Mr. Jost

Social Media & Relationship Marketing

The Top 3 Social Media Concerns that Keep Hotel Execs Up at Night

By Benjamin Jost, Co-Founder & CEO, TrustYou

If you ask most hospitality C-levels, social media might not be their top of mind priority. And why would it? Between worrying about operations, finances (average daily rates and average length of stay), staff turnover and more, social media is just one item at the end of the list.

But the truth is, the number one thing that we should all worry about is guest satisfaction - I know I don't need to hammer that home; however, what I do need to mention is that guest satisfaction comes from many places, and is heavily influenced by what people are saying online, not just what happens at your hotel.

From a C-level perspective, managing your company's Twitter page or reading every review just isn't the reality (that's why we hire those great social media managers or amazing multi-tasking front desk agents). Rather than let social media fall to the bottom of an ever-growing to do list, instead, break it down to the three most important things you can focus on that will impact your hotel's guest satisfaction the most.

1, What's the Cost of Lacking a Social Ambassador?

There's a cost to not caring about social media. Recent studies show a strong correlation between online review score 1.s and revenue per room - a Cornell study found that if a hotel increases its average review by one point on a five point scale, the hotel could raise its price by about 11 percent and still keep occupancy and market share consistent. Plus, a TrustYou study found that people are willing to pay more for a hotel that had higher review scores. Having social ambassadors for your hotel tie directly to revenue management.

The traits of a successful social ambassador are: relatable (consider your target guest - who stays at your hotel? Look for guests that fit the mold - age, gender, occupation, etc.), frequent visitor (more likely to have a multitude of experiences to draw from), and active on a minimum of three social channels. Consider enticing guests with a social ambassador program - guest of the month that goes behind the scenes in exchange for sharing their reviews. Key Takeaway: When you link revenue to social, that puts its importance into perspective. Ask your social media manager today if you're tracking the demographics of your online reviewers (age, gender, etc.), what they're saying (ideally, aggregated by category - rooms, entertainment, staff etc.) and where they're saying it (your website, social, etc.). Then, use this data to figure out the characteristics of who your social ambassadors are most likely to be, so you can target them specifically for more online reviews.

2. What You're Not Doing When it Comes to Responding to Social Reviews

We all know you have to respond to social reviews, so instead of focusing on that let's talk about what you're not doing when it comes to responding to social reviews. It's twofold:

  • Internal promotion: Once you collect reviews, do you share them with your staff? Is your staff aware of how your hotel rated on social?
  • External promotion: Many hotels focus on gathering reviews post-stay, but forget about the "in the moment" stage - once a traveler gets to your hotel, do you use reviews to reinforce their expectations? Or is it only something you ask of them once they leave the hotel and are already back home? Picture every guest who has ever checked into your hotel and what's one thing they always have with them? A phone in their hands (maybe two, for business travelers). If you integrate offline and online channels, you can maximize social reviews to give travelers confidence they made the right choice by choosing your hotel over another, as soon as they walk in the door.

the Key Takeaway is To improve internal dissemination of social reviews, compile the aggregated review data and share at your staff meeting. I suggest at minimum going through the reviews at a higher level once a month, and sharing one positive and one negative review at each staff meeting. To maximize external promotion, get those mobile travelers working for you - they may even be your next social ambassadors. It would be great to see a hotel print out reviews in a creative way and use them as lobby décor (imagine framed quotes from guests next to a motivational quote about traveling).

Or even better, if you're using a platform that lets you aggregate review data, then you could even get personal for your travelers - for example, when Jenny checks in with a husband and two kids, you could tell her that you thought she might also like this review from another mom of two who stayed here recently, and listen to some of the tips and tricks she commented on. If you're using a tool that aggregates reviews (i.e. tells you the demographics of reviewers, then finding this information is automated rather than done manually).

Finally, make sure you're maximizing those reviews on every external channel - those social reviews in your Google rich snippets, use a social gallery on your website that automatically pulls guests' Instagram pictures and analyze and monitor Facebook reviews.

3. What's the Difference Between Different Online Social Platforms

There are so many different online social platforms, listing them is even difficult. That's why I encourage you to break down the different social platforms into categories and then use those categories to line up to the type of travelers you want to target on social (gen x, y, etc.).

For example, here's how you could break down some of today's social platforms where travelers may be leaving reviews:

alt text

Now, if your hotel is trying to target a specific type of guest, you'd takethat information above, list out your target travelers and then highlight which platforms that demographic uses to leave reviews. We know Gen X is more likely to be using social inspiration websites whereas boomers might be using hotel websites or OTAs.

alt text

The Key takeaway is: If you want more online reviews, then the first step is to use a chart like the one above to identify who you want reviews from and which sites you're likely to get them from. For example, you may notice you have a lot of reviews from Gen Y but not as many from Gen X - you could add goals and metrics to each column - think of it like a sales quota for your staff, except it's a review quota (a quality one, of course) - to increase reviews from your target demographic. You could also add a column about the category of the review you're looking to capture - for example, we need more reviews from Gen X about our gym or more reviews from couples about our spa and health center. Then, your review channels (surveys, online feedback, social media etc.) would ask questions specifically about that, rather than about the experience or the hotel stay in general.

It's easy to write about the importance of reviews, especially capitalizing on things your guests are already saying on social media. However, what isn't talked about as much are these three top-of-mind issues that C levels are thinking about and asking their marketing staff to tackle.

First, there's a link between revenue and social reviews - and before you begin reaping revenue from social reviews, you need to know the data behind who's saying what (ideally, something automated compared to something that you'd have to gather manually). Second, responding to social reviews is just one aspect of online hospitality etiquette - what's more important is to consider what you're not doing with those online reviews and leverage them in new ways that your competition is not, especially with today's mobile-first travelers.

Finally, don't disconnect the differences between social platforms. Use the review data you're getting to consider where your target demographic is sharing reviews, in order to increase your reviews from a certain demographic and to connect with your social ambassadors.

Once you've tackled these three top-of-mind issues, you'll end up maximizing the information your guests are already telling you to do the thing that matters most: improve guest satisfaction.

Benjamin Jost is co-founder and chief executive officer of TrustYou. Benjamin is an expert on social semantic search and is leading the big data revolution in hospitality. Prior to TrustYou, he spearheaded the Southern European M&A team for one of the world’s leading renewable energy providers and oversaw hundreds of investment cases covering a profusion of renewable technologies. He started his career in venture capital at Siemens Venture Capital and Xange Capital. Mr. Jost holds a MsC in engineering from the University of Technology in Munich and conducted research at the ENST Paris and the University of Washington Business School, Seattle. Mr. Jost can be contacted at 011 49 89548 02925 or benjamin.jost@trustyou.com Extended Bio...

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