to handle guest reviews and it may not even be the most efficient, but the one thing that guarantees a guest will positively review your property or even better, come back in the future, is to add a personal touch and make them feel valued. Social media provides a free and timely opportunity to engage and interact with your guests on a personal level.
How has your property used social media to engage your customers?
Hotels Join in Social Media Conversation:
Getting Hotels to Make it Right