With today’s technology-focused society spending ever-increasing amounts of time on websites like Facebook and LinkedIn, savvy businesses are beginning to explore ways to increase their social media visibility. For service industries, this visibility is becoming an essential way to interact with present and future guests. Here are three examples of how to use social media effectively to engage your guests while avoiding potentially adverse situations.
With many future guests turning to review websites before making bookings, many hospitality professionals worry about negative reviews from former guests showing up on these sites. Fortunately, there are ways to put a positive spin on even the most negative comments posted online.
Some properties have begun to staff small teams of associates to focus on online reviews and responses. By monitoring social media and industry review websites, these teams work to identify negative publicity and respond where appropriate. For example, if a property receives negative feedback, it can be beneficial to respond directly to the customer, apologize for the experience and emphasize improvements that will be made or have possibly already been made. If this is done publicly, it shows future customers that even in the event of a negative experience, they can expect prompt and transparent customer service and a willingness to resolve mistakes.
Social media is full of opportunities for free advertising and promotion. If a guest “checks in” to your property using an app like Foursquare, for example, you effectively advertise your business to all of his or her friends and followers without any direct effort on your part. This visibility can be incredibly valuable for attracting new guests.
Social media also provides the advantage of placing a human persona to your property. By running a company page on Facebook, you connect with guests as “friends” who can indicate a positive experience by “liking” your page. While it may not seem important, the act of liking a Facebook page can make a huge difference in promoting a favorable image of your property brand, especially if you offer reasonable promotions as reward for liking your business.
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With more contact between friends and family today taking place on social media, it is natural for businesses to consider using the same platform to communicate with their customers. For example, by maintaining an active presence on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, some properties are finding modern ways to keep in touch with their guests and address their concerns. Speaking with customers via social media also portrays your property to be approachable and personal, improving guest perceptions and increasing the odds that they will turn into loyal, repeat customers.
This type of customer service does not need to be overly detailed. In fact, the closer your communication resembles familiar conversation, the more customers may feel they can relate. For example, some properties have begun to use Twitter to tweet friendly messages that ask guests how they are enjoying themselves, or to advertise a hotel event. Little touches like this are not only easy to do, but they go a long way to help your guests feel at ease when they stay with you.
Social media is always changing, and the sites popular today may be replaced by new technologies in the future. Fortunately for property managers, the principle remains the same:The key to social media marketing is to actively engage your guests using the same tools that they use in their daily lives.Doing so not only gives you the tremendous advantage of allowing your guests to relate to you, but it costs very little to implement.