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Social media and your hotel – not just a marketing function

Posted by TeamITI on June 11, 2010

Social media is changing the face of hotel marketing. No matter how beautiful the images are on your Web site, one photo of a stained blanket posted to TripAdvisor can change anyone’s mind about booking a room at your hotel. Like it or not, your guests now play the largest role in determining your brand persona.

Marketing
By now I hope that every marketing department is closely watching the hotel reviews on the various travel sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, Yahoo!Travel, etc. Whether you use a social media monitoring service or comb through the sites manually, it’s critical that you know how your guests feel about their experience at your hotel and what they’re telling the public about their stay.

While properties might differ in how reviews are handled, most agree that it is important to acknowledge the review, when permitted by the site, whether it’s positive or negative. Thank the reviewer for taking the time to comment and assure him/her that the review will be shared with the appropriate team. The step that most marketers miss is they don’t follow through. Make sure you send the review to the right department for follow up or nothing will be learned from the experience. Often, when situations are corrected and an apology is extended, reviewers will follow up with an addendum.

Reviews can also be handy for determining where to spend ad dollars. If you’re purchasing display ads on travel review sites, look at your average rating and review frequency. You are much better off buying media on sites where you have many people reviewing your property and have a lot of positive reviews. Your conversion rate will be much higher than on a site with just a couple of stale reviews.

Social Media Marketing
Once your organization is comfortable with the idea that the public plays a large role in your brand reputation, the next lesson you must learn is to embrace user-generated content. ‘Elf Yourself’, ‘Star Trek Yourself’ and other insanely popular social applications have taught us that people are vane and love to see their names and faces associated with brands they care about. Let your brand advocates tell your story in a personal way. Create an RSS of your positive reviews and share them on your Web site. On your Facebook page, ask friends to tell you about their most memorable stay or to submit their pictures taken at your property. Better yet, ask fans to post a review on a site that might not be getting a lot of reviews. On your corporate site, prominently display information on how to find your property on social networks and how to follow you on Twitter.

Human Resources
HR should make it a regular practice to read reviews to get a sense of staff performance. Many reviewers will single out people who made their stay memorable.

Reward employees that are called out in reviews for making someone’s stay great and work with employees who were unfavorably mentioned. People will often put in writing what they would never say to your face so make sure you treat this feedback seriously.

While social media gave the power of your reputation to the people, it also gave brands the opportunity to easily reach customers and rectify situations that might otherwise fester and hurt your sales. Everyone in your organization can and should play a role in this new era. Let the adventure continue.

This article is published by HotelMarketing.com , please read the original article here.

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