Social Media & the Hospitality Industry. Over the past few years, social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized not only how people interact with each other but also how businesses interact with consumers. Hotels and companies within the hospitality industry must have a keen understanding of how to deliver their messages via social media websites if they are to compete in today’s business environment.
Advertisements via Friends
One of the advantages of advertising through social media is that the source of the advertisement may be perceived to be a consumer’s friend, rather than the company itself. For example, many hotels and airlines maintain a page on Facebook. If one of your friends “likes” a hotel’s Facebook page, it’s like a personal recommendation that comes to you from a trusted source. Best of all, this very effective type of advertising costs a business next to nothing.
Many companies in the hospitality industry have begun to offer promotions and special deals to customers via social media channels. For example, “USA Today” reports that both United Airlines and AirTran have offered special airfare deals specifically for their Facebook and Twitter followers. By rewarding customers for linking their social media profiles to their businesses, hotels and airlines encourage them to continue providing free advertisement over social media sites and begin to build customer loyalty to their brand.
Many hospitality businesses are using social media sites to upgrade and personalize their customer service. For example, “USA Today” reports that some Marriott hotels use their Facebook pages to communicate with guests about local and hotel events. Meanwhile, Hyatt and Hilton hotels are using Twitter as a virtual concierge service to which guests can “tweet” queries and expect responses within the hour. Twitter also allows hotel employees to initiate conversations with guests; even a tweet as simple as “Hope you’re enjoying your stay!” can provide a personalized touch that some guests really appreciate.
One of the most significant impacts that social media has had is the growing importance and abundance of customer reviews. While a positive review can generate business, a negative assessment can just as easily drive customers away. Savvy hospitality businesses assign at least one employee to monitor blogs and social media sites and respond when appropriate. Industry website eHotelier.com recommends addressing negative reviews by thanking the reviewer, apologizing, explaining the steps taken to address the problems and avoiding any appearance of defensiveness.