As hotels start to assemble social marketing teams, it is important to understand how to integrate social media in hotels. Being clear about how you see it being used, will only help your customers understand how to use it.
The bad news: Social media in hotels is not a primary tool. It can not on its own - at this time - lead the charge in driving your desired results. For example, you can not walk into any meeting and say "Don't worry about our[sales goals, front desk service, food taste], our Facebook strategies will/can take care of this."
The good news: Social media may be the only tool that can effect multiple points within your hotel. While it can not be a primary driver, it can be a secondary or tertiary driver of results for multiple areas. For my golfers out there, it is a 'utility club' ... I can rely on it to contribute in various ways.
With that being said, here are 3 key ways that you should execute social media in hotels:
Create unique, photo-worthy experiences
If you are a destination, we get it, you don't have to do much. Your location and surroundings provide you this awesome resource. But if you are a hotel without the best setting, create experiences within your property that have 'wow' value. For example, this could be a food/beverage item, a human sized chessboard on the patio, or an item that changes with the season (ex. Cupid's Arrow, hanging from the lobby during Valentine's Day). This will take your guest's expectations and experience to a new level.
Extend your concierge and front desk services with Twitter
The landline disappeared because of it's cord. Now that we are used to ‘tapping away' on our phones, some of us have forgotten that our cell phones can actually be used to talk to people. Mobile users often find it more convenient to text, tweet, or email someone rather than call them. With this in mind, educate your guests that you can be contacted for ‘concierge' or 'customer service' purposes by Twitter. Make sure to give them your Twitter handle, and any expectations (ex. your Twitter hours (8am - 11pm).
Socialize the guestroom
Just because your guestrooms look similar, doesn't mean that your guests experience has to be. Implement different 'social cues' in your hotel that provoke your guest to 'socialize'. For example, the Sol Wave House placed stickers on their room fridges with #FillMyFridge, where the hotel would bring you any desired food/beverage item (hello, social revenue). Brainstorming such creative interactions will help drive traffic to your favorite social channels.
Embedding these social strategies into the hotel will take commitment and planning. Educating your guests through signage or staff is important. Ensuring that you have the proper operational logistics in place to ‘socialize' with your guests is also paramount. Take each project one at a time and consider rolling out in installments. For example, implement your customer service via Twitter during specific hours. Or roll out your in-room project to only your Rewards members. This will help you ramp up your efforts.
About the author
Riley Smith is the Social Marketing Manager of Stanford Hotels. Riley has spent the past 2 years directing, engaging, and writing for 13 hotels on various platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Expedia, YouTube, this blog, and more. When not working, he tries to get away from his phone and into the woods.