Ahh social media, a hotelier’s best friend or worst nightmare! Positive “word-of-mouse” publicity attracts guests and builds reputations, but when a hotel’s missteps are documented – either deservedly or unjustly – the repercussions can be long-lasting.
Most readers will overlook the occasional critique if enough positive reviews exist, but when sites such as TripAdvisor list multiple complaints and photos of dirty bathubs and leaky ceilings, the majority of would-be guests stay as far away as possible. The transparency that results from openly-shared opinions forces hoteliers to deliver upon their marketing promises, and can leads hoteliers with negative reviews to see the internet like an elephant that never forgets.
So the question is, what’s a hotel to do that wants to attract positive attention and/or recover from poor publicity? The beauty of social media is that it also has the power to change the tides since it is a reflection of truth – but as such the opinions must be warranted. Here are some ideas for the initial steps on the road to recovery:
- Proactively monitor social media sites to check what your guests are saying about you. Their opinions are actually a goldmine, as they can alert you to unforeseen issues that, if caught early, can be remedied before causing further damage. Make sure your physical site matches your web site by addressing the issues raised and following-up to see that they don’t reoccur.
- Ask guests who have had an enjoyable stay to leave feedback either on a social media site or provide an option for doing so on the main hotel site. Offer an incentive for guests who leave feedback.
- Strike preemptively. Establish goals for WSO and SEO. Make sure your website uses accurate, articulate and well-researched content that reflects your target market’s aspirations without misleading them. Consider building a microsite for better promotion of your spa or restaurant.
- Monitor your competition. Where are they winning and what could be improved? Be a fast-follower but provide your own twist. Find their weakness and offer something that fills the void.
- Try unconventional pricing. The Hoxton Hotel in London offers a seasonal 1GBP/night online promotion for a limited number of rooms. After repeating this sale over the course of a year, the buzz it generated helped turn it into one of the hippest places in town.
- Look at business successes outside of the hotel industry. Establish cross-promotions with unconventional partners that are relevant to your target market. Use Google Trends to see what’s hot with your guests and integrate these ideas into your strategies. Remember, “You are who you’re linked to.”
These are just a few ideas for bettering a hotel’s image while tailoring it to a more specific set of customers. Every hotel has room for innovation in order to remain competitive.
Let me ask you this: How could you improve your hotel’s image?
(by Alicia Sheber on January 26, 2009)