16 Aug 2011

Social media: Don’t just sign up. Do it right!

This isn’t one of those typical “get on Facebook or Twitter” articles. (If you haven’t done so already, consider this a friendly reminder.) That’s merely the first step. What really matters comes next: adding value to your followers’ Twitter and Facebook feeds.

The task is easier said than done. As a proud hotelier, you might believe you add value to your guests/friends/followers just by having a presence in the social media world. WRONG! You have to constantly engage the people who “Like” and follow you.

Fortunately, there are many ways to do this—and just as many ways to do it well. Let’s get started …

Entice your customers
Use Twitter and Facebook to post deals, steals and promotions. No one will benefit from reduced room rates, coupons and discounts at your hotel spa if you don’t tell anyone about them. Have some fun along the way. Raffle off a free stay to the person who is the 45th follower who retweets your tweet. If you reach a certain number of friends, offer a discounted dinner for two at the hotel restaurant or pump up excitement for the Valentine’s Day Sweethearts package.

InterContinental Hotels Group's Hotel Indigo brand features all sorts of deals on its Facebook page. They let customers surfing around Facebook know that getaway deals are out there—and only a few clicks away.

There are no limits to what you can do on Facebook and Twitter. Get your thinking cap on and those creative juices flowing, and the “Likes” will keep coming!

Cut down the Clicks
Once you have reeled in your customers with a fabulous deal or two, offer them one-stop shopping with an online booking tool. It’s all about making the reservation process easier—fewer clicks of the mouse, fewer pages through which to navigate, and fewer steps toward booking a stay at your hotel.

A great example is Destination Hotels & Resorts, which has a reservations tool right on its Facebook page. It’s simple, straightforward and easy—and ultimately leads to more business.

Online concierge services
Carving a niche for your hotel on Twitter and Facebook makes it easier than ever to connect and communicate with prospective, current and diehard customers.

For example, Marriott International, which has more than 117,000 Twitter followers (and counting), reaches out to guests via Twitter to resolve service issues and other 140-character complaints. Those efforts do wonders to not only address and resolve individual gripes, but also to show observers Marriott’s commitment to exemplary customer service.

To make this work, you need to get the entire hotel staff on board; whoever manages the Twitter feed must pass on questions, concerns, complaints and compliments to the correct department to ensure guests are satisfied.

Be a show-off
If your hotel recently underwent renovations, show them off to the social-media world. Make customers drool over the amenities, locations and treatment they can expect with photography, video and well-crafted text.Ritz-Carlton often puts envy-inducing Facebook pictures of their pools, surfers catching waves and sea-side views from coastal properties.

And it’s not just highlights among brick and mortar that bear mentioning. You also can tweet and post about your bars and menus. For example,Luxor Hotel & Casino has nearly 41,000 followers and often tweets about special guests and theme nights at their nightclubs to get visitors in the door.

Guests at DoubleTree by Hilton hotels often tweet pictures of the free cookies offered in the lobby. Be original with your posts and have fun. While Twitter is a forum to get information across in short bursts, it doesn’t mean you can’t get quirky! The more you share with your followers—within reason—the more people will follow you.

Grow your fan base
All of these steps create (drum roll please …) CUSTOMER LOYALTY! When a group of friends is looking for a hotel for a friend’s birthday weekend, who will they think of? Will it be that which offers the cheapest rate? Or that which they’ve come to know, love and respect through a thoughtfully executed social-media campaign?

The key through it all - as is similar with a guest’s stay - is value. Once you’re signed up on Facebook and Twitter, continue to think of new and fun ways to add valuable, exceptional content followers will remember.

Article source: HotelNewsNow