The travel industry and social media go hand-in-hand, which is why so many review sites like TripAdvisor have become so popular. People love to give their two cents to the conversation, and they love to tell others about the great or lousy experience they had on vacation. However, for hotels in particular the social media experience can have much more dramatic effects than simply a rating system.
Prior to social media, there hadn’t really been a disruptive influence on the industry since the advent of telephones in rooms, which allowed quicker access to the front desk for guests. If you stay with the idea of customer-desk (or customer-management) interaction as a basis for building a better customer experience, then social media is the next best thing to telepathy.
It’s true that you should have a feedback form on your website for customers to fill out, just like you have comment cards in the physical hotel. However, these are generally something that are collected and analyzed on a regular basis for improvement suggestions moving forward. If you really want to impress your guests, how about addressing those issues in real time?
When you have a comprehensive social media strategy which includes extensive monitoring, you can collect comments in almost real-time through channels like Twitter and Facebook. Imagine the following scenario: a guest staying in a room has a problem with their air conditioning, and they contact maintenance. Shifts are changing or some other distraction occurs, and the message gets lost between the cracks. Hours later or even the next day, the guest contacts the front desk, furious that they are still dealing with the situation. Then it gets fixed, but too late for the guest to be happy about the situation.
Remember, people love to share their good and bad experiences. In this scenario, there could be a bad rating on the web before you can do anything about it. Bad ratings don’t go away easily, so you just took on a new challenge of countering the bad feedback.
Now imagine the same situation, only your social media strategy is in full effect and being properly managed. The guest happens to tweet about the air being out after they call maintenance. Your social media agency or manager gets an alert, a copy of the tweet, and relevant data about it. They contact the front desk to check on the situation right away, and the mistake is discovered and fixed before it ever happens. The guest gets their air working, and they leave a positive review because you were so responsive.
It’s a Hypothetical
Sure, there are conditions in the scenario which may or may not be met in a real situation (the tweet being fairly important), but the fact of the matter is that it’s not a far-fetched situation. It could easily happen just like that, or very similarly, and you would either be prepared or not.
Social media has been used by hotels to shape and change their processes and even their remodeling ventures over the past couple of years. In 2012 a study showed that potential guests were 68% more likely to be swayed to hotels where the management (or someone) was responsive through social channels. By embracing a comprehensive social media strategy you put yourself that much closer to your customers and allow for a better experience for both sides.