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Hotels Find New Ways to Distribute Concierge Info
We all know that a good concierge is a mine of information on the local area - what's on, what's hot and what's not. But concierges aren't naturally scalable; they're human, and one concierge doesn't go far when guests are being demanding, however good he may be.
In view of this and the opportunities presented by social media, several hotels are taking this knowledge and making it available in other ways for both their actual and potential guests.
The Stafford's concierge Frank Laino (pictured above) for instance, writes a monthly newsletter called ‘Frankly Speaking' in which he covers major London events related to exhibitions, restaurant openings and theatre. He also has a Twitter feed (@franklystafford) with notes on such matters as "why we wear poppies", weather alerts and new restaurant openings. It's an enjoyable read and full of pleasant surprises.
The Avo Hotel Twitter feed is more imaginative than the norm, featuring local businesses and events and bigging up Dalston as a destination. It feels youthful and irreverent; glacing at it recently I saw tweets about a mobile massage service, photos from the top of the Shard, people spotting, gigs and gossip. It's lively and interesting and definitely an insider track on the hotel's micro-location, cleverly putting Dalston on the map.
Tune Liverpool Street has a more conventional approach, with a page of local attractions on its website for each of its budget London hotels.
And the attractions really are local - Dennis Severs House, for instance, a Georgian house right opposite one of the group's hotels near Liverpool Street which has been furnished as if the 18th century family who lived there had just left it, or the Water Poet pub just along the road. The Paddington Tune mentions Little Venice and the Sherlock Holmes Museum as well as better known sights such as London Zoo and Madame Tussaud's, while Tune King's Cross suggests The Water Rats music venue and British Library, both less than a five minute walk from the hotel.
Tune is a budget hotel; go to the other end of the spectrum and the 5 star Baglioni also uses its website to give a feel for its local area, but with a focus on art and design plus designer shopping. I can't fault The Baglioni's tips - the London art and architecture list includes several galleries and museums that many of us still regard as London ‘secrets', like the Restorick and the Soane Museum, and the shopping tips include Mikimoto pearls, Orla Kiely coats (I want!) and Philip Treacy hats.
The Baglioni in fact has a dual message, because at the same time as it's giving you guidance on London as a destination, it has to promote its own quintessentially Italian style. It does that with its ‘Italian Talks‘ blog (managed by external writers), which currently has articles on how Neapolitans celebrate Christmas and a tour of Valpolicella's wine country, as well as an interview with The Baglioni London's new chef Moreno Cedroni. It's fascinating reading and the pictures are glorious too.
Back to East London and the Hoxton Hotel does something quite different; it puts a print-out-and-keep PDF guide to the local area on its website, including the Banksy Trail and an American bowling hall in Brick Lane (real inside info because even this writer with her intimate knowledge of the East End didn't know about it!). It also asks hotel guests to give feedback on the attractions (that section is headed ‘Foxy or Poxy') to keep the selection fresh. The Hoxton also recently released a winter events calendar to ensure that it stays at the centre of its local buzz.
The Andaz Liverpool Street is also very much submerged in its locality and specifically tries to ‘connect' its guests to the local area. It provides a wealth of information through its ‘local concierges' who help you discover East London through special and often slightly offbeat tours and events.
That's a grab bag of different ways of delivering the information; is there a right way? I suspect not. Some will love the informality and up-to-the-minute nature of Avo Hotel's Twitter feed, others prefer to see information laid out formally for them on a web page or perhaps even a video.
I suspect The Stafford may have the key - use two or three different methods like PDF combined with Twitter along with Facebook or the website and you have a better chance that any individual will not only find the information they're looking for but also in a format that suits them.
A further example of this multi-channel approach is Red Carnation Hotels.
They have a comprehensive News and Events section on their website with emphasis on cultural events and inspiring experiences (concerts, opera, art, etc.) likely to be of interest to their clientèle This is then distributed via Twitter, Facebook and their website. They also "customise" destination news prior to arrival with guests who contact them beforehand.
This sounds like the future: create great destination content and provide it in as many different formats as possible for people to access at their convenience; try where possible to "listen", interact and customise.
Finally, do this for the guest's convenience with only a subtle link to the hotel itself. When done right this helps to extend the concierge's reach and he or she turns into one of the best brand ambassadors for a hotel.
Photo credits: London Hotels Insight, Stafford Hotel, ilovememphis, Baglioni Hotel, Hoxton Hotel, Andaz Hotel, Red Carnation Hotels.
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