How hotels use Twitter and social media for free marketing and to increase customer service capabilities while increasing efficiency in hotel operations.
The Sol Wave House, a hotel in Majorca, Spain, recently launched a campaign to make themselves the first ever "Twitter Experience hotel." The Twitter hotel is essentially where guests can "Tweet" requests to an in-house "Twitter Concierge" who delegates the requests to the hotel staff directly. This of course gives guests the opportunity to make service requests from anywhere in the hotel as long as they have their phone with them. The Twitter Experience hotel bases almost 100% of its operations on an internal community available to guests through a downloadable app. While this is a little extreme as it's their entire basis of operations, properties can use pieces of this idea to increase customer service and efficiency in their own operations.
The trends of smart phones and social media are only growing and hotels should be taking advantage of this as an opportunity. "A report released earlier this year by The Boston Consulting Group says millennials will become the core customers of airlines, hotels and travel companies in the next five to 10 years as they enter their peak earning, spending and travel years." The Twitter Experience hotel is an example of the industry working to attract these millennial customers to gain their business and loyalty. Social media is also growing among older demographics, particularly in the business world, and this should not be viewed as something to only benefit millennial customers.
Many social media users document their travel experiences virtually non-stop on their smart phones; this is an opportunity to gain free publicity when utilized correctly. Social media users will go about the hotel checking into restaurants, properties and literally detailing their every activity to all of their friends and family online. Because customers are already using this simple social media system and using it so often, hotels are seeing this as an opportunity to be interacting with their customers and even give them another channel to put requests through to the hotel. The Sol Wave House placed a moustache on each rooms mirror with the hotels Twitter handle and a hashtagged #Moustache for guests to Tweet their moustache pictures. It may seem silly, but this is free marketing for the property.
While someone should be available at the desk at all times it's unrealistic to expect guests to be willing to go to the desk every time they have a question or request. Millennial guests are starting to prefer less personal interactions when it comes to getting service, they would rather be able to text or tweet to room service or housekeeping than call down to the front desk with the room phones. At the Twitter Experience hotel guests can tweet things like, "I need extra sheets and pillows brought to room 100," tagging the hotel, which will be seen by the Twitter Concierge who can then send someone to their room. It can even be acknowledged with a quick reply, "Be there soon room 100," to let the guest know that their request has been received. This can just as easily be done with a Facebook page that details the service on the page. "Submit your service requests through Facebook or Twitter for prompt and easy handling!"
Guests also have the room phone to call down and make requests; in most of the hotel they don't have access to a hotel phone. Customers who are relaxing by the pool or want to schedule spa visits can make requests via social media. This can include requesting extra towels and drinks while sitting by the pool or the ability to schedule spa reservations with something as simple as a Tweet.
While this allows guests an opportunity to make requests at their own discretion it can also help increase efficiency in handling these requests. Because social media interactions are listed on the hotels pages, it creates a database which lists every request individually and can be dealt with in order of importance or time. Many times it can be difficult to field multiple phone calls from guests, this can eliminate phone back up and held calls almost altogether.
The biggest difficulty in implementing this strategy is paying an employee to be constantly checking the social media pages for requests. When considered, is that really any different than having someone available to answer phone calls all day? With social media, front desk attendants (or whoever handles customer service at your property) can avoid interrupting guests or asking guests to wait while they finish a phone call as they are able to check social media at their own convenience.
What do you think? Would you consider using social media as a channel for guests to submit requests?